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Lucky Adventure Travel Indochina – Summer Promotion 2013

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA has launched “Great summer holiday with lucky travels” for summer promotion 2013 in Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia. The program applies for all customers request tour on website from 25 March to 30 September 2013.

Conquering Fansipan Vietnam to be the champion

Fansipan is the highest peak of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, so it is called the “Roof of Indochina” while the local people call it Huasipan, which means large tottering rock.

Motorbiking Ho Chi Minh Trail, Vietnam - an unforgettable travel adventure

Riding a motorbike from the North to the South of Vietnam was an amazing experience. Now, while I didn’t ride the motorcycle on myself (Anthony did an amazing job!) it is still something that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Discover Vietnam by cycling

People who had traveled to Vietnam agreed that it was an interesting experience in general, but the bicycle tours definitely brought more adventurous excitements.

A Look into Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site and it really deserves the designation. It is one of the most exciting unusual places I have been to in my life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas in Vietnam

In Vietnam, Christmas was celebrated joyously with people thronging city roads right from Christmas Eve, which is often more important than Christmas Day!

Christmas, Vietnam

Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, including the birthday of Buddha, the New Year and the Mid-autumn Festival. Although the Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas.

Traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. However, during French rule, many people became Christians, that occupy 8 to 10 percent of whose population. This is because the Vietnamese are a fun-loving, sociable people and the various Vietnam festivals and events are actually occasions for them to a gala time, all together. Christmas in Vietnam is a grand party.

History Of Christmas In Vietnam

Christmas in Vietnam has had a tumultuous history. The Catholics are a minority in Vietnam but they used to celebrate Christmas in Vietnam quite in peace right from the days of the French rule. That is until the Communists took over political power in 1975. The church-state relations soured during that time and the Catholics were relegated to celebrating Jesus’s birthday in privacy.

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, church-state relations have not always been smooth. However, they have been improving since the introduction of economic reforms in the late 1980s. Liberalist policies adopted since the 1980s saw Vietnam warming up to western influences and ideals and Christmas in Vietnam came back triumphantly. Now Christmas is one of the major festivals in Vietnam, celebrated with much fanfare by all religious communities.

Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninh Binh Province is considered the spiritual home for the seven million Catholics who live in Vietnam, a predominantly Buddhist nation. Hundreds of Catholics gather for Christmas Eve Mass in the northern city of Phat Diem. Children staged a nativity play to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ - or Kito, as he is known in Vietnamese -- in front of the city's cathedral, built in 1891.

Christmas In Vietnam

Christmas in Vietnam is a huge event, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the Vietnamese Christmas celebrations here are like any other city in the western world. The Christians in Vietnam attend a Midnight mass on Christmas Eve and return home to a sumptuous Christmas dinner. The Christmas dinner usually consists of chicken soup while wealthier people eat turkey and Christmas pudding.

Christmas tree at Fortuna Hotel (Hanoi,Vietnam)


On Christmas Eve, Vietnamese people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, especially young people, like to go into the city centre, where there is a Catholic Cathedral. The streets are crowded with people on Christmas Eve and in the city centre cars are not allowed for the night.

People celebrate by throwing confetti, taking pictures and enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of big hotels and department stores. Lots of cafes and restaurants are open for people to enjoy a snack!

Vietnam used to be part of the French Empire and there are still French influences in the Christmas traditions. Many Catholic churches have a big nativity crib scene or 'creche' with nearly life size statues of Mary, Joesph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and animals. In some areas of Ho Chi Minh City, usually in Catholic parishes, people have big crib scenes in front of their houses and decorate the whole street, turning it into a Christmas area! These are popular for people to visit and look at the scenes.

Also like in France, the special Christmas Eve meal is called 'reveillon' and has a 'bûche de Noël' (a chocolate cake in the shape of a log) for desert. Vietnamese people like to give presents of food and at Christmas a bûche de Noël is a popular gift. Other Christmas presents are not very common, although some young people like to exchange Christmas cards.

The Yuletide spirit of giving and sharing has been embraced with an earnest by the Vietnamese. Generous as they are, the Vietnamese give out gifts and presents in plenty during the Christmas celebrations in Vietnam. However, the children are more keen to have their stockings and shoes stuffed in with goodies from Santa’s bulging sack. The European customs of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree were popular and children would leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas in Vietnamese is “Chúc M?ng Giáng Sinh”!

