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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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bac Ha “Little Sapa” in the North

Sapa is the gateway to North West Vietnam with dramatic scenery, plenty of accommodation, cafes, pizza bars and souvenir shops. But if you’re more interested in the less touristy side of the highland region, head to the small town of Bac Ha, an ideal location for remote treks and colourful weekly markets.


Flower H’mong come to trade at Bac Ha Markets

Two hours by car from Lao Cai Train Station, Bac Ha is 700m above sea level and home to about 70,000 people. In the surrounding highlands there are 10 ethnic groups that live in the area including the colourful Flower H’mong, the Dzao, Xa Fang, Nung, Thai and Thulao.

One of Bac Ha’s main industry is the manufacture of home brew. The locals have made an art form of distilling rice wine, cassava wine and corn liquor – a word of warning, the hooch can be so potent it can ignite and result in embarrassing dance movements – I know this from experience.

Bac Ha Markets
Tourism is still in its infancy in Bac Ha and during the week the town has a deserted feel. But on Sunday morning, the town moves into overdrive when visitors flood in to mingle with the Flower H’mong selling their wares and socialising at the weekly morning markets.

The Flower H’mong travel overnight from their villages to Bac Ha to sell clothing, handicrafts, textiles, shoes and the local hooch. You can also buy water buffalo, pigs, horses, dogs, chickens and native animals that probably should not be for trading due to international laws. The market day is also a party for the H’mong men who group together to swap stories and get pickled on hooch, they also love dragging in the odd tourist into their gathering.

The hairdresser at Can Cau Markets


Can Cau Markets
Twenty kilometres up the road and only 9km from the Chinese border is Can Cau, home to one of the largest open air markets in the region specialising in live stock. The markets attract a large number of Chinese traders who look like they’re interested in the dog and exotic animal trade. The market is well worth a visit and is only open on Saturday morning which makes for a perfect itinerary as you can overnight in Bac Ha on Saturday night and get up early before the hoards of visitors arrive to catch the Sunday Bac Ha Markets.

Trekking to local villages
Bac Ha is a convenient place to explore the surrounding villages and see how the ethnic communities live. There are less touristy trekking and home stay trips available in the area where conditions are basic but the hospitality is generous and makes for a memorable experience. For day trecks you can visit Ban Pho village which is about a 7km return trip or Na Ang a 6km return walk and Na Hoi is a 4km return walk.

Selling chillies at Bac Ha Markets

Orientation
Make sure you’ve sorted out your finance before arriving as there are no banking facilities for tourists in Bac Ha. There is a post office and internet is available at some of the hotels and internet cafes (which are usually packed with teenagers playing games). Bac Ha is not a good place to handle travel logistics, so make sure you have all your ducks in order before arriving.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Floating markets – The essence of the Mekong Delta


The Mekong Delta is renowned for its floating markets which are typical of the Phung Hiep and Cai Be districts.


On arriving in the Delta, you can travel by motorised boat to visit the Cai Be floating market, and experience the colourful trade of goods between their vessels.

The farmers from around the region bring their goods, mostly consisting of fruit and vegetables, to the markets to sell them to local dealers. These dealers then distribute the products to shops in the neighbouring towns and to wholesale dealers from larger towns.


As the adjacent image indicates, wholesalers trade from the larger boats by hanging their produce from a pole. This way, buyers on the smaller boats can easily see where they have to go to purchase the goods they need. In this example we see a vegetable market.

On the floating markets you not only find people buying and selling fresh produce, but you will also find floating restaurants, bars, gas stations, and many other stores. Canals in the area are simply the easiest and fastest means of transportation.

The biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta is the busy market of Phung Hiep. The market opens from 4 am through to 11 am. To visit the floating market you should stay in the Mekong Delta area, wake up early and take one of the first boats in the morning.


On a typical day, you might see coconuts, mangoes, a heap of turtles, a box of snakes or even a pot-bellied pig being paddled from a riverside village to be haggled over in the floating market. By sunrise, the waterways are clogged with the sampans of buyers and sellers. Bamboo poles hoisting various goods are numerous. Shoppers come by land and water, and as they stumble from boat to boat, they often interrupt their shopping to enjoy bowls of noodles, on open fires in the special ‘fast food’ sampans.

Cai Be, one of many well-known floating markets in the western region of southern Vietnam was formed in the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The market is always busy, bearing all the characteristics of the locals’ life in the western region. All the goods are transported to the market by rafts and boats.


