Tourist Share Impressions of Vietnam
Unlike regular tourists who plan their activities for pleasure and relaxation, MICE (Meeting, Incentive Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourists spend most of their time working during the trip. The workload is heavily packed within 5 days or less, so the time they are not working are usually spent on resting at hotels or between commutes.
International conferences and meetings are typically the best place for networking, so MICE tourists focus on talking to other foreign guests instead of talking to local people.
An increasing number of foreign MICE (Meeting, Incentive Travel, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourists is coming to Vietnam over the past year. Although they have less time to go out and discover the place they are visiting, MICE tourists in Vietnam still enjoy finding connections with the country and its people.
Donna Nuñez (the Philippines) was in Ho Chi Minh City for the ILGA Asia Conference during the last week of November.
|Donna Nuñez (third from left) was in Ho Chi Minh City for the ILGA Asia Conference in November-December 2022 (Photo: GALANG Philippines' Facebook page).
Donna exclaims that she had a rather pleasant experience with a lot of "first-times": "This is my first time going to an internaional conference, also my first time in Vietnam, the second country I visited in Asia. This conference is well. organized for its scale of 300-400 guests. We stayed in the center [of HCMC] so the locals seem to be used to the tourists, so there was no problem communicating for us."
According to the Filippino tourist, the 5-day trip was too short. Since it is her first time in Vietnam, there are many places she would like to visit like famous attractions and museums but the tight schedule did not allow.
"I really wanted to go to the museums but when the conference ended, they were already closed, so I couldn't go even though [the museum] was nearby, just a few blocks away. There was a bus tour taking you around the city for an hour, I want to go on but didn't."
For MICE tourists, one of the must-do things while traveling is to go out and enjoy the nightlife after finishing their busy schedule in daytime. Depends on the organizers, the MICE tourists' meals are covered, from breakfast, lunch to dinner. In Donna's case, she usually had the freedom to choose the dinner menu for most of the trip, since dinners are not covered by the conference's organizers.
"We went to the smaller restaurants where the locals eat in. We go where people queue a long line in the places with small chairs and tables in the sidewalk. I am impressed with stir fried Pho noodles with vegetables and beef, with soup served seperately, the most. It has a very distinct taste, different from Filippino food," Donna described her group's activities the nights they spent in HCMC.
|For MICE tourists, one of the must-do things while traveling is to go out and enjoy the nightlife after finishing their busy schedule in daytime. Photo courtesy of Lilly Pineda Magtoto
The hospitality of the local people makes traveling more comfortable. In the big, urban Saigon city, Donna and her group talked to some Tagalog-speaking Vietnamese saleman and was very happy with that encounter.
Donna planned to come back while she had not even left the Vietnamese metropolis, mostly to try explore it for a full day. Some of the most anticipating activities on her list are taking the double-decker tourist bus, sightseeing and trying delicious local cuisines.
Coffee lover Donna fell in love with the world-famous Vietnamese coffee and the way it is served with condensed milk. She bought many bags of instant coffee and ground coffee as souvenirs, and will try to make Vietnamese-style coffee at home.
"When I buy the instant and the ground coffee, it comes with a filter, for free. The condensed milk in the coffee is so different, I wonder why don't we do that here [in the Philippines]. Your iced coffee is really strong and rich with condensed milk, it is a good mix of flavor."
|MICE tourist taking photo in front of the city sightseeing bus in HCMC (Photo courtesy of Raul Hular).
Helga Ungar (Austria) was in Hanoi city, also during the last week of November, for the 22nd Assembly of the World Peace Council (WPC) and she also felt welcome by everyone she met, from the organizers of the Assembly to the hotel staff .
While being MICE tourist in Vietnam, Helga said that she is grateful for all of her new friends, either with local people or fellow delegates and tourists. She believed making friends from around the world is the best thing about traveling.
Decided that one week in Vietnam was not enough, Helga planned a solo trip in Hanoi to explore the beauty of the city up-close.
"I walked around the Old Quarter, also visited the Sword Lake, the Temple of Literature. I enjoyed the beauty of them. I wanted to go the Long Bien Bridge of the Red River but only walked for 5 minutes then turned back. I couldn't 't cross but it was still a "big" experience for me."
|Helga (first from right) is a MICE tourist in Hanoi during the Photo courtesty of Helga Ungar
The Austrian traveler had been in many countries and she love to see the differences in lifestyle from around the world. The most unforgettable thing about her experience in Vietnam was the hustle and bustle streets of Hanoi, that took her 2 days to get used to.
Helga exclaims that she had the best time ever trying Vietnamese fruit, not knowing they would taste so good. Her favorite is Vietnam grapes.
"In Europe we have fruits from Italy, from Spain, but the best grapes I ate is from Vietnam." exclaim Helga.
|The display of colorful Non La at the Woman's museum (Photo courtesty of Helga Ungar).
She also brought back souvenirs for friends and family. Intrigued by the handcraft products with unique patterns and textiles from Vietnam's ethnic minority group, Helga chose to buy embroidered silk purses, horn-made massage tools and trousers. These things cannot be found in her hometown of Vienna. These items will be a cherished reminder of her Vietnamese adventure.
|During the weekend, the delegation of the WPC also visit Ha Long Bay, but it was "too short" in Helga's opinion. (Photo courtesty of Helga Ungar).
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