Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Travel Vietnam unlike Any Other

Meet all expectation of travelers who have a passion with adventure travel Vietnam. Bring all satisfaction to explorers throughout the excellent service. Be different, be challenge, be unique with Active Travel Asia to make an unforgettable trip.
Trekking Mai Chau, Vietnam
As a local tour operator, ATA always designs a tour base on the need of travelers. With outstanding staff, travelers always receive the best advice, which helps travelers discover every corner of Vietnam in real way.

Vietnam is an ideal place for people, who are interested in out door activities. Base on the valuable experience at the remote place, ATA always creates the best tour for travelers, who desire to see Vietnam in the different way. However, if travelers want experience Vietnam in a modern day, the city tour is designed to provide a snapshot of the lifestyle of the big city likes Hanoi, Saigon.

Depend on the endurance and the taste of each adventurous travelers, ATA supplies many kind of tour such as kayaking at Ha Long bay‘s remote cave, rock climbing at Cat Ba islands, trekking at remote place likes Ta Van at Sapa, Hoang Su Phi, or throughout the national park, biking to explore the rustic beauty at the rural place such as Mai Chau or motorcycling along the legendary road Ho Chi Minh trail.

Aim to bring Vietnam cross the border with a different image. After ATA’s tour, in the foreigner tourist’s perception, Vietnam is still not a grinding country. Travelers will surprise the endless beauty of country side, the rustic beauty at the peaceful place, the interesting indigenous culture, the amazing local culinary and the friendly people.     

With full passionate, each tour is designed in a strict way to provide the best service for adventurous travelers. Moreover, it will bring a glimpse of best Vietnam. Therefore, in each tour program always contains the essential factors such as local culture, Vietnam history, natural and extraordinary scenery.

For sure, the trip fulfills amazing things like travelers chance to experience the local life likes pretend a fruit vendor, a fisherman or be farmers, enjoy the tasty food likes grill meat with vegetable, noodle, rice wine or even fresh beer, immerse the breathtaking scenery.

Just come and exploring Vietnam in the challenge way with support from ATA. Make sure, travelers will get the surreal feeling, understand Vietnam in different way not like with anyone. Be unique – be growing.

Click the link blow to find amazing tours:

Summer promotion 2013:
ATA 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. Variety gifts such as discount up to 15% on tour request, free city tour, free one night at a luxury cruise or at hotel, free meal at elegance restaurant and others are in listing lucky gift.

Travel Facts:
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking, overland touring and family travel packages. For more information, please contact ATA for tailoring your very own tour via:

Telephone: +844 3573 8569
Fax:        +844 3573 8570
Address: Floor 12 Building 45 Nguyen Son Street, Long Bien district, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Unforgettable Exploration of the Great Mekong Delta, Vietnam

The Mekong is a long river that stretches through the borders of 6 countries in Southeast Asia. I’d already travelled on the Mekong crossing from Thailand into Laos, so it was pretty cool to continue the journey on the same river through another 2 countries.
Mekong Delta, Vietnam
The border formalities on the river were quick and painless, and surprisingly informal. As we floated down the river further into Vietnam the scenery started to get really interesting. We saw basic looking houses right on the river built on stilts and rustic wooden fishing boats. Many of the people especially the kids would wave and yell “hello!” as we passed by. The orange sun was setting on the river and our hotel in the small town of Chau Doc was in sight… when suddenly our boat stopped. We were less than 5 minutes away but the boat had run out of gas. Luckily another boat on the river was there to help bring us ashore.
Wooden fishing boats in Mekong Delta, Vietnam
The view from the hotel was fascinating, we could see boats buzzing across from all directions and small little houses right on the river built on stilts. The next day we got to explore the Mekong river in more detail. We visited fish farms where people live and farm fish right in the water. The floating houses are built on top of fish cages. You lift up the floorboards and there they are splashing around underneath the house. The fish are fed a mixture of vegetables and fish bones. It was really interesting to see but it also made us question the healthiness of the farmed fish in the rather polluted looking river. After the fish farms we visited a local Cham village, part of the very small Muslim community in Vietnam. From there we visited a massive food market with fish, meat, fruits and vegetables. There were many fruits and vegetables I’d never seen before, and it was fun to experience the hustle and bustle of a local market that was selling food instead of cheesy souvenirs.