The floating market lies in the Tien river, next to the three provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. The market is divided into two parts: buying and selling. Approximately 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored along the banks of the river. Again, the merchandise sold in each boat is hung on a pole in front of the boat to attract customers. From the floating market, goods are shifted for selling at inland markets or small boats take them for delivery along canals in the Plain of Reeds.
From 3 am, rafts and boats are crowded because Cai Be is one of the biggest wholesale markets in the region. Traders live on the river and many link friends and family with boats over generations, not unlike a mobile home. On each boat, goods are hung on poles that are called dialectically “cay beo”. Hundreds of such poles point sky wards. Boats also operate like “taxis,” which are very convenient for tourists. Along the criss crossing canals, people in the Plain of Reeds take not only goods of each region to the Cai Be market but also their unique cultural characteristics, creating such a beautiful river collage.

Terraced rice fields in Northern Viet Nam


It is the high time many tourist booking us package tour to Northern Viet Nam just for taking photo of golden terraced rice fields here. It just about 250 kilometres from Hanoi and so most of people prefer motocycle coming here. The journey to the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai is to explore boundless golden terraced rice fields, resembling a staircase to the sky, in Mu Cang Chai district which used to be an opium poppy hub. The yellow steps to the sky, and the hospitable ethnic people, who have flattened hills to grow rice and construct irrigation systems on the mountain tops, are unforgettable images.


The first stop in Yen Bai is Tu Le town, Van Chan district, Tu Le's beauty is shown through lonely fields on mountain sides, small wooden houses appearing vaguely at different heights, boundless fields surrounded by the three mountains of Khau Pha, Khau Song and Khau Tan, and calm big springs. The Hai Ba Chau (Grandmother and granddaughter) peak is an ideal place to enjoy the overview of Tu Le.

One of Tu Le's specialties is sticky rice served with grilled local pork. Unripe rice is favoured because of its sweet fragrance and mild glutinousness, unique characteristics of Tu Le sticky rice.

In Tu Le, we were surprised not only by the landscape and special food but also by local people. Thai ethnic people in the town bath in natural hot springs. In the afternoon, normally from 5pm, they come to the hot water pool next to the Nam Cuom spring, taking off their clothes and enjoying the hot water and natural surroundings. 24-year-old Lo Thi Hoa and her nine-month-old son are bathing. "Thai children are familiar with nature from an early age. I want to teach him how to live in harmony with nature because we live a natural life and nature acts as our and great mother," she said.

Leaving Tu Le, we overcome the Khau Pha mountain pass to reach Mu Cang Chai. Late in the afternoon, the pass is hidden in thick fog, making us unable to see anything further than two metres away. Looking back Tu Le from the pass
it resembles a water-colour painting because the grey fog halos the town. Terraced fields can be seen everywhere in Vietnam's northern region, and the most beautiful ones are in Mu Cang Chai.

According to the local language, Mu, originating from Mo, means wood, Cang means dry and Chai means a piece of land. Hence, Mu Cang Chai is the land of dry wood. From March to June, hot and dry westerly winds dominate the district, which is considered one of poorest areas in the country.

More than a decade ago, Mu Cang Chai was a poppy-growing area with its La Pan Tan commune growing 300 hectares of poppy, or one-tenth of the commune's total land area. Before 1991, poppies were planted everywhere. Every household planted them. The smell of opium haunted local people all the time. "Now, even in the farthest villages such as La Pan Tan and Ze Xu Phinh, there are no poppies," confirmed Hoang Xuan Tuyen at the Mu Cang Chai People's Committee.

From mid-August to mid-September, the whole of Mu Cang Chai is dyed in yellow of ripe rice. The fragrance of ripe rice is pervasive in the air, even in the dresses of the H'mong and Thai girls. Sometimes, green young rice fields join yellow ones to create eye-catching forms looking like colourful patch-work dresses. In August 2007, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised the terraced fields in the three communes of La Pan Tan, Ze Xu Phinh and Che Cu Nha as national landscape sites. Vang A Pao, a local villager says: "I sometimes stare at high hills covered with and surrounded by immense yellow terrace fields. They're so beautiful that I'm afraid when harvesting rice, I will destroy the beauty." The beauty is not only created by nature but also by locals, especially H'mong ethnic people whose hands are often rough and hard, vestiges of years of working in paddy rice fields.




Mu Cang Chai, part of the Hoang Lien Son volcanic mountain range, teems with high mountains, hard-to-access terrain, and harsh weather conditions. To ensure stable food supplies, locals have flattened mountains and hills to grow rice.