Source: Vietnam-beauty


Recommendation for Christmas in Vietnam:

Ha Noi City tour

Ho Chi Minh City tour

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nature & nurture in Ha Giang, Vietnam

They grow their crops on the rocks and walk several kilometers of steep, cold mountain roads to buy and sell small goods, but the Mong families on the Dong Van Plateau are some of the most hospitable in the world.


Ha Giang Travel Vietnam
Family in Ha Giang Province Vietnam

After the long journey, settling into the silence and peace of a stop high mountain road in Ha Giang Province can be an arresting experience.

Vietnam’s northernmost province is located in the northwestern. Hoang Lien Mountains – the Tonkinese Alps as the French called them – near the border with China.

All’s quiet except for the whisper of the crisp breeze and the crunch of a local Mong family’s sandals on the road as they walk carrying large bamboo backpacks filled whatever produce or goods they’ve either just bought or are about to sell at the market.

The language barrier keeps us at a distance in one way, but the simple smiles of the family bring our two very different worlds close together.

Mesmerized by the strength and spirit in their faces, the natural beauty that surrounds us – limestone peaks creeping above a dense mist, vibrant green valleys descending into earth-red rivers – is equally enchanting. I’ve never met anyone who came here and didn’t want to come back.

The sturdy roads on the steep sides of the Dong Van Highlands tower above green corn fields in the summer and colorful valleys of wild flowers in the autumn and spring.

The carpet of colors – even on grey, overcast and otherwise dreary days – is breathtaking.

Life in the slow lane

The journey to Dong Van is not exactly easy, but it’s worth it.

At an altitude of more than 1,000 meters above sea level, the bends are sharp and the passes narrow for hours along the rocky plateau. Drive slow, especially if you go by motorbike, as the safety rails are not very high.

The motorbike is the most intense way to experience the trip, but most rides in Ha Giang are not only gorgeous, but also tiring and at times dangerous.

There is only one road connecting the town of Ha Giang to the smaller towns of Quan Ba and Yen Minh and then Dong Van and Meo Vac districts, the most remote part of the trip.

From Quan Ba, a beautiful road takes you on cliffs beside the Mien River. The road goes through several Mong villages before it lands in Dong Van Town, where the local Tay community has been living for around 200 years.

The French army landed here in the 19th century and there are still several rows of old French tile-roofed homes alongside other Vietnamese homes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Mong market is open every Sunday, producing a variety of different sounds and smells.

About 20km from Dong Van is Meo Vac Town, the capital of Meo Vac District. Meo Vac is famous for its “Cow Market” where 300-400 cattle are sold every Sunday in northern Vietnam’s largest bovine exchange.

The sellers, who can earn tens of millions of dong per animal, always invite the buyers to enjoy local wine after the transactions.

Meo Vac is near Dong Van, so some people go to both markets on a Sunday morning.

Happy trails

The road between Meo Vac and Dong Van may be one of the most beautiful in Vietnam.

But it has a sad history.

For years in the 50s and 60s, tens of thousands of migrant laborers from six surrounding provinces worked to break the mountain and build the road.

But due to wartime deprivation, many died of diseases and accidents. Now the road is known locally as the “Happy” road, perhaps for its beauty. But there is a monument commemorating the dead workers who built it.

The Dong Van Plateau is made even more beautiful by the Mong people who live there.

Life can be difficult for a poor Mong family, but in my years of visiting Ha Giang, I’ve never heard anyone complain or ask for a favor. The Mong always smile and are extremely friendly to visitors.

All the intricacies and grace of the Dong Van Highlands can hardly even be mentioned in this story alone. More stories will soon follow to elaborate on the culture, history and natural wonder of the area.

REACHING FOR RECOGNITION

The Dong Van Highlands, encompassing total area of more than 574 square kilometers in Ha Giang Province’s Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and Meo Vac districts, could eventually be recognized as a UNESCO Global Geological Park.

UNESCO Vietnam has sent an application based on a recent study which concluded that limestone can be found in 11 layers on 80 percent of the surface of the plateau. Two of the layers are sediment dating from 400 to 600 million years ago.

How to get there

The highlands are about 450km north of Hanoi. Visitors can take National Road 2 by motorbike or ride in cars with fewer than 30 seats. A tour from Hanoi to the plateau should take four days and three nights. There are basically-equipped hotels in Ha Giang, Dong Van and Meo Vac.

Source: TN

How to find Ha Giang Adventure tours
- West to East Biking Exploration
- Motorcycling adventure in Northern Vietnam

Smooth sailing in Mekong Delta, Vietnam

My Tho Town offers a welcome respite from the rough and tumble of Ho Chi Minh City.

