1. Tra Co beach in Mong Cai, Quang Ninh is dubbed the "most romantic beach of Vietnam" with wide and flat beaches, white sand and blue waters in all seasons.
Chu Dau ceramic (Source: Internet)
Chu Dau ceramic was discovered and developed from the Tran, Le, Mac dynasties, and had its most prosperous time from 15th – 17th centuries. Chu Dau - one of the oldest ceramic villages in Viet Nam was among the first to help the development of the other ceramic villages.
Chu Dau Ceramic is considered as the wonderful one in Viet Nam and the world over. Its high quality is shown through the deep blue enamel on an ivory white base. It has also reached the standard of Taoism ceramic with delicate shapes and sparking, lively drawings… attracted attention from people. Even the professional ceramic collectors have passionately respected and admired the fascinating beauty of Vietnamese Red River culture drawn on the Chu Dau ceramic.
According to many experts and historians, pottery ceramic is not only the symbol of culture but also the symbolic representation of every nation’s civilization. In respect to origins of Vietnamese people and desire to promote Vietnamese culture to international visitors, Dragon Legend Cruise proudly presents Chu Dau ceramics, which are commonly used for utensils and decorations on our junk.
That is the reason why all pottery stuffs used on the Dragon Legend Cruise are Chu Dau Ceramics, such as: cups, bowls, dishes, plates, ceramic boxes, vases, pots, and candle sticks, etc.
Chu Dau Ceramic consisted of 3 types: products for civilians, high-ranking officers, and the royalty, with high quality, rare clay in Chi Linh area. Under skillful hands of Chu Dau’s artisans, a lot of high quality products have been created. Moreover, many products with fascinating paintings still remain fresh after 4-5 centuries. It means besides the cultural value, the production and technique of Chu Dau Ceramics were of a high standard.
During the restoration and recovery of Chu Dau traditional village, Chu Dau Ceramic Factory - one member of the Ha Noi Trade Corporation (in Thai Tan Commune, Nam Sach District, Hai Duong Province) has followed ancestors’ glorious tradition to combine the cultural quintessence of antique Chu Dau Ceramic with modern art ceramic. Its ceramic products have been exported to 15 countries over the world, and jobs have been created for hundreds of employees in Chu Dau ceramic village.
(TITC) - Recently, Centre for Tourism and Environmental Education - Tram Chim National Park (Tam Nong District, Dong Thap Province) has officially put into operation of the green tour discovering Tram Chim National Park.
This is the green tour because visitors will move by environmentally friendly transport means, such as electric cars and solar energy tourist boats.
The tour route has a total length of about 12km with duration of 35 minutes. For the first 4km, visitors take electric cars with the speed of 30km/h. In the last 8km, visitors take solar energy tourist boats with the speed of 15km/h. The special feature of solar energy tourist boats is no noise and do not affect the lives of animals, especially birds. Therefore, visitors will hear the sounds of waves lapping against boats and birds only.
Each tour can serve maximum of 12 visitors. The price of entire route is VND700,000.
Located in the central area of Dong Thap Muoi, belonging to the lowest area of Mekong River, Tram Chim National Park has the natural area of 7,588ha and spreads over 6 communes of Tan Cong Sinh, Phu Duc, Phu Tho, Phu Thanh A, Phu Thanh B, Phu Hiep and Tram Chim Town (Tam Nong District, Dong Thap Province). The park owns the beautiful natural landscape and is considered as a miniature Dong Thap Muoi in Southern region.
Tram Chim National Park has about 130 species of flora, distributing into 6 typical ecological community types of Dong Thap Muoi area, namely cajeput, lotus, ghost rice, tube grass, Ischaemum rugosum, and Eleocharis dulcis. The fauna system is also diversified with more than 130 species of freshwater fish, 132 species of water bird, typically red-headed crane – the largest bird in the family of stork in danger of extinction in the world.
To Tram Chim in the flooding season (from July to November), visitors will have the opportunity to admire untouched green mangrove forests, grasslands, rice... succeeding each other on the vast expanse of water river and flocks of water birds following to fly in the sky.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month when children are given beautiful star lanterns and shadow lanterns. Alongside these they are gifted clown masks and lion masks for a special evening performance. This year, the festival falls on September 27.
Nguyen Van Quyen, who has spent over 70 years making lanterns for children, said the Mid-autumn festival is based on a story of a bear eating the moon-a story which is related to the lunar eclipse.
“Based on that story, adults let children play drums and music loudly on this day to drive away the bear,” he explains. “But nowadays, this festival really simply for kids to have fun, and it is also an opportunity to bring them closer to traditional toys and games,” he added.
About a month before the festival, Chinese toys such as battery-powered lanterns, robots, and dolls appear on Ha Noi’s toy street, Luong Van Can.
Hoa, the owner of a toy store, said, “Star lanterns and shadow lanterns go on sale about one or two weeks before Mid-autumn festival. Almost every year, they go out of stock quickly. Although toys that are made in China seem more appealing, many customers still choose to buy Vietnamese traditional toys on this occasion.”
Another lantern maker, Nguyen Van Quyen, lives and works in Dan Vien village, about 20 kilometres south of the capital centre. Taking out a shadow lantern from last year’s festival, he describes that it is made of wax paper covering a bamboo frame.
A candle inside helps spin propellers, each of which is connected to a paper figure. The shadows of those figures then appear on the wax paper. The spinning propellers cause the movement of the shadows, giving the impression that they are running in a circle inside.
The paper figure is replaceable and children can create any figure they like. “People used to make figures of Vietnamese farmers and workers, but now I choose Vietnamese fairy tale characters such as peacocks and water buffalo to bring traditional stories to children,” Quyen shared.
According to the old lantern maker, a myth says that a shadow lantern resents filial piety: “There was a young boy whose father died early and he stayed at home to take care of his sick mother. Worrying that his mother would be sad when he went out to make a living, he invented the shadow lantern so his mother could be entertained by the moving figures. The story spread and it reached the king. After visiting the son’s house, the king was touched and he suggested all citizens make shadow lantern in honour.”
Compared to a shadow lantern, the star lantern’s design is much simpler. It is a star-shaped bamboo frame covered with coloured cellophane. “Star lanterns represent the real star that our ancestors wanted to pick from the sky and give to the children. Because there were many stars in the fall, our ancestors came up with the idea of making star lanterns for their children to play with, along with the dragon dance,” said Quyen. “It gives the kids a feeling that they can reach the sky and it therefore encourages them to have big dreams and discover the world.”
“You need to patiently watch the figures and remember the story behind them to know how meaningful it is,” Quyen shares. He adds that when he was small, he had to walk for up to four kilometres to the market and could sell only one or two lanterns. “Farmers in the old time had to work all day so they had little time for such things,” he recalled.
Quyen adds that the shadow lantern started becoming popular in the market about 10 years ago. “That was when the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology invited me to participate in an event regarding the preservation of traditional toys. My role was to teach students to make star and shadow lanterns,” he said.
From then on, the amount of lanterns sold has been increasing every year. In 2014, Quyen sold about 200. “I make them mainly because of my love for this tradition. I don’t want it to fall into oblivion,” he shared.
A dying trade
Not many people want to dedicate their time to this trade because it does not bring much profit. “We make lanterns 100% by hand, with materials bought on Hang Ma street. It takes one whole day to make a shadow lantern, but we can only sell it for VND100,000 (US$4.5). In terms of income, this is not an appealing job,” Quyen explained.
Meanwhile, star lanterns sell very well and they are usually out of stock well before the festival. Each lantern costs around VND10,000, but this barely covers the cost of producing them.
“If we increase the price, we cannot compete with Chinese toys. Because we care about preserving this culture more than our income, we keep on going,” said Quyen.
Quyen believes that in order to preserve this tradition the authorities and sponsors should work together to organize more traditional events. “We hope that people can see the beauty of traditional games and toys,” she said.
Wooden boats bring tourists to Dat Mui
Ca Mau is 350 kilometers from HCMC. To reach the Mekong Delta province, tourists can either go by air or road.
In my recent trip to Ca Mau, I took an express night coach from Mien Tay coach station at around 9 p.m. and arrived in Ca Mau City at 5 a.m. the next morning.
From Ca Mau coach station, I caught a bus to Nam Can Port, where I found a boat to travel to Dat Mui.
To visit Dat Mui, tourists can choose either motor boat or small wooden boat. Motor boats depart every three hours with a price of VND150,000 (US$6.6) per passenger while wooden boats are in service around the clock at a cost of VND200,000 per passenger for a round trip.
I preferred traveling by wooden boat because it is a popular means of transport in the area but the slow movement of the wooden boat allowed me to easily sightsee on the two banks of the river, get a glimpse of local people’s daily life and go deep into small canals winding through beautiful cajuput and mangrove forests.
After around two hours on the boat, I got to Dat Mui, a small area covered by the immense green cajuput forests. Three destinations tourists can visit in Dat Mui are the country’s southern coordinate landmark, Ca Mau Cape landmark and the observatory tower.
Those who want to learn more about the life of local people on the cape can choose to stay overnight at their houses and enjoy the sunrise and sunset.
After touring Dat Mui, visitors can return to Ca Mau City to drop by several tourist attractions such as San Chim, a bird garden in the city, or Ba and Khmer pagodas with particular architecture of Khmer people.
In the evening, tourists can visit the night market in the city and have fresh seafood along the Ganh Hao River bank, enjoying the famous Ca Mau crabs at reasonable prices.
Another destination in Ca Mau Province that tourists can visit is U Minh Forest. The ideal time for traveling there is the flooding season which lasts from the eighth to the eleventh month of the lunar calendar as in the dry season, authorities do not allow visitors to enter the forest due to fear of bushfires.
Visitors still discover the charm of the fields in the mountainous district of Ba Thuoc in Thanh Hoa. Due to the rough roads leading to Ba Thuoc, which are mostly trodden paths, this locality is little known.
Early in the morning, clouds hang above the mountains and rice fields which turn into the shining yellow color, creating a picturesque painting complete with smoke rising from small stilt houses. Visitors certainly have a feel of peace and tranquility in a cool climate.
Farmers harvest paddy (unhusked rice). Muong, Mong and Thai ethnic peoples in the upland of Thanh Hoa lead a hard life, so a bumper rice crop means a lot to them - PHOTOS: HAI DUONG
Two Thai women carry paddy on the back
Thai ethnic people are seen working on the terraced rice field in Lung Niem Commune, Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa Province
A trodden path in the middle of the rice field in Ba Thuoc District
Banh com originates in Vong Village, Dich Vong Hau Ward, Cau Giay District, around eight kilometers from central Ha Noi.
The cake is made from young rice. How to make it is a secret and in most families there, the cake making technique is passed down to sons only because people are afraid that daughters might leak the secret recipe to their husbands’ families.
It is complicated to make the cake. Whether it is glutinous and fragrant depends on the skills and experience of makers. How to choose rice, monitor heat levels from the stove, and roast and grind rice is very important.
Machinery replaces some stages of manual work but making the cake is a hard job as it does not guarantee high income. Therefore, the number of families maintaining the traditional craft in the village is on the wane.
Young green paddy is used for making com, a green rice cake
- PHOTOS: Phuong Dung
Green rice is roasted. The process needs to be done by experienced people to make sure that heat levels are appropriate
- PHOTOS: Phuong Dung
- PHOTOS: Phuong Dung
(TITC) - From Ha Noi’s centre, along to Bac Thang Long – Noi Bai Road, then turn to National Highway No.2 about 10km to Phuc Yen Town (Vinh Phuc Province), and turn right to Provincial Road No.317 about 12km, visitors will arrive in Dai Lai Lake Tourist Area located in communes of Ngoc Thanh and Cao Minh. This is an ideal weekend destination for visitors.
Dai Lai is bestowed charming scenery of mountain and water by the Creator. To the north of the lake is Tam Dao Mountain Range with untouched green forests. The hillocks closing to mountain slopes are extended by soil dams to create a solid wall for maintaining water of the lake. The harmonious combination between lake and mountains creates a vivid natural picture.
Dai Lai Lake Tourist Area has a mild and cool climate thanks to existence of Tam Dao Mountain Range and mountains of Cot Co, Mo Qua, Than Lan… Here, the average temperature in summer of about 28.9°C and in winter of approximately 16.8°C are ideal condition for leisure and relaxation at the weekends.
After sightseeing Dai Lai Lake, visitors take only 3 minutes by canoe or 10 minutes by boat to visit Ngoc (Pearl) Island in the middle of the lake. Especially, visitors can also choose duck-shaped pedalo to relax and discover many fascinating landscapes around the lake. Ngoc Island was formerly known as Bird Island because it was home to hundreds of bird species. Currently, the island is being planned into a resort area with many diversified architectural works and attractive tourism services such as camping, kid's play ground, restaurant, karaoke... Coming here, visitors will have the opportunity to be immersed in the fresh space of pine tree ranges, bamboo trees, artificial lakes, green grass and a lot of blooming flowers. Besides, visitors can sightsee Linh Thong Pagoda in the island to enjoy the pure spiritual space.
In recent years, tourism infrastructure in Dai Lai has continuously improved to serve visitors. Many 1-3 star hotels was built with convenience equipments and reasonable service prices. For high-class services, visitors can choose Flamingo Dai Lai Resort or Dai Lai Paradise Resort with luxurious villas, restaurants with modern architecture and diversified entertainment services. Coming to Dai Lai Lake Tourist Area, visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy many delicious dishes of the mountainous region such as bamboo-tube rice, mountainous pork, fried small fish, grilled chicken...
Departing from Dai Lai Lake, visitors can visit some adjacent tourist sites in Vinh Phuc Province such as Doi Cave (Ngoc Thanh Commune, Phuc Yen Town), Tam Dao Mountain (Tam Dao Townlet, Tam Dao District), Truc Lam Tay Thien Zen Monastery (Dai Dinh Commune, Tam Dao District)…
Photo: Xuan Thien
Children are amused with colourful lanterns made in Viet Nam (Photo: VNA)
The revival of Vietnamese goods
On the occasion of the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival 2015, many streets in Ha Noi’s old-quarter are becoming crowded with sellers and buyers as well as thousands of eye-catching and colourful toys for children.
In recent years, cheap and shoddy imported toys from China were mainly being sold; however this year, consumers intend to purchase Vietnamese traditional toys including star-shaped lanterns, colourful masks, wooden drums, fish-shaped lanterns and decorative multi-coloured lanterns.
This year, Vietnamese mid-Autumn traditional toys have been designed to be more diverse and appealing with affordable prices ranging from VND20,000 - VND60,000 each. Illuminated lanterns playing familiar Vietnamese mid-Autumn songs are popular products at this year festival. They all have passed quality tests and are marked with their correct origin of production.
The Ky Thuat Moi (New Techniques) Package Limited Company, specialising in producing toys for children, has provided the domestic market with 120 decorative multi-coloured lanterns. Many of them were designed and decorated following various themes, such as the landscapes of Viet Nam and the country’s sea and islands as well as images of national heroes and traditional cultural identities, contributing to educating and furthering patriotism among younger generations.
The company has decided to discount the prices of many of their lanterns to prices lower than that of Chinese products in order to gain a larger share of the domestic market and reduce the influence of Chinese toys on the market in addition to supplying children with high-quality domestic products.
Notably, traditional paper-mache masks which feature images of Vietnamese characters, such as Teu, Cuoi, the Earth God and the rabbits, are becoming more popular over plastic masks with shapes of comic strip characters, supermen and devils from China.
“This year, mid-autumn toys made in Viet Nam are very much in demand due to the large number of diverse designs; meanwhile Chinese goods have been sold less frequently despite their cheaper price tags”, said Huong, the owner of a toy shop on Hang Ma Street.
It seems that parents are fully aware of the importance of helping their children to select useful and safe traditional folk toys.
Preservation of tradition
Traditional toys are capturing the hearts of numerous customers not only because they are safer than products made in China but also buyers are interested in preserving and retaining aspects of traditional culture in today’s modern climate.
Many skilled artisans and traditional villages are trying to preserve traditional toys that have become the childhood memories of generations of Vietnamese people.
For example, making traditional handmade toys in Khuong Ha Village in Thanh Xuan District, now only the family of Nguyen Manh Hung continues production. Although the work requires an extreme patience and effort, he has been determined to preserve and promote this traditional trade to younger generations.
A resident in Hao village, Hung Yen Province is making traditional wooden drums (Photo: baohungyen.vn)
Residents in Hao Village, Lieu Xa Commune, Yen My District, the northern province of Hung Yen have been famous for making drums and mid-autumn masks over the last 100-years. Despite times changing and difficulties of the market economy, they try their best to preserve and develop the trade.
The Phu Binh, a traditional craft village that produces lanterns in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City, is adorned with colours of traditional decorative paper lanterns on the occasion of the upcoming festival.
It is very strenuous for villagers to make handmade lanterns, however all of them are happy as they are busy in meeting the increased number of orders from traders, providing beautiful lanterns to children around the city to welcome in the Mid-Autumn Festival.
In addition to artisans and trade villagers, many other individuals and organisations have dedicated themselves to preserving and educating younger generations on the national traditional culture.
Children try their hand at making traditional masks under the instruction of lecturers and students of the Viet Nam Fine Arts University (Photo: Nhandan)
A project entitled ‘Creating Authentic Vietnamese Masks’ has been taking place at the Viet Nam Fine Arts Museum in Ha Noi with the participation of more than 300 Vietnamese and foreign children. Children were introduced to each step of making traditional Mid-autumn festival masks, including applying paper to a clay mould to make masks as well as decorating and painting the masks.
The project aims to create a meaningful activity for children at this Mid-Autumn Festival and to introduce Vietnamese children with the art of making traditional masks on the special occasion.
An exhibition featuring traditional paper-mache masks is also being held at Laca Café in Ha Noi, significantly contributing to raising young people’s awareness of preserving national culture and history.
Additionally, the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology has organised a wide variety of entertaining activities for children on the occasion of Mid-Autumn Festival, including making star-shaped lanterns and ‘to he’ (toy figurines made from glutinous rice powder) under the instruction of skilled-artisans.
The traditional Mid-Autumn toy industry has maintained a firm position in the domestic market thanks to their diversity, aesthetics and culture. In addition to improving the quality of toys, the trade villages, craftsmen and enterprises focus on diversifying the designs of the toys for children.
The social activities not only encourage Vietnamese people to prioritise using Vietnamese goods but also contribute to nurturing the spiritual life of Vietnamese people, particularly in children – the future of the country.
Coming to Bac Ha, most tourists visit the market session of Mong ethnic people. The session is usually held in the district’s center. From the previous evening, Mong people go down the mountains to prepare for the market session the next morning.
Bac Ha has market sessions in different areas for different goods, including brocade products, working tools made by Mong people, homegrown vegetables, livestock and poultry. Among the specialties of Mong people are dried chili and sugarcane, which is soft, sweet and aromatic as sugarcane plants are grown on the plateau with cool weather all year round.
In a market session, the most bustling place which always gathers a lot of people is the food area, and the dish that arouses curiosity for visitors from other places the most is thang co, a traditional dish of Mong people which has become popular among other ethnic groups such as Dao, Tay, Thai. The traditional thang co was made of horsemeat, but now beef, buffalo meat and pork is used by each ethnic group in each region. However, the best one is the thang co from horsemeat in Bac Ha, Muong Khuong and Sa Pa in Lao Cai Province where the dish was born.
In early morning, stalls selling thang co attracts many people, especially Mong men who sit down for a bowl of thang co and a glass of wine.
Those who visit Bac Ha in spring can admire the beauty of the district as plump trees flower and make the plateau look like a carpet of flowers that lighten up the whole area, giving it the name “white plateau”. Plump trees are seen everywhere from hillsides, plains and gardens. Summer is when Mong people harvest plumps and bring them to the district center for sale.
The plump harvesting season is also the time when people in Bac Ha hold their horse-racing festival at the district center and lure thousands of locals and visitors.
As of 1 July 2015, British passport holders travelling for tourism or business will be able to enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa. If you’re travelling for business reasons you should contact the relevant Vietnam government department before travel to check whether any licenses are required to carry out your duties.
You’ll still need a visa to enter Vietnam for periods of 15 days and longer and if you wish to re-enter Vietnam within 30 days of your departure. Make sure you get the correct visa for the purpose and destination of your trip.
The safest option is to get a visa from the Vietnamese Embassy before you travel. If you plan to leave Vietnam and re-enter from another country make sure you get a multiple visit visa.
There are legitimate companies that can arrange visas on arrival, but you must organise this before you arrive in Vietnam. We have been told that the personal information of multiple applicants can be included in letters confirming visa approval, which is normal procedure for the Vietnamese Immigration Department and any alteration to the letter would invalidate visa approval. If you are concerned about this you should apply for a visa through the nearest Vietnamese Embassy. There are also a number of bogus companies claiming to offer this service. The Embassy and Consulate General cannot confirm whether a company has a legitimate arrangement in place.
Overstaying your Vietnamese visa without authority is a serious matter and you may be delayed from travel until a fine is paid. Check the visa validity and conditions carefully.
For further information about visa requirements, check with the Vietnamese Embassy in London.
There are a number of local crossing points on the borders with Cambodia and Laos which are for nationals of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Check locally before travelling to these points.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months at the date of entry to be eligible for the 14 day visa exemption.
For periods of stay longer than 14 days, entry into Vietnam may be refused if your passport has less than 1 month validity from the date your Vietnamese visa expires.
The Vietnamese authorities have confirmed they will accept British passports extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under additional measures put in place in mid-2014.
As galingale grows shoots all year round, visitors to the northwest can see the image of young women of Tay and Mong ethnic minority communities carrying papooses to the mountains to pick galingale sprouts.
According to local people, galingale sprouts for food making should be young ones which have no leaves but pointed heads and a light pink color. Each sprout is 20-25 centimeters long. Old sprouts with leaves and green color are tough and have lots of fibers.
To make food out of galingale sprouts, people remove the peel to get the core.
Galingale sprout is a common ingredient of a fish dish cooked with brine. This recipe can hardly be found elsewhere in the country. To make this dish, people use stream fish, a type of fish as small as two fingers combined and is usually caught in streams.
Galingale sprout is not as pungent as the bulb and has a unique flavor, which is a combination of sweet and spice. It is a bit crunchy and also has a special aroma.
Northwesterners also fry galingale sprout with pork or buffalo meat. Although dishes from galingale sprout are easy to cook, they are still rare and unique because it is not easy to find fresh galingale sprouts in delta areas and therefore, dishes with galingale sprouts are worth tasting.
Traditionally the Raglai perform a ritual to find suitable land on which to build a stilt house. The mistress puts 7 grains of rice on the ground and upturns a bowl on them.
After 3 days and nights, she removes the bowl. If 7 grains remain there, it’s a good place to live. If some grains have disappeared, she will find another place to build.
Stilt houses of the Raglai are made of wood, rattan, bamboo, and leaves. All members of the family are involved in preparing materials and building the house.
Doctor Thanh Phan, a researcher of Raglai culture, said, “Most stilt houses of the Central Highlands groups are imposing. But the stilt houses of the Raglai are smaller and located at the foot of the mountain, surrounded by dense forest. The location of their hamlets and stilt houses has helped them preserve their unique culture.”
A house is built on stilts approximately 1 meter above the ground. The roof is built separately and then set on the house frame. The roof is shaped like an upturned boat, which, experts explain, is a cultural blending of Austronesian groups.
Inside the house, musical instruments are hung on the left wall and spearheads and knives are hung on the right wall. A central pillar supports the roof. The Raglai consider it a spiritual pillar, a way for their ancestors to connect with their descendants during worshiping ceremonies.
There are several wood stoves in a stilt house and the main stove is always lit. Beside the stove, old people tell children the epics, tales, and folksongs of their group.
Raglai people teach the younger generation epics and folksongs anywhere they can, but the most sacred place is next to a wood stove. Listening to old people reciting epics and folksongs, young people can deeply understand the soul of the Raglai culture.
The Raglai have several festivals each year, which are occasions for grandmothers and parents to teach their children morality, etiquette, and culture.
Chamale Nang shared, “I’m proud of my group, which has many stilt houses. At festivals we play Ma La gongs and the Chapi musical instrument. These events help us understand our culture.”
Stilt houses of the Raglai are simply made but strong and durable. In deep forests, the Raglai live in harmony with nature and preserve their time-honored cultural uniqueness.
The road leading to Ma Rung Lu Quan, around 30 kilometers from the heart of Dalat, is an interesting journey for those who love exploring nature because along the way, tourists can see immense pine forests covered by faint mist, brooks running down the hill, and the breathtaking beauty of Lac Duong valley.
Upon arrival, tourists will find that the atmosphere and view are a harmonious combination of nature, romantic and wild scenery and artificial touches.
Here, tourists can stay in wooden houses built in European style by the lake or homes in traditional style of ethnic communities in the Central Highlands.
Coming to Ma Rung Lu Quan, tourists can enjoy cool weather in Dalat next and a cup of hot coffee by the peaceful lake in the morning, and sit by a fire in a barbeque party. Sometimes, the owner of the place will sit down with visitors to play guitar, sing and tell stories about the land of Dalat.
In order to reach the destination, tourists should start the trip from Dalat Market and follow Tran Quoc Toan Street before turning left to Dinh Tien Hoang Street to reach Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street.
There, tourists should make a left to Thanh Mau Street before turning right to Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street and turning left to Ankroet Street. When reaching a T-junction, tourists should turn left and go to Da Nghit ranger station. Then, turning right to a soil path and go straight ahead for some 2.5 kilometers, tourists will not miss Ma Rung Lu Quan.
No one knows when palm trees started growing in this land but Phu Tho residents usually say: “Our land is that of palm trees. Everywhere in our hometown, people can see green palm hills.”
For people of Phu Tho, every part of palm tree is useful, especially when it comes to food.
Palm leaves are helpful for people who hide themselves from burning sunlight and can also be used to make a local specialty.
A variety of dishes can be made from palm fruit. The ripe palm fruit is plump and has a purple color. It tastes greasy after being soaked in hot water for 15 minutes. The boiled palm fruit also goes well with sticky rice. To make rice softer and more fragrant, it can be mixed with palm fruit oil while the orange color from the boiled palm fruit can be blended with white sticky rice to create an eye-catching color for the dish.
Salted palm fruits are a specialty of Phu Tho. They are as sour as other pickles but what makes it special is its grease.
Trunks of young palm trees can be processed into food. The core inside the trunk of a young palm tree is soft and white and is fried with long coriander to make a dish claimed to be good for health.
Even with a rotten trunk, people can still create food by leaving it on wet soil to wait for worms which feed on the trunk to grow. When those palm worms become as large as fingers, they can be deep fried. According to elders, fried palm worms are rare as few people can raise worms from rotten palm trunks.
The necklaces were made in various designs and are always put on by the elderly men during Tet (Lunar New Year holiday), wedding receptions, and other special occasions. Strings of agate in circular or oval shapes are their favorites. The agate beads usually come between fangs or manes of wild boars, bear claws, or small figures made of rare and valuable wood.
According to Co Tu ethnic minority people’s tradition, the beauty of necklaces and the length of fangs and claws show the positions of Co Tu men at their villages. As these valuable strings are considered part of their life, these jewelries will be buried with the owners when they die.
In the past, poor Co Tu men who did not have an agate necklace had almost no chance to marry young wives, said Dinh Van Bot, a 67-year-old patriarch at Ta Lau Village, Ba Commune in Quang Nam Province’s Dong Giang District. They had to tie the knot with widows or wait until they became rich to get married to young wives, and the first gift the men had to give their parents-in-law were strings of agate. On the contrary, a wealthy Co Tu man could marry a 15-year-old girl.
The 82-year-old patriarch Y Cong at Tong Cooi Village said in the past, agate was very valuable. It was the gift Co Tu men presented to their lovers and parents gave to their daughters on their wedding days. A bead of agate, which is called by locals “c’ron,” could cost a cow or a buffalo.
Things have changed, however. Nowadays, agate strings are merely symbolic gifts and can be bought at VND50,000 (US$2.28) per string of ten beads at markets. Some young couples of the ethnic minority group have started to give their better halves rings instead of such agate strings.
Banh Cuon (rice noodle roll) is one of the traditional dishes of both Ha Noi and Viet Nam.
It is made from a thin, wide sheet of steamed fermented rice batter filled with seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushroom and minced shallots.
Banh cuon is served with nuoc mam, a mixture of fish sauce, sugar and lime.
Bun Cha (grilled pork noodle soup) is served with a plate of white rice noodle (bun) grilled fatty pork (cha), fish sauce and herbs.
West Lake shrimp cake
The West Lake shrimp cake is a type of batter-dipped shrimp patties originally made and first served by a restaurant next to West Lake in the 1970’s.
The cake is served with sweet and sour fish sauce, green papaya and carrot slices.
Cha Ca La Vong
Definitely a must-eat food while you are visiting in Hanoi is Cha ca La Vong.
It is an exquisitely grilled fish served with bun, peanut, green onions, dills and shrimp paste.
Pho has repeatedly been voted as one of the dishes everyone must try in their lifetime by prestigious international magazines.
Pho is a combination of soft rice noodles in a soup broth, normally prepared with either bo (beef) or ga (chicken) – both of which are extremely delicious.
The noodles are flash boiled until soft, topped with meat, and finished with a sprinkle of chopped green onions served with a plate of herbs, typically fresh sawtooth , mint, and Vietnamese coriander, along with house-made chilli sauce.
Bun Rieu (Rice noodle with crab)
CNN has described Bun rieu as one of the most delicious street foods in Asia.
Freshwater crabs flavour this tangy tomato soup that's made with round rice vermicelli and topped with pounded crabmeat, deep-fried tofu and, often, congealed blood.
An odoriferous purple shrimp paste is offered on the side - it tastes delicious. Chillies and fresh herbs are the finishing touches for a complete one-dish meal.
Banh Mi (Sandwich)
Banh Mi sandwiches, feature French baguettes filled with a tasty variety of meats and vegetables. They are eagerly consumed across Vietnam, especially for breakfast or lunch.
Ca Phe Trung (Egg coffee)
Vietnamese egg coffee has been cited one of the world’s top 10 drinks by Buzzfeed, an American online social news and entertainment giant.
Sounds very strange but a combination of egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, butter and laughing cow cheese is whisked until fluffy and thick and served with hot coffee! Incredible rich taste-like a liquid tiramisu!
