Hue in vietnam, Vietnam explorer: August 2011

Turkish Airlines flies to HCMC daily

 July 20, 2011
Turkish Airlines has increased the number of its services to HCMC to seven a week just a half year after the launch of its flights from the Thai capital of Bangkok to the southern economic hub of Vietnam.
The carrier in HCMC told the Daily on the phone on Monday that it had added three more weekly flights to make its service daily from July. The airline still operates the Airbus A340 airplane configured with 270 seats, including 34 Business-class seats.
Turkish Airlines said it was cooperating with Vietnam Airlines for Hanoi-Bangkok service, giving those passengers departing from Hanoi an opportunity to enplane the flight operated by Turkey’s airline from Bangkok to Istanbul and beyond.
Previously, Turkish Airlines flew to and from Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and passengers who wanted to travel from HCMC to Istanbul on the other days had to board the flights of Vietnam’s carrier and other airlines to Bangkok.
Turkish Airlines added flights to the HCMC-Bangkok route in anticipation of rising demand of both leisure and business passengers for travel between Turkey and Vietnam, as their relations, especially trade, have grown significantly.
The two countries are looking to take their two-way trade to US$1 billion this year and a double trade expansion by 2012 from more than US$600 million in 2009.
Huong Giang Travel, the general sales agent of Turkish Airlines in Vietnam, is working with its partners to offer more packages to the Vietnamese market. The company has a nine-day tour to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Grand Bazaar and other sites of interest in Turkey, with cost from US$2,479.
The local travel firm has launched a three-day free-and-easy tour to Bangkok from US$165 per person, including a return trip on Turkish Airlines. In Bangkok, this airline is allowed to let passengers embark and disembark its aircraft as a result of the fifth freedom granted by aviation authorities of Thailand and Vietnam.
Source: The Saigon times

Quality Tours for Discount Prices

 July 20, 2011
The Saigontourist IKO Travel brand has offered economy tours in Vietnam in 2008. Since then the tours have drawn the attention and have been chosen by many visitors especially in the context of increasing inflation. The adoption of IKO travel in Vietnam has created a new way to enjoy travel for visitors with the motto "everybody can travel".
Doan Thi Thanh Tra, the head of Saigontourist's marketing office said that economy tours are drawing the attention of numerous visitors especially students and teachers because the price of these economy tours are usually cheaper than normal tours (about VND500,000/person). Currently, Saigontourist is offering economy tours to Da Lat, Nha Trang and Phan Thiet. Economy tours are different from cheap tours because the tour quality, sightseeing, food and accommodation are similar to normal tours.
Saigontourist has developed the content of these economy tours based on the departure time of tours and their close relationships with its partners including restaurants, hotels and airports.
Saigontourist is not the only company that has taken the initiative by offering economy tours. Vietravel is also offering attractive economy tours. Several popular tours include the four day Hong Kong Disneyland Wax Museum tour for just VND11.79 million/person, a VND2.2 million discount against normal price; an eight day tour to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra for VND49.99 million (a US$200 discount against normal price); a seven day tour to Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka for VND44.99 million (VND8 million discount against listed price).
Pham Anh Vu, the head of product development for Vietravel said the company had successfully implemented the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism's stimulus program with its attractive economy tours. The price of almost all inbound tours has dropped by 35-50 percent while outbound tours have decreased by US$30-100. Tour quality has been maintained. Most clients are concerned that cheaper tours will mean poorer quality. Therefore, they are very interested in the quality and content of tours. To diversify their content, the company has taken the initiative in adding special attractions to the tours.
To meet the increasing demand of families and groups of 6-10 people and to increase the quality of economy tours, many travel agents have paid attention to consulting visitors about hotels, transport vehicles or develop tours for them.
The representative of Vietravel said that the company has coordinated closely with its partners including restaurants, hotels and airports to offer special prices for visitors who participate in the company's promotion program for attractive economy tours while ensuring tour quality.
Economy tours have drawn the attention of clients in an unstable market. Receiving a strong response from clients, economy tours are expected to generate considerable income for the country's tourism sector./.
Source: VEN

