January 29, 2010

Road tripping through the hill tribe towns of Vietnam's Central Highlands

Exploring Vietnam's Central Highland's pine tree forests, waterfalls and coffee plantations by motorbike

"Nha san", or stilt house's K'Ho people in Lam Dong, Vietnam

Despite breathtaking mountain scenery and a rich diversity of hill tribe cultures, Vietnam’s Central Highlands remain one of the least 'tourorized' areas of Southeast Asia. This region of pine tree forests, waterfalls and coffee plantations is far from the coastal beach resorts where most tourists flock, and this remoteness is all part of the charm.

The narrow, winding roads of the highlands are strewn with potholes, some so deep and wide it appears as if elephants were dropped on the tarmac successively from various heights in some grotesque experiment. An equally poor bus system and lack of railways make exploration by more maneuverable motorbikes the best option.

Venturing Inland
This adventure starts in the coastal town of Phan Thiet, though the mountains can be approached from any adjacent city between Ho Chi Minh in the south and Danang on the central coast. The road from Phan Thiet winds through Hindu Cham villages and mountain rain-forests before arriving in the town of Dalat.

The K’ho of Dalat
Dr Alexandre Yersin (the noted explorer and scientist who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague) is traditionally considered the founder of the Dalat. The hill station, sanatorium and eventual resorts that developed more than 100 years ago have blessed Vietnam with one of the finest concentrations of French Colonial architecture in Indochina.

The city was named after the Lat clan, a subgroup of the K’ho tribe who inhabit much of Lam Dong Province. Though the K’ho have been assimilated by the dominant Vietnamese culture of modern Dalat, their bamboo stilt houses with thatched roofs can still be seen dotting hillsides in remote areas.
The entire K’ho family, including grandparents and extended family, all sleep together in a single-room "nha san", or stilt house. Cooking is done directly on the floor, without benefit of a chimney. The smoke preserves the structure and repels insects.

An Ede girl in traditional dress weaves textiles in her shop in Dak Lak Province.The M’Nong of Lak Lake
A day’s motorbike journey from Dalat will reach Lak Lake; the lake's shores are inhabited by displaced members of the M’nong tribe, relocated here from the north by the government. On my road trip, I spent the night in immense, wooden M’Nong longhouses. After a morning of elephant rides and canoe trips I drove to Ede territory in Dak Lak Province.

The Ede of Buon Ma Thuat
The Provincial capital of Buon Ma Thuat is the seat of Vietnam’s coffee-growing empire, its capacity now second only to Brazil. Due to tensions between the government and local hill tribes, the ability to travel without special permits can be restrictive. Travellers can be expected to only be allowed to travel between Buon Mat Thuat, which has a few major waterfalls like Drey Sap and Drey Nur, and Yuk Don National Park.

The Jai Rai of Pleiku
Heading north through Gia Lai Province traverses the territory of the Jai Rai, famous for their elaborate wooden funeral houses guarded by erotic totems. The capital city of Pleiku was an infamous battleground in the war with America. Politics in the area is complicated, and hiring a government-licensed guide is required to visit Jai Rai villages and nearby waterfalls, though travellers are free to visit the flooded volcanic crater known as Ho Bien on their own.

The Bahnar of Kon Tum
Just a few hours further to the North, the city of Kon Tum, and the surrounding province by the same name, holds the greatest cultural treasures of the central highlands. The town is populated by ethnic Bahnar, most differentiated from Vietnam’s other minority groups by the thatched communal lodges that tower above the villages surrounding the city. Like many hill tribes however, common cultural icons include musical gongs, “buffalo stabbing festivals” and ruou can (rice wine brewed in large ceramic vases.)

Out to the Coast
The final leg of the journey has almost as many options as the beginning. Roads lead north to Danang via the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, or out to coastal towns like Hoi An or Qui Nhon. I chose a remote route to Quang Ngai through villages of the indigo-clothed H’re, then loaded my motorbike on a train back to Phan Thiet.

Driving logistics
According to Vietnamese law, all foreign drivers must possess a Vietnamese driver’s license. Vietnam does not honor International Driving Permits, despite persistent claims by the agencies that issue them. Applicants need a driving license from their home country with a motorcycle endorsement, a translated and notarized copy, a validation form from the applicable embassy, a local health exam, and must pay a small fee at a Vietnam Department of Transportation branch in any city.

The process will take a minimum of one week. Without a prior motorcycle endorsement applicants must take a simple driving test, which could add a delay of several weeks. In truth, most foreign drivers do not have Vietnamese licenses and traffic police in the Central Highlands have regularly chosen not to enforce this regulation.

Motorbikes can be rented from many tour offices and guesthouses for US$5 - US$10 per day. Multi-day trips may require a deposit equal to the value of the motorbike.