Pho Cuon (Vietnamese Rolling Pho) consists of a slightly cooked rice paper shell the same thickness as a pho noodle. Inside this soft shell is a selection of herbs and greens - mainly cilantro, mustard leaf, and lettuce - and thinly sliced beef that has been cooked with garlic and generous amounts of pepper.
It is served cold with a bowl of fish sauce, garlic, carrots, radish, vinegar, boiled water, chilli and some sugar for dipping.
Xoi xeo (Vietnamese sticky rice and mung bean)
Amazingly attractive with its bright yellow colour, ‘xoi xeo’ is sold in every restaurant, market and street corner in the morning.
The seller keeps ‘xoi xeo’ warm in a bamboo basket which is carried on the shoulder or fastened behind the bicycle.
‘Xoi xeo’ is a special dish for breakfast, especially with students and manual labourers thanks to its rather low price and good taste.
1. Tra Co beach in Mong Cai, Quang Ninh is dubbed the "most romantic beach of Vietnam" with wide and flat beaches, white sand and blue waters in all seasons.
Lying on the outer edge of a natural alluvial island, this beach has sand dunes from 3 to 4 meters high. Tra Co has a cool climate, still primitive, with sea flavor and quiet space. You can buy fresh seafood right on the beach, from the fishing boats.
2. Bai Chay, Quang Ninh is an artificial beach, with a length of over 500m and a width of 100m, running along the Ha Long Bay.This beach attracts many tourists in summer. Every day in the early morning or late afternoon, thousands of people come here for sea bath, making it incredibly noisy.
3. Dong Chau Beach is located in Dong Minh commune - Tien Hai district, 30km from Thai Binh City.Although it is not classified as an extremely beautiful beach, the peaceful beach nestling under the shade of pine trees, is suitable for relaxation. Additionally, visitors can take a motorboat to visit the islands of Con Thu and Con Vanh, 7km from the mainland.
4. Hai Hau Beach, Nam Dinh has its own character – the ruined churches on the beach which have been abandoned for a long time due to seawater intrusion.
Hai Hau coast is about 33 km long, extending from the town of Quat Lam to Thinh Long Beach. This place is still pristine, very suitable for those who prefer tranquility.
5. Do Son Beach is about 20 km to the southeast of Hai Phong city. Nature has rewarded this place a beautiful beach, with sunshine and warm climate in winter, and cool in summer
Located in a favorable location, visitors can easily experience a short vacation at Do Son at any time of the year.
6. Cat Ba Beach is on Cat Ba Island, Hai Phong. Cat Ba is the largest island of the thousands of islands of Halong Bay, with pristine and amazing landscapes.
Visitors can rent a boat to tour around Lan Ha Bay, to drop at beautiful beaches with funny names: Cat Co, Ben Beo, Co Tien or the caves of Trung Trang, Hoa Cuong, and Thien Long to discover the wonderful nature.
Mai Chau suits all individuals – lovers, family or students, etc., especially newly married couples. Zankyou, a famous French magazine, ranked Mai Chau as one of the top 10 ideal destinations for honeymooners.
Mai Chau will astonish you with its changing mild beauty through every season of the year. In summer, Mother Nature covers the land with beautiful wild flowers, together with the pure smells from lotus lakes scattered in the villages.
The immature taste of rice alongside the cycling trails reminds us of our childhood. Under the brilliant sunset, the lush paddy fields seem to be gilded by sunlight fading away behind the blue mountains. At night, gathering around a home-made wine bottle, tourists seem to be immersed in the deep melody of colorful Thai dance together with thrilling bullhorn and drum voices, an unchanging habit for many generations.
Recently, Mai Chau has seen a sharp rise in the number of international travelers thanks to its orientation in developing ecotourism.
It is known for being close to nature and its efforts in environmental protection, cultural and sustainable tourism. Mai Chau is gradually becoming a fragrant flower on Vietnam tourist map.
Many visitors pass by word of mouth stories about a resort situated on a small hill, surrounded by traditional Thai stilts house with special palm tree roof. They say that it is a village of indigenous architecture characterized by Lang Mandarin’s house in the center and others around.
Inside is an ecological green heaven with charming bungalows overlooking the valley, modern pool on mountain, paved walkway and local trees. There is a perfect harmony between people and nature in Mai Chau.
To experience the culture and lifestyle, to indulge in nature and to enjoy exploring the land of Mai Chau should be done at least once in a lifetime. So, are you ready for the journey to explore Mai Chau – a beautiful flower of Muong land?
Reputed to be one of the most beautiful islands in the south of the country, Hon Khoai is a popular destination for tourists inspiring exploration of the site’s cultural aspects.
Hon Khoai was called Giang Huong, Independence Island and Poulo Obi in the French domination. However, the locals get used to calling it Hon Khoai because it looks like the shape of a giant potato. Hon Khoai is not only a well-known landscape of Ca Mau Province but also a revolutionary site in the south-western region of the south. In 1940, under the leadership of the Communist Party, the locals and soldiers re-took the island from French invaders.
A path to the top of the island zigzags round the hillside and is shadowed by high and big trees. Jackfruit and mango trees are seen lush and many of them have become century-old trees. Many wild flowers blossom in rock cavities as though specially placed there as part of some artistic arrangement. The sound of running water and the chirping of birds complete a heavenly picture. On the Hon Khoai coast, there are numerous algae that are used to cook delicious dishes. Many species of birds, including wild geese and swallows, have made Hon Khoai their home.
On the Hon Khoai coast, there are numerous algae which can be cooked into delicious dishes. There are also many species of birds on the island, including wild geese and swallows.
On the Hon Khoai Island stands an important lighthouse in the Eastern Sea and Thailand Bay. Having invaded Vietnam, French colonialists built a system of lighthouses from Can Gio, Con Dao, Phu Quoc to Hon Khoai to lead ships. The architecturally intact 318 meter-high lighthouse on Hon Khoai Island, built in 1920, unfailingly puts on its best postcard behavior for visitors. The lighthouse tower was one of the earliest construction sites on the Vietnamese territorial waters.
With a cool climate, beautiful scenery, mountains and sea, Hon Khoai is always an attractive destination for many tourists, so Hon Khoai is a good point to be marked in your list.
The Binh Ba Island is on Cam Binh town, Cam Ranh City, Khanh Hoa Province. It is a small island which is as the waving and windy barrier wall for the overall waist of the Cam Ranh Bay. Not too familiar with tourist service, the island remains a hidden treasure with its isolated white-sand beaches and crystal clear blue water.
To come to the island, the boat on Ba Ngoi Port (5km away from Cam Ranh Station) runs 4 trips a day, departing from the port at 7:00, 10:00, 13:00 and 16:00 and arriving at 5:00, 9:00, 12:00 and 16:30 each day.
Do not expect to find any resort or standard hotel in Binh Ba. Instead, you can choose between hostels, homestay or outdoor camping. For many, spending your night on the beach, under the stars and listening to the sound of waves is the most wonderful experience. Home to about 5,000 locals who earn their living by fishing, seafood processing and farming; the island offers its visitors fresh and delicious seafood, especially lobsters. . If you want a seafood barbecue, remember to book and negotiate to rent a stove, bowls, spoons, etc.
Nom Beach is the most beautiful beach on the island, having a bow back sand beach with the gigantic stones on the two top sides. You will be pleasure in the blue beach stretching out to the skyline.
Nha Cu Beach has dense coral. Take your diving eyeglasses, just bow your body into the water will be a scene of a beautiful ocean with a group of colorful fishes in the beach.
Chuong Beach is an ideal place to watch the sunrise on the island. The sun progressively rises, a red covering the sky creating a mystery moments.
Want to take a break from sun, wind and sea? You are welcome to join the locals at their daily markets where trying local snacks is a must; or spend time to visit other famous places, such as Ngu Hanh Tomb and Binh Ba Communal House where some war relics are displayed.
Fishermen pull their bamboo basket boat to the shore at An Bang beach - PHOTOS: TUNG SON
Unlike other beautiful beaches which are always crowded with people, An Bang beach is peaceful. Stretching around four kilometers, the place perfectly suits those loving nature and wanting to shy away from crowds.
Coming to An Bang, visitors can find several bamboo basket boats on the beach. This type of boat is still used as a major means for fishing in the waters near the shore. Along the stone embankment at the beach are fresh seafood stalls where hungry souls can stop by.
On the way to An Bang beach, tourists pass a fishing village, which is several kilometers from the city but exotic and tranquil.
Certain investors have shown interest in developing An Bang beach area into a hideaway, with several resorts and hotels having sprung up. A road from downtown Hoi An City to the beach has been connected to Tra Que Vegetable Village in Cam Ha Commune, where visitors can see farmers in action.
The site, 92km northwest of Rach Gia City, worships Mac Cuu, the founder of the land of Ha Tien, and his family members.
Mac Cuu as a Chinese left his country during the Qing dynasty to do business in Southeast Asian countries. He settled down in Ha Tien in 1680 and greatly contributed to making the region a prosperous land.
He offered Ha Tien to Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu and was named the governor of Ha Tien. The Lord gave Mac Cuu all the power to manage the land and seven generations of the Mac family sacrificed their time and effort to turn Ha Tien into one of the most important trading areas of the country.
The relics site consists of a temple to worship the Mac family and tombs of Mac Cuu and his relatives. There are two huge lotus ponds in front of the temple where Mac Cuu built to store fresh water for locals in dry season. On the two sides of the temple’s entrance are two calligraphies given by Lord Nguyen.
The site is covered by lots of high trees which give visitors a peaceful atmosphere. There are over 60 old tombs divided into four areas to worship people in the Mac family and loyal staff. The tomb of Mac Cuu is located at the highest place in a semicircle shape which leans to the mountain and faces the sea. The tomb is guarded by two huge stone army generals.
To honor the contribution of Mac Cuu, Kien Giang Province inaugurated a 10-meter statue of him in 2008 at a square near To Chau Bridge in Ha Tien Town.
Tourists swim in the Chay River to Toi Cave after jumping down from the zip line
In order to reach Toi Cave, apart from hanging in the air on the 400-meter-long zip line system, tourists have to cross the river and wade through the mud.
From above, the Chay River appears in a strange jade green, merging with the green of the forest and imposing limestone ranges. Along the river banks are immense corn fields. All come together to create such a magnificent and poetic picture.
There, tourists can jump down from the zip line to dip themselves in the crystal green water and swim to Toi Cave. Tourists can also choose to flow along the river on kayak boats and take part in water activities before continuing the journey to explore Toi Cave.
In the middle of a giant limestone, the mouth of Toi Cave appears mysteriously. Like what its name suggests, the dense dark covers up every corner of the cave, making it difficult for tourists to move inside the cave. Tourists will find themselves indulge in a cool climate due to the flow of an underground section of the river, and the only light from the torch hung on the forehead will lead the way for tourists to explore and contemplate fossils in various shapes on the cliffs.
Then, a narrow slot in the cave with mud and stalactite on the cliffs will bring tourists the most interesting challenge. It was at the end of this road that tourists will face a mud pit and experience the complete quiet space, in which the only sound that can be heard is the sound of water dropping down on the mud surface from the cave’s roof.
The journey to the Chay River and Toi Cave also brings tourists to Thien Duong Cave with its beauty described as a water-color painting by nature, as well as the historical relic site of Tam Toa church, the grave of late General Vo Nguyen Giap and Tam Co Cave.
Although it looks imposing from outside, the interior of the Cathedral has deteriorated over the years. According to the HCMC Archdiocese, it may take years to finish restoration work as materials will be imported from France.
During the time the project is carried out, the entire Cathedral will be covered.
Speaking of the Notre Dame Cathedral, people will think of it as a rendezvous for people from all walks of life. The cathedral is of course an important worshiping place for Catholics but also an architectural icon and a tourist destination in HCMC.
It is also the place for couples to come to capture important moments of their lives, young and old people to gather for various activities, and others to earn a living.
The news about the forthcoming restoration of the Notre Dame has caused different reactions among citizens.
On the morning of last Wednesday, around six couples were seen around the church to take wedding photos. A groom named Nguyen Minh Tan from District 8 said: “Both foreign tourists and people from neighboring provinces would like to visit and take photos at the Notre Dame as it is an architectural icon of the city. My wife and I want our wedding photos to be taken here thanks to the impressive and ancient features of the cathedral. There are not many ancient buildings in this city.”
“More than half of the couples who hired me to take wedding photos had chosen the Notre Dame Cathedral,” said Cao Van Long, a photographer in District 10, adding that the old look of the cathedral with red bricks and stones provides a beautiful background for photos.
“I hope that all unique features of the cathedral will be kept the same after it is renovated. I think it will still be a place for wedding photos,” he said.
Thanh, a woman who sells coffee, soft drinks and feed for pigeons at the cathedral, said she has been around here for the past 20 years. “I hope after it is restored, the cathedral will be more beautiful and not lose its unique features.”
Most of her customers are tourists. She said the building will be covered for restoration in the coming time, so the number of guests coming would fall.
A xe om (motorbike taxi) driver named Tam said he has been familiar with the image of visitors, locals and couples gathering around the Notre Dame Cathedral, so it would be sad when the building is closed for renovation.
A photographer named Huynh Xe said when the cathedral is shut for restoration, he will quit working because no one would come to visit the place for photography. Hopefully, when it is reopened and people would come again and he would return to work.
Nguyen Van Thuyen, a city tour guide, said the Notre Dame Cathedral is an indispensable destination in the tour of Saigon for foreigners. However, he thinks the temporary shutdown for renovation of such a building will get support from tourists.
The Van Kieu usually choose an even date for the wedding ceremony, preferring the 6th, 8th, 10th, 16th, or 18th of the last months or beginning months of the year.
Although their living conditions and costumes have evolved, the Van Kieu ethnic group has preserved a number of cultural values and norms of their group. Customarily, the groom’s offering for the bride on the wedding day includes a copper pot, a silver coin, and a sword.
The boy and girl inform their families of their relationship and prepare a wedding after a period of dating.
Only when the groom hands over the sword to the bride, can the bride leave her house for the groom’s house. The sword-handing-over ceremony is an important wedding ritual which symbolizes connection between the husband and wife.
The groom’s family prefers to bring the bride home in the evening because they think that’s the time the genies of the river and mountain are with the villagers. The bride walks into the groom’s house through the main gate.
The Van Kieu ethnic group has a custom of organize two wedding ceremonies. The second ceremony, with similar procedures and offerings as the first, aims to enhance marital relations.
After the wedding day, the mother-in-law teaches the young couple family etiquette. The mother tells the young couple about production, lifestyle, and how to behave with old and young people in the family. She also tells them how to welcome and prepare meals to serve guests.
Wedding guests give the couple round glutinous rice cakes and pieces of cloth. Besides beautiful wishes of happiness, longevity, and eternal love, they also sing happy folk songs.
Tours to explore Va and Nuoc Nut caves will be featured beginning July. It is considered to be new and attractive destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists, alike.
Some photos featuring the beauty of these two caves:
The ancient pagoda has been famous nationwide for its peaceful scenery and original architecture. — Photos vietsentravel.com
"Darling, do not be so sad
I will take you to the Duong River
In the old days, white sand was as smooth as glass
The sparkling river runs quietly..."
The trip from Ha Noi wasn't long. After riding for 30km, we arrived to the Duong River, running through Bac Ninh Province, which is well-known as the birthplace of sweet quan ho (love duet) melodies. We were in Thuan Thanh District, on the right side of the river.
The region is famous for diverse cultural and historical sites. This time, during my one-day stay, I chose to explore the region not by the highway, but by following a little path on the dyke that runs along the Duong, to be able to feel the peaceful beauty of the region.
The beauty of the river in the poem is comparable to what I saw. Time has passed since Hoang Cam wrote the poem, but the river has stayed the same. Peaceful landscapes can be seen along the dyke: white sand banks, mulberry groves, fields of bananas, maize, sweet potato and green vegetables.
On my right, little red-tiled roof houses were hidden by rows of bamboo. A group of children flew kites. The wind blew, easing the burning summer heat.
Following the path on the dyke, I visited some of the region's most famous cultural and historical sites: the Dong Ho folk painting village and But Thap Temple, both about 100m from the dike.
Folk painting village
The village is in Song Ho Commune. It is one of the few villages that has been able to preserve the ancient cultural relics of the Kinh Bac area in the Red River Delta of northern Viet Nam.
For a long time, Dong Ho folk paintings were forgotten. The few artisans making them quit their jobs and turned to making votive papers. However, during recent years, some people in the village have returned to the traditional art form, as the simple and natural beauty of Dong Ho paintings has become an indispensable part of people's daily lives – especially during Tet (Lunar New Year).
According to Nguyen Nhu Dieu, chairman of the Song Ho People's Committee, the art of making Dong Ho paintings has existed for centuries. Only three families in the village have been able to preserve the art of creating these paintings: the families of Nguyen Dang Che, Nguyen Huu Sam and Tran Nhat Tan.
Visitors to the village can watch members of the artisan families create their paintings.
"Previously, Dong Ho paintings could only be sold during Tet," said Nguyen Huu Qua, the 50-year-old son of artisan Sam. "Other than that, the paintings can only be sold at six fairs held in December. People like buying these paintings throughout the year, but just before Tet there is a surge in the number of clients."
Qua's children are also interested in the art, and have helped him paint since their childhood. His house has become a gallery of thousands of paintings.
Qua said that Dong Ho paintings are popular for their joyful images, which reflect humanitarian values. The paintings are also created with colours made from natural materials.
The wood-block paintings printed on paper from the bark of the do (poonah) tree show people aspiring to live peaceful, happy, prosperous lives.
The paintings usually depict familiar scenes. For instance, animals such as cows, pigs, dogs, cats or chickens are depicted often. Some paintings, such as Catching Coconuts and Mice Wedding in particular, have drawn considerable attention from many domestic and foreign visitors.
After visiting the artisan's families, we toured the ancient village and lingered by a huge lotus flower at the local lake.
Located a kilometre from the village, But Thap Pagoda is one of the most well-known in the country for its architecture and long history. It is said that the pagoda dates back to the 13th century.
Its picturesque beauty has inspired several filmmakers to shoot films there.
The pagoda houses a wooden statue of Avalokitesvara, with a thousand eyes and a thousand arms. It's the biggest in Viet Nam, and considered a masterpiece.
One of the most remarkable things at the pagoda is the five-storey, 13m-high stone bell tower, Bao Nghiem. The top of the tower is shaped like a giant pen. It symbolizes locals' love of studying. Despite being one of the smallest province of the country, Bac Ninh led the country in number of top scholars under the feudal regime (12 out of the country's total 46).
Inside, there are various valuable ancient objects and statues, including 17th-century wood carving masterpieces.
The pagoda was classified as a national precious treasure in 2012.
The sun set as we left the pagoda. We made our way back to the dyke to come back to Ha Noi. The beautiful, sparkling river ran slowly, and we slowed down, too, to watch the mantle of darkness engulf the water and immense surrounding fields.
1. Hai Tac Island in Kien Giang Province: There are two ships to the island everyday, which begin at 7am and again at 2.30pm. Visitors must spend 1 hour 20 minutes on a ship to the island. The ticket price is VND40,000 each way.
2. Nam Du Island in Kien Giang Province: Also known as Cu Tron island, this is the largest island in Nam Du Archipelago.
3. Hon Son Island in Kien Giang Province: It is also called Rai Island and is covered by coconut trees, which looks tropical and beautiful.
4. Phu Quy Island in Binh Thuan Province is stunning, thanks to the white sand beaches and bountiful, colourful coral.
5. Binh Ba Island in Khanh Hoa Province offers a quiet and peaceful break from the city.
6. Chim Island in Quang Binh Province is 60km far from central Dong Hoi City.
7. Ly Son Island in Quang Ngai Province is well-known for its blue sea, unique stones and special variety of garlic.
8. Hon Ngu Island in central Nghe An Province is a hot-spot for relaxing and rediscovering nature.
And once it comes to Quang noodle on the land of Quang Nam, it is highly recommended that visitors should not miss the chance to enjoy the true taste of this signature dish in Phu Chiem, an area in Triem Nam Village, Dien Phuong Commune in Dien Ban District that is claimed to be the birthplace of the noodle.
What makes a bowl of Quang noodle in Phu Chiem special is the broth, which takes a lot of effort to make. First of all, people boil peanuts and then ground them to extract milk, which is then mixed with ground meat of paddy field crabs.
After that, the mixture is cooked with shrimp that is roasted with salt and mixed with peanut oil for a while. The broth is then added with thit ba roi (fat and lean meat) and cooked for 15 more minutes.
The noodles used for mi Quang in Phu Chiem are cooked from the rice grown near the Thu Bon River that flows through Quang Nam.
From the early morning, visitors to Phu Chiem will see women preparing their stalls to offer Quang noodle to gourmets. Some also bring the dish to nearby districts in the province on their bamboo burdens.
A bowl of Quang noodle on the land of Phu Chiem catches the eyes of diners for its red-orange broth created from field crabs and shrimps. Raw vegetables served along with the dish all come from gardens of local noodle sellers, making the dish an exquisite one (given the way its broth is made), but still rustic and plain.
Through generations, the delicious and typical taste of Quang noodle of Phu Chiem is still well-preserved with its fragrant and greasy broth while the noodles are not too tough or soft.
These days, Quang noodle has stepped out of the central province and even gone abroad. Its taste has also been changed more or less to fit the eating habits of people in different regions. Therefore, it would be a worthy experience to enjoy the dish right in its hometown.
Nguyen Dinh Dieu, a governor of Thanh Hoa Province was born in Dinh Ca Village, Noi due, Bac Ninh. Nguyen donated many lands and money for Noi Due, helping to restore temples, organize festivals and preserve fine tradition and customs of the region. He also built his own tomb in Lim Mountain and named it Hong Van (Red Cloud). When Nguyen died, in order to show the gratitude to his contribution to Noi Due, the locals have decided to worship him as one of the regional Gods.
Today a stelae dated in 1769 can still be found at Dinh Ca. It mentioned Nguyen’s story and the local ceremonies organized annually on his date of birth and death at Hong Van Mausoleum and Hong Van Pagoda in Lim Mountain. Today, only one ceremony is taken place on the 13th of the first lunar month which is the same day with the opening of Lim Pagoda Festival. Hence The Lim Festival has become one of the most important festivals in the region since the XVIII century.
The 13th of the first lunar month is the main day of the festival. The Lim opens at 8am with a parade. Thousands of locals in colorful and traditional costumes march together for over 1km.
Also in the morning, local officials and elderly people from all villages in Noi Due gather at Hong Van Mausoleum to join the sacred worshipping ritual for village’s Gods. Quan ho singing is also a part in this ritual when female and male singers stand in line facing the mausoleum’s main gate and sing many songs hailing the Gods of the village.
There are many traditional games, entertainments, fairs and other cultural activities at the festival, such as human chess, martial-art performance, swinging, rice cooking competition etc. However, the most distinguished part is Quan ho singing.
The singers are normal local farmers but on special occasion of The Lim, they turn out to be skillful and talented artists. Their performance includes various types of songs and on different stages: in the pagodas’ yard, the communal house’ yard, on the hills, even on boats gently rowed along the river, or elsewhere.
The singers are categorized into two groups, which call lien anh (male singers) and lien chi (female singers.) They also dress in traditional style: men wearing long dress and holding umbrellas while women wearing the beautiful four-flapped dresses (ao tu than)with colorful belts and traditional large flat hats (non quai thao.) The most popular types of Quan ho singing is hat doi (call-and-response singing) and hat doi (duet singing).
During lunch, the host singers must provide company to their partners, offer them food and, again, songs. In the afternoon, the visiting singers are requested to continue the song exchange up to midnight when there would be recess and a tea party. Thereafter, the song exchange goes on until dawn, when guests and hosts and hostesses, again in the form of songs, bid farewell and express keen hope to meet again some time in the future.
It is also a traditional opportunity for young men and women to seek life partners. Young men and women who want to find their partners often come up hill to sing. There men hold umbrellas while women are wearing flat palm hats, without concern about the sun or rain. Sometimes they can even sing all night to show their love, ebullient passion and grace. Besides, visitors can come to the Lim Festival to enjoy the weaving competition of the Noi Due girls. They weave and sing Quan Ho songs at the same time.
In the village, there are thousands of craftsmen working day and night to turn stone into works of art.
Speaking with 89-year-old Le Ben, one of the oldest artisans in the village, I found out that about 400 years ago, this village was established by Thanh Hoa resident Huynh Ba Quat, an expert in carving.
Le Ben shared that in the first half of the 17th century, Huynh Ba Quat left his hometown and went to Marble Mountain.
Realsing that the area was abundant in marble, he decided to take some home and turned it into epitaphs and millstones. After receiving complements from villagers, Huynh Ba Quat passed his skills on to the younger generation.
“At that time, the most popular marble products were stone blocks to anchor boats, a variety of millstones, and tombstones. Besides, sculpture of sacred dragons, phoenix, turtles for pagoda, temples, and mausoleums were also in high demand,” says Le Ben.
Almost every tombstone in Quang Nam-Danang area from the 17th century to now has been made by Non Nuoc artisans. The Non Nuoc villages now also carve historical figures, spiritual characters and international celebrities.
Walking along Huyen Tran Cong Chua street, which features about one third of the stone art producing houses in Non Nuoc village, I was taken aback by thousands of stone artifacts of many sizes. The majority are spiritual, such as statues of Buddha, Maitreya, and Guanyin. There are also scared animals such as the dragon, phoenix, lion and elephant.
According to Tran An, the owner of Tran An Stone, the village’s leading sellers are statues of Vietnamese spiritual characters: “In order to meet the need of foreign visitors, we also make Christian characters like Jesus and Saint Mary.”
Love and dedication is needed to produce each piece and some take an artisan weeks or even months to finish. “If you are hardworking, you can create a miniature after a few months of learning. However in order to carve a more complicated statue, you have to study for years,” Tran An explains.
No easy task
On the trip, I met a young craftsman named Tuan who has been studying carving for two years. “Before carving, we have to make a sketch on a stone block first. When I started learning, I made a lot of mistakes such as chiseling too hard or too soft. As a result, it took me months to finish my first product, which was only 20-centimeters high,” Tuan shared.
One of the hardships that Non Nuoc artisans have to face is breathing dusty air everyday. As a result, many people have to resign because of lung diseases even though their love for carving is still burning. Instead, they move to the sales teams so that they can contribute to their traditional profession.
American tourist, Alena, told me that she heard about this village from a friend. “When I saw the miniature sculpture he brought home, I knew that I would visit Vietnam someday.”
My taxi driver, Luong, told me that an Australian came and spent over US$200,000 on marble here. “They don’t have this type of art in other countries, so people are willing to spend thousands of dollars,” he said. “Yesterday a lady bought a 1.3 meter high Guanyin statue for about VND80 million (US$3,700).”
Currently, Non Nuoc village is home to around 500 manufacturers providing over 4,000 jobs with an average wage of VND2-3 million (US$92-134), which can give a Danang family a decent life.
Say goodbye to Non Nuoc village, I could see a bright future for Danang city and Ngu Hanh Son district in particular.
Located in District 1, Ho Chi Minh city, Bitexco Financial Tower covers nearly 6,100 square meters and required an investment of US$400 million. On the tower’s 50th floor, there is a helicopter pad.
Vu Quang Hoi, President of the Bitexco Group, says the design of the tower was inspired by the beauty and charm of Vietnamese lotus flowers.
“It’s difficult for us to ensure both the economic benefit and cultural and architectural features for our project. We gathered the most elite experts and mobilized builders from the Republic of Korea to implement this project. The tower is well operated like other symbolic skyscrapers around the world and guarantees the best service for visitors,” Hoi noted.
The tower began operation on October 31, 2010 as the tallest building in Viet Nam at that time and now ranks second after the Keangnam Ha Noi Landmark Tower which was completed a year later.
From its inauguration, the tower is now the 110th tallest skyscraper in the world and was ranked by the US Committee for High-rise Buildings as one of the world’s greatest skyscrapers.
Mr. Carlos Zapata of the US, the main architect of the project says that the design of the tower was not aimed at competing for its height but to show the vitality of the tower through the images of a lotus bud and conical hat reflecting Viet Nam’s culture.
The tower is 262 meters high and is comprised of 68 floors. Thousands of reinforced glass panels were imported from Belgium and processed in the Republic of Korea.
Each panel is different from the next. 37,000 square meters of the tower are dedicated to office space and 11,000 square meters for shopping areas, recreation and services. The observation deck “Sai Gon Skydeck” on the 49th floor offers visitors a 360-degree view of Ho Chi Minh City.
Do Quoc Le is a member of staff at the tower. He noted, “With its outstanding height and observation deck, the tower has become a tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. From the tower, visitors can have a panoramic view of the city. The tower demonstrates Vietnamese people’s wisdom, strength and potential”.
The tower sparkles at night in laser light and in recent years, the tower has served as a venue for magnificent firework displays.
Mo So (white stone) Mountain is located in Ba Nui Hamlet, Binh An Commune, Kien Luong District of Kien Giang Province and is about 27km from Ha Tien Town to the southwest. It is surrounded by a small valley with lots of trees and monkeys.
Mo So is among the unique limestone mountains in Kien Giang, which include Hang Pagoga, Phu Tu Islet, Chong Islet, and Thach Dong.
In the wartime, Mo So was a solid basis of Kien Giang soldiers in the southwestern area.
To get to the mountain, tourists should travel on Kien Luong-Ha Tien Street to get to Ba Hon T-junction, then turn left in the Hon Chong-Binh An-Hon Phu Tu direction and travel 7km more. They should follow a small path near Holcim cement factory to go 5km more to get to Mo So.
According to scientists, the whole region was 2m below sea level millions of years ago and the mountain was formed by a sea erosion process that left holes and caves in strange and mysterious shapes.
The first cave to discover is Quan Y (army medical department) which was used as a location to treat the wounded and sick soldiers. The cave is 300m long and so cool that locals call it an air-conditioning cave. The further people go inside the more excitement they get as there is a sky well above where hundreds of bats fly inside. The tour guide will use a flashlight to show tourists some mysterious words on the caves’ ceilings and many stones in shapes of a dolphin, a bell and hands of Buddha, which can deliver pure sounds whenever tourists knock on them. There are corners in the cave where people can see some long and huge roots of old trees.
