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Vietnamese Ride-Hailing App FastGo Plans Expansion to US, Brazil

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FastGo, a Vietnamese tech company, plans to enter the ride-share markets in Brazil and the US this year thanks to investors hailing from those countries.

Citing plans to raise US$50 million in the first part of 2019, FastGo CEO Nguyen Huu Tuat shared his plans with Kiwi In Saigon earlier this week. Other than VinaCapital Ventures, which contributed US$3 million last year, the company has not disclosed who its current or potential investors are.

The cross-Pacific move follows an expansion to Myanmar on December 28 thanks to a partnership with Asia Sun Group. They now have 1,000 partner drivers in Yangon and Tuat hopes to build a user base of two million users in the country by the end of the year. While not often seen on Saigon streets, the upstart service claims to have 30,000 drivers in the country spread across 10 different provinces, representing 20% of the market.

The company also plans to set up operation in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore in the near future. Tuat explained: “Grab, Go-Jek and Uber have raised a lot of money for expansion and development. However, they are burning money for marketing. FastGo’s advantage is not money but its strategy, and we now focus on grabbing market share as fast as we can by offering better options.”

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FastGo differentiates itself from its competitors by not charging drivers a commission, instead taking a flat fee of VND30,000 if they earn more than VND400,000 a day. They also claim to not using surge pricing. They also plan to introduce “on-demand multi-services eco-system including daily rides, travel, transportation, catering and personal finance,” according to Tuat.

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Vietnam’s most viral destinations from 2018

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As Vietnam continued to capture the world’s attention with numerous emerging destinations in 2018, Kiwi In Saigon introduces some of the most famous places of them, depicted through viral photos on social media and stories from the global press.

Some 15.6 million internationals tourists visited Vietnam last year, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.

Golden Bridge, Da Nang              

Viral pictures of Da Nang’s Golden Bridge ripped through social media over the past year, sparking wanderlust for its rust feel and stunning views.

Located more than 1,400m above sea level at the Ba Na Hills Sun World resort, the 150m-long bridge was a hit amongst local and foreign tourists from the moment it opened in June 2018.

Just one month later, the Golden Bridge went viral after Malaysian photographer Jason Goh posted an aerial photo of the bridge to his Instagram account @smashpop.

The epic photo was shared by dozens of websites, attracting more than 35,800 likes.

Since then, the bridge has been featured in several publications, including a mentioned on Time magazine’s 2018 list of the World’s Greatest Places 2018.

Tan Dinh Church, Ho Chi Minh City

This bright pink church located in Saigon’s District 1 has been a longstanding member of the must-see list for tourists visiting the Southern Metropolis.

 

Tan Dinh Church
Tan Dinh Church

The hundred-year-old building on Hai Ba Trung Street currently ranks #20 out of 202 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City on TripAdvisor .

In mid-November 2018, Instagram handle @voyaged shared a picture of the church from @milesofsmiles._ to its 1.3 million followers with the caption “Have you seen these vivid architecture in Vietnam in person?”, attracting more than 31,000.

Hanoi’s railway through the Old Quarter

In October last year, AFP published a story describing the French-built railway running through Hanoi’s Old Quarter as “a hotspot for tourists seeking the perfect Instagram selfie, and for cafe owners serving up hot coffee and cold beer.”

Tourists take pictures when a train goes through the railway in Hanoi's Old Quarter.
Tourists take pictures when a train goes through the railway in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

“The tracks are still in use and most days visitors must scramble for safety as the daily train rumbles through the narrow streets,” AFP wrote.

“It’s got a really weird charm,” Hong Kong tourist Edward Tsim shared with the French news agency.

“You’ve got flowers from the balcony coming down, you’ve got buildings which are very old and close to each other. You see people here living close to the train tracks,” the tourist added.

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

This photo by @selcouth_vagary received nearly 38,000 likes when it is re-posted by @voyaged in August 2018.

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh in this photo of @selcouth_vagary
Tam Coc, Ninh Binh in this photo of @selcouth_vagary

The picture of Tam Coc, part of the UNESCO- recognized Trang An Landscape Complex in the northern province of Ninh Binh, has received numerous compliments for its fantastical charm.

Son Doong, Quang Binh

In June 2018, U.S.-based travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller published a photo essay capturing an expedition to the world’s largest cave in Vietnam by Sam Evans-Butler and David Jaff.

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Son Doong Cave in a picture in the photo essay by Sam Evans-Butler and David Jaffe

“Only a thousand people have passed through this cave since its discovery. We were lucky enough to be among them,” the duo began the story.

Four months later, travel site TheTravel.com with more than 2 million followers on Facebook mentioned Son Doong in its list of “20 images of bizarre places on Earth that look like another planet entirely.”

Binh Hung, Khanh Hoa

Binh Hung Island in a Getty Images picture published on Condé Nast Traveller’s
Binh Hung Island in a Getty Images picture published on Condé Nast Traveller’s

In November last year, Binh Hung Island in the central province of Khanh Hoa was listed in Condé Nast Traveller’s “Southeast Asian beaches you’ll want to keep to yourself.”

“From its century-old lighthouse to floating lobster restaurants and rocky-shoreline oyster farms, Binh Hung is sort of like a tropical Nova Scotia,” the story read.

Cliff of Stone Plates, Phu Yen

In a story introducing 30 of Vietnam’s most beautiful places published in CNN last April, the Cliff of Stone Plates in the central province of Phu Yen ranked 11th.

“Along the central coastline, north of Nha Trang, the Ganh Da Dia (meaning the “Cliff of Stone Plates”) National Heritage site showcases mysterious basalt rock columns,” CNN located the place for its readers.

“Thousands of years ago, volcanic explosions formed the hardened lava outcrops, which now resemble fish scales,” the story added.

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1969 Saigon: Snazzy Hairdos, Ao Dais and Vintage Cars Galore

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In this collection of old photos, a brisk walk down Dong Khoi Street – known as Tu Do Street in 1969 – meant clean, empty sidewalks and stylish shopfronts, instead of a tourist circus like it is today.

We can never have enough photos of the ladies of past Saigon and their sterling fashion sense. From dresses of all shapes and colors to more traditional types of áo dài, Dong Khoi appeared to be the “it” place for the city’s cool kids to showcase their best “outfit of the day”, before it became a hackneyed Instagram hashtag.

There’s not a lot of information about the shutterbug behind these shots other than her name, Rachelle Smith. Nonetheless, Smith’s album offers an exciting glimpse of life in Saigon decades ago.

Take a tour of Saigon’s downtown in 1969

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Annam Gourmet Market

Kiwi in Saigon - Tour Guide

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When you think about where to shop for healthy, premium food and drinks, about a place that can offer you exclusive shopping experience with a vibrant, modern atmosphere, you’d definitely think about Annam Gourmet Market. This supermarket food chain has built trust from customers for the last 16 years. And it came from just one simple dedication “Great Food Good Times”.

Annam Gourmet Market is a high-end supermarket chain specialized in high quality food and beverage products sourced from all over the world. As the purveyor of basic, traditional as well as delicate and high-profile products, the company has become one of Vietnam’s leaders in food and beverage concept stores of a classic yet modern European style.

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From the very first store in Ho Tung Mau, District 1, today Annam has five stores serving customers across the country with widest product categories you can imagine: premium sweet and savory groceries…

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