More Russian tourists arrive

         According to Tuoi Tre (The Youth) newspaper reported : "The number of Russian tourists to Viet Nam continues to increase sharply, despite the loss of one major travel agency, the now-bankrupt Lanta-Tur Voyache of Russia"



Travel agencies said Russian visitors often toured Viet Nam only in the winter break, but they now were booking tours throughout the entire year.

Le Van Nghia, a representative of Transaero Airlines and Siberia Airlines in Viet Nam, said he had completed license extensions for two Russian airlines that take tourists from Moscow and Novosibirsk to HCM City.

Four flights per week have been scheduled to meet demand until May 15.

Most of the tourists who usually travelled with Lanta-Tur Voyache have shifted their bookings to other travel agencies, he said.

Bookings are nearly full until mid-May this year, in contrast to previous years when flights were often cancelled because of fewer reservations.

Together with popular tourist destinations such as Nha Trang and Phan Thiet, many travel agencies are encouraging Russian tourists to travel to other spots, such as Da Nang and Cam Ranh.

Nguyen Van Khoa, general director at Mui Ne Bay Resort in Phan Thiet City, which is popular with Russian tourists, said many guests had recommended the resort town to friends and family.

This year, the Phan Thiet Tourism Association said many travel agencies in Russia were planning to send tourists to the area. More tourists have arrived, especially since October of last year.

Hoang Thi Phong Thu, chairwoman of Anh Duong Travel Ltd. Co., one of leading tour operators that caters to Russians, said the company had welcomed 180-200 tourists to the coastal province of Khanh Hoa.

Beginning next month, Russian travel agencies working with Anh Duong will book more tours to Da Nang. Because of increasing number of bookings from partner travel agencies in Russia, nine flights a week carrying 180-200 passengers each have been operating since January to meet demand.

Tour contracts to Khanh Hoa Province this year between cooperating travel agencies in both countries will last until September 4 instead of April as in previous years.

Thu said the company's partners frequently asked about new destinations, such as Phu Quoc and Con Dao islands, to plan new tours for Russian tourists.

She said since October last year to March this year, the company has welcomed 30,000 tourists, most of whom stayed at least 10 days in Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, HCM City or Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces.

In February, the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism said more than 39,000 Russian tourists visited Viet Nam, raising the number of Russian visitors in the first two months to more than 109,000, an increase of 55.1 per cent compared to the same period last year.


Fishing together with Can Gio fishermen

Eco-tours is served by Vam Sat Ecological Resort will give travelers interesting experiences on their visit to Can Gio District, HCMC. The Tours is under name “Being a fisherman at Vam Sat for one day”

Located by the East Sea coast and 50 kilometers southeast of the downtown of HCMC, Can Gio District has many things for tourists to discover, from rivers to mangrove forests and the life of locals, especially fishermen.

To visit Can Gio from the city center, tourists can choose to take either a car or a speedboat at Bach Dang Quay in District 1. If they go by car, they will stop to take a speedboat at the quay at Dan Xay Bridge. The speedboat will bring them to sightsee the riverscape, the typical flora of salinity-intruded forests and to study fishing methods of Can Gio fishermen. During the tour, visitors will have opportunities to discover diverse things and participate in different activities of locals.

First, travelers together with local fishermen will row a boat to place traps under the water for catching sea-crabs. While waiting to collect the traps, they will row a smaller boat around in the mangrove forest to visit Doi Nghe Conservation Park and return to the former place to collect the traps after 30 minutes. Local fishermen will show tourists how to choose crabs with good flesh and tell them about the world of crabs. Tourists can grill the crabs to eat on the spot or enjoy dishes from these crabs at lunch.

To continue the journey, tourists must get on board a wooden boat to go for studying how fishermen of Vam Sat, an area in Can Gio, dive to catch oysters. Diving to catch oysters is among the characteristic fishing methods of local fishermen. Tourists will also see how oysters are raised, catch and grill oysters to eat on the spot. They can of course join the farmers to catch the oysters.

