Asia Pacific Travel Team
A series of cultural and art activities will take place at the Vietnamese Ethnic Groups Culture and Tourism Village in the Dong Mo tourism area of Son Tay town, Ha Noi, featuring the cultural identity of Co Tu ethnic people in Tay Giang district of the central province of Quang Nam, said the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
As part of events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the August Revolution (August 19) and National Day (September 2), the programme from August 19-23 will include activities such as cuisine and speciality introductions, festivals, folk singing and dancing, instrument performances and traditional games.
The highlights of the event will be a celebration of the Guol communal house and a wedding ceremony of the ethnic group.
Most Co Tu in Quang Nam province live in Nam Giang, Dong Giang and Tay Giang districts.
Their Guol house is a unique and age-old architecture type, which serves communal meetings and traditional festivals of the ethnic group.
It is an indispensable part of the cultural and spiritual life of Co Tu people, as it is closely connected with Gong performances. Their famous dances are Tung Tung (performed by men) and Da Dá (performed by women).
On the occasion, participants attending the event will also pay tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum.
From 1558 to 1945, Hue was the imperial capital city of 9 Nguyen Lords, the Tay Son regime and 13 Nguyen dynasties.
During those 4 centuries, Hue became an extensive complex of unique architectural and cultural relics. In 1993, the Hue imperial complex was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. The city has become a mecca of Vietnamese tourism.
On the northern bank of the Huong river in the middle of the city, the magnificent imperial citadel emerges, exhibiting the power of the Nguyen dynasty. The citadel’s royal palaces, monuments and beautiful landscaping retain their imperial solemnity.
The Hue imperial city comprises the Imperial Citadel and the Purple Forbidden City which are surrounded by wide moats. Several buildings were the headquarters of the monarchy and shrines dedicated to kings.
The Forbidden Purple City was reserved exclusively for the royal family and concubines. Only eunuchs could enter. The Imperial Citadel’s design was inspired by Oriental philosophy and Vietnamese tradition. All the structures were built around a main axis. The citadel has four main gates, the south door (Ngo Mon) was exclusively reserved for the emperor.
When you're in Hue, you should also visit the majestic tombs of the Nguyen Kings that lie west of the Imperial Citadel. Located on hills, along the Perfume River, these tombs are typical of Vietnamese architecture, but each reflects the personality and taste of the Emperor.
A large part of Hue’s attractiveness is owed to its beautiful Perfume River and Ngu Binh mountain. Nguyen Xuan Hoa, a Hue resident, said “The Perfume River is a natural wonder of Hue city. It has rare a romantic beauty. Its green waters meander across the plains, through forests and villages like a silk band before entering the Tam Giang Lagoon".
Touring the Perfume River by boat is a wonderful experience. You will enjoy the beautiful sights of the city while listening to royal court music and local folk songs. Truong Tien Bridge over the Perfume River is another iconic landmark of Hue.
Built between 1897 and 1899, it was one of the first bridges built by the French in Indochina. This beautiful bridge and the Perfume River have been a great source of inspiration for poets and songwriters.
Phan Thuan An who has researched Hue culture for several years said for Hue people, Truong Tien Bridge is the primary architectural site of the city and the most beautiful one. The bridge is strongly imprinted in Hue people’s hearts.
Today, the Hue imperial city is also known as a festival city because of its biennial festival which attracts top Vietnamese and foreign performing artists. Authentic architecture, romantic landscapes, and delicate gastronomy make Hue city worth a visit!
Dubbed as the rooftop of Moc Chau district in the northern mountainous province of Son La, foggy Pha Luong Mountain is an attractive tourist destination, especially for those eager for adventurous tourism.
Pha Luong, or big mount in the Thai language, is located in eastern Moc Chau district along the Vietnam-Laos border line.
For a long time, the nearly 2,000-metre mount has stood imposingly, carrying thatched-roof houses on its back. On its top is a 10-hectare flat area ideal for sports such as riding or walking.
With its breathtaking views and cloudy vistas, Pha Luong is also a common dating and entertainment venue for many Mong ethnic couples.
Adventurous tourism lovers have called Pha Luong a unique beauty compared with other mountains in the northwest region. This mount is widely considered legendary, luring climbers to conquer it as a way to challenge themselves.
Pha Luong takes tourists nearly one full day to reach its top. During the decent, visitors stop off at Pha Luong hamlet and spend the night there, offering an opportunity to admire the picturesque scenery and feel the icy fog absorbing into their skin during the sunset.
While staying in the hamlet, visitors have a chance to explore the daily life of Mong ethnic people and capture the image of border guards patrolling the forest.
Aware of the benefits brought by Pha Luong, locals are engaging in tourism services and improving their living standards.
With such advantages, Pha Luong is seen as a new attraction in Moc Chau, helping the locality diversify its tourist destinations towards becoming a national tourism centre. Pha Luong is expected to push local economic development forward.
The number of arrivals to Moc Chau increased from 288,000 in 2010 to 700,000 in 2014.