When looking at beautiful terrace fields, many visitors ask the same question "How can people water their fields? Locals use a system of troughs to take water from springs to the tops of mountains. From the peaks, water flows spirally down to fields. Keeping water in the fields is major construction achievement. They make beds of fields surprisingly flat to ensure that every rice plant has the same level of water.

In Mu Cang Chai, terrace fields are beautiful all the year round, no matter the season. If visiting them in March, you will be bewildered by glittering fields. From April to May is the time locals transplant rice seedlings. After that, all hills will be covered by everlasting green. Rice fields start to turn yellow from late August.

People in Mu Cang Chai grow only one crop annually. After harvesting rice, they let the land lie fallow. They think that the land is like people, and it needs time to relax. In the between-crop period, they hold festivals; make new clothes and pound corn. The new rice festival of H'mong people is to honour the sky, the earth and gods who create favourable conditions for people to have bumper crops. Locals gather at communal houses to share new rice and new alcohol, and cook delicious local dishes. Plenty of sweet rice and alcohol is the result of a hardworking year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Colorful Lantern Town of Hoi An, Vietnam



Rows of shop houses spotting Chinese tiled roofs and yellow stained walls line the narrow alleys. Red lanterns hang from rusty ceilings, while creepy lalang tree branches hang from above. Red-and-green rickshaws stand alongside the traditional five-foot way and local ladies wearing conical straw hats amble along the streets balancing baskets of fruits on their shoulders. By the river banks, old men float on their crumbled wooden boats, waiting for the catch of their day.


This is Hoi An, an ancient city oozing old world charm, offering time travel for the curious ones. Set along the Thu Bon River, Hoi An was an international trading port back in the 17th century – Chinese, Japanese and European traders used to converge here, their traces now seen from the eclectic architecture in the Old Town. In the 18th century, Hanoi An was considered to be the best destination for trading in all of Southeast Asia. Japanese believed the heart of all of Asia, referring to the dragon, lay beneath the earth of the city. Thanks to appropriate measures, the architectural styles in Hoi An have been extremely well preserved, thereby earning the town  UNESCO World Heritage status.


Once here, it’s easy to see why. Hoi An’s beauty is obvious: from the 17th century edifices to the hectic market and calm river banks, the city has an inimitable flair. Naturally it has attracted hordes of tourists, but thankfully it has still retained a sense of identity. Over the past few days, we’ve been wandering through its Buddhist pagodas, shrines, alleys and walkways. Here’s a look at some of our favorite sights of the city.

Japanese Bridge




The centerpiece of the Old Town lies the small but historically rich Japanese Bridge, or Chua Cau, built in 1593 by the Japanese community. Spanning across a small stream off that branches off the Thu Bon River, this ancient bridge features a tiled roof and a small temple within, decked out in wooden flooring and faded statues. It was said that construction of the bridge had begun in the year of the monkey and finished in the year of the dog – thus one end of the bridge is guarded by wooden monkeys and the other by dogs. There is an entry fee of 90,000 dongs ($4.50) for the Old Town – but it entitles you to five of the 18 sites, and one of them is this bridge.

Temples and Assembly Halls




There are hundreds of temples and assembly halls built by the Chinese expatriate residents together with Viet people. One of the most outstanding temples is Quan Cong Temple, recognized as a “National Historic and Cultural Site” for its well-preserved facade and interior. The assembly halls were built for the Chinese to socialize and hold meetings. They are typically named after the home region of their members, such as Fujian and Canton. The Cantonese Assembly Hall, or Quang Dong, was built in 1885. Featuring elaborate mural carvings and giant coils of incense, it almost resembles a temple. Take a peek at the half-hidden back yard and its pastel dragon statues.

Handicraft Workshop




Housed in the 200-year-old Chinese trading house, the Hoi An Handicraft Workshop deserves a visit mainly for the cultural show (10.15am and 3.15pm) put up by traditional singers, dancers and musicians. While it’s largely touristic, it gives quite an interesting glimpse into Vietnamese traditional artistry. In the backyard, you can browse through the thousands of lanterns, silk embroideries and ceramic hand-made by local artisans.

Central Market




The bustling Central Market is a mishmash of colors, sounds and smells. Amidst the chaotic lines of stalls, you’ll find ladies selling spices, bright red chilli, silkworms, morning glory leaves, silk pyjamas and plenty of cheap souvenirs. The best time to visit is early in the morning, before 7am, when the dock is filled with fishermen unloading their catch.