Source: www.cnngo.com/explorations

- Travel Guide in Vietnam
- Ride Ho Chi Minh Trail
- Bike Dalat

January 27, 2010

The Great Red Spider Vietnam Motorcycle Tour with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA - Part 1

Series of blog entries from Burrows Red Spider group describe their great 16-day motorcycling trip in Vietnam with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA. Let's follow their trip day by day!

Red Spider bikers over the wood bridge

Saturday Jan 16th

They came from London, Birmingham, St. Louis and Chicgao....that gang of Red Spider bikers. All on a mission, to see new things, to meet new people and to have a great adventure and make friends. Today we made our first new friend..... JOSEF, who took our group picture at O'Hare. So we promised him a spot on the RS Website. We are enjoying our pre-departure time getting to know one another better.

Sunday Jan 17/Monday 18

Lost Luggage has haunted the Red Spider tour at the onset. BeerPong Bill, had his luggage get sent to Honolulu becuase of course the airline code for hong kong which is HKG is so much like HNL....gofigger. So beer pongs bag is yet to arrive. Morrocco Dave had his bag left in Hong Kong but it arrived here today Monday safely. And finally Red Spider Steve received his bag as normal but many items missing and now a part of the TSA Christmas party for 2010 no doubt.

Today we enjoyed a short day touring the Hanoi Hilton, and then had a great lunch and a few beers. Now we are fitted with our cycle helmets and chillin at the hotel. And Wingman with all bags in hand has been busy trying to find that perfect sweatshirt for his favorite sweetie.

Tonight we will hit the town locally and enjoyed some good local cuisine and some beers and generally some good laughs. Tomorrow, our Tuesday we do some morning sight seeing and then we...................are off folks to Mai Chau around noon for our first leg of the journey.

Tuesday 19

Road to Mai Chau

Its early in the morning here and jet lag and anticipation of the trip has the Red Spider gang up early. We will go to the lake where John McCain crashed his plane and a few other sites today before heading out to Mai Chau for our first leg of the trip. We stay in a local home tonight so the next website update may be a few days away. We will update when we can so be patient. We, and especially Beer Pong, hopes that Beer Pongs bag will catch up to us tonight. Wish us well and we send our greetings to all of you enjoying our trip.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday January 19, 20 and 21

Sorry that we have been off line for so long but we have not had any i-net connections for 3 days. And we have so much to catch up on. Since we left Mai Chau, the Thai community we have moved south by about 600 KM's to Tan Ky and now to Dong Hoi. Check the map on the "Tour" tab if you really want to know where that is. So what have we seen and experienced since we last logged on?

Arrival in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh, Vietnam

• we learned that vietnam roads are for bikes, people, motorcycles, cars, trucks, cattle, dogs, cats and people.
• We learned that the roads are used for not only transportation, but for bathrooms and for agriculture to dry anyting from corn to wheat, to bamboo and other things
• We finally got Beer Pongs Bag. What a happy moment that was after four days of United Airlines total screw-up
• We played the first of many 31 card games which bruce wingman won kicked butt on the first night
• We saw beautiful Thai villages, chopstick factories, the most incredible rivers and topography that you could imagine
• we saw "Indian Jones" type bridges and crossed two of them ourselves on the bikes.
• We went from orange groves, to sugar cane fields, to bamboo forests to tea plantations and always surrounded by the perpetual rice paddies with hard working people in them at all times of day
• We found some of the dumpiest hotels in the world but still had a good time
• We learned that driving at night in Vietnam is a bad idea and we wont do it again
• We decided that a rainy day is good day to load the bikes in a truck and take the van to the next destination rather than risk harm on a slippery road.
• We saw a spectacular river cave
• We had lots of laughs and a great time so far and only in day 3 and about 380 KM's of a 1,500 KM trip

Tomorrow, our Friday, we travel from Dong Hoi south to the infamous DMZ and end up in the coastal city of Dong Ha.

Friday January 22

Today we are off to Dong Ha, similar sound as where we are now which is Dong Hoi. On the way we will visit several famous spots from the Vietnam War and will pass thru the DMZ. We departed Dong Hoi, a city of about 500,000 people around 9:00am and headed to our first site in a light mist and drizzle which made the ride more interesting, but we maintained slow pace until the roads dried out.

Tunnel entrance DMZ

The first stop was the Truong Son National Cemetery....the Vietnamese version of Arlington Cemetery. More than 10,000 soldiers are buried here and we paid our respects. Next rode to the Vinh Moc Tunnel. An amazing place with three underground tunnel systems that the VC used to hide from Americans and plan attacks on the South. There are over 40 KM's of underground tunnels and some are more than 24 meters below the surface. Some of the bikers adventured into the tunnels, but Red Spider and Feel Good took a pass.