Another interesting cave is Hai Voi Rong (dragon’s antenna) where travelers can admire two huge limestone blocks in shapes of a dragon’s antenna dropping from the cave’s ceiling and other stones looking alike a God of Wealth or a king’s crown. There are other caves, including Nuoc (water) which is 20m above sea level and Tien (money) which was known as a place to cast money.
The ideal time to visit Mo So is dry season when water levels in the caves are low. Those coming to the site in rainy season should rent a small junk to get inside the caves. They are advised to hire a local guide for VND150,000.
Tourists are recommended to carry light belongings, and wear casual clothes and sandals as there are many slippery stones and they should also mind their head.
There are many food shops at the site so tourists can take a break on some hammocks and enjoy coconut drinks or local snacks.
The highlights of this destination are predominantly in its terraced rice fields in Che Cu Nha, La Pan Tan, and De Zu Phinh villages. The breathtaking fields have been attracted numerous national and foreign tourists coming for a Viet Nam photography tour and get immersed in the heavenly natural beauty.
When Is The Best Time For Photo Tours In Mu Cang Chai?
The awesome photos of the colorful terraced rice field in Mu Cang Chai can be created in the three most imposing times. They are at the start of the crop, in the middle of the crop with the evergreen scenes, and around the harvest with the amazing golden picture. Mu Cang Chai has only one crop per year (from June to October).
The Beginning of the Crop
In June, the North of Viet Nam welcomes the first summer when the hill-tribe people in Mu Cang Chai Destination begin preparing for a new crop of rice. The water supplement from the top terrace of the field to the field in Mu Cang Chai is necessary. This time witnesses the formation of the “falling water season” when the water is running from the top to the bottom of the field. The best photos are also made to record the moments that the locals work on the field in groups with the beautiful hill-tribe clothing, water buffalo, rice field, etc. The amazing pictures can be drawn out exceptionally.
The Middle of the Crop
From June to the middle of September, the whole giant terraced rice field in Mu Cang Chai is dominated by the exquisite and harmonious carpet of rice. In the hot summer sun, the green field helps you cool down. Know that there are not many local activities in the field to photograph in this season! Anyhow, the absolute greenness here surely feasts your eyes.
The Harvest Time
From late September to early October, Mu Cang Chai welcomes guests to photograph the waves of the terraced rice fields that now turn brilliant yellow. They are shining in the fullest charm. The scenes now are full of the Hmong ethnic minority farmers who wear the traditional attire to harvest the ripe rice grains and shoulder bags. The images of mountains, hills, and bridges make up the imposing photos. During the harvest season, the tourists can eagerly see the ethnic-minority mothers who employ cloth as a cradle to take their infants on the back while harvesting. At the same time, the kids run here and there in the terraced rice fields. They are chatting and giggling with joy.
The ambiance in the rice harvest season is highly distinguished. The green and yellow fields are eye-catching enough to produce the most impressive photos ever. Trust us! Mu Cang Chai Terraced Rice Field is more beautiful than any other site such as Hoang Su Phi, a mountainous region in Ha Giang. The terraced rice fields naturally rise and fall around the hillsides, mountainsides, streams, and rivers. It creates the gigantic yellow staircases for everybody to step from earth to heaven.
In a word, the green and yellow terraced fields are now the symbols of the mountainous region. Mu Cang Chai is among the top destinations for any nature lover who likes photographing the natural essentials and the life of the ethnic minority groups.
It takes about eight hours to travel 350km from HCMC to Ba Lua Archipelago. Tourists are recommended to take a car or coach ride, or ride a motorbike from the city to Long Xuyen City in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Th ap for four hours and stay there overnight before heading for Kien Giang the next morning. Tourists may take a night bus at around 9 p.m. and arrive in Kien Giang at 6 a.m. the next day to enjoy the sunrise on the beach.
Travelers have to depart from Hon Chong-Ben Binh An (Chong Islet-Binh An Port) in Binh An Commune of Kien Luong District in a 45-minute boat trip to Ba Hon Dam Island or they can hire a motor boat which can carry around 10 guests at a price of VND1.25 million for a round trip.
During the trip tourists can see numerous islands and the scene there is similar to that of the World Heritage site of Halong Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
Most of the islets and islands of the archipelago are not inhabited, except for Ba Hon Dam which is the largest and the most beautiful island. Th is island consists of three islets where people can walk from one to another during low tides.
A favorite activity for many tourists to the island is to catch snails as the water
There is just waist-deep. People just need to wear a goggle and a pair of sandals to protect their feet from sharp stones underneath and go catch snails which hide themselves in the sand or attached to some huge stones. The water is so clear that tourists can easily catch snails or admire schools of colorful fi sh swimming around them. People can also go along the beach and collect stones in unique shapes and multiple colors and use them as souvenirs for family and friends.
On the island tourists can enjoy fresh seafood at cheap prices. Grilled squid with ginger or chili salt, grilled to snail and grilled nhum (sea urchin) are among the best. A kilo of squid is priced at VND190,000 while an urchin costs only VND10,000.
Tourists can bring along hammocks or tents to stay overnight on the island or to stay at houses of islanders. Mineral water, flashlight, knife, medicine, insect prevention lotion, instant noodles and snacks are some of the necessities for tourists on the island.
But if you have a chance to visit Ben Tre Province in the Mekong Delta, you should try a dish of silkie steamed with coconut juice and chili.
Vo Chieu Kha, director of Mai An Tiem restaurant in My Thanh An Commune in the province’s Ben Tre City, said: “Ben Tre is known for coconuts while silkies are raised right in the garden or farm around the province. That makes us ask why we don’t combine them together to create a new dish for gourmets.”
In order to make a good dish of silkie steamed with coconut juice, the ingredients must be chosen very carefully, Kha said.
The coconut should not be too old or too young because the young one has sour juice while juice in the old one usually tastes too pungent. The same way is applied for choosing silkie: the small black chicken should be grown up enough and weigh around 300 grams because the meat of young chicken is too soft and that of old chicken is too tough, he explained.
After being processed, the chicken will be put into a coconut, of which its top is removed and the removed part is kept for use as the lid, along with chilies and spices.
The whole coconut will be cooked in a bain-marie for around one hour.
When the dish is almost done, the smell is fantastic. The chicken is sweet, soft and greasy thanks to coconut while the chili helps stimulate appetite. The dish tastes much better when it is used with salt, black pepper and lime or kumquat juice.
This museum preserves and presents the culture quintessence of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands. It has more than 10,000 objects and receives about 100,000 visitors a year, one third of whom are foreigners.
Dak Lak Museum of Ethnology is located in the center of Buon Ma Thuot City. It was built on the grounds of the former residence of King Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, nearly 100 years ago.
The main building of the museum has a simple architectural style but reflects the cultural identity of the Central Highlands.
Surrounded by a shady garden, the museum looks like a Rong- a communal stilt house- or the long traditional house of the Ede. From afar, it looks like the traditional house of the M'Nong.
Formerly called the "Dak Lak traditional house", it was officially renamed "Dak Lak Museum of Ethnology" in 1990 and renovated in 2008.
It has three main sections featuring three different themes: the revolutionary traditions, natural features, and cultural characteristics of the ethnic minorities of the Central Highlands.
The cultural space displays 520 objects representing cultural peculiarities of ethnic minorities like the Ede, M'Nong and Jarai. Installations and audiovisual gears introduce customs, festivals, and daily activities of local ethnic groups.
Nguyen Trong Hieu, a tourist from Hanoi said “This museum presents the culture of the Central Highlands. Visiting this museum, help me understand the life and culture of local ethnic minorities”.
The museum has attracted many researchers and students who are passionate about the culture of Tay Nguyen.
Nguyen Thi Nguyet, a teacher at Luong The Vinh College in Buon Ma Thuot, said she often brings her students to the museum.
The museum provides the students with useful knowledge about the history and culture of Dak Lak and Tay Nguyen, she added.
Every weekend, the museum invites artisans to show visitors the various traditional crafts of Tay Nguyen or reproduce traditional festivals of an ethnic group.
Luong Thanh Son, Director of the museum, said “Each object and each document in the museum tells a story, not just about the past but one that also reveals the future. By organizing these activities, we want to help local people preserve and promote their traditional occupations.”
The museum has contributed to educating the younger generation and promoting cultural and historical values of their ancestors. The museum now has 10 books recording visitors’ impressions on the museum and its heritages.
Previously, the villages around Thuy Khue Street were collectively referred to as Ke Buoi. Rapid urbanisation in recent times has brought many changes to the city, and Ke Buoi is no exception. The whole area has put on a modern coat, with high-rise buildings and villas continuing to replace old village houses and gardens.
However, the days of old are still preserved in the village gates which stand among the modern houses dotting the street. The moss-covered roofs of the temples and communal houses, together with the rough trunks and foliage of horse mango and Bodhi trees, have produced the ancient look of Thuy Khue Street.
If you take a ride along this street, starting at Buoi Market, the first village gates will appear on your left. Thuy Khue Street has the largest number of village gates in Ha Noi, clustered mainly on the section of the street near Buoi Market and Lac Long Quan Street. The gates are spaced a few metres apart in some areas, while some others are found dozens of metres away.
Interestingly, none of the gates look alike. Some have been recently restored, while others have preserved their ancient look and faded colours.
Despite their differences, the village gates on Thuy Khue Street have created a unique rural space in the big city. Each has been given a short but intimate name, such as Gieng, Hau or Chua. These gates bear the history of generations of residents, stretching back thousands of years. Some of the gates and the villages they lead to are up to 10 centuries old, such as the villages of Yen Thai, An Tho and Dong Xa.
On each gate, on either side, one can find two columns of engraved phrases in Han script.
One of the most beautiful gates in Ha Noi leads to Yen Thai Village, where the ancient red brick-paved path is still preserved and kept clean. The 200m path was built with funds donated by villager Thong Thao and has been kept in its original condition by the other villagers, despite the introduction of electricity and water systems in the village in recent years.
Another special gate on Thuy Khue Street is Nghe, shaded by a large ancient banyan tree. The gate was built in the traditional style, with one main door, two secondary doors (which are now concealed) and a roof. This image of a mossy gate next to an ancient banyan tree is intrinsically Vietnamese, arousing a strong sense of nostalgia and familiarity in Vietnamese people around the world.
According to the elderly, the doors of all the village gates on Thuy Khue Street were once opened at the crack of dawn to announce the start of a new day and would be closed at dusk.
Many of the gates have been restored and embellished; for example, Hau Gate was restored in 1998, and Ho Khau Gate was embellished and became a site for a marketplace every morning.
Behind each village gate stands an alley gate. Although they are much smaller, alley gates still exist to clearly demarcate the borders of different hamlets.
Guarded by these traditional gates to each village, the original rural lifestyle, perfectly preserved by the elderly for years, continues on unabated.
"Everyone recognizes the name of my hometown when I tell them that I'm from Buoi Village," 80-year-old Nguyen Van Tai said proudly.
"Native Buoi villagers have a unique soft voice, which is different from the voice of a native Hanoian," he continued.
"Speaking of Thuy Khue Street, people often think about Ke Buoi and, especially, Thuy Khue Village. The village was in former Thuy Chuong Precinct – one of 36 precincts of the Thang Long Citadel (presently Ha Noi) during the Le Dynasty (1427-1789), which was famous for its weaving and wine producing trades. My family also used to produce lotus-scented wine for generations," Tai said.
Although they have never been officially recognised as national relics, the village gates hold a special position in the hearts of villagers. No matter where they go, the villagers of Ke Buoi are always welcomed by the village gates when they return, and they have always felt very proud of this part of their national heritage.
Lang Co town belonging Phu Loc District (Thua Thien - Hue) is a potential land by nature, beautiful landscape. Hai Van Pass with chain of mountains run to the edge of the sea. Below, Lang Co flat beach is appreciated as a tourism beach with the nearly originally natural landscape and the crystal water.
Previously, it was known as a guest stopover before crossing the Hai Van Pass. When the Hai Van Pass Tunnel was started to construct, Lang Co town became more lively and the advantage of this potential land began to be exploited.
Although influenced by the tropical storm in the beginning of annual October, Lang Co bay owned a wild, liberal, charming attractiveness like a girl in a poem. The Bay is located in the center of the Middle channel, hence, it owns the most perfectly curved shape, the gentle sand bank drifting towards each sea wave, which is attracted every visitor used to land on there.
Looking away, Lang Co town also has the lagoon, which extends lap an lagoon in the area, with rich flora and fauna. Fishermen here is very active in introducing new professions in the lagoon to increase the value of income by farming snails, mussels, fish sausage, fish farming specialties with high economic value such as disks, grouper, snapper. This also means that as a basis for logistic services for tourism development.
In the future, Lang Co Resort will be developed with the growth of ecotourism, Hai Van Pass scenic tour, not just a tourism beach, also another potentials to attract large amounts of foreign tourists come to this amazing region.
Throughout the history of the country, Vietnamese people always seemed to against foreign invasion to protect the longevity and value of cultural traditions, discipline and family. Ao Dai is a great work of art of the nation. In addition to the elegant beauty and structure, the hidden meanings are taught about "proper behavior" of the ancesors . Ao Dai is also a result of the national identity and spirit of Viet Nam.
More than a thousand years under Chinese domination, nearly a hundred years of French colonial, the Ao Dai has exposed both strong cultures of humanity, including Oriental (Chinese) and the West (France). Ao Dai has overcome all challenges to become a "national dress", a symbol of women, the pride of Vietnamese people. People could say, ao dai is "National soul" of Vietnamese women.
Ao Dai - traditional dress of women in Viet Nam, hugging the body, having neckline and knee- length. It was sawn off at the hip, both the sensuous charm, not scanty but still shows the line of a young woman. "Where women Viet Nam - Vietnamese dresses there." Not merely traditional costumes, but also dresses as a culture to speak of perspectives and spiritual Vietnam package. In other words, it is the "national spirit" of women in Viet Nam.
In late 1960s, early 1970s, aiming to adapt modern fashion trend - short skirts, flared trousers of youth suitably hippy style, mini “Ao Dai” appeared and immediately became the fad. The tail is sewed shortly and narrow tie, with knee – length, shirt is sewed widerly and waist is not extracted, but the body curves is still remain. 3-centimeter- lower neck-line , shoulder is cut in raglan style makes chest and sleeves being hold closer. At that time, pants is very long, 60-centimeter - wide - cuffs. After this period until 1990s, the dresses do not change much compared to the traditional, sometimes also have some innovations, such as same colored pants and the upper part of dresses, but not popular ...
In Viet Nam, the dresses are dresses for all ages. It has become the standard costume for formal occasions or national holidays, weddings, New Year's Day, graduation day or in important competitions. When attending a special event or appearing on television, Vietnamese women always dresses “ao dai” simply because it contributes to their beauty. Being said that Vietnamese Dresses helped to promote Vietnam's image around the world.
Not only appeared in the national costume contest, Miss Viet Nam ... Vietnamese dresses have spreared around the world. In 06th May 2001, the first time Viet Nam dresses introduced in the City Tours, France, attended by about 300 Vietnamese culture fans, Ao dai is considered intangible cultural heritage of Viet Nam.
In international events taking place in Viet Nam, Vietnamese dresses were chosen outfit for the head of state to attend the 2006 APEC Summit in Ha Noi. In 2007, Miss Earth coming from the countries have been intrigued by the unique national costume, and had the opportunity to brightly appear with “ao dai” and Palm-leaf conical hat in Ho Chi Minh City, or in Miss Lady 2009 ...
Modern Vietnamese dresses are designed slim and holding closer body. Two laps of dress before and after extending from the neck down to the ankles, wraped the big legs with cuffs touched ground. In oder to have a beautiful dresses, fitting the garment should know the body measurements of each person. Dresses must be sewn manually one by one in the store. Material sewing dresses is abundant and diverse, which are incorporated from the fabric samples and often decorated with lines or handmade pattern.
In recent years, “Ao Dai” has changed with many innovations, combining ethnic culture with modern fashion elements, creating its unique in the performances in International Fashion Week, the formal and superficial festival, even in Beauty Contest internal and external. Many Vietnamese dresses designers was well-known on the international market as Minh Hanh, Sy Hoang, Vo Viet Chung, La Hang ... They all contribute to bring fame to Vietnamses Dresses – the cultural icon of the dear S-shaped country.
In the past, many people who had a chance to pass by Ben Co Hamlet often visited the restaurant. Thanks to its local fame, banh canh Ben Co became known not only in the Mekong Delta but in Saigon and has been brought to several national food festivals.
Ingredients for making the dish include lean meat, pig bowels, rice noodle and spices. Apart from spices, the noodle itself plays a role in ensuring the quality of a bowl of banh canh Ben Co. The noodles must be made from old rice, which is harvested in May and stored until October because new rice makes noodles soft and easily broken.
Rice will be ground in water to become flour. After that, people would work the flour into dough, which will then go through a funnel into boiling water before it is quickly taken out and then dipped into cold water for five minutes.
To have clear and sweet broth, pig’s meat and bones must be carefully chosen and cleaned before they are stewed over a small fire. Froth is taken out continuously to make the broth clear. The pot of broth will be added with onions and grilled shallots to make the taste sweeter and more fragrant.
Lean meat and pig’s bowels are cleaned with salt and lemon as a way to deodorize them. Then, they are boiled with a small spoon of vinegar to make them white. They will not be boiled in the broth or else it will be cloudy.
A bowl of banh canh Ben Co will have a layer of banh canh which is covered with boiled meat and bowels, green onions, and pepper before the broth is poured over. It is served with a small bowl of fish sauce and lime.
Some of them were experienced jockeys who had won prizes in previous races, like Vang Van Huynh, Vang Van Thuc and Vang Van Quyet (Bac Ha District) and Ma Van Ba (Si Ma Cai District). The jockeys competed fiercely in each race. Quyet finally won the race, followed by Vang Van Sinh (Ma Cai District) and Vang Van Huynh (Bac Ha District).
They had time to travel around the UNESCO-recog-nised heritage port city and taste its food. But they found the most fun was learning to cook Vietnamese food – and then eating it.
Tra Que Water Wheel, in the middle of the popular Tra Que Village, was a cool option for the two Americans exploring Asian cooking and farming. Water Wheel hosts Vietnamese farm tours and cooking classes.
"It was a very nice day when we explored Hoi An market and chose produce for the kitchen. Spring rolls with salad was the first dish we learned at Water Wheel," Bill said.
"The guide prepared sliced papaya, carrot, squid, chilli and vinegar for a salad. It was a bit difficult squeezing the papaya, but I eventually finished the process and added herbs, pepper and chilli," he said.
"Rolling rice paper needs skilful hands – and we slowly got going. It's an easy dish to make – and eat," Bill said.
Nguyen Thi Hien, a guide, said the tour offered visitors a real experience with cooking skills and local lifestyles.
"Tourists are asked to visit Hoi An market by bicycle. We guide tourists on what food to select and how to bargain with sellers," Hien said.
"We offer different menus to tourists before they go to market. They can choose food for six dishes for their lunch at the Water Wheel," she said.
She said vegetarian spring rolls and pancakes were the favourite dishes among foreigners at the restaurant.
Duong Hien Hoang, owner of the Water Wheel restaurant, said the restaurant was based in a garden at Tra Que herb village.
"Tourists can find a tranquil rural life with vegetable farming in the 500-year-history village," he added.
"The symbol of the Water Wheel belongs to rice farming. They can be seen in remote areas in Viet Nam. The bamboo wheel help direct water from mountains to paddy-fields," he said.
He said the restaurant was built of bamboo and had a thatched roofs to cool it down on hot summer days.
Jean Baptiste, a French tourist, said Tra Que village was the second stop for his family in Viet Nam after HCM City.
His five-member family enjoyed making banh trang, a traditional Vietnamese dish made by using paper-thin wrappers made by steaming rice-flour liquid. When the liquid solidifies in the steam, the wrappers are then filled with the ingredients one desires, cut up and served with sauces.
"It's very interesting when my kids joined in making the wrappers. The guide just instructed us once and we could do, but not as fast," Baptiste said.
"My kids have never had such a close experience with rural life. Anyway, they loved the taste of the food that they made themselves," he said.
"It's a bit difficult to use a bamboo wand to pick up the steamed rice wrappers from the steam-pot, but the second and third tries were more successful. The dish is not fat because the rolls are filled with herbs and just a little oil. We love it so much," he added.
Baptiste said rice wrappers could also be used to roll a mixture of salad and bean sprouts called banh cuon (steamed rolled-rice pancake).
Bill Zou said papaya squid salad was a delicious and easy dish.
"I try to do the dish once a day in New York. Tra Que is quite different to my city of skyscrapers and multitudes of cars," Bill said.
"I also learned how to grill fish in banana leave on a charcoal stove. The guide instructed me to fan the coals with my hand, but to keep the fish out of the flames," she said.
The tour manager, Hoang said there are different options for tourists at Water Wheel including farming skills and exploring the village by bicycle.
"We also include a vegetarian menu in our cooking classes and foot massages after shopping in Hoi An and riding bikes around town," he said.
The dish is very simple but its taste will explode in your mouth, visitors will remember it even more than Cao Lau or Quang Noodle which are the most famous dishes in Hoi An.
In a small restaurant at the end of Hai Ba Trung Street, travellers can easily find many Vac cakes for consumption. The outside of this store looks like a residential property more than a restaurant. When visitors arrive at the restaurant, the owner will welcome guests with a tray of three specific dishes to the restaurant: dumplings, Vac cakes and wonton.
The outer layer of the cakes are made from rice flour, not rolled like other similar dishes, there are two seperate steps for making dough.
Of the various fillings inside the Vac cake - smashed shrimp is the star, other fillings include pork and mushroom. The outer-cover of each dumpling looks like a white flower and after being steamed they turn to a milky color. A secret to kneading the dough can make the dumpling a little crunchy adding another element to the delicious savoury treat.
Fried wonton in this restaurant is a masterpiece, comparable to pizza in a restaurant in Rome. The wonton cover is crunchy, covered with green chili, onion, pineapple and tomato sauce. When you bite into the filling, the flavor of shrimp permeates your mouth. And yes, like pizza, you should eat this Vietnamese street delicacy when it is hot.
Grubs after being processed for food
Among the insects that are used to prepare dishes by Co Tu people are grub, flying termite, cicada, ant eggs, pupal bee and worm.
In order to catch grubs, which mostly appear after the flooding season, Co Tu people dig areas where soil is mixed with sand along the banks of rivers and streams. This insect is then grilled or fried. It can also be used to treat joint pain.
Dishes from ant eggs require a lot of effort to make. After finding an ant nest, people use flat bamboo baskets to screen to separate eggs from ants. The process sounds easy but must be done carefully to ensure that the eggs are not broken. Ant eggs are added to cake’s stuffing or served with sticky rice and sour soup.
There are different types of pupal bees. Apart from being an effective drug to treat certain deseases, pupal bees are used to wrap in lolot leaves for grilling, or fried with garlic, served with rice paper, or cooked with rice porridge.
One of the special dishes made from insects by Co Tu people is worm fried with cassava leaves. In spring, kassod trees start having new buds and lure a type of worm that is locally called “green worm”. The worm fried with cassava leaves is a specialty of Co Tu people and it is normally served in special occasions.
Another unique dish of Co Tu people is made from bamboo borer worm. The worms are found inside bamboo trees during the year before they become butterflies in the ninth and tenth months of the lunar calendar. After the worms are dipped in boiling water, they are mixed with pepper, chilly, salt and scallion heads in a bamboo cylinder before they are served as a special treat in winter.
Having heard of the rustic rice paper made from rice and coconut milk and grilled over burning coal, I took part in the process of making the cake from mixing rice flour with coconut milk, spreading dough to grilling the cake. Rice paper makers in My Long are truly artisans.
The type of rice used for producing this cake should be grown in Tra Vinh Province because it is drought-resistant. Meanwhile, coconuts used for the cake must come from My Long area because sweeter and greasier coconut milk can be extracted from their flesh.
With rice flour and coconut milk as two main ingredients, people in My Long turn out different types of rice paper with different flavors as they add sesame, milk, yolk, ginger, Chinese barbecue and dried shrimp.
Only experienced makers are able to mix rice flour with coconut milk and spread dough. Dough should not be sticky and the cake should be thin and have a perfect round shape.
After being spread, rice paper cakes will be put on plates made from coconut leaves. The cake must be dried by enough sunlight because they can be crunchy and easy to be broken if it is exposed to much sunlight.
The cake must be grilled on burning coal and the maker is required to quickly turn over the cake constantly to make it well done.
It was constructed on the remains of a fortress dating from the 7th century, on drained land reclaimed from the Red River Delta in Hanoi. It was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. The Imperial Citadel buildings and the remains in the 18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site reflect a unique South-East Asian culture specific to the lower Red River Valley, at the crossroads between influences coming from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south. With its historical value, Hoang Thanh Imperial Citadel has recognized as a world cultural heritage site by the UNESCO on 31st July, 2010.
The site encompasses the No. 18 Hoang Dieu archaeological site and the central axis of the Hanoi ancient citadel which are nestled in the Forbidden Area in the heart of Thang Long Imperial Citadel.
The area was the centre of the Dai La citadel under the Chinese Tang domination (7 th -8 th century).
It was called the Dai La citadel under the Dinh-Le dynasties (10 th century), Thang Long, Dong Do, and Dong Kinh under the Ly dynasties (1009-1226), the Tran dynasty (1226-1400), the Early Le dynasty (1428-1527), the Mac dynasty (1527-1592), and Le Trung Hung (1593-1789) before becoming the Hanoi citadel under the Nguyen dynasty (19 th century).
Covering a land area of 47,700 sq. m, the site is enclosed by Hoang Van Thu road to the north, Bac Son road to the south, Hoang Dieu road to the east and Doc Lap road to the west. From December 2002 to March 2004, archaeologists excavated numerous artefacts on 19,000 sq. m of the site, exposing layers of cultures of different dynasties which reigned in Vietnam and proving that Thang Long Imperial City played a key role as a political centre throughout 1,300 years.
Architectural vestiges of palaces, pavilions, and the foundations of architectural structures of the Imperial Citadel have also been revealed.
At the site, scientists found a cluster of architectural structures built on land areas in rectangular and polygonal shapes, which were arranged in line with a city’s standards.
They unearthed a great deal of decorative objects placed on the roofing of architectural structures to provide proof of the ancient Vietnamese people’s artistic skills in constructing big and magnificent works.
Those decorative objects included an earthen phoenix head dating from the 11 th -12 th century, an earthen dragon head from the 12 th century, earthen tube roof tiles with Bodhi tree leaf and dragon decoration dated from the 12 th century.
Of them, with the majority made for the King, were transparent ceramic bowls decorated with a five-toe dragon image dated to the 15 th century, and decorative glazed terracotta pots made in the 10 th century.
At the 18 Hoang Dieu site, archaeologists unearthed many precious ceramic and glazed terracotta items, architectural materials, jewellery, weapons, and metal artefacts, of which many were personal objects of the kings and the royal families.
They also found a cannon weighing 100kg with a length of 1.2 m. It was carved with the words, “Tu dai sung nhat hieu” (literally translated as “The first cannon among four big cannons”).
A system of ancient wells was exposed, including two believed to exist in the Dai La era, two built under the Ly dynasty, two under the Tran dynasty, and six under the Le dynasty. These wells have similar shape and size as those found in the forbidden citadels in Japan , China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea .
The No. 18 Hoang Dieu archaeological site has supplied clear evidence of the site’s important role throughout the nation’s history, at least nearly 1,000 years, from 1010 to 1789.
Situated to the east of the 18 Hoang Dieu archaeological site is Hanoi ’s ancient citadel area - the remainder of the central axis of the Vauban building.
The Vauban-styled building was built in the heart of the old Thang Long Citadel by King Gia Long in 1803. The building, with a perimeter of 4km, served as the headquarters of the Bac Thanh and the stop-over palace for the King during his visits to the north.
At present, there sit the surrounding walls of the stop-over palace which were built under the Nguyen dynasty in the 19 th century.
In the centre of the ancient citadel lies the foundation of Kinh Thien palace which was constructed under the Early Le dynasty (1428).
Other construction works which still remain in the Hanoi ancient citadel were mostly built from the 19 th century afterwards.
Walls and almost all gates of the Hanoi ancient citadel were built by the Nguyen dynasty in early 19 th century when Thang Long was the headquarters of the Bac Thanh and the King’s stop-over palace.
Many buildings inside the citadel were constructed by the French colonists during the 1880’s after they occupied Hanoi.
There are also some important buildings built after 1954, which served as the headquarters of the Defence Ministry until 2004.
The most important existing remains of the Kinh Thien Palace are its foundations and the stone steps with a handrail carved in the shape of a dragon, called the dragon's entrance.
The foundations are believed to have been built in 1428 and are seen as a Vietnamese architectural masterpiece. The palace was situated at the centre of the Imperial Citadel and the two dragons were carved from solid blocks of stone during the Early Le dynasty in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
Doan Mon, the southern gate, was the main entrance to Cam Thanh (the Forbidden Area). The gate was built by the Early Le dynasty in the 15 th century and was later upgraded in the 19 th century.
The U-shaped gate was built of brick and stones and measured 46.5m by 26.5m by 6m and covers 3.970 m2. The Doan Mon Gate had five domed doors. The largest one in the middle was for the King, flanked by two smaller ones, one for mandarins and the other for members of the royal family.
The Ky Dai, flag tower, was built in 1805, the same time as the Vauban-styled citadel.
It was built on the former foundations of the Tam Mon, the outer gate of the Forbidden Citadel during the Le dynasty. It is among the last remaining intact structures from the Nguyen dynasty.
The tower, built in brick, has a square base with three storeys on top of it, each one progressively smaller.
It is 33.4 m high and has a 54-step spiral staircase leading from the bottom to the top of the tower where there is a 3.1 m-high observatory with a rectangular doorway on each side and a 40cm diameter flagpole on the top.
The Hau Lau, Princess Pavilion, was built in 1821, but was destroyed at the end of the 19th century. The remaining structure was rebuilt by the French.
Bac Mon, the northern gate, was built in 1805 and is the only remaining out of the five gates of Hanoi citadel from the Nguyen dynasty. It is designed in the trapezium architectural style, with each side sloped at an angle of 15 degrees. Above the gate is a two-storey observatory tower with a curved roof and the traditional spearhead.
The external wall was built in 1805 running from Doan Mon (southern gate) to surround the internal palace, where the Nguyen Kings to work and rest when they visited the north.
