Asia Pacific Travel Team
A cultural centre opened in Ha Noi on July 20 to provide the public with information on Hoan Kiem Lake, a special national heritage and popular destination in the capital city.
The three-storey building covers 242 metres and is located at No 2 Le Thai To Street, Hoan Kiem District.
With an open space, the facility’s first two storeys are being used for exhibition and information searches and the top floor is dedicated to organising relevant workshops and seminars.
The operation of the centre is expected to further promote the values of the lake as well as the old quarter surrounding it.
Previously, two centres for information on the old quarter and cultural exchanges were already established in the district.
The number of tourists to the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai from January-June surged by nearly 30 percent over the same period last year after the Noi Bai-Lao Cai expressway opened in 2014.
Hotels and farm produce in popular destinations such as Sa Pa Town, Bac Ha Market, and Lao Cai were quickly booked and sold out due to the rising volume of vacationers, according to Lu Van Khuyen, Head of the culture-information department in Sa Pa District.
Bac Ha Market, for example, saw a year-on-year increase of 20-30 percent in the number of visitors.
Night markets are now open during weekends to meet tourist demand. The Bac Ha District also launched promotion programmes and developed ecological tourism along the Chay River.
Chairman of the Sa Pa District’s People’s Committee Trinh Xuan Truong said the tourism sector had forecast the surge and mapped out plans to cope with the expansion, but they were too small and have yet to meet the increasing demand.
Yet this is a good sign to promote the sale of local farm products, develop manufacturing and increase local incomes, he said.
To take advantage of the expressway linking Ha Noi capital with Lao Cai province, local authorities plan to improve infrastructure and services, expand areas for fruit cultivation and animal livestock, ensure food hygiene and safety and open packaging and souvenir stores.
As an important component of the Kunming-Lao Cai-Ha Noi-Hai Phong road corridor, the Noi Bai-Lao Cai highway is a key part of a cooperation programme between Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and China.
About 50 kilometers from Quang Binh Province’s Dong Hoi City in the central region, the Chay River and Toi (Dark) Cave are an exciting destination for those who love adventurous activities.
In order to reach Toi Cave, apart from hanging in the air on the 400-meter-long zip line system, tourists have to cross the river and wade through the mud.
From above, the Chay River appears in a strange jade green, merging with the green of the forest and imposing limestone ranges. Along the river banks are immense corn fields. All come together to create such a magnificent and poetic picture.
There, tourists can jump down from the zip line to dip themselves in the crystal green water and swim to Toi Cave. Tourists can also choose to flow along the river on kayak boats and take part in water activities before continuing the journey to explore Toi Cave.
In the middle of a giant limestone, the mouth of Toi Cave appears mysteriously. Like what its name suggests, the dense dark covers up every corner of the cave, making it difficult for tourists to move inside the cave. Tourists will find themselves indulge in a cool climate due to the flow of an underground section of the river, and the only light from the torch hung on the forehead will lead the way for tourists to explore and contemplate fossils in various shapes on the cliffs.
Then, a narrow slot in the cave with mud and stalactite on the cliffs will bring tourists the most interesting challenge. It was at the end of this road that tourists will face a mud pit and experience the complete quiet space, in which the only sound that can be heard is the sound of water dropping down on the mud surface from the cave’s roof.
The journey to the Chay River and Toi Cave also brings tourists to Thien Duong Cave with its beauty described as a water-color painting by nature, as well as the historical relic site of Tam Toa church, the grave of late General Vo Nguyen Giap and Tam Co Cave.
A plan to operate electric cars in downtown HCM City especially targeted at tourists was presented by the Department of Transport at a meeting on 15 July.
The two terminals will be the HCM City Zoo and 23 September Park with 27 stops along the way. Ten 12-seat electric cars will operate for eight to 18 hours a day, departing in 10-minute intervals.
Tickets for distances involving less than 15 stops will cost VND6,000 (28 US cents), while for longer distances it will be VND10,000.
Passengers can also buy tickets costing VND40,000 for unlimited use for less than four hours and VND120,000 for the full day.
