(CTN News) – Because of its more visitor-friendly visa policy and a wider selection of fun activities, Thailand has surpassed Vietnam as the favorite vacation destination of international travelers.
Aussie Grant Wilson, 61, who has been based in Vietnam for the past six years, boasted of having visited Thailand more than 30 times.
Wilson claims Thailand has been better at developing tourism than Vietnam, particularly regarding the quality of tourism services, despite Vietnam’s gorgeous scenery, great food, and welcoming people.
Westerners will find various stores and commodities reasonably priced in Thailand’s shopping malls and night markets.
Buses, taxis, tuk-tuks, and songtaews (a taxi or buses adapted from pick-up or larger trucks) make it easy for visitors to get around Thailand, the land of smiles and golden pagodas.
However, Grant is only familiar with taking xe om (motorbike taxis) or buses in Vietnam.
The fare for a visitor to ride the train from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport into the city center is 35 baht ($1). Bangkok’s two most reliable public transportation systems are the BTS Skytrain and the MRT Underground.
When it comes to public transportation, Vietnam is lagging behind the times.
The Cat Linh-Ha Dong line in Hanoi, Vietnam’s first metro, opened to the public in 2021; it does not yet serve several of the city’s most popular landmarks. Due to ongoing delays, Ho Chi Minh City’s (HCMC) first metro line has not yet begun service.
Grant continued by saying that whereas Thailand is known for its “red light districts” in Pattaya and Bangkok, Vietnam has a lackluster nightlife scene.
“Vietnam has more magnificent natural vistas than Thailand, but conservation in Vietnam is undeveloped,” stated Grant. “Going to national parks in Thailand is a great way to observe exotic animals up close, including tigers and elephants.
Wild elephants are only sighted in a few locations in Vietnam, with Yok Don in Dak Lak (in the Central Highlands) being one of them.”
Travel writer Leoni Becker from Germany stated that Thailand, with its “diversified travel experiences” like the “full moon party,” an all-night beach party that began in Hat Rin on the island of Ko Pha-ngan in 1985, has been attracting more foreign tourists than Vietnam.
Thailand had 11.5 million foreign visitors, whereas Vietnam only had 3.5 million.
An all-time high of 18 million international visitors and $18.3 billion in revenue were recorded for Vietnam in 2019. These numbers pale compared to Thailand’s 39.8 million arrivals and $60 billion in revenue from international tourism in the same year.
Hanoi’s AZA Travel Co. CEO, Nguyen Tien Dat, lamented that Vietnam lags far behind China in the tourism industry.
Phuket and Pattaya, two of Thailand’s most visited resort towns, are teeming with nightlife options to attract Western visitors.
Bangkok may not have the long, sandy beaches of Nha Trang, Da Nang, or Phu Quoc, but it has a thriving nightlife scene on streets like Nana and Soi Cowboy, packed from midnight till dawn every day.
Backpacker bars and dance clubs in HCMC’s Bui Vien and Hanoi’s Ta Hien must close at 2 a.m., while Hanoi’s walking street is only open on weekends and offers few entertainment options for international visitors.
Many Westerners who want to take extended holidays choose Thailand because of the country’s relaxed visa policy, according to experts in the tourism industry.
Citizens of over 50 nations (including the US and European countries) can enter Thailand without a visa and stay up to 45 days.
Last year, the country with the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia introduced the Long Term Resident Visa, which permits foreigners to stay in the country for up to 10 years with numerous entries.
Tourism expert Pham Hong Long from Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities noted that although Thailand and Vietnam share many physical and cultural traits, the former’s approach to tourism has set them apart.
When many nations were still struggling to recover in 2021 from the pandemic catastrophe, Thailand was the first Southeast Asian country to restart tourism with the help of its “Phuket Tourism Sandbox project,” which relaxed quarantines and Covid restrictions for international visitors.
Statistics presented at the 2018 Vietnam Tourism Summit show that tourists from abroad typically stay in the country for nine days. While Vietnamese tourists spent only $96 per day on average, Thai tourists spent an average of $163.
While Thailand anticipates 30 million international visitors this year, Vietnam has set a goal of 8 million as the government begins efforts to revitalize the country’s tourism industry.
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