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Pokemon GO Finally Reaches Vietnam, Uses Ho Chi Minh Museum as Pokemon Gym

Drop whatever you’re doing and head outside: Vietnam has finally gained access to Pokemon GO.

The release of Pokemon GO across the globe has been eventful to say the least, with players all over the world falling head over heels for the colorful critters. Since the game's debut, folks have risked entry into high-security military bases and border towns near the DMZ between North and South Korea  not to mention a few chance meet-ups with armed robbers – during their quest to catch ‘em all.

Two weeks ago, local Pokemon fans were upset to find that despite its arrival in eight Asian countries, Vietnam didn’t make the cut. According to Tuoi Tre, the wait is now finally over as the game announced on its Facebook page last Saturday that players in 15 Asia-Pacific countries and regions, including Vietnam, can download the Pokémon GO app from both the Play Store and App Store.

The complete list of lucky territories and regions includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

Vietnamese Pokemon enthusiasts have been pining for a local release date ever since it first launched in Australia last month. Niantic, the game’s developer, reportedly blocked Vietnamese users after too many players meddled with their GPS service to play the game and flooded the already packed Australian server.

Less than two days after the game landed in Vietnam, public spaces are already buzzing with activity. According to Yeah1, Saigon's Tao Dan Park is one of the hottest spots for catching Pokemon due to its high concentration of PokeStops, an in-game venue used for replenishing game items.

"There are many Pokemon here. The park also has a lot of PokeStops readily available so many people come here to look for them without having to move too much," Nguyen Tien Hai, a diehard player, told Yeah1.

Apart from Tao Dan park, other areas in downtown Saigon are also popular spots for players as many famous landmarks, such as Bitexco Financial Tower and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, now also double as game locations.

Now that the augmented reality game is available across Southeast Asia, Pokemon aficionados are overjoyed to be capturing their own Pikachus, however some of the region's governments are less impressed.

Singaporean authorities seem to have embraced the phenomenon, albeit cautiously. On their official Facebook page, Wildlife Reserves Singapore posted revamped versions of their maps, showcasing locations of PokeStops and Gyms within venues such as the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

"We will monitor the situation, how this particular game is being played and its impact on society," Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, shared in a recent interview with the Straits Times.

However things are looking bleak for Pokemon fans in countries with heavier Muslim influence, such as Iran, where the government has completely banned the game without giving any specific reason. A Malaysian Islamic committee recently ruled that Muslims in the country are also prohibited from enjoying the game, citing “harmful consequences”.

According to TechCrunch, the game’s release in three big Asian markets – China, South Korea and India – is being delayed. The former two have security concerns with the game’s heavy reliance on Google Maps while the latter is mulling its effect on the country’s religious institutions.

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