After five days of shop-till you-drop in Ho Chi Minh City, a splendid place for such activity, we were sorely in need of another short holiday to recover from this one.

“Why don’t you travel to My Tho this weekend?” a Saigon friend of mine, suggested. She described the perfect antidote to our days in HCMC: “It’s a peaceful, riverside town hidden in lush orchards.”


Float Market in Mekong Delta, Vietnam

A day trip to Tien Giang Province sounded like a great idea to us – me, this northern girl, and two friends of mine from Los Angeles.

On the road to this town, there was a curious sense of homecoming for me as my father used to work here as an engineer during the subsidy period.

My Tho is around 72 kilometers south of HCMC. Since the 17th century, the fertile land in the north of the Tien River has been reclaimed and developed by generations of inhabitants into an area lush and green with rice fields and orchards, and trade has thrived for centuries along its river banks.

As the road became broader and many small canals, green rice fields and orchards came into view, I knew we would be in My Tho before long.

In the town, we started to stroll aimlessly through peaceful lanes with no names, inhaling the fragrances of garden fruits carried by the breeze. Then we entered a small lane leading to one of the tributaries of the legendary Mekong River. It was noon and we could see the sun shining brightly and proudly on the magnificent river with many colorful boats sailing up and down.

Both banks of the river were bordered by water coconut groves and orchards. It was so peaceful it seemed that it was only yesterday I was walking with my father on the green banks of the river to the wooden wharf looking at pretty goby fishes swimming by.

“It’s so beautiful! I have seen this river in a film on old Indochina and I hope one day we can travel along this river up to Cambodia,” said my friend Robert Sheen.

Accepting our tour guide’s suggestion, we took a boat on the Mekong River and later moved to one steered by a woman in a conical leaf hat, through the red canals were shaded by water coconut trees. It was not difficult to blend into the surroundings with our silence broken only by the slapping sounds the boat made as it moved through the water.

“The water here is red because of the alluvial soil which creates fertile islands like Thoi Son, which we are going to visit now,” said Muoi, our tour guide.

On the island, sitting in the shade of the orchard, tasting its fruits plucked fresh off the trees, listening to don ca tai tu (amateur southern Vietnamese Opera) – it was exactly the experience we wanted. Then we walked around some gardens, listening to the crunch of dry leaves under our feet and watching, but not envying, the hard working tiny bees flying from one tree to another to make honey and pollinate flowers.

As the sky got darker, we had to travel back to HCMC. I was a bit jealous as I saw other relaxed tourists coming into the town. But I knew I would come back to My Tho to discover the place afresh, every time.

Reported by Thy Nga

Source: Thanhniennews.com

Recommendation in Mekong Delta, Vietnam:
- Mekong Delta Travel Guide
- Cruise Mekong Delta
- Mekong Explore Tour

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA inspects Hoa Binh lake for new kayaking tour in Vietnam

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) inspects Hoa Binh reservoir, Vietnam to design a kayaking tour in this beautiful hidden area. This new kayaking tour will help tourists to have more options for exploring the Vietnamese natural charm by kayaking.

“We are going to launch this new adventure tour in Jan, 2010” said by Mr.Tony Tran - Product Manager.

Hoa Binh reservoir is located on a section of the Da River which has stream flow from Van nam Province, China to Phu Tho Province, Vietnam with total length is 910km including 383km of chinese territory and 527km of vietnamese territory.

Hoa Binh Lake, Vietnam


In Vietnam, the start point of the Da river is Muong Te district - Lai Chau Province. The river flows through the northwestern provinces of Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Hoa Binh, Phu Tho and ends at the Da Hong fork, Tam Nong district, Phu Tho province.

When the biggest hydro power plant in Southeast Asia – the Hoa Binh Hydro Power Plant – was under construction in the 1980s, the Da River was stopped up to keep water for a reservoir. The water level then rose and submerged the valley together with hundreds of mountains, turning them into islands.

Today, Hoa Binh reservoir is not only plays an important role in providing a huge of electricity for daily life, but also famous for its significant scenery. The reservoir is surrounded by many limestone hills with height from 10m - 100m above water surface. Islands of different shapes and sizes are embraced by the spacious reservoir. The water also brings out the green colors of the surrounding countryside.

Kayaking Hoa Binh Lake, Vietnam

"There is no word that can describe my feeling when I saw the reservoir. Nothing difference between here and Halong Bay but the geographical name” said by Mr. Tony Tran - Product Manager.