At present, the eight gates of the palace still remain and were recognised as relics in 1925. Between 1954 and 2004, the Palace served as the headquarters of the High Command of the Vietnam People's Army.
Relics from the Thang Long royal citadel have been recognised as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO and have brought honour and pride to every Vietnamese citizen as part of the nation’s cultural history.
From the beautiful beach city of Nha Trang, tourists can take a bus to travel 50 kilometers through villages of local people to reach Yang Bay Waterfall.
Halfway to the waterfall, the bus drops by a tree which is called “God tree” by locals. It is created by a vine tree and a weeping fig tree that twist together with a height of 25 meters, a canopy spreading more than 200 square meters, and a large trunk that takes more than 20 people to stretch arm-to-arm to wrap around. According the elders, this must be more than 300 years old.
Near the tree is a lake where a species of “King lotus” grows. King lotus flowers have different colors at different times. When it is in full blossom on the first day, its milky white petals will emit intoxicating perfume. On the second day, its petals will fold up into a bud. When night falls, it will blossom again, and this time its petals will become dark red. With a diameter of almost two meters, its leaves look like huge basins, which can support a baby’s weight.
Starting from the tree, tourists can stroll down a path full of flowers on the two sides to reach Phoenix hill which looks like a phoenix.
Not far from the tree is the entrance to Yang Bay Waterfall tourist area. Once entering the park surrounding the waterfall, visitors will be thrilled by the colorful garden of gliricidia with its flowers in a bright pink tinged with white.
More surprisingly, deep in the garden, where green grasses grow on the ground, white horses leisurely enjoy fresh grasses near a flock of white storks.
The paths inside the garden are decorated with wild orchids and bougainvillea. Swings are also put around the garden for tourists to take a break and enjoy the airy atmosphere.
Right next to the gliricidia garden is a rose garden which covers thousands of square meters and is home to more than 50 rose species. On special days such as Valentine’s Day, visitors can get free fresh roses.
Another type of flower which also contributes to the unique beauty of the park is golden lotus banana, which grows on the mountain side.
With the fresh and airy atmosphere and a large flower cultivation area, Yang Bay Waterfall tourist area is worth visiting.
The trace of the operation of a volcano appears right on the path leading to the foot of the volcano as it is full of frothy basaltic rock created from lava which the volcano spewed in the past.
Passing the basalt reef, the trip to Chu B’Luk volcano continues with a long slope which leads straight to the volcano crater. After passing through several obstacles during the journey, the feeling of setting foot on top of the volcano which is 593 meters above sea level and admiring the cone-shaped crater is a once-in-a lifetime experience that mountain climbers should give a try.
Surrounding the carter is a cave system created by lava over the years. Visiting the place, tourists will be given safety shoes, torch and a long stick to explore the caves together with a tour guide.
At present, local authorities do not allow visitors to enter C7 Cave, the longest cave in Southeast Asia that is more than 1,000 meters long.
However, the exploration of other caves, including C1 Cave which is around 300 meters long, may make tourists thrilled thanks to the magnificent lava layers and stones as well as the fanciful light beams shinning down through a sky well.
Currently, several tourism companies in HCMC offer three-day and two-night tours departing from the city to Dak Nong that include visits to the Chu B’Luk volcano system. The tour costs some VND2.3 million (US$105) per person.
After four of my friends and I left Ha Noi's noisy streets in the scorching heat one summer morning, we arrived in Bac Ha District in the afternoon. The region's climate was much cooler – with an average temperature of 21 degrees. Luxuriant plum tree gardens flanking the mountain pass made a strong impression on us.
We booked a night at the Sunday Hotel and later, while we were taking a walk, the receptionist invited us to her family's plum tree garden.
We followed the receptionist, Nguyen Thi Ha, to Na Hoi Commune – 2km from Sunday Hotel in the centre of Bac Ha District.
Ha said she left her hometown in Nam Dinh Province's Hai Hau District 10 years ago. She went to Lao Cai and married a man from the Day ethnic minority.
The couple came to Bac Ha District centre and settled on a mountainous plot of land.
We parked our car at the foot of a sloping street and walked to Ha's 30-tree plum garden next to her one-floor corrugated iron-roof timber house.
We felt relaxed there walking around the garden. Like her neighbours', Ha's house was built in the middle of her plot of land.
Ha let us pick the ripe fruits and eat them for free. The trees were weighed down with the fruits. Bac Ha's climate is suitable year-round for growing Tam Hoa plums, apricots and herbs.
Ha and her husband, a carpenter, gave us a warm welcome. Ha told us about tree-growing, farming and selling. "I have a stable income from working at the hotel, and we farm plums to save money and support our 7-year-old daughter's schooling," Ha said. "I'll take her to a high school in Lao Cai, 70km from Bac Ha. I hope she can learn a foreign language to prepare her for her career."
Bac Ha's plum season starts in late May. The mountain fields are always lush with ripe fruit in June and July.
Plums in Bac Ha, called Tam Hoa plums, are different from those in other regions. Bac Ha's plums are greenish-red, while those of Lang Son District are pink.
Out of all of Viet Nam's different plums, most say Bac Ha's are the tastiest because they're so sweet and have small pits. The region is called the White Plateau because it's home to more than 1,000ha of plum trees. It's the northwest region's biggest plum-growing area.
Tam Hoa plum farming has helped thousands of ethnic minority households in Bac Ha District escape poverty. Bac Ha is home to the Mong, Nung, Tay and Phu La ethnic minority groups.
Plum season is prime tourist season in Bac Ha. In recent years it has lured a huge number of foreign and domestic visitors.
A friend of mine, a professional phuot (backpacker), told me that if I had a chance to visit the region in early March I could gaze down at the entire Bac Ha valley covered in a carpet of white plum blossoms – an image straight out of a watercolour painting.
Ha and her husband sold their fruit in bulk to traders at Coc Leu Market in Lao Cai City's centre.
Ethnic minority women carry plums on their backs to central markets early every morning. A seller told us that the price of one kg of plums fluctuated between VND20,000 to 40,000 (about $1 to $2) depending on the fruit's size and ripeness.
Coming to the islet, around nine kilometers from the mainland, visitors can admire what can be described as a stunning picture of nature, enjoy fresh seafood, and join various activities including snorkeling, motor-boating, fishing and parasailing.
Tourists to Mot Islet should not miss the chance to watch the coral anemone reef and flocks of fish in various sizes and colors under the sea.
As the coral reefs are near the shore, those who do not want to dive can admire the beauty of the coral and fish by sitting on bamboo basket boats with their bottom made of transparent glass.
Located seven kilometers from downtown Phan Rang City, Ba Moi Vineyard is in Hiep Hoa village, Phuoc Thuan Commune, Ninh Phuoc District and is easy to find thanks to its popularity.
The vineyard belongs to a man named Ba Moi, who charges no fee on visitors in hopes that more people will know about this specialty of his hometown, Ninh Thuan, one of a few areas in Vietnam that can grow this fruit.
Once entering the vineyard, we completely left behind all about the heat and busy life and just enjoyed walking under succulent grapes in the garden.
Visitors are allowed to touch the grapes but are asked to be gentle with ripe ones to make sure they would not drop.
After touring the vineyard, we were also invited to taste the fresh grapes and grape syrup made by Ba’s family. All are offered for free. It is worth giving it a try.
The peninsula is also a great hideaway, especially for those wishing on indulge themselves in white sand beaches, picturesque landscapes and primeval forests.
Standing on the peak of Son Tra Mountain, 693 meters above sea level, visitors can have a panoramic view of the city with Ngu Hanh Son Mountains looming in the south, Cham islet in the southeast, the Han River in the west, and Hai Van Mountain in the north.
Son Tra is actually a harmonious mosaic of river, sea and mountain.
Covering around 4,000 hectares, Son Tra Nature Reserve is known for its biodiversity, so it is an attractive destination for nature lovers. It is home to around 289 species of vascular plants, 287 species of animals, and 106 species of birds.
Especially, 160 red-shanked douc, a kind of langur that was declared endangered in 2013 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, have been recently discovered on Son Tra.
A snorkel trip to see coral reefs is highly recommended on Son Tra. At Nghe Cape, visitors can find coral reefs stretching 4-5 hectares at Tranh and Black Rock beaches while Bac and Nom beaches are home to 52 coral species.
The corals on the peninsula are not only diverse in species but also in colors. Tourists can choose to relax on a cruise, go fishing and catch squids together with local fishermen.
They can also take a look at a banyan tree which locals say is 1,000 years old. The tree is around 20 meters high and has some 30 adventitious roots.
At the foot of Son Tra Mountain, resorts have sprung up on beaches such as But, Nam, Rang, Xep, Con and Tre but nature there is well preserved. There, tourists can book a dive and snorkel trip to experience exciting underwater adventures.
Strolling along a beach or to the forest and climbing the mountain are other activities tourists should consider while on this beautiful peninsula.
Son Doong is appealing to adventurers because of its unique beauty and structure as well as the danger and difficulties associated with the trip. It is located in the heart of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province. Discovered in 2009-2010 by the British Cave Research Association, the cave has only been opened to the public since 2013.
According to the Good Morning America program, the cave’s chamber is big enough for two 747 Boeing planes and high enough to fit in an 80-storey skyscraper. The cave was established by a flowing river through a limestone mountain for two million years forming the largest underground chamber on earth.
To get to Son Doong, firstly people have to pass through En Cave. However, many adventurers have had to quit their journey halfway due to strength problems. Tourists need both mental and physical fitness and skills for the trip, from letting themselves soaked in stream water to climbing up high stone walls, holding ropes and groping on slippery stone surfaces.
Any mistake could leave consequences, from injury to life threat. Thus, a trip to Son Doong is ranked as an expedition not an adventure. And what you experience in this journey is something beyond your imagination.
There are days you are half in the water wading the stream or river while the rest of the body is soaked in sweat. There are also days you don’t have a chance to take a shower and have to stand your dirtiness and stinking smell.
To get to some instant beautiful places in the cave, including Edam Garden or Hand of Dog, tourists have to go in the dark of the cave’s entrails with only a light equipped on their specialized hats.
The first camping night inside En Cave is something that you have never imagined as you are exhausted after a long day in a soaked body. It is not the same feeling of admiring wonderful pictures of the caves on the Internet that were created by expensive cameras and lighting systems.
According to Howard Limbert from the British Cave Research Association, who joined Ho Khanh, the cave’s finder, to help bring Son Doong to the world in 2010, what photographers have captured of the cave is more beautiful than reality. Those who wish to take wonderful pictures of the cave should consider the possibilities of bringing their devices during a tough journey like this.
However, the attraction of a trip to Son Doong is its difficulties and challenges to explore the beauty of Mother Nature. The trip isn’t made to please normal tourists who wish to have a comfortable experience. It is said that the journey to Son Doong is a big challenge compared to the conquer of Fansipan, called the Roof of Indochina, which is located in the northern province of Lao Cai, about 9 km from Sapa town.
There are at least ten people who are cave and security experts to serve a trip of 30 explorers, apart from porters who help carry goods, do the cooking and filter water.
To prepare for such a challenging trip to Son Doong, people are recommended to practice short journeys to Tu Lan and En caves which are also in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
According to Limbert, there have been hundreds of caves discovered in Vietnam but just a few of them are for people with special interest and good health to explore, such as Son Doong. Some caves like Phong Nha and Thien Duong are popular for normal tourists to come to take pictures. However, the numbers of people who can come to the final point of Phong Nha Cave are rare and they are only cave explorers.
So it is a reminder for all tourists that they should not be mistaken the Son Doong trip is a simple and pleasant experience.
Tourists can contact Oxalis Adventure Tours, a leading adventure tour operator in Vietnam with its headquarters in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, to book a seven-day, six-night trip to Son Doong Cave at a price of VND64.5 million (US$3,000) per person.
Earlier, it took several days to reach there from Tuyen Quang City. However, as the road to Na Hang has been upgraded and widened, it takes visitors only two hours by car to reach there.
The site sprawls across 21,000ha, of which Na Hang Lake makes up for 8,000ha.
The lake is also compared to "Ha Long Bay in the high mountains and thick forest". It is a meeting point of 99 mountains of different shapes, and all of them stand out against a blue sky and green water that make tourists marvel at its beauty.
According to Le Thanh Son, head of the management board of Na Hang Eco-Tourism Zone, 10 relics around the lake have been recognised as national relic sites, such as Phia Vai and Phia Muon Caves, Song Long Cavern, Pac Ta Temple, and Phuc Lam Pagoda.
"Eco tours on the lake began five years ago. It takes visitors about six hours to discover the lake and know every legend behind the name of each spot here," said Son.
Son noted that for sightseeing, visitors can hire motor boats or canoes at the boat station.
On boats, visitors can get a close view of many poetically beautiful sites on the lake. One of the first such sites can be Pac Ta Mountain, the highest mountain in the district. It looks like an elephant stooping down over an alcohol jar, and this picture reflects in the green lake.
If you are lucky enough, you can also see a troop of monkeys swimming in the lake.
At the foot of the mountain stands an old temple dedicated to a concubine of General Tran Nhat Duat from the 13th century.
The temple is famous for its beautiful scenery and sacredness and is a must-see destination for visitors.
Sailing down the lake, you will have a chance to enjoy many spectacular spots, such as natural rocky platforms in strange forms, famous waterfalls such as Mo, Khuay Sung, Khuay Nhi, and Khuay Me.
Along the way, as the climate gets colder, the scenery gives visitors a heavenly feeling.
The five-storey high Mo waterfall, also known as Pac Ban waterfall, a nationally ranked landscape with a huge, silver water block will appear before visitors. Visitors can reach the top with the help of a ladder. Here, water flows smoothly, streaming between rocks and on moss-covered green rocks that look like velvet carpets.
Standing at the top of this majestic waterfall, a cool steam punches fatigue, awakening inspiration among visitors who also get to admire the panoramic view of Na Hang.
Tat Ke-Ban Bung Nature Reserve is also an attractive adventure tourism site. Spread across 42,000ha, this sanctuary has 40 mammal species, 70 bird species, 20 reptile species, and 17 species of vascular plants. Endangered species recorded in the Red Book include snub-nosed monkey, white-cheeked monkey, moon bear, and plants that are eons old. The reserve plays an important role in protecting water sources for Tuyen Quang hydropower reservoir and regulating downstream flooding.
Visiting Phia Vai Cave, one can see the artefacts of ancient Vietnamese people, dating back 10,000 years.
One can also walk in primeval forests, which act as green lungs, making the climate in the area very pleasant.
On the way to forests, Tay ethnic people from Dao hamlets appear amid the green-canopied forest, adding to the peaceful landscape.
"In Na Hang, I get to relax, walk around the beautiful landscape, and enjoy myself," said a Hanoian tourist, Nguyen Thu Thuy.
The 40-year-old teacher said that she also had a chance to enjoy some local fish preparations and Shan Tuyet tea, a speciality of Na Hang. Thuy added that she also visited the Thuong Lam highland market, held every Thursday and Sunday. The market is a meeting ground of many ethnic groups such as Dao, Tay, Nung, and San Diu, whose cultural diversity supports local tourism.
With the development of the beautiful mountainous region, Na Hang Eco-Tourism destination has become one of the three key tourism zones in Tuyen Quang province.
The old man, who is also called by his neighbors as Bay Nam, has followed the job for decades as he regards it as not only a mean of earning his living but also a great hobby in his life.
“It has been a good job so far as it has helped me earn my bread and lead a happy life,” Anh says when he is sitting in a workshop full of bamboo at his residence in Go Village, Dong Hai Commune, Phan Rang City in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan.
The nearly-70-year-old man was born and grew up in another central province of Quang Ngai. He followed his father to Dong Hai Commune at the age of 20 to set themselves up in the business of making bamboo boats.
“My father brought to Dong Hai Commune the job which I started to learn when I was a little boy. That was why I succeeded my father to keep the traditional job for our family job,” Anh says.
He recalls his family went ups and downs with the job in the past. “Business went tough during the time when the country adopted a subsidized economy, and I had to take my wife and children to Dalat to work as a tailor. However, we had to return to Dong Hai and restarted the business of making bamboo basket boats in 1981 when tailors could not buy cloth to make clothes,” he says.
With simple tools including chisels and sticks, the job of making bamboo basket boats sounds easy for outsiders but it is a job that requires people of much patience and a lot of efforts.
Pointing at the huge pile of bamboo in the workshop, Anh says choosing bamboo to make basket boats is already a meticulous step. In order to create a quality boat, the bamboo must be must be big and firm. With his decades of experience, he can tell where the bamboo is taken from only by looking at its shape and color.
Anh prefers bamboo from Dien Khanh District in central province of Khanh Hoa but selecting material is only the first step to go. There is no way of creating a quality basket boat if it is made of quality bamboo but substandard technique, Anh explains.
Sharpening bamboo laths is the most important part of a process of creating durable boats. All laths must be made flat and smooth and in the same size before they are dried until they turn yellow. Normally, the peel of the bamboo is used to make such boats.
Anh has showcased bamboo basket boats made at his small workshop at many events in the central region.
Before 2011, when the business throve, around 250 bamboo basket boats were made at Anh’s workshop a year. All members of his family had to work overnight to meet orders when fish harvest seasons came, according to Anh’s wife Hua Thi Kim Cuc.
Fishermen in the central coast provinces usually order for bamboo basket boasts with diameters of from two to three meters. Bamboo boats of these sizes cost from VND2.7 million (US$124) to VND3 million per unit, and quality boats can be used for four years.
As making bamboo basket boats is a hard job to do, only two sons of Anh’s seven children have followed it and they are now seen frequently working with him at the workshop.
“Many people have asked me to teach them the art of making bamboo basket boats but they have quitted all because they have not had enough patience,” Anh says.
“The job requires people to be patient, calm and cooperative with others,” Cuc says.
Unlike a normal well created by digging, boring or drilling to access underground water, these wells were created by putting stones together on the hillside to store underground water and then let it flow as needed.
From Dong Ha City, we went along Provincial Road 75 for five kilometers before reaching Tan Van Village on the left side. There, we visited Pheo well. It is the only well among the 16 that people dug into the ground to get water. This unique well has a one-meter-high monolith shaped like a tube and buried into the ground by half.
When needing water, people simply take water out of the tube. On the days when no one comes to get water, the well may overflow through a hole on the stone tube to a ditch before reaching the paddy or vegetable fields down the hill.
Gio An Commune has eight villages and only two of them have no stone wells of Cham people.
Continuing our journey on Provincial Road 75 for around one kilometer, we reached Long Son Village on the right side where we found Mang well, and Hao Son Village on the left where the three wells of Ong, Ba, and Gai are located.
The three wells have simple structures with a layer of stones which is narrow and deep for water deposit and another layer which is wider for storing water. When the well is full, it flows into a ditch to water the paddy and wild watercress, a typical type of vegetable in this area.
Next to Hao Son is Gia Binh village with Dia well. Near the well is a fish pond which uses water from the well.
When reaching Gio An Commune’s center, we hit An Nha village and Dao well. Although it is no longer in use, the well has the most complete structure which could provide water for many people at a time.
The ancient well system is not only rare but unique. The water flows out of the well from the natural source of water on the hillsides and therefore, it is always clear.
Covering a total area of 631,000 hectares in three provinces, Long An, Tien Giang and Dong Thap, the vast Dong Thap Muoi was a gulf back then, and over time silt has raised the land level to become part of the mainland.
From over 2,000 years ago until the 19th century, most of Dong Thap Muoi was just a flooded plain, except for a few mounds rising five to seven meters above sea level.
These mounds became the residential and worship places of ancient inhabitants.
The mounds located on the northern bank of the Hau River are not far from An Giang Province, the center of the ancient Oc Eo Culture that existed on the southern bank of the river.
While excavating one of the ancient mounds, named Go Thap, in Dong Thap Muoi, archeologists found numerous artifacts of inhabitants including samples of raw and colored ceramics, manipulated wood, jewelry, coal, animal bone, pestles, grindstones, cookers, and bowls.
The vestiges were found at both mounds and along creeks at the foot of the mounds. This proved that ancient people settled on both hills and valleys.
Archeologists also discovered that ancient people in Dong Thap Muoi knew how to build and live in stilt houses, said Doctor Le Thi Lien from the Institute of Archeology.
At the Vang (gold) and Phat (Buddha) ponds, long pillars with sharp points at one end were vertically pitched deep into mud. The other end of the pillars has holes to install crossbeams for building houses.
Dr. Lien confirmed that ancient people settled in Go Thap in Dong Thap Muoi many centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ until the seventh century, after which the Oc Eo Culture faded.
At Go Thap, archeologists found vestiges of nonnative artifacts such as terra-cotta, ceramics, and glass beads imported from the northern region.
This proves that Dong Thap Muoi was a center of trade and a stop for foreign boats on their routes from Indonesia and Malaysia to China and Japan.
“So, Dong Thap Muoi was developed more than what we knew before,” Dr. Lien concluded.
Along with the presence of ancient people many centuries ago, the Phu Nam Kingdom was born in the first century before Christ and lasted till the seventh century. Its termination was the result of internal upheavals and the rise of surrounding rival ethnic groups.
Another factor adding to the decline of the Phu Nam Kingdom and Oc Eo Culture was the development of maritime technology which allowed people to build bigger ships that could travel farther and did not need a ‘transit venue’ to stop by.
Then, Phu Nam could control the eastern part of the coast, the Me Nam Valley in Thailand in the west, and the northern part of the Malaysian peninsula in the south.
Residents in Dong Thap Muoi had developed skills in the production of bricks, ceramics, and metallurgy.
Initially, Dong Thap Muoi was an alluvial plain when sea water went down over 2,000 years ago.
Ethnic Malays and Indonesians, who were good at trade, and Mon-Khmer skilled at farming began occupying the area. They came from Dong Nai and Can Gio to the north of Dong Thap Muoi and the Malaysian peninsula to the south.
Religious dignitaries from India also came to spread Buddhism and Hinduism.
That explains why residents in Dong Thap Muoi worship gods and the Buddha in accordance with Indian culture, especially during the peak period of 1,400 years from the second century before the birth of Christ till the 12th century.
It is evidenced by the fact that many wooden Buddha statues were found in the area.
The unique swing bridge
Han River Bridge has been considered as a symbol of Da Nang. The bridge was open for traffic in 2000 on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Liberation Day in Vietnam. It helps locals and visitors to travel from the west to the east of Da Nang. It was also the first swing bridge in Vietnam, totally designed and constructed by Vietnamese engineers and workers.
The Han River Bridge is 485.7 meters in length and 12.9 meter in width. It includes eleven spans of which the longest span is 127.7 meters long. In the middle of the night, traffic is stopped from crossing the Han River Bridge and it swings on its axis to allow shipping traffic to pass along the river. The area around the bridge is the location of Da Nang’s cultural center.
The long suspension bridge
Thuan Phuoc Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Vietnam and connects Da Nang’s city center with the urban district of Son Tra. The bridge crosses the lower Han River and was built with a cost of nearly VND 1,000 billion.
Thuan Phuoc Bridge was first open for traffic in 2009. The four-lane, three-span bridge is 1,850 meters long and 18 meters wide and has a main span of 405 meters. Its two major pillars are 80 meters in height. The bridge took six years to construct.
Thuan Phuoc Bridge today is not only important as a commercial pathway, but also a popular tourist attraction. The bridge has much contributed to the sustainable development of the region.
The splendid dragon bridge
The construction of Dragon Brige began at the same day as the inauguration of Thuan Phuoc Bridge in 2009 with an estimated cost of nearly US$88m. On March 29, 2013, the bridge was firstly opened to traffic.
The modern bridge is 666m long, 37.5m wide and has six lanes for traffic. It provides the shortest road link from the Da Nang International Airport to other main roads in Da Nang city, and a more direct route to My Khe Beach and Non Nuoc Beach on the eastern edge of the city. The bridge was designed and built in the shape of a dragon and to breathe fire each Saturday and Sunday night at 9PM
The Dragon Bridge has won several international awards for its design and modern lighting system.
The beautiful sail of Han River
Tran Thi Ly Bridge, ready for use in 2013 is another new landmark of Da Nang city. The bridge has also received several international awards for its innovative design.
Designed in the shape of a giant sail crossing the Han River, Tran Thi Ly is a concrete cable bridge. The length of the main opening of the bridge is 230 meters; its total length is 731 meters. The deck of the bridge is 34.5 meter wide, including six traffic lanes. It costs VND 1,700 billion to finish the Tran Thi Ly Bridge.
The newest techniques are applied in the lighting of the bridge with the colors of the pylon and deck of the bridge change at night, creating beautiful details in the environment of the river.
Here it’s the season of rainbows and raindrops and a time when tourists flock to the region to enjoy the picturesque terraced rice paddies at their best, overflowing with water.
The season is commonly referred to by local people as ‘the season of falling water’ referring to the torrential downpours that saturate the paddies sending the water cascading down the mountainside.
Viet Nam’s highway 32 is infamous for its many attractive tourist destinations and exotic beauty stretching from Tu Le to Mu Cang Chai in Yen Bai province.
The Cham ethnic minority are descendants of the Kingdom of Champa, a country that once blossomed in central and south Vietnam for more than 1800 years from 192 AD-1832.
“Tourists enjoy the rich unique vibrant Cham culture and the revenue generated from tourism results in less poverty and will be the salvation for the group’s unique culture,” Jaya shared.
Jaya, 27, said he avidly promotes the tourism industry of the Cham ethnic minority through photographs on his Facebook page, Incredible Champa.
Tourists may feel lost in the beauty and majesty of nature when they arrive at Thac Trang (White Waterfall), one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the mountainous province of Quang Ngai.
The White Waterfall is located in Thanh An Commune, Minh Long District, about 30km southwest from the centre of Quang Ngai City.
The best way to reach the White Waterfall is by motorbike, said Nguyen Thanh Hung from Ha Noi.
Tourists can ride over the Eo Gio Pass on Dinh Cuong Mountain and admire the peaceful beauty of the gentle Ve River and cottages by the riverside, with amazing views of Hre ethnic villages with stilt-houses nestled on slopes, tea plantations and terraced paddies.
Climbing up to the fall upstream, Hung and his friends had to follow a rocky jungle trail with a deep abyss on one side.
The trek was worth it though when they reached the top and witnessed the amazing panorama of the mountains, forests and the waterfall.
However, tour guides are recommended because the hard trek is only for advanced climbers with the right equipment.
For casual hikers, they can choose to walk down to the foot of the waterfall and swim in the lakes or catch nien fish. The fish is a speciality of the region which can be served as sashimi or grilled and enjoyed with salt, pepper and chilli. After cleaning the fish, local people use a bamboo stick grill it on a coal fire.
On both sides of the fall, there are lots of doat trees that the Hre people use top make their special wine.
"The heat of the summer seems to vanish under the waterfall as we soak ourselves in the lake," said Hung.
The White Waterfall is well-known to local people, but not many tourists know about it, so it has remained unspoiled. As a result, tourism services are limited.
"When you plan a day trip to the White Waterfall, you should bring food, drink and a first-aid kit, especially tiger balm to stop the leeches," said Hung.
A project to build a tourist area near the White Waterfall has been started, and a bridge will be built connecting the waterfall with another wonderful natural landscape on the Dong Can Dike. The project will include a resort, a shopping centre, a park, a swimming pool, an underwater world for children, a fishing zone and a zoo.
The project will cover 57ha and will be developed from now to 2022.
Hung has returned to the White Waterfall after many years and said the route has become more accessible. "I drove to the White Waterfall by motorbike and the landscape is wonderful, while the road is less risky.
"In the future, when infrastructure is developed, it may kick off the development of local tourism, helping to push the growth of the local economy." "However, if the site receives more tourists, it will become more crowded and noisy. I hope that people will maintain the pristine beauty of the area so that tourism does not harm nature."
It is the fourth tallest mountain in Viet Nam, trailed by Fansipan (3,143m), Pu Ta Leng (3,096m), and Pu Si Lung (3,076m). Lying between two northern provinces of Lai Chau and Lao Cai, the mountain with hasty and rocky terrain was discovered by adventurous tourists in 2012.
To climb to the top of the mountain, visitors must travel 30km of forest road and experience different types of terrain like bare hills, wood and bamboo forest and high, adventurous and sheer rock.
Visitors can conquer the Bach Moc Luong Tu’s peak from two ways: Departing from Den Sung hamlet in Sin Suoi Ho village, Phong Tho district, Lai Chau province or from Ki Quan San hamlet in Sang Ma Sao village, Bat Xat district in Lao Cai province.
Located about 45km from the central province of Thanh Hoa's heart on the southwest, the 16,000ha park, half of which is virgin forest, is home to valuable and rare species of animals and birds, such as the red wolf, black gibbon, great hornbill, gayal, tibetan bear, red-face monkey, elephants, bears and, until recent years, tigers.
Farmer Lo Van Quang, 45, a member of the Tay ethnic people, said locals were happy to join the programme started five years ago by the Japanese camera company Canon. To date, more than 140ha of new forests have been replanted.
Do Xuan Loc, deputy head of Thanh Hoa Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Forest Ranger Branch, said he hoped the project could be expanded to bring more green to Thanh Hoa and the park itself.
Quang said since joining the programme, residents had learned about the need to grow trees and how to protect the environment to develop tourism, which is largely based on the forests, lakes and caves that fill the park.
Until the replanting work began, his family earned a small living growing rice. But, following advice from tourism authorities, he borrowed money and built a new house on stilts, which is now also used for a homestay.
"I also learned to greet and help travellers tour the park. As a result, we now earn a total of about VND 4-5 million (US$180-230) per month," Quang said.
Primitive forest covers 8,544-ha of the park, which features a 3,000ha lake with 21 islets. Studies have revealed 1,389 species of plants, 1,004 species of animals, 201 species of birds, 54 species of reptiles, 31 species of amphibians, 68 species of fish and 499 species of insects.
The park was established in 1992 and gradually expanded. It is not only a protected breeding ground for many rare creatures, but also an attractive destination for ecotourism. Ben En has a wide and diverse system of lakes, caves, mountains and forest. The two biggest lakes are Ben En Lake and Muc Lake.
Quang said we should spend a week to take in all the sights, but we didn't have much time and asked him to take us to the main attractions.
First we visited the dreamy Muc Lake by canoe and enjoyed the breeze as well as the fauna and flora around it. We felt like we were lost in a world of gods surrounded by water and floating clouds.
