Embassy of vietnam Vietnam holidays, tours, hotels and other travel: March 2011

Re: vietnam travel : Vietnam train

Traveling by train is a commonly affordable way in Vietnam. It generally costs
you less than flying or renting car and that too, it is safe and comfortable.
What's more, impressive sightseeing from train will make your trips the most
fascinating.
Vietnam railway system
Vietnam Railways Corporation (VRC)-Duong Sat Vietnam is the national railroad
carrier with dozens of trains.
Train & routes
VRC has two main types of trains, S/E express and TN, in which the latter are
much faster and equipped with more modern coaches.
The major route is Hanoi- Saigon with stops along the way in Hue, Da Nang, Nha
Trang and other smaller provincial cities. Every train traveling on this journey
is called the Reunification Express.
Trains S/E1 to S/E6 have air-conditioned restaurant cars and soft-sleeping
berths with western toilet facilities. They have 3 classes: air-con soft
sleeper, air-con hard sleeper and air-con soft seat. Some S/E trains are
attached with high-quality sleeping cars (run by private companies) for tourist
to Lao Cai, Hue and Da Nang (see below).
Trains TN1 & TN2 are older, slow and very basic with only hard sleepers and hard
seats.
Trains TN3-TN10 have 6 classes: air-con soft sleepers, air-con hard sleepers,
hard sleepers, air-con soft seats, soft seats & hard seats.
Trains LC1- LC4 and Sp1-Sp4 ply the route Hanoi-Lao Cai. SP trains sell 6 types
of tickets like TN3-TN10 and have some deluxe sleeping berths attached. LC1 and
LC2 have 5 classes (no air-con soft seats) while LC3 and LC4 only have soft
seats and hard seats like TN1 and TN2.
For long distances, it is most advisable for you to choose air-con soft sleeper
of S/E trains. Soft seats are tolerable for short distance only. If your time
budget are generous and your trips involve no night travel, or when S/E tickets
are sold out, then try soft sleeper/seat of TN3-TN10 and save some dollars. Some
non air-conditioned trains reward you better chance for sightseeing or
photographing with their open windows though they are rather hot in summer. Hard
sleepers and hard seats should be ignored all together as they are very
uncomfortable and usually crowded.
Fares
Children 1-4 travel free and 5-9 half fare. Others older than 10 must pay full
fares which change every 6 months. Cost varies among the train types
(express/slow) and ticket types (hard/soft, air-con/fan, sleep/seat). In
addition, for sleepers, top bunks are cheaper than bottom bunks.
Here are major routes and fares (for air-con soft sleeper class of S/E trains -
TN trains often cost US$2 less):
Saigon – Hanoi.......... (1,726 km, 36-40 hours).......... US$62
Saigon – Danang....... (935 km)............................... US$36
Saigon – Hué............ (1,027 km)............................ US$42
Saigon - Nha Trang... (411 km)...............................
US$17
Hanoi – Saigon.......... (1,726 km)............................ US$62
Hanoi – Hué............. (688 km)............................... US$28
Hanoi-Da Nang......... (791 km)............................... US$32
Hue-Da Nang............ (103km)................................ US$4
Da Nang- Nha Trang.. (524 km)............................... US$20
Hanoi-Lao Cai........... (294 km)............................... US$17
Reservation
In peak season (around Tet Holiday), it is wise to have your ticket booked in
advance by local travel agents (and expect to pay a bit more). Otherwise, you
should buy ticket directly at special counters for foreigners in stations. Note
that at Hanoi or Saigon station, you can buy journeys of all itineraries while
in others, only journeys starting at that particular station can be booked.
Passport is required on booking, payment is preferable in VND and credit cards
are yet to be accepted.
Ha Noi stations: No 120 Le Duan St (Tel: 84.4.39422770 or 84.4.39423949)
Hue station: No 573 Bui Thi Xuan St (Tel: 84.54.3822175)
Da Nang station: No 202 Hai Phong St (Tel: 84.511.3823810)
Sai Gon station: No 01 Nguyen Thong St (Tel: 84.8.38436524 or 84.8.38436528)
Nha Trang station: No 17 Thai Nguyen street - Nha Trang city (Tel:
84.58.3822113)
Note: Online booking is reported to be already available, yet it is not working
now. You may check it at the Website of Vietnam Railways
Corporation: www.vr.com.vn
Also, please note that VRC trains to Lao Cai depart at Hanoi sub-station on Tran
Quy Cap St, opposite to main station on Le Duan St.
Hanoi-Sapa deluxe trains
These luxurious trains are run by private companies with the target at tourists
traveling in style. Actually, they are special cars attached to the SP3 and
SP4 trains of VRC. Currently, you cannot book for them at the stations but
through travel agencies.
Vietnam Victoria Express travels daily (except Saturdays). This is private
service of Victoria Sapa Hotel for its guests only. Cost is from US$145 for a
round trip, much higher than VRC
trains.Livitrans, Tulico, Ratraco, Friendly, Royal or King Express generally
cost you a bit less thanVictoria. For more information and booking visit:
www.livitrantrain.com
Saigon-Nha Trang Golden Train (old name Five Star Express)
These high-quality trains, owned by a private company, ply the routes Saigon-Nha
Trang, Saigon-Phan Thiet and Saigon-Quy Nhon. It also boasts with luxurious
sleeping compartments as well as modern and comfortable sofa style seats.
Golden Train's sleepers cost around US$20 for the Saigon-Nha Trang journey and
US$25 for Saigon-Quy Nhon.

vietnam travel : Vietnam Packing List

Vietnam, Packing list of what to take for travel to Vietnam.
It's unlikely that any two people traveling to Vietnam would want to use exactly
the same packing list. Some would be perfectly comfortable with little more
than a swimsuit, some sandals, and a couple of T-shirts, while others might have
a forty-pound case of photographic equipment or dive gear. We've put together
some suggestions to help you make a start.

