Thousands of Vietnamese departed for Tet vacation on Tuesday, the first day of the lunar Year of the Pig, reflecting a growing trend among locals to travel instead of staying at home for the traditional festival.
Ho Chi Minh City-based tour operator Vietravel said it accommodated nearly 4,000 tourists on its domestic and outbound tours that departed on Tuesday.
Tourists were given red envelopes containing lucky money worth up to US$100 each, as well as bodhi leaves obtained from India believed to bring good luck to the bearer.
Overall, Vietravel said it has set up tours for nearly 40,000 customers over the course of the nine-day Tet holiday, which lasts until Sunday.
Saigontourist, another travel agency based in Ho Chi Minh City, said it also organized tours for 23 groups of travelers on the first day of the new lunar year, including seven domestic tours and 16 outbound tours.
“As Vietnamese people prefer to departing on the second day of a lunar year, we expect the number of tours to rise to 210 on Wednesday,” said a Saigontourist representative.
The company estimates it will serve 24,000 tourists during the Tet holiday.
Southeast Asia, Northeast Asa and Europe remain popular international destinations for Vietnamese tourists, while some travelers are also willing to spend money on chartered tours to emerging tourist spots such as Japan, Bhutan or India, according to tour operators.
Most tours involve a stop at a local pagoda to allow tourists to offer new year prayers, a long-standing tradition in Vietnamese culture.
There is a growing number of Vietnamese people who prefer to traveling instead of staying in their hometown for the Tet holiday, according to statistics revealed by hotel booking sites.
Agoda, for example, compared the number of bookings made on its site by Vietnamese users during Tet in the last three years and found that this number has risen significantly over the period.
These independent travelers prefer destinations that also celebrate the Lunar New Year such as Taiwan, Singapore and China.