Quang told us an old legend about the lake, saying that it was created by a giant cuttle fish, a son of the River King, who became so entranced by the surrounding beauty that he forgot the way home.
One day, the cuttle fish was stranded on a shallow shoal and died from exposure after struggling to reach deep water. The place where it died became the Muc Lake and the cuttlefish's tentacles became the streams that fed it, Quang said.
The 4,000ha lake, with a depth of about 12m, consists of 21 islands, appropriately named Me (Mother), Tinh Yeu (Love) and Tuong Lai (Future) and dreamlike caves like Suoi Tien. Legend has it that fairies from heaven often come here to relax and bathe.
A nearby cave known as Lo Cao has a more topical history. It was used by Professor Tran Dai Nghia during the war against the French to produce cast iron to make weapons used at the great battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
Quang invited us to his home to enjoy a local speciality, ca me, a big river fish, to steam with special forest herbs, the names of which he prefers to keep secret. We enjoyed the dish so much because it is so tasty and its special fragrance is unforgettable.
Leaving Quang's home, we met Tong Van Hoang, director of the Centre for Preservation and Development of Creature and Environment, who invited us to prolong our trip. We thanked him, but our bus had been booked and we had to go back to work in Ha Noi.
Ah well, there is always a next time!
Quan ho is a romantic folk performing art, which is rooted in Kinh Bac area (present Bac Ninh province). There are 49 Quan ho villages in Bac Ninh province and each village has one or more Quan ho man or woman Quan ho groups.
There are 5 to 6 performers who sing well in a group of Quan ho. Leading in each group by chi ca (first sister)or anh ca (first brother). Then, chi hai (second sister)of (second brother)etc. It depends on man or woman groups.
From the beginning time when it has just been created, “ Quan ho” was only regarded as a cultural activity at which people in Bac Ninh and some other areas nearby gathered, shared their passions, with their fascinating voices. They “played” Quan ho, not “performed” it, with the main purpose to satisfy their demand to meet and make friends with other people who have same hobbies, and exchange their love on traditional art in a large community.
In addition, Quan ho singers now are not purely amateur singers who with only their passion and emotion, but actors and actress who perform certain songs that are professionally choreographed. They are trained carefully, from gestures, moving to emotion and eyes contact to be suitable for staging performances and they sing with anyone, not only their fated mates as in the past. That is the sign of the forever disappearance of fatedly artistic relationship between Quan ho singers.
The songs are performed as alternating verses between two women from one village who sing in harmony, and two men from another village who respond with similar melodies, but with different lyrics. The women traditionally wear distinctive large round hats and scarves; the men’s costumes include turbans, umbrellas and tunics. The more than 400 song lyrics, sung with 213 different melody variations, express people’s emotional states of longing and sadness upon separation, and the happiness of the meeting of lovers, but custom forbids marrying a singing partner. Quan họ singing is common at rituals, festivals, competitions and informal gatherings, where guests will perform a variety of verses for their hosts before singing farewell.
It is said that Quan Ho Bac Ninh Folk Songs were exchange songs between two mandarins' families. Gradually, it spread out and became popular among the northern people. Groups were formed just for singing, and many marriages were formed at these get-togethers. After centuries, hát quan họ became the most significant vietnamese folk-song type.
Quan Ho Bac Ninh Folk Songs, also called Quan Ho Bac Ninh singing, is an antiphonal singing tradition in which men and women take turns singing in a challenge-and-response fashion drawing on a known repertoire of melodies. Usually a pair of women starts, presenting in unison a complete song called “cau ra” (challenge phrase) lasting three to eight minutes. A pair of men of the opposing team responds with another song called “cau doi” (matching phrase), which must match the melody of the women's song in order to be considered correct. Next it will be the men's turn to challenge the women with a song that can be completely different from the previous pair of songs.
Hoa Lo Prison
The prison, located on Hoa Lo street in the Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi, spans an area of 12,000 square metres.
We conquered the peak of Co Tien (Fairy) Mountain months ago. We started our trip from the center of the city in Khanh Hoa Province and went along Tran Phu Street. After crossing Pham Van Dong Bridge, we saw Co Tien Mountain ahead like a lying young woman with her hair stretching down and her face heading towards the east side.
Co Tien Mountain is also named after the main female character of a tragic tale. According to locals, a long time ago, an army was stationed in the existing area of the mountain. One day, the commander had to leave his young wife to join a battlefield far way and she was then ravished by bad men at home. To keep her faithfulness to her husband, she killed herself and later became the mountain with her face, her breast and knee becoming three peaks of the mountain. Local people then named that mountain “Co Tien” to commemorate the beautiful but short-lived woman.
Locals say the best times to trek up the mountain are before sunrise and sunset. Sport-persons can conquer the mountain peak in less than one and a half hour but amateurs need more time to complete their journey up to the 400-meter height.
As we wanted to view Nha Trang City at night, we started to climb the mountain at around 4-5 p.m. when scorching sunlight softened. Scenery along the way is gorgeous. When we felt tired, we found somewhere at the mountain side to rest for a while and at the same time enjoy cool breeze, gentle scents of wild flowers and grass, serenity and a stunning landscape of the red sun about to sun goes down to the sea.
We continued our trekking and the more we approached the peak, the more our tiredness faded away as a panoramic view of Nha Trang was splendid. Illuminated by thousands of sparkling lights, the city looked like a giant flaming phoenix preparing to spread its wings to fly to the sea as we could imagine. What a magnificent scene!
The experience of sitting on the top of the mountain and enjoying breezes from the sea and the imaginable phoenix was unforgettable and helped blow away our worries and tiredness.
Old and new buildings of Saigon are seen from Mong Bridge
According to musicians, the bridge is like a “tempo giusto”, a timing rhythm for a crowded city like Saigon. Contrary to the noisy and busy atmosphere of the downtown, time seems to stop on the bridge, Ben Nghe canal and the area around.
Built in 1894, the bridge is 128 meters long and 5.2 meters wide. It was invested by Messageries maritimes, a French merchant shipping company, and built by Levallois Perret, a French construction company.
In 2005, the bridge was removed to make room for construction of the Saigon River Tunnel connecting districts 1 and 2. After that, the bridge was restored to its original state with significant reinforcement of the abutments at the two ends.
The parks on both banks of Ben Nghe Canal near the bridge have also been improved with more trees and flower plants.
Standing on Mong Bridge, tourists can see time changes, admire cultural and historical values, and have a view of a future Saigon.
On the side of District 1 is Vo Van Kiet Boulevard on which the State Bank of Vietnam building, formerly called Banque de l’Indochine (Bank of Indochina) by the French, and French and Chinese-built houses are located.
Nearby are the modern buildings such as the Bitexco Financial Tower and Times Square while within a walking distance from the bridge is Nha Rong Wharf, a historical site on the Saigon River in District 4.
The bridge and the neighborhood have become a venue for local people to start a new day with morning exercises, book reading and fishing. When night falls, couples sit down together along the bridge, groups of young people gather for chatting, dancing, singing while the elderly go for a walk.
Each kind of food is closely associated with a street in Hanoi, making each an unforgettable experience.
Cha Ca La Vong
You’ll find fried fish in La Vong restaurant on Cha Ca Street. The restaurant is decorated with wood; it looks like an ancient house.
This dish consists of white fish sautéed in butter with dill and spring onions, then served with rice noodles and peanuts.
Bun Cha Hang Manh
Dac Kim restaurant on Hang Manh Street is well-known for Bun Cha (rice noodle with grilled pork). The space there is rather small so many customers are relegated to seats along the sidewalk pavement.
Each bowl costs VND50,000. The pork patties are barbecued on an open charcoal brazier and served on a bed of cold rice noodles with assorted garden greens finished with a mildly sweet sauce.
Banh Duc Le Ngoc Han
A two-storey building on lane No.8 along Le Ngoc Han Street is bustling every evening when visitors come there to grab a taste of Banh Duc (cake made from ground rice and peanuts). The cake is rather cheapand one bowl costs VND15,000.
Rice flour is cooked with peanuts and little borax, cut into small pieces and enojyed with soy sauce.
Banh Cuon Hang Ga
Banh Cuon (steamed rice pancakes rolled with pork and mushroom) is easily found on Hang Ga street.
The pale white rice batter is silky smooth and soft but otherwise fairly bland.
Flavor and texture come from a filling of seasoned ground pork, mushrooms, and shallots. The rice noodle roll is served in a separate bowl of clear, amber dipping sauce, (nước chấm), which is essentially fish sauce.
Reaching the milestone between Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan provinces on the south-central coast, we head for a newly-opened road to Vinh Hy Bay in Ninh Thuan and keep on going.
We pass through a blue sea channel with a stunning landscape which is worth my long trip. Traveling 10 more kilometers, we see a pass ahead with a sign reading “Binh Hung fishing village”. On its left is another pass which is smaller and leads to Binh Lap Beach.
“Take that path and you cannot miss Binh Lap,” said a local.
I say to myself, “Finally we are there.” Things are not that easy, though; we have to go up and down the path for dozens of kilometers. But the long ride pays off as we see a beautiful forest from which we can smell fresh leaves and go through several mountains before reaching a T-junction.
A sign there shows Ngoc Suong Beach and Binh Lap Beach on the right and Binh Lap fishing port on the left.
Binh Lap Beach is called Ngang Beach by local people. The beach is clean, the sand is white and the seawater is blue. Some of us choose an area near large rocks and small caves to set up tents, and grill food which they bring along.
Others choose to spend time at Ngoc Suong Beach, which is smaller than Binh Lap Beach. Paying VND50,000 (US$2.3) to enter the beach, they also pay for hiring tent, tarp, stove and motorbike parking.
The small path paved with cement and under the shades of cashew trees leads us to Binh Lap fishing village.
There, the mountains tower towards the sea and seawater is crystal clear. Local people are friendly and sociable.
At the end of the day, I feel no regret since Binh Lap is worth my time and energy.
About 5km away from Can Tho's centre, Long Tuyen is located along the peaceful and poetic Binh Thuy River. Locals build their houses and fruit orchards along the river banks, creating picturesque scenery with fresh air and quiet settings.
Binh Thuy Temple, Nam Nha and Hoi Linh pagodas, patriot Bui Huu Nghia's Tomb, the Communist Party of An Nam's office and nha co vuon lan (ancient house with orchid garden) are the village's national heritage sites.
The tour, organised by the An Giang Farmers Tourism Centre, also offers other services, including staying at stilt houses, dishes cooked from bong lau and Don ca tai tu music and song, which is a UNESCO recognised intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The activity of watching fishermen fishing is held on the Vam Nao River section in Tan Phu District. Linked with the Tien and Hau rivers (two tributes of the Mekong), the section is where fishermen cast nets. The caught fish are about 3 – 7 kilos.
Bong lau, famous for its delicious flesh, is caught from lunar November to April. The fish price is between VND150,000 and VND250,000 (US$7-11) a kilo.
Dray Nur waterfall in Kuop village is about 25 km south of Buon Ma Thuot city. The waterfall, which is 250m long and 30m high, is the most beautiful and largest of the three waterfalls on the Serepok River.
From afar, Dray Nur offers a spectacular panorama. Dray Nur is renowned for its purity and for its incredible legends. Dray Nur in the local language, means Female or Wife Waterfall.
According to one legend, a beautiful E De girl and her boyfriend were sitting on a big rock, when a monster appeared in a column of water and drove the young man away. When he returned, he discovered that his girlfriend had been taken by the monster. The rocky bank beside the waterfall is the place where the young couple sat and the waterfall is the column of water where the monster appeared.
The sound of the waterfall, according to the locals, is the sound of whispers telling the story. The mysterious beauty of the waterfall inspires all visitors, who are usually curious about the legend behind it.
Nguyen Quang An, a photographer from Ho Chi Minh City, said the Central Highlands is spectacularly beautiful with magnificent mountains and waterfalls. There are mysterious Rong communal houses in the central highlands. The nature here is fantastic and the people are wonderful.
The magnificence of Dray Nur might make some feel dizzy but for adventure lovers, visiting the waterfall is an impressive experience.
Quang Quy, a tour guide said Dray Nur consists of three levels creating three lakes. You can swim in the first lake because the water is shallow. In the second lake, you must be careful because the rocks are very sharp. In the third lake, the water is quite deep, between 8 and 10m. From this lake, walking along the rock bank, you can enter a cave. Also from here, there is a panoramic view of the waterfall.
The cave extends more than 3,000 square meters. Stalactites and stalagmites in the cave create an extraordinary scene that delights visitors. It is also possible to hike forest trails and contemplate centuries-old trees whose roots embrace the rock or admire bats flying at sunset.
In the villages near the waterfall, you can observe the daily activities of E De ethnic minority people- rice grinding, brocade weaving or and making hunting tools. You can also taste the local rice wine and local food specialties and hear numerous legends about the Central Highlands and the Dray Nur waterfall.
Here, tourists will discover local daily life as well as enjoying fruits and seafoods from Ninh Hoa.
A peaceful corner in a NinhThuy fishing village
Typical architecture in NinhThuy villages
Simple life of local fishermen
Turquoise waters and deep sand beaches
Peacefully hidden away from urban areas and surrounded by mountains on three sides, the village located in Ham Rong Ward, Thanh Hoa city has many hundreds-of-years-old houses with intact interior and architectural features.
From Ham Rong Bridge, the visitors take a one-kilometre walk passing the newly-built Ham Rong Convention Centre to a winding path lined with palm trees leading to the village.
Arriving in the village, visitors are struck with peaceful and ancient scenes of water wells and banyan trees and the ancient rural houses, comprised of three main compartments and two lean-tos.
The village has maintained 10 of its ancient houses, the oldest of which was built more than 200 years ago.
The village was listed on the must-see destinations in Thanh Hoa, the venue for the National Tourism Year 2015.
As its name suggests, Hen is known as an islet of food, especially dishes from hen (mussel) such as mussel rice, rice porridge with mussel, or mussel with noodles and rice vermicelli. This is because many generations of people on this islet have been earning a living by catching mussel and processing dishes from this bivalve mollusk.
Although the present-day Hue has been added with a modern touch, the living environment on Hen islet is still as peaceful and rustic as any typical Hue village at the lower reaches of the Huong River.
Nguyen Van Vinh, a 73-year-old man whose three generations have been living on Hen islet, says the section of the Huong River running through the islet is clear, leaving a thick layer of mud at the bottom of the river and creating a good environment for mussels to grow. Mussels in this area have been famous for its high quality and in the past, mussel dishes from this islet were offered to kings, he says.
Among the restaurants on the islet, the one owned by Tao, a 75-year-old woman who has been cooking hen dishes for 60 years in Hue, is the most famous place for diners.
Tao’s restaurant serves mussels with rice and vermicelli. She says in order to process a bowl of mussels with rice and vermicelli, it needs at least 20 types of spices and ingredients.
Apart from basic spices such as fish sauce, oil, chili, and pepper, shrimp paste is an indispensable spice. Ingredients needed for these two dishes include rice, vermicelli, fresh vegetables, peanuts, star fruit, green mango, and obviously, mussels.
When cooked, a bowl of mussel rice or vermicelli looks mouthwatering thanks to its different colors and fragrant smells. The food just becomes more delicious thanks to the charming and poetic scene around, with boats flowing smoothly along the peaceful Huong River.
A broad river that connects two other rivers, the Tien and the Hau, the Vam Nao River in the southern An Giang province has various kinds of fish, especially the precious Ca bong lau (Chinese Pangasid-catfish) and Siamese carp, each of which can weigh up to 10kg.
The area also has poetic scenery with great tourism potential that has been successfully exploited by the local tourism department in recent years.
Director of An Giang Tourist Farmers Centre Nguyen Thanh Tung said six local families had been chosen to participate in the agricultural tourism development project, sponsored by the Dutch Farmers Organisation (Agriterra).
They receive financial support to build new restrooms, floating bridge and stilt houses, where visitors can break their journey and rest. These local farmers, who are also the tour guides, make tourists feel at home, thanks to their good nature and great enthusiasm.
Sailing along the river, the tourists can not only see the surrounding natural beauty, but also indulge in childhood activities such as fishing or picking flowers blooming above the water.
It is highly recommended that the tourists should visit the region during the flood season, which is from the seventh to the tenth month of the lunar calendar. They can sail above thousands of fish that flock the river at that time of the year, and also observe the fishermen harvest netfuls of fish, while listening to old folktales. The experience evokes a strange sense of peace and freedom.
The flood season is also the growing season of river beans along the riverbanks, which seem to give a warm welcome to the tourists. They will also have the opportunity to pick beans and hunt for horned water chestnuts with local fishermen to prepare a very delicious meal. Else, the tourists can ask the villagers to cook other local specialties that have both exquisite and distinctive flavours.
The most interesting part of the journey to discover the river region is observing the fishermen catch large catfish at night.
A prized fish with high economic and nutritious value, catfish is favoured by several gourmets for its delicious taste.
The catfish season in the River Vam Nao is from the 11th month to the next fourth month of the lunar year, when the muddy river water turns transparent.
The best time to catch catfish is right after sunset, when the water is still and the fish are most active.
The tourists gather at the house on stilts of the An Giang Tourist Farmers Centre before boarding the boat at 9pm. While waiting, they can enjoy catfish dishes and don ca tai tu (southern amateur music), two local specialties of the river region in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.
The fishing equipment is pretty simple and inexpensive. The fisherman needs only a boat or a small canoe, lights and the indispensible net.
While the fishermen spread their nets, the tourists can admire the beauty of the Vam Nao, illuminated by the red lights of the buoys floating on the water.
It takes about one to two hours for the first haul. Tourists might share the anxiety of the fishermen while waiting for the first catch. However, not all nets are lucky with their first catch.
"Catching a catfish requires rich experience, so most fishermen are middle-aged," villager Pham Van Sanh said.
The trip becomes even more exciting if the tourists choose to cook the fresh catch themselves, enjoy a glass of wine and listen to the interesting life stories of the fishermen.
"I was greatly impressed with my trip along the River Vam Nao," tourist Tran Huyen Anh said. "I had a great chance to experience the simple life of the fishermen as well as the toughness of their profession. I look forward to coming back to catch more fish the next time."
Emperor Cruises will be the first to offer high-end all-inclusive, unlimited services to serve luxury travellers in Nha Trang Bay.
Combined with the international 5-star hotel brand Intercontinental Nha Trang, Emperor Cruises have created a three days - two nights programme to Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa. Guests can now enjoy three days - two nights holiday in Nha Trang Bay with Emperor Cruises for moments of relaxation, interesting discoveries, cruising activities, scrumptious fresh seafood dinners, stunning sunsets, and refreshing cocktails along the coast of Nha Trang.
Emperor Cruises has many attractive activities suitable for all ages such as: visits to Hon Mieu, Hon Mun and other islands by speedboat, swimming at the wild beaches, rowing local basket boats, kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving.
In addition, this programme takes travellers to explore more islands, go further into the ocean, discover the local island lives, coastal lagoons, fishing villages, beautiful lighthouses, and birds' nests on steep cliffs, with the help of an Experience Manager for the guests to experience every moment of the trip.
The service includes two nights at the Intercontinental Nha Trang hotel, Nha Trang airport shuttle transfers, daily breakfasts, and an all-inclusive Day Cruise on the Emperor Cruises.
As promotion, Emperor Cruises and the Intercontinental Nha Trang are offering an all-inclusive package for VND7.4 million ($360) per person only for bookings made from April 15, 2015 to August 30, 2015.
The Ho Dynasty Citadel was recognised by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site in 2011. The recognition has brought pride and a great joy to the Vietnamese people while paying homage to the great historical values left by the Vietnamese ancestors.
The Ho Dynasty Citadel was the cultural centre of the capital of Vietnam in the late 14th century and early 15th century and a political, economic and cultural hub of the northern part of the central region of Vietnam from the 16th to the 18th century.
It was built in 1397 in the two communes of Vinh Tien and Vinh Long in Vinh Loc district, Thanh Hoa province with the supervision of the Tran dynasty's top mandarin, Ho Quy Ly. He later occupied the citadel when he forcibly took the throne in 1400, changing the country's name from Dai Viet to Dai Ngu.
Unlike many other citadels that were built from bricks, the citadel was built with huge stone slabs from nearby mountains. It features four arched gates facing east, west, north and south. The large stone slabs required a new building technique that workers installed without the use of any mortar.
The citadel buildings represented an outstanding example of a new style of Southeast Asian imperial cities. The citadel's grounds include the Hoang Nguyen, Dien Tho and Dong Cung palaces, which were linked by roads paved with stone. The citadel itself includes buildings such as the Dan Nam Giao (a platform used for offerings to the heavens), Dong Mon communal house and Tam Tong temple among other structures. However, after several centuries, almost all of the citadel's main structures have been seriously damaged, while the wall and four main entrances are still well preserved.
The Citadel of Ho Dynasty has been attracting more and more tourists since it was recognised as a world cultural heritage site.
Each year, the relic welcomes about 70,000 visitors.
In recent years, the Ho Citadel has gradually revealed more valuable historical items. Notably, the basic but quite comprehensive architecture of Nam Giao Esplanade has been unearthed in an area of over one thousand square metres. The researchers claimed the esplanade is presently the most intact in Vietnam with a series of vestiges such as the Than Dao Road and the King’s well, drainage system. Based on the unearthed vestiges, Thanh Hoa province has reconstructed the large-scale Nam Giao esplanade.
Archaeologists have unearthed the Hoang Gia (Royal) road (also known as Hoe Nhai road) at the southern gate of the citadel with a unique structure. So far, Hoang Gia road has existed intact with a length of about 2km. In addition, the discovery and research of ancient stone exploitation work in An Ton Mountain in Vinh Yen commune and Xuan Dai Mountain in Vinh Ninh commune have special importance in clarifying doubts of the origin of the materials exploited and used to build the Ho citadel.
The National Tourism Year 2015 is expected to attract 5 million domestic and foreign visitors.
Surrounded by primeval forests, the lake is a popular eco-tourist site. It is also closely associated with the many legends of the local M’nong ethnic people.
It covers 500 ha and is about 500m above sea level. From afar, the lake looks like a soft silk strait adding to the charm of the central highlands mountain.
The lake is surrounded with primeval forests featuring a wide variety of flora and fauna species, many of them listed in the Red Book. A large number of tamed elephants live around the lake. The scene of mahouts riding elephants around the lake and on the streets or elephants swimming in the lake attracts lots of tourists.
Nguyen Manh Ha, a tourist from Hai Phong, said tourists to Lak lake are offered a variety of services. They can ride an elephant or row a wooden boat around the lake. They can also visit the villages of the M’Nong or go deep into the forests.
In addition to exploring the lake’s natural beauty, visitors to Lak lake can also discover the traditional culture of the M’Nong and their elephant taming work.
Three generations of Dam Nang Long’s family have involved in taming elephants and Long has the largest number of them in Lak lake. Long said the central highlanders in general and the M’Nong in particular love elephants very much and consider them a symbol of power and prosperity for their clans and families.
After being tamed, the elephants will go to the village and an admission ceremony will be held to welcome them. From then on they become new members of the family, and are named according to a member of the family. According to M’Nong tradition, the elephants share their love and have the right to the family’s property. They will be buried after they die, Long added.
Three generations of Dam Nang Long’s family have involved in taming elephants and Long has the largest number of them in Lak lake. Long said the central highlanders in general and the M’Nong in particular love elephants very much and consider them a symbol of power and prosperity for their clans and families
After being tamed, the elephants will go to the village and an admission ceremony will be held to welcome them. From then on they become new members of the family, and are named according to a member of the family. According to M’Nong tradition, the elephants share their love and have the right to the family’s property. They will be buried after they die, Long added.
Dong Van Karst Plateau covers 2,300sq.km and is home to nearly 250,000 people in Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and Meo Vac districts. The natural complex was recognised by UNESCO as a global geological park in 2010.
Chuyet said he was impressed by the plateau when he took his overseas Vietnamese friends on their first visit to the geological park.
"This is a remote area, and we can meet the hard-working local people here," he said.
"It is inspiring to see how they survive and manage to live on the rocks. When we reached Dong Van, we had time to wander the ancient streets lined with ethnic Mong homes made from clay bricks and tiles roofs built centuries ago."
It took Chuyet seven hours to drive about 320km from Ha Noi to Ha Giang Province.
"Many people warned me that the road from Ha Giang's centre to Dong Van Plateau is very dangerous, but I decided to drive myself," Chuyet said.
"We wanted to see the geological park with our own eyes. And it satisfied us with its picturesque landscape and unique culture."
The road to Dong Van, named Hanh Phuc (Happiness), was improved recently, making the drive much smoother and more convenient. From afar, the S-shaped road looks like a delicate silk scarf amidst the dense forests and rocky mountains. Driving along the road, visitors can enjoy the region's natural beauty.
The province held a ceremony last weekend marking 50 years since Hanh Phuc Road was built. The event also honoured veteran volunteers from Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son, Hai Duong and Nam Dinh provinces for their significant contributions helping build the nearly 200km road from Ha Giang Township to the province's four mountainous districts.
Other must-see destinations in the province include the Vuong Family Mansion, a house used during the shooting of award-winning movie Chuyen Cua Pao (Pao's Story), Lung Cu Flagpole. and Dong Van ancient street.
Chuyet's moment at the Lung Cu Flagpole was precious.
"Reaching the Northernmost point of Viet Nam, and then having a look at the flag, which represents the unity of 54 ethnic groups, we all felt strong emotions," Chuyet said.
"In the brilliant sunshine, under the national flag flying on the peak of Lung Cu Mountain, we joined other Vietnamese tourists at different ages and sang the national anthem together."
Lung Cu Mountain or Mount Rong is located in Lung Cu, about 160km from Ha Giang's centre. Lung means ngo (maize) in the Mong language. Lung Cu means Valley of Maize. However, there's another explanation: A myth about Lung Cu Mountain.
The story tells that the mountain was home to a sacred dragon. Local residents always lacked fresh water. So, before flying into the sky, the dragon allowed his eyes to become two lakes. Since then, the lakes were always bright green and never ran dry. Residents call the lakes Dragon's Eyes.
The Lung Cu Flagpole was first built in the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225) of hard wood. It was rebuilt in 1887 under the French rule. It was renovated several times in later years and is now on top of a tall building.
Chuyet is not only person to enjoy a trip to the country's northernmost province. Since UNESCO recognised it as a global geological park, the province has received more and more visitors.
South Korean Kang Pil-seok said he learned about Dong Van Karst Plateau in Viet Nam and booked a tour there. He rode a bicycle from Ha Giang's centre to the plateau.
"I leisurely rode my bicycle to view the beautiful landscape and meet friendly local people," he said. "Surely I will come back."
Riding bicycles helped Kang and his 30-member group explore places that were difficult to access. Organising the bicycle tour requires a lot of logistical work, according to Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha, director of Coach Tourism Company at Nghia Tan, Cau Giay, Ha Noi.
"We always ask experienced tour guides who know the terrain well to be in charge of the bicycle tour to ensure the safety of our customers," Ha said.
"The bicycle tours started about five years ago. It has lured foreign tourists because it is a green, ecological tour."
Established in 2004, the park has its name combined from Bidoup Mountain, the highest mountain on Lam Vien Plateau, and Ba Mountain, the highest one in Da Lat City.
Early in the morning, a car of the park was dispatched to pick us up and then brought us all the way along 723 Pass, which to many people is the most beautiful pass in Viet Nam, to reach the park, located 50 kilometers away from Da Lat City in Da Nhim Commune, Lac Duong District at a height of 650-2,287 meters above sea level.
A guide named Ha Trai of K’Ho ethnic community took us for a tour around the park. Along the way we were told of plants and leaves which can all be used as medicine that Ha Trai had learned from elderly people, and precious trees which have been enlisted in the World’s Red Book of Threatened Species. The forest was so wild while the atmosphere was cool and pure, giving us relaxing and comfortable feeling.
After a while, we reached Thien Thai Waterfall, lying in the middle of the forest, streaming strongly and leaving thousands of white bubbles around.
Inside the pine forest of Bidoup Nui Ba National Park are villas for tourists to stay for the night or take a rest.
At night, we were attracted by cong chieng (gongs) and dance performances of young K’ho men and women, the irresistible fragrance of grilled meat and the smell of ruou can (wine drunk out of a jar through pipes).
The next morning, we took a tour to the “low forest” to watch wild orchids, mushrooms and moss as well as Pinus krempfii, or Krempf’s pine, a rare species of pine which only exists at the Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, according to the park’s director Le Van Huong.
The tourist site, about 12km from Vung Tau City, has a peaceful white soft sand beach with lots of sports and leisure activities. There is a poplar forest contributing to the romantic view of the site. Tourists can also try some local specialties, including Moc Nui noodles at the price of VND15,000 per bowl or grilled fish costing from VND10,000 to VND15,000 per dish and grilled deo snail with onion. Guests can order live seafood to cook to their favorite taste. They can boil, steam or grill seafood at the price of VND10,000 per portion.
There is an interesting venue nearby which tourists should spend some time to discover. That is Thien That, locally known as Monkey Pagoda, located at the foot of Ky Van Mountain in Phuoc Hai Commune, Long Dat District of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.
The pagoda has simple architecture but the statue of the Buddha sitting on a lotus base looks beautiful. There is a path on a side of the pagoda leading to Ky Van Mountain which is appealing to travelers thanks to numerous stones in unique shapes like dolphin, elephant and turtle.
There is also a stone looking like a snake holding a pearl in its mouth that represents prosperity or a huge stone similar to the Buddha’s head. Tourists might see a stone that looks like a bending elephant or an ancient bo tree with its roots sticking to stones.
The pagoda is also home to around 200 monkeys that usually gather and play together in the daytime. Tourists can give banana to these monkeys but they should pay attention to their belongings as these naughty animals might snatch them.
Thanh Mau area in Ward 7 of Dalat City is where tourists can find popular strawberry gardens. People will have a chance to admire fruitful and beautiful gardens and enjoy fresh fruits. Some farms’ owners charge VND10,000 for entrance fee but some allow free entrance for guests to come and enjoy strawberry for free. This is a good chance for tourists to talk and watch these hospitable farmers at work.
Other interesting venues that tourists should head to are flower glass houses in three villages of Ha Dong, Van Thanh and Thai Phien.
Ha Dong flower village was established in 1975 by 35 households who came from Hanoi. The venue has original architecture of a northern village with garden, pond, and cattle cages. Van Thanh village is known as a kingdom of roses while Thai Phien is home to flowers originated from foreign countries like sword lily, hydrangea, and dianthus among others.
