With the second fastest growing economy in the world after China, Vietnam offers investors an almost overwhelming range of ways to get in on its continuing success story.
From energy to real estate, transport to tourism, a multitude of areas are experiencing growth and attracting domestic and foreign investment. The push to ease regulations is set to continue, and the government is working to ensure an evermore fertile business climate. But with so many options, where is a good place to start?
Here are five spots currently generating some real excitement:
1. Soc Trang
The Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang recently held an investment promotion conference and, with the backing of the Prime Minister, managed to rally investment pledges totalling nearly US$5.4 billion. The 47 projects are mainly focused on clean power generation, high-tech agriculture and tourism services.
With work already underway to reform and streamline administrative procedures, a new injection of cash could inspire even more growth over the coming years.
During the conference, the PM set out an aggressive development strategy for the province, underlining his vision that the coming decade would see Soc Trang expand its economy to achieve middle-income status.
Specifically, the province was urged to set its sights on high-tech agriculture adapted to climate change, clean seafood production and processing targeting high-value markets and eco-tourism linked with 'smart' agricultural models. To achieve this kind of sustainable development, provincial authorities will need to invest in human resources and education. Co-operative models between farmers, investors, banks and distributors will help the development of value chains and quality standards for agricultural products.
2. Ninh Thuan
For those with eyes on the renewable energy sector, the province of Ninh Thuan is looking like a hot prospect. Construction on the country's biggest solar power plant, with a capacity of 168 MWp and total investment of roughly US$194 million, commenced in the southern province early in June.
The plant is a project by Singapore's Sunseap Group – a large provider of clean energy solutions – and is slated to cover an area of 186 hectares. Once operational in June 2019, the plant is expected to supply over 200 million kWh of electricity to the national grid annually.
Sunseap is not the only player taking advantage of the province's valuable location and abundance of sunlight, with four other plants kicking of construction this year in Ninh Thuan. With backing from provincial leaders, the province aims to become a renewable energy hub, with the generation of 2,000 MW of solar power by 2020.
So far, the province has 15 wind power and 27 solar power projects, with designed capacity of nearly 800 MW and 1,808 MW, respectively.
3. Ho Chi Minh City
With properties priced at a fraction of those in neighbouring Singapore and Thailand, Vietnam is drawing a number of real estate investors and becoming a popular destination for foreign buyers.
Interest in Ho Chi Minh City, in particular, has been growing among foreign buyers with a number of projects already for sale and some approaching completion in the next one to two years. Given the political stability of the government, some investors see Vietnam as having the possibility to grow like China.
Home prices in Vietnam have been rising over recent years, making a modest increase last year on the back of 6.8 per cent economic growth and rapid increase in direct foreign investments.
4. Coastal hot spots
The hotel and hospitality sector is experiencing a resurgence in Vietnam, with many properties reporting strong occupancy rates and a large number of new operators entering the market, especially in coastal areas such as Da Nang and Nha Trang.
These sites were already known as popular destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists, with the number of international guests visiting the country reaching over 13 million last year. In the first four months of 2018, more than 5.5 million international guests visited Vietnam, an increase of 29.5 percent over the same period last year. As interest continues to mount, so too do opportunities for investors in the hospitality sector.
Thanks to the strong development of tourism infrastructure and improvements in accommodation, cities like Da Nang and Nha Trang now offer a wide selection of hotels, luxury resorts and beach villas to suit a range of budgets and preferences.
Condotels are a growing trend in this sector, and several developers have adopted this model as a method of refinancing. Experts forecast that up to 18,000 condotel units will be added to the market in the next two years in key tourism destinations, accounting for 60% of the total new supply.
With major groups such as Vingroup, Sungroup, FLC, Muong Thanh and Empire, as well as well-known international brands snapping up segments of Vietnam's hospitality market, this area will be one to watch in the coming years.
5. Quang Binh
The central province of Quang Binh has drawn up a list of 48 projects to be completed in the 2018-2020 period, with total expected value of over US$2.2 billion.
The projects are expected to cover more than 8,000ha of land, with a focus on tourism, trade and services, industry, and agriculture, as well as education and health care.
Of the projects, 14 are in tourism, including coastal and ecological tourism and resort complexes. These are considered high-value projects that will spur local job creation, boost the budget and foster tourism development in the province.
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