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Escape winter’s chill, dive into paradise in Vietnam

Jan. 6, 2024 - 16:01 By Park Jun-hee
The Hon Thom Cable Car is the world’s longest non-stop three-way cable car in Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park in Phu Quoc. (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)

HANOI, Vietnam -- If the abounding lush green paddies and the Trump-Kim Hanoi summit click in your mind about Vietnam, you’re missing out on a big part, because the country has much more to offer.

From waves gently hitting the shores and palm trees swaying in the distance to natural wildlife experiences, Vietnam aims to be South Korean travelers’ most sought-after destination this year, with its unique blend of traditions, cuisine and customs.

The country had welcomed over 11.2 million international tourists by November last year, of which Koreans accounted for the largest portion, with 3.2 million, or 28.5 percent of the total.

“Koreans remain the No. 1 market of visitors to Vietnam, and they see Vietnam as their favorite tourist destination because of the culture, society and cuisine, so they feel like home,” Ha Van Sieu, vice chairman of the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism, told The Korea Herald.

A stunning beach along Phu Quoc’s coastline provides a stunning view of the sun for travelers staying at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa. (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)

In line with the VNAT’s vision, “Awaken your senses to new sights,” Vietnam’s tourism body seeks to expand its reach by promoting more satellite destinations.

They include Ninh Binh, some 90 kilometers from Hanoi, where visitors can roam free from crowds and catch a glimpse of the region’s culture, as well as the Mekong Delta to explore the agricultural heartland’s floating market.

In addition, the government-owned Vietnam Airlines directs or charters flights to major tourist attractions, with an average flight time of three to five hours. The country also extends a visa-free stay for South Korean passport holders of up to 45 days.

Phu Quoc

Take a dip in the white sandy beaches and clear waters of Phu Quoc, a triangle-shaped island in the southern part of Vietnam, to wash away the stress.

Known as the “pearl of Vietnam,” the up-and-coming travel destination will blow away the cobwebs with the magic of its sunset and sunrise, distinct local produce, the romance of its nature and an entertainment complex.

The sun rises over the beach in front of JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa. (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
A tourist walks along the private beach at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa. (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
“Kiss Bridge” in Sunset Town in Phu Quoc (Sun Group)

Visitors can stop by the Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park, home to the world’s longest nonstop three-way cable car and a modern theme park with various adventurous games and water slides. In particular, the Hon Thom Cable Car is a must-try experience, as the route connects Phu Quoc Island to Hon Thom, also known as “Pineapple Island,” in 15 minutes.

An Instagrammable spot dubbed “Kiss Bridge” in the Sunset Town awaits those wanting to revel in the joy of love. Inspired by Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” the bridge spans 800 meters and consists of two separate halves with a gap of 30 centimeters, where couples can perch on each side for a smooch. Later at night, they can enjoy the “Kiss of the Sea” show at the beachfront stage complex.

After enjoying the scenic beauty, visitors allured by culture and cuisine can stroll through the Vui Phet beach night market, with more than 40 local product stalls, handmade gifts and dining experiences.


Located in central Vietnam, Danang is a vibrant city that has become a cultural melting pot with long periods of sunshine and outdoor attractions for the adventurous.

Amusement parks may not be to everyone’s taste, but Sun World Ba Na Hills, a 45-minute drive from the coastal city’s downtown, offers to whisk travelers away for a day of fun. There, visitors can escape the normalities of daily life by hopping on a cable car ranked among the 10 most impressive cable-car systems in the world by CNN.

The Golden Bridge is an iconic 150-meter-long bridge held up by two giant hands in Sun World Ba Na Hills in Da Nang. (Sun Group)
The InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
The view from the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)

After arriving at the peak of Chua Mountain, travelers can head down the Golden Bridge, an iconic 150-meter-long hand bridge lifted by two giant hands, to enjoy the architectural delight. Visitors can also transport themselves to a world of flowers by walking through Le Jardin d’Amour flower garden. The European-themed recreational complex houses a French village that replicates France’s old architecture.

When sunsets paint the sky in magical hues at night, voyagers can enjoy the stupendous Dragon Bridge, serene cruises and small shops along the waters of the familiarly named Han River.


Vietnam’s capital is where old and new coexist and where locals like to stroll and cool off.

Greeting visitors when they step into the bustling city is the Hanoi Opera House. Modeled after the Palais Garnier in Paris, the concert hall showcases ballet, symphonies and operas throughout the year.

Night view of the Hanoi Opera House (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
Night view of Trang Tien Plaza in Hanoi (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)

Nearby is Trang Tien Plaza, the first high-end shopping center in the capital’s French Quarter. Behind the historic center lies Hoan Kiem Lake, where one can saunter in the shade.

Setting aside its dynamic culture, the frenzied city also has a slew of tantalizing culinary options, such as the Trang Tien Ice Cream Shop, any number of spots for a bowl of pho or a cup of egg coffee at Cafe Giang, one of the first cafes to serve the drink in Hanoi. Visitors may want to stay in Hanoi “pho-ever” after trying these delicacies.

A bowl of Pho (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
A vanilla cone from the Trang Tien Ice Cream Shop in Hanoi (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
Egg coffee at Cafe Giang in Hanoi (Park Jun-hee/The Korea Herald)
The Queen Cable Car in Sun World Halong Complex in Ha Long Bay (Sun Group)

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a city with a multihued cosmopolitan character. The Saigon Opera House, also known as the Municipal Theatre, is a must-visit destination for those interested in how the city draws together the modern and antique in its own way. The War Remnants Museum can also reshape visitors’ view of history concerning the US invasion of Vietnam.

This trip was sponsored by Sun Group, Vietnam Airlines, Saigon Tourist and Charmvit Group.