#Vietnam – Once a barrier against invaders, now a beautiful valley

Chi Lang Passage in Lang Son Province used to be a strategic bulwark for Vietnam and now boasts tourist attractions.
 
Chi Lang Passage is a narrow valley between the Bao Dai mountain range in the east and the Cai Kinh range in the west in the northern province. The mountains form two natural barriers. 
 
Running zigzag along the valley is the Thuong River. Historical accounts show the valley was once regarded as an impenetrable barrier that keep out invaders from the north. King Le Dai Hanh (941-1005) once said the area helped destroy enemies no matter how large and powerful their armies were.
 
From Hanoi, you can follow National Highway 1A to get to the place. It stretches for around 20 km, with the main sights being Chi Lang and Quang Lang communes in Chi Lang District, Lang Son Province.
 Bai Hao Lake, one of the sights in Chi Lang, is surrounded by undulating mountains.
 

The Chi Lang Temple is currently being built by the lake as a spiritual
and cultural complex to cherish the historical values of Chi Lang.
 
 The train runs through Bac Thuy Bridge in Chi Lang District on the Hanoi – Dong Dang (Lang Son Province) route. 
 
The train also connects with Dong Mo and Ban Thi stations in Chi Lang District.
 
 About 30 km from the center of Chi Lang District is Khau Sao hill (Khau Slao), a popular destination for visitors. Situated in Suoi Ma A Village, Huu Kien Commune, it is dubbed the ‘Green steppe of Lang Son’.
 
The hill is 760 meters high and its terrain makes it a strenuous climb. Locals allow their horses and cattle to graze there. There are more than 1,700 horses being raised here, of which nearly 700 are pure white.
 
 The Tay and Nung ethnic minorities here mainly make a living by raising horses. The abundant grass, clean water and salubrious climate help the horses breed rapidly.
 
The animals are left completely free. In the morning people bring their horses to the hill and leave them there until afternoon when they are taken to each family’s private area to drink water.
 
 
Custard apples are another Chi Lang specialty. They are grown throughout Chi Lang and the trees are ubiquitous along National Highway 1A.
 
One of the most famous places where the fruit is grown in Chi Lang is Dong Banh rock mountain, which is about 200 m tall. The harvest is transported in baskets by pulley from the top to the foot of the hill.
 
he custard apples are then delivered over a bamboo bridge by farmers to Dong Banh Market next to National Highway 1A. A lot of them are also sent to markets elsewhere including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
 
On Sunday the third Chi Lang custard apple festival took place with many promotional activities and tips on growing the fruit. There were competitions between farmers to see who grew the best custard apples.
 
Source – VN Express
 

 

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#Vietnam – Rough Guides names Ha Long Bay among world’s 100 best places to visit

 British travel magazine Rough Guides has voted for Ha Long Bay as one of the 100 most beautiful places to visit next year.
 
In the “The Rough Guides to the 100 Best Places on Earth,” the magazine described “the scattering of limestone pinnacles jutting out of the smooth waters of Ha Long Bay”, around four hours east of Hanoi, as an “incredible sight.”
It is the only Vietnamese destination in the list, which covers many historical and cultural sites around the world such as the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Forbidden City in China, Kamniške-Savinja Alps in Slovenia, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, and the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue in Mongolia.
 
Dropping anchor in the bay to explore small islands and caves is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Rough Guides said, adding that “the best junk boats have private cabins and serve gourmet food and in the early morning you can pull back the curtains to watch the sunlight dancing on the emerald green water.”
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Since its recognition as a UNESCO natural world heritage in 1994 Ha Long Bay has entrenched itself on the global tourism map, receiving rave reviews from travel bloggers and filmmakers. Around 5.2 million foreigners visited the bay last year, up 22 percent from a year earlier. A total of 15.6 million visited the country.
 
In its latest conservation move, the Ha Long Bay management said all tourism services in the bay would limit the use of plastic bags and straws from September 1. Fifteen local firms providing tourist boats, kayaks and high-speed boats will embark on a pilot program, banning the use of plastic products on sightseeing boats, starting August 1.
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The recent improvements in infrastructure have made traveling to and around Ha Long much easier for foreigners. Last December Van Don International Airport, 50 kilometers from Ha Long Bay, opened.
 
