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Sri Lanka, Vietnam in move to boost tourism

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:58 PM by An Bui

June 11, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka and Vietnam are planning to boost tourism between the two countries after a visit by Vietnamese travel firms to Colombo which will be followed by a familiarization tour by Sri Lankan travel agents, officials said.

"We would like to promote two-way flows tourism, both to Sri Lanka and to Vietnam," Hanoi's envoy to Colombo Ton Sinh Thanh told a gathering of travel agents.

"We know that Sri Lanka is a very beautiful country. It is worth for Vietnamese tourists to come here."

SaigonTourist, a large leisure services company based in South Vietnam, Hanoi Toserco, a state-run travel service company and FidiTour visited Colombo to meet local tour operators and strike partnerships.

"Vietnam's economy is developing fast and more and more Vietnamese will find new destinations," ambassador Thanh said.

"We hope that you can make use of the presence of leading Vietnamese tour operators here to bring the Vietnamese tourists."

Udaya Silva, Sri Lanka's IATA travel agents association said he expected mutually beneficial partnerships to develop that will allow peoples of both countries increase visits.

A familiarization tour for Sri Lankan travel agents and writers was planned for August.

Ambassador Thanh said Vietnam had 10 UNESCO recognized world heritages, a 4,000 year old history that has left the country with 3,000 national heritage sites including war memorials, ancient temples and 125 beaches.

It also had a rich and varied culture ranging from the people of Sapa in North Vietnam highlands which became snowbound in winter to the hot Mekong Delta in South Vietnam where the weather was like Sri Lanka and people lived in floating villages.

The country also had a wide variety of food and drink. People could travel by aircraft, train, and car or even rent a motorcycle.

Since Vietnam started to open up in 1986 under its free market 'Doi Moi' or 'renewal' program the tourism industry has boomed. The country of 80 million people now had 13,000 hotels with 265,000 rooms.

Foreign investment is flooding into the sector. Sri Lanka's Jetwing group also had a joint venture there.

By 2015 Vietnam expected to have 390,000 rooms and 900,000 rooms by 2010, Thanh said.

Last year Vietnam, which is part of the ASEAN visa free travel area, welcomed 6.0 million tourists. Up to May 2012 Vietnam has received 2.9 million tourists. By 2020 the country was expecting to receive 20 million tourists.

"Tourists can go to Vietnam anytime of the year," Thanh said. "In the South, it is the same as Sri Lanka we have wet and dry seasons. But the north has four seasons; if tourists from Sri Lanka want to enjoy cool weather they can go in the winter."

"We have already brought Vietnam official delegations to Sri Lanka," said Quach Thi My Hoa from Hanoi Toserco, a state-run firm started in 1988.

"Our main outbound markets are Europe, North East Asia, Korea and Japan.

"But after we came here we are very interested in the Sri Lankan market because the attractions and hotels are very good. The food here is also compatible for the Vietnamese people."

Huyn Cong Han, from SaigonTourist Travel Services said Ha Long Bay, a karst mountain formation emerging from the sea was among the most popular destinations, where tourists could spend the night on a junk and visit a cave.

In Danang in Central Vietnam Hoi An and Hue ancient cities, which were world heritage sites could be visited.

"I know Sri Lanka has a lot of beaches but you can also try Vietnamese beaches and see the difference," Han said.

Source lankabusinessonline.com

Hue’s kite crew

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:57 PM by An Bui

A small group of dedicated artisans and enthusiasts keep Hue’s legends and kites afloat

On a recent blustery afternoon, Nguyen Van Be and his crew gathered outside the Imperial Citadel to put on a show.

Hundreds of spectators gathered near the palace’s Flag Pole, craning their necks at a sky filled with bright fabric orioles and sparrows. As the birds flitted through the sky, Be, the president of Cau lac bo dieu Hue (the Hue Kite Club), narrated the legend and quietly prepared a grand finale.

When the time was right, the club launched a two-meter long fabric phoenix into a sky. Once the massive bird had stabilized, a loud pop sounded and a fledgling kite dropped from its mother’s body and tumbled toward earth.

Few in the crowd knew what would become of the second phoenix – which had been affixed to its mother’s body by an explosive cracker.

After a moment of uncertainty, the fledgling joined the rest of the birds on the wind.

Phượng hoàng đẻ con (the phoenix gives birth) is just one of several Vietnamese folk tales that have been brought to life by the kite club. Lately, the group has performed their take on Superman and the Chinese legend of the monkey Sun Wu Kong.

The crew began in 1973 as the Thua Phong Hue Club and disbanded in 1975 following reunification and reopened.

In 1983, Be reopened the organization under its current name. Two years later, he returned from the southern province of Long An with a new ultra-light fabric that opened he and his fellow kite enthusiasts up to a whole world of new possibilities.