If tourists visit these locations early in the morning they can learn some gardening tips from farmers. Those who come at night time will admire a fantastic view of flower-heating cages that look like thousands of fireflies sparkling in the dark.
Travelers who wish to capture the best pictures of cabbage and potatoes gardens should follow a path leading to the peak of Langbiang Mountain. On both sides of the road are a vast area of flowers, vegetables and fruits.
Located at an altitude of 750m, Ba Ra Mountain in Phuoc Long Town in the southern province of Binh Phuoc is one of the three highest mountains in southeastern Viet Nam. The locals, mainly the Stieng ethnic people, call the mountain BonomBrah or Yumbra, meaning the Genie Peak, because it is considered a sacred place.
In the early 20th century, Ba Ra Mountain was a remote place so the French colonialists built a prison to confine Vietnamese revolutionary fighters. It is the place which witnessed the success of the Phuoc Long people and army during the resistance wars against the French and the Americans.
Today, Ba Ra Mountain has become one of the “must-see” destinations for tourists to Binh Phuoc because of its wild and magnificent landscape. Tourists can reach the peak of the mountain two ways, by walking up 1,767 steps from Bang Lang Hill or riding a cable car.
From the peak, tourists have a panoramic view of the beautiful Thac Mo Town and Thac Mo Reservoir with 10 islands shaded by trees. During the rainy season, the reservoir’s water surface spreads to 12,000ha so it looks like an immense sea amidst the forest and mountains. At night, Thac Mo is sparkling and brilliant with lights from the hydro-electricity power plant.
Ba Ra is cool all year round, the same as Da Lat Plateau. Visiting the mountain, tourists will have a chance to enjoy the cool and fresh air, see clusters of clouds floating over the mountain in the early morning or a curtain of dew in the afternoon and discovering a lot of beautiful spots.
Near Ba Ra Mountain is Bu Gia Map National Park, covering 2,6000ha, which belongs to the Southeast Asian bio-geological area. It is the home of many rare animals and plants.
With a wild landscape endowed by nature, Ba Ra Mountain receives thousands of tourists each year.
The archipelago, however, has not been frequented by tourists despite its wild and natural beauties.
It is because Tho Chu is 220 kilometers from the mainland, a distance which is two to three times farther than other popular islands in the nation such as Co To, Bach Long Vi, Ly Son and Phu Quy.
To reach Tho Chu, visitors have to take a 16-hour boat trip which departs every five days. The boat stops over at Phu Quoc Island for one night.
Our first destination upon arrival at Tho Chu is the two milestones built to assert the nation’s sovereignty over the islands. One of the milestones was built in 1956 by the then South Viet Nam regime and the other was built in 1976 and recovered in 2003 by the Viet Nam Government.
Located nearby is Tho Chau temple which was opened in 2013 to commemorate 500 civilians who were abducted to Cambodia and then massacred by Khmer Rouge in May 1975, as well as the soldiers who died in that battlefield to protect the islands.
Aside from those historical places are stunning natural landscapes that make Tho Chu look like a giant painting.
It is hard to find anything which is more wonderful than riding a bicycle along the coastal road to watch the smaller islands around such as Xanh Island and Tu Island as well as flocks of terns flying over boats laden with fish, and then return to the Tho Chau Commune center through a path under the shades of trees, listen to birdsongs and enjoy the delicate scent of wild orchids in the air.
There are many beaches with white sand and blue sea around Tho Chu but the most beautiful and wildest one is the beach of Tu Island with its particular ecosystem that can hardly be found elsewhere.
The seashore with white sand is like a crescent moon, surrounded by coconut trees, heliotropium foertherianum, barringtonia asiatica, and the purely blue seawater, creating a small airtight gulf.
Another great scene is the stone layers that were created by water flows and winds for millions of years. Towards the forest are smooth stones in odd shapes, caves and semi-submersible rocks.
One activity on Tho Chu that left a deep impression is snorkeling to watch coral reefs and collect snails at Cao islet.
Reaching the depth of more than eight meters under the sea, we are attracted by seaweed, and schools of fish swimming among Montipora corals or gather around Acropora corals.
After snorkeling, we go fishing. The fishing activity at Tho Chu is different as we drop the line while the boat is sailing and do not use either fishhook or bait. To cat fish, we use nylon torn into small pieces and tie it to a 30-50-meter fishing line. While the boat is moving, the nylon bundle is used as prey to catch fish. As the fish bite the nylon and their teeth get stuck in the nylon bundle. That is how they are caught. What a new experience!
The legend among elderly people of the K’Ho ethnic community there says the name of the waterfall is derived from a folk story about a beautiful young woman with an excellent voice. She was the daughter of the headman of a tribe in Joi Bieng mountainous area who had promised to become wife of a brave and strong young man. But one day, the young man had to say good-bye to his lover to join the war and then died in the battlefield. With her deep sorrow, the girl returned to the mountain where she and her fiancée used to meet and sang sad and heart-breaking songs. She kept singing and singing until getting exhausted and falling down and could never get up. The flock of elephants that had lied prostrate to listen to her songs turned into stone. And all of a sudden, there was a big bang and an earthquake which broke the mountain, giving birth to a waterfall right after that. That waterfall then was named by local people “Lieng Rowoa Joi Bieng”, which means the waterfall of elephants that lied prostrate and turned into stone before the ardent and faithful love.
These days, around the foot of the waterfall stay many big stones which look like lying elephants. But before reaching the waterfall foot, you have to pass 145 staircase steps which are twisty and quite dangerous. The path leading to the waterfall foot is created by stone steps that are naturally attached to the craggy cliff. At some sections, we almost had to crawl on the stone steps to stay safe, not to mention the wooden planks of the bridge crossing an abyss, which requires us to be very careful.
But the reward after the thrilling journey made us all feel comfortable again. The flow of transparent water through the granite slopes before falling down from the height of 30 meters to create a waterfall of 15 meters wide looked so impressive, especially when the sun cast its rays through the water and created the seven-color rainbow. Watching the rainbow from the foot of a magnificent waterfall was such an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Behind the splendid waterfall streaming strongly and leaving thousands of white bubbles around are mysterious deep caves. They include a bat cave which goes 50 meters deep into the ground. Inside are cliffs in strange shapes and colors. The cave is full of roots and liana, and the deeper we went inside, the darker and colder the atmosphere became. The other cave is Wind Cave, which has a narrow entrance, but the further we went in, the wider the cave became and finally, we reached the waterfall at the exit and enjoyed the strong wind.
Becoming a tourist destination for just a few years, Voi Waterfall has recently been recognized as a cultural and historical relic.
Located in Cai Rang District, the 130ha island is surrounded by ban (Sonneratia pagatpat), a kind of tree that grows in wetlands.
Inside are orchards with various kinds of fruits and vegetable farms.
The islet's roads are cool under the fruit trees that line them.
Around 70 families, mostly farmers, live on the islet. Most locals begin their morning very early to harvest their vegetables and fruits before taking them to Can Tho Market to sell.
The islet is home to the 30ha Phu Sa eco-tourism area, an ideal place for weekend relaxation. Here, visitors can sit on small boats and course among ban trees, fish, and taste unique dishes made from ban fruits like ban sour and sweet soup.
Con Au is about 1km from Ninh Kieu Wharf in Can Tho, and it takes 10 minutes to get there by boat.
Australian designer Cynthia Mann walks along the beach in her bare feet with a large, brimmed bamboo hat. The hot sun doesn't seem to bother her, as she has lost herself searching for treasures along the shore. From time to time she kneels down, picks something up and smiles to herself. She finds broken pieces of ceramics or glass, revealed by their twinkling as they reflect the sun's rays between waves.
Most would ignore the small objects. But for Mann, they're inspiration for new jewellery designs.
During a holiday on the beach, she might collect dozens of pieces. She reshapes them and frames them with silver, turning them into ornamental wares for her brand Future Traditions.
Mann has designed ornamental wares this way for more than a year. Her jewellery is purchased by expats, tourists and some Vietnamese.
"One can only imagine the stories behind each piece of ocean-polished ceramics and sea glass found washed up along the coast of Viet Nam – are they fragments from the cargo of one of the shipwrecks which date as far back as the 13th century, intended for trade in Europe?" She wrote on her website. "Or broken and discarded crockery from which the sailors ate?...We may never know, but in using what others would, and have, thrown away, these recycled pieces can reclaim their part in Viet Nam's seafaring history, this time as unique pieces of jewellery."
Mann said she knew she wanted to live in Viet Nam the very first time she stepped into a taxi on her first visit six years ago. Now, some of her favourite things about Viet Nam are its coffee and delicacies offered during the Tet holiday.
"It's hard to figure out which features of the country lured me," she said. "Its vibrancy, people and atmosphere. I sense that anything can happen here while Viet Nam is changing very fast. I feel a strong and fascinating culture identity here, though the country has blended Chinese, French and American influences, especially in tribal minority groups in mountain areas."
An average day for Mann includes shopping at big markets in the city like Hom and Dong Xuan, where she can buy materials for designing clothes and accessories. Her weekends are often spent in remote mountain communities in Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces.
A love for fabrics hand-woven and hand-dyed by ethnic minorities is evident in Mann's designs. She said these fabrics had the highest quality and diversity. But the handicraft has been dying out as cheap Chinese goods flood the market. While lots of people work with ethnic minority textiles, there are few options for stable production of the handmade goods.
Mann has built relationships with locals, so she can order special textiles and use them in their designs. By blending traditional brocade with decorative patterns on small areas like hems, necks, buttons and borders decorations, she creates fashionable clothing at reasonable prices, while using special features of ethnic minority culture.
"I think her designs are special in the way she blends ethnic patterns," said Mai Thanh Nga, a fashion design student from Ha Noi Open University. "They bear both traditional and modern motifs, and I think they suit city life."
Mann said she designed items for all seasons and genders.
"I feel like I have a special connection to Viet Nam," she said, explaining why she has stayed in the country so long. "I don't know, Viet Nam may have put a spell on me."
The Can Cau market in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai is located some 80 kilometres from Lao Cai City, and is only a small bazaar, with the tents erected only on market day, which falls on every Saturday.
It has captivated numerous tourists because of the existing folklore in the area and the uniqueness of the local residents.
The market day starts from early morning, so when we arrived at 7am, it was already very crowded.
We could even see some beautiful scenery of green fields wet with early dew and a few rooftops hidden under the far away forest cover.
The market is divided into different sections that can be easily recognised. The nightingale market is located separately. This area is dedicated to bird enthusiasts, and although it is perched on a faraway hill, it is quite busy, with many buyers and sellers.
During the fair, hundreds of young men from the villages around the region carry their nightingale cages to the market for sale.
In the early morning mist of this borderland region, the bird market stands out on the hill next to the buffalo market.
The bird cages are covered with a colourful cloth hung on tree branches around the hill. Young men from different ethnic groups, including the Mong, Dao and Giay, as well as the Kinh majority from the low lands care passionately for their robins, talking about the experience of taking care of and training birds.
Giang Seo Van, who lives in Si Ma Cai District, had already bought a nightingale. He said he usually attended all market days.
"Even if I do not buy or sell birds, I come here to meet people who have the same hobby, go sightseeing, and hear the nightingales singing," he said.
He also revealed that the price of a nightingale depended on its singing voice and ranged from VND100,000 to more than VND1 million (US$40).
"While visiting Can Cau, travellers should not forget to visit the bird market," he said with a broad smile.
Many different birds are sold at the market, including nightingales and robins.
Each species has its own beauty; some are beloved because they have a nice appearance, such as a canary or a jenny wren. Others have been selected because of their good singing voice, such as odors and robins.
The market sells different items, from vegetables, herbs, and spices, to household appliances, but another interesting section is the nook where cattle, mainly buffalo, are sold. This is a bustling spot as the buffalos are brought by people from all over to be sold to numerous traders from other provinces. The local residents often use cattle for farming, so the animals for sale must be the strongest ones.
After trading, both the seller and the buyer invite each other to share some food.
Another busy and interesting section of the market, which also attracts many people, is the cuisine area. This is where the people from remote villages meet and enjoy thang co together. This is a special dish cooked by the Mong people from horse meat and the animal's insides.
Many visitors stop by to try a bowl of hot horse meat, fragrant with lemon leaves, and horse bone broth, or sip a cup of maize wine and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the market.
The fair is also used for selling agricultural products, such as cucumbers, peppers and onions, as well as farming tools, such as knives and hoes – products that are simple, but have immense practical use in the local residents' lives.
Tired after exploring the market, my friends and I headed to the dining area to enjoy sour noodle soup and some cups of home-brew wine.
"Given its unique culture, the Can Cau market is not only a major attraction for the locals, but also visitors from other parts of the country, who are lured by the vibrant colours of the traditional costumes of the Mong women, the brocade stalls, and especially the delicious aroma of the local cuisine," said Nguyen Tuyet Nhung, a tourist from Ha Noi.
The palms along the banks of the Thu Bon River are used for producing medicine, hats, alcohol, sugar, vinegar and even fuel.
The nipa forests and Cham Island have been recognised as world bio-reserves, and the forests protect the 2,000 Cam Thanh villagers from storms.
On a 10,000sq.m aquaculture farm in Cam Thanh Village at the mouth of Thu Bon River, Nguyen Tuan Lien has opened an eco-tour for weekend retreats and fishing.
Lien, 35, was born in Cam Thanh, but his family's traditional trades such as fishing and handicrafts have made way for tourism services as they are more lucrative with less risks. Lien started the Hoi An Eco Discovery Tour to offer short-stay tourists the chance to explore Hoi An and Cam Thanh in a day.
"It's a community service," Lien said.
40 villagers are employed to cycle guests around Hoi An, paddle coracle boats through the nipa forests, fish with them on Thu Bon River and cook for them on their farms.
"Villagers provide a history of the forest and explain local customs while they paddle through the nipa forests. Each of our 45 boats carries two tourists and a guide," Lien said.
Tours usually start with a cycling trip around Hoi An early in the morning. Le Duc Long, the tour manager, said tourists could enjoy a peaceful time at the UNESCO-recognised world heritage site.
The city promotes the use of bicycles in the city by banning motor vehicles from the Old Quarter for most of the day," Long said.
Long said Cam Thanh Village also offered visitors a chance to learn some farming and cooking skills.
"After visiting the old town, visitors take a 3km ride to Cam Thanh Village to change from road to river. Coracles docked at the village wharf are ready to explore the nipa forest," he said.
Village guides show visitors around the nipa forests and make hats from leaves for them.
"Tourists can also harvest snails, oysters and shrimp while walking along river banks when the tide is low," said tour guide Nguyen Cong Tai.
Tai, 30, who started fishing as a teenager, said he also taught visitors how to paddle the coracle boats.
He also demonstrated a wild dance using his feet to rotate the little vessel in tango, rock and ‘Gangnam' styles.
"It's hard because you get dizzy after a few minutes. I perform for four minutes, but tourists like to play games and test their skills by dancing in a coracle," he said.
Tourists are also taught how to manouevre the coracles without a paddle, using their hands to rock the little craft.
Nguyen Thi Phuc joined a 20-member team to explore Hoi An and Cam Thanh Village. She was happy with the fishing lessons and games at the farm.
The lunch menu offered grilled chicken, fish, shrimp and clams. Farm "waiters" used the coracles to carry food across the water to huts scatted around the farm.
Lien said the dining huts were built around the farm and connected by bamboo bridges.
"It's a bit of a challenge for visitors to walk on a single bamboo pole and handrail. They have lunch in the huts they have helped to cook with the villagers," Lien said.
"Local food, including pan cakes, spring rolls, my quang (local noodles), maize soup and bean curd are always on the menu.
Sometimes, visitors order food among the trees in the nipa forest so that they can have a relaxing and quiet time," he said.
Nguyen Van Dai, 56, head cook on the farm, said grilled oysters and chicken were the most popular dishes with visitors.
"Visitors love cooking crabs, clams and fish caught on the farm or in the nipa forest," Dai said.
A one-day tours costs about VND750,000 (US$35) per person.
Basically, you can cruise up the beautiful river out here, streaming past shimmering temples on the banks. Furthermore, bounce on a traditional junk ship and tour around the adorable evergreen islands or visit its floating markets, where different products fills the wooden boats and locals barter as they flow past. And, if you are interested in further understanding the Vietnamese culture then explore the traditional tribal villages – a Vietnam tour will ensure an unforgettable trip.
Take some time to explore Sapa, cruise through the colorful Bac Ha market, passing inhabitants wearing bright colors. Get an opportunity to see them in fluorescent pink head scarves blend with brightly-striped dresses.
If you are heading towards the famed Halong Bay, then jump on a replica paddle steamer or an ancient junk ship, observing the boat’s grand shadow on the ripples of the tranquil water. While you’re there, navigate through Halong Bay past limestone karsts rising from the mist in the early morning sunlight. And if you love fishing, drift to this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site and explore the beautiful fishing villages gracing Halong Bay’s outline. Over and above, spend a night on a ship, casting your line out during a spot of night fishing.
Of course, make sure you take the time to relax. So, wake up in the morning and take part in a Tai Chi class on deck in the sunshine, and later tuck into tasty Vietnamese cuisines or simply sit with a glass of wine looking up at the stars glittering in the sky.
But while on vacation, sail down the Mekong Delta among the slender boats trading their goods in the water, and pass rice paddies and fruit orchards on the banks. Take a boat trip to discover the real Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh.
Don’t rush your vacation. In fact, take a day out to get to know the natives who might invite you in for a short meeting. As well as, discover some gems like delicious and luxurious restaurant surrounded by tropical gardens. Even, you can work off the food by climbing mountains, passing shrines and temples perfect for exploring.
Undoubtedly, it’s an enthralling country and also it cannot be denied that when you plan your vacation get yourself ready for a life-changing experience.
On a spring afternoon, fisherman Nam Sach at Tra On ferry terminal on the north bank of the Hau River is seen preparing his boat and net to catch bong lau fish when night falls.
Nam Sach says most of bong lau fish are born in the upper reaches of the Mekong River in Cambodia in August and September, and then they migrate down the river to Vietnam. When reaching Tien and Hau rivers, they grow mature and mostly weigh four to five kilograms each, or even eight to nine kilograms.
These bong lau fish are a source of revenue for local fishermen as at this time the southern part of Vietnam begins entering the dry season and lacks natural aquatic products. “The fish is a gift that nature gives fishermen in the downstream,” he said.
With many years’ experience in fishing, Nam Sach said fishermen can only catch bong lau fish at night as they often hide deep in the water in the daytime.
In the past, thanks to the great volume of bong lau fish, one fisherman can catch dozens of fish per night but now, they can only go home with three to four fish at most. However, as bong lau is expensive, a group of fishermen can earn several million dong a night.
According to local fishermen, bong lau fish normally gather around dunes and islets from Can Tho City to Soc Trang Province.
Bien, a fish dealer in Can Tho City, said the price of wild bong lau fish is two times higher than that of the farmed type as they are more delicious. Normally, he buys 120-150 fish a day and distributes most of them in HCMC where the fish is a specialty.
Local drivers, guides and mechanics are part of the crew leading the tour
Like locals, they're part of the flow, part of the (exhaust-choked) stream of traffic.
The other is to stand anxiously on the edge of the curb, toes curled like a diver's, waiting for a non-existent stoplight, then plunge into the melee while letting out a small yelp before slaloming across the street like a demented Frogger.
Some, like Steve Mueller, would question why cross the road at all.
If you can't beat them, join them.
Which is what the South Carolinian did -- he now runs the city's Vietnam Vespa Adventures.
It's a tour company that provides two-wheel thrills on the Italian vintage scooters, Vespa, around Ho Chi Minh City, out into the Mekong Delta and beyond.
Best road tour in Ho Chi Minh City
Being on a scooter in Ho Chi Minh is the best way to feel a part of the city, says Mueller.
"It's really an authentic experience," he says. "Being side by side with the locals."
Day tours take in popular sights like the Opera House and central post office designed by Gustav Eiffel, but also stop at local eateries and offbeat locations.
One popular early morning pit stop is Tao Dan park where Ho Chi Minh City's bird fanciers puff themselves up like their caged pets in a display of tweeting one-upmanship.
Local drivers and guides
Unfortunately/thankfully, you're not the one driving.
All the mopeds are driven by local, experienced drivers who have no problem with the swarm of vehicles on the roads.
A local tour guide rides along, too, to add context to the sights, smells and sounds experienced from the back of a two-stroke motor.
Mueller took a circuitous route to setting up the company.
After traveling around Southeast Asia in 1997 he settled in Vietnam the following year and discovered a glut of classic Italian scooters that needed a bit of TLC.
He bought his first one after just three days in the country and spying an opportunity to tap into international Vespa enthusiasts' desire for authentic rides, set up a restoration and export business.
It became so successful he was in danger of putting himself out of a job, so in 2006 he decided to start a tour company offering multi-day tours outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
Longer trips possible, but expect hiccups
According to Mueller, his business was kick-started by Vietnam's appearance on the TV program "Top Gear," which showed the country's beautiful countryside and underused roads.
Longer trips are still offered by Vespa Tours, taking willing riders as far as the Vietnam Highlands and the coastal city of Nha Trang over seven days.
Most of the scooters in Mueller's garage hark back to the golden age of Vespas, the late '60s and 1970s, refurbished with replacement parts from Piaggio-licensed machinists in India.
True to their reputation, the 100 or so classic scooters owned by Vespa Adventures break down frequently -- mechanics are on hand for running repairs -- but Mueller believes its all part of the charm in a city where two wheels beats two legs.
It conjures the romance of a bygone colonial era, and the hope of a resilient people who look to a modern future, even as they retain the exotic culture and deep traditions of their ancient past.
As long as I can remember I've had a fascination and an affinity for Vietnam. Growing up, I read everything I could on the country, watched every movie. I took a course in college on the French and American Indochina wars. So when President Clinton lifted America's trade embargo in February of 1994, just as I was planning my graduation adventure, I didn't think twice. In July, 1994, I was among the first Americans to visit Vietnam after the war. Over the past two decades I've watched the country embrace rapid change while still retaining its distinct character, deep-rooted traditions, and the warmth and openness of its people.
I vividly remember the day I arrived in Saigon, the overwhelming wave of excitement. The city looked exactly as I'd pictured it, like it hadn't changed at all since America's departure in 1975. The Vietnamese (particularly the Southerners) are very outgoing, and my red hair was pretty eye-catching, so people immediately approached me on the street. Most people assumed I was French, but when a man asked me in English where I was from I was startled and mumbled "...merica", a bit nervous about his reaction. Unbelievably, I got a big, broad smile, a response which was to be repeated for the rest of my time in Vietnam. Often people would say something like "I fought with Captain Dan from San Diego. You know Captain Dan?" Or, "Bill Clinton, very good." I can't profess to understand how or why the Vietnamese people were able to move on, despite having lost between one and three million people in the war, but in all my time in Vietnam, I have never, not once after that first day, been uncomfortable about being an American. I have always been treated graciously, kindly, and warmly. I was scheduled to stay for two weeks, but the following day I extended my stay to a month. It was not always an easy trip, but it was incredible, and life-changing in so many ways. I was about to start my first job in the travel industry, and I vowed I would one day come back to Vietnam to work.
Fast forward twenty years and now I run Access Trips, a boutique adventure travel company which has just launched a culinary tour in Vietnam. We go deep into the culture as we cook (and eat) our way from Saigon to Hanoi, stopping en route to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An and the former imperial capital of Hue. Our guests connect with villagers, urban hipsters, street food and market vendors, traditional and modern chefs, artists, and descendants of the royal family, allowing them to experience the evolution of the complex and rich Vietnamese culture.
The first time I was there, Vietnam was very much a communist country in name and in practice, and the service levels, or lack thereof, reflected it. I clearly remember thinking that this country had so much to offer visitors, but they needed to get their act together and understand what Westerners expected service-wise, or people would not come. Well, they did just that. Tourism to Vietnam has grown almost six-fold over the past twenty years, and the service we experience now in hotels, in restaurants, and in stores, is excellent. Unlike other developing countries, you are not bombarded by hawkers on the street -- approached, yes, but respectfully. In taxis, if you tell them you want to use the meter, they turn on the meter, no hassle. I'm so inspired by both the individuals I've met in Vietnam, and by the resilience and spirit of the society as a whole. The country is moving forward, but the charm remains: in the beautiful old buildings; the hanging silk lanterns; the women who still wear traditional cone hats, not because they're iconic, but because they're functional; and in the kindness and warmth of the locals. It is truly amazing how Vietnam's tourism has evolved in the last twenty years, without losing its soul or its character.
Their joyful laughter broke the calm surrounding the site.
The 200-year-old citadel is located in downtown Son Tay town, 40km from the centre of Ha Noi. When tourists visit the citadel, they can see the remains of the once famous, very important military rampart.
The citadel seems to be forgotten among other more touristy sites in the centre of Ha Noi, but I strongly encourage a visit there if one wants to explore its unique architecture, find calm after a busy work week in the noisy city or just discover traces of the past.
Built in the third year of King Minh Mang (1822), this 16ha site is home to the only Vietnamese citadel built with da ong (laterite) bricks. From its walls to stairs in different buildings and wells, all are built with the typical building material of Son Tay. The four gates – West, East, South and North – are made of the same material.
The ancient compound has been rated one of the most famous and beautiful citadels in northern Viet Nam. Not many built under the reign of King Minh Mang still exist today.
According to its historical bibliography, the citadel was built to be very sturdy, to protect the northwestern area of Thang Long (now Ha Noi).
From 1870 to 1880, the Nguyen dynasty used the citadel to resist French invaders, but it fell into their hands in 1883.
After the French army occupied the citadel, in 1924, Martial Henri Merlin, governor-general of French Indochina, issued a decree making the ancient citadel a relic.
Because of its cultural and historical value, in 1994 the Ministry of Culture and Information (now the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) recognised the Son Tay Ancient Citadel as a National Architectural Historical Relic.
In 2009, some relics in the ancient citadel were upgraded and restored to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Ha Noi.
The citadel is located in two of the town's ancient villages: Thuan Nghe and Mai Trai.
Built in the style of France's Vauban architecture, the square citadel is 400m in length and 5m in height. Its wall was 4m wide, with holes at the top for soldiers to hide inside and attack their enemies using spears or broadswords.
The citadel had four gates facing east, west, south and north, called the Front (Tien), the Back (Hau), the Right (Huu) and the Left (Ta). Each entrance has a guard tower.
In his memoirs written in April 1884, Charles Edouard Hocquard, a French military doctor, described the Son Tay Citadel's architecture in detail: "…In the middle of the citadel was an 18m high flagpole. The remaining part was the royal corridors, residential buildings of the provinces' mandarins and a food store. In front of the flagpole were two large square cisterns with their surroundings built with bricks with handrails. Many people said that one of the cisterns had been used to contain water for soldiers and the other for raising fish to serve as a food."
Some other important structures inside the citadel include Vong Cung Nu, where the kings could rest and mandarins in the area annually organised offering rites or bowed from a distance when they received royal decrees.
To the west of the citadel is Vo Mieu, which was built to worship those who laid down their lives to protect the fort. Four square wells, each 6m in depth, were built at the four corners of the citadel. Steps lead down to the bottom of the wells.
After nearly 200 years, most of the Son Tay Citadel has been destroyed by wars and time. Only a few relics are left, including the flagpole, some stretches of the citadel walls, the citadel gates, guard towers, Kinh Thien's Palace platform, wells and two cannons.
The ancient citadel would impress anyone visiting it today, with its serenity and calm.
Ancient trees give it shade all year round. Orchids, lotus ponds, and green grass have created a picturesque site.
The peaceful scenery of the citadel has made it an ideal location for wedding photos.
"I had visited this site several times and was impressed by its beauty," said groom-to-be Tran Thanh Nam, from Bac Ninh province.
"I decided to preserve these precious moments of our life today with the beautiful and serene landscapes of this site as the backdrop."
As for me, I will surely never forget the image of hundred-year-old trees stretching their roots to cover the mossy citadel walls and gates.
The rough roots stretch out, embracing the moss walls and the ruined gates. It creates an ancient beauty. It felt like time stopped during the few moments I stood there, watching.
The river runs through Ngu Hanh Son District, Da Nang City. It is around 13 kilometers long, 200 meters wide and around three meters deep.
Along the river banks are paddy fields and far away is Ngu Hanh Son Mountains, standing out against a blue-sky background, reflecting its beauty on the peaceful river and creating a breathtaking scene.
The view around the Co Co River turns most stunning in the spring-summer rice crop as it is the time when lotus and water-lily blossom nearby the green paddy fields.
Pointing at those fields, Hiep said when the paddies are still young and green, local people would gather to catch fish early in the morning. “The images of rustic farmers catching fish are deep in the memories of the people here,” he said.
After mooring the boat, Hiep took me to Khue Bac Communal House, which was built during the reign of King Thieu Tri (1841-1847), and Huong Son Pagoda.
When it comes to the Quan The Am (the Goddess of Mercy) Festival, which falls on the 19th of the second lunar month, people would gather at Ngu Hanh Son to watch flower garlands and colored lanterns in the Co Co River, along with the traditional boat race, as well as dragon and kylin dances.
To enjoy the romantic and stunning view along the river, you should ask local people for a ride or hire a boat to move along the river to indulge in the stunning natural landscapes and let yourselves be free in nature, impressive mountains, cool water and breezes.
International media, including the famous travel blog in Southeast Asia, Buffalotours, travel bloggers Mei and Kerstin as well as others recently has honored some dishes, typically featuring the unique of Vietnamese cuisine.
1. Grilled Pork Balls with Vermicelli (Bun Cha)
Bun cha features all of the signature lightness and sweetness of classic Vietnamese fare. Equal parts barbeque pork and tasty bun-noodles in a light and slightly peppery soup, bun cha is a popular choice of local lunchers and a particular icon in the country’s capital city of Hanoi.
Tourists could find great spots to sit down for enjoying the dish in a quick bowl along a stroll through city centre, perch on the country’s iconic plastic stools and drink an icy glass of tra da, or iced tea.
2. Vietnamese rolling pho (Pho Cuon)
Pho Cuon is an interpretation of the fresh spring roll, using sheets of uncut pho noodles to encase grilled beef, herbs and lettuce or cucumber, which was dipped in fish sauce with green papaya slices.
