Vietnamese tourists find Thailand a 'second home'

By Bich Phuong   March 3, 2023 | 10:29 pm PT
Vietnamese tourists find Thailand a 'second home'
Vietnamese tourists dressed in traditional Thai costumes take a selfie at Wat Arun temple ahead of the Lunar New Year in Bangkok, Thailand, January 18, 2023. Photo by Reuters/Chalinee Thirasupa
Warm hospitality, convenient visa policies and modern infrastructure make Thailand a top outbound destination among Vietnamese tourists, some of whom call it their "second home."

Tran Le Ngoc Thang from Hanoi has traveled to Thailand 10 times.

Three of those trips have come since Thailand – the country of golden pagodas – reopened for tourism post-lockdown in mid-2021.

"It felt as if I had been visiting my second homeland," Thang said.

He said a trip to Thailand only costs VND5-7 million ($211-296) because he hardly buys anything.

"I usually look for cheap air tickets three to four months before my departure. When I arrive in Thailand, I travel by public transport to save money," Thang said.

Ngoc Thang (L) with his family in a trip to Thailand during the Lunar New Year, January 2023. Photo courtesy of Ngoc Thang

Ngoc Thang (L) with his family in a trip to Thailand during the Lunar New Year, January 2023. Photo courtesy of Ngoc Thang

Tanes Petsuwan, deputy director general of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said at the "Amazing Thailand Festival 2023" event held in Ho Chi Minh City last week that Vietnam was one of Thailand's six biggest tourism markets.

Last year, Thailand received 470,000 tourists from Vietnam, nearly half of the pre-pandemic figure.

Cheap air tickets, simple immigration procedures, hospitality and modern transport infrastructure make Thailand ideal for Vietnamese tourists, Petsuwan added.

In order to retain international tourists, Thailand has adopted policies to upgrade the quality of tourism services while ensuring revenue.

Thailand currently offers visa exemptions for over 50 countries, including the United States and European countries, for stays of up to 45 days.

Southeast Asia's second largest economy last year launched its Long Term Residence Visa, which allows foreigners to stay in the country for up to 10 years with multiple entries.

The abundance of direct flights connecting Vietnam’s tourist hotspots with Thailand’s major cities is also a major draw.

Currently, Vietnamese tourists can fly directly from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Nha Trang to Thailand’s Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

This year, the total number of direct flights between the two countries each week is about 285, equivalent to 53,000 seats, an increase of about 24% compared to 2019.

Some tour operators in Vietnam also said Thailand was Vietnam's most important outbound tourism market.

Huynh Phan Phuong Hoang, deputy general director of tour operator Vietravel, said that the company now serves two to five groups of tourists traveling to Thailand every day.

Do Tran Hoang An, deputy director of Ben Thanh Tourist Retail Travel Center, said the number of tourists booking Thai tours at his company is the highest among all markets, usually about four to eight groups per month.

With an average growth rate of 13% per annum since 2010, and a contribution of around 15% of GDP, tourism has become an important engine of growth for the Thai economy.

Thailand targets 30 million foreign arrivals this year, after recording a strong recovery post-reopening, with 11.5 million last year.

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