Floating Market
The next day we made our way to Can Tho, a fairly populated area along the Mekong Delta. Along the three hour bus ride one could track the rapid progress of development in the country. Basic shacks built on stilts slowly gave way to more modern looking houses with TV antennas on the roofs. This was also the first time I truly understood how popular motorbikes were in this country.

The road was completely packed with motorcycle drivers who seemed to view lanes and basic traffic laws as mere suggestions. We arrived at our hotel in Can Tho mid afternoon with enough time to have a happy hour drink by the pool and unwind. The next day we had an early 5:30am start to see the floating market on the Mekong River. It was pitch black when we left and the sun started coming up just as our boat arrived. There were hundreds of wooden boats big and small, most of them carrying produce and food. We got to latch on to a boat selling produce and climb onto the roof for a birds eye view of the bustling market while eating fresh pineapple. At this point it was barely 7am and I really had to admire the work ethic of all the merchants who had already been up and working for hours.

After our tour of the market we had a Vietnamese cooking course. We learned how to make fresh and deep fried spring rolls, Vietnamese salad and deep fried prawns. Our cooking instructor was a very kind and patient young lady, although she did laugh at our deformed rolls saying “I’ve never seen one like that before”. We were quite impressed at how delicious our own creations were, especially the deep friend spring rolls. It probably helped that we were very hungry by that point. Later that evening we took a shuttle boat to the city centre to find something for dinner. It happened to be international women’s day which locals celebrated by bringing their girlfriends, wives and mothers out for dinner. 

Spring rolls 
The charming public square by the river was full of mostly young couples, some holding roses or heart shaped balloons that they’d just bought. Everywhere we went people would say hello and some would even strike up conversations and ask where we were from. I think a lot of people like to practice their English and were also just genuinely friendly. For dinner we found a place on the river and I had chicken and veggies with soft noodles. Someone next to me had the crispy noodles which I wish I tried because they looked really good.

Biking in Mekong Delta
The next day we departed Can Tho and made our way towards Ho Chi Minh City. On our way we made a stop in Cai Lay, a small community in the Mekong Delta area. We took a short boat ride down a peaceful narrow river then rode bicycles through narrow little paths that wound through the bamboo forests. As we went children would excitedly say hello to us and wave their hands in the air.

After about an hour we stopped at an old couples house where they had a gorgeous little fruit orchard. We had the pleasure of tasting the freshest and most delicious exotic fruit I’d ever had in my life. 

Our local guide explained to us that the family would work 4 days out of the week then get drunk the other 3 days. I joked that I was going to stay behind, to which the old farmer replied by sitting me in the hammock and singing to me! Trust me it was very hard to leave this little slice of paradise. Our next stop was at a hundred year old house where we had a very tasty Vietnamese lunch which of course included deep fried spring rolls, which we were actually starting to get a little sick of by this point. Once we finished lunch it was time to get back on the bus and continue on towards Ho Chi Minh City.

I really felt like I got a good feel for the variety of people and cultures living in and along the Mekong River area and it was interesting to see how things changed as we got closer to the big city. It was a great introduction to the friendly people and incredible food in Vietnam which would only impress me more as the trip continued.

To find out more about travelling Mekong Delta with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) , you can refer:
Plus you can become a fan of ATA's Facebook page 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Halong, Quang Ninh develops green and clean tourism

One of Quang Ninh’s solutions to improving provincial tourism in the last month was to promote an environmental clean-up campaign so as to provide tourists with a better impression of the province.

Drastic and synchronous solutions 
Halong Bay Vietnam
Many tourists to Quang Ninh used to be bothered by hawkers, beggars, and touts clinging around them or being overcharged at local restaurants.

Although local authorities applied measures to eliminate these issues, their efforts seemed not strong enough, and therefore, provincial tourism was effected.

Quang Ninh Province’s People’s Committee has actively directed, inspected, and handled these issues and also violations in tourism operation at some tourist sites including Bai Chay, Hoang Gia International Park, Youth Beach, and Bai Chay Tourist Boat Port.

Last month for example, Ha Long Bay Management Board, Quang Ninh’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and Quang Ninh Province’s People’s Committee coordinated to handle 16 violations by seafood business, 10 street sellers, and five restaurants violating urban regulations; and organized 48 local tourism inspections within Bai Chay Ward.