Hanoi Welcomes More Foreign Tourists

 July 20, 2011
Specifically, the number of tourists from China grew 38 percent, from Australia up 26 percent and from Japan up 16 percent. Mai Tien Dung, the deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that the exact number of foreign tourists to Vietnam in the first six months of 2011 might be nearly one million.
He explained that the number of 650,000 foreign tourists to Hanoi in the first half of 2010 was given by the Immigration Management Office (PA18) of the Hanoi Police. In fact, PA18 does not have statistics on a certain number of foreign tourists who did not register their short stay in Hanoi. Those tourists came to Hai Phong, Quang Ninh by sea, then took a tour around Hanoi for several days and then came back to Hai Phong, Quang Ninh. Unregistered tourists also included Chinese tourists who entered Vietnam via northern border-crossings and took a sightseeing tour around Hanoi within one day and then went to Quang Ninh, Hai Phong. Unregistered tourists accounted for almost a half of the PA18-given number of foreign tourists to Hanoi in the first six months of 2011.
Such a strong increase in the number of foreign tourists to Hanoi is attributed to many reasons. Specifically, the image of Hanoi's tourism has been advertised widely in major markets; the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long - Hanoi has been a success making the capital more attractive to millions of people throughout the world; tourist products of Hanoi have been diversified and improved in quality; the tourism infrastructure of the capital has been upgraded; and human resources of the tourism sector are improving.
The tourism sector of Hanoi has set targets to receive 1.75 million foreign tourists and 11.5 million domestic visitors in 2011, 1.8-2 million foreign tourists and 11.8-12 million domestic visitors by 2015.
To achieve the above targets, Mai Tien Dung said that in the time to come Hanoi will have to make the most of its natural resources and bring into play its cultural and historical values so as to create distinctive tourist products of the capital. In addition, special attention must be paid to combining tourism development and protection of natural resources and the environment as well as efforts to improve the quality of tourist products and services and develop human resources.
To boost tourism development, Hanoi will seek approval for its tourism development plan to 2020 with a vision towards 2030. A plan will be made to develop eco-tourist sites. The transport network will be upgraded to better serve tourist needs. The Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue to promote homestay tours to Ba Vi as well as the tours to some cultural heritage sites, craft villages and places which are famous for special kinds of food in the capital.
The Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism will concentrate on promoting tours to cultural and historical sites such as Thang Long Royal Citadel, Giong Temple, Temple of Literature, Hanoi Museum, Ngoc Son Temple, Huong Pagoda, Thay Pagoda, Tay Phuong Pagoda, Duong Lam Old Village, Dong Ngac Village, Bat Trang Village, Van Phuc Village and some other traditional craft villages. At the same time, the department will coordinate with tourist sites to organize tour guide training courses. It will also cooperate with the Hanoi Department of Transport and travel companies to provide training for drivers. Such efforts are hoped to make Hanoi nicer and more attractive in the eyes of both domestic and foreign tourists.

Vietnam Tourism Ranks Fourth in Asia

 July 20, 2011
Vietnam's tourism sector is expected to welcome 12 million foreign visitors and 28 million domestic guests earning US$9 billion in revenue in 2015. Vietnam targets to rank fourth among Asian countries and territories in terms of tourism, after Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
In 2010, Vietnam attracted more than five million foreign visitors, 15 percent more than 2009 and ranking fourth among countries and territories worldwide.
Professor Frederic Jallat from the European School of Management (ESCP Europe) assessed that increases in the number of visitors to Vietnam is attributed to the improved Asian economic context (the number of tourists coming to Vietnam from Cambodia, China, Thailand and the Republic of Korea hit record high), results of efforts that Vietnamese authorities made over the past 10 years, Vietnam's progress, and outstanding cultural events like the 1,000th Thang Long - Hanoi Anniversary and others that all made Vietnam become an attractive destination for visitors worldwide.
The professor said that Vietnam is a leading country in tourist attraction and that the country is becoming more and more attractive for visitors. To reach its targets and develop a professional tourism industry, Vietnam needs to combine marketing with production and workforce development, further promote communications activities, increase the local content of tourist services, set quality standards, and implement communications strategies to stimulate service purchase and establish networks of loyal customers.
He confided that France, a world-leading tourist destination that welcomed almost 80 million foreign visitors in 2010, has succeeded because the French government and related authorities have systematical and neat tourist service marketing and management policies and have been very well performing tourism management for almost 50 years. France's tourist service marketing and management industry has recently continued benefiting from idea development and important management.
Many experts think that Vietnam has reasons to succeed in tourism. Vietnam has world famous historical and cultural relic sites, attractive cities (including the old capital of Hue in Thua Thien Hue Province and the old town of Hoi An in Quang Nam Province that all have been recognized as the world's heritages by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - UNESCO), six biological reserves, and Ha Long Bay and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park that have been certified as the world's heritages. Vietnam ranks 16th among countries and territories worldwide in terms of biodiversity and is home to 16 percent of all biological species worldwide. Apart from sea-related tours, cultural tours, eco-tours and sports-related tours are developing well here in Vietnam. Lao Cai, Yen Bai and Phu Tho provinces in the northern country are centers of cultural tour development. Recently, Lonely Planet, a tourism magazine, ranked Sa Pa town in Lao Cai Province among the world's 10 most attractive places to walk.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) is implementing a strategy for tourism development to 2020. Many cooperative projects were signed. Fourteen French projects totaling US$188 million in capital were discussed on the occasion of Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh's visit to Paris in France in May 2011.