Street Food Stalls




They are everywhere in Vietnam, especially here in Hoi An – temporary food stands, displaying fresh baguette and rice noodles, with mini-stools and plastic tables cluttered around them. Crouching on these tiny chairs, eating a bowl of Pho with wooden chopsticks, is an experience on its own. There’s a row of street food stalls around the riverfront boulevard of Bach Dang, as well as alleys running perpendicular to Tran Phu. By night, the glowing lights of the colorful lanterns seen all over town make dining out at these stalls even more atmospheric. Hoi An is especially famous for these two dishes: cao lau, a doughy rice noodles topped with roast pork and fritters; ad white rose (banh bao), shrimp dumpling wrapped with white dough and drenched in spicy fish sauce.

Rice Paddies in the Countryside




Weaving our way out of the Old Town on our rented scooter (just $5 a day), we found ourselves in the countryside very quickly, surrounded by emerald green rice paddies. The scenes along the drive are almost poetic – old ladies wearing the iconic Vietnamese hat bend their backs to work the fields; young men lead herds of water buffaloes across the greenery; while children fly their kites sky-high amidst the paddies. It’s refreshing to know just minutes away from the bustling town are vast stretches of green grass and Vietnam’s back country.


Hoi An has definitely left quite an imprint in my memories, with its gentle demeanors and poetic beauty. We’re moving onwards to Hue next, I wonder how it’ll compare to beautiful Hoi An. Has there been any particular city or town that has had the same effect on you?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Destination must-see in Vietnam


VietNamNet Bridge – globalgrasshopper, a popular site for international tourists, has listed the top ten must-see destinations in Vietnam.

1. Son Tra peninsula

Son Tra Peninsula, about 10km from the center of Da Nang City to the north-east, is a special gift of the god to Da nang. It is an ideal place for tourists in Vietnam travel to the city, to get away for the day and enjoy the real feeling of a different Vietnam.


Son Tra looks like a mushroom of which the cap is Son Tra Mountain and stalk is a beautiful sandy beach that affords an ideal area for bathing, swimming, playing sports and fishing.

Son Tra acts as a giant screen protecting Da Nang from storms and cyclones coming from the sea. Son Tra is put under the national protected forest regulation since it is a natural preservation area.

The peninsula is famous for its plentiful plants and fauna as well as the attractive scenery. It is said that fairies used to come here for singing, dancing and playing chess so Son Tra is also called Tien Sa. On this mountain, there still remain more than 30km² of natural forests, nearly 300 types of plants and several hundred kinds of fauna, including rare animal. From the top of the mountain, you can see the overall view of Da Nang City, Marble Mountains, Ba Na – Mount Chua.

Suoi Da (Stone Stream) lies by the side of the foot of the mountain, fine sandy surfaces run round the peninsula, several breaks of waves are running steadily up and down and washing up on the stones heaped up around the seaside. All are attractive spots for tourists. It is so majestic and it is so romantic, it is so wide and it is really beautiful.

2. Royal tombs of Nguyen dynasty
The Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) is the last of the Vietnamese dynasties. In total, there were 13 emperors, only seven of which had tombs however: Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, Tu Duc, Duc Duc, Dong Khanh and Khai Dinh.

King Khai Dinh tomb is considered the most beautiful.

The seven imperial tombs are located in a hilly region southwest of the Citadel. The tombs of Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Dong Khanh and Khai Dinh belong to the major touristic destinations in Hue.
Each of the tombs was constructed during the reign of the emperor it was named after. All the tombs are equipped with statues and monuments in perfect Feng Shui harmony to create a natural setting, in the architecture of which the respective emperor's philosophical tendencies are often reflected.
The general elements incorporated in all the tombs are: walls, triple gate (Tam Quan Gate), Salutation Court, Stele House, temples, lakes and ponds, pavilions, gardens, and finally the tomb.

3. Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc is part of the southern province of Kien Giang province. The island is 50 km long (from north to south) and 25 km wide (from east to west at its widest part).
Surrounded by more than 40 km of white beaches decorated with coconut palms, Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s largest island. Its western coastline is sparsely populated while the interior is largely covered with jungle and mainly deserted.


A stay on Phu Quoc Island would not be complete without visiting one of the factories producing nuoc mam (fish sauce), one of the most popular ingredients of the Vietnamese cooking as well as one of the pearl farms with panels describing the formation of pearls and shops selling pearl jewelry.
The island has a unique species of dogs, the Phu Quoc ridgeback, which has a ridge of hair that runs along its back in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. Much of this island’s nature is still protected. Around 70 percent of the island, an area of 31,422 hectares, became a national park in 2001. The rainy season on Phu Quoc is from July to November and the peak season for tourism is midwinter, when the sky is blue and the sea is calm.

