Thứ Tư, 25 tháng 4, 2012

It’s carnival time - Carnival Halong 2012

Thanh Tan talks to Vu Thu Thuy, deputy chairwoman of Quang Ninh Provincial People's Committee, about the forthcoming carnival in Halong, which will be the highlight of Halong-Quang Ninh Tourism Week to be held April 24 to May 1

Why did you choose the slogan, "Quang Ninh Combines the Best" for this year's Halong-Quang Ninh Tourism Week?

This year's Carnival Halong 2012 aims to explore and promote more effectively the ethnic cultural identities of the area as well as the potential of cultural tourism.

Quang Ninh province is a unique and sacred destination. With its imposing natural landscapes, peaceful land and hospitable people, Quang Ninh eras a lot of features to offer tourists. This is also an ideal opportunity for investors to explore the province's potential and seek attractive investment opportunities. That's why we came up with the titled for this year's carnival: "Quang Ninh Combines the Best."

The Halong-Quang Ninh Tourism Week 2012 is a chance to converge and exchange experiences and knowledge across many fields and industries between various provinces and cities around the country and abroad. This event shows our openminded attitude to strengthen our integration with local and international partners.

Carnival Halong 2012 promises to be an exceptional event once again - what will be new this year? Carnival Halong is the highlight of Halong-Quang Ninh tourism week. This year Ha long Bay is being honoured as one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and we will also promote our myriad ethnic cultures and focus on traditional values.

The carnival is organised, arranged and performed by Quang Ninh native people — all traditional folk performances are performed by local residents, highlighting our unique and diversified value of local culture. This year the carnival will bewitch tourists with its simple but mysterious natural beauty rather than luxurious or splendid creations. This is an effective way to preserve the traditional culture of Quang Ninh while expressing vitality and strength.

Carnival Halong 2012 will feature a large number of international and national art and cultural performance troupes - how many people will be involved?

There are more than 3,800 amateur and professional artists performing at this year's carnival, including over 600 models, actors and actresses, as well as 3.200 amateur actors and local ethnic groups, local businesses. The street parade also includes flower carrying slogans, "Quang Ninh Combines the Best", "Halong - A Legendary Wonder", "Quang Ninh: Historical and Festival Tourism", "Quang Ninh - Spiritual Tourism", "Quang Ninh - Sea & Island Tourism" and much more. A grand stand that can seat over 10,000 spectators has been built along the carnival route.

The carnival will feature the participation of domestic and international provinces and cities such as Hanoi, Haiphong, five northern key economic and sea-coast provinces, members of the East Asia Interregional Tourism Forum (EATOF) from Lao and South Korea, and representatives from Guangxi, Guangdong. Hainan and Yunnan of China, plUs the six cities whose wonders have been voted as new natural wonders of the world. Every activity will showcase the beauty of culture and revived tourist services to help attract more local and international tourists.

With a vast number of tourists flocking to the carnival - estimated to be in the region of 50.000 - how will local authorities ensure safety and security?

We have established a public order and security subcommittee created from seven related provincial departments and 14 districts to build a master plan to ensure security and safety for all activities held across the province during the Halong- Quang Ninh Tourism week.

In addition to ,the Halong Carnival and the ceremony to receive the title, "Halong Bay — the New World Wonder", our subcommittee has out-lined detailed plans and deployed comprehensive security forces, including police, army troops and border police, both on land and offshore, We have prepared carefully for the event several months in advance to help prevent crime.

Besides we have also intensified inspections to maintain public order, prevent fires and public disturbances at the carnival and near the fire-works area as well as to ensure road and water safety in the event areas and their surroundings. We will all try our utmost to maintain safety and public order so visitors can enjoy this meaningful event.

Source: timeout

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Thứ Hai, 23 tháng 4, 2012

Some quick tips for visiting Angkor Wat

 Without doubt, the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are among the most beautiful and evocative touristic sights in the world.Here are some helpful notes before visiting Angkor Wat.

Find cheap accommodation in Seamreap

Spending a couple of days in Siem Reap is highly recommended. The hostel beds start at U.S. $ 1 per night and hotel rooms from $ 4 for a double. Spending $ 10 per night, tourists can also find a superior hotel in the town center, or they can choose extra luxury with prices starting at$ 300 for a double room.

Means of transportation for Angkor Wat
The temples cover a vast area, so choosing one from of the following options:
Rent bycles from your hotels: The price of it ranges from US$ 1 to US$ 3 per day. Going around 30km of road, in a very humid and very hot climate, thus it is quite fun but requires effort and sweat to visit around the complex. Another option which helps you save your time better is motorcycle taxi (price from US$ 6 to US$ 10 per day). Tuk – tuks might be the best choice for tourists for groups of two persons. The local driver will be very helpful for you during your trip. With price US$ 10 to US$ 15 for whole day (driver included), you can travel to anywhere you want.  

