Friday, September 30, 2011

Kayak Tourism in Vietnam

According to the Central Intelligence Agency's 2011 World Fact Book, Vietnam ranks seventh in the world in terms of navigable rivers, canals and inland bodies of water. When you compare the size of most of the countries above it on the list, which includes the United States, Russia and China, you realize how much water Vietnam has per square mile. All this water means plenty of kayaking opportunities, but there are just a handful of established kayak tourism points in Vietnam.

Just over 100 miles east of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is famous for its dramatic

Friday, September 23, 2011

Four seasons in Sapa, Vietnam

The four seasons are distinctly felt in Sa Pa, Vietnam when nature changes her costume.

The four seasons are distinctly felt in Sa Pa when Nature changes her costume. Spring in the season of pear, peach and plum flowers. Summer comes blooming with Gladioli, Pancies, Dahlias, Sun-flowers and numerous temperate fruits. Autumn is the time for perfume mushrooms, woodears and plenty of specious medicinal plants such as Black Ginseng, Amomum,Cinnamon, Anise etc.

The sky is the vividly brightened with golden sun-rays and playful white clouds which seem to land on the ground, over the heads of people or on tops of trees. In Winter, the forest is almost whitened with snow, making the landscapes look more attractive.

But Summer is said to be the most charming season in the year. It is extremely interesting to experience all the four seasons within a summer day time: spring in the morning, summer at noon, autumn in the afternoon and winter in the evening and at night.

Sa Pa, with its surprisingly wonderful and orginal nature, the sky, the air, the clouds, the flowers and fruits there is openly inviting…

Source: Sapabeauty

Recommended Tour By Active Travel Asia: Sapa Trekking & Homestay

Night 1: Night train to Lao Cai

Transfer from your hotel to Hanoi Railway Station for the night train to Lao Cai. Overnight in AC soft sleeper cabin.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bike Tour of Vietnam

On the first day of our bike tour of Vietnam, we took them for a spin to brave the chaotic traffic of Hanoi.  It was pretty intense riding alongside dozens of motor bikes and cars and other bicycles. Plus the inhaling of constant exhaust fumes kinda makes you feel like you’ve smoked a pack of cigarettes by the end.  We were ready to get out into the countryside and explore.

A crowded street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter (Photo by Lisa Lubin)

Our first day of real cycling we cycled 37 km to Cuc Phuong, Vietnam’s first National Park.  Inside the park we visited the Endangered Primate Rescue Center. The center, run by German biologists and local Vietnamese, rescues and cares for primates that are often hunted and traded for eventual medicinal ingredients.  There are several different species cared for here including the long-armed Gibbon, the long-tailed Langur monkey, and Lorises—smaller nocturnal primates.

Entry for the Contest "Indochina in your eyes"!

Great Times in Cambodia

My first time arriving in Cambodia was by plane from Bangkok. Our approach into Siem reap airport was low and the scenery was stunning like something out of a 1960,s movie. The first thing people think of Siem reap is Angkor Wat ruins which every time you see, you see something different and it is a truly spiritual experience not to be missed. Photographers be ready!

Another must Do is a cycle trip around the ruins take the day to ride along at your own pace ensure you take water with you .If the heat gets to you at the end of the trip most tuktuks will take you and your bike back to the guesthouse.  Most guesthouses for which there are many to choose from in all price ranges will provide bike hire for the day at good prices or even free, however check your tyres before setting out!

The river running through Siem reap is also a great area to walk into town and to the main market, restaurants and bars. There is a wide variety of all facilities in the centre of town and it is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. Do try the local Khmer food it really is fantastic with a true mix of flavors and spices try a *Amok*
A classic Khmer dish coconut fish steamed in banana leaves.

To travel overland into Cambodia must be the best and most interesting way to experience Cambodia if you have time. After taking the train from Hanoi South to Ho Chi Minh which is a fantastic way to see the true countryside of Vietnam plus get on and off the clickety clack train as you want to see the village’s enroute is a worthwhile trip.

The Mekong River border crossing is near the Vietnamese city of Chau Doc where you can then get the boat to Phnom Penh (5hours approx or longer on slow boat) again the scenery especially at the border on the river is stunning. After a hot and long boat trip the sight of Phnom Penh is much appreciated by all on board.

Phnom Penh being the capital is much bigger than and not as quaint as Siem Reap and again has all the attractions of bars, restaurants and facilities in the centre.