An expressway connecting the Hanoi-Hai Phong Expressway with Ha Long, opened to traffic last September, reducing the Hanoi-Ha Long commute by 50 km to 130 km.
 
In addition to the popular kayaking and cruise tours, visitors can book Ha Long Heli Tours, a new helicopter tour, through Fastsky, the country’s first helicopter ride-sharing service offered by ride-hailing firm FastGo.
 
The South China Morning Post recently named Ha Long Bay in its list of 10 most popular Asian attractions. British magazine Woman and Home last May labeled the bay one of the most mentioned global cruise destinations on Instagram.
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Source – VN Express

 

#Vietnam – Son Doong Cave an incredible find

The Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh Province is among the most incredible places in the world recently found, The Telegraph says.

 
The cave, part of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, is the world’s largest, but it did not feature on Vietnam’s tourism map until it was opened for tourists in 2013.
 
The Telegraph has included the once-hidden cave on the list of 11 newly-discovered places that are worth an amazing exploration journey.
 
Son Doong opened to tourists in 2013, four years after members of the British Cave Research Association concluded their initial exploration and declared it the world’s largest cave.
 
The five kilometer-long system, which is 150 meters high and 200 meters wide, contains at least 150 individual caves, a dense subterranean jungle and several underground rivers.
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 Due to limited space, registration for Son Doong tours must be made well in advance. According to Oxalis, now the only company licensed to bring tourists to the cave, only 300 spaces are available for 2019 tours.
 
A four-day expedition costs $3,000, and there are bus routes running from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, the capital town of Quang Binh, and then to the park.
 
The Quang Binh government recently raised the limit for number of tourists allowed to visit the cave from 640 to 900 a year.
 
Other incredible places that are recent finds include the Pico da Neblina mountain in Brazil, Xianren Bridge in China, Cape Melville in Australia, Machu Picchu citadel in Peru and Mount Mabu in Mozambique.
 
Last month, the U.K.-based travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet, named Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh among the best places to visit in 2019.
 
The New York Times has named it among the world’s top eight travel destinations, while the National Geographic has called it a “natural wonder.”
 
 Source – VN Express
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Phu Yen, #Vietnam’s land of the rising sun

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 The easternmost province is a top choice for adventures and to enjoy the beauty of nature including some out-of-the-world landscapes.Phu Yen, located on the south central coast, is the first point on the Vietnamese mainland to welcome the sun every morning.

It has a diverse topography consisting of mountains, rivers, lagoons, bays, and islands and a myriad of beautiful natural sights for visitors to explore.

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Phu Yen’s sunny season is from January to around August, and is perfect for sightseeing. There are also lots of local festivals during these months, so remember to check their dates if you want to see them.But April and May can be quite hot, so visitors who choose to go during this period should be mindful and take sun-protection gear and water.

From May until the end of July is the peak domestic tourist season, and during this period Phu Yen can get pretty crowded. It might not be an ideal time for those who prefer a quiet and relaxing holiday.

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Dai Lanh Cape, around 35km from Tuy Hoa, the capital city of Phu Yen, is the first place in the country where the sun rises. The best spots to catch the sunrise from are up the lighthouse or on Mon Beach, both spectacular places.Visitors can spend the night at Mui Dien lighthouse, and, when the time comes, take in the view of the bay and the ocean wide open right before their eyes. The feeling when standing on the top, with the wind carrying the smell of the ocean and caressing your skin and hair, and watching the spectacular scene unfold is indescribable.

You need to call up the lighthouse and make arrangements the day before. Tickets cost around VND10,000 ($0.43)

Camping on Mon Beach for the night and waiting for the sunrise can be an unforgettable experience. The beach is located behind Dai Lanh Lighthouse.