In 1992, the club represented Vietnam at the 7th Diepe International Kite Festival in Normandy, France. Today, they continue to participate in workshops to sustain a legacy they remain somewhat uncertain about.

A Hue artisan with a butterfly-shaped kite he made at the Vietnam Kite Festival

Be has no idea when kite flying first debuted in Hue. He does know, however, that the pastime was elevated into a royal sport by King Bao Dai, the last emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty who ruled from 1926 to 1945.

During Bao Dai’s reign, the royal court organized a kite festival, every year drawing elegant and elaborate submissions from artisans all over Vietnam.

The emperor’s personal collection included the long diều (dragon-shaped kite), điệp diều (butterfly-shaped kite), and phụng diều (phoenix-shaped kite).

The long diều took around 40 days to make and stretched up to 90-meters in length and featured an impossibly ornate head. The elaborate creature was kept airborne by 100 circular flaps held in place by bamboo struts.

The kites today are somewhat less ornate-most are kept afloat by a single string hypotenuse, according to artisan Nguyen Van Cu.

Every kite is made by hand and conveys something significant from each artisan.

“A kite is an artwork born of the patience, knowledge, and passion of the creator,” Cu said.

By Tuyet Khoa
Source Thanh Nien News

Vietnamese tourists spend $2 bln overseas every year

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:57 PM by An Bui

About two million Vietnamese citizens travel overseas a year and spend US$2 billion, the Vietnam Tourism Association said at a conference on Friday in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vu The Binh, vice chairman of the association, cited the figures at the conference that discussed adjustments to Vietnam’s laws on tourism as he stressed the lack of care about local tourism in current laws.

“In many countries, incomes from local tourism are very high, but we have yet to pay attention to this market,” he said.

Binh said about 1,000 companies are currently engaged in international tourism, 30 percent of which bring foreign tourists into Vietnam.

The remaining 70 percent send Vietnamese citizens to tour foreign countries, he added.

Since 2008, when the global economic crisis hit, travel agencies have turned to local tourists, and last year, the number of local tourists reached 30 million, and the number will rise significantly in the near future, Binh said.

Source Thanh Nien News

Vietnam recognizes nine sea and island records

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:57 PM by An Bui

The Vietnam Book of Records Saturday announced nine records involving the country’s sea and islands on the occasion of the Vietnam Sea and Island Week (June 1-8).

The recognition was an effort to promote the natural features and products of the nation's seas and islands to local and international visitors, the organization said in a statement.

Tra Co Beach in Quang Ninh Province is recognized as the longest beach, stretching 17 kilometers.

Ha Long Bay is listed as the one with the highest number of islets (1,169) in the country.

Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands, located 243 nautical miles from Khanh Hoa Province is recognized as the most remote island.

Tam Giang Cau Hai in Thua Thien Hue Province is the largest lagoon with 21,600 hectares.

Hai Phong City’s Cat Ba has the highest number of islands at 367, while Ca Mau Province’s Hon Khoai is the southernmost island.

Kien Giang Province’s Phu Quoc is the largest island with an area of 561 square kilometers; and Khanh Hoa Province’s Nam Yet is the biggest marine reserve with an area of 35,000 hectares.

Quang Ngai Province’s Ly Son is the most densely populated island with 1,888 people per square kilometer.

Source Thanh Nien News

Silk Air flies to Hanoi

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:56 PM by An Bui

HCMC - Air Mekong and Eximbank have clinched a strategic partnership deal that allows the bank to hold a 11% stake in the two-year-old private airline.

The deal was signed by Air Mekong’s chairman Doan Quoc Viet and Eximbank’s vice chairman and general director Truong Van Phuoc in Hanoi on Wednesday. A representative of Air Mekong said the bank’s investment was part of the carrier’s development plan to increase its chartered capital to VND600 billion (nearly US$29 million).

Eximbank will assist Air Mekong with funds for leasing planes to bring its aircraft fleet from the current four to 10 in the coming years as well as for infrastructure and service projects at the airports that the airline flies to. The two sides will cooperate on programs regarding air-ticket payment, promotion and brand building.

The Ministry of Transport granted Air Mekong a license in 2008 after the Prime Minister’s approval for the establishment of this private airline in Vietnam with an initial chartered capital of VND200 billion (nearly US$9.6 million). This is the lowest level required for a local airline to operate domestic flights.

Air Mekong said it had transported almost 1.2 million passengers on more than 17,000 flights using four Bombardier CRJ 900 planes since October 2010.

Truong Thanh Vu, an executive of Air Mekong, told the Daily on the phone on Wednesday this carrier performed 32 domestic daily flights connecting HCMC, Hanoi, Central Highlands and central regions among others. This summer, the airline offers many more flights to tourist sites including Dalat, Buon Ma Thuot, Phu Quoc and Con Dao.

