July 08, 2024

Aussies heading back to Vietnam with VietJet

Australians, especially boomers, seem to be spending money on travel like there is no tomorrow. Let’s hope they’re wrong.

Words and images: Roderick Eime - traveloscopy.com

All kidding aside, we are certainly travelling again. We’re spending big and we’re going overseas, despite some expensive airfares. Where are we going? We seem to be travelling closer to home, especially to the South Pacific and Southeast Asia more so than Europe or the Americas.

Japan is the big buzz right now, but we are also returning to favourites like Thailand and increasingly, Vietnam.

I’ve made two trips to Vietnam post-pandemic and I can vouch for the recovering tourism sector of this once pariah communist state. Bygones are certainly bygones and there is no doubt the socialist republic is one of the most resilient countries on the planet.

At around 1.5million tourism arrivals per month, Vietnam is running at about half the volume of its near-neighbour, Thailand.

Be super careful with your online visa application

Australians still require a visa to enter Vietnam and applications are now fully online. But be careful, there are a couple of tricky bits with the application, so don’t rush it and double double check your inputs, especially the port of arrival. Express options are available and at some airports, like Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) you can request a ‘queue jump’ at arrivals for a small fee.

One piece of exciting news sure to provoke a spike in Australian arrivals is the just-announced direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Hanoi (HAN) by aggressive newcomer, VietJet Air. The Low Cost Carrier (LCC) also serves Adelaide and Brisbane via Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). While some inflight services are bare bones, the aircraft (primarily Airbus A330s and A320s) and cabin crew are definitely up to scratch.

VietJet aircraft (supplied)

National flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, are lagging somewhat in their promotions currently allowing VietJet Air and others like Jetstar an opportunity to capitalise with their own direct services.

So, once we’re on the ground in Vietnam, where are we going?

In Hanoi, visitors are drawn to the Old Quarter, the oldest part of Hanoi now a vibrant nightlife, dining and shopping location. You might want to pay your respects to Ho Chi Minh where he lies in state in his grand mausoleum or stroll around Thái Cực Lake, the largest of the capital’s famous lakes. More recently, thanks to social media, the quirky ‘train street’ offers a great photo opportunity but don't go wandering along the tracks unescorted.

Halong township is growing at a fast pace (RE)

Hanoi is also the jumping off point for Halong Bay where visitors throng on day cruises on the UNESCO World Heritage waterway. My strong recommendation is to take one of the fancy overnight cruises there or nearby Lan Ha Bay. It’s worth the extra pennies to avoid the day tripper crush. Stay a day or two in Halong town, take the cable car and enjoy the sights.

Saigon nightlife (RE)

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is another major city popular with visitors. If you’re a first time visitor, take a day tour like those offered by Intrepid’s Urban Adventures. A city tour should include a street food experience or you can visit any of the several excellent museums. Also on the day tour menu is the Mekong Delta and CuChi Tunnels.

Vietnam's Mekong Delta is an intriguing adventure aboard a luxury river boat (RE)

The Mekong River can also be enjoyed on one of the many river cruises that will also take you into (or from) Cambodia. These vessels offer luxurious accommodations, excellent dining and conduct daily shore excursions during a week-long adventure.

For those looking for a more comprehensive exploration, regional centres like Danang and its famous historic neighbour, Hoi An, have proven particularly popular with visitors to Vietnam.

Superb Capella Hanoi (RE)

Overall, you can be confident of excellent quality accommodations and reasonable prices from all the big names in global hotel chains. Independent properties also compete favourably with the more recognisable brands, so don’t be afraid to step outside the familiar.

Thanks to the many social media channels and online travel agents (OTRs) there are plenty of platforms to do your research. Be sure to check more than one review site as ratings will vary from site to site. Of course, using the services of a trusted travel agent is always a good idea, no matter where in the world you are heading.

For flights to Vietnam, see www.vietjetair.com

The writer was a guest of VietJet Air and Sun Group

All material (c) Copyright Traveloscopy.com unless noted otherwise.

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