Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

By Nguyen Quy   April 19, 2023 | 08:07 pm PT
Beach resorts, coffee shops and streets all over the ancient town of Hoi An in central Vietnam are packed with foreign tourists who have returned in droves post-pandemic.
Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Foreign tourists sit in front of The Son Bistro on Le Loi Street April 14.

The café is famous for its striking yellow façade, a distinctive feature of Hoi An rarely found in other parts of the country.

Hoi An received 694,000 foreign visitors in the first quarter of this year, a figure that has already surpassed the whole of last year’s total (614,000), according to statistics from the Hoi An Center for Culture, Sports, Radio and Television.

Nguyen Van Son, chairman of Hoi An Town, said the number of foreign visitors to Hoi An has been gradually recovering to pre-pandemic levels.

"I felt happy to see downtown streets in Hoi An flooded with groups of foreign tourists, and I hope that visa policies will be relaxed soon so that the inbound tourism industry can really take off," he added.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Joon, a South Korean tourist, wearing sunglasses takes a cyclo ride around the old quarter.

"Hoi An was really beautiful and clean. This was the first time I had returned to visit Hoi An since the pandemic broke out three years ago," he said.

A one-hour cyclo tour costs VND150,000 ($6.38) per person.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Foreigners drive motorbikes near the Hoi An Market.

The town has been a pioneer of pedestrian-friendly streets in Vietnam since 2004. Motorbikes and cars are banned from the town center for large parts of the day – from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

A group of foreign tourists talk to a local street vendor in front of the Hoi An Market.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

A foreign woman uses her smartphone to capture the bustling atmosphere in front of the Hoi An Market, which was named one of world's "best food paradises" by Australian magazine Lonely Planet.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

A group of South Korean tourists prepare to explore Hoi An via cyclo.

Tran Ca, a cyclo driver, said his customers are mainly South Koreans who travel in large groups.

"During the peak travel season, I can earn VND400,000-800,000 a day. Language barriers make it difficult for us to communicate with foreign tourists and introduce the beauty of Hoi An to them," he added.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Tourists ride their bikes on Hoi An outskirts.

Bob, a tourist from the Netherlands, said his family rented bikes at their hotel for VND30,000 a day.

"Cycling through paddy fields and ancient houses in Hoi An is an enjoyable experience. The atmosphere is great and sometimes locals say 'Hello' to us," he said.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Lee, a South Korean tourist, tries mi quang (Quang-style noodle) at a fish market on Tam Tien beach, a one-hour drive from Hoi An.

“I have never tried the dish before. It’s very delicious,” he said.

The dish features thick, wide, yellow rice noodles served in a red-orange turmeric sauce with a choice of pork, chicken, shrimp, quail egg, mussel, and eel served in a beefy broth.

Mi quang is a signature dish of the central region and has been praised by international food magazines several times.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Tourists walk the ancient town at night.

Most shops in Hoi An are closed by 10 p.m. and the nightlife is still quiet.

Due to the recent tourist influx, local authorities have strengthened security forces to prevent petty theft and tourist scams targeting foreigners.

Hoi An enjoys post-Covid tourism boom

Western tourists sunbathe by a swimming pool at Victoria Hoi An Resort & Spa, which overlooks Cua Dai Beach.

Anne, a tourist from the U.K., said her family rented a beach-view villa for four nights.

“Before the pandemic, we had been here twice. The pool is nice and the staff are friendly,” she said.

A representative of the resort said most guests staying at the resort were European tourists.

“Some of their favorite activities include bike tours around Tra Que Vegetable village and sidecar tours through paddy fields,” said the representative, who added that return visitors to the resort accounted for 25% of current foreign guests.

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