Travel agencies in HCM City have been kept busy booking foreign tours as residents seek to take advantage of a nine-day Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

The number of bookings for foreign tours offered by major companies like Saigontourist, Vietravel and Fiditour have increased between 20 and 30 per cent compared with last year's Tet season.

Most customers are buying tours to Asian countries and to Europe, the companies say.

"Longer holidays give people more time to travel," said Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, head of Fiditour's External Affairs Office.

Fiditour's tours to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and China are fully booked, she said.

A six-day tour to Thailand offered by the city's tourism agencies costs about 8 million VND (381 USD), cheaper than six-day tours from HCM City to northern provinces that cost between 11 million VND and 12 million VND.

Bookings of domestic tours have only increased slightly compared to last year's Tet. However, travel agencies say Vietnamese people do not typically plan holidays much ahead of time or book tours in advance.

The prices of domestic tours will remain unchanged for those who have bought the package before December 31, 2011, but since the beginning of this year, they have increased by about 23 per cent because of the hike in domestic airfares.