4. The Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometers. The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.

Coming to the delta, visitors will discover the daily life of local people and diverse landscapes.

The Mekong Delta has recently been dubbed as a 'biological treasure trove.' Over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta.
The Mekong Delta, as a region, lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi Minh City, roughly forming a triangle stretching from My Tho in the east to Chau Doc and Ha Tien in the northwest, down to Ca Mau and the East Sea at the southernmost tip of Vietnam.

The Mekong Delta region of Vietnam displays a variety of physical landscapes, ranging from mountains and highlands to the north and west to broad, flat flood plains in the south. This diversity of terrain was largely the product of tectonic uplift and folding brought about by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates about 50 million years ago. The soil of the lower Delta consists mainly of sediment from the Mekong and its tributaries, deposited over thousands of years as the river changed its course due to the flatness of the low-lying terrain.

5. Tram Ton Pass (Heaven Gate)

Tram Ton Pass is Vietnam’s highest mountain pass. On a clear day, the views are spectacular. Don’t be deterred by mist in Sapa. Conditions on the pass are frequently different to those in town. The temperature can also rise quite a bit on the pass as you break away from the cooler air of Sapa.  


Thach Bac or Silver waterfall is a compulsory stop for local tour groups and can be pretty busy. The falls are beautiful but probably only warrant a visit if time permits and in conjunction with a visit to Tram Ton Pass 3kms further along the road.

6. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the central province of Quang Binh, about 500 km south of Hanoi.


Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves and grottos with a total length of about 70 km, of which only 20 have been surveyed by Vietnamese and British scientists; 17 of these are in located in the Phong Nha area and three in the Kẻ Bàng area.
After April 2009, total length of caves and grottoes are 126 km. Before the discovery of the Son Đoong Cave, Phong Nha held several world cave records, as it has the longest underground river, as well as the largest caverns and passageways.

The park derives it name from Phong Nha Cave, containing many fascinating rock formations, and Ke Bang forest. The plateau on which the park is situated is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia.

This national park was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2003 for its geological values as defined in its criteria viii. In April 2009, the world's largest cave, was discovered by a team of British cave explorers of British Caving Association.

7. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quang Ninh province. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.


Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen biosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. HaLong Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000–7000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7000–5000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 5,000–3,500 years ago. Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mout, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy.

In 1994, the core zone of Ha LongBay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site according to criterion vii, and listed for a second time according to criterion viii.

8. One-pillar pagoda

The One Pillar Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple in Hanoi. It is regarded alongside the Perfume Temple, as one of Vietnam's two most iconic temples.


The temple was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. According to the court records, the king was childless and dreamt that he met the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who handed him a baby son while seated on a lotus flower. Ly Thai Tong then married a peasant girl that he had met and she bore him a son. The emperor constructed the temple in gratitude for this in 1049, having been told by a monk named Thien Tue to build the temple, by erecting a pillar in the middle of a lotus pond, similar to the one he saw in the dream.

The temple is built of wood on a single stone pillar 1.25 m in diameter, and it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of purity, since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond. In 1954, the French Union forces destroyed the pagoda before withdrawing from Vietnam after the First Indochina War, It was rebuilt afterwards.

9. Da Dia Rapids

Da Dia (Stone Plate) Rapids are located in Tuy An District, Phu Yen Province, central Vietnam. With strange rock formations, foamy rapids, a fissure with multi-colored fish and a deep cave, etc. Da Dia Rapids was listed as a National Heritage Site by the Ministry of Culture and Information.


Da Dia Rapids is a baffling and beautiful riddle of nature, and set in stone for all time. It’s like a giant jigsaw, irritatingly made of the same shaped pieces, and forming a solidified structure that has proved more than just a curiosity for thousands.

The stones in Da Dia Rapids are bazan stones of dark black and light yellow. There are large stones of tons and small stones with different shapes such as round, pentagon, and polygon and so on.
In the middle of the rapids, there is a small fissure filled with rain water and sea water. In this fissure, rocks stick out at odd angles. Hence, when travel to this area, visitors can also enjoy the fresh air and refresh after a long drive.

Visiting Da Dia Rapids – you will have chance to learn about many species of marine creatures, especially jam seaweed is a type of kelp which is sticks to the stones, looking like a network and the local use it as a special food.