Then we moved on along the coast which was beautiful and headed to the 17th Parallell.....the dividing line in history between the north and the south. We viewed the memorials on both the north side of the river and the south side of the river built to honor the respective soldiers who gave their lives. We also visited the Doc Mieu firebase, which was a French installation perched high on a hill just over the boarder to the south and a great place to launch many rocket attacks on the north we suspect. Today we completed another 250 KM's of our trip bring us to about 550KM's in total under our belts.....or butts as the case may be.

Tomorrow we head for Khe Sanh Air Base among other things.

Saturday January 23rd

Today we go west from Dong Ha to the famous US Airbase called Khe Sanh. Go to "Part 2" for the next update

Source: peterb.yolasite.com

Travel Tips
- Motorcycle tips: Viet Nam motorcycle travel tips
- Motorcyle guide & trail: Ho Chi Minh trail & travel guide
- Motorcycle tours: Motorcycle tours in Vietnam

January 23, 2010

Cham island, Vietnam – A part of the world’s lung

Lying in Tan Hiep commune, in the central province of Quang Nam’s Hoi An town, Cu lao Cham or Cham island is a cultural historical monument that is closely associated with the establishment and development of Hoi An town for a thousand years.

The island has become one of 15 Vietnamese maritime reserves since 2007. However, in May, 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) accepted Cham island as a world biosphere reserve thanks to its topography, the biodiversity value and the unspoilt and attractive landscape.

Cham island, Vietnam – A part of the world’s lung

The sapphires

The island consists of eight islets, including Hon Lao, Hon Dai, Hon Kho me or the mother Hon Kho, Hon Kho con or the child Hon Kho, Hon La, Hon Tai, Hon Ong. Each islet with a distinct feature of beauty and wonderful sand beaches make an ideal landscape. The abrupt mountain slopes, big waves and floristic composition makes these islets like unpolished sapphires. The island is, therefore, an ideal destination.

Kingdom of aquatic animals

With 500 hectares of sea-weed alga, marine algae and sea grass and 165 hectares of coral and sea creatures, the island is considered a kingdom of aquatic animals. Of which, the coral has 135 species, algae and sea grasses have 500 species, fish 202 species, lobster 4 species and mollusks 84 species. Under the clear fresh water is coral and shoals of colorful fish. If you go for a scuba dive you will encounter a beautiful marine world.

Cham island, Vietnam – A part of the world’s lung

Go and discover

Cham island is 15 kilometres from Cua Dai beach and 20 kilometres off the coast from Hoi An ancient town. If reach the island by hi-speed boat, it will take you just 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boat ticket prices are very reasonable. Therefore, there will be no reason for you to miss the chance of taking a visit to such a natural and unspoilt landscape, fresh air and cool climate. From Cua Dai beach, you can also take a trip to the island by a normal boat.

However, before starting the trip, you should be aware of environmental protection. You should not bring anything made from plastic or anything that could damage the environment.

After starting the boat, you will quickly reach the largest islet- Hon Lao, that covers 1.317 hectares and is 500 metres high. This islet is, therefore, considered as the rooftop of these islets. Continuing on the trip you can visit the historical monuments of Hai Tang Pagpda-a 300-year architecture located among three mountains called Bat Long, Ngoa Long and Tiem.

There are so many wonderful landscapes on Cham island that you can not visit far-away places on a day tour. However, destinations that you should not miss include Lang Ong, the old well, Huong fishing village, and an exhibition of nature and the Cham island people’s culture.

Come and enjoy

If you come to Cham island you will have chance to join in many water sports, including swimming, water skiing, paragliding, kayaking, kite flying and boat racing. You will also have chance to scuba dive and go on glass-bottomed boat that allows you to discover the underwater world. At night time, you can also participate in cultural activities on the beaches until late.

Finally, there is nothing that could bring you a more enjoyable feeling than enjoying the special fresh seafood at reasonable prices after your trip or tour.

Source: By Nho Trung /dtinews.vn

Related sites:
- Vietnam City Guides
- Bike Ho Chi Minh Trail

January 18, 2010

Bac Ha, a white highland in Vietnam

Visiting Bac Ha Highland in Lao Cai province on early spring days, tourists will be treated with a pure and special selection of beautiful Tam Hoa plum flowers covering villages with its white colour.

Villages of ethnic minorities such as the Mong Hoa, Tay, Nung, Phu La in Ta Chai, Na Hoi, Ban Pho, Nam Mon, and Lung Phin areas, all of which are 1,000 metres above sea level, are covered with white plum flowers. That’s also the reason why Bac Ha is called, “A white Highland”.