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Vung Ro spreads over an area of 16.4 square kilometers, with beautiful beaches and the ocean on one side and forested mountains like Deo Ca and Hon Ba, and the highest peak, Da Bia (Tombstone Mountain), on the other.It is situated in the commune of Hoa Xuan Nam, Dong Hoa District, at the edge of Ca Pass. The drive, whether from the south or north, is extremely scenic. The coastal road offers a magnificent, unbroken view of the bay’s blue waters, fishing villages, the craggy pass, the green mountains, and the white sandy beaches.

There are hundreds of floating homes, fish farms and wooden fishing boats in the main bay. From here, visitors can take a boat to visit seafood farms, try to be a fisherman for a day and learn how locals catch lobsters or go catching fish or squid.

The seafood at the floating restaurants here are obviously as fresh as it possibly can be as it goes straight to the kitchen from the floating farms around. Some beers while floating on the blue lagoon, and this becomes an experience one just should not miss.

There are also other recreation options such as jet-skiing, snorkeling and visiting historical relics for visitors.

 Vung Ro Bay has 12  beautiful, pristine beaches such as Lach, Mu U, Chua, Chan Trau which are perfect for a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water or just unwinding in a tranquil, quiet place on the white sand.

 

Cambodia – Tourism feels shifting axis

the-beauty-of-cambodia

While Vietnamese visitors continued to top the list of international tourist arrivals to Cambodia in 2016, their numbers dipped as the number of Chinese tourists continued to surge and looks set to take the top notch this year, according to newly released Tourism Ministry annual figures.

The data showed total tourist arrivals from Vietnam fell 3 percent to 950,000 last year, while Chinese arrivals surged 19 percent to 830,000 over the same period.

Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA), expressed confidence that China would soon overtake Vietnam as the main source of the Kingdom’s tourists.

“Following the strengthening of the relationship between Cambodia and China and the government’s strategy to promote more Chinese tourist arrivals, China will soon be the leader for tourism visits in Cambodia,” she said yesterday.

Sivlin noted that the Ministry of Tourism still needs to increase the number of direct flights to the Kingdom in order to reach the country’s target of welcoming 7 million tourists by 2020, including 2 million Chinese visitors.

“Compared to neighboring countries, the number of international arrivals is still small because the shortage of direct flights is limiting international arrivals,” she said. “The government needs to speed up the process of approving direct flights to reach its tourism goals.”

According to the Ministry of Tourism, total tourist arrivals topped 5 million in 2016, from 4.8 million a year earlier, while total revenue from tourism decreased to $3 billion in 2016, from $3.5 billion in 2015.

Sivlin said one reason for the decline in tourism revenue was a failure to recognise the changes in tourist demographics. She pointed to the high number of souvenir products sold in the country imported from China, Vietnam and Thailand, which were difficult to sell when many tourists came from those same countries.

“We sell souvenir products that are not produced locally, and this is not attractive to international visitors when they know it is from their country,” she said.

Ang Kim Eang, general manager of Great Angkor Tours, said the marginal decline in Vietnamese arrivals had no significant impact on the tourism sector as most Vietnamese visitors arrive by bus and do not spend large sums of money. On the other hand, the higher number of Chinese tourists was good news for Cambodia as they tend to be more prolific spenders.

“Chinese tourism offers great potential for the local tourism sector because they like to spend a lot on entertainment services,” he said.

And with China’s outbound tourists topping 122 million last year, far more than the entire population of Vietnam, government initiatives to attract a larger share to Cambodia are hardly surprising.

“Chinese tourists are one of the main targets for promoting the Cambodian economy,” Eang said.

Source: PhnomPenhPost

We take you to the Pearls of the Orient

CAMBODIA Siem Reap – Here you will find influences of French colonial and Chinese architecture. With the Tuk Tuk service to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, to visit Angkor Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Cambodia. In the afternoon with a Jeep to the Angkor Wat Temple. MYANMAR Mandalay – After arriving…

via Pearls of the Orient — NEWS & TRAVEL GURU MAGAZINE

Sunland Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Sunland Hotel 1

Sunland Hotel is situated just a minute’s walk from Saigon River and a 10-minute walk from Tay Ba Lo backpacker’s quarter. It features an outdoor pool and a restaurant.