10. Hue ancient capital

On 11th December 1993, the UNESCO recognized the architectural ensemble of Hue as a World Cultural Heritage. That is the first time a Vietnam's city ever received such a title. The ancient capital of Hue was the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), the final feudal regime of Vietnam. Situated 638 km to the south of Hanoi, only with 6777 ha in area and 280,000 in population, this historical ancient capital has become one cultural and tourism center of Vietnam and the world. 


The most amazing thing about Hue is the blend of royal-folk architecture and romantic nature. This romance is all evident in the beauty of the Huong River, Ngu Mountain, chanties and folklore songs, ancient citadels, palaces, temples, pagodas, ancient garden houses, special cuisine only found in Hue, court music and dancing, Hue chanties on the River Huong and especially in the souls of the people here.
Beautiful nature, ancient architecture, and elegant people are combined together to make Hue a heaven of poems, music and paintings, and a World Heritage that serves as an everlasting inspiration for generations of artists.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Motorcycling in Vietnam's Central Highland

There's something undeniably sexy about seeing Vietnam by motorcycle. Regardless of your level of riding experience, a trip by motorbike is doable if you're determined and patient. 

The Central Highlands route is still considered way off the beaten track; you'll encounter few English speakers and will need to brush up your Vietnamese (or acquire a phrasebook). It's a rewarding experience that can astound and inspire.


Who will you ride with: are you a solo rider, will you ride in a group, or perhaps you're more inclined to ride as a passenger with a touring company? Routes are known in advance, hotels are taken care of, and plenty of rest stops are made. If you opt to do the trip yourself, be prepared to spend more time organising logistics, but you'll have more potential for deviating from the set paths and exploring at your own pace.

In terms of route, the cities and towns in the Highlands are probably best treated as overnight stopovers, rather than as destinations themselves. Even the larger cities like Buon Ma Thuot offer little in terms of traditional tourist comforts, such as a selection of restaurants with English menus, and few sights to see around the city. These cities can easily be explored once you arrive merely by driving around and pulling over when you see an interesting church, monument, or memorial.


Along your route, if you see something eye-catching as you pass through a village, pull over and ask about it! Local industries are booming in the up-and-coming cities of this region: you'll pass rubber, pepper, tea and coffee plantations, fields of flowers set for export abroad, and much more. This area is also home to many sites of incredible national importance. Part of the famed Ho Chi Minh Trail weaves in and out of Vietnam in this region and you'll pass by Charlie Hill and other war memorial sites. Dozens of Vietnam's ethnic minority groups inhabit the Highlands, and visiting with these people is an alternative to the heavily-subscribed treks through Sapa in the north.

There are two ways to equip yourself for the ride, either buying your own bike, or renting one and making a big loop through the region. Bikes are inexpensive but the old adage of buyer beware applies. You should know enough about bike maintenance to get by if crisis strikes. This is where renting a bike or riding with a tour company can be advantageous; you're ultimately not responsible for the equipment, and you don't have to worry about reselling the bike at the end. The best way to transport gear is to strap everything on the back with heavy-duty bungee cords or rubber ties. Plan for possible weather fluctuations; thick plastic bags will keep everything dry, and you'll want one of those thin plastic body suits that sell in all roadside stalls. Despite their flimsy appearance, you'll be surprised at their effectiveness.


I rode as a passenger through the Central Highlands on a 6-day tour from Da Lat. For the latter half of my journey north to Hoi An, I encountered a Belgian couple who were doing the same route, sans guide. At the end of our trips we compared notes. Without wanting to toot my own horn I think I may have gained the most out of the experience—but this was because I could just sit back and absorb what was around me (my driver doubled as an excellent guide). While the others struggled to deal with tire punctures in an unfamiliar language, I learned firsthand about Vietnamese culture and life in this incredibly diverse region. The pair admitted to making no advance preparations besides buying a map.


For the DIY-ers remember several key points. Get the most current map you can find; construction on new roads continues daily and these roads are smoother and less confusing than some older ones. If you've got the time, don't push too hard for daily mileage, especially when you're cruising through the tropical jungles between Kon Tum and Dak To, where you can stop and hike parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Take plenty of rest stops and discover the local markets, and eat lunches at the roadside stalls—drive through town once first if necessary to find the most popular place. Seeing the Central Highlands by motorbike is incredibly freeing, but you must remember to remain flexible and most importantly, to have the ride of your life.

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