Fight to save soul music of Ba Na

 July 20, 2011
Dinh Di, 80, an elder of the ethnic Ba Na group, has spent nearly all his life repairing and tuning gongs for villages in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.
The gong playing tradition was recognised as a piece of "Mankind's Intangible Heritage" by the United Nations Education Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
People in Lot, the name of his village in K'Bang District, respect him as an artisan for helping preserve "the soul of gongs".
"At the age of 25, I was aware that it was up to me to keep the art – and sounds – alive. I went out of my way to meet elderly artisans Dinh Sinh and Dinh Tik in Dac Doa District to learn how to correct and improve the sounds," said Di.
Thanks to his hard work and passion, Di quickly learned how to correct the sound of each gong set.
During the French and American wars, many gongs in K'Bang District were lost. After the South's liberation in 1975, most gongs belonging to the Ba Na people were damaged or broken, making it difficult to use them in traditional festivals.
"The situation made me very sad, so I became determined to spend time and efforts to collect and correct gongs kept among villagers," said Di.
Sometimes he would spend several weeks correcting and tuning a large gong set.
Elderly villager Dinh Ly said thanks to Di's efforts, locals now had many repaired and corrected gong sets for rice festivals and many other ceremonies.
Di's reputation has spread to the neighbouring provinces of Kon Tum and Binh Dinh where people often invite him to their homes to repair their gongs.
"Sometimes I travel as far as 200-300km to repair gongs for needy ethnic groups whose festivals are approaching because festivals cannot operate without gongs," said Di.
Di said K'Bang District had about 1,000 gong sets, including 50 ancient ones.
"But the entire district has only six elderly artisans remaining. I am worried that very few young people are interested in learning the art. What will happen when we all die," said Di.
He proposed that the District People's Committee should train artisans to keep the art alive. Gongs are considered the soul of the Ba Na group.
Vietnam's cong-chieng (gong) culture in the Central Highlands was recognised as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in October 2005.
Gongs of the Central Highlands come in a variety of shapes and sizes: cong have a "nipple" and produce a single, uniform sound, while chieng are flat and offer a wider range of notes.
Different sizes are characterised by family names: Mother, Father and Older Sister. Gongs can be drummed by hand or with a cloth-covered stick.
Central Highlands gongs are not only musical, but also serve a cultural function for about 20 ethnic groups as they herald life changes.

A pagoda on top of Ba Na Mountain

 July 21, 2011
A tour of the top of Ba Na Mountain in the central coast city of Danang is never complete without a walk around the Linh Ung-Ba Na Pagoda.
This is one of the three Linh Ung pagodas in Danang with the other two being Linh Ung-Bai But on Son Tra Peninsula and Linh Ung-Non Nuoc on Marble Mountains.
Linh Ung-Ba Na is the highest pagoda among the three as it is located at around 1,500 meters above sea level.
The pagoda is part of the Ba Na Hills ecological resort complex on top of Ba Na Mountain. It is a real challenge to walk up a very steep road to the pagoda from the Gare De Bay transit terminal where visitors take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain after going halfway to the peak. Don’t worry about that as vans are available for those who are not ready for a workout.
The pagoda is an excellent place where visitors can take a good look at the French-style mansion of the Gare De Bay terminal nestled in the jungle and looking just like a European castle as described in a fairy tale. Standing there, visitors can also have a bird’s-eye view of the jungle and the city below.
What’s more striking about the pagoda is the 27-meter-high white Sakyamuni Buddha Statue with the octagonal base having a story about the eight stages of the Buddha’s life.
Just around 40km west of downtown Danang, the Ba Na Mountain and especially the Linh Ung-Ba Na Pagoda should be given a try when you are in Danang.

