Asia Pacific Travel Team
Railway service between HCM City and Thap Cham City will begin on October 3 to meet demand for travel between HCM City and Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces.
According to Sai Gon Railway Company, the STC1 railway line, which will depart from Thap Cham Station in Ninh Thuan Province at 12:50pm, will stop at Ca Na, Song Mao, Binh Thuan and Bien Hoa Station, before arriving at Sai Gon Station at 7:15pm.
The STC2 line will depart from Sai Gon Station at 10:25pm and arrive at Thap Cham Station at 5:40AM. The new train service will also stop to pick up more passengers at stations along the route.
The price will range from VND198,000 to VND451,000. The company will reduce fees by half on the two first days of service on October 3 and 4.
The Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park management board in the central Quang Binh province has just been informed about the discovery of a new cave.
Nguyen Van Ninh, a local person from Phuc Trach Commune in Bo Trach District, informed the board that he discovered a new cave on September 30, while looking for honey in Cha Noi forest within the national park, about a two-hour walk from Ho Chi Minh Highway.
According to Ninh's description, the entrance to the cave is more than 2m high and 3m wide. It takes about 25 minutes to walk from the entrance to the end of the cave. The inside of the cave is divided into three sections, with several large and primitive stalactites.
"The dimensions of the cave are pretty small in comparison with other caves in the national park", Le Thanh Tinh, Director of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, said. "We will consult cave expert Howard Limbert from the British Caving Association and conduct an investigation soon to verify the information".
For travelers, autumn in Mu Cang Chai, a district of Yen Bai Province in the northern upland, has a particular beauty.
The early morning in Mu Cang Chai is quite comfortable thanks to some rain the earlier night. Breakfast at a bistro that serves noodles with wild goose, salted bamboo sprout and chili costs VND20,000 (less than US$1) per bowl. Hot breakfast is ideal for starting a journey.
Tourists are recommended to hire motorbikes to get to La Pan Tan Commune, around 20 kilometers from the district center.
Along the road which winds around the mountain, one can see splendid terraced rice fields with many layers and small houses where local people stock rice before taking it home. Mong ethnic women walk along the road with needles in their hands to embroider their skirts.
A local tour guide named Tien says women in Mu Cang Chai usually make skirts in spare time. “It takes almost a year to finish a handmade skirt. Although the colorful skirts look rudimentary, ethnic women need a lot of energy and time to produce them,” he said.
Local people make clothes for their own use, not for sale, because a handmade skirt costs several million Vietnamese dong, much higher than those colorful skirts imported from China, which cost less than VND100,000 each.
On the road to La Pan Tan, tourists might see children smiling brightly and waving to them, and young women smiling back when cameras are pointed towards them.
Some travelers might give money to kids there in anticipation of preventing them from quitting school but this is not recommended. Confectionery, dairy products and clothes, among others, should be given instead.
First-time visitors might be surprised when seeing pumpkin gardens on the roofs of ethnic people’s homes.
In La Pan Tan, no word could be used to describe the beauty of the terraced rice fields in yellow in harvest season.
For most travelers, the best time to visit Mu Cang Chai is October. Tourists should take a coach at My Dinh station in Ha Noi for a 300-kilometer ride to Mu Cang Chai. Certain local youths prefer biking from Ha Noi to Yen Bai’s Nghia Lo District and Tu Le Commune in Van Chan District before reaching Mu Cang Chai.
On September 30, Ha Noi Department of Culture and Sports held a press conference to introduce the traditional village tourism and culture festival 2015.
Accordingly, Traditional Craft Village Tourism and Culture Festival 2015 will take place from October 7 to 11 at Quan Ngua Sport Palace, Ha Noi.
With the theme of "Traditional quintessence - Integration and Spread", the annual festival aims to promote traditional cultural features and handicraft villages of Ha Noi and Viet Nam as well as to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the capital’s Liberation Day (October 10, 1954-2015).
The festival area will be divided into 9 zones including 150 booths of traditional craft villages and businesses, and 30 booths of Ha Noi’s cuisine and 20 booths of tourism businesses.
In the framework of festival, many activities will take place such as art performances, martial performances, traditional folklore game…
The “Nghinh Ong”, or Whale worshiping festival, was launched on September 28 in Vung Tau city, the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
Besides rituals picking up the whale god from the sea to Thang Tam Temple in the city, the three-day festival also features a number of traditional performances including folk games, swimming, and fishing and net-making competitions.
Vietnamese fishermen believe that whales rescue people in danger at sea and can bring them a prosperous fishing season.
Thus, the annual Nghinh Ong festival offers a chance for fishermen to express their gratitude towards the Nam Hai god (a whale) and the sea gods for protecting and supporting them in their daily lives and at sea, while praying for peace and a good harvest.
According to the organising board, the festival will also contribute to raising community awareness of protecting national sovereignty.
The “Nghinh Ong Dinh Thang Tam” festival in Vung Tau was recognised as one of the fifteen biggest festivals in the country by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2000.
An exhibition titled “Traditional toys” showcasing lanterns, masks and traditional toys from Viet Nam, Japan and Denmark opened in the Trang Tien Plaza in Ha Noi on September 24th.
The traditional handicraft toys such as Vietnamese To he (toy figurine) which is manually made with glutinous rice powder or Japanese traditional dolls are on display at the exhibition.
The event creates a chance for Vietnamese children to understand more about different cultures of their international friends in the mid-Autumn Festival.
On this occasion, Trang Tien Plaza presented 200 scholarships to poor pupils worth VND200 million with the aim of helping them have a meaningful mid-Autumn Festival.
Mid-Autumn traditional toys are considered to be special as they not only bring joy to children but are also a cultural treasure imbued with national identity, furthermore they are associated with the stories of childhood of many generations throughout Viet Nam.
The Lantern Festival 2015 will be held at the centre of Sa Pa Town in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai on September 26th-27th, reported the Lao Cai News.
The annual event on the mid-Autumn festival, held by the Sa Pa People’s Committee, to honour cultural and spirit values of local people with the aim of creating a typical product to attract more tourists to Sa Pa.
The festival will be attended by 60 lanterns from 6 schools, 23 population groups and five hotels and restaurants. The lanterns will be paraded on streets, starting from the Quan courtyard, Xuan Vien street, 4D highway, Ngu Chi Son street and returning to the Quan courtyard.
A VND20-million award will be presented to the most beautiful and significant lantern by the Fansipan - Sa Pa Cable Tourism Service Co., Ltd.
The festival will also have special art performances performed by local people./.
Following National Highway 70 which lies by imposingly high mountains of the northern province of Lao Cai, we arrived in Bac Ha District, which is known by the name “white plateau.”
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.
Dat Mui, a commune in Ngoc Hien District of Ca Mau Province, has been widely known as the southern most area of Viet Nam.
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.
A palace where Viet Nam’s last king Bao Dai lived from 1949-1955 in the resort city of Da Lat, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, was re-opened for tourists on September 19 after a year-long renovation.
The King 1 Palace, built in 1940 with classical European architecture, spans more than 18 hectares on a pine hill along Tran Quang Dieu street in Da Lat City.
The conservation and upgrades to the facility were implemented late since last year at a total cost of 700 billion VND (31.8 million USD).
Da Lat is home to three renowned palaces of the King, which holds both cultural and historical significance.