Dong Van Karst Plateau

With its earth heritage and unique culture of ethnic minority groups, the Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang province is one of the most spectacular destinations in Vietnam. Located deep inside the Plateau, Meo Vac district is almost untouched and favored by adventurists.

VOV.VN – With its earth heritage and unique culture of ethnic minority groups, the Dong Van Karst Plateau in Ha Giang province is one of the most spectacular destinations in Vietnam. Located deep inside the Plateau, Meo Vac district is almost untouched and favored by adventurists. From Ha Giang province, tourists take the national highway 4C for 43 kilometers to reach Quan Ba district.   

Passing over the bumpy Can Ty pass and through pine forests and round zigzagging roads, tourists will arrive in Dong Van Karst Plateau. Sitting 1,600 meters above sea level and covering 2,530 square kilometers, the Plateau shows the typical signs of the development of the earth’s crust. 80% of the plateau is open-cast lime. Dong Van is home to 139 geological heritages, of which 15 are international, 68 are national and 56 are local. In the area’s stone sediments, bio-archeologists have found many fossils which have preserved the history of the plateau in Dong Van in particular and Vietnam’s northeastern region.

Geological diversity and climate shifts over millions of years have created diverse and spectacular rock gardens and rock forests like the Khau Vai rock garden in Meo Vac district which have flower-shaped, bud-shaped, dragon-shaped, and tiger-shaped rocks among many others. There are several rock stacks that look like thousands of seabirds relaxing on the beach. In between the rock, gardens are high mountains and steep hills that make the karst plateau more spectacular.

Geologist Ho Tien Trung said, “According to the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, and studies of Belgian speleologists, in this region, there are many important findings including the cave system. The discovery of thousands of meters of caves is significant to research and tourism development.” In the Dong Van Karst Plateau, Meo Vac is the most undeveloped area. Until 1965, there was only a small path leading to the township.

Now, a new path winding around the mountainside has been paved to traverse the Ma Pi Leng pass with the steep rocky mountain on one side and the peaceful Nho Que River on the other. The rocky outcrops, small waterfalls, terraced fields, and small thatched houses nestled behind rock walls and peach gardens create a stunningly picturesque landscape. Ma Pi Leng is a must-stop for tourists to the Dong Van Karst Plateau.

Tran Thanh Hoang, a guide in Ha Giang, said, “Tourists call Ma Pi Leng one of the 4 top passes in Vietnam’s northwest. Though it’s shorter than other passes, it’s the most difficult one. In the ethnic minority language, Pi Leng means nose bone which is straight and high. Previously, it was too high for a horse to climb up. Now, the road to the pass has been upgraded to become more level. The work was contributed to by the great efforts of many people. President Ho Chi Minh named it the Happiness Road in the hope that the road would bring happiness to the locals.”

In recent years, Meo Vac district has focused on promoting the development of culture-tourism, especially since the Dong Van Karst Plateau was recognized as a Global GeoPark in 2013. The local infrastructure has been upgraded to make traveling to the district easier. Many local festivals like the Khau Vai Love Market festival, buckwheat flower festival, Gau Tao festival of the Mong, Rain Praying festival of the Lo Lo, Long Tong festival of the Tay, Cap Sac festival of the Dao, and New Year Celebration of the Giay have been revived. The diverse festivals of the locals and the spectacular landscapes have drawn both Vietnamese and foreign tourists to Dong Van and Meo Vac. 

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Phan Thiet Phu Quy high speet boat

Superdong, a high-speed boat operating on the Phan Thiet - Phu Quy route, officially opened at the Phan Thiet Port, in the central province of Binh Thuan, on June 21.

PHAN THIET PHU QUY HIGH SPEED BOAT/NDO – Superdong, a high-speed boat operating on the Phan Thiet – Phu Quy route, officially opened at the Phan Thiet Port, in the central province of Binh Thuan, on June 21. The boat is operated by the Superdong – Kien Giang Speedboat Corporation with a total investment of US$2 million. All of the cabins are equipped with air-conditioners, comfortable seats, LCD TV’s, toilets and a VIP cabin, with music and a movie system.  

Ticket prices per passenger are VND350,000 each, VND250,000 for children, and VND260,000VND for people with disabilities. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Vice Chairman of the Binh Thuan provincial People’s Committee, Pham Van Nam, emphasized that the launch of the high-speed boat on the Phan Thiet – Phu Quy route not only helps to shorten the time travel between the mainland and the island but also contributes to the local socio-economic development. It is also expected to help Phu Quy island to soon become a popular tourist destination and a fishery logistics center, he added.

