Friday, August 30, 2013

Vietnam overview

History Vietnam
Vietnam's history is one of war, colonisation and rebellion. Occupied by China no fewer than four times, the Vietnamese managed to fight off the invaders just as often. Even during the periods in history when Vietnam was independent, it was mostly a tributary state to China until the French colonisation. Vietnam's last emperors were the Nguyễn Dynasty, who ruled from their capital at Hue from 1802 to 1945, although France exploited the succession crisis after the fall of Tự Đức to de facto colonise Vietnam after 1884. Both the Chinese occupation and French colonisation have left a lasting impact on Vietnamese culture, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese social etiquette, and the French leaving a lasting imprint on Vietnamese cuisine.

Halong Bay - Vietnam (Pic:

After a brief Japanese occupation in World War II, the Communist Viet Minh under the leadership of Hồ Chí Minh continued the insurgency against the French, with the last Emperor Bao Dai abdicating in 1945 and a proclamation of independence following soon after. The majority of French had left by 1945, but in 1946 they returned to continue the fight until their decisive defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Geneva Conference partitioned the country into two at 17th parallel, with a Communist-led North and Ngo Dinh Diem declaring himself President of the Republic of Vietnam in the South.

The tank that ended the war, Ho Chi Minh City
US economic and military aid to South Vietnam grew through the 1960s in an attempt to bolster the Southern Vietnam government, escalating into the dispatch of 500,000 American troops in 1966 and what became known as the Vietnam War - although the Vietnamese refer to it as the American War. What was supposed to be a quick and decisive action soon degenerated into a quagmire, and U.S. armed forces were withdrawn following a cease-fire agreement in 1973. Two years later, on April 30, 1975, a North Vietnamese tank drove into the South's Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and the war ended. Over 55,000 Americans and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese were killed.

The American Vietnamese war was only one of many that the Vietnamese have fought, but it was the most brutal in its history. Over two thirds of the current population was born after 1975. American tourists will receive a particularly friendly welcome in Vietnam, as many young Vietnamese aspire to American culture.

Vietnam is a one party authoritarian state, with the President as the Head of State, and the Prime Minister as the Head of Government. The Vietnamese legislature is the unicameral National Assembly, from which the Prime Minister is selected. In practice, the President's position is only ceremonial, with the Prime Minister wielding the most authority in government.

Bustling central Hanoi

Economic reconstruction of the reunited country has proven difficult. After the failures of the state-run economy started to become apparent, the country launched a program of (renovation), introducing elements of capitalism. The policy has proved highly successful, with Vietnam recording near 10% growth yearly (except for a brief interruption during the Asian economic crisis of 1997). The economy is much stronger than those of Cambodia, Laos, and other neighboring developing countries. Like most Communist countries around the world, there is a fine balance between allowing foreign investors and opening up the market.

There are extreme restrictions on foreigners owning property or attempting to sell. It is very difficult for them to trade without negotiating 'fees'. Business can be done via local partnerships with all the attendant risks.

Power and services is another issue. There are often 'rolling blackouts' when there is not enough electricity at times. For this reason, many shops have portable generators.

According to government estimates Vietnam sees 3.3m tourist arrivals each year. Vietnam has a return rate of just 5% compared to Thailand’s whopping 50%.

Most people in Vietnam are ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh), though there is a sizable ethnic Chinese community in Ho Chi Minh City, most who are descended from migrants from Guangdong province and are hence bilingual in Cantonese or other Chinese dialects and Vietnamese. There are also numerous other ethnic groups who occupy the mountainous parts of the country, such as the Hmong, Muong and Dao people. Theres also a minority ethnic group in the lowlands near the border with Cambodia known as the Khmer Krom.

Buddhism is the single largest religion in Vietnam, with over 85% of Vietnamese people identifying themselves as Buddhist. Catholicism is the second largest religion, followed by the local Cao Dai religion. Other Christian denominations, Islam, and local religions also share small followings throughout the southern and central areas.

Culture Vietnam
Due to its long history as a tributary state of China, as well as several periods of Chinese occupations, Vietnamese

culture is heavily influenced by that of Southern China, with Confucianism forming the basis of Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese language also contains many loan words from Chinese, though the two languages are unrelated. Buddhism remains the single largest religion in Vietnam, though like in China but unlike in the rest of northern Southeast Asia,the dominant school of Buddhism in Vietnam is the Mahayana School.

Nevertheless, Vietnamese culture remains distinct from Chinese culture as it has also absorbed cultural elements from neighboring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and the Khmer empires. The French colonization has also left a lasting impact on Vietnamese society, with baguettes and coffee remaining popular among locals.

