Foreigners keen on returning to a more relaxed Vietnam
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Foreign tourists kayak in Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh Province. Photo courtesy of Lux Group
Many western tourists who have already visited Vietnam are hoping to return this year under more relaxed visa policies with no entry restrictions.
George Smith, a 58-year-old British citizen, said he was happy to hear that Vietnam would fully reopen inbound tourism from March 15 after nearly two years.
"To say I am delighted to hear and read about this news is an understatement," he said.
"My trip in March 2020 was devastating as I could not visit Vietnam and had to stay in Thailand instead," he said.
"My cousin from Australia and I were going to go to Hanoi and do the Ha Giang loop, but flights to Vietnam were suspended and the borders were closed."
Vietnam closed inbound tourism, suspended regular international flights as well as halted granting visas for foreigners in March 2020 to contain the spread of the virus.
"I am going to wait a couple of months to plan my visit to see how things develop. When I am comfortable to book my trip I wish to visit Da Nang, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An and Ninh Binh," Smith said.
Robert Heather of New Zealand felt relieved after Vietnam announced the official timeline for a full tourism reopening. He said he'd been patiently waiting for the past two years to return to Vietnam.
"I have visited Hoi An, Da Nang, HCMC and Vung Tau in 2016 and Vietnam is really a nice place. I will only travel once I get my booster shot and will see what the travel restrictions are then."
Heather said he planned to return to Vietnam this year and visit northern localities.
Australian Peter Scott, a Queensland native, said Australia reopened its border from February 21 onwards and it was great to hear that Vietnam would also reopen international tourism starting next month.
"That's the best news I've heard in the last two years. I'll wait a few more weeks to return to Vietnam," Scott said.
Jan Hansen of Denmark plans to return to HCMC with his wife in December this year after nearly two years.
"It's great that Vietnam is open again. I am looking forward to visiting that amazing country again. There are a lot of places I want to see.
He has been to Vietnam twice in 2016 and 2018 and visited beach towns like Nha Trang and Da Nang.
"Can’t wait to see these places again."
Jan Hansen (L) and his wife pose for a photo in Da Nang City during their trip in 2018. Photo courtesy of Jan Hansen
All foreigners that VnExpress International spoke to hoped that the Vietnamese government would relax visa policies for foreign tourists to pre-pandemic times and remove all travel restrictions so that they feel free to visit Vietnam.
"I am planning this trip with my cousin who lives in Australia so policies for visitors from Australia and the U.K. must be similar," said Smith.
Peter Scott, meanwhile, felt the government should unilaterally offer visa exemptions to more countries, including Australia, to attract more foreign tourists back to the country.
Before the pandemic, Vietnam was offering visa waivers to visitors from 24 countries and territories including ASEAN co-members. After the pandemic broke out in 2020, visa-free entries were suspended.
From March 15, Vietnam will reopen inbound and outbound tourism under new normal conditions, with foreign tourists allowed to visit the country without booking tour packages.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has backed prospective foreign visitors and proposed reviving the visa exemption policy.