Emptying a pond to catch fish by draining its water is also an interesting activity for tourists to experience. To join the work, they are provided a set of bà ba (a traditional southern-style costume) and a nm (a fishing instrument made of bamboo). They step down into the pond and use a tin can to empty the water before catching the fish.
Another way of catching fish is to cover an area with nets. About four people walk into a pond, use a net to surround an area with fish, and pull the net ashore to catch the fish.

Tourists can also join local people in producing salt from seawater. They can roll up their trousers and step into the salt field to rake the salt and shoulder the salt to cottages on the shore. In addition, tourists can join in planting mangroves to expand the coverage for forests. Employees of Vam Sat Ecological Resort will instruct tourists how to plant the trees.

To experience strong sensations, vacationers can feed crocodiles in challenge. They fix a bait to the fishing line and stand on the boat in midstream to hold the rod and “fish” crocodiles. If they stay overnight at the resort, they can join local people to hunt for ba khia (a species of crab with three stripes on their back), grill fish to eat and sing songs by a camp fire.

The tour price ranges from VND850,000 to VND1,150,000 each depending on the number of people in a tour.

Vam Sat Ecological Resort: Ly Nhon Commune, Can Gio District, HCMC. Tel: 08.38894008, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Hue Festival to highlight rich cultural diversity of Central Provinces

“Cultural Heritage-Rendezvous with Historic Cities” is the theme of Hue Festival 2012 from April 7 to 15. The culturally rich, traditionally vibrant and spiritually enriched world of people from the central provinces of the country will come alive in the festival

Residents in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue will actively participate in the Hue Festival as “real artists” and not as spectators.

In the peaceful surroundings along Thanh Toan Tile Bridge across the Nhu Y River in Thuy Thanh Commune, visitors will see real replicas of ancient markets of this rural area. 

Near the beautiful tile bridge a scene of a bustling small market in ancient rural area in central Vietnam has been created. Here buyers can select specialties of the rural Huong Thuy Commune such as rice, sticky rice, wine from Chuon village, handicrafts, bamboo items, as well as enjoy traditional cakes and sweets like bowl-shaped cakes, glutinous rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves, and sweetened corn porridge.

Visitors can also join in interesting folk activities like chess, fishing, blind man's bluff, sack race, walking on a miniature bamboo bridge and a slow bike race.

Besides activities, visitors can see the 500-year-old Phuoc Tich ancient village in Phong Hoa Commune in Phong Dien District, a highlight of the tour ‘Huong Xua Lang Co’ (Fragrance of ancient village). The structure of these houses in the village is typical of the north central region. 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has identified 24 ancient houses in the village, including one built in 1850, as heritage and cultural historical monuments. 

Unique pottery souvenirs of the village are also popular with travellers. Pottery artisan Doan Van Lua said that Phong Dien authorities have spent a lot on restoring the pottery handicrafts since 2006. Japanese pottery artisan Mizokami Yoshihiro helped the villagers restore the traditional handicrafts such as jars and pots as well as souvenirs to suit the modern styles.

Moreover, 23 art troupes from 13 countries and territories have registered to participate in the Hue Festival, including France, England, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, India, Mexico, United States, Philippines, Russia and South Africa. Domestic art troupes are also preparing for the festival.

Besides events such as “Royal Night”; “Oriental Night”; “Huong River Legend”; “Ao Dai” Festival; Imperial Palace Festival; Nam Giao ceremony; traditional trade villages; tours to explore the beauty of Hue ancient capital; the Hue Festival 2012 will have some new programmes as well. 

Historical films, a Festival of drum and percussion instruments titled “Resounding Vietnam’s Spirit”, a festival to celebrate the 325th anniversary when Lord Nguyen Phuc Thai chose Phu Xuan as capital of South Vietnam, “The peaceful world” programme to be staged and a royal art performance to honour Hue cultural heritage values will also be held during the festival.



What to do to attract more Japanese travelers? - part 1

            Japan is an economic power and it is also a big tourism market.  Vietnam well understands that but it still cannot attract Japanese travelers to the country.


Golden opportunities

Nguyen Minh Hai, Chief Representative of Vietnam Airlines in Japan, has said that there are many factors that support Vietnam’s tourism. Japanese travelers now tend to choose nearby destinations in order to save money. Meanwhile, a lot of Japanese budget airlines are planning to open air routes to neighboring countries, thus allowing increasing the number of flights and reducing the airfares.

