Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cat Ba - Destinationa that tourists should not miss

The small town looks beautiful, pristine and poetic, lying gently around a high mountain looking onto the sea. Cat Ba is the name of the biggest island in the Cat Ba archipelago including 366 islands grouped in Lan Ha Bay.

Cat Ba Island, covering 140 square kilometers, is known for its ideal climate, stunning beaches and biodiversity. Cat Ba National Park was recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2003.

The highlight of Cat Ba is its sand dunes scattered amidst mountains, stunning beaches with clear, blue water, endless green of the forests and the limestone walls of the islands. The bizarre rock formations are sculpted by millenniums of erosion by water. The island also has coral reefs, sandy beaches, freshwater wetland areas, mangrove forests and willow swamps.

Cat Ba Island is wellknown with sunshine beaches and fresh water

Streams winding deeply in forests always murmur, creating symphonies and caves running through mountains always attract travelers’ curiosity.

Cat Ba National Park is another amazing sight to behold as it is home to 300 species of fauna and flora. The white-head langurs that live on Cat Ba are one of Vietnam’s most endangered primates. The park, which takes up more than half of the island, is endowed with a diverse ecosystem and many types of habitats, . After discovering the wildlife, visitors can cool off on the beach and play in the waves. The most popular beach is Cat Co beach which draws a crowd on holidays and weekends.

Cat Ba National Part is the perfect place to explore diversity ecosytem 

For nature lovers, a visit to Trung Trang Cave with its mysterious stalactites is a must. Hung Son Cave, which used to contain a hospital during the revolutionary wars, and Lan Ha Bay are other attractions that tourists should not miss.

Cruise boats are also available to explore from the sea and for those who love to hike, Ngu Lam Mountain at a height of 225 meters has a watchtower which has a stunning vantage point to take in a spectacular panoramic view of the island.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA has opened Travel Shop in the heart of the Old Quarter of Hanoi

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) has opened a new Active Travel Shop in the Old Quarter of Hanoi in Mar 2012 to provide wide selection of adventure tours, including hikingcycling,motorcycling and kayaking departure from Hanoi. 

ATA allows Active Travel Shop to meet the increasing demand for professionally organized adventure tours of international independent travelers. This expansion is just the first step of a long-term plan that target at being one of the best adventure tour operators in Viet Nam. 

“We are going to open around 10 similar

Friday, June 22, 2012

Deeper into the Mekong River Delta

Is there anywhere on planet Earth that so teems with life and industry as the Mekong Delta? Anywhere where agriculture and fish farming are so intensively practiced? In thinking that one day I'll come back here and find multi-storey rice paddies stretching to the horizon, I suspect I'm only partially dreaming.

Not for nothing has the delta of the Mekong River been termed the "rice bowl of the Universe". Six countries and well over fifty million people depend upon the Mekong for their very livelihood. And in no country is this dependence so profound as in Vietnam.

Flying into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) gives as good an introduction as any to the wonders of the Mekong. From the air the landscape resembles an intricate anatomical chart, only in shades of green and brown rather than white and red. Every tributary of the Mekong River bifurcates, then trifurcates and multifurcates into thousands of veins, arteries and capillaries. Then, linking this vast drainage network are hundreds of manmade canals, giving the countryside the appearance of an Eastern Venice.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quang Binh to organize tourism month on caves discovery

In June, the tourism month on caves discovery will take place in Quang Binh to promote local tourism products to domestic and international tourists and call for investment to social-economic development in the province. This is an activity of Quang Binh province responding to the National Tourism Year of the North Central Coast - Hue 2012.

Son Doong Cave located in Quang Binh is the biggest cave in the world

The tourism month will include a series of diversified activities such as: opening tourism routes to discover new caves in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park (Rao Thuong – Hang En route, 1,500m Phong Nha cave at night, Hang En and Sinh Ton Valley route); art photography exhibition on Quang Binh’s natural landscapes; traditional boat race on Nhat Le river; Quang Binh’s cuisine week; public art festival; Vietnam – Laos – Thailand international trade fair…

Travelers are exploring Son Doong Cave

To prepare for the tourism month, Quang Binh People's Committee directed departments, agencies, units to implement a number of activities as: preparing facilities to serve the boat race; developing content, theme of the public art festival; inviting enterprises to participate the trade fair; preparing photo books, DVDs to promote Quang Binh’s image to tourists…

Amazing feeling in the cave

In 2011, Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park welcomed over 250,000 tourist arrivals. In 2012, caves discovery tourism has been chosen as a main point in tourism development strategy of Quang Binh. The completion of Huu Nghi 3 Bridge connecting Kham Muon province (Laos) and Nakhon Phanom province (Thailand) will open new opportunities for Quang Binh to enhance attracting international tourists by road. A number of tourism cooperation activities in the East- West Corridor will also be promoted and promises to bring economic- tourism benefits for Quang Binh in the near future.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Old Quarter - The Unique Classical Feature of Hanoi

The Hanoi’s Old Quarter is the soul of city, and the top special historical vestige and sight-seeing of the capital.

There’s an old Vietnamese saying, “Hanoi has thirty-six streets and guilds – Jam Street, Sugar Street, Salt Street…”. Inside a modern and dynamic city, there appears an antique quarter, the Hanoi’s Old Quarter – the represented eternal soul of the city. These days, most Vietnamese and Westerners are familiar with the phrase “Hà Nội - Ba mươi sáu phố phường” (translated as “Ha Noi - 36 districts” or “Hanoi – 36 Old Streets”), or “Phố cổ Hà Nội” (translated as “Hanoi’s Old Quarter”), the top special historical vestige and sight-seeing of the capital, luring international visitors thanks to their mostly original state.