Positive results
According to Quang Ninh’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 3.7 million tourists came to visit Quang Ninh over the past four months, including more than one million international tourists, accounting for 49 percent of the province’s annual plan and an increase of 17 percent over the same period of last year. Only in April, 759 500 visitors came to Quang Ninh. Quang Ninh’s total revenue from tourism activities in the first four months hit VND1.74 trillion. During Ha Long Carnaval and holidays of April 30 and May 1, about 15,000 visitors came to Ha Long every day.
Ha Long Carnaval 
Despite an increase in tourist number during holidays, local authorities managed to control tourism activities across the city and bay of Ha Long including recreation centers, motels, and hotels, helping tourists fully enjoy their tours.

Tran Thi Ngoc, a tourist from Hanoi, said “I was impressed by the marine tourism environment being cleaner than four years ago when I was there. Also, I was not bothered by street sellers and touts; and I wasn’t overcharged at restaurants.”

Mrs. Marita, an Australian tourist, said “Ha Long Bay really deserves its world heritage title, as one of the new natural wonders of the world. I have been visiting fishing villages on the bay, exploring and experiencing the simple life here. It’s great. We’ve experienced enthusiastic and friendly staff.”

In the coming time, Quang Ninh Province’s People’s Committee will continue to work with relevant agencies to check and handle violations in tourism businesses in the province and raise local people awareness over the need for conservation of Ha Long, and more civilized behavior.

Kayaking is the best idea to discover every part of Halong for getting an insight to indigenous people life, to taste every corner of mystery lagoon, to gain surreal feeling throughout the dark tunnels.

To find out more about travelling with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) and for your chance to WIN a trip in every edition Plus you can become a fan of ATA's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How to take the perfect trip to Vietnam

From the island-studded seas of the north to the meandering waterways of the south, Vietnam is a country defined by the diversity of its land and the resilience and generosity of its people. ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA  shows you how to take the perfect trip to Vietnam.

Halong Bay: best for coast
The mystical landscape of Halong Bay, where over 2000 limestone islets rise from the Gulf of Tonkin.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Once upon a time, a friendly dragon lived in the heavens above Halong Bay. With invaders from the seas threatening Vietnam, the gods asked the dragon to create a natural barrier to protect its people. The dragon kindly obliged, performing a spectacular crash landing along the coast – digging up chunks of rock with its flailing tail and spitting out pearls – before grinding to a halt. This scene of devastation is now known as Halong Bay – Halong literally translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’.

Less exciting explanations of this landscape involve eons of erosion by winds and waves – but nobody disputes the splendour of the end result. Rising from the shallows of the Gulf of Tonkin are thousands of limestone islands – towering monoliths lined up like dominoes, some teetering at worrying angles. The islands’ names testify to the overactive  imaginations of sailors who’ve spent too long at sea – Fighting Cock Island, Finger Island, Virgin Grotto. Having largely resisted human settlement, the islands have become home to other creatures. From above, sea eagles swoop down to pluck fish from the waters, carrying their prey – still flapping – high into the air, and squawking congratulations to each other from their nests.

Hanoi: best for city life

Fruit seller heading to market.
It’s rush hour in Hanoi, and the streets of the city’s Old Quarter throng with hundreds of scooters. The pavement and the central reservation are fair game in the chaos; zebra crossings exist more as a personal challenge than a guarantee of safe passage. Hanoi is a city that refuses to grow old gracefully – a millennium-old capital of crumbling pagodas and labyrinthine streets, now undergoing a werewolf-like transformation into a 21st-century Asian metropolis. In the Old Quarter, ancient temples now neighbour karaoke joints, and dynasties of artisans ply their trade next to shops selling cuddly toys the size of grizzly bears.

Few have studied the changing face of the city as closely as Do Hien, an artist who has spent a lifetime painting Hanoi’s streets. He welcomes me to his studio, and idly leafs through sketches of city life – couples waltzing beside the willows of Hoan Kiem Lake, and alleyways where hawkers prepare steaming bowls of pho. ‘Hanoi is a place that runs in your blood,’ Hien says thoughtfully, sitting cross-legged among stubs of incense sticks and paintbrushes strewn across his studio floor. ‘Had I not lived in this city I might not be able to paint like I do.’