A survey conducted by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) in October 2011, found that 23 percent of the Japanese people who once came to Vietnam, wished to get low cost tickets.

“These are really the big opportunities for Vietnam’s tourism. We are considering opening the air route Da Nang – Narita. It is expected that the number of Japanese travelers to Myanmar and Laos would increase rapidly. It is the right time for travel firms to build up the tours for the travelers to go to Vietnam from those countries,” Hai suggested.

Few Japanese travelers return to Vietnam for second time

Realizing the great potentials, Vietnam hopes to receive one million Japanese travelers by 2015. However, travel firms have doubts about the feasibility of the plan.

According to VNAT, 40 percent of Japanese travelers return to Vietnam for the second and subsequent time. However, the Tourism Working Group of the Vietnam Business Forum has pointed out that the percentage of travelers returning to the country after the first trip is very low. Meanwhile, Thailand and Indonesia can take pride of the high number of travelers returning to the countries.

Shigemastsu Akifumi from HIS Song Han travel firm said that the firm receives 12,000 Japanese travelers every year, but less than one percent of the travelers return for the second time.

“The travelers say they find nothing interesting and attractive,” he said.

The last year’s survey by VNAT also showed that 46 percent of travelers gave “Average” when assessing the tourism service quality, which was equal to the percentage of the travelers who found satisfactory with the services.

A.Yoichiro, Vice Chairman of the committee for lobbying for the establishment of the Vietnamese tourism promotion office in Japan, noted that there are many Japanese businessmen who come to Vietnam to do business, who account for a high proportion of the Japanese people coming to Vietnam many times.

According to Hai, Japanese are really choosy, because they get used to the high quality services they receive in the domestic market. Therefore, travel firms need to have professional staff and wholehearted service men to attract Japanese travelers.

Meanwhile, a representative of Song Han complained that the travelers feel unsatisfactory about the insolent attitude of hotel officers, including the ones at 4-5 star hotels. Vietnamese managers tend to cover up for the officers who make mistakes, while the problems can only be settled when the travelers ask for the intervention of foreign managers.

“Waiters think that they just need to bring the ordered food to travelers, while they do not take care about if the clients need some spice or any additional services,” he noted.

In many cases, the quality of the food is quite different from the one the travel firms tasted before. Meanwhile, the restaurants just explain that they could not buy the right materials for the dishes, or they changed the chef.

Nguyen Thang


Dien Bien launches night market

The first ever night market was opened on Monday to promote its tourism potential  in Dien Bien Phu City, said the city's deputy chairman Nguyen Duc Duyen.

Photo: Internet

Muong Thanh night market, spanning 580m through five streets of Muong Thanh Ward, will provide residents and tourists with local cuisine, souvenirs and bonsai from 8-11:30pm every night.


Duyen said the night market would bring job opportunities to local people and bring together night stalls from around the city. There are an estimated 160 households and 90 temporary stalls operating their businesses in the market.

He added that opening of the market was also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu Town (now Dien Bien Phu City).

In addition, many tourists have complained about the lack of night-life and evening activities in the historical town, so the night market would help improve their experience, said the city's deputy chairman.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Vietnam plans to establish rep offices to promote tourism in Japan

    Tourism marketing activities and step up cooperation between travel firms from Vietnam And Japan will be promoted when Vietnam has a plan to establish its representative office in Tokyo, Japan later this year or early next year.

The plan is aimed at helping ratchet up Japanese tourist arrivals in Vietnam from half a million last year to one million by 2015.

Hoang Thi Diep, deputy head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), said this would be the first overseas representative office of Vietnam’s tourism authority.

A memorandum of understanding between Vietnam and Japan on the opening of the office can be signed next month during the Festival Hue 2012, Diep said, adding local travel firms and their Japanese partners were looking forward to the launch of the office.

“Japan has set up a committee to promote the opening of the office. The cost of the office’s establishment and management is huge for Vietnam, at around VND1 billion which is partly sourced from Vietnam’s tourism promotion budget and the rest from Japanese partners,” Diep told the Daily on Monday.

