Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trekking & Biking Dalat Vietnam - Head in the clouds

Visiting Dalat in wintertime I had been expecting chilly and misty weather. But I’m lucky to wake up on a bright morning with honey-coloured sunshine and a blue clear sky. It’s the perfect day for a drive so my traveling companion and I rent motorbikes at Dalat Market for VND100,000 per day and set off for the hills.

Dalat Terrace, Vietnam

Following the advice of a friend we are planning to trek up Lang Biang mountain – the rooftop of Flower City – where you can camp overnight. With an altitude of 2,169m above sea level, the mountain is said to boast spectacular views. There are actually two peaks – one is called Ong (Sir) and the other is Ba (Lady).

Standing in downtown Dalat on a clear day, you can see both peaks. From afar you might think you could walk from one peak to the other but the peaks are connected together by long zigzagging path through a forest.
To get there from the city centre, you drive along Provincial Road No.722 towards Lac Duong district for about an hour. At the foot of mountain we stop at Mimosa restaurant for a refreshment.

You can leave your motorbike at the restaurant and set off on foot. There’s a 6km-trail to the top of the mountain – no doubt you can set off by yourself though we opt to hire a local K’Ho man as a guide after we negotiate a fee for an overnight camping trip.

At first the trail is easy enough – the path is sealed and smooth – but rather romantic with thick pine forest all around us. The air is fresh and you can smell the wonderful fragrances of the local wild flora as well as the pine trees.

After a two hour trek we come to the end of the asphalt trail. Our guide leads us onto a soil path that rises steeply. The trail is challenging but not so hard for anyone who’s of good health. I’m certainly no athlete and I manage to slog on.

After two hours we turn to soak in the views and remind ourselves why we’re making the effort. The stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys down below leave me speechless. We can see Dalat through the misty air. The city looks like a water-colour painting from so far away. We can also see the the Dankia River which looks like a small silk ribbon from such a height. We can even see the sea off the coast of Ninh

Chu in Ninh Thuan province. We keep trekking for another two hours and eventually the city below disappears beneath the clouds. The weather is now scorching hot as we climb down towards a flat peak where there are a number of flower gardens, restaurants, cafes and also a campsite where we will pitch our tents later on.

The wind is stronger now, the mist is thicker, too – somewhere past the thick mist and cloud cover the sun is setting. After a cup of hot coffee at a café we quickly set up our tents. Incidentally, the coffee is quite delicious – perhaps the nicest I’ve ever tasted!

Soon the temperature starts to drop dramatically. We jump inside the tents to stay warm before heading down to Langbiang restaurant for a much deserved hot dinner – we order a delicious fish hotpot, which is just what the doctor ordered.

Afterwards we sit around the campfire and chat to the other travellers. Our guide also tells us a local legend, which explains how the mountain came to be named Lang Biang. Once there was a young man called K’Lang and a young woman called Hobiang – they were from different tribes but both lived near the foot of the mountain and one day, they had a chance encounter. It was love at first sight but they could not get married as their clans were sworn enemies.

Ignoring the age-old codes, K’Lang and Hobiang eloped to the highest peak in the mountains to be wed. But one day Hobiang became ill and K’Lang was forced to seek help from her clan. But Hobiang’s fellow tribesmen attacked K’Lang and killed him but they also accidentally killed Hobiang with a misdirected poisonous arrow. Hobiang’s father felt so guilty and remorseful he called a truce between the warring clans.

Both Hobiang and her husband K’Lang were buried on top of the mountain, which was renamed Langbiang in honour of their eternal love.

Dalat travel related sites:
Source: timeout

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tourism is booming in Vietnam

At a tourist booth at the international airport, arriving foreigners are offered enticing brochures, including a thick little booklet with a lovely pastel urban lake scene on the cover and the incongruous title: "Hanoi, City of Tourism."

Sapa field, Vietnam

Sapa field,

Incongruous, because for many Americans, what was once the capital of North Vietnam evokes different images. Not too long ago, this was a city of fanatical communists and the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison where downed U.S. fliers were held.

For decades after the war, which ended in 1975 with the reunification of the country, Vietnam ranked with Somalia, North Korea and Albania on the bottom rung of American tourist destinations.

But now, Vietnam is getting very different reviews.

"Great food, great people, great adventure," was the assessment of Al Bergstrom, a college professor in Rhode Island who in January made his third trip there with a group of other American veterans.