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Bac Ha, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Source: By Ngoc Bang Pham/dtinews.vn

Recommendation in Lao Cai, Vietnam:
- Visiting Bac Ha Market
- Trekking tours in Vietnam

January 15, 2010

Pedalling the Northwest of Vietnam

In colonial days, the mountains surrounding Sapa were known as the Tonkinese Alp for the quasi-European climate, with the town functioning as a former hill station, built by the French as a retreat from the heat for vacationing military officers. It is also home to Vietnam’s highest peak, Mount Fansipan, which towers above the town at a height of 3,143 metres.

Terraced fields, Sapa, Vietnam

Planning a cycling trip in these remote areas of Vietnam as a solo traveller might not be the wisest decision, primarily due to the need for special permits in the less well-discovered areas, but I knew I could do without, having lived for nearly 8 years in Vietnam.

I decided to initiate my 18 year-old son, Sacha, to the art of cycling his first bicycle trip ever. Our first challenge was to put the bikes on the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and then bike 40 kilometres uphill to Sapa. There are many trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai. However, almost all sleeper seats are controlled by travel agents. It is impossible to buy sleeper tickets. Some seat tickets or a few second class sleepers may be available at the train station without pre-booking. Ask the travel agents for the departure.

Our first day: on reaching the Lao Cai train station, at about 6am, you have two choices: bike the 35km uphill if you are up to it or take the minibus.

The country has 54 ethnic groups, giving Vietnam the richest and most complex ethnic makeup of Southeast Asia. The majority of the ethnic minorities live in the hilly regions of the Northwest, with other tribes scattered in the Central Highlands and the South. However, the Northwest is the best place to start, as traditional dress in the central and southern parts has been displaced by a more casual approach.
Sapa speaks the language of tourism and is no longer a secret but one can not escape its exquisite views. It is also home to Vietnam’s highest peak, Mount Fansipan, which towers above the town at a height of 3,143 metres.

The Black H’mong and the Red Dao are two of the main tribes in this area. The Dao shave their eyebrows and the hair around their faces to highlight their beauty and are very distinctive with their cherry head coverings, jingling with silver coins. The Black H’mong, in contrast, knots their long dark hair inside tall headdresses, and wears indigo-dyed clothes that shimmer in the light. Dressed in their traditional finery, these tribal women cheerfully intermingle on the streets of Sapa, often inspecting each others’ handwork, while packing sleeping babies on their backs in beautifully embroidered cloth carriers.

Our second day: Ban Ho village, located more than 26 kilometres away from the famous resort town of Sapa and home to the Tay minorities. Situated alongside a turquoise fast growing stream, you must take the time to explore this village before pushing on over the suspension bridge and trekking through rice fields to the Red Dao village of Nam Toong.

Even though Ban Ho is not too far from the centre of Sapa, not many tourists have visited the village because of the tough approach road, which is under construction and slippery in the rainy season.

However, the village is also accessible by riding from Sapa. I recommend staying with my old friend Mr. Son, the chief of the village and his wife, Ms. Lu Thi Ut. The best homestay in the village for the night with a traditional Tay dinner and breakfast.

Our third day: we covered the 26 kilometres and went back to Sapa in the morning, and biked the 15 kilometres from Sapa to the remote Ta Phin village which still retains the traditional customs and lifestyle of ethnic minority groups. Set within a valley with a touring peaking mountain at one end, this village is alive with the daily life of the Kinh, Red Dao and Black H’mong people.

The valley floor is layered with rice paddies and dotted with 20 small home communes. Above them are some smaller communes and a patchwork of corn and vegetable fields. When heading off to Ta Phin village from Sapa, biking up and down the 15 kilometres of hilly terrain is a good choice as travellers will see local people working in terraced paddy fields, or travelling back and forth from the market to their homes. And after a long day of biking on the windy roads and hills you can soak your bones and muscles in a traditional Red Dao herbal bath in one of the homestays. All around the village there is an energy generated by the daily life of the locals here.

The Red Dao, distinguished by their impressive headdress, and the Black H’mong, in their shiny indigo-dyed clothes have lived here for almost 400 hundred years.

Our fourth day:
early rising from Ta Phin village and continue winding our way through the scenic hills and valleys from Sapa to the new Lai Chau town. Passing the Silver Waterfall, we cycle up to Tram Ton pass at 2,000m above sea level. Our most challenging day with 115 kilometres to the new administrative town of Lai Chau.

Our fifth day:
a very picturesque, easy riding and mostly downhill 40 kilometres to a beautiful hotel made of bamboo and rattan where we settled on the edge of a national park. The vegetation in the valleys is out of this world.

Our sixth day:
75 kilometres to the old Lai Chau, a small town nestled in the heart of a beautiful valley carved from spectacular mountains by the Da River. The town, no more than half a mile in length, initially had little to offer, but the area itself is a biking goldmine. The weather can be pretty hot here, so you need plenty of water for biking, but the views as you rise up through the valley are well worth it. In June and July temperatures can rise as high as 40 degrees centigrade making this the hottest place in Vietnam; the rise in temperature is related to the southeast summer monsoon blasting in from the Indian Ocean with the surrounding mountains enclosing the heat.

