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Foreign tourists explain why they return to Vietnam

Friday, March 22, 2024, 11:00 GMT+7
Foreign tourists explain why they return to Vietnam
Visitors drive motorbikes on Cat Ba Island, Hai Phong City, northern Vietnam. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

In early March, Finnish national Miikka Mäkitalo took a stroll through the 2024 Japan Vietnam Festival at 23/9 Park in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City while his girlfriend was getting her hair done at a nearby salon.

This was not Mäkitalo’s first trip to the city. In fact, it was his third.

“I have many Vietnamese friends in Finland. My girlfriend is also Vietnamese,” Mäkitalo said. 

On previous trips to Vietnam, he visited Da Nang, Nha Trang, Bac Lieu, and Soc Trang. Each of these locations, he said, has its own distinct beauty. 

Sunset in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Ray Kuschert / Tuoi Tre News

Sunset in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Ray Kuschert / Tuoi Tre News

But what is the biggest factor that keeps him coming back? The tropical weather!

“It's minus 20 degrees Celsius in Finland,” Mäkitalo said. 

Friendly people, delicious food, and stunning landscapes

Liz McGrath, a teacher from Australia, has visited Vietnam with her family three times. 

“I love visiting Vietnam, and would like to spend at least two weeks there,” she told Tuoi Tre News via Instagram messages.

After having visited the country so many times, McGrath thinks the best way to plan a trip to Vietnam is choosing just two or three destinations to explore.

“I’d be very happy to fly into either Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi as I love the energy of both cities,” she said.

“If traveling in the north, I would spend four to five days in Hanoi enjoying the atmosphere of the lake area, eating in the old town, and exploring the museums.

“I would then also venture to Hue and Hoi An to immerse myself in culture and history.

An aerial photo shows Hoi An Ancient Town, Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam. Photo: Thai Ba Dung / Tuoi Tre

An aerial photo shows Hoi An Ancient Town in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam. Photo: Thai Ba Dung / Tuoi Tre

“If my trip focused on the south, I would spend four to five days revisiting the markets and enjoying the food in Ho Chi Minh City and then venture back to the Mekong Delta to explore that lush area. 

“Friendly people, delicious food, and stunning landscapes are the things that would draw me back to Vietnam time and time again."

McGrath’s first trip to Vietnam was in 1996 as a young backpacker on a south-to-north journey.

Later, she brought her family of six back to Vietnam in 2020 and 2023, visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Hoi An, Hanoi, and Lan Ha Bay.

The authenticity

In 2017, Lithuanian Rita Rasimaite embarked on her inaugural journey to Vietnam, during which she cycled from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. A year later, she returned for a second expedition.

Her journey has inspired one of her friends to make two clycling trips in the Southeast Asian country.

“I feel like I’m one of the biggest ambassadors for Vietnam tourism, I keep dreaming and talking about going back to Vietnam a lot with my friends,” Rasimaite said. 

“My favorite things about Vietnam are the honest and friendly locals, delicious cuisine, beautiful nature, general cultural experience, and the weather."

She said that Vietnam maintains its authenticity, which she finds particularly appealing.

Rasimaite remarked that pinpointing a single favorite place in Vietnam is challenging for her due to the country's diverse and captivating nature.

“I love Ho Chi Minh City for its buzz, I love the north for its diversity, Phu Quoc for its beaches and sunsets, Hoi An for its light magic, Da Lat for its greenery and fresh air, and Hanoi for its history,” she said.

A part of Phu Quoc Island off the southern Vietnamese province of Kien Giang. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre

A part of Phu Quoc Island off the southern Vietnamese province of Kien Giang. Photo: Chi Cong / Tuoi Tre

“But usually it’s not about the place, but the things that happen and people that you meet.

“There are some places that, in a tourist's eyes, might not be special, but I had the best conversations and dinners [in those places] with locals and felt very in love with Vietnam.”

For those who have plans to go to Vietnam, Rasimaite said she would highly recommend little eateries and street stalls where the vendors only specialize in one or two dishes, for “they always taste so good.”

“And always ask locals for recommendations, they will tell you what and where to eat!”

Bowls of bún bò Huế (Hue spicy beef noodle soup) are served at a quán in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Bowls of 'bún bò Huế' (Hue-style spicy beef noodle soup) are served at a 'quán' in District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

15 days in Vietnam

In March, Ali Z visited Vietnam for the first time.

Speaking with Tuoi Tre News, the Iranian travel blogger shared his plan to spend 15 days exploring Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, Ninh Binh, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and many other places if he has enough time. 

“I had wanted to visit for a long time, and in recent years there has been a lot of good content about Vietnam on Instagram, so that's made me more enthusiastic about coming,” he said.

Ali Z cited several factors as the primary inspirations for his trip, including the cuisine, the distinct culture, the varied landscapes and architecture spanning from the north to the south, and the enchanting destinations within Vietnam.

Despite thorough pre-trip research, Ali Z found himself surprised by the modernity of Ho Chi Minh City upon his arrival in the Southeast Asian country.

“It's a much bigger city than what I expected,” he said. 

“The busy streets and all the things that happen at the same time impressed me. 

“It's not like an ordinary city where you don't see anything in particular happening. 

“Here, you see all these different lights, food stalls everywhere, and motorcycles passing by.”

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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