Coming to Can Tho City, a quiet area that tourists should not ignore is Binh Thuy Communal House, known in the past as Long Tuyen Communal House.
Ong tu (guard) inside the Binh Thuy Communal House in Can Tho City - Photo: My Tran
Located in Binh Thuy Ward, about five kilometers from the center of Can Tho, the site is not as famous as other sites in the city such as Binh Thuy Old House, Cai Rang Floating Market, Ninh Kieu Wharf or Ong Pagoda.
However, the communal house, which has existed for over two centuries, will bring another side of Can Tho’s history with its fine architecture and antiques.
Built in the 19th century, the Communal House was named Bon Canh Thanh Hoang on November 9th 1893 by King Tu Duc.
Later the Communal House was dedicated to national heroes including Dinh Cong Trang, Nguyen Trung Truc, Bui Huu Nghia and Vo Huy Tap. It was completely renovated in 1910.
If you are an architecture enthusiast, you will recognize that the communal house’s architecture is different from communal houses in the north. The front and the back buildings are square, and its side has six rows of columns, and all the columns’ bases are extra-wide, making these buildings more stable.
The roofs of the two front buildings were built overlapping each other. The main temple at the rear has three roofs. The top of the roof is covered with statues of people, lions and fish.
In the front of the building, there are cement columns. Inside the ancestor-worshipping house, there are altars dedicated to worship the animal gods.
It is considered a valuable monument of art and architectural style in the newly-expanded south western area. Although it was built at the beginning of the 20th century, its architecture has many traditional characteristics with carved and engraved wooden boards.
Bas-reliefs, lacquered boards and paralleled sentences or royal costumes and old paintings is an interesting area for art lovers.
Another impressive thing is the attendance of ong tu (the guard) of the house. He is very old with white hair and slowcoach gait. He will accompany you around the house and show you where to take the best photographs.
Some giant trees in the spacious yard shading the house make it more ancient and peaceful.
The house is also a venue for traditional ceremonies and festivals.
Like Can Gio or Giang Dien Waterfall, Vuon Xoai Ecotourism Park in Dong Nai Province is a peaceful oasis for Saigonese to visit for a picnic or sightseeing trip on a short weekend break.
Some visitors take a bamboo boat cruise along a lake in Vuon Xoai Ecotourism Park in Dong Nai Province
Located 30 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh city in Tan Cang Village, Phuoc Tan Commune, Long Thanh District, and covering over 30 hectares, Vuon Xoai is a fun place where visitors can enjoy some outdoor games such as go-karting, swimming, tennis, fishing and ostrich riding. Visiting a crocodile swamp and tramping around a bamboo garden and orchard is also on offer to tourists.
If you are sitting at home having a quiet weekend, eating food or watching movies all day, why not get yourself out there to Vuon Xoai.
It’s not far from the city and for those who love a long walk on a weekend break, strolling around the bamboo garden or orchard, viewing cottages or the many bonsai trees and flowers is a good way to get some nice fresh air into your lungs and fresh local food is also good for your health.
If you like to contemplate or ponder life while you relax, a spot of fishing is a great choice as you take in the tranquil surroundings with the still water surface under the shade of trees, bamboo bridge and some small floating cottages on the lake.
If you like to just float on the still water and take it all in, there are tours around lakes or canals in the Mekong Delta on bamboo boats. However, tourists should make sure they put on life vests as a safety precaution.
Adventurous visitors can also try go-karting or ostrich riding.
Taking an electronic car at VND10,000 to go around the park is also good for those who are too tired to go the extra distance. Along the road, visitors have the chance to see crocodiles, caged bears, snakes, wild pigs, birds and peacocks.
There is no need to worry about getting thirsty or hungry as restaurants serve various Vietnamese dishes and drinks.
Visitors, who have plenty of time to spare, can stay overnight at some guest houses in the area and make a camp fire at night to top off an unforgettable trip.
