Tourists fed up with overcrowding, overpriced services during holiday

By Bich Phuong    May 5, 2023 | 03:49 pm PT
Tourists fed up with overcrowding, overpriced services during holiday
Tourists on a beach in Phu Quoc Island, April 30, 2023. Photo by Truong Phu Quoc
Though the tourism industry worked hard to cash in on the recent holiday rush, many tourists felt "more tired than joyful" with overcrowding, traffic jams and overpricing ruining their vacations.

Returning from Sa Pa, a mountainous highlands town about five hours from Hanoi, after the 5-day holiday break that wrapped up on Wednesday, Tuan Pham said that town was too crowded due to high visitor numbers.

Many roads in the downtown area were congested, and traveling two km by taxi from Cat Cat Village’s ticketing point to Sa Pa Market took nearly two hours.

"I feel disappointed because we were overcharged during the holidays. Cat Cat Village looked sleazy and has lost all of its cultural identity," Tuan said.

"I didn’t feel anything about the beauty of unique cultural identities as visitors flocked to take pictures in Tibetan-style costumes that didn’t fit Hmong culture."

A couple of kilometers from downtown Sa Pa, Cat Cat is famous for its rice terraces and mountainous hills and distinctive customs of the Hmong ethnic minority.

Ngoc Tram from HCMC said her group had also experienced a bad travel experience during the recent break.

They were stuck for over two hours on HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway due to traffic jams and could not make the ferry in time to get to Phu Quy Island off the central coast, forcing them to buy new boat tickets and change their itinerary.

"We had to rent a small hotel room in Phan Thiet Town for VND900,000 ($39) a night to wait for a boat service the next morning. Our schedule was messed up and we felt too tired for the trip," she said.

"I felt more tired than joyful traveling during the long holidays and will consider staying at home during upcoming national holidays to avoid overcrowding."

Phu Quy Island, 120 km southeast of Phan Thiet, witnessed travel fever in recent years with accommodation facilities and services becoming overloaded.

The island received over 10,000 tourists during the five-day break, around a third of its population.

A big crowd of tourists at a wharf on Phu Quy Island, April 30, 2023. Photo by Vi Chau

A big crowd of tourists at a wharf on Phu Quy Island, April 30, 2023. Photo by Vi Chau

In Phu Quoc, tourists were not only fed up with high airfares but also complained about expensive tourism services.

Mai Anh from HCMC said she booked a tour to visit three islets of Phu Quoc for VND800,000 but it was boring and mainly aimed at taking photos.

"Water activities such as seabed walking charged an extra fee that was more expensive than the original tour price," she complained.

In addition, another tourist said the price of seafood on Vietnam's largest island was two to three times more expensive than in Ho Chi Minh City.

Many tourists said they could not have many days off, and could only travel with their families during such holidays, but overcrowding and scams tested their endurance.

According to a survey by VnExpress of 10,000 readers conducted in April this year, 51% said they would stay at home during the holidays, 18% wanted to visit their families and about 30% chose to travel.

Vietnam's tourism industry earned revenue of VND24 trillion (US$1.02 billion) during the five-day break to celebrate the Reunification Day and May Day holidays from April 29 to May 3, up 9% year-on-year.

The country served more than 300,000 foreign visitors and 7 million domestic tourists during the holiday, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Last year, Vietnam served 5 million tourists during the holiday.

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