"2 in 1" tours for this valentine day

                New attractive tours designed to suit the requirements of tourists but affordable are things travel agents  are doing. "2 in 1" tours have been becoming a good choice for many couples in valentine season this year.
Newfangled tours favored

Right after the Tet holiday that finished on January 28, a lot of couples began choosing destinations for the Valentine Day. Travel firms, which had a bumper Tet season, have renewed tours to attract the special travelers.

Saigontourist said it has launched new attractive tours for Valentine Day, including the tours which allow couples to both enjoy the spring, visit the sites at the pagodas to pray for happiness and a safe and sound year. Most of the destinations offered are famous domestic landscapes such as Sa Pa, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Ha Long Bay and Phu Quoc island.

Especially, the Valentine tours to the orders to be departed from Hanoi to Vinpearl – Nha Trang, Sa Pa, Da Nang, Phu Quoc and Ha Long can help couples easily arrange the trips to celebrate their love in the memorable spring. Travelers would stay at high grade resorts and hotels such as Vinpearl in the sea city of Nha Trang, Furama in Da Nang City, or Phoenix Cruiser in Ha Long.

Meanwhile, other travel firms have designed the tours with the special destinations – the ones associated with love legends. In previous years, couples went to the Valley of Love in Da Lat City, while they now choose the destinations in neighboring countries. 

Pham Thi Ngoc, Communication Director of Hanoi Redtours, said that the firm has designed a tour to Kun Ming, Da Li, Li Jiang (six days and five nights), with which, couples would have the chance to climb to Yu Long Xue Shan Mount at the height of 3200 meters to have a view to the snow mountain. People believe that if the couples exchange love vows here would have immortal love.

The couples, who love discoveries and exploration, may choose Free & Easy, a trekking tour to Singapore at Hanoi Redtours with the departures from February 5 to February 14.

Other domestic destinations including Mai Chau and Moc Chau, departing on February 9-14 also promise attractive trips.

The “2 in 1” tours

In the “price storm” period, cutting down spending is the thing that many newly married couples strive to do. Therefore, many of them have chosen “2 in 1” tours, i.e. the ones for both the honey moon and the Valentine Day.

Travel firms have found out that some young couples want to combine the honey moon trip and the Valentine Day trip. They are the ones that organize weddings in the wedding season, from last December until the days near the Valentine Day.

Ngoc Anh, an officer of a company, said that the demand for “2 in 1” is relatively high. “I know many couples, who spent too much money on the wedding; therefore, they decided to combine the honey moon and Valentine Day trips to save money. Other couples have to return to home villages to visit relatives after the weddings. Therefore, traveling on the Valentine Day is the best choice,” she said.

However, not only the couples who want to save money, but high income earners also like the “2 in 1” trips. Duc Nam, a bank officer, who got married one week ago, said that if he had left for the honeymoon trip some days ago, he would not have been able to choose attractive tours. Meanwhile, the most romantic tours would only be launched in some days, for the Valentine Day.

Spanish photographer falls in love with Vietnam

                  Ramón Fernández, a Spanish photographer was on display for nearly 40 black and white photographs showing his love for Vietnam at an exhibition in Navia city in the Asturias Autonomous Region of Spain.

A photo exhibition (Source:VNA)
The photos, which were taken during Ramón Fernández’s recent trips to Vietnam , bring visitors to different destinations from Ha Long Bay in the North, Hue imperial capital city in the Central and the Mekong River Delta in the South.

Through the eyes of the Spanish photographer, Vietnamese people are friendly, hospitable and hardworking and the country boasts a stunning natural beauty.

Ramón Fernández first discovered Vietnam in a tour in early 2007 and he returned to the country in October the same year to have a deeper insight into the country, with which he has “fallen in love”.

The Spanish photographer visited the country again during the following two years. He has planned to return to the S-shaped country by the end of this year.

Two photos of Vietnam themed “Rice field” and “Train in Hanoi ” helped Ramón Fernández win prizes at a domestic art exhibition.