Go-karting is popular with young visitors in Vuon Xoai – Photos: My Tran
Within one day of your visit to Nha Trang city, you’ll have a chance to discover wild islands and enjoy what you can’t do in the mainland.
|Monkey shines: A tourist feeds monkeys on Lao Island. When you are lying on the beach, don’t be surprised to see some monkeys lying nearby.
|Rich in fauna: Tourists can feed wild deer from their hands, one of the many wildlife interactions to be experienced in Nha Trang.
|Castaway: A pristine beach and pine forest on Thi Island where visitors can enjoy in water sports, such as parasailing, kayaking and jet skiing.
A tour to Nha Phu Bay, 12km from Nha Trang city by boat, is the most popular activity. Different from others, this tour offers a trip to three islands where you can come close to the nature and hide away from dusty life, said Anh Vu, a tour guide from Long Phu Company.
The first destination is Hon Thi, the 500ha island covered by pine trees. You can walk in the forest of decandrous persimmon, the tree that is the namesake of the island.
You can find ostriches and deer in the forest. The deer will approach you if you offer them a hand full of maize, their favourite food.
The island is clean and pristine, and if you are an adventurous tourist, you can ask the guide leading you to go deep into woods to discover the caves.
Orchid Stream on Hon Heo Peninsula offer tourists spectacular scenes. It is a picturesque sight from the sparkling mirror of the water to the mountain tops.
Walking along Orchid Stream, tourists reach a world of hundreds of wild orchids collected abroad and throughout the country.
The orchid garden is designed as a thousand-year forest. Continuing up the mountain, tourists can enjoy the pure water from the Orchid Waterfall at 900m above the sea level.
You may skip the trek for a swim at An Binh Beach, relaxing by a hot spring nearby, or enjoying an animal circus performance. Or, you could entertain yourself with water sports, such as parasailing, kayaking and jet skiing.
Vu affirmed that no island in the central sea has as many freshwater streams as Hon Heo Peninsula. He proved it by digging a hole in a forest near the seaside, then in front of our surprised eyes, scooped up a bowl of freshwater.
Orchid Stream is rooted in an old love story between a poor man and a girl born to a rich family. The man was asked to bring aloe and salanganes’, two of the region’s precious specialities, as betrothal gifts. The girl decided to go with her lover to find the offerings for her parents. They went but found nothing.
The girl dropped off to sleep as she was too tired. When she woke up, she didn’t see the man. Seeking him, she found blood stains everywhere. She believed that he was attacked by beasts. She cried again and again until she dissolved in her stream of tears. This is the legend of the stream that now runs throughout the peninsula. Where the man bled, now we find various orchids growing and blossoming.
“The legend of old explains the beautiful land,” Vu said, “Even though I think underground water sources from Hon Heo Mountain bring water for lakes and streams here.”
“The peninsula connects to Truong Son Mountain Range, which also receives running water. The wet environment is good for wild orchids to grow,” he explained.
Amy Morris from the US said she loves the tropical gardens on Hon Heo Peninsula.
“A beautiful garden with a running stream and good size fish, some enchanting bridges to walk across, and a log to lay on for a beautiful photo, this place is amazing.”
“Watching orchids in bloom and the other colourful flowers is a little bit of paradise in Nha Trang,” she said.
Hon Lao or Monkey Island, home to thousands of monkeys, is the final destination of this tour. The island is like a pearl in the ocean.
Monkeys are everywhere on the island and are taught to not steal tourists’ belongings and attack people. When you are lying on the beach, don’t be surprised when you suddenly see some monkeys lying nearby.
The monkeys are smart and friendly. Their origin on the island dates back to 1983 when Vietnam and the former Soviet Union did research on primates for vaccines.
Although the monkeys are trained, the tour guide will warn you to be careful while feeding and playing with them.
“Looking at them, you may feel interested but don’t grin, they may misinterpret it as a threat,” he said.
“You’ll find it fun to play with the wild monkeys, but remember to obey the tourist area’s regulations to guarantee your safety and protect the natural life of the monkeys.”
Green beautiful stretches of flowers and a long strip of fine sand, about 500m long, is an ideal place for you to feed the monkeys and take pictures of them.
You can rent jetskis and kayaks on the island. If you are an enthusiasts of speed and adrenaline, you can enjoy racing karts. From scuba diving to snorkelling, you have access to a view of the beautiful ocean floor and the possibility of exploring the castles of coral and marine life.