General

Bear in mind to take your passport, flight tickets, credit cards/cash/travellers
cheques (take several modes of payment in case the ATM swallows your card etc.),
travel insurance, and a minimal amount of clothes and toiletries. And you'll
probably want to take non-essential luxury items like Ipod and Camera, to while
away long bus or train journeys (the 36 hour train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh
City) , and make the experience more memorable.
What to Bring with you to Vietnam

Items that we suggest you bring depending on the season.

Vietnam has 3 regions, the North, Centre and South. Each of the regions has
distinct climates.

The north is hot and extremely humid and receives heavy rain from June – August.
Winter is from November until March and is cool and damp. The mountain areas of
the north including Sapa and Mai Chau, can be extremely cold during winter
although they do not receive snow.

The center is warm throughout the year and the rainy season occurs from August
or September until December. The centre often receives storms or typhoons during
October and November.

The south has 2 seasons, one dry and the other wet. The wet season last from
June until October, but the summer storms rarely last more than a few hours.

Given the above weather information, please consider the items you will bring
with you to Vietnam. This list should be used as a guide only and is not an
exhaustive list.

Clothing
Please note most Vietnamese still dress modestly and out of respect for the
culture you should dress conservatively ( no sleeveless/ halter neck tops,
shorts other than for the beach, should not reach below the knee)

Packing List

Personal clothing items, toiletries, medication
Sunhat
Sarong (to cover your shoulders should you enter temples or pagodas)
Sunscreen
Insect repellant
Light weight clothing for the summer months
Warm clothing for winter in Hanoi and in mountainous areas
Camera with film
Small daypack for day trips and overnight trip to Halong Bay
Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling or walking in caves (Halong Bay)
Sleeping sheet for train travel (can also be bought in Vietnam)
Ear plugs and sleep mask (for train journeys)
Water bottle and helmet (for cycling trips only)

Please note: Domestic airlines do impose restrictions on baggage at approx 20kg
maximum, so travel lightly where possible. Also the trains cabins and boat
cabins on Halong Bay have limited space so consider this when packing. Soft
luggage is recommended.

Getting around Vietnam

Information on how to travel around Vietnam by car, taxi, flight and more.
Cyclos
Known elsewhere as rickshaws or pedicabs, the cyclo's design slightly varies
according to what part of the country on is in. These are a fixture in all major
and minor cities in Vietnam. Cyclos should be booked through your tour company
or through the doorman or concierge of your hotel. Any trip to Vietnam without
riding a cyclo is a trip deprived.
"Xe Om"
This term literally means to "hug the motorbike." Xe Om drivers (motorbike
taxis) peruse the streets in the cities and in the countryside looking for
fares. An excellent and ready means of transportation only for the very brave
hearted. How to hail a Xe Om: extend arm and hand directly outward; flutter your
wrist as if waving goodbye to someone . . . this will hail the first available
Xe Om . . . or perhaps even a mob of them.
Taxis
Perhaps the best taxi service in the world exists in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City;
the taxis are new, reliable and economical. Always take a metered taxi. Some
taxi companies:
Saigon
* M Taxi - 822-2666
* Mai Linh Taxi - 822-6699
* Vina Taxi - 811-1111
* Saigon Taxi - 424-242
Hanoi
* Duong Sat Taxi - 864-5645
* Hanoi Taxi - 535-353
* Mai Linh Taxi - 822-2666
* Taxi CP - 826-2626
City Buses
None.
Cars and Vans
Late model Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Mercedes Benz cars and vans are available
for hire (with driver) through your tour company or your hotel. Self-driven
rental cars are not recommended for the rules of the road are entirely different
from North America.
Bicycles
Not recommended for Saigon but for the more calm and quaint streets of Hanoi
they are strongly recommended. Bicycle rentals can be made through your tour
company or through the concierge or front desk of your hotel.
Motorbikes
Motorbikes are available for rent but are strongly not recommended. They are
well worthy of watching for their amazing feats. A terrific book "Bikes of
Burden" by Hans Kemp displays Vietnamese motorbike ingenuity at its very best.

