More foreign tourists visit HCMC than Hanoi

By Nguyen Quy   June 26, 2019 | 07:35 pm PT
More foreign tourists visit HCMC than Hanoi
An aerial shot of Saigon. Photo by Shutterstock/Ngoc Tran.
Saigon has received more foreign visitors than Hanoi in the first half of 2019, reaffirming its reputation as a popular global destination.

Data from the city Department of Tourism showed that more than 4.2 million foreign tourists touched down in the period, 10 percent up from a year ago. Its tourism revenues rose by 16.6 percent to VND73 trillion ($3.13 billion).

Hanoi, which hosted the historic second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last February, received around 3.3 million visitors, up 10.6 percent. But revenues surged by 30 percent to VND50.2 trillion ($2.1 billion).

Japan, South Korea, China, and the U.S. accounted for the largest number of visitors to Ho Chi Minh City as Vietnamese and foreign carriers are launching more direct flights to the city.

Vietjet Air plans to operate daily return flights between HCMC and Tokyo from July 12. The budget airline is also the first to fly non-stop from Saigon to Indonesia's Bali.

Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and the country’s newest carrier Bamboo Airways are all planning to launch direct services from Vietnam to major U.S. West Coast cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco this year or early 2020.

Foreign tourists take cyclo rides in downtown HCMC. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Phong

Foreign tourists take cyclo rides in downtown HCMC. Photo by Shutterstock/Hoang Phong.

HCMC hopes to attract 8.5 million international visitors this year, 14 percent more than last year.

Its low cost of living has made the city a destination of choice for expats. The average monthly expenses for a single person excluding rent in Saigon is around $435 and Hanoi $447, according to user-contributed database Numbeo.

Around 82,000 foreigners live and work in Vietnam, mainly in these two cities. Recent surveys have also found that the country is a good place for foreigners to settle.

The 2018 Expat City Ranking by InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, found most expats "satisfied" with the low cost of living in HCMC, which eases the financial burden of living overseas.

Tourism authorities in HCMC have been stepping up efforts to keep foreign visitors stay longer and spend more by offering more weekend entertainment in Bui Vien and Nguyen Hue, the city’s two most popular pedestrian areas.

While the city is beset with the problems like chaotic traffic and street crime, it has proved to be a very popular destination with something for everyone.

Saigon and Hanoi were among the world’s 100 most visited travel destinations in 2018, a Euromonitor International report said.

Singapore-based travel site Kayak had said earlier this year that HCMC would be a top 10 destination for international visitors in 2019. It has also been named among the 15 fastest-growing tourist cities in the world by the Travelsupermarket website, with 10.2 million foreign arrivals by 2025.

The U.K.’s Rough Guides last year released a list of eight best nighttime destinations in Southeast Asia, and named HCMC as the place to visit to enjoy nightlife.

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