Quy Nhon - Vietnam's next tourism hotspot

Bangkok to Chiang Rai by train, and a fantasy map of Sumatra Railways.

Welcome to another edition of the Living In Asia weekly newsletter. I’m still in Vietnam, where life is somewhat returning to normal. I’m currently getting my visa renewed, so after that I will look into some domestic travel in Vietnam.

I’ve set a personal goal to post an article a week on livinginasia.co, and every month I will post an article in the “Future Asia” series. This month is “Future Quy Nhon”.

Latest posts at Living In Asia

Future Quy Nhon

Before I based myself in Vietnam I had never heard of Quy Nhon. It was never a stop on the “banana pancake trail”, and its airport only received its first international flight in January 2020. The city sits about halfway between Nha Trang and Da Nang, and the old north-south tour buses didn’t stop here.

I visited Quy Nhon in 2018, and it was apparent then that the word was getting out about this city by the sea. This pleasant provincial city is now starting to accumulate a skyline that is reminiscent of the early boom days of Nha Trang.

[Construction in Quy Nhon, 2018.]

Most of the development is in the city, with some resorts and “new cities” along the beaches outside the city centre.

In the future it’s probable there will be several cities like Quy Nhon in Vietnam anywhere there is an airport.

There numerous airports in Vietnam - a legacy of the American war - in places that would otherwise be too small to justify an airport.

I made a map of airports in Vietnam (International = Red, Domestic = Blue) that shows how many airports there are in Vietnam. I will visit some of these places in the future (by combination of air and rail) to to see how these regional cities are evolving.

Read more about Future Quy Nhon.

Southeast Asia Railways

“Belt and Road construction takes a back seat amid coronavirus rebuild”

This is a great map by Samuel Tambunan (and it saves me having to make one).

“Future Sumatra railroads are illustrated on the map above, created in “subway” style to make it simpler and friendlier (inspired by the Nomadic Notes blog, Southeast Asia Future: Maps of Railroad Proposed in Southeast Asia). The routes themselves are based on Railway Network Plan in Sumatra by the Ministry of Transportation, with some personal modification.”

In Thailand, the SRT is calling for bidding for the Denchai - Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong railway. After land expropriation the project is planned to commence construction in 2021. This is a long-delayed project so I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for it to start by then.

Here are more details from a Thai infrastructure site.

Chiang Khong is on the Thai-Laos border, and from there it’s 239km to Boten on the Laos-China border. Boten is where the China-Laos railway starts, so this new railway presents another route opportunity to get from Thailand to China. It would also be great news for Chiang Rai, who lives in the shadow of Chiang Mai.



“The Ministry of Tourism is working to transform Kep province – one of the Kingdom’s most popular tourist destinations – to be a world standard tourism hub.”

“The government has announced that US$3.5 billion is to be invested will building, expanding and renovating all Cambodian airports in the aviation development program from 2015 to 2023, as part of the Open Sky policy and the government’s vision to accelerate domestic transportation and link Cambodia to international trade hubs.”


"Zaha Hadid Architects has won a competition to design and build the new Shanghai headquarters of the China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP). The 218,000 sqm project will be the ‘greenest’ building in the city with sustainability embedded into every aspect of its design and construction to achieve more than 90 credits in China’s exacting Three Star Green Building Rating system - the highest score for any building in Shanghai."

Hong Kong S.A.R

“A profit-making enterprise with a mandate to serve the people, the city’s transit system is uniquely designed to weather a crisis.”


“The Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) has offered construction projects of five toll roads and a bridge worth trillions to investors during a teleconference meeting in Jakarta”


“We speak with Hiroshi Nakamura of Japanese architectural firm, Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP, about designing Kamikatz Public House in the recycling mountain village town of Kamikatsu in Japan.”

“The Akiya Bank Program was set up to tackle depopulation in Japan’s rural areas by addressing the visual eyesore of crumbling ‘abandoned’ homes and also eliminating the risk of collapsing buildings. At first glance, the hype is being able to snag an ‘empty house,’ or akiya, for dirt cheap – but in reality, the mechanisms behind Akiya Bank may actually be working against saving towns on the brink of disappearing.”


“How Wall Street enabled a global financial scandal.”

With many of Malaysia’s big ticket development projects tied to the 1MDB scandal, this is a good read on part of the backstory.

“One of the dirtiest rivers in Malaysia is not dirty any more, thanks to the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of the coronavirus.” (Click through for before and after photos.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in Penang and I have lamented the state of this river, and waterways in general in Southeast Asia.


“The countries agreed to extend the deadline after talks on the Rapid Transit System Link were hit by curbs on movement to stem the coronavirus. The 4.2km RTS will connect Johor Bahru with Singapore’s Woodlands district.”


“Airports of Thailand (AOT) has approved the result of bidding to construct the third runway at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which was won by a joint venture led by SET-listed construction firm Nawarat Patanakarn Public Company Ltd (NWR).”

In addition to last weeks report on the new terminal at Suvarnabhumi, BKK is also getting a third runway.

I plan to cover more about heritage architecture in the future. In the meantime this is a good interview with the creator of the Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project.


“Under the job description for operations managers, Apple says it looks for those to help the company foster growth in the market, leading “a team of engineers in support of new product development as well as sustaining operations in ensuring the contract manufacturer readiness for very high volume production.”

Samsung already has a big presence in Vietnam, so it would be a big win for Vietnam to also have Apple there. Companies shifting production from China to Southeast Asia may soften the landing of a Covid-19 recession. Here is another related article:

“The runway and taxiway at Phu Bai International Airport near Hue will be upgraded as part of its capacity expansion.”

After my revisit to Hue in 2019 I commented how Hue is an underrated travel destination.

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