Moments spent relaxing in nature or approaching wild animals are unforgettable. If you have more time, don’t limit yourself to just one day. Simple houses and bungalows are available, if you can spend a night without modern conveniences, to enjoy a quiet atmosphere.
About three kilometers from the ancient town of Hoi An, the Dua nuoc (mangrove palm) forest in Cam Thanh Commune in the central province of Quang Nam has become a much sort after tourist destination.
The forest rests at the convergence of Thu Bon and Truong Giang rivers before they flow into the East Sea. The Hoi An mangrove palm forest plays an important role by forming a natural filtration system before the river currents merge into the sea.
The year-round green forest grows along the river and canal banks. On islets and areas around the forest, there is a particular ecosystem, which is home to many species of fishes and shrimps.
Local residents are well aware of the value of the mangrove palm forests to the environment and for tourism and are cooperating with organizations and tourist companies to exploit the tourist potential, annually broadening and preserving the forest area.
Visitors to the forest can take a leisurely bicycle ride through the forest. Crossing the various paths there, visitors will see local farmers picking mangrove palm leaves, which they use as roofing material and for handicraft items.
Boats are always available to carry visitors along the canals to pick mangrove palm nuts and enjoy a cool coconut drink.
For those who want to relax in a fresh atmosphere, they can bring fishing rods, choose a suitable place and enjoy the sunset as it lazes over the Thu Bon River. People prefer wide-open spaces, they can row a boat out to the river or cast a net with the help of local anglers.
Source: Thanh Nien
| Today, you can explore Halong Bay from unprecedented heights by going on a helicopter tour.
|Ha Long Bay is the jewel in Vietnam’s tourism crown, a stunning geological formation that captivates even the most travel weary and jaded of visitors.
Most people usually take a halong bay cruise around the bay. You can choose one or two night trips to enjoy the mesmerising scenery and discover wonderful coves and islets or simply enjoy the views from the top deck of your boat.
As a repeat visitor I wouldn’t say I’m tired of Ha Long, but I was certainly eager to discover another side of the UNESCO World Heritage Site when a friend told me about the helicopter tour.
This would be a great opportunity to fly over the bay and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the limestone karst islets which, according to legend are the shards of diamond and jade, that were spat out by a family of dragons sent from heaven to help protect Vietnam from foreign invaders.
I was so excited at the prospect of climbing into a helicopter, I could hardly sleep the night before. But as the morning drew closer I started to get increasingly nervous. What if, I am scared of heights? Having never scaled any cliff faces, or jumped out of an airplane, how would I know?
I begin to suffer vertigo even before I arrive at Gia Lam Airport, 5km from downtown Hanoi, where I am to meet my tour guide and the helicopter crew. The flight departs at 8.30am. Still slightly anxious, I reassure myself that by flying to Halong Bay I’m at least avoiding the long, rather dangerous road from Hanoi to Hai Phong. Ha Long is normally more than a three-hour drive but via helicopter we expect to arrive in 45 minutes.
Our guide informs us that the Russian MI-17 helicopter seats 24 people and will reach an altitude of 300m. We are also in luck; the sky is clear and blue, a perfect day for flying. We set off and everyone is immediately glued to the windows and we see vast, beautiful rice fields pass below us.
The Red River looks like a long snake winding its way through a terracotta garden. Tran Van Huong, the captain, informs us that because a helicopter flies slower and lower than a jet, there is less chance that people will feel sick while taking off or landing. The helicopter is quite large and comfortable, but being a military chopper, there is no air- conditioning, just fans.
We are told we can visit the cockpit and talk with the four-member crew or, rather, shout at the crew –it is hard to make yourself heard above the throbbing engines!
The whole package
The Northern Serviced Flight Company, who operate the helicopter, also offer trips to Sapa in Lao Cai province and Dien Bien Phu, but tourists currently seem to prefer Ha Long Bay. The whole tour with Luxury Travel includes a cruise on a junk as well as a helicopter tour over the bay, plus transfer from Hanoi and back by chopper.
