The city’s tourism industry has already launched several river tours, including: Bach Dang – District 7, Bach Dang – District 9, Bach Dang – Binh Quoi, Bach Dang – Cu Chi and Bach Dang – Can Gio District.
Last month, the city launched a cruise along the Sai Gon River, offering visitors panoramic views of both sides of the city as well as architectural features of a rapidly growing urban metropolis.
The new tour involves the participation of many companies that seek to exploit the tourist potential of the waterways.
The 3-hour tour departs from Lan Anh Villas Marina in Thu Duc Town and passes major landmarks such as Nha Rong Wharf, Bach Dang Wharf, Ba Son Port, Landmark 81, tallest building in Vietnam and the Thu Thiem No. 2 Bridge.
The tour costs between 5 and 10 million VND (216 to 432 USD). Visitors are served cocktails, wine and pastries which they can enjoy while listening to live saxophone and violin performances.
“Other river tours only offer a trip to enjoy the beauty of the city by waterway, but this one also offers very good food and drink,” said Giang Bich Thuan, who liked the new tour.
Each circuit can accommodate 10 to 25 passengers.
Scenic delights from the cruise and cool breeze are complemented by deluxe afternoon tea service, fine champagne and other treats.
According to the Saigon Yacht Club, Vietnam has great potential to develop the yachting industry and could catch up with fast-growing markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai in the near future.
Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, director of HCMC’s tourism department, said one of their directions is to develop a variety of city tours by road, air, water and subway.
“The tour to see HCMC from the Sai Gon River in a yacht serves both domestic and international tourists, especially the middle and upper class segments,” she said.
Nguyen Minh Man, director of communications and marketing at TST Tourist, said luxury yacht tours have great potential to attract customers as it is a new high-end product.
“People have wanted to cruise along the Sai Gon River for a long time, so the introduction of luxury tours will meet this demand,” he added.
Cao Van Tung, director of Ben Thanh Tourist Company, said the river travel time should be shortened and emphasis should be placed on customer experience.
“Most tourists won’t enjoy sitting for hours on the boat just to watch the cityscape, they will want more unique experiences,” Tung said.
Travel agencies should link river tours to regional attractions like Cu Chi District (HCMC) and Binh Dương Town, he added.
The luxury cruises are not just aimed at renewing the city’s tourism products but expanding the customer base, particularly targeting the high-income segment, according to Le Truong Hien Hoa, deputy director of the municipal tourism authority.
Besides cruising along the Sai Gon River, the city also offers water bus tours throughout the day and night. Passengers can buy tickets at its two stations or online for a one-way ticket for 15,000 VND ($0.65).
Apart from peaceful and scenic night tours and musical performances, the water bus service also offers snacks to passengers purchasing package tours, said Nguyen Kim Toan, director of Thuong Nhat Company.
“In my opinion, the night bus is a memorable experience for people and an opportunity for many generations to access the culture and history of the city, in addition to being a multifunctional means of public transport for reduce traffic pressure on the roads.”
HCMC hopes to receive 25 million domestic tourists and 3.5 million foreign tourists this year for revenues of 97.7 trillion VND.