Climate Vietnam
Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones.
  • The South has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from March to May/June; rainy from June/July to November; and cool and dry from December to February. April is the hottest month, with mid-day temperatures of 33°C (91°F) or more most days. During the rainy season, downpours can happen every afternoon, and occasional street flooding occurs. Temperatures range from stifling hot before a rainstorm to pleasantly cool afterward. Mosquitoes are most numerous in the rainy season. December to February is the most pleasant time to visit, with cool evenings down to around 20°C (68°F).
  • The North has four distinct seasons, with a comparatively chilly winter (temperatures can dip below 15°C/59°F in Hanoi), a hot and wet summer and pleasant spring (March-April) and autumn (October-December) seasons. However, in the Highlands both extremes are amplified, with occasional snow in the winter and temperatures hitting 40°C (104°F) in the summer.
  • In the Central regions the Hai Van pass separates two different weather patterns of the North starting in Langco (which is hotter in summer and cooler in winter) from the milder conditions South starting in Danang. North East Monsoon conditions September - February with often strong winds, large sea swells and rain make this a miserable and difficult time to travel through Central Vietnam. Normally summers are hot and dry.

Vietnam Bank
Most of the banks in Vietnam are opened from 8AM to 3PM from Monday to Friday (closed on Saturdays and Sundays).Credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are available at 5 star hotels and in big cities like Hanoi, Haiphong, Hue, Danang and Ho Chi Minh city.

Vietnam Currency
Vietnamese currency is the Vietnam Dong. All kinds of papernotes which are in circulationhave the nominal values of 500,000; 200,000, 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000; 5,000; 2,000 dong. Types of coins are 5,000; 2,000; 1,000 dong. Foreign currencies and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at banks, hotels, international airports or at official currency exchange booths. The exchange rate between Vietnam Dong and US dollar is about 21,050 VND/USD (as of December 2011).

By far the largest holiday of the year is Tết, celebration of the New Year (as marked by the lunar calendar), which takes place between late January and March on the Western calendar. In the period leading up to Tết, the country is abuzz with preparations. Guys on motorbikes rush around delivering potted tangerine trees and flowering bushes, the traditional household decorations. People get a little bit stressed out and the elbows get sharper, especially in big cities, where the usual hectic level of traffic becomes almost homicidal. Then a few days before Tết the pace begins to slow down, as thousands of city residents depart for their ancestral home towns in the provinces. Finally on the first day of the new year an abrupt transformation occurs: the streets become quiet, almost deserted. Nearly all shops and restaurants close for three days, (the exception being a few that cater especially to foreign visitors; and hotels operate as usual.)

In the major cities, streets are decorated with lights and public festivities are organized which attract many thousands of residents. But for Vietnamese, Tết is mostly a private, family celebration. On the eve of the new year, families gather together and exchange good wishes (from more junior to more senior) and gifts of "lucky money" (from more senior to more junior). In the first three days of the year, the daytime hours are devoted to visiting -- houses of relatives on the first day, closest friends and important colleagues on the second day, and everyone else on the third day. Many people also visit pagodas. The evening hours are spent drinking and gambling (men) or chatting, playing, singing karaoke, and enjoying traditional snacks and candy (women and children.)

Visiting Vietnam during Tết has good points and bad points. On the minus side: modes of transport are jammed just before the holiday as many Vietnamese travel to their home towns; hotels fill up, especially in smaller towns; and your choice of shopping and dining is severely limited in the first days of the new year (with a few places closed up to two weeks). On the plus side, you can observe the preparations and enjoy the public festivities; pagodas are especially active; no admission is charged to those museums and historical sites that stay open; and the foreigner-oriented travel industry of backpacker buses and resort hotels chugs along as usual. Visitors also stand a chance of being invited to join the festivities, especially if you have some local connections or manage to make some Vietnamese friends during your stay. When visiting during Tết, it's wise to get settled somewhere at least two days before the new year, and don't try to move again until a couple of days after.

Lesser holidays include May 1, the traditional socialist labor day, September 2, Vietnam's national day, King Hung celebration on April 12th, commemorating past kings, and Liberation Day on April 30th, marking the fall of Saigon in 1975. Around those times, trains and planes tend to be sold out, and accommodations at the beach or in Dalat are hard to find. Best to book far in advance.

Source: Internet

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hello (Xin chào)

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Royal International Park in Halong

Hoang Gia international park (Royal Park) runs along Bai Chay Beach, from Bai Chay Wharf to Ha Long Night Market. It is a comprehensive resort totaling 10 ha. Restaurants in the park serve European, Chinese, and Vietnamese food and seafood.

You can enjoy yourself to the fullest with the entertainment and recreation services: 400 m artificial beach, bars and bathing services center, emergency station, park, garden of birds and orchids, archery grounds, cactus, sensation train, ghostly house, discotheque, karaoke bar, electronic car, art gallery, open-air stage, water puppetry and traditional music and singing; museum; quay for sight-seeing tours.

400 m from Bai Chay is Reu Islet, an attractive eco-tourist site with several kinds of rare birds and animals namely python, ostriches, dwarf horses, and fish, and ornamental trees.

It also provides a wide range of services such as restaurant and open-air bar, park, and canoes for cruising around.

