With one out of every four travelers to Vietnam this year hailing from Korea, Koreans are expected to play a central role in the revitalization of Vietnam's tourism industry.
Some 2.95 million foreign travelers visited Vietnam this year through November, with South Koreans accounting for 760,000, followed by Americans (266,087) and Cambodians (172,475), based on data from the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.
One factor in the large number of Koreans heading to Vietnam is a new tourism trend -- "longcation." The term refers to a long-term slow-paced vacation, in which the traveler usually stays in a single neighborhood throughout the trip.
"Before the pandemic, first-time (Korean) travelers to Vietnam went to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. But now, they book planes straight to Danang, Phu Quoc or Nha Trang. The three are popular leisure and vacation destinations, far away from the bustling crowd in big cities." a senior official at the country's top travel agency, Hanatour, said.
Danang, located in central Vietnam, is known for its scenic sea views with wide riverfront boardwalks, lined with street food vendors, cafes, restaurants and shops. The My Khe Beach, which stretches 30 kilometers along the coast, is a popular spot for watching the sun set. A wide range of luxury resorts and family-friendly accommodations are available in Danang,
A popular destination for all kinds of water sports, Phu Quoc is located in southern Vietnam. Island-hopping tourists can be found trekking through the lush mountain range and forests across the island. Fresh seafood feasts featuring the island's famous fish sauce is another highlight of Phu Quoc.
Nha Trang has become a trending longcation destination for young Korean vacationers. Along with endless sunshine on the beach, the area offers fascinating cultural sites to explore during the day, and a vibrant night entertainment scene to enjoy after sunset.
Meanwhile, the number of tourists from Vietnam to Korea this year recorded 134,101 as of October, a 28 percent recovery rate from the pre-pandemic 2019, which reached 553,731, based on the KTO’s statistics.
"More than half the tourists from Vietnam to Korea are in their 20s to 30s, who are especially interested in shopping and trying out authentic K-food," Lee Jae-hoon, chief representative at the KTO Vietnam Office, told The Korea Herald.
Do Thi Thanh Huyen, 23, a Vietnamese student studying business at Soongsil University, says tourists of her generation usually start with doing or visiting what they have seen on K-dramas and entertainment shows. "People know hanbok and hanok, but they do not know where they originated from and the stories behind them. I hope more Vietnamese travelers can come to Korea to experience other cities like Jeonju, Andong and Tongyeong." Do said.
With borders now open to international travel, people think of tourism not as an activity to be done alone, but as part of their lifestyle when in a foreign country for different purposes, according to Lee of KTO. “Students who come to learn Korean language, as well as Vietnam firms on business trips to Korea, can also contribute to growth in Korea's general tourism industry.” Lee said.