Travel ticket

There are three types of tickets: daily, 3 days and weekly. Depending on the length of trip, the price is from US$ 20 to US$ 60. Therefore, tourists should bring small US$ for buying ticket faster and your ticket with the printed photo on it, easier. The ticket will allow the entry to the site from as early as 5 am (for seeing sunrise) to late after 6 pm (for seeing sunset), thus do not miss returning the temple for capturing wonderful moments of Angkor Wat

 Check your necessary luggage:
Imagine a day walking around the complex in humid conditions. Please ensure that you bring necessary luggage such as walking shoes, hat, sun glasses and water. Also, do not forget your camera with charged batteries.  
Related information

Angkor Wat tour

Thứ Sáu, 20 tháng 4, 2012

The complete Siem Reap experience

 It would appear that south-east Asia’s largest freshwater lake doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going.
The town this lake is accessed from — Siem Reap — is essentially famous for being the gateway to the temples of Angkor. But with more than three million people living on or around the lake in floating villages, the Tonlé Sap is a stand-out attraction in its own right. The lake is home to many ethnic Vietnamese who have emigrated to Cambodia over the past 50 to 100 years. Despite some tensions between this minority group and the local Cambodians, it’s a popular tourist stop off.

Cruising along in an old wooden boat with an equally ageing motor, I observed the locals going about their daily lives in their simple shacks, constructed from bamboo and sitting on mostly submerged stilts. Women sat on the front veranda mending fish nets; men worked on their boats and children played happily nearby.

I found this sobering reality something of a contrast with the sprawling opulence of Angkor Wat, which I visited one morning. Around 6am I found myself sitting on a rock in front of this magnificent edifice, its silhouette etched against the inky blue sky. As the sun scaled the horizon the intricate designs of this temple, once the centre of the Khmer civilization, came into full view.
A Hindu temple, Angkor Wat is regarded as the supreme masterpiece of Khmer architecture, with its elaborate bas-relief carvings illustrating scenes such as heaven and hell and the creation of the earth.
When in Siem Reap, it’s pretty much a fait accomplish that you will get ‘templed out’, but the good news is there are lots to choose from. The temples of Angkor, which are spread out some 65km around Siem Reap, were constructed between the eighth and thirteenth centuries.

 The temples are classified according to different styles, depending on when they were built. The styles are compared with one another according to aspects including the use of materials, the style of pillar, the pediments (at the front of the temple) and the lintel (the block of stones between the pediments and the pillar).
One of the most captivating is the small, pink-hued Banteay Srei, a 10th century sandstone Hindu temple. Another standout is Angkor Thom, the last and most enduring capital city of the Angkorian empire. Each of its grand gates features four giant smiling faces.
A great deal of restoration work has been done and continues to be done on many of the temples around Siem Reap, initially led by the French and later taken on by international agency UNESCO.
Siem Reap has evolved dramatically since the early 1900s, when the French rediscovered the city of Angkor after it had lain abandoned for centuries. Those planning a visit to this northern Cambodian town may be surprised to learn that it’s a pretty cosmopolitan place when it comes to wining and dining. The aptly named Bar Street is where many of these outfits are located. There are also a number of more socially conscious places to dine and shop, the profits from which are put back into local education and health.

When staying in Siem Reap, the night markets are a definite must-visit. Tourists spent a good few hours here, even opting for a fish massage, which involved dangling my feet in a spa while small fish nibbled away at my dead skin cells. It’s not for everyone, but every trip should include a few spontaneous experiences. Adventure travel, whether it’s extreme or soft, is in the end about having new and exciting experiences. For almost tourists, the town of Siem Reap provided that in spades. 

Source: travelweekly 

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Thứ Hai, 16 tháng 4, 2012

5 things you need to know before travelling to Sapa

Sapa, Vietnam  is not only famed for its mountains sceneries but also the hamlets of colorful ethnic minorities. In 2011, Sapa has been recommended ten best tourist sites for walkers by the reputed magazine Lonely Planet. Here are some useful notes for you before a Sapa tour.  