Pho Cuon packages the flavors of pho and spring roll in one neat little parcel. Flavor of the dish is best delicious when served warm. Pho cuon is great as both a quick snack or as a full meal.
Clearly that the most iconic Vietnamese dish outside of Vietnam is Pho. Being the most traditional dish of Vietnamese cuisine, the dish is everywhere with simple ingredients, including salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and meats.
The recipe for a delicious bowl of Pho is taste of salty broth, which is simmered carefully. However, cooking a really great bowl of pho bo takes a lot of skills and experiences, which have been handed down for generations and created famous brands of pho.
4. Vietnamese bread (Banh mi)
Honored as one of the “best sandwiches in the world” by BBC Travel, Vietnamese bread is a perfect blend of fresh vegetables, light sauces or pate, and meat or egg on a French-style bread baguette.
Hence, there are plenty of different kinds of bread to enjoy all over the nation of Vietnam. Regional variations in Vietnam involve adding headcheese, pork sausage and various other vegetables. Those who have taken a bite of Banh mi will never forget the crunchiness of the crust since it is very light, airy and crispy.
5. Vietnamese sweet dessert soup (che)
Vietnam, one of surprising country knows how to make beans and rice as staples of dessert. Surprisingly sweet and a staple of summertime street fare, che (or sweet soup) is a tasty blend of glutinous rice, beans, fruit, jellies, coconut cream and ice.
Though, what really makes che, a treat worth travelling for is where you enjoy it, on the frenetic streets of Vietnam’s cities.
Food tours are expanding in the capital city. Most tourism companies offer them to travellers, and many are highly recommended on sites like TripAdvisor.com and Travelfish.org.
Instead of jetting out of Ha Noi as soon as possible to get to destinations like Ha Long Bay or Sa Pa, more tourists are now spending quality time in the capital wandering the streets of the Old Quarter and enjoying its various signature dishes, including pho and bun cha (fresh noodle with charcoal grilled pork).
Food tours stemmed from walking tours in which tourists enjoy the city on foot, learning about its history and culture. Firms now offer a wide range of tours that allow visitors to see the streets on bicycles and motorbikes. Besides, tourists can also buy ingredients at markets and cook at a Vietnamese home, or visit villages in the suburbs for lunch.
Out of all these options, street food tours are most popular. Food tours help visitors understand more about the city and its food, and bring them an unforgettable experience.
Like many other visitors to Viet Nam, Carneiro knows little about Vietnamese cuisine, and had never been to any Vietnamese restaurants in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro.
"I booked the tour because it is interesting to try the food here," Carneiro says. "My favourite dish is banh cuon (rolled pan cake) because I think it is different from others in the way they cook it."
Anneliene Magen of the Netherlands, also quite new to Viet Nam, says she's had some experience with food in the south and centre of the country. She says she went on a food tour to try places she wouldn't be able to find on her own.
"I heard that food is really great in Ha Noi," she says. "I think joining a tour is a good way to find the best places. That way I don't need to try a bunch to find a good one," she said.
Magen says all she knew about the cuisine before arriving was that there's a lot of rice and nem (spring rolls).
"I think Ha Noi and Hoi An are the best places to taste Vietnamese food," she says. "I prefer pho bo (beef noodle soup), banh goi (pillow-shaped cake) and bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup). I want to eat as much local food as possible."
Nguyen Ngoc Ha was one of the first tour guides to set up a food tour in Ha Noi. His company, Hanoi Food Tasting Tours, has drawn in an average of 180 guests per month, while he alone has given tours to more than 3,000 tourists since April 2012.
Ha focuses on introducing visitors to Vietnamese culture through tasting its food. He chooses food stores and restaurants on old streets of Ha Noi, showing architectural characteristics of old houses and telling stories about the forming of small alleys.
He says that most food tours showcase only street food, but that's not the only way meals are served in Viet Nam.
"Eating in street stalls is cheap and convenient for people," Ha says. "However, they also go to restaurants where some owners offer secret family recipes. I want tourists to understand how Vietnamese people eat."
The tour guide often brings visitors to some fixed locations such as Giang Cafe on Nguyen Huu Huan Street, where the first ca phe trung (egg coffee) was made. Other dishes always on the list include pho, bun cha, nem and cha ca (grilled fish). He also takes tourists to try new dishes like PappaRoti (Mexico buns) to let them know that Viet Nam welcomes delicious food from abroad while keeping its traditions intact.
In their first visit to Viet Nam, couple Debrah and Robert Braunschweig from Switzerland joined a food tour recommended by their daughter.
"We used to visit Vietnamese restaurants in Zurich, but it is difficult to differentiate Asian foods because they mix them," Debrah says. "The food tastes different here. Vietnamese food is very fresh while in Zurich, people often buy packaged foods at supermarkets. I will try to cook Vietnamese food when I go back home."
A bun cha stall in Hang Chi Alley in Hoan Kiem District is a popular stop for the tours. Seller Nguyen Kim Chi says that individual foreigners also come there to enjoy the food.
"Pho and bun cha are foreigners' favourite dishes," she says. "Tourists often take photos of how we cook it while tour guides explain the method of cooking. Some of them go back in the following days with their friends."
Ancient Cham people had the custom of keeping girls of 10-12 years old at home to learn weaving. Cham girls were very skillful in weaving brocade. Today, this practice is no longer maintained, but Cham women in Chau Phong still preserve traditional crafts.
The main materials for weaving brocade are cotton yarns dyed with indigo and silk dyed with natural colors, extracted from latex, bark and fruit. The colors are only blue, white, yellow, and black, but they are always bright and impressive.
To save time, industrial silk is used more today. To deal with the weakness of industrial silk as thin and its tendency to lose color, the Cham create beautiful embroidery patterns so each product is unique.
Brocade is used to make bathing suits, floral sarongs, dresses, jewelry boxes, bags, and especially beautiful and interesting hair ties. Also, the Cham girls weave icat - a kind of towel as a dowry – before they get married.
With its rustic but exquisite and luxurious beauty, Chau Phong brocade has become more and more popular.
When it comes to floating markets, people will immediately think of the peaceful Mekong Delta where southerners attach their rustic lives to boats and waterways.
But in a noisy and dynamic Saigon, there are still some floating markets existing along Binh Dong Wharf and Tran Van Kieu Wharf in District 8, and Lo Gom Wharf in District 6.
Similar to the Mekong Delta region, the products for sale at these markets are not delicacies and luxury items but everyday products. However, the boats at the city’s floating markets do not move around to find customers as at Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho City or Cai Be floating market in Tien Giang Province. They stay put to sell products transported from Mekong Delta provinces to city dealers and customers.
Among the city’s floating markets, the most bustling one is the fruit market at Tran Van Kieu Wharf. Dozens of boats gather at the wharf selling typical fruits of the delta such as banana, coconut, orange and pomelo.
Ba Le, a 56-year-old trader from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, says she has attached her life to the boat, which is also her home, for more than 10 years, and most traders at this floating market have done the job for almost half of their lives.
“This boat belongs to Tai and his wife. Coming from Vinh Long Province, the couple has spent almost 20 years at the fl oating market,” Le says, pointing at a boat full of coconuts sailing next to her boat.
Fruits sold at Tran Van Kieu floating market mostly come from farming households in the delta. Chien, another trader from Ben Tre Province, says he and his wife have been selling dried coconuts and bananas from Ben Tre for 17 years and mostly spending their time on board the boat.
Like many other floating market vendors, Chien equips his boat with a cassette/radio player, and a television set. Some even have motorbikes on board their boats so that they can use them to move around, he says.
Traders at Tran Van Kieu Wharf are mostly from Vinh Long, An Giang and Tien Giang, which have the largest fruit farms in the southern region.
They mostly supply their products for dealers at An Dong and Cho Lon markets, and small retailers. If buyers look for high-quality fruits at reasonable prices, this market can be a reliable source.
No one can tell how long these floating markets can last but at the moment, they still do good business and give a peaceful and rustic touch to the modern city.
Over 15,000 holiday-makers visited the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh during the first five days of the Year of the Goat (February 19-23), up over 10 percent against the same period last year.
Phong Nha and Tien Son caves were the most attractive destinations in the park, drawing nearly 8,900 visitors.
Le Thanh Loi, Director of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang Tourism Centre, said his agency offered a 10 percent discount on food and services at the centre’s restaurants, while adding traditional dishes to restaurant’s menu during the holiday.
During the occasion, historical and spiritual tourist sites in the province such as Than Dinh Mountain, Tam Co cave, Lieu Hanh princess temple also attracted a large number of tourists.
Established in 2001, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is among the 238 most important ecological zones in the world. It was recognised by the UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site on geological and geomorphologic criteria in 2003.
Recently, the Vietnam Records Organisation listed four tourism sites in Quang Binh amongst the top 50 must-see travel destinations in Vietnam, including Phong Nha Cave, Ngang Pass, Nhat Le Beach and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
With the opening of Son Doong Cave in 2013, Quang Binh was instantly catapulted onto the bucket lists of travellers all over the world.
The New York Times named Quang Binh as one of the most attractive destinations in Asia and ranked it eighth out of the world’s 52 must-see sites for 2014, while US magazine Business Insider included Son Doong Cave in its list of the 12 most impressive caves.
Ordinance On Entry, Exit And Residence Of Foreigners In Vietnam
( No. 24/2000/PL- UBTVQH 10 of April 28,2000)
In order to contribute to implementing the State's policy on development of friendly and cooperative relations with foreign countries and protect national interests and sovereignty;
Pursuant to the 1992 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam:
Pursuant to the Resolution of the 6 session of the X11 National Assembly on its 2000 program for law and ordinance making;
This Ordinance prescribes the entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam.
Chapter I : GENERAL PROVISIONS
Chapter II : ENTRY, EXIT, TRANSIT
Chapter III : RESIDENCE
Chapter IV : EXPULSION
Chapter V : STATE MANAGEMENT OVER ENTRY, EXIT AND RESIDENCE OF FOREIGNERS IN VIETNAM
Chapter VI : HANDLING OF VIOLATIONS
Chapter VII : IMPLEMENTATION PROVISIONS
Chapter I : GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam State facilitates the entry, exit and transit of foreigners; protects the lives, properties and other legitimate rights and interests of foreigners residing in Vietnam on the basis of Vietnamese laws and the international treaties which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has signed or acceded to.
2. The foreigners who enter, exit, transit and/or reside in Vietnam must abide by Vietnamese laws and respect the traditions, customs, and practices of the Vietnamese people. It's strictly forbidden to abuse the entry into, exit from, transit and/or residence in Vietnam to break laws.
3. Where an international treaty which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has signed or acceded to contains provisions on entry, exit, transit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam, which are contrary to the provisions of this Ordinance, the provisions of such international treaty shall apply.
1. Vietnamese agencies and organizations, Vietnam-based foreign agencies and organizations as well as international organizations, Vietnamese citizens and foreigners lawfully residing in Vietnam may invite foreigners into Vietnam.
2. Agencies, organizations and individuals that invite foreigners into Vietnam shall have to ensure the compliance with foreigners' entry purposes, ensure financial matters and their cooperation with the State bodies to settle arising problems for foreigners.
In this Ordinance, the following terms shall be construed as follow:
1. " Foreigners" are persons who do not bear the Vietnamese nationality;
2. "Permanently residing foreigners" are the foreigners who reside, work and earn their living permanently in Vietnam;
3. "Temporarily residing foreigners" are the foreigners who reside for a definite period of time in Vietnam :
4. "Entry" means to enter the Vietnamese territory through Vietnam's international border gates ;
5. "Exit" means to move out of the Vietnamese territory through Vietnam's international border gates ;
6. "Transit" means to go through the transit areas at Vietnam's international border gates.
1. Foreigners on entry or exit must have passports or passport substitute papers (hereinafter referred collectively to as passports) and have visas granted by competent Vietnamese agencies, except for case of visa exemption.
2. Foreigners shall carry out procedure to apply for Vietnamese visas at the exit and entry management agency of the Ministry of Public Security, the Consular Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consulates in foreign countries.
The visa application shall be replied within no more than 5 working days after the receipt of valid dossiers.
3. Persons aged under 14 who have been declared in the visa application of their escorts shall not have to fill in separate procedure for visa application.
1. Agencies, organizations and individuals that invite foreigners into Vietnam shall send their written requests to the entry and exit management agency of the Ministry of Public Security or the Consular Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2. A written request shall be replied within no more than 5 working days after the receipt of the request.
1. Foreigners applying for entry shall be granted visas at Vietnam's international border gates in the following cases:
a) They enter for funerals of their relatives, for visits to their seriously ill relatives;
b) They depart from countries where Vietnamese diplomatic missions and/or Consulates are not available.
c) They enter for visit under programs organized by international tour enterprises of Vietnam;
d) They enter to provide urgent technical support for programs, projects, to give first- aid to seriously ill person, accident victims, to provide rescue for victims of natural disasters and epidemics in Vietnam.
e) For other urgent reasons.
2. The exit and entry management agency of the Ministry of Public Security shall issue visas as prescribed in Clause 1 of this Article.
1. Vietnamese visas (hereinafter referred to as visas) are valid for entry, exit through Vietnam's international border gates.
2. The visas include the following types:
a) The single visa which is valid for use only once during the period of not more than 12 months;
b) Multiple visa which is valid for use more than once during the period of not more than 12 months
c) Not- extendable visa.
Visas already granted to foreigners may be cancelled in one of the circumstances prescribed in Articles 8 and 9 of this Ordinance.
1. The competent State bodies of Vietnam shall not let foreigners to enter the country if they fall under one of the following circumstances:
a) Failing to satisfy all conditions prescribed in Clause 1, Article 4 of this Ordinance;
b) Forging papers, deliberately making false declarations when carrying out procedures for entry application;
c) For reasons of preventing and/or combating epidemics;
d) Having seriously breached Vietnamese laws during their previous entries;
e) For reasons of protecting national security or other special reasons as decided by the Minister of Public Security.
2. The Minister of Public Security shall consider and decide to permit the foreigners falling in cases prescribed in Clause 1 of this Article to enter the country.
1. Foreigners may be suspended from exit in one of the following cases:
a) They are being examined for penal liability or being the defendants in civil, economic or labor cases;
b) They are being obliged to serve penal sentences;
c) They are being obliged to serve civil, economic or labor judgements;
d) They are being obliged to execute decisions on sanctioning administrative violations, to fulfill their tax obligations and other financial obligations.
2. Persons falling in cases prescribed in Points c and d of Clause 1, this Article, if being guaranteed with money, properties or other measures to ensure the performance of such obligations according to Vietnamese laws, may exit.
3. The investigation bodies, procuracies, courts and judgement- enforcing agencies of the provincial / municipal or higher level are competent to decide the temporary suspension of exit in cases prescribed at points a, b and c, Clause 1 of this Article.
The agencies competent to suspend exits shall have to issue decisions to unfreeze the exit suspension when the demand therefor no longer exits.
Decisions on exit suspension and decisions to unfreeze the exit suspension must be notified in writing to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security for implementation.
4. The Minister of Public Security shall decide the exit suspension applicable to foreigners falling in cases prescribed at point d, Clause 1 of this Article, at the requests of ministers, heads of ministerial - level agencies, heads of agencies attached to the Government or presidents of the People's Committees of provinces or centrally- run cities.
5. Persons who issue decisions on exit suspension propose the exit suspension contrary to the provisions of this Ordinance, if causing material losses to people being suspended from exit, shall have to make compensations therefor according to the provisions of law.
Persons who are on transit shall be exempt from visas; if they wish to enter Vietnam for visits, tourism on this occasion, their wish shall be deal with by the exit and entry management agency of the Ministry of Public Security in accordance with the Regulation issued by the Ministry of Public Security.
1. Foreigners on entry must register their residence purposes, duration and addresses in Vietnam and operate in strict accordance with the registered purposes.
2. Foreigners must not reside in areas banned from residence by foreigners.
Foreigners may travel freely on the Vietnamese territory in accordance with the registered purposes of entry, except for areas banned from travel by foreigners if wishing to enter prohibited areas, they must get permission of the competent State bodies of Vietnam managing such prohibited areas.
1. Foreigners temporarily residing in Vietnam under one of the following circumstances shall be considered for permanent residence:
a) They are people who have struggled for freedom and national independence, for socialism, for democracy and peace or for the cause of science, but have been subject to suppression.
b) They have meritorious contribution to the cause of building and defending the Vietnamese Fatherland.
c) They are spouses, offspring, parents of Vietnamese citizens residing in Vietnam.
2. Foreigners applying for permanent residence shall carry out the procedures there for at the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security.
1. The permanently residing foreigners are granted the permanent residence cards by the competent immigration agencies of the Ministry of Public Security.
The permanent resident card bearers shall be exempt from visas upon their entry and exit.
2. The permanently residing foreigners shall have to report themselves and produce their permanent residence cards to the competent immigration agencies of the Ministry of Public Security once every three years ; if there is any change in their permanent residence addresses or other registered contents, they shall have to carry out the procedure there for at the card granting agencies.
3. The permanently residing foreigners shall have to declare and report their temporary residence to the competent immigration agencies of the Ministry of Public Security if they stay overnight outside their registered permanent residence addresses.
4. The permanent residence card- issuing agencies shall withdraw or cancel the cards when the card bearers leave for permanent residence in other countries or are expelled.
1. Foreigners may temporarily reside in Vietnam in accordance with the registered purposes, duration and addresses.
2. The temporary residence certificates shall be granted by the competent exit and entry management agencies of the Ministry of Public Security to foreigners at Vietnam's international border gates. The permitted temporary residence duration is compatible to the valid duration of visa.
The already granted temporary residence certificates may be cancelled or cut short in terms of their valid duration in cases where the certificate grantees breach Vietnamese laws or have their temporary residence contrary to the registered purposes.
Foreigners residing temporarily shall have to declare and report their temporary residence to the competent immigration agencies of the Ministry of Public Security, if requesting the granting, supplement or amendment of visas, extension of temporary residence or changes in the registered purposes of their temporary residence, they shall have to complete the procedure there for at the immigration agencies of the Ministry of Public Security.
3. Foreigners who temporarily reside for one year or more shall be granted the temporary residence cards by the competent immigration agencies of the Ministry of Public Security. The temporary residence cards shall be valid for between 1 and 3 years. The temporary residence card bearers shall be exempt from visas upon their entry and exit during the valid duration of the cards.
4. Foreigners who enjoy diplomatic or consular privileges and immunities shall fill in the procedure for granting, supplementing or amending visas, extending temporary residence and/or granting temporary residence cards at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
5. The consideration, granting, supplement amendment of visas, the granting of temporary residence cards or the extension of temporary residence shall be effected within no more than 5 working days after the receipt of valid dossiers.
1. Foreigners shall be expelled from Vietnam in the following cases:
a) They are sentenced to expulsion by competent courts of Vietnam;
b) They are expelled by decisions of the Minister of Public Security;
2. The expulsion of foreigners who enjoy the diplomatic or consular privileges and immunities shall be handled through diplomatic channels.
1. The Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall have to enforce the expulsion judgements and decisions.
2. The expulsion judgements and decisions must be handed over by the exit and entry management agency of the Ministry of Public Security to the expelled persons 24 hours at the latest before the enforcement.
3. Where the expelled persons are unwilling to execute the expulsions judgements or decisions, the exit and entry management agency of the Ministry of Public Security shall apply coercive expulsion measures.
The contents of State management over the entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam include:
1. The promulgation of legal documents;
2. The conclusion of or accession to international treaties ;
3. The performance of entry, exit, transit and residence management activities
4. The State statistics;
5. The international cooperation;
6. Supervision, inspection examination and handling of law violations.
1. The Government exercises uniform State management over entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam.
The Ministry of Public Security shall be answerable to the Government for its prime responsibility in the exercise of State management over entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam.
2. The Government shall issue the Regulation on coordination among the ministries, the ministerial level agencies and the agencies attached to the Government; define the responsibility of People's Committees of all levels in exercising the State management over entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam.
1. Those who breach the provisions of this Ordinance shall, depending on the nature and seriousness of their violations, be administratively handled or examined for penal liability; if causing damage, they shall have to make compensation there for according to the provisions of law.
2. Those who abuse their positions and/or powers and breach the provisions of this Ordinance shall, depending on the nature of seriousness of their violation, be disciplined or examined for penal liability, if causing damage, they shall have to make compensation there for according to the provisions of law.
The complaints about administrative decisions, the denunciation of violations of the legislation on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam shall comply with the provisions of the legislation on complain and denunciations.
This Ordinance is also applied to Vietnamese who carry foreign passports and are on entry, exit, transit or residing in Vietnam.
This Ordinance shall come into force as from August 14th, 2000.
This Ordinance shall replace the February 21, 1992 Ordinance on entry, exit, residence and travel of foreigners in Vietnam.
The previous regulations contrary to this Ordinance shall all be annulled.
The Government shall detail and guide the implementation of this Ordinance.
On behalf of the National Assembly Standing Committee
NONG DUC MANH
Mother Nature website recently listed the terraced fields of Sa Pa in its superlative list of top 30 most beautiful places in the world.
The people have been doing the seemingly impossible for millennia: growing rice – which requires a flat surface and a lot of water – in mountainous areas. The terraced paddy fields not only yield substantial crops of the widely consumed staple, but are a gorgeous sight to behold.
Agriculture at its best and most beautiful!
The website also suggested August and September is an ideal time for visitors to discover Sa Pa.
Other locations included in the top 30 are Antelope Canyon (the US), Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany), Lavender Field (France), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), and Tunnel of Love (Ukraine).
Ha Long Bay of Viet Nam has been selected as one of the 12 greatest coastlines in the world by US travel website WhenOnEarth.
According to WhenOnEarth, Ha Long Bay features many tropical plants and animals, floating fishing villages, and unique formations of eroded limestone, including a multitude of small islands and huge caves.
The UNESCO-recognised world heritage site is considered a popular coastal destination in northeastern Viet Nam.
The 12 greatest coastlines include Lofoten Archipelago in Norway, Na Pali beach in Hawaii, Cape Town in South Africa, Algarve in Portugal, and Great Ocean in Australia.
VIETNAM VISA ON ARRIVAL
Vietnam Visa is required for most foreigners to enter and exit Vietnam at one of 3 international airports: Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh city & Da Nang. Travellers are advised to arrange Vietnam Visa before their departure by applying online for the Approval Letter first, receive the letter by email, then get Visa Stamped on their passports at Vietnam Airports upon arrival.
This is called: VIETNAM VISA ON ARRIVAL.
Following is Circular No.190/2012/TT-BTC dated November 09, 2012 of the Ministry of Finance (Vietnam Government) stipulating the regime on collection, remittance, management and use of fees at Vietnam international airports upon arrival:
THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE
SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIET NAM
Hanoi, November 09, 2012
AMENDING AND SUPPLEMENTING THE CIRCULAR NO.66/2009/TT-BTC, OF MARCH 30, 2009 OF THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE STIPULATING THE REGIME ON COLLECTION, REMITTANCE, MANAGEMENT AND USE OF FEES ON PASSPORTS, VISAS AND PAPERS ON ENTRY, EXIT, TRANSIT AND RESIDENCE IN VIETNAM
Pursuant to the Ordinance on Charges and Fees No.38/2001/PL-UBTVQH of August 28, 2001, the Government's Decree No. 57/2002/ND-CP of June 3, 2002, and Decree No. 24/2006/ND-CP of March 06, 2006, amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Government's Decree No. 57/2002/ND-CP;
Pursuant to the Government's Decree No. 136/2007/ND-CP of August 17, 2007, on entry and exit of Vietnamese citizens
Pursuant to the Government's Decree No. 118/2008/ND-CP of November 27, 2008, defining the functions, tasks, powers and organizational structure of the Ministry of Finance;
At the proposal of Director of the Tax Policy Department;
The Minister of Finance promulgates Circular amending and supplementing the Circular No.66/2009/TT-BTC, of March 30, 2009 of the Ministry of Finance stipulating the regime on collection, remittance, management and use of fees on passports, visas and papers on entry, exit, transit and residence in Vietnam as follows:
To amend and supplement clause 1, clause 2, clause 4 and clause 6 section II of Annex on table of fees on passports, visas and papers on entry, exit, transit and residence in Vietnam promulgated together with the Circular No.66/2009/TT-BTC, March 30, 2009 of the Ministry of Finance with clause 1, clause 2, clause 3, clause 4 as follows:
Type of fees
Valid for less than 01 month
Valid for less than 06 months
Valid for 6 months or more
Transfer of validity of visas or temporary residence from expired passports to new passports
Temporary residence cards:
Valid for up to 1 year
Valid for between over 1 year and 2 years
Valid for between over 2 year and 3 years
1. This Circular takes effect on January 01, 2013.
2. The other content relating to fees on passports, visas and papers on entry, exit, transit and residence in Vietnam not mentioned in this Circular shall be implemented under provisions in the Circular No.66/2009/TT-BTC, of March 30, 2009 of the Ministry of Finance stipulating the regime on collection, remittance, management and use of fees on passports, visas and papers on entry, exit, transit and residence in Vietnam.
3. Organizations, individuals subject to pay fees and relevant agencies shall implement this Circular. In the course of implementation, any arising problems should be reported to the Ministry of Finance for consideration and settlement.
FOR THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Vietnam Immigration Department will take 2 days OFF from 1st, September to 2nd, September 2014 for Independence Day. They will reopen on 3rd,September 2014.
Visitors will have to pay Guarantee fee for rush booking in these days.
Our office will open as usually.
For urgent cases, please feel free to contact us via email email@example.com or Hotline (+84) 9-4224-8838
Nowadays, there are many foreigners come to Vietnam and get surprise and meet difficulties of why they cannot use their own cash for stamp fee and they don't know how to do when they don't ready have USD with them. It may let them land in an embarrassing situation and make them worried a lot when they are abroad.
Some tourists think the fee they pay online to Visa agent is all they must pay for a Vietnam visa. As our explaining, besides visa service fee, you must prepare for a visa stamp fee that you will pay at the airport when you arrive. Now I would help you to know what Stamp fee is.
Visa stamp fee is the amount that you must pay directly to Immigration Department officers at arrival airport as below:
|Types of Visa||Stamping fee/pax will pay at Airport when Arrive|
|1 month single||$45|
|3 months single||$45|
|1 month multiple||$65|
|3 months multiple||$95|
|3 months multiple at Embassy||N/A|
|6 months multiple||$135|
Only USD and VND cash are able to use in this case. And please note that you have credit card with USD, but only VND cash can be withdraw sum of money from your account at ATM station in Vietnam and you have to pay for transaction service fee. Here is the first and very important reason that you should prepare your cash if you don't want to change from your currency to USD with high Exchange Rate at the airport or pay for transaction service at ATM.
Below, we will show you more reasons that you should have USD cash ready with you. Please carefully check with us.
Almost tourists choose the Car pick-up service of travel or Visa agent, but some of them will try to take a taxi by their self and unfortunately meet many problems with Taxi fee. Because there are many kinds of taxi with different prices which tourists do not know how or what they can base on to have the service fee. It may charge you much money than the agent fixed price. You can look at our fixed price for referent of car pick-up service. If you prefer to take an airport taxi, please be advised you will need to pay the taxi driver in Vietnamese Dong.
You will be offered a private car for your group with the appropriate number of seats and fee as follows:
|Port of Arrival / Kind of Car||Tan Son Nhat - Ho Chi Minh||Noi Bai - Ha Noi||Da Nang Airport|
Moreover, Vietnam is a nation where people refer using cash than other ways. So going shopping or somewhere, you should prepare cash, especially VND cash ready with you. I know when travelling, almost tourists refer to use Credit Card, because it is small and easy to keep safe. However, Vietnam just applies credit card payment into supermarket, restaurant and hotel. Now people still keep the old habit using cash for all of stores, so Credit card does not become popular. Therefore, now you must have cash if you would like to go to shop in citizen market with many stores to sales variety of good.
Finally, for having a nice trip to Vietnam, you should know more tips that can help you having experience as a real Vietnamese people.
Dear all value Guests,
Due to Vietnam Holiday (TeT), The Vietnam Immigration Dept in Vietnam will take 9 days for holiday from Feb/09/2013 to Feb/17/2013.
For normal case, if you don't arrive in Vietnam from Feb/09/2013 to Feb/17/2013. You can apply http://vietnamvisavn.com and get Vietnam visa approval letter on Feb/18/2013.
Last, we wish you a happy New Year, lucky and success.
Vietnam Visa Team
1. Declaration Procedures
The people who entry Vietnam should check their luggage with the free luggage-duty quotas is specified by Vietnamese Custom Post before their custom declarations. If they do not have any luggage which exceeds the free duty quotas, or luggage delivered before or after their trips, they do not have to make any custom declaration procedures on exit or entry declaration forms.
When luggage exceeds free duty quotas luggage, the passengers will have to make custom procedures on Vietnamese entry (or exit) declaration forms. The excess luggage will be considered as import goods. It's complied with the import goods and tax provisions in Vietnamese law.
If totals payable tax of the excess luggage are under 50,000 VND, it will be exempt passenger's from taxes.
People who entry Vietnam many times due to their business, such as a pilots or a crew of sea-going ships or trains or Vietnamese labor is working out of country, will not be entitled to enjoy the free-tax for excess luggage every entry time. It was prescribed at items 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the appendix of this Decree. However, they can enjoy the free tax quotas every 90 days.
2. Provisions of Luggage
The luggage of people who enter a country means all essential things for their daily need or all needs of their trip. It's include accompanied luggage and unaccompanied luggage which is sent before or after their entry.
The limit time to receive unaccompanied luggage for people enter Vietnam is not exceed 30 days from the date when their luggage arrives the border gates.
- When the passengers entry or exit Vietnam, they can deposit their luggage at the border gate and custom the warehouse after that they can reclaim to receive them. The time limit for depositing luggage should not exceed 180 days from the date when luggage is deposited.
In the deposited luggage duration, if the passengers who entry or exit Vietnam make written documents to abandon their deposited luggage or their luggage reclaims is failed, the chief of the custom sub-department will organize the liquidation or destruction to obey the provisions in law. The process of goods liquidation will be remitted to the budget of State if the expenses of preservation or liquidation goods arises.
3. The luggage free tax quotas
The luggage free tax quotas for each of passenger enter Vietnam are stipulated every entry time not to aggregate free-tax quotas for several people, except for accompanied luggage of members in family who are on the same trip.