Sapa: best for walking

An evening fog hangs over Sapa. Clouds sporadically open up a bit to reveal a village, a chunk of a mountain, a patch of jungle, before obscuring them from view again, like stage scenery sliding into the wings. Eventually the clouds lift, and the Hoang Lien mountain range emerges. It is a landscape of extraordinary beauty – the Asian highlands half-remembered from childhood picture books and martial-arts films. Above are peaks thick to their summits with greenery. Below, rice terraces run down the hillsides at right angles, as neatly as the folds in origami paper.
Sapa Town, Vietnam
Sapa is a town where the weather seems to operate on random rotation – switching between brilliant sunshine, thick fog, driving rain and occasionally a dusting of snow, before coming full circle to brilliant sunshine, often all within the space of a few minutes. A hill station settled by Vietnam’s French colonists, Sapa now serves as a trailhead for hikers happy to run the meteorological lottery of a walk in these mountains. ‘We have four seasons in one day here,’ my guide, shimmying along the edge of a rice paddy as a rain cloud approaches. ‘There’s no way to predict the weather – just be lucky!’

Sapa, Vietnam
We pass through a village, and our guide points to bamboo irrigation systems that send trickles down the hillsides and into rice pounders that see-saw with the current. ‘There’s a Hmong saying that “we flow with the water”,’ she explains. ‘It means we don’t worry too much, and take things easy.’

Hoi An: best for food
Hoi an, Vietnam

Hoi An is a small town that likes a big breakfast. As dawn musters strength on the horizon, a small army of chefs sets to work on Thai Phien street – firing up gas cookers and arranging plastic furniture on the pavements. Soon, the city awakes to sweet porridges; coffee that sends a lightning bolt of caffeine to sleepy heads; sizzling steaks; broths that swim with turmeric, chilli and ginger. In Vietnam, street food is a serious business – a single dish prepared day after day by the same cook, perfected and honed by a lifetime’s craft.

‘Food in Hoi An is about yin and yang,’ explains Le Hanh, a young female chef scrutinising vegetables at the morning market. ‘It’s about balancing hot with cool, sweet with sour, salty with spicy.’ True to Hanh’s philosophy, cooking in Hoi An goes big on contrasting flavours; food that plays good cop/bad cop with the palate. The sharpness of fish sauce blends with the subtlety of fresh herbs; cool lemongrass makes way for the eye-watering panic of accidentally chomping on a red chilli.

Mekong Delta: best for river life
A heavy rain is falling on the Mekong Delta, flooding the footpaths, swilling in the gutters, turning riverbank mud from light tan to a rich coffee colour. A tangled network of rivers, tributaries and canals, the waters of the delta criss-cross the lowlands of southern Vietnam, before emptying out into the South China Sea through mighty, yawning estuaries. For centuries, life here has ebbed and flowed in tandem with the current of the Mekong – an all-in-one launderette, bathtub, highway, toilet, dishwasher, larder, social club and workplace for the communities surrounded by its waters.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

‘If you live on a river island with twenty other people you have to learn to get along with everyone,’ explains Mrs Bui Nguyen, beckoning strangers to shelter in her bungalow beside the Cai Chanh canal. ‘That’s the reason why people in the Mekong are so friendly!’ A 77-year-old who attributes her longevity to a lifetime avoiding doctors, Mrs Nguyen wistfully reflects on the delta of old – in days when the only artificial light came from peanut oil lamps dotted along the riverbanks; an age long before roads had reached the villages. Times have changed. 

However, human life still instinctively congregates on the water’s edge. Lining the riverbank nearby are grocers’ shops, cafés, a gym, a billiards club and a blacksmith’s. Floating markets, too, are still held every morning at nearby Cai Rang – with creaking barges from across the delta bashing into each other as they offload cargoes of watermelons, pineapples and turnips.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five Amazing Destinations to Adventure Travel Vietnam

Vietnam considers as one of the best adventurous destinations for family holiday. With the special terrain, breathtaking scenery, an interesting culture, a rich history, and friendly people, ensure that all of these will bring unforgettable memory.