Our seventh day:
100 kilometres to Dien Bien Phu. The city lies in Muong Thanh Valley and is surrounded by sleep, heavily forested hills and mountains. This valley witnessed the extremely heroic attacks by Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) against the French forces. On May 7, 1954, the VPA forces overran the headquarters of the beleaguered. Since then, Vietnam has been famous for its resounding victory at Dien Bien Phu.

Those French men who were involved in the Dien Bien Phu battle are particularly interested in returning to Vietnam to visit the old battlefield. Places of interest in Dien Bien Phu include Hill A1 and Hill C2 (known as Eliane 2 and Eliane 4 by the French) where fierce fighting took place.

Other places worth seeing are the headquarters of Correal de Casles and the shelter of Pirot, commander of the French artillery, who killed himself in despair on March 15, 1954 in his shelter. Also open to tourists is the cemetery for fallen Vietnamese soldiers.

Our eighth day: the return to Hanoi a one-hour flight from Muong Thanh airport in Dien Bien Phu will take you to Hanoi, Noi Bai airport.

Further information

- More than 6 trains daily. Duration and price depends on the train. Tickets can be paid with Dong. Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi takes about 48 hours on local train. Reunification Express takes 36 hours.

- Hard seats: Wooden seats. Very uncomfortable on long journeys.

- Soft seats: paddling more comfortable. Tall westerners will feel them a bit tight

- Hard seats: wooden seats with just a tight touch of paddling 6 person compartment

- Soft beds: very comfortable but expensive 4 person compartment

- Reservation necessary: Recommended to reserve 2 or 3 days in advance. Tickets sold at train station booking office have special concern for foreigners. Travel agents are sometimes still secure tickets early when the station tells you that they are sold out.

Flight service

- Returning to Hanoi, a one-hour flight from Muong Thanh airport in Dien Bien Phu will take you to Hanoi, Noi Bai airport. US$65 one way and free for the bikes.

Seasons for the North-West of Vietnam

- Tourist Peak & Dry seasons: March to May, October to November

- Vietnamese Tourist Seasons: June and July

- Rainy: June to August

- Water: January and February, especially cold at night

Hotels and Homestays

- Along the way, you will find centrally located and comfortable hotels with private facilities. Standard hotels have a three star rating. Homestays in villages are simple in terms of bedding and amenities.

You are provided with a mutter, pillow and mosquito nest and sleep on the floor like the locals. Accommodation and amenities may be shared with the host family. Toilets are usually western style. Hot water is not always available for showers.

Biking days

A typical cycling day starts at around 6.30am. We aim to reach the next overnight stop between 4.30pm and 5.00pm. During the day you have short breaks for rests, snacks and there’s plenty of opportunity for photographs. Depending upon the distance, terrain and weather, the day can be shortened to 50km a day.


Need 21 speed hybrid mountain bikes and good quality helmets, saddle bags, cycling shorts, cycling shoes or runners, comfortable slip-on shoes for evenings, light weight shorts and long pants, t-shirts, raincoat, hat, sunglasses, sun block, insect repellent, toiletries, flashlight, air pump, water bottle, small towel, camera and spare batteries’ charger, pen and paper, passport and photocopies of passport and visa, small amount of money for shopping in markets, toilet paper, zip lock bags, small first aid kit. Bring warm clothes for the cooler midnights of November to January.


You will find small garages everywhere along the way.

Source: dtinews

Recommendation in Sapa, Vietnam:

Biking travel guide

West to East Biking Exploration

Explore Mekong Delta by bike

January 06, 2010

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA announces to join in Adventure Travel Trade Association

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA has been member of Adventure Travel Trade Association, who operates and promotes sustainable adventure travel as well as trusted tour operators online

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is a global membership organization dedicated to unifying, networking, professionalizing, promoting and responsibly growing the adventure travel market as well as operates and promotes sustainable adventure travel as well as trusted tour operators online. ATTA members include tour operators, destination marketing organizations, tourism boards, specialty travel agents, guides, accommodations, media and service providers.

Host of the annual Adventure Travel World Summit executive conferences, the ATTA provides professional support, development, education, research, marketing, career building, networking and cost-saving resources to its members.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) is a Vietnam Tour Operator, who offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages.

Their packages and custom itineraries will take you through exotic destinations to really experience the culture, history and nature of Asia. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy an unforgettable active vacation. They run the most adventure tours available in the area. Their active trips are designed for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, real people seeking real fun and adventure

ATA joined in ATTA to promote and grow the sustainable and responsible adventure travel market especially in Australia, Euro and North America as well as spread of their brand name to global adventure travel network.

