HCM City, Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An… Binh Dinh? Provincial
officials hope to persuade tourists to add the province to their Viet Nam
Prior to 2015, the tourism industry in Binh Dinh was still nascent. Most
tourists coming to the central region of Viet Nam opted for ‘established’ spots
like Khanh Hoa Province or the region’s economic centre city of Da Nang.
But over time, with political commitment and measures to promote investment in
tourism, the ‘tourist paradise’ of Binh Dinh has finally ‘awakened’ after years
In 2016, Binh Dinh received some 3.2 million tourists including 265,000 foreign
arrivals, up 23 per cent over 2015, earning total revenue of VND1.45 trillion
(US$63.8 million). In the province’s tourism master plan, by 2020, the province
will try to achieve 5.5 million arrivals.
Contrary to the majority of tourist destinations in Viet Nam which have suffered
from overdevelopment, many of the landscapes in the central province for now
remain untouched and still retain their natural characteristics – translating to
a huge draw for tourists. Visitors to Binh Dinh mostly seek to enjoy the
peacefulness, the majestic landscapes and a diverse culinary experience at a
Not far from the province’s capital city of Quy Nhon, some of the locations that
have gained popularity amongst the young Vietnamese are Ky Co beach – considered
the Maldives of Viet Nam – Trung Luong beach, Hon Kho or Cu Lao Xanh isles,
Cu Lao Xanh isle, roughly translated to Green Island, lives up to its name as
the natural verdant forest covering the island remains mostly intact, save for
the settlement area home to a local population of less than 2,000 people. Its
tourism industry is still mostly small-scale household-based. But according to
Phan Van Binh, vice chairman of Nhon Chau Commune, the situation has seen some
“In recent years, tourists from HCM City, Ha Noi, even Central Highlands, have
started to notice the isle. So far this year, the isle welcomed some 1,500
tourists,” he said.
The authorities are urging local residents to adopt the homestay model, by
borrowing loans to renovate their houses.
“In addition, we also are calling for investment so tourists may enjoy diverse
forms of tourism, as well as creating jobs for locals,” Binh added.
Aside from natural charm, Binh Dinh is also a land of rich culture and history
as the province is simultaneously the centre of Buddhism in the central region
as well as one of the main areas of the ancient Champa kingdom, whose presence
can still be felt by the numerous Cham towers standing today. Historical
researchers say the Cham towers in the province, some as old as a thousand
years, are the largest in all of Southeast Asia.
Tourism gives and takes
Despite the province’s advantages, the quick growth of tourist arrivals is
posing a number of problems for local authorities.
This year, right when the tourism season began, most hotels and lodgings (3-star
and above) in Quy Nhon City had run out of vacancies.
Nguyen Thi Thu Giang, a tourist from Ha Noi, said, her company with 40 people
called for reservations a month ago but most known hotels were already full, and
“the company had to book rooms in a 2-star hotel whose services leave much to be
Another downside of the tourism industry here is the lack of diverse forms of
entertainment. During daytime, tourists can choose to go on island-sea journeys,
or visit museums or historical sites, but come night, there’s not much activity.
Tourists frequently complain that most restaurants and coffee shops here close
up shop quite early, while they’d like to wander around the city until late at
Duong Tien Dong, another tourist from Ha Noi, said that during the three nights
he and his family stayed in Quy Nhon, they “could only go to the beach and drink
coconut juice, since there’s nothing else to do.”
Infrastructure also still leaves much room for improvement. The entire length of
Quy Nhon beach only features a handful of public toilets, and they are severely
In addition, unlike in Da Nang City, there is a total lack of public showers.
After swimming in the sea, tourists have to come all the way back to their
hotels for showers. The absence of signboards or location guides also causes
difficulties for tourists in finding their way around.
Duong Trung Quoc, a noted historian and also a National Assembly deputy, has
said Binh Dinh must create “touristically viable” products combining its natural
landscapes of seas and islands with culture and history.
Quoc also suggested Da Nang “connect” with other localities in the region that
share similar culture and heritages, for example, with Da Nang and Ninh Thuan
Province in promoting ancient Champa culture.
Regarding the recently emerged issues of vendors soliciting or overcharging
tourists, Huynh Cao Nhat, deputy head of the provincial tourism department, said
“it’s important to build a community who knows how to do tourism.” That means
everyone from the people, to businesses, and authorities of all levels must
“exercise professional conducts in receiving tourists.” The department also said
it would heavily sanction those who do wrong, “negatively impacting the
The province is building a “science complex,” complete with science museums and
a planetarium, with the intention of bringing a new flavour of tourism.
Homestay tourism and traditional sports and cultural activities will also be the
focus in the future.
In order for all these attractions to maximise their use, chairman of the
province Ho Quoc Dung said the authorities are trying to complete numerous
infrastructure projects, including the airport Phu Cat, expanding and upgrading
roads – especially ones connecting popular attractions—and building quality
public showers and toilets along the Quy Nhon beach.
The budding tourism in Binh Dinh is a good indication for the locality’s
economy, but if management and proper oversight in the long term is not done, a
plethora of problems could derail the development of this ‘smokeless industry.’