Family Adventure
Every year, Vietnam draws many people come to explore the unique culture and the endless beauty. It is the ideal place for kid build up skill to solve the difficult problem throughout outdoor activities, enrich the knowledge from exploring the history place, cultivate new culture, and expand the social network.

At the first minute landing at Noi Bai airport, travelers will be welcomed by the hot weather. It is the first signals to open the interesting adventure trip at tropical country. The trip will start to explore the capital of Vietnam- Hanoi. By “Cyclo”, travelers will get a glimpse of Hanoi through small paved road at Old Quarter and some historical places, witness the notable French architect, and enjoy the Beef or Chicken noodle and other amazing dishes like fresh spring roll, bun cha…  

After experiencing the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, travelers will get ready head to Halong bay. Take part in the soft adventure travel, travelers will have fun with kayaking. On the paddle, free to explore the remote lagoon, dark cave, interact with the local people, learn how to hunting fish with fisherman and immerse the Vietnam seafood cuisine.

As a peaceful place and extraordinary vistas, Hue and Hoian will seduce travelers immediately. By bicycle, travelers chance to discover every corner of Vietnam old capital and Vietnam old sea port. Settle at Hue means that travels can experience the past of Vietnam by studying Nguyen dynasty or analysis the notable architect. With people who have passion with hot and chilly food, Hoian and Hue seem to be a paradise. Furthermore, Hoian is the ideal place for family creates the romance moment under the thousand of lanterns light, the tranquil atmosphere mixing with classical scenery.

Moreover, travelers will gain the amazing feeling and unforgettable experience to become a farmer at Tra Que, Hoian to understand how hard of the indigenous people life are, have a chance to closer with nature, learn how grow up vegetable or becoming a vendor on the river at Vinh Long to taste a tropical fruit or to gain the negotiation skill.

Ensure that 12 days travel Vietnam, travelers are not only get fun along the trip, also it is a meaningful trip with full surprise things  through out the historical place, interesting culture, the tasty food, and friendly local people. It will be unforgettable trip and never regret for decision to come and live like Vietnamese people.

Summer promotion 2013:
ATA 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. Variety gifts such as discount up to 15% on tour request, free city tour, free one night at a luxury cruise or at hotel, free meal at elegance restaurant and others are in listing lucky gift.

Travel Facts:
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking, overland touring and family travel packages. For more information, please contact ATA for tailoring your very own tour via:

Telephone: +84-43-633-9576
Address: Level 2, No 17/167, Tay Son Street, Dong Da district, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why You Need to Visit Vietnam

If you only have time to explore one country in Southeast Asia, choose VIETNAM!

Let’s admit it, when it comes to travel, Vietnam gets a bit of a bad rep. Before coming here all I heard were stories of travel scams, robberies, aggressive touts, and warnings that I’d be treated like a walking dollar sign. I was beginning to wonder whether I even wanted to spend a full month in this country, but 31 days later as my Vietnamese visa is about to expire, I am sad to leave Vietnam behind.

I’ll admit I’m relatively new to Southeast Asia, and have only covered three countries in the past three months, but Vietnam has left the strongest impression on me by far.

So what makes Vietnam so special?
A woman carried a yoke basket down the street in Hoi An, Vietnam
The People
The people are warm, kind, and love to laugh and smile. It is in this country where I have met some of the most caring locals.
The central market in Hoi An, Vietnam
When I was sick in Hoi An, it was the woman who runs the Green Moss restaurant who took it upon herself to get me all better. She prepared ginger tea with honey for me, gifted me with a mint balm to rub on my neck and my chest, urged me to wear a scarf to bed, and then checked up on me daily whenever she saw me cycling around town or eating at her restaurant.

In Vietnam people have helped me when I looked lost, locals I met on a train have offered to show me around their hometowns (for free! Further proof that I’m not just a walking ATM), and business owners have been courteous to me even when I didn’t eat at their restaurant or didn’t take their tour.

The Food
Vietnam has been an explosion of flavours! Most dinners Sam and I have eaten in this country have been silent because we’ve both been gorging on local delicacies like the food in front of our plates is about to disappear. We’ve been known to order four different dishes in one go because there’s just so much new food to sample.