Sunland Hotel 2

The hotel is a 5-minute walk from Russian Market and ACB Bank. A 7-minute drive takes guests to Reunification Palace, Saigon Opera House and the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Tan Son Nhat International Airport is a 45-minute drive away.

Sunland Hotel 3

Rooms are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a minibar. Each room has its own uniquely styled bathroom with shower facilities and toiletries. Room service is provided.

Sunland Hotel 4

Guests can head to the 24-hour front desk for assistance with luggage storage, laundry and currency exchange services. Safety deposit boxes are also available.

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District 1 is a great choice for travelers interested in nightlife, markets and shopping.

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas, Vietnam

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An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 1

Featuring luxurious villas with private pools, An Lam Ninh Van Bay offers peaceful stays in rolling green landscapes overlooking Ninh Van Bay. It features an infinity pool, full spa facilities and fine dining.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 2

Opening out to stunning sea views, tastefully furnished villas feature a flat-screen cable TV, iPod dock and coffee machine. Other comforts include semi-outdoor bath areas and rain showers.

Guests can start the day with a lesson at the yoga platform before exercising at the gym. For convenience, the hotel provides free Wi-Fi, business and tour services.

Featuring an outdoor terrace, the restaurant serves seafood specialties and Vietnamese dishes. In-villa dining with a private chef can be arranged.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas 5

An Lam Ninh Van Bay is 16.1 km from Nha Trang’s city center. The property offers airport shuttle service.

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Hotel Nikko Saigon, Vietnam

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Hotel Nikko, Saigon 1

This 5-star property features a full-service spa, an outdoor pool and fitness facilities. Situated beside Now Zone Shopping Mall, its modern rooms have a cable flat-screen TV and bathroom.

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 2

Offering city views from over-sized windows, the spacious rooms feature warm lighting and calming earth tones. They have a tea/coffee maker, a minibar and free Wi-Fi.

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 3

Guests can take a dip in the hot tub or relax with a soothing spa massage. Nikko Hotel Saigon also has a business centre, concierge services and a souvenir shop.

Hotel Nikko, Saigon 5

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Hotel Nikko Saigon is a 10-minute drive from Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace. It is a 20-minute drive from Tan Son Nhat International Airport and has free parking.

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Hiking in Asia: 10 Places With Stunning Trails

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Asia is home to breathtaking nature, lush vegetation, exotic cultures and delicious cuisines. One of the best ways to explore and discover the various destinations in Asia is on foot – by taking a hike. Some hikes in Asia offer hikers a chance to spot rare wildlife species and meet indigenous tribes living in charming villages along the way. In many of the trails listed below, the journey itself is the destination.

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1. Sapa, Vietnam

Travel the northern highland town of Sapa in Vietnam for breathtaking views of rice terraces and stunning mountain peaks with mists hovering over them. Sapa rests in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, close to the Tonkinese Alps at the Chinese borders. Sapa is an increasingly popular destination among hikers, all keen to experience the hillside treks which passes through lush landscapes and charming villages. The best time to visit is from March to May.

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2. Ladakh Range, India

India’s highest and largest district is the Ladakh Range. Comfortably nestled between two vast mountains (the Karakoram to the north and the Himalayas to the south), the Ladakh range has more sheep and yaks than monkeys and cows. In Ladakh Range, the culture of the people lean towards Tibetan rather than Indian. Travellers can take on trails in the Ladakh Range which ranges from easy (Ripchar Valley Trek and Lamayuru Alchi Trek) to difficult (Kang Yatse Trek, Hemis to Tsomoriri Trek). Some of the most gorgeous trails in the Ladakh Range are those that take hikers through the Zanskar range, such as the Lamayuru to Darcha Trek.

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3. Ratanakiri, Cambodia

Ratanakiri (Ban Lung), located in northeast Cambodia, is known for fantastic jungle trekking and hiking. It is also known as “dey krahorm” (red earth), as the area is covered in reddish dust during the dry season. Impressive hills, rivers and mountain ranges grace Ratanakiri, and the area is dotted with crater lakes and waterfalls.