Earlier, the photo collection was introduced in Barcelona city and four venues in the Asturias region.

Vietnam Airline offers discounts to Europe, Northeast Asia flights


Vietnam Airline has announced to discount ticket prices on a few flights to Europe and Northeast Asia from now until March 31 , Thoi bao kinh te Saigonquoted the national carrier as saying Saturday.

According to the report, the round-trips fare from Ho Chi Minh City to London is now only US$699, down 46 percent from normal. A trip from HCMC to Moscow and back now costs $700, a 39 percent discount.

Meanwhile, customers can expect to pay $480 for a round-trip ticket from HCMC to Tokyo and $449 from HCMC to Seoul.

Quoted fares do not include taxes and surcharges, the report said.

Vietnam Airlines currently operates 25 flights per week from HCMC to Japan and 14 to South Korea. The national carrier also offers 25 flights to England, France and Germany each week, and seven to Russia.

My Khe Beach - Unfogetable Charm Of Da Nang


Danang has many attractions such as Son Tra Peninsula, Ba Na Mountain, Cham Museum and nearby Hoi An ancient town, you should miss My Khe beach where is recognized as one of the most unforgettable charm of Danang. It is located about six kilometres east of Danang and 24 kilometres north of Hoi An. 

The beach is a nine-kilometer stretch of smooth sand and is famous for its fresh atmosphere and blue water. 

The beach has been voted one of the six most attractive beaches on the planet by American business magazine Forbes. The Australian magazine, Sunday Herald Sun, also ranked the 900m-long My Khe Beach in the top 10 Asian beaches, saying that Australia is endowed with so many beaches but they can’t forget the first impression of My Khe with its  crystal-clear blue water and long sandy beach.

Behind the beach is a dark green poplar forest. The beach is next to the city center and is easily accessible by road and various means of transport. It also has resorts, restaurants, bungalows and various abundant services right on the beach, creating favorable conditions for tourists to relax on the seashores with all home comforts.

The sea water in My Khe is cool with small waves so tourists can bathe all-year round, especially in summer from May to August. Han River suspension bridge has been completed and links the east area to the west area, making transportation easy. As a result, My Khe Beach is an attractive resort for tourists.



Tourism sector expects bumper heritage year

"Heritage Tourism" is the theme of Vietnam tourism this year. With new theme, Vietnam's tourism is expected  to robust growth and increased competition with other countries in the region. General Director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyen Van Tuan has said. 

Visitor numbers up

During the Tet holiday, the number of international and local tourists to Ha Noi increased, according to the city's Culture, Sport and Tourism Department, adding that the number of overseas Vietnamese who visited Viet Nam for the Tet holiday rose dramatically due to visa exemptions.

Non-Vietnamese arrivals reached 183,000, up 16 per cent over the same period last year, while overseas Vietnamese arrivals totalled nearly 700,000. The department also predicted the number of tourists from traditional markets including China, Japan, France, Australia, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries would increase in the first quarter of the year.

Domestic tourist numbers to Ha Noi during the Tet holiday rose 40 per cent over the same period last year or about 1.8 million visitors. The Huong (Perfume) Pagoda festival and the Thang Long Imperial Citadel relic site attracted the largest number of tourists.

The ancient capital of Hue in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue also welcomed 51,000 tourists, a 40 per cent increase during the one-week Tet holiday against last year's figures. As a result, the city's tourism industry made a turnover of more than VND23 billion (about US$1.1 million) during the week.

Targets for 2012

Viet Nam's tourism industry expects to welcome 6.5 million international tourists and 32 million local visitors this year, for an estimated turnover of VND150 trillion ($7.1 billion), the VNAT said.

To reach these targets, the industry will launch campaigns to raise awareness for community-based tourism. Tourism development must bring benefits for the community and boost the local economy in a sustainable way. Indigenous people will not run tourist businesses but will participate in their services. Tourist companies will run tourist services and have a duty to contribute 10 per cent of their profits to the local authorities.