Spring rolls, food in Vietnam
Whether I was learning to cook Vietnamese food in a dim lit kitchen with no ventilation (picture beads of sweat running down my back and hopefully not onto my food), or enjoying a meal at a local farm in the outskirts of Hoi An, the food was spectacular.

Some of my favourite dishes in this country have been bánh xèo (a rice flour pancake stuffed with pork, shrimp, onions and bean sprouts) and fresh spring rolls. Fresh, flavourful, healthy, filling – what else do you need in a meal?

The Options
Then there is the diversity that comes with travelling in such a big country. I can guarantee that Vietnam will not bore you with its possibilities!

Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Want to travel down the banks of the Mekong Delta and experience the chaos of vendors at work in a floating market? Do you want to get lost in Saigon’s back alleys as you go in search of the best pho? How about getting clothes custom made in Hoi An? Or can I interest you with a cruise of Ha Long Bay where you’ll be waking up to jagged karst mountains outside your boat? You could also spend your time in Hanoi drinking bia hoi at a little street side bar equipped with plastic children’s furniture? Or if you’re feeling a bit more culturally inclined, go for a hill trek in Sapa where you can do a home stay with the ethnic tribes that call this place home?

If any of this sounds interesting, then you need to come to Vietnam already!

Halong Bay, Vietnam

I’ve spent the entire month in Vietnam saying things like,

“I could totally live in Saigon. Sam, how would you like to come back to Saigon?”

“I could totally stay in Hoi An longer. Sam, wanna stay in Hoi An longer?” (We extended our stay.)

“Sam, wouldn’t it be fun to spend more time in Sapa? I think living here might be fun. No?”

I can’t sing Vietnam’s praises high enough!

I’m not saying that this country won’t pose its own set of challenges – you’ll encounter that wherever you go. However, if you’re glossing over Vietnam because of the negative things you’ve heard in the past, then you’re doing yourself a huge disfavour.

Give Vietnam a chance, and it may just blow your mind.

Find out more information about a travel agency offering adventure tours explore Vietnam:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to act like a local in Vietnam

The French have their berets, Russians wear their fur hats and Moroccans don the fez. In Vietnam, the conical hat is the head wear of choice. This sturdy, wide-brimmed topper is well suited to a country where rice farmers endure both fierce sunshine and pelting rain out in the fields.

Along with the Vietnamese traditional dress, it has become an informal national symbol. Vietnam is a fascinating country and a highly photogenic one at that. But beyond this - what lies beneath the conical hat?

Quite a lot, if you know anything about Vietnam's thousands of years of history. A hardworking people, their culture has been influenced by many civilisations: the native ethnic groups that once inhabited their land, the Chinese, the French, and most recently, the Americans and Russians. From all these outside influences, plus centuries of war and hardship, their culture has been formed.

A Vietnamese woman
Respect your elders, and your teachers, and everyone else too - this type of attitude is at the very heart of Vietnamese culture. While respect is also valued in Western society, the emphasis is more on friendliness. But it's the cornerstone of interpersonal relationships in Vietnam, whether that be within family, between friends or couples, or in an employment situation.

It's even reflected in the language used by Vietnamese in their daily lives. For example, while in the English-speaking world the word "yes" is used to express agreement and is generally neutral, a Vietnamese person has to choose between three different words to express agreement. In their reply to someone they may mean "yes, I am listening" or "yes, I am confused" or "yes, I do not want to offend." 

Saving face is an entrenched part of Vietnamese culture and no more so than in the language itself. Modesty and humility are closely linked to this attitude of respect.

And in Vietnamese culture, older people are deeply revered - unlike Western society, where age is often seen as a liability and youthfulness is celebrated.

Smile Vietnamese
Expressing yourself verbally tends to come naturally if you're a Westerner, however the Vietnamese prefer non-verbal communication for expressing certain feelings. The humble smile is one such non-verbal symbol - and it's used to convey the all-important attitude of respect.

For the Vietnamese, the smile is a proper response in most situations when verbal expression isn't needed or isn't appropriate. It can be used as a substitute for "I'm sorry", "thank you" or "hello" instead of a ready yes, as the Vietnamese like to avoid appearing over-enthusiastic.

Because Vietnamese society places significant value on stability in social interaction, relationships tend to be very close. The Vietnamese have strong feelings towards their extended family, ancestors, home village and country.