Lying on the southern side of Hai Van Pass on the nation’s central coast, Nam O is a must-see destination for visitors thanks to the impressive beauty of nature, and historical and cultural sites.
Phu Quoc, an attractive destination in Viet Nam’s southwestern waters, is striving to become an international eco-tourism and resort centre.
The 2015 Nha Trang Sea Festival concluded on July 14 in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa after an eventful week, luring nearly 150,000 Vietnamese and foreign visitors.
Addressing the closing ceremony, Vice Standing Chairman of the Khanh Hoa People’s Committee and Head of the organisation board Tran Son Hai said the festival was a success, leaving an impression of a beautiful, hospitable and friendly Nha Trang City.
Through the festival themed “Peace and Creativity”, the organisation board aimed to call on the community to do their utmost to protect national sovereignty, preserve the maritime environment and promote the value of the sea and islands, he said.
Over 50 festive, cultural and sport activities throughout the week introduced the unique culture of Khanh Hoa, honouring the beauty of the sea and islands that play a significant role in local life.
Simultaneously, a number of exhibitions and conferences gave visitors a clear understanding of historical and legal foundations affirming Viet Nam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos.
The many successful sport competitions affirmed Nha Trang’s ability to host large-scale beach games, Hai added.
Ban Hon commune in Tam Duong district in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau is applying community-based tourism models which have proved effective in increasing local residents’ incomes as well as raising their awareness of environmental protection and cultural heritage preservation.
Luc Yen district, 80 km from Yen Bai province is famous for making gem stone pictures. Using rough stones, skilled artisans make beautiful pictures popular within both domestic and foreign customers. There are hundreds of workshops making stone pictures in Luc Yen providing jobs for thousands of people.
Luc Yen district was blessed by nature with a large deposit of gemstones. In a corner of Yen The town, there is a gemstone market which is open from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. 20 stalls sell both cut and uncut stones costing anywhere from a few hundred thousand dong to hundreds of millions of dong.
There are all kinds of stones - precious stones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds and semi-precious stones like quartz and amethyst. Shops selling stone pictures attract a large crowds of customers.
Le Nguyen Duc, a tourist from Hanoi, said "The stone pictures in Luc Yen are beautiful. I like the pictures of rural landscapes and horses. I bought a few as souvenirs. "
For several years, local people in Luc Yen have earned their livelihood from making stone pictures. The craft first appeared in the district in the 1990s. Now there are hundreds of workshops throughout Yen The town, and Minh Xuan, Yen Thang, Lieu Do and Tan Linh communes.
The artisans first grind the stones to make them shiny and then use glue to fix them on a picture. All the steps involved in making a picture – stone selection, drawing, and fixing need to be precise to make a stone picture as beautiful as other types of pictures.
Nguyen Thi Hang, the owner of the Hong Ngoc workshop, said "The quality of the stones is essential to the beauty of the picture. We must choose stones of superior quality. Of course the skill and creativity of the artisans are also very important".
Luc Yen stone pictures are now popular both at home and abroad. The most popular pictures depict landscapes and animals. The pictures vary in size and prices.
Nguyen Thi Ha, Luc Yen resident, said "This is a great job. At first I found the craft extremely difficult but ultimately, I was able to do it. It is meticulous work that requires creativity and passion”.
Natural stone pictures from Luc Yen are highly prized by Vietnamese and foreign customers and exports are on the rise.
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has announced that it will officially launch a ‘Golden Moment’ promotional programme for passengers who purchase tickets from July 15-31 on domestic routes.
The airline is offering one-way tickets on the route Hanoi – Chu Lai (Quang Nam) at the price of VND 599,000 (US$28.50); Ho Chi Minh City – Quy Nhon at VND 799,000 (US$ 36.63); Hanoi – Tuy Hoa at VND 999,000(US$47.90); and Ho Chi Minh City – Dong Hoi at VND 1.199 million (US$56.89).
The promotional offers apply to flights taken between July 15 and September 30 (depending on each route).
The above prices exclude taxes and other additional fees and the special offers do not apply to flights during peak periods and holidays.
The ‘Golden Moment’ programme aims to encourage passengers to book flights in advance.