Tour bookings surge on national holiday

By Nguyen Quy, Phong Vinh   August 31, 2018 | 02:59 pm GMT+7
Tour bookings surge on national holiday
The center of Sa Pa Town on the roof of Vietnam in northern Lao Cai Province is packed with tourists. Photo by VnExpress/Vy An

Vacation enthusiasts are looking forward to the three-day Independence Day weekend and domestic travel bookings have soared.

They are all set to head southern beaches and famous tourist spots along the central coast like Nha Trang, Da Nang and Hoi An Saturday.

Chan Ly of Saigon said she managed to book two rooms overlooking the sea at a high-end resort in Phu Quoc, and prices were not much higher than normal.

But not everyone has been as lucky.

Joseph Sanggo, 40, a Filipino who lives in Long An in the Mekong Delta, told VnExpress International he had planned to go to Phu Quoc this weekend, but with all rooms and flights full he had to change his travel plans.

Two high-end resorts, Chen Sea Resort & Spa and JW Marriott Phu Quoc, have announced they still have rooms left and cost VND2.5 million ($107) per night.  

“This year saw more late bookings compared to previous years, and the first day (September 1) of the long holiday is fully booked,” a hotel employee said.   

Phu Quoc, dubbed Vietnam’s Maldives, has idyllic beaches and a charming landscape elsewhere.

But its beauty is being increasingly marred by a tourism boom that has seen the setting up of a safari park and a bunch of luxury hotels, and the development shows no signs of abating.

Tourists lie on the smooth sands at Sao Beach, one of the top destinations on Phu Quoc Island. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Tourists lie on the smooth sands at Sao Beach, one of the top destinations on Phu Quoc Island. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

The mountain resort of Da Lat is also in the middle of the vacation rush, prompting booking sites to urge travelers to make their minds up quickly before rooms run out.

Known as "Little Paris," the town is famous for its cool climate and lovely landscape, making it an ideal holiday getaway.

Hiep Trung, who works in HCMC’s District 1, told VnExpress International that he and his wife had several months ago planned a trip to Da Lat, but only called up homestay facilities last weekend.

Everywhere he received the same answer: “No vacancies.” They are now going to Hoi An, a popular tourist town in the central province of Quang Nam, he said.

In Nha Trang, more than 80 percent of hotels in the downtown area are full, and room rates for two people are around VND700,000 ($31) per night during the holiday weekend.

It comes as no surprise that Hoi An, a top travel destination on which global travel magazines have heaped accolades this year, is already full up.

Palm Garden Beach Resort & Spa in the ancient town said most tourists would be staying for two or three days, and would be charged an additional VND450,000 for September 2 night.

Sa Pa up in the northern mountains, home to the Saturday night “love market”, a colorful exhibition of local ethnic culture, the Gothic stone church built by French missionaries, Indochina’s tallest peak, Mount Fansipan, and endless terraced rice fields, has become very touristy in recent years.

A hotel manager in Sa Pa said there are no rooms left during September 1-2.

Pham Cao Vy, chairman of Sa Pa’s tourism association, said most places in town tend to keep their prices unchanged from normal days though travelers could find it a bit difficult to find a place.

Vietnam is in the midst of a tourism boom, with more than 10.4 million foreign visitors touching down in the first eight months of this year, up a staggering 22.8 percent over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

A testimony to its rising popularity on the global tourism map is its presence in global lists put out by travel sites and newspapers like The Guardian, CNN, Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, and Rough Guides.

The country has set a target of 15-17 million foreign arrivals this year.

 
 
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