The Air Mekong chairman Viet told the signing ceremony that the airline’s priorities were to expand domestic services and operate international flights in the years to come.

Air Mekong is one of the five operational local airlines in Vietnam. The others are Vietnam Airlines and its subsidiary Vietnam Air Service Co. (Vasco), Jetstar Pacific and VietJetAir.

* Silk Air of Singapore has commenced flights to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi after years of servicing Danang in central Vietnam.

The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam said that Silk Air used the Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft for the flights to Hanoi on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

By Binh Nguyen - The Saigon Times Daily
Source Saigon Times

Vuon Xoai is real breath of fresh air

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:55 PM by An Bui

A group of six of us decided we had had enough of the city and fancied a little break and decided to venture to Vuon Xoai Resort.

The usual suspects of Nha Trang, Dalat and Mui Ne were discussed but we didn’t fancy the long trek in the car and the last-minute extortionate air fares was also a no-no. One of the gang had said she had visited Vuon Xoai before and it was a lush, green area and was worth a try.

We thought why not and her recommendation was spot on. It took us about 90 minutes by taxi from the city and after a few horrendous days of thundering rain in Saigon, we were blessed with beautiful sunshine for the whole day.

We arrived and met up with a friend from Bien Hoa City who had also booked us into a local hotel for the night.

The resort itself was perfect for Saigonese ladies who indulged in their favorite pastime of taking numerous photos which no doubt ended up on their Facebook accounts by nightfall.

It was a great spot for the snap-happy galls with the beautiful trees, green grass, bridges and water.

When you are stuck in the city for a long time without any respite you forget how beautiful this country is. Little moments like this only remind you that this is a nation to be explored.

We did a spot of go-karting, had some lunch and took ten million photos. Did I say Vietnamese girls like taking photos? Troi oi (My God).

It was so hot that the outdoor swimming pool was getting more appealing as the day wore on and we succumbed. It was glorious.

There was time for a last little stroll around, yes more pics, and we were so exhausted and due to the high heels being sported by some of our group, the little golf car back to the entrance was the only option.

By Derek Milroy in Dong Nai
Source Saigon TImes

Indoor shrimp angling captivates Saigonese

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:55 PM by An Bui

Cau tom or shrimp angling is now a popular activity for locals when they hang out with friends or family at weekends.

But don’t worry if you are not a fishing guru, because with the presence of many indoor pools in town, shrimp angling is now both interesting and easy for amateurs.

Angling shrimp at natural pools and rivers is quite difficult as they usually hide in the mud base below, so it’s an easier task for people to angle shrimp at an indoor pool facilitated by white enameled tiles at the bottom of the pool. Some say angling shrimp is more difficult than fishing as the shrimp will flip backwards. However, indoor shrimp in pools are greedy so they will easily take the bait.

Normally, owners of indoor pools will pour some more shrimp, including giant prawn (with long nippers in blue) and su shrimp inside, depending on the amount of guests.

Some pools have their own ways to excite guests as they put a huge shrimp weighing around 300 grams and above into the pool every hour.

The price for shrimp angling varies from VND90,000 to VND100,000 per hour (inclusive of fishing rod and bait) but this can be reduced from VND20,000 to VND30,000 for guests who stay from three hours or more.

Although it’s not cheap, people still love this activity as it gives them time to relax and enjoy the happy moment of catching shrimp by themselves, even if it is just one shrimp. Guests can bring their catch to share with friends and families or even ask the pool owners to cook the shrimp to their favorite taste such as grilled shrimp with chili salt, shrimp hot pot or steamed shrimp with coconut juice with reasonable fees varying from VND20,000 to VND150,000 per dish.

Peeling off a tom nuong muoi ot or grilled shrimp with chili salt and dipping it into a sauce of lemon, salt and chili to savor the sweet juice of shrimp flesh and swallow together with some cool beer is sheer heaven.

Some tips for beginners is to adjust your fishing float higher than the pool’s depth by around 20-30 centimeters. If you want to measure the pool’s depth you have to drop the fishing rod vertically to the bottom. Since shrimp eat food at the bottom of the pool, you have to dip the bait as deep as possible to lure them. For small shrimp you have to pull the rod quickly. For big shrimp, once noticing the float slightly move and plunge into the water surface, you have to wait around ten seconds to pull up the rod. What you should do next is both pull and pause to catch the shrimp.

Some indoor shrimp angling pools are:

- Kieu Dam Pool, 793/35/4 Tran Xuan Soon, Tan Hung Ward, District 7, tel: 08 3775 3282.

- Ky Anh Quan, near Binh Quoi 1 Tourist Site in Binh Thanh District.

- Dong Dieu pool, 33/2 Cao Lo Street, Ward 4, District 8.

By Kieu Giang in HCMC
Source Saigon Times

Talladega Nights comes to Mango Garden

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:54 PM by An Bui

Having just watched Talladega Nights the other day it got my racing juices stirring and as we walked up the lane towards the track my blood was pumping.