Language of Vietnamese

Spoken as the mother tongue of more than 86% of the country's population,
Vietnamese is the official/national language in Vietnam.
Origin
Though much effort has been paid to trace the origin of Vietnamese language,
so-far findings remain debatable. It is, however, unquestionable that it does
emerge from the aspirations of its people to have something speak for their own
cultural identity (in both oral and written ways). After a long time borrowing
Chinese characters, in 14th century, Vietnamese people created their own scripts
called "chu Nom" to set down their language. In 17th century, with huge joint
effort of Western missionaries, notably Alexandre de Rhodes, it was transcribed
again into Romanised scripts which later became the national language characters
(chu Quoc Ngu).
Pronunciation
Vietnamese, albeit written with Latin letters, somewhat sounds complicated for
foreigners to pronounce. It is a tonal language with six different tones.
Specifically, the meaning of a word is determined by the pitch at which it is
delivered. The word ba, for example, can mean:
* three with the mid-level tone (ba)
* grandmother with the low falling tone (bà)
* poisoned food with the low rising tone (b?)
* aunt with the high rising tone (bá)
* waste with the high broken tone (bã)
* or random with the low broken tone (b?).
Thus, learning how to say a Vietnamese word is much easier with asking locals
for sample pronunciation in advance.
Dialects
There are at least three dialects in Vietnam: northern, central and southern.
Even with standardized grammar, the accents do vary significantly among these
regions. The accent of Hanoians is considered the "standard" Vietnamese.
In all, Vietnamese people do take great pride in their beautiful language with
abundance of vocabulary, rhythm as well as emotional and literary creation
power. It is absolutely possible for you to grasp a little of this
Vietnameseness. Also, this is fun and heartily encouraged with local smiles of
welcome.
Vietnamese ethnic language
Vietnamese cultural fabric is woven by not only Viet/King people but also 53
other ethnic groups, each with its own language. Twenty four of these minorities
even have their own writing scripts. The rest live in oral societies with no
less rich traditional literature. As some of these languages are now in danger
of extinction, Vietnam government is striving hard to sustain and develop them
while at the same time popularizing Vietnamese language as a lingua franca of
the whole nation.
Your languages:
Coming to Vietnam now, you should relax yourself out of language obstruction
since more and more foreign languages are increasingly popular. English is
compulsorily taught at almost every school. French and Russian are mostly common
in the North. Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Spanish are also rising in
popularity. Most tours will be provided with efficient English speaking guides.
You can, of course, ask for a guide of your language though this chance may
depend much on the travel agents and locations you are dealing with.

Weather in Vietnam - Best time to travel

Undoubtedly, weather is one of the determining factors for your traveling
decisions. If you are heading to Vietnam, then, take it easy to make up your
mind. Vietnam's climate is not just steamy hot as what you are frequently
exposed to on movies. All year round here, there is always a perfect place where
it is pleasant to stay. Basically, the whole country falls into the tropic and
subtropics but its stretching length and diverse topography allow it to span
several different climate zones. The weather thus, tends to vary considerably
from season to season and also from region to region.
Northern Patterns
The North of Vietnam is generally cooler than other South East Asian regions in
the same longitude. It experiences two main distinct seasons. In winter months,
the weather gets colder and colder fromNovember to March and considerably warmer
in April (a leap into summer). This is also time to observe much cloud and
frequent drizzle. The average winter temperature is 17.2°C (62.9°F).
Particularly, the mountainous areas (Northwest) are often much colder,
temperature may keep below 10°C (50°F) for long period. Ice and snow even cover
Hoang Lien Son Mountains and nearby Sapa town for some times with the lowest
record of -3°C (26.6°F) in Feb 2008.
In the summer (from May to October), the whole region is quite hot. Temperature
may rise to 37°C (98.6 °F) in the peaks of June and July. Hanoi and coastal
provinces around the Red River Delta generally enjoy equitable weather with high
average humidity (80%) all year round though they may occasionally be subjected
to typhoons and heavy rain in late summers (September to November). Vietnamese
people even identify four seasons in the Northern provinces (from Hai Van Pass
toward the north) with their distinct features: pleasant spring (typically
March-April) and autumn (October-December), a chilly winter (December- February)
and a hot summer (June – July).
Central Pattern
The Central Vietnam with two sub-regions, coastal lowlands and central
highlands, can be seen as an in-between climatic area of the North and the
South. The coastal strip is usually dry and hotter than the rest in the summer,
as the Truong Son Mountains do not allow it to enjoy most rainfall of
south-western monsoon (from April to October). Unprotected coasts in their turn,
however, make it wet and colder than the rest in winter-monsoon season (from
November to March). Also, storms and typhoons strike this area more frequently
than the northern coasts in summer months (from July to November). The Central
Highlands in particular enjoys nearly double the average rainfall of the
country. Two biggest towns in this plateau, Dalat and Pleiku, are ideally cool
throughout the year. Near-the-south coastal cities, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and
Phan Thiet, on the contrary, experiences steamy hot weather (21°C-32°C /
70°F-90°F) all year round.
Southern Pattern
The South of Vietnam, merely 8 degrees north of the Equator, is typical of humid
tropical climate which is excellent for growing rice. The region's temperatures
experience little variations in a year (around 27-32°C/80-90°F). There are two
main seasons: the rainy and the dry. During the rainy/monsoon season (from May
to November), downpours are expected to happen nearly every afternoon, resulting
in occasional street flooding in and around Saigon. In the dry season, it is hot
from late February to April then slightly cooler when first downpours come. Ho
Chi Minh city (Saigon) enjoys rather equitable tropical climate with high
humidity all year round. December to March is said to be the most pleasant time
to hit this region's center.
Note: In all, Vietnam climate is so diverse that there is almost no definition
of an average temperature for the whole country. Thanks to these regional
variations in weather, generally, you can drop in Vietnam at any time of year.
Commonly, based on the duration of your stay, you should plan to catch the good
weather and places by either dropping in Saigon in February or March then
following the coast to north or hitting Hanoi in October-November then tracing
southward. The choice is entirely yours.
Whichever way you choose, however, it is important to keep your luggage as light
and loose as possible. Vietnam is not subject to extreme weather, thus loading
up with clothes is never necessary. And a final word, stay with us for
up-to-minute information on Vietnam's weather and tourism hot news.