Phu Quy Island is located in the middle of the East Sea. It is surrounded by white sandy beaches and nine other isles. The island covers an area of 18 square kilometers and has a population of over 27,000. It is also an important in-between logistical destination linking the mainland with the Truong Sa archipelago. Roughly 56 nautical miles from Phan Thiet city and near the coastal provinces of Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, the island has huge potential for developing sea and island-based tourism, especially resorts, and ecological and adventure tours.

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New rail routes

The provincial people committee of Lam Dong has approved to upgrade the local transportation system, which is expected to complete in between 2020 and 2030.
NEW RAIL ROUTES. The provincial people committee of Lam Dong has approved to upgrade the local transportation system, which is expected to complete in between 2020 and 2030. Dalat City is developing 6 city monorail routes with the main purpose to support the traveling demand of tourists in Dalat. The main station of this new monorail system is located in the center of Dalat City which helps to connect Dalat with several tourist attractions such as Suoi Vang, Tuyen Lam Lake, Love Valley, Tung Lam Junction, Lien Khuong Airport and Langbian highland. Besides new monorail routes, Dalat also focuses on re-building the old railroad. One of the most important routes in Cham Temple – Dalat, which is 84km in length that leads through impressive mountain passes. However, this route may only serve tourists with 7 km only at the current state. Read more: Dalat City. Lam Dong. Clay Tunnel: Dalat Clay Tunnel

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Hanoi launches double story tour buses

Hanoi’s first “Hop on – Hop off” buses were launched on May 30 to serve tourists in exploring the capital city, aiming to create a highlight in local tourism in this summer.

Hanoi launches double story tour buses: Hanoi’s first “Hop on – Hop off” buses were launched on May 30 to serve tourists in exploring the capital city, aiming to create a highlight in local tourism this summer. According to Deputy Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Transportation Service Corporation Nguyen Cong Nhat, the Hanoi city tour Hop on – Hop off using the roofless buses gives visitors a view of the city from the above. The “Hop on-Hop off” bus service designed by Hanoitourist travel company aims to offer tourists a new and more convenient way to explore Hanoi’s tourist attractions.  

Each bus has 80 seats and is equipped with modern technology, including the GPS system, free Wifi, USB gates, refrigerator, a TV screen and safety cameras. An automatic narration system in various languages such as English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean is also installed in the buses, giving visitors an overall insight of over 30 most typical tourist attractions of the city. As one of the first visitors using the service, Dac Luong from Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi said that the service gives visitors a convenient tour through various streets.

Route 01 departs from the Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square near Hoan Kiem Lake, passing Le Thai To – Trang Thi- Dien Bien Phu – Doc Lap – Hoang Van Thu – Hung Vuong – Thanh Nien – Yen Phu – Thanh Nien – Hung Vuong – Phan Dinh Phung – Hoang Dieu – Le Hong Phong – Hung Vuong – Nguyen Thai Hoc – Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam – Ton Duc Thang – Nguyen Thai Hoc – Cua Nam – Phan Boi Chau – Ly Thuong Kiet – Phan Chu Trinh – Hai Ba Trung – Le Thanh Tong – Trang Tien – Dinh Tien Hoang and ends at the bus station (starting point).

In the weekend, as the pedestrian streets open, the route changes to Hanoi Opera House – Trang Tien – Ngo Quyen – Ly Thuong Kiet – Quang Trung – Trang Thi – Dien Bien Phu – Doc Lap – Hoang Van Thu – Hung Vuong – Thanh Nien – Yen Phu – Thanh Nien – Hung Vuong – Phan Dinh Phung – Hoang Dieu – Le Hong Phong – Hung Vuong – Nguyen Thai Hoc – Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam – Ton Duc Thang – Nguyen Thai Hoc – Cua Nam-Phan Boi Chau – Ly Thuong Kiet – Phan Chu Trinh – Hai Ba Trung – Le Thanh Tong – Hanoi Opera House.

The operation time of the service is from 9:00 to 18:10. One bus will depart in every 30 minutes. Ticket price is 300,000 VND (13.2 USD) for a four-hour tour, 450,000 VND (19.8 USD) for 24 hours and 650,000 (28.6) for 48 hours.

According to Nguyen The Hung, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, last year, Hanoi served nearly 24 million visitors, up 9 percent over 2016. The municipal Department of Tourism predicted that in the first half of 2018, the growth in the number of tourists to the city will reach 24 percent.