Four carts but only one prize up for grabs, I fancied my chances. The opponents were mostly girls but my girl is a motorbike champion and thus she was hot favorite for the title.

In true Will Ferrell style it was a comedy of errors with the unlikely Flying Scotsman roaring home to the Mango Garden go-karting arena crown.

First up was hotboy Linh and Thuy who came a cropper at the first hurdle with the latter sporting bruises like she had taken a beating from a gang of thugs from head to toe.

Then the hot favorite my girl also flew out the traps only to be felled on the bumpy hill of death. I was next up and flew over the treacherous hill into the distance with the last group out, who also failed to rise to the challenge of the first hill, unable to catch me as I received the chequered flag.

The scene was carnage with all three ladies sporting bruises and bumps due to high heels, designer bags and dodgy driving.

Surely the safety officials will review the course after this incident. The ropes instead of a steering wheel certainly don’t help with the driving and it took the underdog summoning up all his might like Ferrell’s character Ricky Bobby to overcome his fear of high speed to reach for the promise land.

Still for VND30,000 for one run you can’t complain and it was great fun despite the injuries. The go-kart circuit is a really popular activity in the holiday resort in Dong Nai Province, with tourists willing to risk life and limb to conquer the dangerous circuit.

Mango Garden Resort in Phuoc Tan Ward, Long Thanh Township, Dong Nai Province is located around 40km from HCMC and takes 90 minutes by car.

By Derek Milroy in Dong Nai
Source Saigon Times

Saigon-Ninh Chu Hotel and Resorts offer promotions

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:54 PM by An Bui

The Saigon-Ninh Chu Hotel and Resort in Ninh Thuan Province, under management of Saigontourist, is suggested as the perfect venue for tourist accommodation and not only that the resort is offering a number of fantastic promotions.

For guests staying at the hotel on their birthday, the room rate will be a mere VND300,000 per night, including breakfast, mineral water, free access to the swimming pool, gyms and tennis court from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Guests will also be given birthday gifts with 10% discount on the a-la-carte menu, a coupon worth VND100,000 for the next stay with the next night only costing VND900,000 per night.

The hotel also offers Tau Vang Tiet Kiem (economical golden ship) three-day-and-two-night tours, departing from 8 p.m. from Saigon Railway Station in District 3. The next day tourists will be taken to visit Cham Towers tourist area then check in to freely take a tramp around the city and experience the hotel’s services.

Tickets are priced at US$79 per guest with two breakfasts and US$99 per guests with two breakfasts and four main meals, exclusive of train ticket fee.

Phan Rang City in Ninh Thuan Province is famous for its primitive scenery, stunning sand dunes, pristine beaches and mysterious Cham culture. There, tourists can choose from many attractive destinations such as Vinh Hy Bay, Nam Cuong red sand dune, Nui Chua National Park and Binh Tien Beach and from Cham heritages such as Hoa Lai Tower, Poklong Garai Tower, Bau Truc Pottery Village and My Nghiep Brocade Village.

The Saigon-Ninh Chu Hotel and Resort is suggested as an ideal location for tourists to experience the comforts and luxury of the four-star standard. The resort boasts 102 ocean view rooms.

The resort was chosen to host this year’s Vietnam Supermodel contest, which is held by HCMC Television, Thoi Trang Tre magazine and Cat Tien Sa Advertising Investment Co., Ltd. and sponsored by the Saigon-Ninh Chu Hotel and Resort.

The Saigon-Ninh Chu Hotel and Resort is located in Khanh Hai Township, Ninh Hai District, Ninh Thuan Province, tel: 068 3876 011, email:sale@saigonninhchuhotel.com.vn.

By Dat Tien in HCMC
Source Saigon Times

Emirates Airline launches Sky Cargo service from HCMC to Dubai

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:53 PM by An Bui

Emirates Airline launched a new direct Sky Cargo service from Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City to Dubai (UAE) on June 4, which will offer about 240 metric tonnes of belly-hold capacity per week.

The new direct Sky Cargo service will help boost trade between Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates as well as 120 other destinations across the globe.

Ho Chi Minh City has now become the 14th Sky Cargo base for Emirates Airline in the Far East, helping strengthen business ties with key export countries such as China, Japan and Korea which are already using the Sky Cargo service to exporting goods to Europe, Africa and North America.

Emirates Airline is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.

In related news, VietJet Air, Vietnam’s low cost carrier launched a kiosk check-in counter on June 4 at Tan Son Nhat, Noi Bai and Da Nang airports, with its main ticket centres in HCMC and Hanoi.

VietJet Air will be the first airline in Vietnam to provide a self check-in service.

With this service, passengers can clear boarding check-in in just a minute, which will ease long queues at the airports.

Source SGGP

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