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4. The Snowman Trek, Bhutan

Bhutan’s Snowman Trek covers over 200 miles, crossing 11 passes over 16,000 feet. To undertake the Snowman Trek, which takes about 25 days to complete, it is compulsory to be part of a guided tour. Each year, only a handful of people challenge themselves to take on this hike. The trail passes through Laya, home of the indigenous Layap people. Guides usually drop by the Thanza village to exchange horses for yaks, which are used to traverse difficult terrains. The highlights of this trail include the sceneries of remote valleys, visiting Buddhist monasteries, experiencing Bhutan’s authentic culture and spotting interesting wildlife such as the Himalayan blue sheep. Timing is essential for this trek, and it is best to go in April to avoid the snow and rain that closes the high passes. The Snowman Trek is ideal for the hardcore hikers.

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5. Maluan Mountain, China

The trail that leads up to Maluan Mountain is easy and safe, and it passes through clear streams, verdant woods, and captivating waterfalls. It is no surprise that this trail is popular among hiking enthusiasts. Mount Maulan is also known for its plum blossoms in red, white and sea blue, which can be seen in January from the Plum Blossom Pavilion.

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6. Gunung Tahan, Malaysia

To have a taste of the jungle, climb one of the most challenging mountains in Malaysia, Gunung Tahan. Tigers, elephants, leopards and the Sumatran rhino will greet hikers in this 130 million years old virgin rainforest, located in Taman Negara in the state of Pahang. The most scenic route is the Kuala Tahan classic train, which usually takes about seven days. Just be warned: this trek requires you to be mentally and physically fit.

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7. Mount Everest, Nepal

Climbing Everest is the dream of many mountaineers, but for those who are not capable of undertaking that intense, arduous and potentially-fatal journey, just hiking to the Everest Base Camp will do. Hikers heading to the Everest Base Camp can drop by museums and monasteries, enjoy amazing views and also experience the Sherpa culture. The warmth of Nepalese hospitality and breathtaking scenery makes the Everest Base Camp Trek an amazing trip, one that is possible even for those with average fitness.

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8. Annapurna Mountain Range, Nepal

The lofty peaks of the Annapurna are only for the trained and determined, and one of the best trails in the Annapurna Mountain Range is the famous Annapurna Circuit. This horseshoe-shaped route that runs for more than 200 kilometre is considered one of the best hikes in the world. Completing this rather challenging trek will take between 15 to 20 days. Rugged trails, sacred pilgrimage sites, exotic wildlife and awesome views of nature’s bounty will make your trip a memorable one.

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9. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage, Tibet

Mount Kailash stands out as a holy site to Buddhists, Jains, the Ayyavazhi branch of Hinduism, and the ancient Bon religion of Tibet. However, it is not often visited due to the mountain’s remote location in far western Tibet. Some religions regarded Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru – the center and birthplace of the entire world. Myths and legends surround Mount Kailash, such as the Hindu belief that the place is the abode of god Shiva. Transportation to Mount Kailash via rugged over-land vehicles can be booked through various tour companies. Once you get there, hiking the 50 kilometres around it alongside pilgrims is the ritual to complete. Do note that the weather there can be always harsh and trekkers and pilgrims must carry all the supplies and provisions they need for the entire trip. April through September is the best months for this trek.

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10. Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal

The Great Himalaya Trail covers over 4500 kilometres and it connects the highest routes across the Himalaya with existing trekking trails and pilgrimage paths. The trail can be completed in a whopping four to six months if the weather permits. The challenging part of the Great Himalaya Trail is during the ascents and descents of the high passes, including Sherpani Pass (20,128 feet), West Col (20,154 feet), and Amphu Laptsa Pass (19,193 feet) sandwiched between Everest and Makalu. Wildlife such as the endangered snow leopard, yaks, red pandas and herds of blue sheep can be spotted along the trails, and there are also monasteries, tea houses and guest huts along the way.

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Source: Tripzilla Magazine
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