Japan has always been among the top five markets for Vietnam’s tourism sector with nearly 482,000 Japanese coming to Vietnam last year, up 8.9% from the previous year, although it was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in March last year. 

The first two months of the year saw nearly 110,000 Japanese visiting Vietnam, up 16.9% year-on-year.

VNAT has drawn up a scheme with various specific activities intended to attract one million Japanese visitors, including the inauguration of the representative office. When the office is in place, marketing and advertising projects on television and in newspapers and direct interactions with customers will be conducted in a more regular basis.

The goal of attracting one million Japanese tourists by 2015 is deemed as ambitious but given available air links, efforts of travel firms in both countries and the appeal of Vietnam as a favorite destination of Japanese tourists, the target would be achievable.

Vietnam Airlines alone has 46 weekly flights between the two countries, Diep said.


Vietnamese English keeps travelers guessing

           Name of the cafes, restaurants, hotel have been giving by English, Vietnamese people is trying to better serve foreign travelers

Associate Professor Dr Pham Van Tinh wrote on Saigon Tiep Thi that it is really difficult nowadays to find a hotel with Vietnamese name.

The professor was once asked to find a hotel near the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi for his Russian colleagues who came to Vietnam in a business trip. The professor tried to search information on Google, and it was a surprise to him that nearly all the hotels in Hoan Kiem district bear English names.

A lot of English names were shown on the website for Tinh’s choice, including Moonshine Palace on Bat Dan street, Golden Plaza (Hang Trong), Golden Lake (Hang Manh), Luxury (Phu Doan), Mike’s Amazing (Hang Phen), Sunshine 1 and Sunshine 3 (Ma May), Triumphal, Rising Dragon 2 (Hang Ga), Prince II (Hang Giay), Astoria (Hang Bong), Lucky Star (Bat Dan), Asia Palace (Hang Tre), 

When traveling to an unfamiliar locality, the first thing that all travelers have to do is to find a hotel, or guest house to stay. This needs to be a readily convenient and safe place. The things that foreign travelers first meet when accustoming themselves to Vietnam are the hotels, restaurants, markets and specialties.

Foreign travelers may feel astonished when realizing that Vietnamese hotels do not bear Vietnamese names. Meanwhile, in neighboring countries, including China, Thailand or Indonesia, the names of goods and brands must be in the vernacular language (if manufacturers only one language). The goods can have auxiliary names in foreign languages, but the names must be written in smaller letters and put after the names in the vernacular language.

Tinh has pointed out that it is a growing tendency of giving English names to Vietnamese goods and brands. Even a national tourism complex, which usually serves as the place for organizing beauty contests, also bears an English name: Vinpearl Land. He has called on the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and the Vietnam Hotel Association to set up strict regulations about the naming.

The Russian guests were so astonished when hearing that Vietnamese people like giving English names to their hotels. They said that the “English worshiping” was once very popular in Russia. However, naming in English has become no more in vogue, partially because the State requested to follow the laws in naming. Meanwhile, businesses themselves felt ashamed of their aggressive worshiping of English.

A lot of mistakes in the signboards of hotels and restaurants, in the menus and instructions, have been discovered by foreign travelers.

A funny story has been related that when a Vietnamese person led a foreign girl to a special food restaurant, the foreigner got frightened when reading the signboard. “Why do you want to lead me to the place?” the foreigner said.

The problem lied in the English name of the restaurant “My Dung restaurant”. In English, “my dung” has a quite different meaning from the Vietnamese name “My Dung” which has been regularly given to girls. 

Therefore, in order to avoid misunderstanding, the names “Dung” have been translated into English as “Dzung.”

The Communist Party’s Politburo has called on Vietnamese people to buy and use Vietnamese goods. However, it seems that the Vietnamese language is not considered the Vietnamese goods. Meanwhile, language shows cultural characteristics of a country, and it is the pride of the nation.

Under the 2005 Enterprise Law, the names of enterprises need to be written in Vietnamese language which could be associated with numerals and they must be vocalized. In 2010, the government issued the Decree No. 43 on business registration, recognizing the enterprise naming in Latin foreign languages.