The ATA’s inspection team scans the Hoa Binh reservoir to design new outdoor tours for adventure travelers. The potential outdoor activities can be designed in this area is kayaking.

“If you find somewhere for kayaking, this is where to stop your search” added Tony.

Kayakers are able to have short break to visit temples or discovery caves along riverside.

If you need a light meal on the lake, Muong ethnic people can enchant you with the crispy roasted meat of the Muong boar. There’s a large number of Muong ethnic people living in the region.

ATA plans to launch new kayaking tours to Hoa Binh reservoir early Jan, 2010 and they would offer good promotion rate for first bookings. The new tours will be for travelers as it shows in the company’s motto “Actively exploring hidden lands.”

By Eric Nguyen

Kayaking Recommendation in Vietnam:

- Kayak Travel Guide
- Kayaking Tours in Vietnam

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can Gio - Vietnam- top venue for nature lovers

About 50 kilometers from HCMC, the Can Gio Mangrove Forest, a world-class biological reserve recognized by UNESCO in 2000, is proving to be a top tourist destination with its system of canals, its spectacular ocean scenery and its tranquility.

Can Gio Biosphere Reserve

From the center of HCMC, there are two ways to the eco-tourist site. The first is biking or motor biking to the Binh Khanh Ferry which crosses the river and lands at Can Gio Street. A short ride down this street gets you to the Vam Sat Ecological Tourist Area in the Can Gio Mangrove Forest. The second, and more interesting way, is to board a canoe at the Bach Dang Wharf and glide down the Saigon, Soai Rap, Dinh Ba and Lo Ren rivers.

Can Gio conforms to the wishes of many tourists who want an easily-reached ecological area with features like history, culture and especially a vast wilderness. The Can Gio Museum displays antiques dating back 2,000 years, the astounding Rung Sac Revolutionary Base which represents a page of national history and an animal circus with tamed and untamed beasts, including crocodiles, excites visitors. There is a troupe of 1,000 monkeys that are always ready to have fun with tourists. Typical dishes of the area can be had at Rung Sac Restaurant and eateries that line the river.

The Vam Sat Ecological Tourist Area is one of the world’s Salt-Marsh biosphere preserves and is ideal for canoe trips to swampland where rare flying foxes and bats live high in the trees and crabs are caught for their succulent meat.

Tourists can also enjoy the local sport of teasing hungry crocodiles with food from the canoe. Floating on a top of a saltwater pool, visitors do not have to worry about drowning because the salt concentration is 10 times higher than seawater and the crocodiles do not come here.

The three-star Can Gio Resort is recommended with its 80 rooms and proximity to 30/4 Beach and is offering couples one night in a superior room for only VND500,000, a 50% discount for a second night and a 60% discount for a third night. Tourists will be discounted 10% entering Lam Vien Park (monkey island) which offers bicycling, tennis, karaoke, body massages and sauna-steambath services. The program runs from June 20 to September 20.

Can Gio Tourist Area is in Long Hoa Commune, in HCMC’s Can Gio District, tel: 3874 3335. The office of Can Gio Ecotourism Company is at 68A Nguyen Hue Boulevard, in HCMC’s District 1, tel: 3829 2969.

Soure: VietNamNet/SGT

Recommendation:

Vietnam travel guide

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ho Chi Minh Trail Vietnam, from soldier's road to tourist highway

HO CHI MINH HIGHWAY, Vietnam — If relentless American bombing didn't get him, it would take a North Vietnamese soldier as long as six months to make the grueling trek down the jungled Ho Chi Minh Trail. Today, you speed along the same route at 60 mph, past peaceful hamlets and stunning mountain scenery.

The trail, which played an important role in the Vietnam War, has been added to itineraries of the country's booming tourist industry. Promoters cash in on its history, landmarks and the novelty of being able to motor, bike or even walk down the length of the country in the footsteps of bygone communist guerrillas.

Women on bicycles make their way along a section of the newly built Ho Chi Minh highway near Vinh,Vietnam. David Longstreath, AP

Many sections of the old trail, actually a 9,940-mile web of tracks, roads and waterways, have been reclaimed by tropical growth. But a main artery has now become the Ho Chi Minh National Highway, probably the country's best and the largest public works project since Vietnam War ended 30 years ago.

The highway, more than 745 miles of which are already open to traffic, begins at the gates of Hanoi, the capital, and ends at the doorsteps of Ho Chi Minh City, which was known as Saigon when it was the former capital of South Vietnam.