The alternative Boat route is from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh on the Tonle Sap River which is fed by the Mekong. Durations of trip depend very much on the seasons. The lake sits only about 15 km south of Siem Reap town. If you take the ferry between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap you will cross the lake and dock at the village of Chong Khneas. Attention this is a very big lake like being on open water so if you are not too good on boats be prepared. Also plenty of sunscreen and a hat as you may end up on top of the boats roof.

The style of Cambodia is very much “Old French” building style with the added Khmer culture which is a delightful Indochina mixture set in a tropical environment and climate.

During the stay I spent time at an orphanage in Phnom Penh where I sponsored 2 kids; there are many of these organizations throughout Cambodia where your help and time is appreciated. A lot of these kids have next to nothing but give so much and always with a smile and a hug for teacher. One tip though is don’t just hand over a few dollars to someone find out from the organization what do they really need and then go and buy it for them like that you ensure they are getting something of use and the money is spent in the good way.

Other key towns to see in Cambodia are:

Battambang:  Town is at the heart of Cambodia's rice bowl, and even though it is the country's second biggest town, it still has a very local, un-touristic atmosphere.

Sihanoukville: Was previously a port town it is the only coastal resort area of Cambodia and has a very basic feel about it. Convenient if travelling onward to Koh Kong on the west coast back into Thailand.

By Gail Thomas 

For more information about the contest, please access ATA Writing Competition 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

RTC together with TSG & AFEO organizes the Ha Noi Green Walk

RTC (Responsible Travel Club of Vietnam)  is teaming up with TSG & AFEO to do another the Green Event of the year: Hanoi Green Walk this year 2011. The event is aimed at promoting sustainable tourism in the capital city, raising community awareness of the environmental issues, promoting the World Carfree Day and connecting people within a friendly environment.


Conducted in the form of a green walking tour with all activities scheduled for the morning, participants are required to get to the starting point by environmentally friendly means of transport, walking, cycling or taking public bus. There will be two hours of pleasant walk through many selected vibrant streets of Hanoi with new friends exploring life, tasting foods, learning local architecture and traditional crafts, having fun shopping, taking photos and more. The walk finishes at a park with team presentations on assigned subjects, team building activities, music performances by participants coupled with soft drink and snacks…

We believe familiar things would turn out to be fresh and amazingly interesting as you walk and we are hopeful of a day we can truly live the city life without cars and motorbikes.

Date: Sunday, Sep, 25th, 2011
Time: From 07h00 – 12h45
Start/finish: Children Palace/Bach Thao Park
Details: Please find the attached flyer
Other information: To be sent in the coming days

For registration, please send email to:
Or you can register online here by using this link to the site of Travel Social Group:

The Organizers
RTC – Responsible Travel Club

TSG – Travel Social Group
AFEO – Actions for Environment Organization

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A sweet little mystery in the highlands

If you set off from Hanoi in the early morning, you can be in another world by the afternoon – Dong Van town sits over 1,000 metres above sea level in a green valley surrounded by rocky mountain ranges in the awe-inspiring province of Ha Giang, one of the most spectacular rural destinations in all of Southeast Asia – truly, a far cry from the bewildering heat and hectic streets of Hanoi at the height of summer.

The town is the capital of Dong Van district, one of four districts surrounding the Dong Van Geopark, a karst plateau featuring large tracts of limestone with many fossils of creatures that walked the earth 400 to 600 million years ago.

The plateau’s average elevation is 1,400-1,600m above sea level. The route up the mountains to the town is precipitous and slow-going, but the views of the imposing rocky mountain ranges make the trip a constant pleasure.

Near Dong Van town we came across a group of H’Mong people preparing for a local music contest that was to be held in the morning. Some of them were playing a khen (pan-pipe) and a ken la (leaf-horn) while others were harmonizing their sweet voices.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A very good trip with Active Travel Asia

Our first trip with Active travel was the Sapa valley trek homestay with ecolodge option. Everything was handled very professionally for this by Active Travel Asia.

We were picked up by an agent at our hotel exactly on time and they actually escorted us right onto our train for our night trip to Lao Cai. The train station at Hanoi can be somewhat intimidating and getting tickets can be frustrating so this was really appreciated.

Sapa, Vietnam
Our guide and driver were waiting for us when we arrived in Lao Cai. They drove us to Sapa where we had breakfast and then our guide, Duc, took us on a walking tour around Sapa. Duc spoke very good English and he was very informative and receptive to all of our questions and needs. We then did a short drive to a trailhead and our trek began