Also, the 11-million-euro ($14.35 million), five-year responsible environment and society tourism (ESRT) development programme, funded by the European Union (EU) last year, set up ESRT services during the 2011-15 period. This will support the implementation of the Viet Nam Tourism Development Strategy and financially contribute to the implementation of key tourism development programmes.

Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh predicted travel to increase in popularity and international tourism to continue growing. According to the World Tourism Organization, in 2012 the number of international tourists will reach one billion, and the total income of the world's tourism service is estimated at over $1 trillion. Viet Nam's tourism industry will continue to promote growth and sustainable development with an average yearly growth of 11.5-12 per cent between 2011 and 2020. 

Viet Nam hopes to receive 10-15 million foreign tourists and 47-48 million domestic tourists by 2020. The industry also expects to obtain a total revenue of about $18-19 billion, contributing from 6.5 – 7 per cent of GDP, creating three million jobs including 870,000 workers directly employed by the tourism trade. Minister Anh also said the industry should focus on improving the quality of services and develop unique tourism experiences to compete with other countries both in the region and throughout the world. Viet Nam should promote maritime tourism, heritage tourism, eco-tourism in the future and tourism companies should strengthen links between regions and localities towards the formation of specific regional tourism products to attract visitors.


West Lake electric car service launched


The Ho Tay electric car tourism route has official been launched for visitors to discover the history, culture and beauty of the 18-km long lake.
Five tourism packages will be offered to visit famous sites, discover and enjoy the beauty of the lake, transport passengers, and other services as requested. 

Tourists will have the opportunity to visit famous sites along the route including Vong Thi, Tao Sach, and Tran Quoc pagodas, Quan Thanh temple and 20 other relics, and enjoy the special food around West Lake including noodles, snails, and crispy shrimp pancakes. 

Each tour lasts from one to two hours. There are a total of 30 cars, each one covering 0.6-1km. 

**On the same day, a pair of ceramic dragons, the largest of their kind in Vietnam, were inaugurated in the West Lake area. 

The two ceramic dragons, which are made after the dragon style of the Ly dynasty, are 7.5 metres tall each. Their bodies are decorated by ceramic plates. 

The work was made by artisans from Bat Trang pottery craft village in Hanoi at a total cost of nearly VND2.6 billion. Earlier, the pair set the Vietnam Guinness record as the largest ceramic dragons and they were on display on the occasion of the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi in 2010 before being moved to the new site.


Ho Chi Minh City in world top ten cities for street food

           According to the USA's Food and Wine Magazine, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top ten cities for street food. This list is also including some other famous cities in the world :


Austin, Texas



South by Southwest put Austin on the map for its indie music scene, but the city is gaining just as much recognition for its street food such as Lucky J's fried-chicken waffle tacos (wrapped in a waffle shell) and kimchi fries from the Chi'Lantro Korean-Mexican fusion truck.


Bangkok, Thailand



Bangkok is the ultimate tourist destination for any street-foodie, It boasts thriving markets throughout the city, along with some of the most robustly flavored street snacks from neon-lit Yaowarat Road in Chinatown. Here, makeshift stands offer pork skewered on sugar canes; fragrant fish curries, and sweet bananas deep-fried in rice-flour batter; as well as the notoriously stinky fruit durian.


Berlin, Germany



Beer flows freely in Berlin, so there's almost always a street-food vendor (imbisse) within stumbling distance. The best offerings are influenced by outsiders,such as Turkish doner kebabs and currywurst—fried sausage covered in a gloopy sauce of ketchup and curry powder (ingredients sourced from British soldiers in the 1940s). The boho Kreuzberg neighborhood is also home to one of city's best-known vendors, Curry 36.


