Vietnam tourism is not rebounding as fast as some other South East Asian countries. Nomad Girl reported how for digital nomads Vietnam is a bit of a nightmare due to the possibility of only staying 30 days maximum on an e-visa. An e-visa which is only available for citizens of 80 countries. All other visa options for the moment have not been resumed. This and the fact that Chinese tour operators have not started including Vietnam itineraries ,means it is very quiet when it comes to international tourism in Vietnam.
The next 3 to 6 months are ideal if you want to visit Vietnam and not have the crazy crowds. Before the Covid pandemic Vietnam had 19 million international tourist and this was reduced to 3.6 million in 2022 and is targeted to 8 million in 2023. I was in Vietnam in 2018 and noticed some overcrowding issues at popular tourist sites. Now that I am here I noticing how quiet things really are. If you have not been now is the perfect time.
Visit places when others don't
I love going places that others try to avoid. In June 2020 I was staying in an Airbnb in Venice for one month just as the first wave of Covid-19 was subsiding and Italy opened up. Tourists were too scared to visit, I had Venice to myself, no lines and even reduced prices for attractions. I loved it so much I did the same thing again in 2021. In February 2021 I had to visit Rome to renew my Australian passport. There was a curfew on restaurants at 18:00, but to my surprise the museums and the Vatican where still open during the day. I could not believe my luck when in the Vatican museum there were only 10 people in the Sistine chapel. Why were the Romans not visiting, I still don't get it.
Visiting Vietnam now will not be that quiet as what I experienced in Rome but still now is the time to make the most of it.
Mekong Delta without the crowds
In 2018 I did a Mekong delta tour, this was a day trip that you can do from Ho Chi Minh City. There were severe overcrowding issues, especially when it came to do the canoe trip on a small canal. I remember more than 30 canoes creating a traffic jam. If you go now you can experience it again as how it should be.
Enjoy HCMC markets without getting pushed
Anyone that has visited the Ben Thanh market or Saigon Square where you can buy all sorts of fake goods and factory rejects from brands like the North Face, will remember the pushing and shoving going on. This used to be an experience from hell. Now you can take your time to look around in calm and quiet, you will still have to barter hard though.
Enjoy beaches without the international crowds
I just went to the closest nice beach near Ho Chi Minh City which is Ho Tram and is about a 2 hour drive South East. What struck me that there were hardly any western tourists. If so I could count them on both hands.
Hoi An without the cruise ships and Chinese tour groups
I am in Hoi An as I write this article and it is a place I know well as I made this once a base where I stayed for 10 weeks. This UNESCO heritage town used to be packed with tourists, especially tour groups or cruise ship passengers that would come over from nearby Da Nang. Now Hoi An is still very quiet with the odd tourist here and there, and you get to experience the charm of its Japanese houses. Hoi An is one of those places that still feels old Vietnamese, to experience this with the crowds is amazing.
I managed to get a great deal on my Airbnb here and I had such a warm welcome only to find out I was the first visitor for them since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Vietnam opened up in March 2022, we are almost 11 months later and I am the first visitor. This is not a shabby Airbnb, this is the nicest Airbnb experience I have ever had. Here is a link to the listing if interested https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/12817464
Visit Vietnam now
At my Hoi An stay I realised that I am blessed to be in Vietnam, that certain restrictions and a slow re-opening makes life more difficult for tourists. These restrictions also come with a silver lining for the ones that do make the effort. Enjoy things without the crowds, and support people and businesses that really need it. I was already too late with regards to Thailand where in the past 3 months I have experienced peak tourism coming back again quicker than I thought.
Go now to Vietnam or within the next few months and you will be rewarded.