Vietnamese Food

The Vietnamese always pride themselves on their amazingly diverse cuisine with
healthy nutrition and unique flavors appealing to foreigners and locals alike.
Not surprisingly, Philip Kotler, farther of modern marketing, on his coming to
Vietnam in 2007 demonstrated his earnest favor for Vietnam to become the world's
kitchen.
In its slim shape, stretching along Eastern Coast, Vietnam has many regions of
different natural and cultural conditions. As a result, there are said to be at
least three cooking styles in the country (the North, the Central and the
South), not to mention sub regions' recipes and local specialties. Southern
dishes, in general, seem to be exotic while Northern ones are more profound. Hue
cuisine, on the contrary, is very refined. Most of Hue recipes take their
origins from Nguyen emperor hosting every banquet of 50 dishes each meal. Over
time, many of them become part of daily-citizen culture.
A recently published book on Vietnamese food has listed a maximum of 555
traditional dishes (check out http://www.vietnamfood.org/), only about 1/10 of
experts' estimation. With unbelievable abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs,
fish and seafood, Vietnam has a lot to offer. It can be mentioned here a range
of widely- admired dishes such as noodle served with beef or chicken( pho),
spring roll, eel or snail vermicelli, crab fried with tamarind, crab sour soup,
rice spaghetti, steamed rolls made of rice-flour, rice pancake folded in half
(and filled with a shrimp, meat and soya bean sprouts)., etc. All are
excellently prepared and reasonably priced in most traveler cafes, restaurants
or street stalls.
The Vietnamese are real gastronomes. Flavoring the food to them is of vital
importance. Every dish has its own additional ingredients and garnish: boiled
chicken served with lime leaves and pepper salt, crab vermicelli with sweet
marjoram and spring roll with fish fermented sauce added sugar, vinegar, chili
and garlic, etc. These are unique yet still agreeable to western tastes and
wonderfully presentable well enough to take your fancy. There is no such a
delight like sitting in a cordial cafeteria somewhere in Hanoi's Old Quarter to
sip a bowl of Pho and let its flavor awake and refresh your fine tastes.
In most of Vietnam now, many things have changed: streets, buildings, fashion
and so on. One thing, however, to prior agreements remains unchanged that is
Vietnamese food. The real tastes of Vietnam still await for your own discovery.

ADVENTURE VIETNAM

Vietnam travel offers a tremendous variety of experiences, enough to suit every
taste. Beach lovers can enjoy the tranquil and blue sea of Mui Ne, Nha Trang and
islands, Phu Quoc, Long Hai and more adventurous beach – goers can relax at
remote and less touristy Con Dao Island or Quy Nhon and Danang Beach. More
activity lovers may find rock formations, sea cliffs and grottoes of Halong Bay,
Phong Nha Caves rates as Heritage Sites of the World.Vietnam Adventurers who aim
at more exercise while exploring traditional lifestyles can trek to North West
mountainous area through Mai Chau, Son La, Sapa and Bac Ha.Moreover, ranked
number sixteen in the world for biodiversity, Vietnam cycling trip will take you
through expansive tropical forests, across beautiful, winding rivers and up
imposing mountainsides. Vietnam travel will include an unparalleled experience
as you gaze at a number of animals and plant life you can only find in certain
parts of the world. All will make your Vietnam tour/ Vietnam adventure special
and unforgettable.To experience the navigable waterways covering over 1700
kilometers or to enjoy the shopping and cuisine of some of Vietnam's biggest and
most exciting cities, consider a Vietnam cruise or a Vietnam hotel stay. Hanoi
and Ho Chi Minh are two cities both accessible on your Vietnam cycling trip and
both present a vision of the country's social and educational advancement while
providing delicious cuisine and some of the world's best shopping
opportunities.No matter what time of year you take your Vietnam adventure tour,
you can experience vast weather and climate changes depending on the area of the
country visited. Vietnam is beyond doubt, one of the best places in the world to
be spent your vacation in. If you are planning to visit some really beautiful
place for your vacations, then nothing can be better than a vacation to Vietnam.

Dak Lak ready for coffee festival

The Central Highlands province of Dak Lak is ready for the third coffee festival
scheduled for March 10-15, Vice Chairman of the provincial People's Committee
Tran Hieu affirmed.

"All preparations for the third Buon Ma Thuot coffee festival have completed,"
he said at a press briefing on March 1.

An opening ceremony will take place at Buon Ma Thuot City's square. It will be
followed by street festivals, including lion dance, elephant march and gong
performance.

During the festival, an exhibition with 600 booths will be held to introduce
Vietnam's coffee products.

An international workshop on sustainable development for Buon Ma Thuot coffee
will also be held with the participation of representatives from coffee
exporting and importing countries like Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Futures transaction is expected to be launched for the first time in the
province's coffee trading floor.

Besides, the festival includes a series of cultural and art activities, making
it an unique attraction.

The festival has freshly been bolstered to the national level under a decision
by the Prime Minister in an attempt to turn Buon Ma Thuot City into a global hub
of coffee.

February foreign tourist arrivals up 32.4%

The tourism sector recorded an impressive performance last month with over
590,000 foreign visitors visiting the country, up 32.4% from a year ago, says a
General Statistics Office report.