"I will be taking my family there, my kids are 9 and 10, as I want them to see the unregulated congestion of the cities and the beauty of places like Quang Tri, Hue and lots of other places I have only read about and seen in James Bond movies," he wrote in an e-mail.

In December, Sheila Schlesinger, 72, an experienced traveler who lives in Florida, made her first visit while on a cruise. A war protester during the 1960s, she had long resisted even thinking about going to Vietnam.

"I'm so glad we went. I was able to cleanse my soul. Especially at the War Remembrance Museum in Saigon. It stirred emotions in me that I thought could not be evoked again," she said.

"The people were warm and made us feel welcome. No one gave us a dirty look. There was none of the gloominess you feel when you travel in Eastern Europe," she said.

Her two days in the country only whetted her appetite.

"Would I go back to Vietnam? In a heartbeat. It's a beautiful country. I felt as comfortable in Saigon as I've ever felt in a big city," she said.

Much has changed since a harsh U.S.-led economic embargo was lifted in 1994, although it was not until 2006 that diplomatic relations between U.S. and Vietnam were completely normalized. The current mood could be described as cordial.

And, as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has already demonstrated to hundreds of thousands of Western tourists, this brand of laissez-faire communism mixes quite nicely with five-star hotels, elephant rides, golf courses, casinos and other Western tourist indulgences.

Travel to Vietnam is easy, cheap and even mellow. Hotels are clean. English is widely spoken. The war is almost never mentioned, and, most tourists report, the Vietnamese seem to genuinely like Americans.

And there are a lot of choices. Just Google "Vietnam vacations" and dozens of tour options come rolling in.

Source: mysanantonio.com

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) promotes Family Adventure Tours in Cambodia 2010

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) launches three family adventure tours in Cambodia for the Summer Promotion 2010. This promotion appeals to traveling families by luxurious services and best add-on values on the trip.

These trips discover a fascinating land of rivers, forests and ancient temples that will fire family’s imagination. Angkor Wat and Tonle Sap Lake are the highlights for the holiday.

Family Adventure Travel - Summer Promotion  2010 - ATAFamily Adventure Travel - Summer Promotion 2010 - ATA

1. Angkor Wat Highlights – Cambodia

Angkor Wat is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on the planet. Made by the Khmer kings in a process that lasts almost 4 centuries, this magnificent area has been abandoned and hidden by the forest. Re-discovered by a French man about 150 years ago, Angkor Wat is ready to become one of the most visited archaeological and artistic sites on the planet.

This 3-day short exploration of Angkor Wat highlights the must-sees including Angkor Wat temple, Angkor Thom temple and boat trip on the Tonle Sap.

2. Angkor Wat Discovery- Cambodia

The 4-day trip takes travelers discover deeply in Temples of Angkor. This exploration of Angkor Wat highlights the must-sees including Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Thom Temple, Banteay Srei Temple and boat trip on the Tonle Sap.

3. Cambodia Discovery

Ancient temples, empty beaches, mighty rivers, remote forests... and (outside Angkor) only a handful of tourists. But the word is out - Cambodia has emerged from decades of war and isolation and is well and truly back on the Southeast Asian travel map. From Phnom Penh travelers fly to Siem Reap. At Angkor they have 3 whole days to explore the complex; from the splendor of Angkor Wat to the enigmatic faces of the Bayon and the haunting Ta Prohm temple, enveloped in the clutches of the jungle.

Promotion Validity is from May 1 to September 30, 2010 Promotion offers: - Free-of-charge Visa-on-arrival fee for any package tour
- Welcome Dinner in Siem Riep or Phnom Penh for group from 6 persons
- 5% discount on any pre or post trip to Vietnam or Laos

Related sites to Summer Promotion 2010 with ATA:
All Summer Promotion Tours in Vietnam & Cambodia

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA kicks off Kayaking Halong Bay 3-Day Tour for Summer Promotion 2010 in Vietnam

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) blazing hot promotion offers great kayaking adventure into the majestic Ha Long Bay and also a glimpse into culture of the Vietnamese.