The quotas of stipulated item of goods
For liquor: the passengers enter Vietnam can carry the complete bottle, pot, jar or can with the volume of liquor is exempted from tax is not more than 01 liter. If it over this limit, they must pay tax for the excess volume.
For cigarettes and cigars: ?
For clothes or other articles of the passenger daily life needs: each passengers can carry clothes and other daily articles with reasonable quantity and suitable their purposes for trip.
Below are the free-tax quotas of luggage for people enter Vietnam
Belongings and Items
Liquor and alcoholic drinks:- Liquor of 22% proof or higher- Liquor of under 22% proof
- Alcoholic drinks, beer
Under-18 people shall not be entitled to enjoy these quotas.
Cigarettes:- Rolled cigarettes- Cigars
- Shredded tobacco
400 cigarettes100 cigars
Under-18 people shall not be entitled to enjoy these quotas.
Tea, coffee:- Tea- Coffee
5 kg Tea- 3 kg Coffee
Under-18 people shall not be entitled to enjoy these quotas.
Clothes, personal belongings
With reasonable quantity in service of the trip's purpose
Articles other than those mentioned at Items 1, 2, 3 and 4 in this Appendix (not included in the list of goods banned from import or subject to conditional import).
Total value not exceeding VND 5,000,000 (five million)
4. Luggage of people leave Vietnam
According to provisions in Vietnamese law, the luggage of people exit Vietnam is not be restricted, except for the articles on the list of goods is banned from exporting or subject to conditional export.
5. Reference Documents
Circular No. 113/2005/TT-BTC of the Ministry of Finance of December 15, 2005 guiding the implementation of the Law on Import Tax and Export Tax.
Pursuant to the Law on Organization of the Government of September 30,1992
Pursuant to the April 28, 2000 Ordinance on Entry, Exit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam.
At the proposal of the Minister of Public Security.
Chapter I: General Provisions
Chapter II: Entry, Exit and Transit
Chapter III: Residence
Chapter IV: Expulsion
Chapter V: Responsibilities of and the working ordination among the state's functional bodies and responsibilities of Agencies. Organizations and Individuals inviting foreigners into Vietnam
Chapter VI: Implementation Provisions
1. This Decree prescribes the procedure applicable to foreigners who enter, exit, transit and/or reside in Vietnam, the invitation of foreigners into Vietnam by agencies, organizations and individuals, the responsibilities of and working coordination among the State functional bodies.
2. This decree shall also apply to Vietnamese bearing foreign passports who enter, exit, transit and/ or reside in Vietnam. The application by Vietnamese bearing foreign passports for repatriation to Vietnam shall comply with the provisions of other legal documents.
Foreigners may travel freely on Vietnamese territory in accordance with the already registered entry purposes, except for areas banned from travel by foreigners as prescribed in article 12 of this Decree.
CHAPTER II: ENTRY, EXIT AND TRANSIT
1. Visas shall be granted as part of passports of foreigners. In the following cases, loose visas shall be granted in attachment to passport :
a. No more page for visas left in the passport which has not yet been renewed;
b. Passports issued by countries which have not yet established diplomatic or consular relations with Vietnam;
c. For security or diplomatic reasons.
2. Validity and duration of visas:
a. Single or multiple visas, which are valid for no more than 12 months, shall be granted to persons entering Vietnam to execute projects under investment licenses or cooperation contracts with Vietnam agencies and/or organizations, or persons entering Vietnam to work at Vietnam based foreign agencies and their accompanying next of kin and dependents.
b. Single or multiple visas, which are valid for no more than 6 months, shall be granted to persons who have been invited by agencies, organizations and individuals into Vietnam and do not fall into the cases specified at Point a of this Clause;
c. Single visa, which are valid for 15 days, shall be granted to persons applying for entry without any invitation by agencies, organizations and individuals in Vietnam.
3. Upon the expiry of their visas, the visa bearers who wish to make other entries into and exit from Vietnam shall have to complete the procedure for applying for new visas.
1. Agencies, organizations and individuals that may invite foreigners into Vietnam according to the provisions of Article 2 of the Ordinance on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam (hereinafter referred to as the Ordinance) include:
a. The Party Central Committee, the National Assembly, the State President, the Government and their attached bodies;
b. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuracy;
c. The ministries, the ministerial level agencies, the agencies attached to the Government, the People's Committees of the provinces and centrally run cities and their attached bodies;
d. The central agencies of the mass organizations;
e. Enterprises established under the Vietnamese law;
f. Foreign diplomatic missions and consular offices of the UN s' international organizations and intergovernmental organizations based in VN;
g. Branches of foreign companies; representative offices of foreign economic, cultural and other professional organizations based in Vietnam;
h. Other agencies and organizations lawfully established and operating in Vietnam;
i. Vietnamese citizens residing in the country, oversea Vietnamese citizens currently on temporary residence in Vietnam.
j. Foreigners permanently residing in VN and those temporarily residing in VN for 6 months or more.
2. The invitation of foreigners by agencies and organizations must conform with their functions or operation licenses granted by the competent Vietnamese agencies. Vietnamese citizens residing in the country, Vietnamese citizens currently on temporary residence in Vietnam, foreigners permanently residing in Vietnam and those temporarily residing in Vietnam for 6 months or more shall be entitled to invite foreigners into Vietnam for visits.
1. Agencies assigned to assume the prime responsibility for receiving foreign guests into Vietnam at the invitation of the Party Central Committee, the National Assembly, the State President or the Government and guests of the equivalent level of ministers, vice ministers, presidents or vice presidents of the People's Committee of the provinces and centrally run cities shall send written notice on the invitations and reception of foreign guests to the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall notify the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or the consular offices in foreign countries thereof, so that the latter grant visas to the above said invited guests , and at the same time notify such to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security.
For foreigners entering to work at the foreign diplomatic missions or consular offices, representative offices of the UN's international organizations, the intergovernmental organizations, the intergovernmental organizations based in Vietnam and their accompanying next of kin and servants, the above said agencies shall have to send written notices on the invitation and reception of foreign guests to the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall notify such in writing to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security before notifying and requesting the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consular offices in foreign countries to grant visas.
Within 2 working days after receiving the written notices, if it detects that the invited foreigners fall into cases not yet permitted for entry, the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall inform the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
2. Agencies, organizations and individuals that invite foreigners into Vietnam who are not specified in Clause 1 of this Article shall send written notices or request to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security.
The Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall notify its approval to the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consular offices in foreign countries so that the latter grant visas to invite foreigners within 5 working days after the written notices or requests are received. If it detects that the invited foreigners fall into cases not yet permitted for entry, the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall inform the inviting agencies, organizations and/or individuals thereof.
3. Agencies, organizations and/or individuals that wish to have visas granted at VN's international border gates to foreigners falling into cases specified in Article 6 of the Ordinance shall send written requests to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security. In cases of application for visas granting at border gates for urgent reasons, the written requests there for must be filed at least 12 hours before the invited foreigners arrive at the border gates.
1. In the following cases, the invitation of foreigners into Vietnam by agencies and organizations not specified in Clause 1, Article 5 of this Decree must be agreed upon by the Government's functional bodies.
a. Those entering Vietnam for religious activities must be agreed upon by the Government's Religion Commission and entering for activities related to ethnic issues must be consented by the Commission for Ethnic Minorities and Mountainous Areas.
b. Those entering Vietnam for information and press activities must be agreed upon by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Information.
2. When sending their written requests to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security, agencies and organizations must enclose the consents of the functional bodies defined at points a and b, Clause 1 of this Article.
1. After receiving written replies from the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the agencies, organizations and individuals that have in vited foreigners into Vietnam shall notify such foreigners to file their applications and photos and receive visas at the Vietnamese diplomatic missions and consular offices in foreign countries. For foreigners to be granted visas at Vietnam's international border gates, the inviting agencies, organizations and individuals shall notify such foreigners to file their applications and photos and receive visas at the Immigration bodies at such border gates.
The Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consular offices in foreign countries shall base themselves on notices of the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to grant visas to foreigners upon receiving the latter visa applications and photos.
2. Foreigners applying for visas for entry into Vietnam without invitation and reception by any Vietnamese agency, organization or individual shall file their visa applications and photos to the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consular offices in foreign countries for consideration and granting of visas which shall be valid for 15 days.
The consideration and granting of visas shall be carried out within no more than 3 working days after the applications and photos are received.
1. The Vietnamese diplomatic missions and consular offices in foreign countries shall refuse to grant visas to persons falling into cases prescribed at points a, b and d Clause 1, Article 8 of the Ordinance.
For cases prescribed at point c, Clause 1, Article 8 of the Ordinance, the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consular offices in foreign countries shall refuse to grant visas according to notices of the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security.
2. The Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall not permit the entries for cases prescribed at points a, b, d and c, Clause 1, Article 8 of the Ordinance.
3. In cases where the entries are not permitted for reasons of epidemics and disease prevention and combat as prescribed at point c, Clause 1, Article 8 of the Ordinance, the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or consular offices in foreign countries and the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall abide by the Ministry of Health's notices.
1. Courts and judgments executing bodies of the provincial/ municipal or higher level shall decide to permit the exit for cases prescribed at Point c, Clause 1, Article 9 of the Ordinance, provided that there are monetary or property bails or other measures to secure the performance of the obligation to execute civil, economic or labor judgments.
2. The Minister of Public Security shall decide to permit the exit for cases specified at point d, Clause 1, Article 9 of the Ordinance with monetary, or property bails or other measures to secure the performance of the obligation to abide by decisions on sanctions against administrative violations, tax obligations and other financial obligations.
Foreigners on transit who wish to enter Vietnam for sightseeing or tourist purposes shall be permitted by the Immigration Department according to the Regulation of the Ministry of Public Security. The Ministry of Public Security shall prescribe the scope of transit area and forms of papers to be granted to transiting foreigners for entering Vietnam for sightseeing or tourist purposes.
CHAPTER III: RESIDENCE
1. Foreigners entering Vietnam at the invitation of agencies, organizations or individuals at home shall, through the inviters, register their residence purposes, duration and addresses in Vietnam with the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the written requests upon carrying out the procedure prescribed in Article 5 of this Decree.
2. Foreigners not invited by any Vietnamese agency, organization or individual shall state for registration their residence purposes, duration and addresses in Vietnam in their visa applications.
3. For foreigners who are exempt from visas under international treaties which Vietnam has signed or acceded to, the purposes and duration of their residence in Vietnam must be compliant with such international treaties. Such persons shall have to register their residence addresses upon carrying out the procedure for temporary residence declaration according to the provisions of Article 15 of this Decree.
1. Foreigners are not allowed to reside in the border areas under the provisions of Vietnamese law (except otherwise provided for by international treaties signed by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam).
Foreigners who wish to enter the border areas shall have to apply for permission there for at the immigration bodies under the police offices of the provinces and centrally-run cities that have such border areas.
2. Foreigners are not allowed to enter areas where no-pass signboards are put up according to the regulations of Vietnamese competent agencies.
Foreigners who wish to enter areas where no-pass signboards are put up shall have to apply for permission there for at the bodies directly managing such areas.
1. Foreigners applying for permanent residence permission under cases specified at Points a and b, Clause 1, Article 13 of the ordinance shall file their dossiers to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security.
Such dossiers comprise:
a. The applicant's photo and application for permanent residence permission made according to the form set by the Ministry of Public Security;
b. His/her curriculum vitae made by the applicant himself/ herself;
c. Copy of his/her passport (if any);
The Ministry of Public Security shall report to the Prime Minister for decision the foreigners' application for permanent residence mentioned in this Clause.
2. Foreigners applying for permanent residence under the cases specified at Point c, Clause 1, Article 3 of the Ordinance shall submit their dossiers to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security or the exit and entry management bodies under the public security offices of the provinces and centrally run cities. Such a dossier comprises:
a. The applicant's photo and application for permanent residence made in accordance with the forms set by the Ministry of Public Security;
b. His/her judicial records certified by the competent agency of the country, of which he/ she is a citizen;
c. Official note of the competent agency of the country, of which he/she is a citizen, requesting the Vietnamese authorities to permit him/her to permanently reside in Vietnam;
d. Papers evidencing that the permanent residence applicant falls under the cases specified at Point c, Clause 1, Article 13 of the ordinance;
e. Copy of the applicant's passport.
The Minister of Public Security shall decide the permanent residence application by foreigners mentioned in this Clause.
3. Foreigners who are permitted for permanent residence shall be granted permanent residence cards by the exit and entry management body(ies). In cases where the permanent residence is not permitted, the immigration body(ies) shall notify in writing to the permanent residence applicants.
4. Once every three years, foreigners on permanent residence shall have to present themselves at the exit and entry management bodies under the public security offices of the provinces or centrally run cities. Upon presenting themselves, they shall have to produce their permanent residence cards and submit their photos for renewal of such cards. The immigration body(ies) shall immediately carry out the granting of new cards free of charge.
1. The Immigration body of the Ministry of Public Security shall grant temporary residence certificates at the international border gates to foreigners on entry as follow:
a. For persons who carry visas, the temporary residence certificates shall be granted in conformity with the valid duration of their visas;
b. For persons who are exempt from visas under international treaties which Vietnam has signed or acceded to, the temporary residence certificates shall be granted according to the duration prescribed in such international treaties;
c. For officials and employees of the ASEAN Secretariat, the 30day temporary residence certificates shall be granted.
2. Persons who carry permanent residence cards or temporary residence cards, which remain valid, shall not be granted temporary residence certificates.
1. Foreigners who stay overnight at hotels or residential quarters reserved for foreigners (including residential quarters of the diplomatic corps) shall have to make temporary residence declaration through the hotel owners or residential quarters' managers. The hotel owners or residential house quarter managers shall have to transfer contents of temporary residence declaration by foreigners to the immigration bodies under the public security offices of the provinces and centrally run cities.
2. Foreigners who stay overnight at private houses of citizens shall have to personally or through house owners make temporary residence declaration with the police offices of wards or communes where they temporarily reside. The ward or commune police offices shall have to transfer contents of temporary residence declaration by foreigners to the immigration bodies under the public security offices of the provinces or centrally run cities.
1. Regarding the granting of temporary residence cards, extension of temporary residence duration; granting, supplement and amendment of visas for foreigners;
a. For foreigners entering Vietnam at the invitation of the Party Central Committee, the National Assembly, the State President or the Government or as guests of the equivalent level of ministers, vice ministers, presidents or vice presidents of the People's Committee of the provinces and centrally run cities, person enjoying the diplomatic missions or consular offices, representative offices of the UN's international organizations or intergovernmental organizations and their accompanying next of kin and servants, the agencies where such foreigners work shall send written requests there for to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In case of application for temporary residence cards, the applicants' photos must be enclosed therewith.
b. For persons not falling under the cases specified at Points a of this Clause, the agencies, organizations and individuals that invite foreigners into Vietnam shall send written requests to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security or the immigration bodies under the police offices of the provinces and centrally run cities. In case of application for temporary residence cards, the applicants photos must be enclosed therewith.
2. Foreigners who wish to change their temporary residence purposes shall, through agencies, organizations and individuals in Vietnam, have to carry out the procedure for requesting the permission of the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security. The agencies, organizations and individuals that request permission for the foreigners to change their temporary residence purposes shall have to comply with the provisions of Article 27 of this Decree. For those permitted to change their temporary residence purposes, the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security shall grant new visas in conformity with the changed purposes.
Foreigners who apply for the change of their temporary residence purposes in order to officially work at Vietnam based foreign diplomatic missions or consular offices, representative offices of the UN's International organizations or intergovernmental organizations shall carry out the procedures there for at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
3. Foreigners entering Vietnam, under the cases of visa exemption according to international treaties which Vietnam has signed or acceded to and wishing to stay beyond the time limits prescribed in such international treaties shall have to carry out the procedure to apply for visas according to the provisions of Clause 1 of this Article. In cases where there temporary residence duration must be prolonged due to force majeure circumstances, they shall be given temporary residence extension with appropriate duration by the competent body and exempt from the visa application procedure.
The Minister of Public Security is competent to issue decisions to expel foreigners in the following cases :
1. They seriously violate the Vietnamese law and are administratively sanctioned;
2. They commit offenses but are exempt from penal liability examination;
3. For reasons of safeguarding the national security and the social order and safety.
Basing itself on the specific conditions and circumstances for the enforcement of expulsion decisions of the Minister of Public Security shall decide on:
1. The application of measures of management superintendence and administrative custody against expelled persons pending the enforcement of expulsion decisions according to the provisions of law;
2. Methods and places to effect the expulsion;
3. Other matters related to the enforcement of expulsion decisions according to the provisions of law.
The head of the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security may temporarily postpone the expulsion of foreigners within 24 hours according to the time limit prescribed in expulsion decisions of the Minister of Public Security in the following cases where:
1. There are decisions of the investigation body, procuracy or court of the provincial or higher level not to permit the expelled persons to exit yet,
2. The expelled persons are under critical health conditions, being unable to exit,
3. The expulsion cannot be effected due to bad weather, natural calamities or other force majeure circumstances.
If the expulsion postponement lasts for more than 24 hours, the exit and entry management body shall have to report thereon to the Minister of Public Security for decision.
Expelled persons have the following responsibilities:
1. To strictly abide the expulsion decisions, to be subject to the manager and superintendence by the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Public Security pending the enforcement of the expulsion decisions;
2. To quickly complete the necessary procedure for their exit from Vietnam within the prescribed time limit;
3. To bear all expenses for their exit.
The expulsion of foreigners under the court's judgements shall be effected according to other provisions of the legislation on execution of the expulsion penalty.
The Ministry of Public Security has the responsibilities:
1. Assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the concerned ministries and branches in drafting for submission to the Government laws, ordinances and the Government 's documents on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
2. To guide agencies, organizations and individuals in implementing the law provisions on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
3. To assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the ministries, branches and the People's Committees of the provinces and centrally run cities in conducting the supervision, inspection, examination and handling of law violations in the field of entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
4. To undertake international cooperation in the management of entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
5. To make the State statistics on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
6. To grant, amend, supplement and/or revoke visas, to extend, amend and/or revoke the temporary residence certificates, temporary residence cards and permanent residence cards for foreigner in Vietnam (except for cases where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conduct such activities according to the provisions in Clause 6, Article 23 of this Decree).
7. To assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in promulgating the forms of applications and papers to be issued to foreigners on entry, exit or residence in Vietnam to uniformly manage such application and paper forms.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has the responsibilities:
1. To guide foreign diplomatic missions and consular offices, representative
2. offices, of the UN's international organizations and intergovernmental organizations based in Vietnam in matters related to the procedure for entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
3. To direct and guide the Vietnamese diplomatic missions and consular offices abroad in observing the regulations on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
4. To assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security in handling law violations committed by foreigners who enjoy the diplomatic or consular privileges and immunities;
5. To assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security in negotiating and signing international treaties on visa exemption with foreign countries or acceding to other international treaties concerning foreigners' entry, exit and residence;
6. To coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security in undertaking international cooperation in the management of entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam;
7. To grant, amend, supplement and/ or revoke visas, to grant, extend, amend and/or revoke the temporary residence certificates, temporary residence cards to foreigners entering Vietnam at the invitation of the Party Central Committee, the National Assembly, the State President, the Government and guests of the equivalent level of minister, vice minister, presidents or vice presidents of People's Committee of the provinces and centrally run cities ; persons enjoying the diplomatic or consular privileges and immunities who enter Vietnam to work at the foreign diplomatic missions and consular offices, representative offices of the UN's international organizations based in Vietnam and their accompanying next of kin and servants.
The Ministry of Defense (the Border Guards ) has the responsibilities
1. To control and check the entries and exits of foreigners at the international border-gates managed by the Ministry of Defense (the Border Guards).
2. To grant visas or temporary residence certificates at the international border gates managed by the Ministry of Defense (the Border Guards) under the authorization and guidance of the exit and entry management body of the Ministry of Public Security.
The Vietnamese diplomatic missions and consular offices abroad have the responsibilities:
1. To provide guidance on the regulations on entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam to foreigners who apply for entry into Vietnam;
2. To coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in handling law violations committed by foreigners;
3. To undertake international cooperation in the management of entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam according to the provisions of law;
4. To grant, amend, supplement and/or revoke visas of various kinds in foreign countries according to the provisions of law.
1. The People's Committees of the provinces and centrally run cities shall have to promulgate regulations on the working coordination between the police offices and other State bodies in their respective localities in the management of entry, exit and residence of foreigners in their respective localities.
2. The public security offices of the provinces and centrally run cities shall assume the prime responsibilities and assist the provincial / municipal People's Committees in performing the State management function in the field of entry, exit and residence and residence of foreigners in their respective localities.
Agencies, organizations and individuals that invite foreigners into Vietnam have the responsibilities:
1. To ensure the entry purposes unchanged by:
a. Registering with the functional body(ies) the contents and programs of planned activities of the invitees before their entry;
b. Managing activities of the invitees, ensuring that the registered contents and programs are strictly adhered to;
c. Carrying out the procedure related to the invitees activities in Vietnam according to the provisions of law.
2. To collaborate with the competent State body(ies) in settling unexpected incidents occurred to invited foreigners by:
a. Taking part in handling law breaking acts, accidents or other troubles committed by or related to the invitees and overcoming their consequences at the request of functional body(ies);
b. Promptly reporting to the police offices on the invitees' activities related to the political security as well as social order and safety,
3. To ensure financial matters by :
a. Paying expenses or providing financial guarantees in cases where the invitees have no financial source available on the spot to settle expenses prescribed by the Vietnamese law;
b. Paying to the Exit and entry Management Department of the Ministry of Public Security and/ or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs facsimile or telegraph changes for communicating with the Vietnamese diplomatic missions and consular offices abroad for the granting of visas to foreigners.
1. This Decree takes effect 30 days after its signing and replaces the following regulations:
- The Government's Decree No 04/CP of January 18, 1993 detailing the implementation of the Ordinance on Entry, Exit, Residence and Travel of Foreigners in Vietnam;
- The provisions on entry, exit, residence and travel of foreigners in Vietnam in Regulation on management of Vietnam delegations entering Vietnam promulgated together with the Government's Decree No 12/CP of March 24, 1995 on the exit and entry procedure and Decree No 24/CP of March 24, 1995 on the exit and entry procedure.
2. The previous stipulations which are contrary to this Decree are now all annulled.
The Ministry of Public Security shall assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in issuing a circular guiding the implementation of this decree.
The Finance Ministry shall assume the prime responsibility and coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in promulgating a circular guiding the fees for granting, extension, supplement and amendment of papers and certificates to foreigners prescribed in this Decree and guiding the deduction of a proportion of fines for administrative violations in the field of exit and entry to cover expenses for the handling of foreigners who commit violations of the legislation on entry, exit and residence in case of necessity.
The ministers, the heads of the ministerial level agencies, the heads of the agencies attached to the Government and the presidents of the People's Committees of the provinces and centrally run cities shall have to implement this Decree.
On behalf of the Government
PHAN VAN KHAI
Regulation On Foreigners' Entry Into, Exit From, And Residence In Phu Quoc Island Kien Giang Province
Chapter I : ENTRY INTO, AND EXIT FROM PHU QUOC ISLAND
- Phu Quoc island (excluding areas exclusively planned for public security or defense purpose) shall be eligible for entry and exit preferences specified in Clause 1, Article 3 of the Prime Minister's Decision No, 53/2001/QD-TTG of April 19, 2001, on policies toward border-gate economic zones.
- Foreigners and Vietnamese holding foreign passports (hereinafter referred collectively to as foreigners) who enter, exit from, and reside in Phu Quoc island, for a stay period not exceeding 15 days shall be exempt from visas; foreigners who enter an international border-gate of Vietnam and stay in its transit lounge before traveling to Phu Quoc island shall also be exempt from visas.
Citizens of countries entitled to visa exemption shall observe current regulations.
1. Foreigners arriving at the island by the sea through Phu Quoc international border-gate shall carry out entry procedures with the entry and exit management body right at the border-gate; foreigners traveling to Phu Quoc island by air shall carry out entry procedures at Vietnam's international airports, then stay in transit lounges of these air ports before taking domestic fights to Phu Quoc island.
2. When carry out entry procedures, foreigners shall have to produce their passports which are still valid for at least 45 days.
- In cases where, after coming to Phu Quoc island, visitors wish to travel to other localities, the entry and exit management body shall consider and grant visas to them right in Phu Quoc island; if they wish to stay in Phu Quoc more than 15 days, the entry and exit management body shall consider and extend their sojourn period.
- Crew members holding valid foreign crew members' books or crew member's passport may enter, exit from, and reside in Phu Quoc island during the period when their ships anchor at Phu Quoc island.
- As from the effective date of this Regulation, the Ministry of Defense shall, after reaching agreement with the Ministry of Public Security and the People's Committee of Kien Giang province, report to the Prime Minister on the demarcation of Phu Quoc island areas exclusively planned for public security or defense purposes, publicize these areas and put up specific direction and no-entry signboards for each area.
Chapter II : RESIDENCE IN PHU QUOC ISLAND
- Foreigners entering Vietnam through Phu Quoc international border-gate shall be granted right at the border-gate by the entry and exit management body certificates for a sojourn period corresponding to the visa-exemption period; foreigners who are lawfully sojourning in Vietnam, when arriving at Phu Quoc island, shall not have to carry out procedures for sojourn certification but report thereon according to current regulations.
- Once in Phu Quoc island, foreigners may freely reside and travel there in accordance with the registered entry purposes, except for no-entry areas and areas exclusively planned for public security or defense purpose; if they want to enter such areas, they must obtain permission of competent agencies according to the Provision of the Prime Minister's Decision No. 160/2004/QD-TTg of September 6, 2004, no-entry areas and locations.
- Foreigners who apply for the extension of their sojourn period, change in registered sojourn purposes, grant supplementation or amendment of visas, or grant of sojourn cards or residence cards, shall carry out procedures with the entry and exit management body of Phu Quoc Police in person or through other agencies, organizations or individuals.
In understanding the Vietnamese community abroad as inseparable sections of the Vietnamese nation, Resolution 36-NQ/TW of the CPV Politburo on overseas Vietnamese affairs was proposed "to create favorable conditions for overseas Vietnamese to come back, visit their homeland and relatives, and worship their ancestors".
In carrying out Resolution 36-NQ/TW, during his official visit to the United States of America, President Nguyen Minh Triet, at a meeting with overseas Vietnamese, announced Decision No. 135/2007/QA-TTg, the Regulations on Visa Exemption for Vietnamese People Residing Abroad.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed Decision No. 135/2007/QA-TTg on 17/08/2007.
For all Vietnamese residing abroad to clearly understand the new policy and to also assist them with the visa processing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided on-line access to valuable up-to-date information.
For all Vietnamese people residing overseas, we at http://vietnamvisavn.com are pleased to provide you with a link to The Ministry of Foreign Affairs office.
Vietnam Visa Team.
The central coastal province of Khanh Hoa’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has developed a number of new tourism services in the run-up to the 6th Asian Beach Games in 2016 in order to attract more holidaymakers to its Nha Trang city.
Among those are dolphin performances at Vinpearl Land and Flyboard, a water jetpack that propels those fearless enough to try it meters into the air.
In addition, the local tourism sector has looked into eco-tourism along the Cai River and the surrounding countryside. The province also aims to develop handicraft and fine arts facilities between now and 2020 in a bid to attract more visitors.
The province is undertaking maximum efforts to prepare for the Sea Festival 2015 and the 6th Asian Beach Games in 2016, with a focus on infrastructure and tourism services.
This will be the third time an Asian sports competition is held in Vietnam, after the Asian Indoor Games in 2009 and the Southeast Asian Games in 2003.
During the first nine months of this year, Khanh Hoa welcomed more than 2.7 million tourists, up 21 percent compared to the year before. They included more than 608,000 foreign tourists, an increase of 26 percent.
The province earned more than VND4.5 billion (USD214 million) from tourism activities
Source: Website VNAT
The second H’mong Khen (pan pipe) festival is underway in the Dong Van plateau in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, drawing hundreds of artists and visitors from far and wide.
In addition to listening to khen performances, visitors can sample local specialities first-hand and participate in folk games, such as tree and rope climbing, cross-bow archery, and batting balls.
A performance showcasing ethnic culture adds to the colourful atmosphere.
The khen pan pipe is a wind instrument made from six to twelve or fourteen small bamboo pipes tied together and connected to a wooden sound box. This instrument is very popular with a number of ethnic groups in Vietnam, such as the Thai, the Muong and the H'Mong.
The two-day festival ending on August 31 is a popular tourist destination over the National Day holiday.
Source: Website VNAT.
Viet Nam welcomed more than 6 million international arrivals during the first nine months of 2014, up by 10.42 percent compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the number of domestic tourists hit 32.4 million during the period, an increase of 7.6 percent, according to the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
Tourism has generated 179 trillion VND (8.44 billion USD) so far this year, a year-on-year rise of 19.24 percent.
The launch of a brand new hydro-plane service linking Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, a World Natural Heritage site, early this month is said to bring more tourists to the country.
The operator Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company has scheduled one to three flights between Hanoi and Ha Long City per day, and five to ten daily sightseeing flights over Ha Long Bay.
The company is planning to open new routes from Ho Chi Minh City in the near future, including to Mui Ne in central Binh Thuan province, NhaTrang in central Khanh Hoa province, Con Dao Island in southern Ba Ria–Vung Tau province and to Phu Quoc in southern Kien Giang province.
During the nine-month period, the capital city of Hanoi received nearly 1.5 tourists in the first three quarters, up 17.1 percent year-on-year, thanks to its opening of the Hang Buom cuisine street in the Old Quarter.
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s southern economic hub, earned roughly 19 trillion VND (896 million USD) from hotel and tourism services, up by 8.3 percent year-on-year.
The first ever lighting show of boat parade, themed “Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City” held at Saigon Harbour on September 9 night, greatly impressed tourist officials and travel agents from regional countries who are in the city for the 10th International Travel Expo (ITE).
Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism hosted the event with the aim of highlighting the city’s river tourism.
Boats were lit with different displays featuring Ho Chi Minh City’s most popular destinations such as Nha Rong Habour, Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Opera House.
A big floating state was erected on the Sai Gon River for artistic performances and modern laser lighting shows.
Addressing at the event, Nguyen Thi Hong, Vice Chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, said the city wants to make river tours a major feature in its tourism sector.
The show is part of activities to celebrate a decade of the International Travel Expo (ITE) in Ho Chi Minh City.