In between, the route passes battlefields like Khe Sanh and the Ia Drang Valley, skirts tribal villages of the rugged Central Highlands and offers easy access to some of the country's top attractions — the ancient royal seat of Hue, the picturesque trading port of Hoi An and South China Sea beaches.

We began a recent car journey in the newly rebuilt city of Vinh, along one of the trail's main branches. Here in "Vietnam's Dresden," every building but one was obliterated by U.S. bombing, which attempted to stop the flow of foreign military aid through the city's port. American pilots also suffered their greatest losses of the war over its skies.

Nearby, in the rice-farming village of Kim Lien, is the humble hut where Vietnam's revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh was born and a museum dedicated to his turbulent life. Given Ho's standing as a national icon, the village draws an average of 1.5 million domestic visitors and a smattering of foreigners each year.

It was on one of Ho's birthdays, on May 9, 1959, that construction of the trail began with the establishment of Military Transport Division 559, made up of 440 young men and women. Over the next 16 years, the trail, which also wound through neighboring Laos and Cambodia, carried more than a million North Vietnamese soldiers and vast quantities of supplies to battlefields in South Vietnam despite ferocious American air strikes.

"There are some who argue that American victory would have followed the cutting of The Trail," writes John Prados in "The Blood Road." "The Trail undeniably lay at the heart of the war. For the Vietnamese of the North the Ho Chi Minh Trail embodied the aspirations of a people ... hiking it became the central experience for a generation."

At Dong Loc, 18 miles south of Vinh, we stopped at one of many memorials to the thousands who didn't complete that hike — a hillside shrine with the tombs of 10 women, aged 17 to 24, killed in bombing raids. Joss sticks, flowers and the articles of female youth — pink combs and little round mirrors — lay on each of the last resting places.

"School children come here every day. It's important in educating the young about the sacrifices of the old generation," said Dau Van Coi, secretary of the local youth union guiding visitors to what was once a major trail junction. Exhibiting no hostility to American visitors, he noted that U.S. warplanes dropped more than three bombs per 10 square feet on the area.

Farther down the trail, at the Highway 9 National Cemetery, bemedaled veteran Nguyen Kim Tien searched for fallen comrades among the 10,000 headstones. An elderly woman and her daughter wept before three of them — those of the older woman's father, husband and a close relative.

Although it's still a trail of tears three decades after the guns fell silent, Ho's road looks decidedly to the future.

"We cut through the Truong Son jungles for national salvation. Now we cut through the Truong Son jungles for national industrialization and modernization," said former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet when the 10-year project began in 2000.

The government says the highway will stimulate the economy in some of Vietnam's poorest, most remote regions, relieve congestion on the only other north-south road, National Highway 1, and increase tourism revenue. Besides conventional tours, several companies offer mountain biking along sections of the trail and expeditions on Russian-made Minsk motorcycles out of the 1950s.

However, the highway has sparked domestic and international criticism that it will lead to further decimation of Vietnam's already disappearing forests, attract a flood of migrants into ethnic minority regions from the crowded coast and disturb wildlife at several protected areas. The Switzerland-based World Wide Fund for Nature has criticized the project as "the single largest long-term threat to biodiversity in Vietnam."

So far, little of the officially hoped-for development is evident. In central Vietnam, one drives for long stretches meeting just the occasional Soviet-era truck, decrepit tractor or water buffalo-drawn cart as the highway winds through valleys flanked by spectacular limestone cliffs.

At some places like the A Shau valley town of A Luoi, just a few shacks and farm houses when seen five years ago, a mini-boom is clearly afoot. There's a bustling market selling baskets of fruit, Japanese watches and delicious French bread, and newly built houses abound.

From the highway, which expands to four lanes as it runs through the crossroads town, Dong Ap Bia looms in the hazy distance. American soldiers called it Hamburger Hill because of the number of lives ground up in the 1969 battle on its ridges.

Almost all traces of American presence in A Luoi have vanished. Only the old people can point out the helicopter landing field, now a school playground with a decrepit merry-go round featuring three little airplanes. The laughing youngsters who crowd around the foreign visitors know nothing of the war.

By Denis D. Gray, Associated Press

RELATED ITEMS
Ho Chi Minh Trail Tours: http://www.ridehochiminhtrail.com
Active Travel Vietnam offers motorcycle tours that last seven to 18 days; www.activetravelvietnam.com.

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