Asia Pacific Travel Team
Mao Dien, a village located along the Duong river with long tradition of culture and history, Mao Dien commune is associated with event that King Ly took land to build the mausoleum and Ly Bat De Temple (also known as Do temple - Dinh Bang, Tu Son, Bac Ninh). The residents living on that land had to move to a new location which is Mao Dien Commune today
Located between Da Nang and Hue cities on the central coast, Lang Co Bay offers a wonderful landscape created by both nature and man.
Visitors to Lang Co will be certainly captivated by a long white-sand beach with blue seawater. They may feel nostalgic given the great view of a peaceful fishing village with boats sailing in Lap An lagoon and flocks of storks flying back to their nests at dusk. Lap An lagoon covers 800 hectares with small makeshift houses of fishermen scattered in the middle of the lagoon.
The area encompassing Lang Co Bay, and Lap An and Cau Hai lagoons is considered one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia. It is home to around 11,000 people who mostly earn a living by catching and farming fish, and providing tourism services.
Though heat waves normally hit the central region in summer, temperatures in Lang Co Bay area hover around 25 degrees Celsius.
What also makes Lang Co special is its close proximity to four of Viet Nam’s World Heritage sites – the ancient citadel of Hue, the ancient town of Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. These tourist attractions are within a radius of 150 kilometers.
The breathtaking Hai Van Pass and Bach Ma National Park are also near Lang Co.
Another interesting feature of Lang Co is fresh seafood from the lagoons of brackish water and saltwater.
In 2009, the Club of the World’s Best Bays (Worldbays) recognized Lang Co as one of the 30 most beautiful bays in the world, so this is the third Vietnamese bay on the club’s list after Ha Long and Nha Trang.
The northern province of Lao Cai aims to strengthen technological application in agricultural production in a bid to ensure high-quality food and flowers for tourists.
Lao Cai has more than 300 hectares of land under flowers, mostly in Sa Pa District, up ten-fold from that in 2010. Of the area, nearly 200 ha are dedicated to roses, and the remaining is mostly cultivated with lily and orchid.
According to the province’s plan for 2015-2020, Sa Pa plans to focus on varieties and preservation technologies in a bid to enhance productivity and product value from 2015-2020, instead of expanding the cultivation area.
More than 20 percent of nearly 400 households in Ta Phin Commune in Sa Pa District grow orchids, providing nearly 10,000 pots of orchids a year.
Ly Quay Choi from the commune, who has grown orchids for four years, said he sold nearly 200 orchid pots last year and earned around 300 million VND (13,400 USD). He expects to bring home about 500 million VND (22,320 USD) this year.
Nguyen Ngoc Hinh, Vice Chairman of the Sa Pa People’s Committee, said households with such high earnings from orchids in the district are not rare, adding that it is evidence of the effective implementation of poverty reduction efforts.
The district has also developed other local specialties such as mountainous pigs and chickens, sturgeon and salmon to serve the increasing number of tourists flocking to the locality.
According to Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Anh Tuan, Lao Cai has more than 30 salmon farms, mainly located in districts of Sa Pa, Bat Xat and Van Ban with favourable conditions for salmon growing.
Together, they produce more than 300 tonnes of salmon and sturgeon per year, two-thirds of which come from Sa Pa.
The province aims to expand salmon and sturgeon growing areas to produce 520 tonnes per year, Anh said.
The Viet Nam - Korea art exhibition titled “Love” featuring 2 photographs and prints by Korean photographer Lee Sang Bok and young female artist Vu Bach Lien is being held at the Korean Cultural Center in Ha Noi.
Lee Sang Bok works as a teacher in Viet Nam. He has fallen in love with the country and thus, has tried to capture meaningful moments wherever he goes.
Young artist Vu Bach Lien is interested in exploring contemporary visual art through prints and digital art. Her works reflect deep feelings toward Korean culture.
The event will run until October 26.
Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang Province was recognized in 2010 by UNESCO as a world geological park. The plateau is a true masterpiece of nature where man is small against the vastness of the sky, mountains and clouds.
Your journey begins in Ha Giang. After driving for about 40 km along steep roads, you will reach Dong Van Karst Plateau. At an altitude of 1,600m above sea level, the Plateau covers more than 2,350 square kilometers encompassing Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Vac districts.
This natural curiosity of limestone peaks and black granite resulted from a very long geological history and provides evidence of the evolution of the Earth's crust.
Along the 100km road from Quan Ba to Dong Van, you pass Quan Ba heaven gate, Co Tien mountain, the Vuong residence - a national relic site, the Lung Cu flag tower, and Ma Pi Leng Pass which was called a "geological monument" by the French.
The access road is quite rough but the scenery compensates your efforts. Below, the Nho Que River meanders like a silk ribbon around the base of the high cliffs. Ngoc Anh is a tourist from Ha Noi. “It is incredibly amazing! I never imagined that our country had such a wonder", she said.
"It was a blast discovering this UNESCO World Geopark, to wander in the flower meadows and rice terraces and climb Ma Pi Leng Pass and admire the Nho Que River. This is unforgettable! Even though the access road is not yet improved, I was not discouraged”, Anh added.
On this barren land live several ethnic minorities: Mong, Dao, Tay, Nung, Lolo and Pu Peo who fiercely guard their cultural identities to the delight of tourists.
Ma Ngoc Giang, Deputy Head of the Management Board of Dong Van Geological Park, said, “Tourists, especially foreigners, are attracted by the rich and authentic ethnic culture. The traditions and cultures of these ethnic groups are under preservation. Our project aims to preserve stone walls, tiled roofs, clay houses and ethnic costumes”.