Nhat Le Beach in the central province of Quang Binh has been selected as one of the top ten most attractive beaches in Viet Nam by the Vietnam Records Organisation (VRO).
The record was announced at a ceremony in Dong Hoi city on August 13th during which a decision of the provincial People’s Committee recognising Nhat Le-Quang Phu-Bao Ninh Beach as a provincial-level tourism site, was also declared.
The recognitions are expected to fully tap the locality’s tourism potential, thus attracting more tourists to Quang Binh.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dong Hoi city Phan Xuan Luat said the city will increase investment for local beaches.
It will also pay attention to environmental protection and rescue work while ensuring security and strictly managing infrastructure construction and tourism service development in line with the locality’s plan.
Luat also asks for further support to help the city develop more provincial-level tourism site in the coming time, contributing to promoting the locality’s socio-economic development.
About one km from Dong Hoi city, Nhat Le Beach boasts a romantic and untouched beauty, with clear water and white sand bank.
The site attracts numerous tourists, who are fond of getting some fresh air, swimming in the sea and enjoying seafood.
Quang Binh is well-known for various natural attractions. Recently, the VRO listed four tourism sites in the locality amongst the top 50 must-see travel destinations in Viet Nam, including the Phong Nha Cave, Ngang Pass, Nhat Le Beach and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
With the opening of the Son Doong vave in 2013, Quang Binh was instantly catapulted onto the bucket lists of travellers all over the world.
Recently, the New York Times named Quang Binh as one of the most attractive destinations in Asia and the world’s 52 top must-go sites for 2014.
US website Boredpanda has published a list of the 30 most unique modes of transport, which includes Viet Nam's cyclo.
Considered an offshoot of the rickshaw, a popular vehicle in Ha Noi and Sai Gon in the 19th century, the cyclo has three wheels with a passenger seat in front and the pedals and the driver's seat behind.
They are common in major cities like Ha Noi, Hue, Da Nang, and HCM City, and are often the transportation of choice for tourists.
But in some Mekong Delta provinces like An Giang, Tien Giang, the passenger seat is in the back.
Besides cyclos, the list also includes the reindeer sled (Finland), tram (France), suspension railway (Germany), hydrofoil (Greece), gondola (Italy), toboggan (Portugal), trolley bus (Russia), aerial tramway (Switzerland).
On August 9 one of the world's largest cruise ships, Voyager of the Seas, carrying more than 3,600 passengers and 1,200 crew members docked for the first time in the central city of Hue.
The passengers were taken from Chan May Port to historical relic sites and natural attractions in Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An where they also enjoyed local food and shopping.
The Voyager of the Seas berthed at Chan May Port's wharf No 1 in which cruise operator Royal Caribbean International Group has invested US$4 million for an upgrade so that large cruise vessels can anchor there.
Ha Noi's Noi Bai International Airport has installed more sleeping pods for passengers waiting because of delayed or cancelled flights at its Terminal Two.
The Viet Nam Aviation Tourism Corp (VATC) on Monday added six new double pods to the 11 double and three single pods it installed in T1 in July.
The pods are equipped with a bed, wardrobe, telephone line, TV, and wi-fi connection.
A double costs VND150,000 (US$7) per hour for the first six hours and VND142,000 ($5) per hour for the next three.
It costs VND1.136 million ($51) for eight to 24 hours. The company is offering a 15 per cent discount until August 31.
In keeping with the ancient Vietnamese adage - Best is to live near a market, next best is a life near a river - Vu Thi Hai, a food seller in Ha Noi, recently went about an exploring tour along the Hong (Red) River that turned out to be not just fascinatingly enchanting but also left her with many warm memories.
Hai said her tour had left her with many soothing memories that she will treasure for the rest of her life.
"We visited some famous places along the river, such as Dai Lo Goddess Temple, Dam and Chu Dong Tu temples, and ended the tour at Bat Trang pottery village.
"As we departed very early in the morning, a dim layer of fog floating above the river induced in us a strange feeling. We felt as if we would simply melt into the lovely river scene, even as we longingly watched the beautiful landscape along the two river banks," she said.
The idea of travelling on the river is catching up fast. In order to exploit the tourism potential along the Red River, travel companies in Ha Noi recently introduced a new tour with the theme "Red River - the Bridges."
Since Vietnamese historically believed that the idea of living near a river is second only to living next to a market, a number of villages and ancient relics featuring Vietnamese traditional culture came up along the river over centuries. Among these were the Bat Trang pottery village, the Dong Ho painting village and the Duong Lam ancient village.
Cultural relics typical of the Red River Delta include Phat Tich Pagoda, But Thap Pagoda, Kinh Duong Vuong Mausoleum, and Temples for Goddess (Mau).
These have the potential to develop eco-tourism, handicraft village tourism and spiritual tourism along the Red River.
But to turn the Red River into a popular tourist destination, investment is needed.
Nguyen Thai Dung, deputy director of Thang Long GTC, a travel company that has been conducting tours along the River for 20 years now, said as of now, tours along the Red River had not been developed as a specific tourism product because of many difficulties.