Sapa terraced field

 Best time to go:

 The best time to visit Sapa is from April to September though; each season has its own special qualities and surprises. In this period, you may have a great opportunity to see plum flower and stunning terraced fields. It is dry with the temperature is ranging from 15 – 25 Degree Celsiu. During the winter months, the temperature is much cooler and it is advised to bring a some warm clothing. Also, during the winter months there are periods of light rain, which brings in the fog or snow. This puts Sapa in the clouds and allows for some fantastic photos. Perhaps more and more tourists travel to Sapa during the winter because of its special weather. If you want to escape from the touristy hassle, winter is not an ideal period for you.

Package Preparation:
A light suitcase is recommended during travelling to Sapa. Making sure that you have packed everything you need to make your stay more comfortable is most important. Bring a small bag with the clothes change of clothes. You should bring something warm, as the nights will cool off, sometimes dropping as much as ten degrees. Other things you might want to bring with you are a mirror, toilet paper, your favorite tea or snack, flashlight and raincoat. 

Train to Sapa

It takes around 8 hours from Hanoi to Lao Cai. You may choose two ways: travelling by coach or train to Lao Cai then, take a bus to Sapa. It depends on your budget to choose the suitable way for you. By coach, the price is around US15.  It is ranging from US$ 20 to US$ 30 for a soft berth on a night train SP. There is also available cheap price on LC train but it is quite slower.

Most of Sapa attractions are not far from Sapa Center. You should prepare a small map of destinations in there such as Hamrong Mountain, Ta Van village, Taphin village, Bac Ha market. You can eventually travel by yourself but I recommend you book a Sapa tour by a good travel agent who will trek with you to visit minority villages. Staying overnight at home stay with Hmong or Dao people will be a valued experience for anyone who first travels to Sapa.  People here always warm welcome their guests. If you are a kind of adventure traveler, why do not choose a package tour to conquer of Fansipan Mountain which is considered as the roof of Indochina.   

At Bac Ha market

Exotic food in Sapa is known as San Lung alcohol, wild life pork, stream fish and some special vegetables such as chayote, cauliflower. Although they can find these vegetables in other province of Vietnam but only Sapa serve you the best dishes with reasonable price.  It is very exciting for walking with your partner in a romantic Sapa night and enjoy special food.       

Thứ Năm, 12 tháng 4, 2012

Exciting Bunpimay festival in Laos

 In every April, Lao people usually happily hold Bunpimay festival. It is also one of the most interesting festivals which attract many tourists.
Bunpimay festival in Laos

 Bunpimay or tet te nuoc (Splashing water festival) is one of special characters of Asian Culture. It is called by different names in different countries, Songkran (Thailand), Chol Chnam Thmey (Cambodia). However, each of them has different activities which have origins from religion. At the beginning of the year, they splash water each other with hoping to have as much as luck and happiness in New Year.

Festival in Laos call Bun. Bun, that is blessed, as Bun is doing good means to be blessed. Bunpimay is usually hold from 13th to 15th of April yearly calendar. Following this, the festival is organized in three days. The first day is also New Year Ever. They clean their house, prepare fragant water and flowers for decorating their houses. On that afternoon, they gather at pagodas to hear Monk’s lecture and pray Buddhism for best wishes for the next year. Then they proceed to wash Buddism statues. They also wash their face by this water then splash this water into their clothes, houses for fortune. At the end of the ceremony, they will release animals such as turtle, fish, crab for wishing peace in the next year.

 Visiting Laos's houses in this occasion, the guest's house will tie a blue or red threat into your wrist which symbolizes for happiness and health. In Laotian's mind, more threads you receive, more happiness and wealthy you have. Then you will be invited for traditional food here. Sticky rice and “Lap” are traditional food of Laos people on Bunpimay festival. "Lap" is like a salad dish with meat and Thai Lao herbs tossed together.

It is appears that the most exciting activities are held on the last day. Before splashing water each other, they give each other the best wishes. Not only do they make wet their body but also they pour water into their houses, furniture and animals. Laotians think that it helps them to remove bad things and diseases in New Year. Therefore, it should not become angry if you are splashed water into your clothes on street on these days. As it shows that Laotians are very friendly and they also bless wishes for you. Do not miss this chance for joining activities of Bumpimay.

More information about Laos tours, you may contact  

Thứ Ba, 10 tháng 4, 2012

A great Phu Quoc weekend

It is a fifty minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc and, therefore, a great favorite with expats wanting to get away for the weekend and for the more astute traveler.

 Phu Quoc has had an interesting history dating from the 17th century where the locals earned their living from sea cucumbers, through to the French occupation in the late 19th century when rubber and coconut plantations were cultivated. During the Vietnam War the island was a base for a prison of war detention camp holding up to 40,000 communist prisoners.  I was interested in the history of the island and decided that it was worth a visit.