This tour offers a great chance to discover Halong Bay in Vietnam – a world heritage site recognized by UNESCO. The calm sea provides an ideal location for sea kayaking as paddling through a maze of islets amid dramatic natural scenery. The trip is for true and different kayaking experience in Halong Bay.

summer Promotion 2010 - ATA - Kayaking
Summer Promotion 2010 - ATA

Start this trip, travelers leave Hanoi for Halong Bay. On the way travelers will have a short break for refreshment at a handicraft centre. Upon arrival in Halong City travelers board a luxury junk for a fine seafood lunch and a short cruise to Thien Cung Cave. After a short exploration of the cave travelers enjoy a beautiful cruise through an amazing area of limestone islets. Travelers will pass a floating village to reach Luon Cave, which is a tunnel thrusting through a mountain. Take a bamboo boat to visit the cave. Back to the junk for dinner and overnight.

The next day, after breakfast travelers start paddling to Van Chai Floating village and then continue paddling to Dark Cave. Tide permitting, travelers explore this amazing cave by kayak. The cave is a 200m long, dark tunnel thrusting through a limestone mountain. The tunnel is the only entry to a secluded and beautiful lagoon. Travelers can also explore some other caves nearby. Lunch will be severed on support boat in front of the cave. After lunch travelers paddle to Ba Trai Dao Lagoon, along a stunning and fairly rough sea channel, to explore its beautiful beaches. Continue paddling to Lan Ha Bay, which is smaller than Halong Bay but much more interesting with lots of secluded beaches. Cruise back to Halong Bay for dinner and overnight on mother boat.

The last day, breakfast on the junk and enjoy the sundeck of the junk while she navigates amazing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay to get back to Halong City. Having lunch on the junk before travelers head back to Hanoi by bus.

Promotion Validity is from May 1 to September 30, 2010

Promotion offers:
- Free-of-charge 01 cooking class at Hidden Hanoi Restaurant (joined class)
- Free-of-charge 01 Water Puppet Show
- Free-of-charge silk sleeping bag

More information, please click: Kayaking Halong Bay 3 Days

Recommendation for Summer Holiday:
All Summer Promotion Tours in Vietnam & Cambodia
More Kayaking Tours in Vietnam

Monday, March 15, 2010

Voyage of Discovery: Vietnam, Cambodia

A report told the discovery of life and beauty in Cambodia and Vietnam.

After docking in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) we immediately got on an airplane and flew to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. We visited museums, palaces, and took a sunset boat trip on the Mekong. But the transforming moment for 60 of us (students, faculty and Lifelong Learners) was our visit to the Palm Tree Orphanage where 80 children ages 1-24 live as one big family, taking care of each other and getting more education than the government schools.

As we walked down a dark but crowded street on Friday night, we felt small hands in ours to take us to their home. The children were ready to show us where they have classes and go to sleep, play and eat. They know only a little English, but hugs and warm smiles went a very long way. We sang songs to each other and played silly games. We had met 14 of these students who are trained classical Cambodian dancers. They had come onto our ship in the morning and we were amazed at their dancing skills. No professional troop is any better.

Kids in Cambodia

Kids in Cambodia

As we left Palm Tree there were tears in many a students' eyes as it really hit home how tough a life many, many people on Earth have. The war with the Khymer Rouge took almost half of the population and the lives of almost 100 percent of all teachers, professors and "cultured" people.

The continuing result is a country that struggles. There is 50 percent unemployment and more than 35 percent live on less than $1 a day. Corruption is widespread. Many (some guides said most) of the government is very corrupt and are left over from the leaders of the hated Khymer Rouge, who are associated with Chinese interests and ethnicity. There is no industry save tourism. Angkor Wat is their economic salvation. About 300,000 Cambodians are in tourist-related fields.

We got to experience knowledgeable guides and pesky, begging children at the World Heritage site, Angkor Wat — which was built up in my mind so much that I thought I would be disappointed. Not so. It is truly fantastic and covers a huge area of buildings and interior rooms. Pat and I both wished that we were there for a week with our bicycles. That would be a terrific way to see it.

Monks at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Monks at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Oh, but it was hot! And the humidity was in the 90s. We climbed and climbed, and drank and drank water. I would be surprised if anyone was a runner or tri-athlete here. But I did see an aerobics class going on during the weekend. I could never be that dedicated.

Our return to Vietnam gave us an exciting experience of traffic. It is more organized than in 1998 (we now know which side of the street people are supposed to ride on), and there are far less bicycles and rickshaws, but there are masses of people zipping in and out of each other's way.