Ha Long Bay is certainly spectacular from the helicopter – it’s as perfect as a painting: the white sandy coves, the thick green forest, the rugged mountains and the jagged karsts jutting out of the emerald water.
I snap as many pictures as I can before the chopper lands at a heliport on General Giap Hill (named after General Vo Nguyen Giap as you might guess) Who knows when I will be 200m above Ha Long Bay again?
The chopper lands smoothly and we are back down on earth. Everyone is buzzing after the trip and I almost feel sad it’s over.
We are driven from the heliport to Bai Chay harbour, where boats and junks have gathered to meet the hundreds of tourists arriving from Hanoi. I can’t help but swagger a little smugly past the tired looking tourists clambering out of the buses and mini-vans thinking, I came by helicopter and I feel great! Coming by chopper I got to sleep in longer and had plenty of room on board.
For once, I am actually refreshed and energised as we set off to explore the caves and beaches around Ha Long. Later on we grab kayaks and paddle around, visiting floating aquaculture farms and beaches. On previous trips I was often slumped in a chair, too tired and stiff to do anything else, but today I am up for everything.
We enjoy a lavish seafood lunch on board and everyone is still in high spirits, reflecting on the amazing trip. It’s a little clichéd to say “this was unforgettable” but that’s how we felt!
After lunch the junk returns to port before we again climb on board the helicopter and set off for the capital where we arrive at 2.30pm. It’s hard to believe we still have the whole afternoon ahead of us!
Mekong River is the eighth biggest river in the world and ranks 5 in Asia. It originates from Tibet then runs down China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia before it reaches Vietnam where it splits into 6 main rivers that also divide into a myriad of tiny canals and arroyos. In Tibet, it is known as Zi Qu, literally the river of rock. It only starts endorsing the name “Mekong” North of the Indo-Chinese peninsula.
The land known as Mekong Basin covers about 800 000 square kilometers. It is inhabited by almost 60 million people. The density, though, proves to be quite low compared to other rivers’ basins. For instance, the Red River Basin has a density of 1000 people per square kilometer while the Mekong Basin only has a population density of 450 inhabitants per square kilometers.
The river provides numerous resources especially in fish which is part of the basin population’s staple diet. However, the river’s potential is still not exploited to its maximum and the area remains quite poor. Since the river runs through six different countries, it has long suffered from a lack of cooperation in development policies, mainly because of conflicts opposing these nations. Recently, though, the six countries have started to collaborate with one another in order to insure a better and sustainable development of the territory.
Besides, the river now becomes a great potential for tourism. In Vietnam, many cruises has been run through Mekong river to help tourists enjoying the river and water there and the people’s lives along the river.
Book Mekong cruise at the website http://Vietnamhotels.net with reasonable prices and good quality!
Some tourists traveling to Vietnam often have only one wish that is visiting Halong bay, especially tasting halong bay by take on halong bay cruises. The length of these cruises almost is 1, 2, or 3 nights and 4 nights (sometimes).
Halong Bay has been recognized twice by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for its universal values of landscape, geology and geomorphology, respectively in 1994 and 2000.
On cruising trip, is it time to appreciate the wonders of Halong Bay including an exploration a magnificent cave and then navigating through the stunning limestone scenery of the bay.
The permanent beauty of Ha Long is created by three factors: stone, water and sky. Ha Long’s island system is multicolored with a variety of shapes and can be regarded as a water-color, a work of art. The islands, scattered all round, have different shapes which provoke the imagination: Dinh Huong (Incense Burner) implies spiritual significance, Ga Choi (Fighting Cocks) the symbol of Viet Nam tourism, Con Coc (Toad) recalls the passage of time, waiting thousands of years to seek justice in Heaven. There are islands that resemble a resplendent throne; a Vietnamese mother’s curved back carrying her child, a roof, an old man, a human head and so on.
Within the bigger islands are great attractions. Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stakes) dazzles the senses with many huge stalactites hanging poised in mid air and stalagmites growing majestically upwards. Then there is Thien Cung Grotto (Heavenly Palace) with its small, narrow entrance, but inside looking like a marvelous palace, and many other caves each has its own attractions and beauty.