As they believe they must treat their forebears well, many people practice ancestor worship. The building of shrines in homes and burning incense for their deceased family members is common among Vietnamese. They are also very superstitious, believing certain things must happen on certain occasions, or their family will have bad luck.

The Vietnamese love a good chat and can be very candid when discussing their lives. For instance, when chatting to a local, you might be surprised to discover that many topics that are regarded as personal or confidential in Western culture are openly discussed in Vietnam. 

You may be asked about your age, whether or not you're married, whether you have children and how much money you earn.

It might be different from Western society, but then again, it's all about getting beneath the conical hat.

Find out more information to explore Vietnam:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam offers escape from humdrum city life

For the first time in months, I concentrate on breathing the clear fresh air, relax and feel my tense muscles unclench. Finally, I can hear myself think and am alone, surrounded by nature and centuries of evolutionary miracles.

Trekking Cuc Phuong National Park
Such a welcome break from the buzz of Hanoi. The sound of birdsong disturbs the silence. That's right, complete silence. Such a welcome break from the buzz of Hanoi. No motorbikes, no horns, no market vendors yelling, no drilling. Just complete and utter silence.

I have come to Cuc Phuong National Park, after a 90 minute motorbike ride from Ninh Binh City. After leaving the city, the road winds its way through small villages surrounded by rice paddies. Soon the houses give way to more rice paddies, interspersed with stunning limestone karsts. The landscape is very similar to the karst formations of Northern Vietnam's Ha Long Bay, yet, due to its in-land location, obviously lacks the marine features of its coastal counterpart.

Cuc Phuong national park
Cuc Phuong is Vietnam's oldest national park and was established over 50 years ago. The scenery that unfolds before my eyes is breathtaking, and the calls of insects, birds, and primates lure me into the dense forest. On walks I explore the park's extensive trekking trails, listen to the mystical sounds of the jungle and visit some of the villages in the area, where I could see some of the traditional stilt houses, agricultural tools and, luckily, musical performances by some of the region's ethical minority groups.

The park is also home to some of the region's most successful conservation centres, where injured and confiscated animals from the wildlife trade are rehabilitated and prepared for their re-release into the wild.

Visiting the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre was my highlight, and I spent close to two hours watching over 100 primates of over 15 different species of gibbons and langurs play, feed and nurture their young. At the Turtle Conservation Centre close to 20 different turtle species that have been rescued from the wildlife trade are housed and bred, and possibly will be re-introduced into the wild eventually.
Endangered Primate Rescue Centre
As most of these species are endangered, the conservation centre also functions as a place of education and provides vital information about the key turtle species in Vietnam. For example, did you know that it can take up to 30 years for a turtle to hatch from an egg, mature, and procreate? The life cycle of these stunning creatures is unbelievably slow, and sadly the high demand for turtles (as pets or meat) is devastating turtle stocks across Vietnam.

Cuc Phuong National Park - mushrooms
The Small Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Centre next door is home to some of the most endangered small mammals in Vietnam, such as the Owston civet or leopard cat.

After visiting all three centres and learning about the natural heritage and biodiversity of Vietnam, I walked back to my lodge contemplating the beauty of it all: the landscape, the conservation efforts of so many dedicated individuals and organisations, the fascinating species of animals and plants that are unique to this part of the world, and our role of humans within it all.
Faced with such spectacular surroundings, I felt very small. Standing there, alone, in the middle of thousands of years of evolutionary processes, I couldn't help but wonder what the future would bring – would we as humanity manage to come together to preserve our natural beauty, or would we continue in our path towards destruction and extinction? I guess only time will tell.

Thousand year old tree
However, I can say for certain that Cuc Phuong National Park is a wonderful place to escape to and provides the perfect backdrop for profound thoughts and musings about life.

You can book a trekking tour to explore Cuc Phuong National Park though travel agencies in Hanoi. I can recommend an adventure tour operator I knew, ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA. They offer adventure tours at Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling and family travel packages.
You can refer Trekking Cuc Phuong National Park Tour via:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Exploring the Largest Floating Market in Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Apart from Cai Be and Phung Hiep, Cai Rang in Can Tho City is one of the three most popular and biggest floating markets in the Mekong River Delta. It is a great place for tourists in Vietnam  to enjoy exciting atmosphere during the early morning market hours.
Cai Rang Floating Market
The Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta, starts around 05:00 and runs until around midday, meaning that you’ll have to get an early start to the day if you want to visit. Most tour boats along the riverfront leave between 05:00 and 07:00, so if don’t make it to the water by then you’ll have a hard time finding a tour.

