Three of Vietnam’s most popular tourist hotspots broke into the list of 10 most affordable destinations in Asia, with Hanoi gracing the top.
Backpackers need only $18.3 in Vietnam’s capital, according to 2020 Backpacker Index compiled by Alpha Travel Insurance, a leading British provider of low cost holiday insurance.
The index released on Wednesday ranked major cities in the region based on the minimum budget travelers would need for a day to cover accommodation, transport, meals, drinks and attractions.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s southern metropolis, came third, with daily expenses estimated at $19.48 while ancient town Hoi An in central Quang Nam Province ranked sixth at $21.22.
Lao capital Vientiane ranked second on the list with a daily budget of $18.94 while Myanmar’s Yangon clinched fourth at $20.1. Pokhara in Nepal rounded out the top five.
The remaining top 10 were Thailand’s Chiangmai ($21.4), India’s New Delhi ($22.2), Cambodia’s Phnom Penh ($22.23) and Sri Lanka’s Colombo ($23.13).
Foreigners have favored HCMC and Hanoi for years. In 2019, the southern metropolis, teeming with skyscrapers, French colonial buildings and war relics, received over 8.6 million foreign visitors, up 13 percent year-on-year, according to its tourism department. The capital welcomed more than 7 million foreigners last year, a 17 percent rise.
The two cities were among the 100 most visited global destinations in the annual Top City Destinations Ranking released by global business intelligence firm Euromonitor International last month.
Hoi An, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is much loved for its slow pace of life and tranquil atmosphere. The ancient town has earned one laurel after another this year including topping last year’s tourism hotspot listing by New York-based magazine Travel + Leisure.
On July 16 last year, Google Doodle featured an image of Hoi An with symbols of Chua Cau (Pagoda Bridge) and colorful lanterns, the first Vietnamese destination to be honored thus.
The number of foreign tourists to Vietnam reached an all-time high of 18 million in 2019, up 16.2 percent year-on-year. With its visa waivers, the government expects 20.5 million visitors in 2020 and revenues of $35 billion, equivalent to 10 percent of GDP.
Arrivals from Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Belarus will continue to enjoy Vietnamese visa exemptions for three more years. The initiative commenced in 2015 and had been set to expire on December 31 this year.
European countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Belarus are emerging tourism markets for Vietnam. Western Europeans spend an average of $1,316 per trip while overall foreign visitors spend $900, official data shows.