Hanoi 's old quarter

History of 36 streets old quarter

It would be a big surprise should you know that Hanoi's Old Quarter came into being at the time King Ly Thai To selected Thang Long as the country’s capital in 1010, that is, the streets have a nearly 1,000-year old history and became crowded & lively in 15th century. What makes them unique is that many of them remain in their very ancient architecture of the 15th century. Up to now, it has been the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam.

Hanoi 's old quarter in the past

Essential Tips for trekking Sapa

Behind Halong Bay, Sapa is the second most favourite spot for almost travelers when arrive Vietnam. Sapa is located in the Northern Vietnam, the region with many mountains, rice terraces and tribal villages. Certainly, with the unique climate in Sapa, you are always be put in the frequent rain storms as well as cloudy condition. However,  this shouldn’t be a deterrent, it requires a bit of extra preparation when rainy .

Rain, rain, rain – Always rain
If you felt like you’re unlucky travelers who visit Sapa during, or within a week after a bad rain storm, don’t upset, you are likely in a statistical majority. Unfortunately, the home stay treks and many days treks are on steep grades of dirty trails. Our first day of trekking to the home stay was full of uninterrupted showers, producing even muddier trails for second day of hike. Almost everyone slipped or fell over at least one, with yours truly falling twice on the second day and getting a fair share of souvenir mud on my belongings.

Sapa always in the wet, cloudy and mud conditions during summer

To be prepared, every village shops sell know-off items for all conditions. The sellers can be shewed in the bartering process, especially during the inclement weather where essential items are sold at inflated prices. Honestly, reusable double-lined rain coat is a life saver, and full on water boots are necessary things even if just for two days. If you can get these down to 100,000 or 120,000 VN during a rain period, no doubt that your bartering are solid. You can always sell the rain boots after and break even on the investment!

Homestay should be a priority
Make sure that you don’t miss the homestay. A village homestay should be a must for those want to explore the real life in Sapa. Not just for the experience of staying with local families, but for enjoying some of the most beautiful parts of the region. You can try to get outside of Sapa village, the more the scenery presents itself, and homestay provides the opportunity to get there.

Staying at homestay provides travelers the best way to enjoy the amazing nature of Sapa

Normally, homestay is the dorm room built as an addition to most family home, and it is said that people can only see the actual and traditional life of people on the second night. Thus if you want to discover about lifestyle of locals, you should arrange to spend 2 nights with them before leaving.

“Will you buy from me?”a
All trekkers are likely have their fair share of local villagers who follow them during the trek in hope of making a sale when reaching their village. These local women may make you feel annoying by keep asking you “Please buy something to me”  at first, but you will recognize their invaluable assistance during the bad weather as they point out the proper trails, hold hands, and are nothing less than a saving grace for the many of potential falls that could happen.

Some local women follow you during the trek with hope that you'll buy something

Of course, if you get as much help, a $5 tip is the least you can do, most of them would be greatful for just $2 for helping on a three hours or more hour hike. However, do not buy anything from one person because the others will soon flock to you and say “You bought from her but not from me, something small?” and can generally become annoying very quickly.

Overall, Sapa is an amazing destination even when hiking the worst rain and mud conditions.  Part of me wishes, however, that I knew how bad it was going on be in advance in order to be fully prepared for the trek ahead and save a few pair of clothes in process that have since been scrapped due to the mud. I would not discourage anyone from travelling to Sapa if the forecast is rain, but be sure to be fully prepared when you go! You won’t regret it!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The glance for Saigon

If you have only 24 hours to travel around Saigon, “What are the best places to go?” maybe your biggest question. Here is a quick review that provides you some suggestions of spots that you should use your time to take a look.

Finding a hotel is first thing that you have to do at the very first moment and accommodations around District 1 are always recommended due to convenience in transportation.

For those who want to learn more about the revolution in Vietnam in 20th century, there are several options. Cong Xa Paris Square located  in downtown Ho Chi Minh
city is the good idea for a short, quick trip and of course it free. Next spot should be Reunification Palace on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia st. For a small fee around $3, you can buy a ticket to visit home of President of South Vietnam.

 Cong xa Paris Square in Ho Chi Minh 

Exploring the Islands of Ha Long Bay

Legend says Ha Long Bay was formed by a Mother Dragon and her children, sent by the Jade Emperor to protect the Viet from foreign invaders. The dragons flocked from Heaven, spitting out pearls which formed small islands and stopped the invaders and destroyed their ships. Mother Dragon and her children didn’t return to Heaven after the battle, but settled into the bay; the Mother Dragon forming Ha Long Bay and the children forming Bai Tu Long.

Exploring the islands of Ha Long Bay almost makes this incredible story seem true. Weaving through the almost 2000 islands while sitting atop jade-green water is surreal to say the least; spiritual at most.

Ha Long Bay is dominated by Cat Ba Island. The local inhabitants are concentrated toward the southern end at Cat Ba village. These people generally make their living from the sea but tourism has seen a boom in the last ten years and hotels have sprung up to meet this demand. Nearly half of the island was designated a national park in 1986 and protects the island’s incredibly diverse ecosystem. Subtropical evergreen forests, freshwater swamps, and coastal mangrove forests, along with small freshwater lakes and offshore coral reefs, are all included under national park protection. With very few roads built on the island, visitors have an excellent opportunity to hike along trails weaving through these ecosystems to explore either the numerous waterfalls and grottoes carved in the limestone hills or the rocky coastline searching for elusive beaches.