Record-breaking Achievement in Vietnam’s Smallest City

This city is being developed as a national tourist hub.


Sam Son City (belonging to Thanh Hoa province) is the smallest city in Vietnam, with an area of 44.94 km2. It is a coastal city and was upgraded to a city of type III in April 2017.

Sam Son City is located in the eastern part of Thanh Hoa province, about 16 km from Thanh Hoa City; it borders Hoang Hoa district to the north (the border is the Ma River); Quang Xuong district to the south and west (along the Do River); and the Gulf of Tonkin to the east.

In terms of economic sectors, tourism is the bright spot of Sam Son’s economy. In 2023, Sam Son welcomed a record number of tourists, nearly 8 million in 2023, equivalent to 112.8% compared to the same period and 109.7% of the plan – considered one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country; serving more than 15 million visitor-days, equivalent to 105.7% compared to the same period and 101.8% compared to the plan.

The total revenue from tourism is estimated at nearly 14.3 trillion VND, reaching 102.9% compared to the same period and 100.6% compared to the plan.

The impressive figures in 2023 have continued to put Sam Son on the list of new prominent destinations in Vietnam, attracting increasing attention from domestic and international tourists.

With the continued development of accommodation facilities, Sam Son basically meets the needs of tourists. The city has 710 accommodation establishments with over 25,000 rooms, including over 100 tourist accommodation establishments rated from 1 to 5 stars with 6,955 rooms; 50 restaurants with a capacity of 300 people or more; and over 250 other tourism and commercial service businesses. The capacity of hotel rooms for the next year is higher than the previous year…

In addition, aiming to become a festival city, Sam Son has proactively coordinated with provincial departments, sectors, businesses, and event organizing units to develop plans for organizing cultural, tourism, festival, and sports events in the area. For example: Art program within the framework of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Sam Son urban area and the opening ceremony of the 2023 Seaside Tourism Festival; Love Festival – Hon Trong Mai Festival…

At the same time, the city has developed many tourism products: Seaside Square area, festival landscape axis of Sam Son City; pedestrian streets combined with souvenir shopping, refreshments, exhibitions, OCOP product introduction on Thanh Nien Street. Especially, after the Seaside Tourism Festival in Sam Son with a series of attractive activities, such as table tennis, badminton, tennis, golf tournaments, National Wrestling Championship, organizing Olympic Games for children and launching a swimming drowning prevention campaign… have attracted a large number of people and tourists to participate.

In addition to the achievements, the service quality is not high, the high-class services have not been developed, and early steps have focused on resort tourism products; the coastal tourism only meets the market segment of guests with moderate to high spending. Cultural and spiritual tourism products have not been effectively promoted. The formation and exploitation of new tourism products to overcome the situation of one-season tourism, mostly small-scale products that mainly serve sightseeing and weekend breaks. The work of socializing resources for effective tourism promotion has not been highly effective…

At the conference reviewing tourism activities in 2023, the city set a target of welcoming 8.5 million visitors in 2024; serving 16.5 million visitor-days; and tourism revenue is estimated to reach over 15.7 trillion VND.

To realize the development direction of Sam Son into a national tourist city according to the Thanh Hoa tourism development strategy to 2025, the vision to 2030; and contribute significantly to the province’s tourism sector to successfully achieve the goals of welcoming 13.8 million visitors and total tourism revenue of 32,387 billion VND in 2024, Deputy Permanent Chairman of Thanh Hoa Provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Thi suggested: Sam Son City should strengthen the effectiveness of directing and managing; continue to do well in state management in the tourism sector, especially price management, management of tourism transport services by electric vehicles…; determinedly build a more civilized, safer tourism environment.

Proactively coordinate with relevant functional forces to effectively implement inspection, examination, and supervision of tourism business activities in the area to timely detect and strictly handle violations, create an equal, regulated, and orderly business environment.

Concentrate resources on building and developing sustainable tourism in the direction of regional and international standards; focus on developing tourism infrastructure and technical facilities to serve tourism; promote administrative reform, create a favorable investment environment to attract strategic investors, and businesses with strong brands; attach importance to supporting investors during the implementation process to speed up the progress of key projects, early form large-scale, national and international standard tourism service complex, high-quality entertainment centers in Sam Son City.

Strengthen promotion and advertising of tourism with a focus on key areas; concentrate on promoting Sam Son’s tourism on digital platforms. Enhance the development of MICE tourism products, golf tourism…; research, innovate, and exploit new tourism products and services, adventurous tourism; form economic night services: night markets, pedestrian streets; link development with localities inside and outside the province to develop attractive tours and tourist routes… in order to attract high-spending market segments and long-stay visitors, with the expectation of shifting guests in terms of space and time.

Deputy Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee also requested Sam Son City to continue doing well in propaganda and raising awareness of environmental protection in tourism, civilized and polite behavior to build a beautiful image of Sam Son’s tourism. Pay attention to supporting local tourism businesses in supplementing and developing human resources, training human resources, improving the quality of communication and behavior to enhance the quality of services, reputation, and brand of Sam Son’s tourism, contributing to building a beautiful, safe, civilized, and friendly image of Sam Son’s tourism in the hearts of visitors.