If you want to meet ethnic groups in their traditional colorful costumes, it is essential to visit the Dong Van market. It is the meeting place of minorities, where women take the opportunity to do a little "shopping", while men prefer to drink and toast.
If your trip coincides with the third lunar month, don’t miss the annual Khau Vai market. It is here that the ex-lovers meet again after many years of separation, sometimes accompanied by their husbands or wives.
There is no jealousy. On the contrary, the ex-soul mate is quite respected.
French tourist Angier Marcel shared, “The landscape is wonderful. There are beautiful rice fields and not many tourists. It is very beautiful. The setting is authentic with interesting ethnic groups and superb villages. We will come back for sure and advise our friends to visit these places”.
Breathtaking scenery, authentic heritage, untouched beauty, exotic markets and friendly people – they are what Dong Van Karst Plateau can offer.
Vietnam will cut visa fees for several types of international passport holders and overseas Vietnamese from the 23rd of November 2015, with the aim to boost the country’s foreign arrivals.
According to a Ministry of Finance circular, the fee for the single-entry visa will be cut to $25 from the current $45 while the fee for the multiple-entry visa with validity of less than three months will be slashed to $50 from $95.
Foreigners applying for a multi-entry visa that is valid from three to six months will still have to pay US$95, and the current US$135 for the multi-entry visa that is valid between six months and one year.
The fee for a visa valid for between one and two years is $145, and from two to five years, $155.
In a special treat for those tourists popping over to neighboring Laos and Cambodia before returning to Vietnam to fly home, there will be a special low-priced US$5 visa fee instead of the current US$45.
Such a policy was immediately praised by local travel operators who said the change is more convenient for international customers.
Vietnam currently applies a one-sided free-visa policy to eight countries, including Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, and Belarus, according to the newspaper. In addition, Vietnam also waives visa for travelers from the other nine Southeast Asian countries, including Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.
In July, the ministry exempted visas for travelers from five European countries namely Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. However, the waiver is valid for 15-day visas only.
It is reasonable to hope that the new visa policy will spur tourism and attract more than 2 million additional tourist visitors before the year’s end.
US travel guide Rough Guides has listed Quy Nhon, the coastal city in the central province of Binh Dinh, in its Undiscovered Southeast Asia: nine places to get off the tourist trail.
According to few tourists stop in Quy Nhon, where the main industry remains, fishing and the long sandy beaches are unspoilt. During the Cham era that began centuries ago this was an important commercial centre and evidence of this remains in the imposing Banh It towers on a hilltop just north of town.
Rough Guides suggests that visitors should head to Quy Nhon by xe om (motorcycle taxi) for sweeping views of the unspoilt countryside before returning to town for a seafood supper.
Rounding off the top nine are places from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
The Sai Gon Railway Company has begun operating a luxury train between Ha Noi and Thanh Hoa every weekend.
Targeted at meeting the demand to travel to Ha Noi from Thanh Hoa and neighbouring provinces, it stops in Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, and Ha Nam provinces.
It leaves Ha Noi at 8.05am and reaches Thanh Hoa at 11.46am, and leaves in the return direction at 12.50pm.
The company is offering a 50 per cent inaugural discount.
Thirty seven pairs of oxen from 14 communes in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang competed at this year's Bay Nui Ox Race.
The race was held at Ro Pagoda in Tinh Bien district's An Cu commune on October 11.
Chau Soc Khonk, chief monk of Ro Pagoda, said the Khmer community organises the ox race every year during their traditional Sene Dolta festival.
After a one-day competition, the pair of oxen owned by farmer Duong Vinh Hiep from Vinh Trung Commune won first prize.
The Sene Dolta is one of the most important annual festivals of the Khmer community in the southwest region, along with Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) and Ooc Oom Bok, a festival thanking the moon for a good harvest.
The festival is held from the 30th day of the eighth lunar month until the second day of the ninth lunar month each year. It falls on October 12-14 this year.
During the event, the Khmer people pay tribute to their ancestors and take part in activities with traditional songs and dance after a hard-working year.
If tourists do not buy a tour at a travel firm, they can depart from the ancient town of Hoi An and head for Cua Dai Beach where they take a 20-minute motor boat ride to Cu Lao Island, or a wooden boat ride which costs less but lasts an hour.
Cu Lao Cham covers 500 hectares and has eight islets - Hon Lao, Hon Dai, Hon Mo, big and small Hon Kho, Hon La, Hon Tai, and Hon Ong. It is home to around 3,000 people.
The two most beautiful beaches on the island are Xep and Chong. If travelling in groups, tourists can set up a camping site, a fire and enjoy barbecued seafood on the beach. At night, the island is very peaceful and safe for visitors.
Those who want to learn about the daily chores of islanders should choose to stay at a local family at a cost of VND 50,000 (US$2.23) per person per night. Tourists can get up early in the morning to buy fresh seafood which can be cooked by themselves or the home owner.
Life on Cham Island is tranquil and slow while local people are friendly. Especially, they are aware of environmental protection. No nylon bags can be found on the island, so banana leaves, newspaper and carton paper are used for wrapping instead.
The ideal time for visiting Cham Island is summer when tourists can dive and snorkel to admire coral reefs and take a boat tour of beaches and fishing villages around the island.
Another destination that tourists should not miss on Cham Island is Bai Lang archaeological site where tourists can admire pottery and glass artifacts. It is an important site in the relic system of Cham ethnic people in Hoi An City and the central region.