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​Yachts, the latest toys for affluent Vietnamese

By Minh Tam, Phan Duong   November 14, 2022 | 12:16 am PT
After paying VND2 billion (US$80,400) for a yacht and sailing it for three years, Doanh Nguyen says the experience is not something you can buy with money.

"Sailing a yacht alone at 50–60 knots and enjoying the breeze without having to worry about traffic jams and dust is a wonderful sensation," the 40-year-old pharmaceutical entrepreneur says.

A few years ago he had noticed many foreigners in his neighborhood in HCMC's Thao Dien having private yachts.

So in 2019 he and a few of his friends obtain sailing licenses and bought used yachts.

His vessel has a cabin and a place for BBQ and can accommodate 10 passengers.

Doanh says he has sailed every weekend since then, taking his family to explore the lovely landscapes around Phu My Bridge and Cat Lai Port, sailing to the sea mouth in Can Gio and to Binh Duong and Dai Phuoc.

"Sometimes I stop my yacht in the middle of the river and relax while observing the riverfront homes, the Bitexco Building or Landmark 81. To me, these are priceless and unforgettable experiences."

A Prestige 520 yacht that costs 1 million euros (over $1 million) on the Saigon River in November 2020. Photo courtesy of Hoang Duc

A Prestige 520 yacht that costs 1 million euros (over $1 million) on the Saigon River in November 2020. Photo courtesy of Hoang Duc

Huynh Nhan, who owns a four-star hotel in the coastal Quy Nhon Town, used to enjoy racing motorcycles and supercars, but now prefers yachts.

He was the first person in his town to own a yacht when he bought a Jeanneau Leader 40, a 12.33-meter vessel with a hard top, semi-enclosed saloon and two guest cabins, for $700,000 in February. The galley is ventilated, while the cabins have plenty of open space and natural light.

"It's like having a house on the river," he says. "It is an experience that cannot be compared with driving a supercar or a motorcycle."

"I use it to do business with important clients and take my family on vacations. When I'm not using it, I rent it out."

A businessman, who asked to remain unnamed, in the solar battery industry living in HCMC's Binh Thanh District bought a VND11-billion Merry Fisher 1095 yacht in August after three years of research.

Yachts are the latest toys for Vietnam’s wealthy.

According to the HCMC Department of Transport, more than 50 of the 63 yachts and high-speed passenger boats registered with it are owned by individuals.

A department official says: "Forty new vessels have been registered in the last two years. It can be seen that people's desire to own, commute and travel by boat is growing."

Three years ago there were only three or four companies in the country selling imported yachts, but now there are more than 15.

Private yachts are a symbol of luxury.

Interior of a luxury yacht owned by a person in HCMC. Photo courtesy of Vietyatch Saigon

Interior of a luxury yacht owned by a person in HCMC. Photo courtesy of Vietyatch Saigon

Hoang Duc, communication director of yacht company Vietyacht, says there used to be only two or three used yachts in Vietnam, but the first new one imported in 2015 sparked off a buying rush, which has peaked after the Covid outbreak.

"[This year] orders have jumped by more than 50%," Duc says.

"Some customers won't be able to get delivery until 2025 or even later."

His company delivered a yacht to a young customer in Binh Duong Province in early October.

He had a collection of six supercars and other expensive automobiles, but was tired of being stuck in traffic.

He plans to take his relatives to magnificent islands such as Con Dao and Phu Quoc and to the Mekong Delta.

"Collecting automobiles is exclusively for you. However, collecting yachts can strengthen bonds with those around you."

According to real estate consultancy Knight Frank's 16th edition of the Wealth Report published in March, Vietnam had 1,234 super-rich people (worth $30 million or more) and 72,135 dollar millionaires last year.

Yacht companies know increase in wealth is directly related to demand for their products.

A brand new yacht often costs more than $500,000, but some high-end recreational fishing boats with nearly all of the same equipment as a yacht and costing $100,000-500,000 are also highly popular.

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy sales director of Vietyacht in Saigon, says his company sells vessels made by many of the world's most well-known yacht manufacturers, Jeanneau, Prestige, Foutaine Pajot, Riva, Ferretti, and Pershing, and sales are growing annually at 30%.

In Vietnam, the most popular is Jeanneau, especially its Merry Fisher versions. Many of the models Vietyacht distributes are available at VND2 billion or more.

With this pace, Minh anticipates that superyachts costing from tens to hundreds of millions of euros will be sought after in the near future.

Elaborating on why yachts are a luxury hobby, he says, in addition to their price, their upkeep is also expensive.

Owner of the yacht Merry Fisher 1095 (R) in Binh Duong Province during the handover in early October. Photo courtesy of Hoang Duc

Owner of the yacht Merry Fisher 1095 (R) in Binh Duong Province during the handover in early October. Photo courtesy of Hoang Duc

A businessman in the solar battery industry who lives in HCMC's Binh Thanh District, who wants to remain unnamed, bought a VND11-billion yacht, the Merry Fisher 1095, in August.

He says he spends up to hundreds of millions of dong a month on travel, maintenance and repairs. Mooring it costs VND20–30 million. The air conditioner needs to be on constantly to keep the interior systems cool under the blazing sun even while the yacht is docked.

If the owner is unable to sail the vessel, they need to employ a pilot.

Doanh says the monthly mooring fee has doubled to VND20 million.

His yacht is powered by gasoline and consumes hundreds of gallons an hour. For example, going to Can Gio and back requires 400 gallons of gasoline.

"The cost of owning and maintaining a yacht is four or times that of a car.

"The owners must deal with the hassle of finding a safe place to anchor the vessel and lack of gas stations along rivers.

"I completely discourage people from pursuing this hobby unless they have a great passion for it."

But he himself is currently acquiring an electric yacht, which is expected to cost more than VND5 billion.

 
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