Source: The Saigon times

Air Mekong customers can pay at VNPost

 July 21, 2011
Air Mekong will allow customers to pay at more than 18,000 post offices of Vietnam Post Corp. (VNPost) around the country for air-tickets booked at or the private carrier’s call centers in HCMC and Hanoi.
Customers have to write down their booking code in the payment form at any of the post offices and pay cash. Staff at the post offices will verify relevant information before issuing a receipt.
To boost bookings Air Mekong will knock off VND50,000 (around US$2.5) for each air-ticket paid for at the corporation’s post offices nationwide in August.
Air Mekong operates more than 30 daily flights between HCMC and Hanoi, and from these cities to Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Pleiku, Dalat and Buon Ma Thuot.

Source: The Saigon times

Preserving values of Tay ethnic folklore

 July 21, 2011
The northern mountainous Bac Kan provincial Department of Information and Communications has held a seminar on preserving traditional values of folks of Tay ethnic minority groups in the province.
Participants said that Tay ethnic folks in the province have created great spiritual values and played an important role in daily life of the group in the province. Performances, festivals and contests have been held in the provinces to preserve and promote this traditional art.
At the seminar, participants also discussed the preservation of this art and give proposals to improve.

Source: CPV

VNAT welcomes the Fam trip of Sydney travel agents to Vietnam

VNAT welcomes the Fam trip of Sydney travel agents to Vietnam

 July 29, 2011
On July, 22 2011, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism warmly welcomed representatives of  travel agents from Sydney (Australia) who made a famtrip to learn about Vietnam tourism potentials.                                               
The trip lasted from 22nd to 26th July 2011 via renowned destinations as Hanoi – Ha Long Bay and Ho Chi Minh City.
Asia Explorer Travel- an international tour operator was chosen to organize the programme.
The famtrip visited many famous spots, destinations, historic relic sites including Ha Noi ancient town, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem lake (Ha Noi), Sung Sot cave, Ti Top beach, fishing village (Ha Long bay), Thong Nhat Palace, Ben Thanh market, Central Post office , Cu Chi tunnel (Ho Chi Minh city).
Through the famtrip, Australian travel agents had a chance to study Vietnam tourism insightfully and continue to promote and bring more Australian tourists and investors to Vietnam.
During first 7 months of 2011, Vietnam greeted 170,805 arrivals from Australia which is considered one of top ten leading markets of Vietnam tourism.

Hanoi museum to display thousand-year-old jades

 August 1, 2011
An exhibition of historical jade statues will open in Hanoi on August 2.
The collection, entitled Vietnamese Antique Jade, includes more than 140 items, some of which are over a thousand years old. 
They include jewelry, tools, royal seals, Buddha statues, swords and paintings studded with gems. 
According to Dr. Nguyen Dinh Chien, the museum's assistant director, the items were part of collection owned by the Louis Finot Museum before 1954. 
Many came from the the royal treasure of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam's last monarchy. Vietnam’s last royal family handed the artifacts to the Vietnamese government in 1945. 
The exhibition, however, is only a small part of the large collection that includes thousands of artifacts collected by the museum, said Chien at a conference held at the museum on July 25. 
The rest of the museum’s collection will also soon be on display at the site, located at 1 Trang Tien Street.
Source: Thanh Nien News

Binh Thuan approves Royal Hill Resort

 August 1, 2011
Local authorities in Binh Thuan Province have approved the development of Royal Hill Resort project.
Invested by Rang Dong Joint Stock Company, the project will be built on the sand dunes in Phu Hai and Ham Tien wards in Phan Thiet City. It will cover 130,914 square meters, of which 28,221 sqm is for construction and 79,920 sqm for trees, water and traffic and 22,773 sqm for infrastructure facilities.
The luxury resort will have restaurants, tourism service center and accessory areas. The project will start later this year.

Source: The Saigon times