As a regional and global attractive destination, Hanoi eyes to welcome 25.4 million tourists, including 5.5 million foreigners, this year.

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Da Nang summer travel programme

A series of 23 exciting events under the 2018 Da Nang Summer Destination programme, taking place from June 16 to 20, promises to give visitors a new and interesting experience in the coastal city this summer.

TA series of 23 exciting events under the 2018 Da Nang Summer Destination programme, taking place from June 16 to 20, promises to give visitors a new and interesting experience in the coastal city this summer.  

The Da Nang municipal Tourism Department announced the agenda for the annual summer travel stimulus programme on Thursday, aimed at attracting tourists to Da Nang. Accordingly, the opening ceremony for the 2018 Da Nang Summer Destination will take place at Bien Dong (East Sea) Park on June 16, featuring a series of attractive art performances in parallel with music programmes, street festivals, and cuisine events.

A yoga festival will also be held on Da Nang’s beaches, offering visitors the chance to practice yoga with professional instructors. Cinema shows at sea will feature a series of free films on the theme of Viet Nam and its tourism, including the Kong: Skull Island, a critical and commercial success which was filmed at various locations around Viet Nam.

Both visitors and Da Nang locals will have the chance to enjoy activities throughout the programme, such as decorating and arranging coracles, joining coracle racing and singing.

A new feature for this year’s event is “awakening” the tourism potential of the beach along Nguyen Tat Thanh Street with many meaningful activities, such as a festival exchanging garbage for notebooks, Bai Choi folk singing, and cultural exchange programmes.

According to Ngo Quang Vinh, Head of Da Nang Tourism Department, this is the first time the department has coordinated with local businesses and tour operators to promote Da Nang’s tourism products.

The 2018 summer holiday festival with its many innovations will contribute to the creation of recreational activities serving tourists and promote marine tourism products in Da Nang, helping turn it into a city of events and festivals, Vinh added.

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Mausoleum closes for maintenance

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important landmark of Ha Noi capital city and stands integrated to the political and social history of Viet Nam.
MAUSOLEUM CLOSES FOR MAINTENANCE. The President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi will be closed to visitors for maintenance from June 15 to August 15, according to the mausoleum’s Management Board. The sites will resume operation from August 16, said the statement. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is an important landmark of Ha Noi capital city and stands integrated to the political and social history of Viet Nam. After his death on September 2, 1969, President Ho Chi Minh was embalmed and put for view in this granite mausoleum. The mausoleum, modeled after Lenin’s tomb in Moscow, was built in two years, from 1973 to 1975, with materials donated by people from all over the country. The mausoleum welcomed nearly 51,000 visitors, including 11,500 foreigners during holidays in celebration of the 43rd National Reunification Day (April 30) and International Workers’ Day (May 1) this year. Services: Vietnam visa approval letter

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Can Tho-Bangkok direct air route

WorldTrans will cooperate with domestic travel companies to operate charter flights between the Vietnamese and Thai cities. The first flight carrying 180 passengers departed from Can Tho to Bangkok on June 6 morning by Airbus 320 of Thai Vietjet Air, a Thai low-cost airline and an associate company of Vietjet Air.

Can ThoBangkok direct air route launched: The World Transportation Services Joint Stock Company (WorldTrans) on June 6 launched a direct air route between Can Tho city (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand) at Can Tho International Airport. WorldTrans will cooperate with domestic travel companies to operate charter flights between the Vietnamese and Thai cities. The first flight carrying 180 passengers departed from Can Tho to Bangkok on June 6 morning by Airbus 320 of Thai Vietjet Air, a Thai low-cost airline and an associate company of Vietjet Air.  

WorldTrans will operate 28 charter flights within three months from June to August 2018, serving about 5,000 passengers. The direct flight from Can Tho to Bangkok starts at 9:05 am, and vice versa 7:00 am. The flight duration is one hour and 25 minutes. To date, WorldTrans has sold out 5,000 air tickets. WorldTrans General Director Vu Duc Bien said after three months of operation, WorldTrans will study the possibility of maintaining the air route until the end of this year and have a new plan for 2019.

Apart from this air route, WorldTrans aims to operate 100 charter flights from Can Tho and other Vietnamese cities and provinces to Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, and other Asian countries. According to the municipal People’s Committee, the traveling demand in Can Tho and the Mekong Delta, in general, is increasing. The launching of the Can Tho-Bangkok air route will open up new opportunities for the tourism sector in the Mekong Delta city to prosper.