The strong growth is explainable as February is a high season month for the
tourism sector. This sent the total number of international visitors to the
country in the first two months this year rising 19.5% to 1.06 million.

HCMC, the country's biggest tourism hub, attracted around 310,000 foreign
visitors last month, up 8% year-on-year, with total revenue estimated to grow
34% from the year-ago period to VND4.3 trillion.

HCMC tour operators and hoteliers have shown optimism about their business given
the strong February performance and the positive outlook for the rest of the
year.

"Our revenue and profit are better than the same period last year. Bookings for
the next season are quite good," Bui Viet Thuy Tien, Managing Director of Asian
Trails Co., said.

Quang Ninh Province, which is known for its World Heritage-listed Halong Bay,
put foreign arrivals last month at 186,000, which took the total in the first
two months to 400,000, up 10% year-on-year. Many of the visitors to this
Northern province were cruise ship passengers who toured Halong Bay.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) expects the country to
welcome 5.3 to 5.5 million foreign visitors this year.

To achieve that target, this national tourism authority is preparing to launch
the first marketing campaign of the year. VNAT and tourism businesses will join
the world-known travel trade show ITB Berlin in Germany slated for March 9-13.

VNAT is also working on a plan to honor foreign travel firms for sending big
numbers of international tourists to the country.

Japan Foundation holds Furoshiki exhibition

An exhibition of Furoshiki, Japanese wrapping cloths, was held in Hanoi by the
Japan Foundation Centre for Culture Exchange in Vietnam on March 3.

An exhibition of Furoshiki, Japanese wrapping cloths, was held in Hanoi by the
Japan Foundation Centre for Culture Exchange in Vietnam on March 3.

The exhibition displayed different types of furoshiki, most of them from Japan,
as well as others from Vietnam which won awards in the 2nd international
furoshiki contest in Japan.

Five Vietnamese students won prizes in the competition including one grand
prize, one hounorable mention and two consolation prizes.

Grand prize winners will be commercially produced and promoted through the Japan
Foundation's activities worldwide.

Two Japanese instructors, Hiroko Handa and Yoko Yamamoto, also held a brief
public class to help people understand more about the art of furoshiki.

The furoshiki contest is an annual event held by the Japan Foundation to promote
cultural exchange between it and other nations and to introduce this traditional
craft that can be used today to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags and
packaging, thereby protecting the environment.Furoshiki is a square piece of
cloth used for various purposes such as wrapping and carrying items of different
shapes. Dyed in various colors and patterns, today it is also used for wrapping
gifts, as well as for table coverings and interior decoration. Furoshiki goes
back to the Edo Period (1603-1868), when public bathhouses became widely
accessible. The tradition was then handed down through the generations as an
essential part of the Japanese lifestyle.

Various events to celebrate Hung Kings’ death anniversary

A wide range of activities will take place as from April 7 (the 5th day of the
3rd lunar month) in the northern province of Phu Tho to commemorate the death
anniversary of Hung Kings and celebrate the Hung Temple Festival in 2011.

The activities will be jointly held by Phu Tho and five other provinces, namely
Tuyen Quang, Hoa Binh, Nam Dinh, Quang Ngai and Dong Thap.

Incense offering ceremonies to the first rulers of Vietnam – the Hung Kings and
the legendary ancestors of the nation will be held on April 7, 8 and 12 with the
main ceremony to be hosted by Phu Tho on April 12 (the 10th day of the 3rd lunar
month).

The festival that will last from April 8-12 will include a lion dance, a Xoan
singing (ancestor worship singing) festival, an exhibition of offerings to the
Hung Kings and a contest on making the traditional "banh chung" (square
glutinous rice cake) and "banh day" (rice cake).

Phu Tho Province will also host an international seminar on "The worship of Hung
Kings" as part of efforts to bid for UNESCO's recognition of as an intangible
cultural heritage.

Legend has it that Lac Long Quan, who was a dragon, met and married fairy Au Co,
who later gave birth to 100 eggs from which 100 children sprang forth. The
couple then parted due to their different origins. The man went seawards with 50
of their children, while his wife went to the mountains with the other half of
the clan. The eldest son, who followed his father, later installed himself as
Vietnam's first Hung King and today's Vietnamese people are said to be
descendants of those children.

Re: vietnam travel :Vietnam aims to receive 5.3 million international visitors in 2011

Vietnam aims to receive 5.3 million international visitors in 2011

Vietnam's tourism industry has set a target to welcome 5.3 million international
visitors, serve 30 million domestic tourists and earn VND110,000 billion by the
end of 2011.

The culture, sports and tourism industry focused on these goals at a conference
on deploying work this year that was held in Hanoi on February 25-26.

The industry will concentrate on developing human resources in the sector and
gradually make tourism into a key industry. It also presented the tourism
development project for 2011-2020 to the Prime Minister for approval.

The tourism sector will increase domestic and foreign cultural exchanges,
introduce Vietnamese culture to the world, strengthen advertising of the
national image and promote voting for Halong Bay to become one of the new
natural wonders of the world.

Re: vietnam travel : Danang promotes fireworks competition in HCMC

The central coast city of Danang organized the Gala Dinner 2011 with the theme
"Sparking Han River" in HCMC on February 25 to promote tourism products to tour
operators, especially the Danang International Fireworks Competition.