We ended our travels in this part of Southeast Asia by visiting the Mekong Delta. In this part of South Vietnam the river is sometimes 2-3 kilometers (3-4 miles) wide. We spent the day on the water and on jungle walks. We were refreshed with Jackfruit, sapodilla, mango, and bright pink dragon fruit. The main meal of the day was one of the best meals of the trip.

We will be sailing before dawn in order to catch the tide and make it out of the Saigon River, which empties into the South China Sea. Then on to India. This will take more than a week and will give me time to catch my breath and reflect on what I have seen and learned. It is almost overwhelming.

Source: dchieftain

Recommendation for travel in Cambodia:

Visit Angkor Temples

Mekong Explorer

Biking Mekong Delta and Cambodia (11D/10N)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) launches Vietnam & Cambodia Summer Promotions

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) is offering Great Summer Promotion 2010 in Vietnam and Cambodia. These promotions are guaranteed by luxurious adventure tours, add-on values and reasonable prices.

ATA kicks off Special Summer Promotion 2010 covering all kinds of adventure tours include trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking and family adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia. There are eight tours in Vietnam(http://www.activetravelcambodia.com/), eleven ones in Cambodia (http://www.activetravelcambodia.com/) and three others combining between Vietnam and Cambodia. Each tour is provided with unique and special value-added services.

2010 ATA Summer PromotionGreat Summer Promotion 2010 with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA

In this promotion, the offers are different from each area in Vietnam and Cambodia. In the Northern Vietnam, travelers are learned how to cook local dishes at the homestay or at Hidden Hanoi Restaurant. If travelers decide to visit to Central Vietnam, a free half-day guided tour to Imperial Citadel in Hue city or a body massage in Hoi An is added on the trips. In the Southern Vietnam, when the group is up to 5 persons, travelers get a free of charge half-day tour guided in Saigon. In Cambodia, travelers receive free Visa-on-arrival arrangement when they book any package tour.

The promotion provides travelers the real experiences in hidden Indochina with add-on valued services. This big hit suits for all types of group and who love any kind of adventure activities.

Sea kayaking Halong Bay is a highlight in this promotion. The calm sea provides an ideal location for sea kayaking as paddling through a maze of islets amid dramatic natural scenery recognized by UNESCO.

Promotion detail:
Kayak Halong Bay 3 Days

Besides, Trekking Tours of ATA lead travelers to outstanding natural beauty and interesting glimpse of Vietnamese & Cambodian culture and history.

Promotion trekking tours detail:
1. Trekking in Pu Luong Nature Reserve (6D/5N)
2. Bach Ma National Park Trek & Camping (2D/1N)
3. Trekking Nam Cat Tien National Park (2D/1N)
4. Trek Angkor Temples
5. Trek Rattanakiri

Joining biking tours, travelers will pedal through beautiful areas, interact with local passers-by. And this is best way to get to the remote and hidden corners in each country.

Promotion detail:
1. Mekong Explorer (4D/3N)
2. Biking Mai Chau (2D/1N)
3. Biking Angkor Wat
4. Cycling Angkor Temples
5. Biking Coastal towns and Phnom Penh
6. Biking Coastal towns and Angkor Wat
7. Biking Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat

ATA also offers promotion for motorcycling tours in both Cambodia and Vietnam. Travelers will get incredible driving and deep in the countryside and historical trails.

Promotion detail:
1. Taste of Ho Chi Minh Trail (3D/2N)
2. Motorcycling the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Half Challenge (11D/10N)
3. Motorbiking Adventure Cambodia

Especially, if travelers plan to travel both Cambodia and Vietnam, the trips offer a great combination of the two exotic lands and cultures in Mekong delta and World heritage sites.

Promotion detail:
1. Mekong Delta & Angkor Wat (10D/9N)
2. Biking Mekong Delta and Cambodia (11D/10N)
3. Cycling Angkor Temples and Kayaking Halong Bay (12D/11N)

Travel with family in Cambodia, the trip take travelers to ancient temples, empty beaches, mighty rivers, remote forests... Angkor Wat and Tonle Sap Lake is the highlight for the holiday.

Promotion detail:
1. Angkor Wat Highlights
2. Angkor Wat Discovery
3. Cambodia Discovery

For the whole Summer Promotion Tours, please click: Summer Promotion with ATA

In conclusion, with the best add–on values from this Great Summer Promotion of ATA, the hesitance will be replaced by the smart decision from who are exited in traveling and getting more real experience.