We were flying Vietnam Airlines (US$78 each way, look for specials to get cheap flights – off peak can be as low as US$40).   The propeller plane flew low over the sea as it approached the island and we could see the vibrantly colored fishing boats sleeping peacefully in the harsh sunlight.   It bounced down onto the tarmac amidst screams from the local passengers and then applause as the plane steadied itself and headed along the runway towards the airport building.

It is a twenty minute drive through Duong Dong (the largest town on the island) from the airport along narrow roads bounded by low lying scrub.  There has been recent growth in the type of accommodation offered on the island and most of them take advantage of the idyllic beach location.  The traveler can discover everything from inexpensive backpacker’s rooms to eco-resorts and a range of hotels to suit most budgets.

Whatever  your chosen accommodation you are sure to be within a few feet of the turquoise sea and the yellow sandy beaches rimmed by dark green vegetation where banana palms and hibiscus tangle with unidentifiable creepers and shrubs. We had arrived in the dry season which runs from December to May, with the hottest months being April and May.  July through to September is dominated by the monsoons and has a very high rainfall.   The early mornings and evenings were extremely pleasant and we enjoyed visiting many of the local restaurants where the specialty is inevitably the range of seafood which is found in the surrounding waters.  The seafood, particularly the prawns, is so delicious and fresh that they are sought after by mainland restaurants.  One restaurant menu we visited had a very interesting menu comprising

“Sautéed frogs stomach with chive flowers, Jumping snail and green mango salad, Zebra snails and banana flower salad, Painted sweet lips head hotpot and Pork porridge with century old egg.” We opted for a plain barbecued fish with stir fry vegetables.

We spent the majority of the weekend relaxing on the beach and swimming in the warm sea water.  There are lots of boating activities and we hired a canoe one day and a catamaran the next, a great hit with the children.  The beach has been netted to keep out the jellyfish that abound in the warm waters although we did see one very big one on the beach that had escaped the confines of the net.  Phu Quoc is predominantly a National Park and the surrounding sea is full of fascinating marine life which serves as a paradise for the enthusiastic scuba diver or snorkeler.  Small boats traverse the beaches every morning collecting those intrepid amphibians and dropping them off in the late afternoon.

If you want to explore the Island there is the local fish sauce factory, the product being sourced from the quantities of anchovy that are found around the island.  The smell is extremely overpowering so best to make it a quick visit.  There are also small black pepper farms along the roadside, when we visited the pepper had been picked and was drying in the sun on large plastic sheets.  A stall had been set up and the enterprising pepper grower was selling a range of pepper products to tourists.  In the garden the Star Fruit bushes were laden with fruit and were picked off, cut into wedges, and sprinkled with salt before being offered to customers.

There is also a pearl farm where a beautiful array of locally produced jeweler is available for viewing and sale.  Taxis are easy and cheap to hire to get to all the local attractions.

It was a very relaxing weekend, a destination ideal for the romantics and for a family with children.

Source: Saigontimes

Related information:
Phu Quoc tours

Thứ Hai, 2 tháng 4, 2012

Saigon motorbike taxi tips

 When I am in need of a ride, the quickest, and my favourite, way to get around Saigon is by using one of the many motorbike taxis, or xe oms. Drivers can be found on nearly every Saigon street corner sitting, or laying, on their bike. Catching a xe om, especially during rush hour, will save you a substantial amount of time and money compared to a taxi, as well as allowing you to experience the city’s traffic first hand. However, just like everything in Vietnam, life will be made easier if you know a few simple tips.

First, always remember to agree upon a price to your destination BEFORE you get on the motorbike. Since most xe oms speak little English, haggling may be, at times, difficult. Hand signals work great or actually showing them the amount you are willing to pay.

A motorbike ride should generally be half the price of a taxi ride, so if you are familiar with your destination this is a good starting point. If not, I generally take whatever price the xe om initially offers and cut it by 60%, usually settling at about half. If you’re trying to drive a hard bargain, don’t be afraid to walk away as he will likely call you back. But, remember how much you’re walking away for. More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve found myself walking a couple extra blocks over fifty cents.

Once the price is settled, that is the price you pay. All xe oms have an extra helmet, but if you're in town for a while, I’d recommend using your own if possible. You can find helmets for sale on the side of the street, as some of these loaners can be quite dirty. Now that you are on the bike, hang on to the back handle and enjoy the ride. Xe oms are experts at weaving in and out of traffic, driving on footpaths, and finding short cuts through Saigon’s numerous back alleys. These rides are one my favourite things about the city and the best way to get around Saigon.

Source: travelfish

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