Vietnam’s Cultural Theatre
You will have a chance to enjoy Vietnam’s traditional dances & songs such as Moi Trau song, Katu dance, and Champa dance. Especially, you are able to join with our dance through Sap dance. Each day there is a presentation of 3 shows with a duration of 45 minutes per show.

The performance time (local time) are as follows: 19:30; 20:45; 21:45 daily

Water Puppet Theatre
Formed in the 12th Century during the “Ly” Dynasty. The first performance was for Ly King in Long Doi Pagoda, Duy Tien of Ha Nam. Since then, water puppet show became one of the Vietnamese traditonal culture. Each day there is a presentation of 3 shows with a duration of 45 minutes per show.

The performance time (local time) are as follows: 18:30; 19:45; 20:45 daily

Exploring one of the largest selection of antiques such as Bat Trang pottery and porcelain, Dong Son bronze drum, Cham Pa wooden sculpture etc. Coming from Vietnam, China, Japan, and Thailand. Especially, two antique tombs from Han and So Dynasty. 

Displays more than 200 outstanding paintings by Vietnamese renowned artists. Some paintings win prizes locally and abroad such as: “Fruit harvest” by Mr. Phai, and “Girl’s Portrait” by Mr. Nghiem etc. 

This is the only game in Halong. You can see a panoramic view of Halong Bay on it

Deluxe Shopping Center 
Located nearby the Baichay beach. It has a total of 25 blocks with 138 units. This is a place to concentrate the world’s & Vietnam’s famous products like Pierre Cardin, Bossini, Khai Silk,... 

Contact: Royal International Joint-Venture
Address: Bai Chay, Halong city, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
Tel: (84-33) 846658 ; Fax: (84-33) 846728 ; Email:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sapa Restaurants

Places to Eat in Sapa
The offer of places to eat in Sapa is quite varied. It won't be difficult to find a place that suits your tastes. On the walk from your hotel to the market you will see many restaurants. Prices are somewhat more expensive than in the rest of Vietnam, but still a real bargain.

For a real Vietnamese experience, try the soup noodles (Pho Bo or Pho Ga) at first hour in the morning. A Bun Cha (meat balls) or some Nems (Vietnamese rolls) for lunch, and a vegetable salad for dinner. And nothing tastes better than a Vietnamese Beer after a hard day trekking ...

Ta Van Restaurants 
Add: Cau May Street - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province.
Tel: (84-20) 871522 ; Fax: (84-20) 871539

Delta Restaurants
Add: 33 Cau May - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871799 ; Fax: (84-20)

Hoa Sua Restaurants
Add: Thac Bac Street- SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871766 ; Fax: (84-20)

Mimosa Restaurants
Add: Cau May Street - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871377 ; Fax: (84-20)

Bamboo Restaurants
Add: Muong Hoa - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871075 ; Fax: (84-20)

Khanh Hai Restaurants
Add: 58 Phan Xi Pang - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 872180 ; Fax: (84-20)

Hoang Lien Restaurants
Add: Cau May Street - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871876 ; Fax: (84-20)

Obsvervatory Restaurants
Add: Xuan Vien Street - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871126 ; Fax: (84-20)

Sa Pa Restaurants
Add: 18 Tue Tinh - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 872130 ; Fax: (84-20)

Auberge Dang Trung
Add: Cau May Street - SaPa Town - Lao Cai Province
Tel: (84-20) 871243 ; Fax: (84-20)

Hoa Ban Restaurants
Add: 58 Phan Xi Pang - SaPa Town - Lao

Sapa Trekking

Sapa Trekking in the Mountains

For the ones really fit, I recommend the three day trekking to the Fan Si Pan mountain.

Mount Phan Xi Pang, as locals call it, is a 3500 yard high peak (3143 m). During the trek you will have the chance to see how locals live. And even sleep in a local home. You will need special permits to do a home stay. For this reason I recommend reserving one of the trekking tours in Hanoi or Sapa.

The best season to do this trekking is in summer. In Winter conditions may be too tough.

I did not do this trekking, so I cannot give you my personal impressions. All I can say is that if you like the picture on this page, you will love the Farsipan trek.

Sapa Silver Falls or Thac Bac

Eight miles (13km) from Sapa is the Thac Bac Water fall (the one in the picture). You can get here easily on a motorbike.

This is one of the region's major attractions. It is possible to climb to the top of the waterfalls. From there, there is an excellent view of the waterfalls.

If you come here, follow the road and you will get to the Tram Ton pass.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Agents Vietnam Travel

Vietnam Travel Highlinghts, Agents Vietnam Travel

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  • Northern Vietnam Highlights 7 Days
  • Mai Chau Adventure Tour 6 Days
  • Halong Emotion Cruise 2 Days
  • Highlights of Vietnam 10 Days
  • The Best of Vietnam 14 Days
  • Combined Mekong Delta Tour & Phu Quoc Island 6 Days
  • Discover South Vietnam 5 Days
  • Le Cochinchine Cruise from Can Tho to Cai Be 3 Days
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  • Vietnam Siem Reap Angkor in Mind 8 Days
  • Glimpse of Indochina 17 Days