According to the city's tourism promotion center, the annual competition will
take place on April 29 and 30 with the participation of five teams comprising
Jubilee Fireworks of England, Hanwha of South Korea, Parente Fireworks A&C SNC
of Italy, Panda Fireworks of China and a team of Danang City.

The Danang tourism sector had organized a similar event in the capital city of
Hanoi in the previous week to promote to the event.

A ticket to see the performance costs VND200,000, or nearly US$10, and visitors
can buy tickets in HCMC, Hanoi and Danang cities. The organizing committee
expects to sell over 16,000 tickets for this competition.

Last year's fireworks competition in Danang saw the participation of Pyrotecnico
- New Castle from Pennsylvania (USA), Luso Pirotecnia Group (Portugal), Jacques
Couturier Organisation (France), Tamaya Kitahara (Japan) and Danang (Vietnam).
It attracted around 100,000 spectators.

Representatives of some hotels located along the Han River in Danang that offer
a good view of fireworks display said that their hotels were receiving many
bookings from spectators.

The central city has reported fast growth in tourism last year with around 1.77
million visitors - including 370,000 internationals - up 33% over 2009, and
gaining over VND1.2 trillion in revenue, up 39% year-on-year.

The city is speeding up tourism promotion activities along with giving supports
to airlines to open international services linking Danang and foreign
destinations. The city currently has eight international air routes to Hong
Kong, Singapore, Japan, and China among others.

Visitors from Narita of Japan will travel to the city more easily from the
second quarter when Vietnam Airlines launches direct flights between the two
cities.

Re: vietnam travel : Vietnam allows 27 firms to serve Lao, Thai tourists

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has announced a list of 27
companies permitted to provide services for Thai and Lao visitors to the
country's central region.

The companies are mostly based in Danang, Quang Tri, Nghe An and Thua Thien-Hue
on the central coast, and affiliated to a club comprising tourism services firms
in the central region, which debuted late last year.

VNAT said only the club members can arrange tours for Lao and Thai people to the
country via the border gates of Nam Can, Cau Treo, Cha Lo and Lao Bao. Other
companies wanting to organize cross-border tours must cooperate with the club
members.

The list has been sent to relevant authorities in seven central provinces –
Danang, Quang Nam, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Nghe An, Thua Thien-Hue and Ha Tinh.

Cao Tri Dung, chairman of the club said that the club applied the minimum prices
for three popular overland tours designed for Thai and Lao guests, ranging from
US$105 to US$170 per person. The club has worked out many joint programs to
promote places of interest.

"We hold 99% market share (in the central region), so we need better services
and more marketing activities to retain and develop the market. In the past, we
had few activities to promote services and build tourism products," Dung said.

According to him, more than 200,000 Thai and Lao tourists traveled to the
country by road last year.

Nguyen Quy Phuong, Deputy Director of the Travel Department under VNAT, said the
decision to allow only the club members to organize overland tours for Thais and
Laotians would apply in short term.

"This decision is designed to find ways to resolve the problems that have
plagued the tourism sector in the central region, such as price undercutting and
unfair competition. So the club will have to expand its membership," he said.

Phuong said VNAT and authorities in the seven provinces had many times met to
seek a way out and that in the end, all the parties concerned agreed to
encourage travel firms to club together to better serve tourists and condemn bad
competitive practices among tourism firms.

Re: vietnam travel : Over 4,000 European tourists visit Halong Bay

More than 4,000 foreign tourists visit Halong Bay by cruise ships from February
2 to March 3, according to Trinh Dang Thanh, Deputy Director of the Quang Ninh
Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Arcadia carrying 2,000 passengers docked at Halong Bay on February 28, 90% of
them are British and the rest Australian.

Another cruise ship, Seabourn Sojourne, arrived at Cai Lan Port on March 1,
carrying 400 tourists. Later the same day, Costa Classica with 1,400 European
passengers on board also came on a tour of Halong Bay and will head for Hanoi
one day later.

The Princess Daphne is scheduled to bring 350 Australian tourists to the bay on
March 3.

Re: vietnam travel : Dak Lak ready for coffee festival

The Central Highlands province of Dak Lak is ready for the third coffee festival
scheduled for March 10-15, Vice Chairman of the provincial People's Committee
Tran Hieu affirmed.

"All preparations for the third Buon Ma Thuot coffee festival have completed,"
he said at a press briefing on March 1.

An opening ceremony will take place at Buon Ma Thuot City's square. It will be
followed by street festivals, including lion dance, elephant march and gong
performance.

During the festival, an exhibition with 600 booths will be held to introduce
Vietnam's coffee products.

An international workshop on sustainable development for Buon Ma Thuot coffee
will also be held with the participation of representatives from coffee
exporting and importing countries like Brazil, Columbia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Futures transaction is expected to be launched for the first time in the
province's coffee trading floor.

Besides, the festival includes a series of cultural and art activities, making
it an unique attraction.

