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Saigon sails into unchartered waters with plan for boat services to Con Dao Island, outskirts

By Huu Nguyen   September 9, 2017 | 09:38 am GMT+7

All being well, you'll be able to catch a boat in the city center and be on a desert island in just a few hours.

Boat travel is likely to blossom in Ho Chi Minh City now that a plan has been agreed to add three more routes to its river bus map, connecting the city's downtown with the outlying districts of Can Gio and Cu Chi, as well as the stunning Con Dao Island.

The city said it is hoping investors will support the plan, which was put forward by private city-based firm Greenlines DP.

Greenlines DP launched a pilot run on the route between Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 and Can Gio District last Sunday.

The boat has a capacity of 136 passengers and tickets are expected to cost VND180,000-200,000 (around $8) per person, but many people have said this is too high.

The more ambitious part of the plan is the Con Dao Island service. 

Con Dao is administered by the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and sits 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City.

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A beach on Con Dao Island. Photo by Banh He

Currently, passengers can only fly from HCMC to the island, which has been praised for its beauty by various international publications.

HCMC is looking to river bus services to make use of its inland waterways, ease traffic congestion and develop tourism.

The first two routes are already taking shape. The first will cruise 10.8 kilometers (6.7 miles) from Bach Dang Wharf in District 1 to Linh Dong Station in Thu Duc District, passing through District 2 and Binh Thanh District. The second will run from Bach Dang to District 8.

The first route was due to launch this summer, but the city has kept passengers waiting on the dock. In August, it said that construction delays at stations will not allow the first river bus to dock until October.

The city’s transport department said as it is the city's first river bus, it wants to make the service as satisfying and convenient for passengers as possible.

In April, the city’s municipal administration approved two more river bus routes connecting the downtown with new urban areas in District 7.

The new routes will link Bach Dang with Phu Thuan Ward and Phu My Hung in District 7.