Ha Long’s sea is always the same, blue, smooth and still. Ha Long has its own beauty by seasons. In spring, buds of trees burst on limestone islands. In summer, it is cool and clean with many sparkling sun rays reflecting from the sea’s surface. In autumn, especially at night, moonlight illuminates the mountains so they appear like gold, inlaid into the earth. In winter, with pervasive frost, Ha Long is glamorous as “a floating flower basket on smooth wave” (by writer Nguyen Tuan).
Karst geomorphologic value
Ha Long Bay is a mature karst landscape developed during a warm, wet, tropical climate. The sequence of stages in the evolution of a karst landscape over a period of 20 million years requires a combination of several distinct elements including massive thickness of limestone, a hot wet climate and slow overall tectonic uplift.
Halong Bay is undoubtedly not only a national but also a world nature, a magnificent work of Natural Creator. People who are admirers of natural beauty should stand up, pack their luggages, and right away pick up a flight to Ha Long, or else they will soon feel regretful!
Book Vietnam cruises now to enjoy the beauty of this wonder on Earth, Halong bay!
Doan Thi Thanh Tra, Head of the Saigontourist Travel Service Corporation’s Marketing Department, said that as of January 26 (the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month) the company will begin to receive groups of foreign tourists who want to experience the Vietnamese people’s biggest traditional festival.
More than 8,500 visitors have booked tours to Vietnam for the occasion and this is the 8th consecutive year that Saigontourist has organised tours to serve holidaymakers from abroad as well as foreigners who are working and living in the country.
If booking a tour to Ho Chi Minh City, visitors will have a chance to enjoy the flowers at the Tao Dan Park and learn about the spiritual lives of the local people by visiting pagodas, where they can pray for good luck during the Year of the Cat.
Visitors will have an interesting experience by going on a sightseeing tour of Cho Lon market by pedicab or visiting local families, enjoying traditional dishes and receiving gifts for good luck from the owners.
Meanwhile, tours to the Mekong Delta offer holidaymakers an opportunity to experience the typical Tet atmosphere of the local residents, with exciting floating markets and Don ca tai tu (music of the talented) singing. They can join in with the hosts to pack banh tet (cylindric glutinous rice cakes) and banh chung (glutinous rice cake).
In addition, Saigontourist’s restaurants, hotels and tourist sites have also prepared menus with typical and traditional dishes to serve domestic and foreign visitors during the festival.
Other travel firms are planning to launch their own tours, alongside the traditional ones, to attract tourists during the holidays.
Duong Mai Lan, from the Vietravel Company’s Marketing Department, said that most of visitors have chosen the central ancient town of Hoi an, the central city of Da nang and the Mekong Delta as destinations.
Tours in the North will bring holidaymakers to the capital city of Hanoi, the UNESCO-recognised natural heritage Ha Long Bay, the northern mountainous town of Sapa, and the Huong (Perfume) pagoda.
Tourists can travel along the Hong (Red) river by ship and visit a number of riverside tourist sites such as Tien Dung-Chu Dong Tu Temple and Bat Trang pottery village.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country is targeting welcoming 5.3 million foreign visitors and serving 30 million domestic holidaymakers in 2011.
The tourism sector will strive to earn revenue of more than 110 trillion VND (5.5 billion USD), equivalent to 4.6 percent of the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP).
To reach these targets, the VNAT has mapped out plans to attract one million tourists from each of the key markets, namely Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Europe.
The green forests in the Ba Vi mountain range create a cool and romantic atmosphere, and are rich in medicinal herbs
The road was narrow and winding steeply up the mountain. Sharp bends kept me gripping the motorbike, turning my knuckles white. It was getting steadily colder as I pushed my bike into second gear and continued the climb up Tan Vien Peak.
I was in the Ba Vi National Park, just an hour and half’s drive from Hanoi’s bustling downtown.
Spread across 7,377 hectares, Ba Vi National Park surrounds Ba Vi Mountain which boasts three peaks: the highest is Vua (King) Peak at 1,296 meters, followed by Tan Vien at 1,226 meters and Ngoc Hoa at 1,120 meters.
