Why do Vietnam's vacation vibes lead to Thailand?

By Nguyen Hang, Quynh Chi   June 17, 2024 | 07:02 pm PT
Why do Vietnam's vacation vibes lead to Thailand?
A group of Vietnamese tourists wearing traditional Thai costumes pose for photos at a pagoda in Bangkok, 2023. Photo by Tran Lan Anh
Cheap airfares, high-quality tourism services and friendliness have been credited for the high rate of repeat Vietnamese visitors to Thailand, which many local travel enthusiasts call their "second home."

Minh Trang arrived in Thailand for the first time when she was 19.

For the past nine years, she has returned to visit the country every two months.

"It felt as if I had arrived in my second homeland when I arrived in Thailand," she said. "And I started visiting Thailand more than returning to my hometown because local airfares in Vietnam are so expensive," she added.

From a business standpoint, Thai tourism's number one attractive feature is its inexpensive airfares.

Trang said the cost was so reasonable that she sometimes flies to Thailand on a whim, often deciding suddenly to go "to relieve stress on weekends" without any prior planning.

"Because the cost is very cheap. Compared to Vietnam, it is much cheaper from [every angle, including] transportation and food costs. Thai hotels are so different from each other. And Thai people are very friendly," she added.

Thailand’s high rate of repeat visitors has been a highlight of the nation’s famous and successful tourism industry for many years.

According to a Visa study, 28% of tourists who visited Thailand in 2023 said they intended to return in the following 12 months.

The study also showed that 22% of Vietnamese tourists want to return to Thailand this year.

According to data from the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports, about 290,000 Vietnamese visitors visited Thailand from January to April this year, while the number of Thai visitors to Vietnam during this period was not even half that.

Do Van Thuc, sales director of Dat Viet Tourist Company, said he has never seen Thailand lose its appeal to Vietnamese tourists during his 10 years as an industry insider.

Thuc said the company’s five-day tour package to Thailand now costs VND6.5 million (US$255.38) on weekdays and VND6.9 million on weekends, while a trip to Hanoi for the same period of time ranges from VND8-9 million.

A five-day tour to Bali or Laos also costs up to VND11 million.

In addition to cheap airfares, quality tourism services and convenience also contribute to the tourist love Vietnam gives Thailand every year.

Home away from

Ha Anh, 22, living in Ho Chi Minh City, said that Thailand makes her feel at home because all things she needs are available.

"I only had to follow a few simple steps to order a tourist sim card [for my phone] in Thailand for about VND100,000 on Shopee platform," she said.

Anh mostly used Thailand’s effective mass rapid transit system while she traveled the country. She said the network was extremely convenient, with stops nearby all major tourist sites.

"Making payments are very easy in Thailand, thanks to the use of my phone and banking app, which, I can use to scan the payment QR code and get a very good exchange rate. I don't even need to exchange money," she added.

Nam Son, 25, from Hanoi, visited Thailand for the first time last year and quickly fell in love with the kingdom because "there are so many entertainment services and night-time experiences." He most enjoyed the nation’s culture of night markets, street food courts, dance clubs and even red light districts.

For just VND3 million, Son stayed at a five-star hotel with luxury amenities near downtown, and he did not have any difficulties finding where to eat and hang out.

In addition, Vietnamese tourists have said the diversity of Thailand’s tourism culture has also been a major draw. Every locality has its own ways to attract tourists with unique products.

While Bangkok is famous for its royal palaces and golden pagodas, Pattaya is characterized by its red-light districts, Phuket’s renowned for its pristine beaches and Chiang Mai known for its unique mountain festivals.

Probably the most popular, common and famous feeling tourists express after having visited Thailand is how extraordinarily friendly and polite Thai people are.

Son said Thai people smile at tourists on the streets and every category of vendor or hawker treats them with respect. Even if you just ask for prices without buying anything, Thai vendors still smile and politely thank you, and tell you they hope you will come back in future, he said.

Official priorities

Patsee Permvongsenee, an official at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said one million Vietnamese tourists landed in Thailand last year, making Vietnam one of Thailand's six largest sources of visitors.

"Vietnam has a geographical location very close to Thailand, making travel between the two countries convenient," Permvongsenee said at a recent tourism conference.

Because Thailand considers tourism as top priority, officials spend a lot of time researching tourist behavior to regularly innovate tourism products.

Even though the land of smiles is an "older" or more well-known international tourist destination around the globe, travelers who visit a second time still enjoy new experiences and emotions.

In order to control security and order situation in nightlife areas, authorities in many places such as Bangkok and Pattaya have increased police patrols. Some have even conducted raids on nightclubs to curb crime, Permvongsenee added.

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