Source: SGTT

Farmers learn English on street

      Farmers often go to the street to learn English from foreign tourists at the ancient town of Hoi An, in the central province of Quang Nam



Mrs. Tran Thi Dieu, 79, an amateur tour guide on Thanh Toan bridge, Hoi An town.


There are farmers who are illiterate but they can speak English very well, so they have numerous customers.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Hoa, 60, from Cua Dai ward, Hoi An city, and several women who wore old conical hats, talked with nearly ten of foreign visitors. The tour guide had nothing to do. “Local people have a standard pronunciation of English,” he said.

“That is Pidgin English. We do not learn English at any class. To sell goods and invite visitors to travel on the Hoai River… we have to speak English. To learn English, we have to go to the street to listen to how tourists speak, and imitate them,” Mrs. Hoa said.

Hoa used to be a fisherman. Since Hoi An became a tourist center, she has turned to be a boat rower on the Hoai River, serving foreign tourists.

The woman said at first, she did not have any client because she did not know how to invite them to use her boat. She was determined to learn English. However, she is illiterate so she could not attend English class. Several neighbors told her to go to the street to talk to foreign tourists and learn from them.

“Learning Pidgin English was very quick. If I spoke incorrectly, they would correct it. When I was free, I asked my colleagues to teach me,” Hoa added.

She said that at present, she could introduce to tourists about the lifespan of ancient houses, the specialties of Hoi An and the city’s history.

Like Hoa, most of traders and service providers in Hoi An can speak English. Anyone who do not know English go to the street to learn it from tourists. Whenever foreign visitors go past, they invite tourists to buy goods or use their services in English. If tourists do not stop, they also say “Good luck!” to them.

Mr. Nguyen Dinh Cang, 55, has been a xe om (motorbike taxi driver) in Hoi An for five years. He is not only a xe om driver but also a tour guide.

“I’m elderly, so it is difficult to learn English, even Pidgin English. Besides listening to tourists, I have to practice pronunciation and suitable gestures to draw the attention of visitors…,” Cang said.

He said that he spent a year on the road to speak with tourists and learn from tour guides to have his current English.

Cang said that in Hoi An, each person learns Pidgin English based on his/her own need. For example, Mrs. Quynh who sells whistles can only tell tourists the price of whistles ($1/whistle). Mrs. Ngoc can invite tourists to taste her noodle, etc. However, xe om drivers and cyclo drivers have to study more English to tell the way and be tour guides. Some of them can speak 3-4 foreign languages.

At present, students from universities in Da Nang also go to Hoi An town to expand their English by talking with foreign tourists.

Tran Quoc Hao, from the Duy Tan University, goes to Hoi An every weekend to talk with tourists. Many tourists are willing to talk with him for hours.

“I learn English in the university but directly talking with foreigners is the best way to study,” Hao said.

He said that though he was trained of English methodologically at school, he was inferior to Hoi An’s residents in pronunciation or flexibility.

Mr. Vo Phung, director of the Hoi An Culture-Sports Center, said that Hoi An is a very busy tourism center. Local people meet with foreign visitors everyday, so their English keeps developing. 

“Not only traders but also normal people in Hoi An learn several sentences of English to help visitors whenever they ask the way. This makes Hoi An more amazing,” Phung said.

Le Ha


Japanese woman makes second home in Hoi An

          Hoi An has become the second home of Yuki Hirukawa who decided to give up the fast-paced life in Tokyo to open a souvenir shop in laid-back Hoi An over 1 year ago. She says she hasn't regretted the decision for a moment.

And she is not alone – she joined a community of at least 20 Japanese expats in the ancient coastal town, which is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Yuki, who graduated from Tokyo-based Wako University in 2006, said she was disillusioned with the frenetic pace of life, and her job as an advertising executive in the Japanese capital.

She said she jumped at the chance of coming to Hoi An, which was an important Vietnamese trading centre in the 16th and 17th centuries, and where Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Indians have settled.

"It's a major change in my life. Hoi An was recommended to me by a friend when I said I was too busy and stressed in Tokyo," Yuki said.