I had followed several other nature lovers driving up Tan Vien, perhaps because of its special place in Vietnamese mythology. The peak is said to be home to the Mountain God, Son Tinh, who helped defeat the Water God, Thuy Tinh, and save the land from natural disasters.
I had just driven 50 kilometers away from Hanoi, but it felt like a lifetime away. Gone were the busy streets, the honking and the calls of street vendors.
It was hard to keep my eyes focused on the meandering road. The landscape was circled by shadowy mountains, peaks playing peek-a-boo with clouds, and streams snaking through the valley below.
About 400 meters from the foot of Tan Vien, I stopped at the Ba Vi Resort for some drinks. In a manicured lawn packed with winter blooms, Dang Van Thanh, manager of the resort, urged us to explore the park on foot.
For years, Ba Vi National Park has been considered the lungs of Hanoi. I decided to abandon my pollutant-emitting bike for a walk in the woods with a local guide.
Our enthusiastic guide Hung pointed out several rare plants and birds as I ventured deeper into the forest. The Ba Vi National Park is home to more than 800 exotic plants. More than 100 bird species make the park a bird-watcher’s paradise.
Hung said the forest is a significant source of income for the people of the Dao ethnic minority who use herbs from the forest to make medicines for local as well as foreign consumption.
Since it was the dry season, the emerald green lakes I had seen during my last visit three years ago were mostly dried up.
But there was something else missing too. I realized suddenly that the chatter of monkeys that had animated the forest earlier was conspicuously missing.
Hung said the monkeys had been chased away so they wouldn’t trouble the visitors. It was sad because the monkeys had really added to the atmosphere of the forest.
Ba Vi was developed as a hill station by the French together with Sa Pa and Tam Dao in the North and Da Lat in the Central Highlands. Along with a 1,100 kilometer road, around 200 villas, a military training center and a church were built on the mountains.
After a two hour trek in the wilderness, I hopped back on my motorbike and continued the drive up the peak. The fog thickened as I climbed up the 1,200-meter mountain.
Upon arriving at the peak, the sun suddenly brightened, its rays slicing through the mist to reveal breathtaking scenery. It was only 2:30 p.m. and there was plenty of time to climb to two mountain top temples dedicated to Mountain God, or Saint Tan Vien, and Uncle Ho (the late President Ho Chi Minh).
Some might say winter is a harsh time to visit the mountains but the misty mountains of Ba Vi are a haven for the romantic and adventurous. If you have the luxury of time, spend a night at the Ba Vi resort. I wish I had.
HOW TO GET THERE
Visitors can easily get to the site by motorbike or car. Follow Thang Long Avenue and turn right to head toward Son Tay Town. The Ba Vi National Park is about 6 kilometers from Son Tay Town. For more information or for accommodations, contact Ba Vi Resort at (09) 9 274 0055/ (09) 8 871 4696.
Visitors can book a day or two-day one-night tour to Ba Vi National Park at: Kien Thanh Tourist, 2nd floor, 381 Truong Chinh Street, Hanoi. Tel: (04) 3 568 1252.
Ami Tour, 2A Tran Thanh Tong Street,
Reported by Phong Lan
Tourists on a bike trip at Ba Vi National Park
Collected by Vietnam hotel
The first tourist helicopter flight carrying 24 passengers departed from Da Nang City to Cham Island on January 18.
Tourism by helicopter has just been launched in the central city of Da Nang by Vietnam Tourism Joint Stock Company – Vitours. The Northern Aviation Service Company provides the 24-seater MI 17 and MI 172 helicopters and the 12-seater EC 155 B1 helicopter for the new service which aims to view the beautiful islands from the air.
The price for a single tour around Da Nang City is VND4.5 million (US$225) per person.
Tour prices from Da Nang to Con Co Island in Quang Tri Province, Ly Son Island in Quang Ngai Province, Cham Island and My Son Holyland in Quang Nam Province are VND8 million, VND9 million and VND7 million.
Deputy director-general of Vitours, Nguyen Dinh Thanh, said he hoped that the new service launched by the company would meet the expectations and demands of both local and international visitors.
Collected by Vietnam hotel