Foreign correspondents and athletes attending the 31st SEA Games shared with The Hanoi Times their profound feelings about Hanoi – the warm and thoughtful welcome the city has accorded them.

 Hanoi welcomes delegates attending the SEA Games 31. Photo: Duy Khanh/ The Hanoi Times

Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim, medical team leader for the Malaysian sports delegation: Impressed with the strong development of Hanoi

 Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim, medical team leader for the Malaysian sports delegation. Photos: Do Huong

This is the first business trip of our delegation after a long period of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have about 40 medical staff including doctors and nurses attending the event. The schedules and locations of the competitions held in Hanoi and some neighboring provinces are quite strict, so that is also a challenge for our medical team. 

We need to properly assign staff to ensure the good mental and physical health of athletes in different locations, especially so that they are not infected with Covid-19.

Athletes enjoy many delicious and nutritious, safe, and hygienic food at a hotel in Hanoi. In addition, they feel satisfied with other supports during their travel to the competition sites.

Coming to Hanoi for the second time, I found it to be a thriving, green, beautiful and safe city. Compared to last month, when I traveled to Hanoi, this time I feel that the streets are beautifully decorated, and the preparation for the biggest event in Southeast Asia is very good. Everyone can see there are many banners, flags, and symbols promoting SEA Games 31.

Thanks to the enthusiastic and thoughtful organization and support of Hanoi and Vietnam, we, as well as the medical teams of other countries, are able to ensure the health of athletes and athletes and compete in the best way.

Zulfadhli Zulkarnair, photojournalist of the Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA): Hanoians are friendly and likable.

 Zulfadhli Zulkarnair, photojournalist of the Malaysian National News Agency.

This is my first time coming to Hanoi and working at the 31st Southeast Asian Games event in Vietnam. After a long time being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to participate in a major regional event.

When I came to Hanoi, I met many people in the capital – who are extremely likable and friendly people. They helped us despite the language barrier. I was guided by them wholeheartedly when looking for the way to good restaurants, or money changers.

The weather in Hanoi now is wonderful, extremely pleasant, and one of the advantages of my business trip. The traffic in the city is not as crowded as in Malaysia. It makes me feel like driving cautiously, not as fast as in my country.

During the opening ceremony, I felt the patriotism of the Vietnamese people. I saw a lot of them coming to the stadium with T-shirts and faces painted with the Vietnamese flag and even old people who were very excited to watch the ceremony. All these things prove the strong sportsmanship of the people of Hanoi and Vietnam.

Md Fadzillah Kamis, e-sports’ national coach from Brunei: Thankful for the enthusiastic support of volunteers

 Md Fadzillah Kamis, e-sports’ national coach from Brunei.

I feel great and happy to be present at the big sports event held in Hanoi. We have had to wait a long time to return to normal activities after a long time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a large event for our sports team. We participated in four sports including e-sports, Pencak silat, karate, and wushu.

We are extremely excited to compete in this great event. It is also the first time that our e-sports team has joined the SEA Games and we are delighted to be a part of the Games.

The first time coming to Hanoi, I’ve met many Vietnamese people and felt loved, especially the volunteers for this event, they are very kind and supportive in all aspects, and they also frequently asked if we needed assistance or had any problem. I really appreciate that.

The interesting thing for me is the traffic, high-rise buildings, and the friendly Vietnamese people. At the hotel, we were warmly welcomed, and the food is varied and delicious.

The city is beautiful and has many interesting attractions, and I would love to visit those places after the closing event.

Maria Luisa Morales, a sports reporter from Philstar newspaper, the Philippines: Hanoi has many attractive and interesting tourism destinations.

 Maria Luisa Morales, a sports reporter from Philstar newspaper, Philippines.

This is my first time in this beautiful city, and the people here are very hospitable. Hanoi has many similarities with Manila, the city of our country, so I don’t feel out of place but close like in my hometown.

The people of the capital city are friendly and very helpful, especially the staff working at the hotel where we are staying. Talking about food, I am really impressed with banh my [bread] because of its delicious taste and very affordable price, although I have eaten banh my in several Vietnamese restaurants in my country. During my few days in Hanoi, I was eager to try more banh my and other delicious dishes.

Transportation here is quite convenient and the price is reasonable. I tried traveling by grab, motorbike and taxi services and I am quite satisfied.

Especially when watching the SEA Games opening ceremony live at My Dinh Stadium, I was very impressed with the performances and artworks about Vietnam’s culture – something I didn’t know much about before.

I believe that the activities organized on the occasion of the biggest sports event in Southeast Asia will attract a lot of tourists to your city as well as many other localities. There are many interesting destinations. I plan to come back to Hanoi so that I can experience many new things in these places again.

This event, held in the capital with a long history, diverse cultural traditions, and rich identity, will further highlight the  SEA Games.

Kenneth Browne, Spanish reporter at Impressed with the organization

 Kenneth Browne, Spanish reporter at

This is the second time I came to Hanoi after 15 years. It has been a long time, so I have noticed that the capital city has had many impressive changes. This time I come to cover Olympic sports taking place in Hanoi and intend to have many articles published on different platforms about this event.

I am really impressed with the organization at the Main Press Center for SEA Games 31. Everything went very smoothly for me and I received the help of the organizing team when I came here. The traditional Vietnamese costumes and some delicious dishes like spring rolls at a cafe located in Hanoi’s National Convention Center are awesome.

I also plan to travel around Vietnam after the end of this event. Danang and Hoi An are my favorite destinations this time.

Kelvin Hianusa, Kompas national newspaper reporter, Indonesia: Hanoians are quite friendly and approachable.

 Kelvin Hianusa, Kompas national newspaper reporter, Indonesia.

I arrived in Hanoi at the time of the opening of the Main Press Center for SEA Games 31 at the National Convention Center, Hanoi. Hanoians are quite friendly and approachable, although there is a language barrier, they are very enthusiastic when being asked for help.

The streets of Hanoi are quite similar to those in Jakarta, I feel quite pressured when crossing the street because traffic is very crowded. In the next few days, I hope to have many interesting experiences while working in this friendly and hospitable capital.