The year hasn’t ended yet, but Sydney Luoc is already putting together an itinerary for her yearly vacation with family, including her parents, who are now in their late-50s. She plans to take the whole family to Hoi An, where her parents “are sure to enjoy the calm atmosphere.”
It has become a family tradition to travel together at least once a year, Sydney shared, even if it’s just in Vung Tau, a 2-hour ride from Saigon, or as far as Sa Pa.
“I remember traveling a lot with my parents and siblings when we were young. It was always fun, and I think that was what made us closer. Now that I have my own family, I want to do the same with my kids,” said Sydney, who works at a bank in Saigon.
Vietnamese are known for having close-knit families. The local culture here puts so much emphasis on collectivity and togetherness, so much so that families of families live under one roof.
So scenes of a 10-member family traveling together is a common sight. It’s also the reason local hospitality properties market their resorts as family-friendly and build villas that can accommodate more than five people.
Now that there are basically no restrictions on domestic and international travel, Vietnamese are going all out on their travel plans, taking everyone in the household into a vacation of a lifetime.
A survey by digital travel platform Agoda revealed that 59% of Vietnamese travelers are most likely to take at least one trip with immediate family, and 58% plan to travel with extended family in the next 12 months. These numbers are far higher than the percentage of those who want to travel only with their partner or spouse (48%).
Traveling with friends is also a popular trend, the survey found. About 63% of Vietnamese respondents said they are keen to catch up with friends and take at least one trip together.
For 20-year-old Thien Cuc, traveling with friends means more freedom. She just returned from a weekend getaway to Da Lat with a group of friends — a first of what they plan to be an annual leisure trip together.
“I don’t have many chances to travel with friends, and I only have a few true friends I enjoy traveling with. But exploring new places and having complete freedom — like staying up until sunrise — is fun and enjoyable. There’s not much pressure as we all just want to relax and make good memories.”
Convenience vs. price
Traveling in big groups have more complex requirements — from choosing large accommodation (or interconnecting rooms) to demanding extra amenities and services, like an infant crib.
The kind of accommodation one chooses often determines how the vacation experience will turn out. For many Vietnamese travelers, all-inclusive resorts are highly preferred. This means all essentials are included in the booking price, taking away all the hassles of paying extra for food and activities incurred during the stay.
The same survey also found that Vietnamese are least likely to consider budget hotels and hotel chains, emphasizing their preference for convenience and comfort, especially when traveling with children and elders.
In comparison, survey respondents from the Philippines and Indonesia lean more toward budget hotels and vacation rentals, which offer more flexible packages.
Domestic travel offers more comfort
With the threat of the coronavirus still lurking, many travelers are still hesitant to go on an international vacation. More than three-quarters of Agoda respondents indicated concern about borders closing again while they are overseas.
Anxiousness toward outbound travel means more preference for domestic tourism. This also coincides with a November report by Visa, where as many as 76% of Vietnamese are planning to travel within the country, far more than the 38% planning overseas trips.
“Domestic destinations fit better for most Vietnamese travelers, with a strong preference for weekend getaways and short holidays,” said Ms. Dang Tuyet Dung, Country Manager for Visa Vietnam and Laos. “Almost twice as many Vietnamese travelers opt to travel domestically, to places that can best accommodate their new priorities.
Domestic tourism is currently the driving force behind Vietnam’s spectacular tourism rebound, with numbers already surpassing the initial government target of 60 million. According to Google Trends, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Hanoi, Da Lat, and Nha Trang were the top five most popular destinations for local tourists in the first half of the year.
Aside from travelers’ confidence in Vietnam’s COVID-19 protocols, reasonable prices and diverse tourism products were vital reasons for the spike in the number of local tourists.
Vietnam will continue to rely on domestic tourism in the upcoming year, as troublesome visa regulations remain a deterring factor for foreign tourists to visit the country.