The festival has freshly been bolstered to the national level under a decision
by the Prime Minister in an attempt to turn Buon Ma Thuot City into a global hub
of coffee.

vietnam travel : Phu quoc

Phu Quoc is an island off the coast of Cambodia in the gulf of Thailand that
became part of Vietnam while the French administrated the region and has
remained so ever since. It is very close to Cambodia - you can see the mainland
from the North West of the island - but can be reached by fast boat in around 2
1/2 - 3 1/2 hours from the towns of Ha Tien and Rach Gia in the Mekong Delta, or
by plane from Saigon (1hr).
Due to the political sensitivity of the island it was largely dominated by the
military for much of recent history and has only in the past decade or so begun
to develop. As a result the majority of roads are unpaved and most of the island
is covered in lush forest. As we write the island remains a tranquil paradise,
with just a smattering of hotels and resorts and many beautiful, quiet beaches
that look out onto the calm glassy waters of the gulf of Thailand.
So far development on the island has been slow due to the cost of shipping
materials to the island and the small airstrip limiting the size of plane that
can land - and so the number of visitors that can fly to the island (for this
reason you should always book your trip to Phu Quoc well in advance!).
Yet this is due to change. Comparisons have been made between the size of Phu
Quoc, its appeal to tourists and areas such as Phuket, Koh Samuiand even
Singapore, and big plans are underfoot. An international airport and short-term
visa exemption is planned for the island to allow larger planes filled with
package tourists to land, and it is thought the character of the island will
change significantly as the investment floods in and Phu Quoc becomes one of
Vietnam's key beach destinations.
With luck these changes will be reasonably sympathetic - the centre of the
island is a national park and as far as we know it will remain so, meaning the
interior will still be covered in thick forest - but we do recommend visiting
now if you have the chance while Phu Quoc remains such a peaceful escape.
There are a limited number of hotels on the island so once again do book in
advance to avoid disappointment. The majority of hotels are based on Long Beach,
a many miles long stretch of beach from the centre to the southern point on the
western coast, which benefits from great sunsets in the evenings. A few of the
more upmarket, boutique resorts are based on and around Bai Ong (Ong Beach), on
the North-West coast, and if you really want to escape from it all then Bai Sao
on the South East has basic accommodation and perhaps is one of the most
beautiful beaches on the island.
If you're not content just watching the day slide by while eating delicious
seafood and drinking beers and fresh coconuts there are a number of excursions
you can do such as diving and snorkelling trips to coral reefs around a small
group of islands off the southern tip. In the centre of the island are
waterfalls and rock pools, as well as a crocodile farm that can be visited. The
island is also famous for producing some of the best pepper and fish sauce in
the world and plantations and factory tours can also be arranged.
Many visitors rent a jeep or motorbike to get around the island but do beware -
the roads are very dusty and covered in gravel and it is far from unusual that
inexperienced motorcyclists lose a lot of skin or even break legs and ribs
driving around the island - please, only rent a bike if you are a very competent
rider. If that's not you then consider arranging for a minibus or taxi to take
you exploring instead.

vietnam travel : vung tau

While Vung Tau may not be my favourite place in Vietnam, it makes for a very
quick escape from the city. With a ticket on the hydrofoil from Ho Chi Minh City
costing just over $10 and taking just over an hour you can escape the big smoke
and be on the beach long before you go stir crazy.
Despite a slightly seedy reputation its not a bad place to get away when you're
short on time and can't face the journey to Mui Ne. Once a popular destination
for the colonial French the town is overlooked by a huge statue of Jesus on top
of a nearby hill, similar to the one that looks out over Brazil.
The town itself looks out onto a pretty harbour full of brightly painted blue
fishingboats typical of southern Viet Nam.
To the right of the bay is a road that snakes around the coast beneath Jesus'
feet, leading to a huge long beach bustling with fellow escapees from Saigon,
where there are many restaurants, cafes and hotels.
If you follow the road to the right you will find a far quieter bay, with two
huge statues on the hill - one of Mary holding Jesus, and further down the coast
a huge statue of Buddha.
Food, drink and accomodation in Vung Tau is all pretty cheap and there are some
great deals to be had. There is also a wide range of accommodation from high
quality hotels to cheap guesthouses and homestays which can be had for under $10
a night.

vietnam travel Danang tourists’ first port of call

February 16, 2011

Danang will become more attractive to tourists and individual investors seeking
second homes in the central region. The municipal people's committee is to woo
tourists by permitting a marina and tourism property complex to be built by a
joint venture between VinaCapital's Danang Marina Investment Limited and local
firm Quoc Cuong Gia Lai.
The joint venture has just gained investment certificate for building a marina,
a water sport and entertainment park and a complex of coastal condos, villas, a
hotel and office buildings.
The $174 million project will be located in Son Tra district's Nai Hien Dong
commune, three kilometres from Danang's city centre and cover 11 hectares of
land and 6ha of water surface. The first marina project ever licenced in Danang
will be operational by 2018.
"This project is unique in central region. It will make the city more attractive
to tourists," said Lam Quang Minh, director of the Danang Investment Promotion
Centre. He said the project, with a luxurious marina, sport and entertainment
park, would underscore Danang as a famous coastal tourism destination like
Phuket in Thailand or Bali in Indonesia.
Home to nice beaches and close to world heritage sites such as the ancient
capital of Hue, My Son holy land and Hoi An ancient town, Danang is luring in
lots of local and foreign tourists. But, while many investors are developing
luxurious resorts in Danang, the city does not have many sites to satisfy
tourists' entertainment demands.
"Tourism property projects consist of a marina, sport and an entertainment park
is what we need now," said Minh.
Last year, Danang Port Holding Limited Liability Company signed a memorandum of
understanding with Singapore Cruise Centre for building an international cruise
hub in Danang, expecting to tap into the growing cruise industry demand in South
East Asia. However, the cruise hub project has not yet to be licensed.
A marina at the newly licenced project of VinaCapital and Quoc Cuong Gia Lai
will not only promote tourism attractiveness of the city, but also attract
individual investors, who are seeking second homes in central region.
Currently, Danang is one of the largest second home markets in Vietnam with tens
of projects. A report of property consultancy CBRE showed that Danang has 55
tourism property projects with total investment capital of around $3 billion.
Foreign developers like Indochina Capital, VinaCapital and Daewon Group are
developing Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa project, Danang Beach Resort
project and Daewon Da Phuoc project respectively in Danang. Meanwhile, local
developers also joined the race with projects like Furama Resort, Son Tra Spa
and Resort and Vinpearl Danang Resort & Residences.
The supply of second homes is rising in this market, but Minh said facilities
like a marina and a sport and water entertainment park would ensure the success
of VinaCapital and Quoc Cuong Gia Lai's project.
CBRE also said in a report on Vietnam's second home market that building a
marina, water sport and entertainment facilities was new wave for luring home
buyers.