To be the member of ATTA, ATA expressed their effort to serve clients with the best services which is guaranteed, responsible and sustainable. Additionally, ATA is very happy to work with other Tour Operators, Travel Agencies, and Wholesales….as their partners for a mutually beneficial co-operation.

To be the clients or partners of ATA, you are all always welcome to their promisingly policies, unique adventure products and real experiences in the different way “ACTIVELY EXPLORING HIDDEN LANDS…”


January 05, 2010

Activities to celebrate 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary, Vietnam

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on June 10th 2009 issued a decision approving the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary scheme in 2010. Here are celebration activities in detail:

1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary in 2010

I. Activities to celebrate the Party, the New Year 2010 and 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi:

1. Events held in Hanoi:

- A music-dance show named “In celebration of the Communist Party of Vietnam, welcome New Year 2010, celebrating 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary” on December 31, 2009 at the August Revolution Square, Hanoi, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Hanoi authorities.

- Flower Festival to celebrate 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary during the Western New Year 2010, around Hoan Kiem Lake, organised by Hanoi authorities in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

- National meeting to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (February 3, 1930 – February 3, 2010) on February 2, 2010 in Hanoi, organised by the State Organising Committee for Great Events.

- 1st “Songs presented to the Party” chorus festival for students and young people, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union in Hanoi. The final night is scheduled for February 2, 2010.

- Art performances to welcome the lunar New Year and the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary in Hanoi and other provinces on the New Year’s Eve (February 13, 2010), held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and local authorities.

- Incense offering ceremonies for King Ly Thai To (with a specific script) on the New Year’s Eve (February 13, 2010) in Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Ninh Binh provinces, organised by the State Organising Committee for Great Events and other agencies.

2. Hung Kings’ death anniversary and 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary (national level) on April 23, 2010 at the Hung Kings Temple in Viet Tri city, Phu Tho province.

3. The country’s 35th unification anniversary (April 30 1975 – April 30 2010) and the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary:

- National meeting in Hanoi on April 29, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and related agencies.

- A special music-art show in HCM City on April 29, 2010.

- A festival to celebrate the country’s unification from April 30 to May 1, 2010 at Hien Luong Bridge in the central province of Quang Tri, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and related agencies.

4. 120th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh (May 19, 1890 – May 19, 2010) and 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary:

- National meeting to celebrate the 120th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi on May 18, 2010.

- “Following President Ho Chi Minh’s footsteps” live television show on May 19, 2010 on the national Vietnam Television (VTV).

- Reviewing three years of the literary and art creating campaign entitled “Studying and Following the Moral Example of President Ho Chi Minh” and the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary in Hanoi in May 2010.

5. Celebrating the 65th August Revolution anniversary and the Vietnam National Day, combined with the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary:

- National meeting to celebrate the 65th August Revolution anniversary and the Vietnam National Day (September 2) in Hanoi on September 2.

- A special programme celebrating the 65th August Revolution anniversary and the Vietnam National Day in various provinces and cities, aired live on VTV.

II. Activities to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary, held by ministries and provinces:

1. Activities organised by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism:

- International circus festival from August 1-10, 2010 in Hanoi.

- International puppetry festival from September 6-10 in Hanoi.

- International photo exhibition in August 2010 at the Centre for Culture and Art Exhibitions of Vietnam in Hanoi.

- International Film Festival from September 25-30, 2010 in Hanoi.

- Other activities.

2. Activities organised by local authorities:

a. Phu Tho province:

- Incense offering ceremony for the Hung Kings at the Hung Kings Temple.

- Exhibition of antiques of the Ly dynasty at the Hung Kings Museum.

- Music-art show to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

- Photo exhibition on Vietnam’s capitals.

b. Bac Ninh province

- Bac Ninh Culture, Tourism Festival 2010.

- Incense offering ceremony at Do Temple and other festivals at temples in the province connected to King Ly Cong Uan during the ten days of the 1000th great anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi (October 1-10, 2010).

- Exhibition of cultural heritages of the Ly dynasty.

- Producing a documentary about the home land of the Ly dynasty.

c. Nam Dinh province

- Tran Hung Dao Temple Festival.

- Cultural, sport, tourism activities to honour the Tran dynasty, in relation to the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi.

d. Ninh Binh province

- Hoa Lu ancient capital festival.

- Exhibition of cultural heritages of the Dinh.

e. Thanh Hoa province

- Lam Kinh Festival.

- Organising cultural, sports, tourism activities to honour traditional culture, history and national hero Le Loi in association with the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary in Hanoi.

f. Nghe An province

- Sen Village Festival.

- Sen Village Singing Contest and other activities to celebrate the 120th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh, in connection with the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

g. Thua Thien – Hue province

- Hue Festival 2010.