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Dalat model village

The clay tunnel or Dalat model village of clay sculptures is a must-see destination

The clay tunnel or Dalat model village of clay sculptures is a must-see destination. Covering more than 1,200 square meters of lush pine forest, the clay tunnel is a new artificial wonder for Dalat city in the central highland province of Lam Dong. The clay tunnel located in the middle of the pine forest and it’s a miniature version of Dalat city, includes unique architectural masterpieces such as the railway station, Bao Dai’s Palace, Pasteur Institute, Dalat University, Palace Hotel, Linh Son Pagoda, Ho Xuan Huong Lake, and Dalat market are meticulously reproduced with red clay.

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Dalat – A Miracle Night

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HCMC keen on developing shopping tourism

HCM City has become a veritable shopping mecca, but experts say that tourist spending remains at a low level. Traditional markets such as Ben Thanh, Binh Tay, An Dong Plaza and Saigon Square as well as luxury department stores Takashimaya, Vincom Centre, Parkson and Diamond Plaza can be conveniently reached by different means of transport or on foot from the city’s centre.

HCM City keen on developing shopping tourism: As the country’s economic hub and tourism magnet with name-brand boutiques and a wide variety of local and foreign goods, HCM City has become a veritable shopping mecca, but experts say that tourist spending remains at a low level. Traditional markets such as Ben Thanh, Binh Tay, An Dong Plaza and Saigon Square as well as luxury department stores Takashimaya, Vincom Centre, Parkson, and Diamond Plaza can be conveniently reached by different means of transport or on foot from the city’s center.  

While a wide array of international brands and renowned local designs can be bought at many of these sites, the city also has many streets that specialize in selling paintings, fabric, antiques, jewelry or traditional medicine in or near the downtown area. Because of the wide variety of Vietnamese-made products and souvenirs, wandering around downtown is a must-do experience, especially for foreign tourists, according to Nguyen The Trung, a tour guide of Transviet Tour Company.

The famous Ben Thanh market, located in an easily accessible central location, is open all day and night, offering a taste of local lifestyles. It offers clothing, footwear and textiles as well as brocade, jewelry, and special local dishes, among countless other items. However, prices at Ben Thanh Market and the discount shopping mall called Saigon Square can be inflated and tourists are urged to bargain up to 50 percent under the ticketed price.

“I visited Ben Thanh market one time, and bought nothing,” said Alexander Markos Kennedy, who has worked in HCM City for five years. “It’s exciting to look around inside the market, but it’s not a good place for shopping as you have to bargain and the quality of products is not good. I just wandered around some streets and visited stores in the city center. I finally bought two cups with photos of Ha Noi, and some T-shirts, paintings and jewelry boxes at different stores to take home. The items were inexpensive, lightweight and easily portable for his flight back to the US, he said.

Many souvenirs shops and stores providing these kinds of products, however, had failed to satisfy tourists’ shopping needs and tastes, Trung said, adding that handmade embroidery, silk fabric, clothes, handicrafts, lacquerware, tea, and coffee were all popular tourist purchases. Tran Van Long, general director of Viet Media Travel Corporation, said that foreign tourists’ length of stay in HCM City averaged only 2.6 days but could be longer if shopping was promoted. Because of its many shopping centers and premium stores, the city should develop specific plans to promote the city as a shopping destination for tourists, according to Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman and general director of Vietravel. Pedestrianized streets such as Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao in the popular backpacker and budget area of HCM City’s District 1 should have more stores and entertainment services for tourists, he said. Nighttime activities for tourists, including entertainment shows and leisure activities as well as shopping hours between 6pm and 2am, could result in a huge volume of revenue for the tourism sector, according to Ky.

Most tourism services now operate from 7am to 5pm, even though most tourism revenue is gained by nighttime services and activities. Vietnamese tourists often travel to Thailand not just for beautiful landscapes or historic sites but also for shopping and entertainment services. Nguyen Dinh Quang, the operation supervisor at Indochina Tourist & Trade Co., Ltd, said the city should develop shopping complexes for tourists that would offer a wide range of products at reasonable prices and a guarantee of high quality.

“Overlapping products at different stores and poorly designed souvenirs are among the shortcomings,” he said, adding that product price and quality at markets and souvenir stores are not strictly supervised. “Counterfeit goods also flood the market and stores, causing concern among local and foreign tourists about the availability of genuine, high-quality products.” To prevent fraud, tourism authorities and market supervision agencies should strictly monitor markets and stores that attract many tourists, Quang said.

Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the city’s Department of Tourism, said the number of foreign tourists visiting HCM City in 2017 hit a record-high of 6.4 million, up 23 percent compared to the previous year. However, tourism receipts increased only 12.6 percent year-on-year to reach VND116 trillion ($5.11 billion), he said. “To encourage spending, the department plans to set up a shopping complex with authentic made-in-Viet Nam products with properly fixed prices to meet demand.” Only 60 stores and shopping centers had received certifications for quality standards issued by the Department of Tourism, he said, adding that the department planned to expand the number of certified stores. This year, the department would organize a contest on designing and producing souvenirs and gifts for tourists and would work with the Department of Industry and Trade to regularly hold sales programs for tourists.

Souvenir shopping is an integral component of the travel experience and contributes a significant proportion of overall travel expenditures, according to Pham Trung Luong, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Tourism Education Association under the Viet Nam Tourism Association. The country should develop shopping complexes geared toward tourists at popular destinations in the country, which would make it easier to manage prices and the quality of products.

The procedures to receive refunds on value-added tax (VAT) for foreign tourists should also be simplified, he said. As of the end of last year, only 573 stores of 77 enterprises were taking part in the VAT refund program, according to the city’s Department of Tourism. Economist Dinh The Hien said that many foreigners were unaware of Viet Nam’s VAT refund policy. “VAT refunds are more common and more easily secured in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan among other countries,” he said.

Le Tuan Binh, deputy director of the customs department of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, said that VAT refunds processed daily at the airport amounted to only VND100 million ($4,400), reflecting low demand. The electronic data connection between stores, customs agencies and banks should be improved to facilitate VAT refunds and purchases, Binh said.

Kenneth Atkinson, executive chairman of the accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton Vietnam, said the low amount of tourist spending was not only an issue in HCM City but also in other destinations in the country. More visitors are coming from mainland China, Russia and Taiwan and other countries, but they spend less than $860 (2016 data), while visitors from Europe and North America spend an average $1,400 to $1,600. Under a new government resolution, the country aims to have by 2020 18.5 million visitors and US$20 billion in spending by international tourists for leisure and business travel, Atkinson added.

These figures would gradually increase average direct visitor spending to $1,080 from the current $860, but it would entail changing the mix of visitors and attracting more tourists from developed countries. To accomplish these goals, there should be changes in policies on destination marketing, improved visa facilitation, visa exemptions for more countries, and expansion of the e-visa program, he said. Extending visa exemptions to 30 days and offering a one-visa policy for the four countries in Indochina (Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar), as well as more targeted marketing of destinations, would all contribute to a higher number of tourists and spending, according to Atkinson.

Source: http://bizhub.vn
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Ly Son Island night market

Ly Son Island have new night market

The island district of Ly Son, 30km off the coast of the central province of Quang Ngai, opened a night market for tourists on the island in May. According to Vice-chairwoman of the district’s People’s Committee, the night market located in front of Muong Thanh Ly Son Hotel in An Vinh commune. Huong said the market, which will run from 6pm until 10:30pm daily, will host 40 pavilions selling souvenirs, dried seafood and specialties of the island as well as an entertainment center. She said a lack of night entertainment and shopping service has hampered tourist attraction.  

Last year, Ly Son island and An Binh islet hosted more than 200,000 tourists. The island has 18 hotels, guesthouses and homestays providing accommodation for 1,000 tourists at present. The islanders of Ly Son offer local cuisine and garlic and onion farming experiences for tourists during a sea trip from Sa Ky port in summer. Ly Son and a vast coastal area of Binh Son district may receive Global Geo-Park recognition from UNESCO. It has been well-known as the ‘King of Garlic’ in Vietnam with 21,000 inhabitants, most of whom make their living from farming garlic and spring onions and fishing.

According to archaeologists, Ly Son Island is a dormant volcano. The terrain of the island was created from eruptions 25 to 30 million years ago, leaving landscapes with rocks, caves, cliffs, rock arches and a lake.

The island has abundant relics related to the Sa Huynh, Champa and Dai Viet (or Great Viet) cultures that existed on the island for thousands of years. Islanders still preserve the annual Hoang Sa festival to pay tributes to local men who enlisted in the Hoang Sa flotilla hundreds of years ago.

The flotilla was set up under the Nguyen dynasty to patrol the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos and salvage goods from wrecks, catch fish and maintain a Vietnamese presence in the area. The festival, which includes a requiem for those who had died on the sea patrol missions, a procession of four supernatural creatures and the release of lanterns, has been recognized as the National Intangible Heritage.”

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