Ha Long Bay welcomes large numbers of foreign tourists

March 3, 2011

Ha Long Bay welcomed 48,000 tourists, 94 percent of whom were foreigners in the
first months of the year.


This is the largest number of foreign tourists visiting Ha Long for
January-February period so far.
On March 1, 400 visitors aboard the Seabourn Sojourne cruise liner of
the USarrived in Ha Long.
The same day, two cruise ships, Amazara Quest and Costa Classica carried 2,000
foreign tourists to the UNESCO recognised heritage site.
Earlier, the British Arcadia ship anchored at Hon Gai port of Ha Long city with
2,000 visitors aboard./.

Source: VN+

“Return to the Roots” tourism programme kicks off

"Return to the Roots" tourism programme kicks off

A ceremony to launch the "Return to the Roots" tourism programme 2011 was held
in Nghia Lo, Yen Bai Province on February 26. This is a tourism cooperative
programme between the northern provinces of Yen Bai, Phu Tho and Lao Cai.

At the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan praised the
three provinces' efforts in promoting tourism and said their cooperation
provides a good example for others to follow. He said he hopes the programme
will create more tourism products and give all three provinces a facelift for
developing tourism.

Over the six years of the programme, Phu Tho, Yen Bai and Lao Cai provinces have
invested thousands of billions of VND in tourism infrastructure. With nearly
1,000 accommodation facilities, including at least one four – star hotels, more
than 500 hotels and 260 restaurants, the three provinces have met the increasing
demands of both domestic and foreign tourists, even in the high season.

Since the programme's implementation, the three provinces have received more
than 25 million tourists, including 2 million in 2010, and earned more than
VND1,000 billion. They aim to receive more than 5.5 million visitors in 2011,
including about 400,000 foreigners and earn more than VND1,200 billion. The
programme attracted over 60 travel agents to conduct tours.

Now that the 2011 programme has been officially launched, the provinces will
host a wide range of activities, such as the Hung Temple Festival in Phu Tho, a
cultural week to promote Thac Ba Lake in Yen Bai, the Thuong Temple Festival, on
the cloud festival in Sapa, and a horse race in Bac Ha, Lao Cai Province.

Vietravel arranges FAM trip for Cambodia press

Local tour operator Vietravel arranged a familiarization trip for a press group
from Cambodia between February 24 and 27, giving them a chance to learn culture,
lifestyle, and tourism products in Vietnam at a time when arrivals from Cambodia
are increasing strongly.

The group included the central and local television stations such as CTN, TVK,
Apsara TV; and newspapers and magazines of Cambodia such as The Phnom Penh Post,
Koh Sontepheap Daily, Raksmey Kampuchea Daily, and Popular Magazine.

During four days in Vietnam, the press group visited numerous places in HCMC,
Vung Tau and Binh Duong.

The trip took in many beauty spots such as French-style constructions in
downtown HCMC, Ben Thanh Market, Dam Sen Amusement Park, Saigon Zoo and
Botanical Garden. The guests also spent their time at Binh Chau Hot Spring and
Vung Tau City in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, and Dai Nam Van Hien tourism complex
in Binh Duong Province.

The Cambodian press also visited the HCMC-based Victoria Healthcare, a
joint-venture between Vietnam and the U.S., to look into the process of disease
examination and treatment at a clinic meeting U.S. standards.

Owing to the convenient overland travel between the two countries via numerous
border gates, cross-border travel has been increasing rapidly, with thousands of
guests from either side. In the January-July period of last year, there were
over 142,700 arrivals from Cambodia to Vietnam, a staggering increase of 93%
year-on-year.

Cambodian tourists are much interested in tourism services connected with
medical treatment in Vietnam.

Air France reduces fares to Europe

Air France announced an early bird offer starting from US$699 for an economy
return ticket to many destinations inEurope such
as Paris, Amsterdam,London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Barcelonaand Venice.
This is applicable for all flights fromHanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and can
coordinate with KLM flights flying viaBangkok.
The Paris-based airline said the offer was open from March 01 -31 for travel
period between May 9 to October 31 and was a great opportunity to
discoverFrance and Europe on such a low budget.
For more information please visit www.airfrance.com.vn or call 08 38290981 /
38290982
Air France is a member of Sky team and operates in partnership with the national
flag carrier from Hanoi and HCMC to Paris.