The market is about six kilometres from Can Tho, or about a 30-minute boat ride. While floating down the river, you will glimpse life along its shores. You’ll pass vibrantly painted boats anchored along the shore, merchant vessels carrying loads down the river and houses built on stilts over the water.

Cai Rang float market, Vietnam
Once you finally reach the market, it’s an impressive site. A stretch of boats selling all variety of goods lines the river. Not really a place for souvenirs, people come here instead to buy large quantities of goods, mostly foodstuffs, and you will get an idea of what water commerce in the Delta looks like. Your guide on the boat will usually give you tidbits of information about Cai Rang as you weave through the hordes. You’ll learn that boats identify what they are selling by hanging a sample off the top of a long pole; if you want pineapple, simply scan the horizon for a hanging pineapple. You’ll also get the opportunity to interact with some of these floating merchants; most commonly this happens when a small boat selling drinks latches onto the tour boat’s side.

Many kind fruits are sold
 During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes. 

Sellers do not have to cry out about their goods because their goods can be seen in a distance and their cries would not be heard in the vastness of the river and the noise of boat engines. Small boats that sell beer, wine and soft drinks go among the other boats to serve market-goers and visitors in Vietnam travel. Sellers tie their goods to a tall pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling. 

Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners. You can see the market in the distance; it does not look like much, just a mass of boats. The boats all display their wares on a mast so you can see what they have available.

Exploring Mekong Delta
Coming to Cai Rang Floating Market, you can join a tour of the Mekong Delta. Several tour operations can arrange tours combine adventure activities like biking to explore Mekong Delta. I’d recommend you an adventure travel  company I knew, ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA).   In this special trip, ATA ride through beautiful areas of lush fruit orchards, endless paddy fields, lively floating market and busy canals.

If you are planning travel in Vietnam and to vist Can Tho City, let’s take a 30 minute boat ride to the market. You will be actually awake and enjoying it! You will find it very peaceful floating down the river in the early morning and you will feel how great the floating market is!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Best Kayaking Destination for Travelling Vietnam

Halong bay is one of hotspots for travelling Vietnam. Travelers will be surprised by the exotic scenery, the mystery of the remote cave, the unique culture and the Vietnam seafood.

Kayaking Halong Bay
According to National Geographic Adventures Journal, Halong bay arguably is one of best destinations for kayaking in over the world. With speculator vistas and the calm sea, definitely it is an ideal place for kayakers.

Ensure that, for 3 days exploring Halong bay it will be unforgettable experience. Travelers immediately immerse in the magnificent scenery, the labyrinth of limestone islets and the sea caves, the hidden lagoon.

Travelers will take a snapshot about the place where was recognized by Unesco World Heritage Site and New Seven Wonders of the World. By the cruise, travelers have a short exploration at some well known places like Sung Sot cave, Lan Ha bay…

Kayaking is the best idea to discover every part of Halong for getting an insight to indigenous people life, to taste every corner of mystery lagoon, to gain surreal feeling throughout the dark tunnels.

On padding excursion, travelers have chance to visit Van Chai floating village to take of a view of daily life or even live like local people on the bamboo boat to make and enjoy the tasty seafood, to take part in hunting fish or witness the animistic ceremonies.

Moreover, take a trip in this summer, travelers no need to worry too much about the price of tour. It is supported by the ATA’s summer promotion. In addition, in this time the flight ticket is always at moderate.

Summer promotion 2013:
ATA 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. Variety gifts such as discount up to 15% on tour request, free city tour, free one night at a luxury cruise or at hotel, free meal at elegance restaurant and others are in listing lucky gift.

Travel Facts:
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking, overland touring and family travel packages. For more information, please contact ATA for tailoring your very own tour via:

Telephone: +844 3573 8569
Fax:        +844 3573 8570
Address: Level 2, No 17/167, Tay Son Street, Dong Da district, Hanoi, Vietnam