- Exhibitions.

- Amateur music and dance festival to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

- Hanoi – Thua Thien Hue: Past and Present exhibition.

h. Binh Dinh province

- Two special music and dance shows to welcome the lunar New Year 2010.

- Tay Son festival and other activities.

- The second Tay Son – Binh Dinh Festival and the International Traditional Martial Arts Festival.

i. HCM City

- Cultural Day and amateur, professional performances to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

- An amateur literature and art festival.

- Scientific seminar entitled “1000th year of Thang Long – Hanoi”.

- “Thang Long – Hanoi: 1000 Years of History” festival.

- HCM City International Tourism Exhibition 2010.

3. Other activities

- Vietnam – Binh Duong pottery festival 2010 entitled “Vietnamese pottery – tradition – identity and development” from September 1-5, 2010 in Thu Dau Mot town, Binh Duong province.

The festival will include a pottery fair, an exhibition of pottery collections, an exhibition of photos of pottery, a meeting to honour traditional Vietnamese pottery, a music-fashion show, a pottery-making competition, an auction of pottery to raise funds for charity and a parade entitled “Night of Pottery”.

- A sea carnival in Quang Ninh province in late March – early April 2010.

- A sea festival in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, also in late March – early April 2010.

- An international firework festival in the central city of Da Nang in March 2010.

- “Trans-Asia bridge span 2010” in July 2010 in the central province of Quang Tri, with the participation of art troupes from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China.

- Miss World 2010 pageant in Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province in September and October 2010, which will be combined with activities to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

- Da Lat Flower Festival 2010 in Da Lat city, Lam Dong province.

III. Overseas activities to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will combine with other ministries, agencies and associations at home and abroad to organise cultural and art activities to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

IV. The great celebrations of the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary (From October 1, 2010)

1. Opening day (October 1)

- The opening ceremony will be held by the Hanoi authorities and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism at the Ly Thai To statue, Dinh Tien Hoang road and the space around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the morning of October 1.

- The exhibition of economic and social achievements of Vietnam and Hanoi will open in the afternoon October 1 at the Giang Vo Exhibition Centre.

- The exhibition of literary works of Vietnam through various periods at the Cultural and Art Exhibition Centre, 2 Hoa Lu, Hanoi.

- “The country with Hanoi” special show on the Vietnam Television in the evening of October 1, with the direct participation of many people in different sites in Vietnam and abroad.

- A general cultural and art performance organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi in the evening on October 1. The show will have the contribution of foreign experts.

2. Activities from October 2, 2010

a. Cultural and art activities:

- Cultural exchange festival for ethnic groups in Vietnam to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary in Hanoi

- A week for historical films in Hanoi

- “Thang Long impetus and the song for the country” music show at the Hanoi Opera House

- Performance of selected new songs to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary at the Ba Kieu Temple stage

- Street festival and cultural-art programme of young Hanoians at various places in Hanoi

- The first international festival for young bands in Vietnam at the My Dinh National Convention Hall

b. Sports activities

- Final round of the international Thang Long – Hanoi Football Cup in Hanoi and other provinces

- Performance of Vietnamese martial arts at the Quan Ngua sports palace

- Ha Noi Moi newspaper’s running contest around the Hoan Kiem Lake

- International trans-Vietnam cycling tournament 2010 from HCM City to Hanoi

c. Tourism activities

- A tourism festival in Hanoi

- An exhibition of antiques, documents and objects about Thang Long – Hanoi in the Thang Long ancient citadel, Hanoi

- Exhibition of ornamental trees and flowers in the Thang Long ancient citadel

- Festival for craft villages in Hanoi

3. Other activities to celebrate the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary in Hanoi from October 1, 2010

- A special circus show entitled “Hanoi – The city for peace” at Thien Quang Lake, Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc square and the National Circus.

- Music concerts by famous Vietnamese artists at the Hanoi Opera House.

- Performance of ancient dances of Thang Long – Hanoi at the Ly Thai To Flower Garden.

- International music and stage festival with the participation of art troupes from some 1000 year-old cities in the world (around 29 troupes).

- A big concert performed by Vietnamese and foreign orchestras at the Hanoi Opera House.

- A parade and performance by contestants in the Miss World 2010 pageant in Vietnam.

- The national press awards ceremony about 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary.

- The awards ceremony of the international competition on knowledge about Thang Long – Hanoi, entitled “Hanoi – Your Rendezvous”.

- The awards ceremony of the contest on knowledge of Thang Long – Hanoi for Vietnamese citizens.

- Photo exhibition of Hanoi at 93 Dinh Tien Hoang street and 45 Trang Tien street.

- A calligraphy exhibition and festival at Van Mieu (Temple of Literature).