"The first problem is the facilities. The infrastructure is still not good enough and fails to meet the requirements of travellers. In its current state, Chuong Duong Do is just a temporary pier. So, during shallow water season, we have to move the pier to a recent pagoda. If the water is too shallow, the ships cannot dock, and we must stop the ships in the middle of the river and then shift the passengers to the shore by boat."
Nguyen Thu Huong, an official from the Tourism Department under the National Administration of Tourism, said while in many countries, river tourism had been highly developed, it remained tied to the urban areas along the banks of the river, which are thriving and eventful.
"Although the Red River has beautiful scenery, both its banks simply are a long line of reed, banana and maize gardens. Travelling on the river at night, tourists can only see the distant lights of the buildings on both banks.
"Another problem is, people exploit sand in many places along the river bank, leaving sore spots that are jarring to the tourists' eyes and make for a poor picture for prospective tourists," she said.
Almost five years ago, while preparing for the celebration of 1,000 years of Ha Noi, the city Department of Culture, Sports, Tourism organised a tour linking the Red River with Hung Yen Province along the route: Dai Lo Temple - Dam Temple - Chu Dong Tu Temple - Bat Trang pottery village.
So far, among the tours on the River, this route remains the traditional tour, exploiting tourists' craze for viewing the heritage sites and gaining an experience of the handicraft village.
This tour is mostly for domestic tourists and is organised during the festival season after Tet (Lunar New Year) and autumn.
Hoang Thi Kim Van, an official of the Sen Rung Tourism Company, said, "As for the many international visitors who arrived in Ha Noi for the second time, they want to experience travelling along the Red River to study the villages that showcase Vietnamese culture.
"However, infrastructure of harbours is still poor. In fact, the tours along the Red River which combine bicycle tourism to experience the villages en route are quite popular with the international travellers, but these clients require professional services.
"To attract tourists to the Red River, travel agencies must diversify the tourism products," she said.
To meet the requirements of tourists, the Thang Long GTC recently collaborated with localities along the river to organise a half-day tour such as "Red River - the Bridges" for visitors to experience the history of its bridges.
The bridges can be viewed from the river when the ship passes through Chuong Duong, Long Bien, Nhat Tan and Thang Long bridges.
They also organise the tour "Red River - the Journey of Love Songs", to enable visitors to enjoy the love songs associated with the Red River and the unique art forms typical of the northern Delta and Red River civilization, such as Bac Ninh Province's quan ho (love duet) folk songs, chau van (ritual singing), ca tru (ceremonial songs), cheo (traditional operetta).
On this journey, visitors not only can listen to the history of the bridges, but also gently leave floating candles along the river to send their wishes.
Besides, Thang Long GTC is introducing other tours along the Red River as "Back to Hoa Lu", "Exploring Pho Hien: Past and Present", and "Visiting Vietnamese Villages by Boat and Bicycle" to experience and study traditional handicraft villages, relics and landscapes in Ha Noi, and nearby provinces of Bac Ninh, Hung Yen, Ha Nam, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, and Hoa Binh.
The Red River travel programme currently attracts about 20,000 tourists each year, of which international visitors make up around 30 per cent.
Domestic visitors are mainly business people, or come from organisations and schools in Ha Noi.
"With diversification of tours, upgrading of travel ships, and the support of local government, we hope the Red River tourism will be the highlight of Ha Noi," said Dung.
Hanoian visitor Hai said there should be an exchange programme on board throughout the voyage, to create a sense of bonding among the travellers.
"Destinations are rustic and unspoiled. Visiting Dam Temple, if we could attend a seance session, it would be more interesting. In Bat Trang pottery village, it would be more attractive to visit the workshops rather than the market, because only that way can we really perceive the value of such a tourism product," she said.
The Buckwheat Flower Festival 2015 will be held for the first time in four districts of Dong Van, Quan Ba, Yen Minh and Meo Vac in the northeastern mountainous province of Ha Giang from November 11th to 15th.
The festival aims to honor special cultural values of the Dong Van rocky highlands as well as create a feature to attract more tourists to the destination. In addition, it will help to turn the buckwheat flower into a tourism trademark of the locality and province.
The opening of the festival with the theme “the rocky highland – thousands of buckwheat flowers showing beauty” will be organised in Dong Van town with an array of art performances introducing the legend of the flower.
The festival will include other cultural activities, such as a festive night about buckwheat flower wine, a show on the buckwheat flower and its products and a photo exhibition.
The 2015 International Travel Expo in Ho Chi Minh City will take place from September 10-12.
Vietnam's main international tourism event, with its motto of One Decade – One Mekong – One World this year, is expected to draw 25,000 visitors besides the foreign media.
According to a release from the organisers, 22 Vietnamese provinces, 13 international tourism promotion organisations, and 25 tourism enterprises from 20 countries and territories have registered to take part in the event.
It will be held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7.
Last year the event attracted 320 companies from 21 countries and territories and 22,000 visitors.