News: 21 December 2022

Latest Post: Future Manila. News: A Big Buddha for Cambodia, cables cars for Penang and Pattaya, and a ridiculous amount of news from Vietnam

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City! I finished my Manila trip and I’m now going to ride out the holiday season here (Christmas/New Year/Tet) and work out my strategy for 2023.

This last trip I just finished lasted about six weeks, so I had a bit of a walk around Saigon to see what is going on. I saw this sight of a team putting a new billboard up

The rope ladder is rigged to a fire hydrant, with a man sitting on the rope for ballast while someone puts up the new banner. This could be a scene anywhere in Southeast Asia (apart from you, Singapore). This would violate OH&S laws in my homeland of Australia, but I have been here so long that this just looks like getting things done.

I was thinking about this after reading a review of the Vinfast electric car that has just shipped to the US (link in the Vietnam section below). The writer came here and had the “most bizarre experience” of his life. It was interesting to read about someone with fresh eyes on how business works here.

Latest posts at Future Southeast Asia

Dispatches from Southeast Asia

Beginning the mammoth task of reporting on transport and urban development in the megacity of Metro Manila.


Hotel Okura was supposed to open in Saigon in 2023, but the prime block of land it will be built on at Nguyen Hue Street remains an empty eyesore.

🇰🇭 Cambodia

🇮🇩 Indonesia

This special feature from Rest of World includes Indonesia: Jakarta’s once-booming electronics market is a ghost town.

🇱🇦 Laos

🇲🇾 Malaysia

“Penang has selected Hartasuma Sdn Bhd to build its first 2.9km cable car from the Botanic Gardens to the Penang Hill station.”

[Updated: Penang South Islands]

🇵🇭 Philippines

🇸🇬 Singapore

🇹🇭 Thailand

🇻🇳 Vietnam

“The JETP will mobilise an initial $15.5 billion of public and private finance over the next 3 to 5 years to support Viet Nam’s green transition.”

• The first 999 VinFast electric vehicles arrived in the United States this week. VinFast has proven to be a popular vehicle in its home country, but I have been bracing myself for the reviews from the US. This one from someone who was on a sponsored trip doesn’t bode well: The VinFast VF8 is simply not ready for America

“The electric-car startup brought me to its Vietnam headquarters to drive its first EV meant for the U.S. market. It was the most bizarre experience of my life.”

I saw this on an aviation news site, but I haven’t seen it in the local news. VietJet Air has pivoted to India this year while the China market is out of commission. They have already started flights to Delhi and Mumbai, so I don’t know what has gone wrong with Bengaluru.

There is a plague of cookie-cutter villa and shophouse projects all along the coast of Vietnam. They are built before they are sold, so when no one is buying you are left with these ugly half-finished projects.

Join the conversation

or to participate.