- Bat Trang ceramic – Tradition and Modernity exhibition on Yen Phu road, Bat Trang village.

- Exhibition of famous battlefields and campaigns in the military history of Vietnam at the Vietnam Military History Museum.

- Exhibition of national heroes and famous scholars of Vietnam at the Revolution Museum.

- Exhibition entitled “Hearts to Thang Long – Hanoi”, which will display products of individuals and organisations presented to Hanoi on the occasion of the 1000th Thang Long – Hanoi anniversary at the Hanoi Friendship Palace.

- Ancient Thang Long – Hanoi exhibition at the Hanoi Museum.

- Performance of traditional ao dai.

- Hanoi food festival.

- A kite-flying festival.

- The launching ceremony of a collection of books about Thang Long – Hanoi

- The announcement ceremony of a national research work about 1000 years of Thang Long – Hanoi.

- Inauguration ceremony of the Hanoi Museum on Pham Hung road, Tu Liem district.

- Inauguration of Hoa Binh Park in Tu Liem district.

- Inauguration of statues of President Ho Chi Minh and President Ton Duc Thang at Thong Nhat islet in Thong Nhat Park.

- Inauguration of the Workers’ Theatre on Trang Tien street.

- Inauguration of the Thanh Tri and Vinh Tuy bridges across the Red River.

- Exhibition of the development plan for expanded Hanoi at the Planning and Construction Exhibition Palace in Tu Liem district.

- Inauguration of the Lang – Hoa Lac Highway.

Source: VNN/PV

Related sites:
- Tours in Hanoi, Vietnam
- Hotels in Hanoi, Vietnam
- Adventure Travel Tours in Vietnam

January 04, 2010

Alleys form soul of old Hoi An, vietnam

Falling in love with Hoi An in the central province of Quang Nam is to fall in love with its wonderful alleyways, which for locals are the soul of their home town.

According to the town’s documents, major roads in Hoi An, such as Tran Phu, Nguyen Thai Hoc and Bach Dang were formed in the 17th century along the Hoai River. A system of alleyways then gradually evolved to link those roads.

Narrow alley in Hoi An, Vietnam

Narrow alley in Hoi An, Vietnam

Many alley names remind locals and visitors of historic and folk legends. Sica Alley once had the French Sica alcohol stores, and Ba Le Alley had the Ba Le well with water that was sweetest and coolest in Hoi An.

There are other wells believed to be blessed by beneficent genii, the ancient spirits that were part of the seventh century Champa Kingdom, a Hindu-Buddhist culture with trading routes around Southeast Asia.

Alleys in Hoi An are often so narrow they can only fit two or three people walking alongside each other- and their sides are the sides of houses or garden walls.

Narrow alley in Hoi An, Vietnam

Narrow alley in Hoi An, Vietnam

The alleys are long and covered with moss and lichen and many contain small well that have witnessed families and neighbours gathering for generations.

Thai Te Bieu lives in a home in an alley on Tran Phu Street with four generations of his family. His son and daughter have set up businesses in the city centre.

"If my descendants must, they can move to other places, but I can’t leave this alley," said Bieu. "There are so many memories."

The director of the Hoi An Centre for Monument Management and Preservation, Nguyen Chi Trung, said the alleys were integral parts of Hoi An’s architecture, establishing its links with the past.

"For so many years, the ancient houses have existed along with the lanes to serve them," Trung said.

"Many tourists have fallen in love with Hoi An just because of the alleys," Trung said. "They provide a sense of a countryside community in the town."

For Hoi An people, the alleys are bridges for neighbourly affection. Pham Thi Loc and Tran Thi Cung, who live in an alley on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, realise this after decades of togetherness.

"We live in two different houses, but it’s just like one," they said. "Although we are not relatives, we love each other like sisters and are always together.

"A special thing is that tourists quickly acquire our way of behaving," Loc said. "As the paths are narrow, they always give way to others with friendly smiles."

Trung said the meaning of alleys would be promoted in the future when Hoi An became a city completely without cars and motorbikes.

"People will prefer to walk through alleys to save space and time," he said.

Hoi An authorities said they were determined to keep the alleys intact as some had become busy trading points with booming tourism. "To preserve the soul of the city, we attach special importance to keeping waves of traders from entering the alleys," Trung said. "Streets without motor vehicles were moves to keep that soul."

"We believe that locals and tourists comprehend the spiritual value of each alley they are living in or walking through."

Source: VNN/Travel

Recommendation in Hoi An, Vietnam:
- Hoi An Travel Guide: http://www.activetravelvietnam.com/city/hoian.html
- Hotels and Resort in Hoi An: http://www.activetravelshop.com/?name=product&op=listProducts&subcat=HoiAnHotels
- Biking Ho Chi Minh Trail: http://www.activetravelvietnam.com/tour.php?op=detail&tourId=65