Come nightfall, Do Tri Dung can be found playing online games at his home in Hanoi.
"Sometimes it's the only interesting entertainment after a day's work," said the 24-year-old, who has been playing online games for the past four years.
Ho Thi Thanh Tam, a student in Ho Chi Minh City, uses the Internet almost around the clock. "In class, I chat with my friends on my phone," she said.
"In a short time, Vietnam has caught up with countries such as China and Thailand, where the Internet has a much longer history. The Internet is rapidly becoming an integral part of Vietnamese lives," says Lukas Mira, director of Cimigo's Online, a marketing and brand researcher in HCMC.
According to Mira, it is not just teenagers who are online but a third of urban people aged 35-49 are also surfing the Internet. "If growth continues at this speed, Internet penetration in Vietnam will soon outpace most other emerging Asian markets," he told Thanh Nien Weekly.
According to Vietnam Internet Network Information Center, 26.8 million people in Vietnam were using the Internet by the end of 2010, representing 31 percent of the overall Vietnamese population.
A report released by Cimigo on Tuesday (April 26) found that Internet penetration is as high as 50 percent in urban areas.
"Over the past 10 years, Vietnam has experienced the fastest growth in Internet penetration in the region," Cimigo said in a statement upon the release of the 2011 Cimigo NetCitizens Report. The annual report this year surveyed more than 3,300 Internet users in 12 key cities and provinces in Vietnam in a bid to create a better understanding of the Vietnamese Internet market.
Entertainment, reading, and shopping
Most Internet users in Vietnam are online every day or multiple times a week, and users spend an average of more than two hours a day on the Internet.
"This is longer than in most countries around the region. Vietnamese people seem to be enthusiastic about the new opportunities that the Internet provides to enrich their lives," said Mira, the author of the study.
In Vietnam, more and more families have their own computers, which gives them the opportunity to access the Internet from home. The report found that Internet cafés are still popular, but are mainly used by young age groups and lower socio-economic classes that would otherwise not have access.
According to the study, the main purpose of using the Internet is to gather information and read news but there is a trend to using it for entertainment.
"Vietnamese people like to listen to music and watch movies online. We have measured a constant increase in such entertainment activities over the past few years. At the same time, there is an increasing number of websites offering such services," said Mira.
About 80 percent of Internet users listen to music online, two-thirds download music, and half of all users watch movies. The age group 15-24 is more interested in entertainment, while older users focus more on news, according to the report.
The biggest change was in online shopping activities. "In 2007, only about a quarter of users visited shopping or auction sites, but in 2011 it was near 50 percent," Mira said.
Le Trung, owner of a computer shop in HCMC's Binh Thanh District, has experienced the change in online shopping trends.
"When it first opened ten years ago, my shop attracted a lot of customer footfall. However, things have become different over the past several years, with many of my customers buying online," he said.