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New Swan Boat Ride-Hailing App, SwanGo, to Take Off in Hanoi Next Month

Ever since the departure of Uber in 2018, Vietnam’s ride-hailing market has seen a plethora of new additions, both Vietnamese and foreign. Yet this latest arrival, SwanGo, appears likely to enter straight into the market’s top flight.

“We were trying to think of where there is a gap in the market,” co-founder Nguyen Thien Nga told Urbanist Hanoi. “I was having drinks with my business partner and we were actually sipping coffee right by West Lake. I looked out across the water and realized that there were barely any taxis in the lake.”

“We looked at one another at the same time, evidently with the same idea. I saw a light in his eyes shining so bright it reminded me of that recent explosion at a Chinese chemical factory,” Nga continued.

“We need to invest in swan boats,” she said. “It’s often the simplest things that are overlooked and yet become successful. And we have a few different options for customers, too. Our cygnet-ure deal, as we like to call it, is for people to hand over significant amounts of cash.”

“West Lake is massive and it’s a pain to drive around sometimes when you could just cross right over,” she continued. “In places, it’s less than a kilometer across as the swan flies. Also, with the ubiquity of xe ôms, some older xích lô drivers struggle to find work now, so we’re going to offer work that might, but won’t necessarily, pay them better than what they’re already getting.”

Nguyen Thi Khanh, a restaurant owner who works on Nguyen Dinh Thi but lives at the top of Lac Long Quan, said he thinks it’s going to be a huge hit. "I normally drive but the traffic is testing at best. Now I can enjoy a fragrant journey home across the lake and watch the sunset,” he laughed.

The company is going to invest in a fleet of 60,000 swans, which will be used in almost all of Hanoi’s lakes, apart from Hoan Kiem Lake, where they are forbidden.

“I feel hopeful for the future,” said Nga, before pedaling two kilometers out into the middle of West Lake with her partner to “do some research.”

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