"I began doing business in Hoi An just five months ago. I love the quiet, peaceful life in the ancient town. The people are so friendly. They warmly welcomed me with a smile."

Her 20sq.m shop, Cool Japan in Hoi An, on Hoang Van Thu street, near the Hoai River, sells traditional Japanese arts and crafts imported from her home country.

"I really want to create a little bit of Japan here in the city. But it's not about profit. I love the fresh air, the weekly street festivals and lantern ceremonies on the Hoai river every full moon," the 29-years-old said.

She said she particularly enjoyed Tet (Lunar New Year holidays) this year, when thousands of tourists descended on the town.

"Many tourists came to Hoi An during Tet. Most of them were Chinese and South Koreans. My shop earned a lot during the holidays," she said.

However, there have been some clouds in the sky. Last November, torrential rain flooded the town.

"The shop's first floor was flooded. My shop assistant and I had to move everything from the shop to the second floor. We couldn't move them back again for three days. It was the first time in my life that I had to take a coracle to a market.

"Water on the Hoai River rose three metres. The centre of the city was under water and it took days to clean the shop and restore it to its pre-flood days," she said.

Yuki, who is single, lives above the shop. Unlike back at home, she says she rarely cooks for herself because she loves to eat Vietnamese food – particularly locally made noodles with beef and chicken with rice.

She says she also loves Vietnamese green tea and the local fruits. She is also a fan of the local coffee, which she drinks in a cafe next to the river-bank, 100m away.

Yuki says she never feels homesick because she often joins her fellow-countrymen and women for lunch or dinner. Hoi An is also home to the only covered Japanese bridge in Viet Nam, and it was once believed by the Japanese that the heart of all of Asia (the dragon) lay beneath the earth of the ancient town.

Most Japanese people living in the town wear casual clothes, but when the city celebrates Japanese Day in August, they dress in kimonos.

"I love to live in the old quarter. Only pedestrians and bicycles are allowed and there is almost no noise. I ride a bicycle in Hoi An – never a motorbike. Traffic in the town is quite good, nothing like Ha Noi and HCM City. And nothing like Tokyo."

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Ngoc Viet – unique traditional show for travelers

    The special show are impressive at HCM City’s Non La (Conical Hat) came out on the evening of February 20

Hundreds of viewers, mainly artists and representatives of travel firms, were entertained with an amazing show entitled “Ngoc Viet” (Vietnamese Pearl) though the show is less than one hour long.

Forty artists from the Phu Dong band, Golden Dragon Water Puppetry Theatre, HCM City Traditional Opera Theatre and Smile Puppetry Theatre devoted to the audience 12 impressive items, selected from various traditional art genres.

Hat boi (Vietnamese opera), ca tru (ceremonial songs), Central Highlands gong, royal dances, etc. are familiar to Vietnamese but they became lively and sparkling in this show, which was carefully arranged by experienced experts.

Each item was several minutes long but they are the essence of art genres and they were performed perfectly.

Many traditional art genres, which are considered to be difficult for the majority, won the heart of the audience. 

Huynh Ngoc Tuan, director of the show, said that the show aims to explore the nature and essence of traditional arts of Vietnam. “Through a short show, we want to give the audience the certain knowledge of these genres of art.”

Ngoc Viet show is for all audience but it is mainly designed for foreign tourists in HCM City. “When the show runs smoothly, we will organize specialized programs on traditional culture and art of Vietnam and allow the audience to see backstage scenes,” Tuan said.

The show is expected to draw the audience. “We are trying to build a living museum of traditional art and culture,” Tuan added.

The show in pictures:

“Luc cung hoa dang” – one of the 11 Hue royal dances.

Ca tru singing.

Playing K’ni and T'rung musical instruments.

Hat boi “Le tu thien vuong” and “Xay chau dai boi”.
Chau van singing “Co doi thuong ngan”.

Playing K’ni musical instrument.

Playing Lithophone and T’rung.

A dancer in "Luc cung hoa dang", a royal dance.

Percussion performance.

Klongput musical instrument of Bana ethnic minority people.

A dance featuring a unicorn giving birth.
Vo Tien