Chicago, Illinois



Chicago street food is only semi-legal, since cooking technically isn't allowed on carts and trucks, but that hasn't deterred operations like the Gaztro-Wagon (naan-wich), the Meatyballs Mobile (meatballs) and the Southern Mac (mac and cheese) from launching trucks that assemble cooked ingredients. Although some 30 trucks have now entered the race, operators still foster a positive competitive spirit with weekly meet-up events, like Food Truck Tuesdays at North and Halsted Avenues in Lincoln Park, and Food Truck Thursdays at Ethyl's Beer and Wine Dive in the West Loop.


Istanbul, Turkey



Turkish doner kebabs can be found in nearly every city in Europe,, but Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city, offers much more, with specialty kiosks scattered throughout the city hawking börek (flaky stuffed pastries), simit (ring-shaped sesame bread resembling a pretzel) and kumpir (baked potatoes stuffed with everything from ketchup and pickles to olives and sausage).


Los Angeles, California



Credit Los Angeles for kick-starting the US food-truck craze, which followed the success of F & W Best New Chef 2010 Roy Choi's Kogi Truck and its Korean tacos. You can now find almost any kind of casual food on wheels: dim sum, grilled cheese and even Top Chef Masters alum Ludo Lefebvre's fried chicken and honey-lavender biscuits from his truck, Ludo Bites.


Mexico City, Mexico



There's no denying the appeal of a good taco, but the Mexican capital has plenty of other great antojitos (street snacks), such as roasted elotes (corn on the cob), fried corn masa huaraches and cornmeal cakes known as tlacoyos. Food stalls can be found throughout the city, or centrally located in the bustling Mercado San Juan, in the Cuauhtémoc borough, and La Merced, in the La Merced neighborhood.


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam



Saigon's street foods range from the savory soup known as pho and the French colonial–influenced banh mi (pâté sandwiches on French bread) to regional southern specialties like banh xeo (stuffed pancakes) and canh chi (fish soup). A trip to the mega-sized Ben Thanh Market will also yield spring rolls, spices and a knockoff designer handbag.


Hong Kong, People's Republic of China



Visitors flock to the jam-packed night market on Temple Street in the Kowloon neighborhood to feast on cheap hot pots, curried fish balls and fried seafood such as squid, prawns and oysters. This is also the city for adventurous finds such as skewers of stinky tofu and a wide range of organ meats.


Marrakech, Morocco


Filled with tapestries, hookahs and ceramic tagines, the centuries-old markets of Marrakech have long been a global destination for chefs seeking exotic spices, specialty grains and flavorful meats. The main square, Djemaa el Fna, is packed with food stalls selling ladles of escargot, skewers of seasoned meats and harira (lentil and chickpea soup), along with bulk bags of dried fruits and nuts.


Source: Food and Wine

In festival season, tourism still cools

           According to small and medium tour operators, although the first month of New Lunar Year is the festival season but tourism demands decreased in comparison with the same period of last year.


Demand weak

Worshiping together with traveling on the first days of the spring seems to be the spiritual need for many people. Therefore, in previous years, the demand for transport services was always very high after Tet. The vehicle rent jumped by 15-30 percent, from ordinary days. Especially, on auspicious days, which Vietnamese people believed were good for the departures, the rent might increase by 40-50 percent.

However, things seem quite different this year. In the economic downturn, transport companies now do not have many jobs to do. Meanwhile, many families use their private cars.

Deputy Director of Tien Thanh Trade, Tourism and Service Company Tran Ngoc Thanh complained that the number of customers reduces dramatically in comparison with the last year. 

“Customers only booked services on the first 10 days after Tet. In previous years, people rushed to book the tours departing n 22nd-23rd of January. However, to date, we have got contracts until the 16th only,” Thanh said.

Director of Tuan Minh Trade and Tourism Company Nguyen Kien Cuong, also said he feels discouraged because the number of customers hiring vehicles on the 6th day of the new Lunar New Year was so low, even though this was considered an auspicious day. Especially, businesses and agencies – the biggest clients expected, did not book services.

“The number of vehicles booked for the departures in the first 10 days of January decreased by 40 percent in comparison with the same period of the last year,” he complained.

Nguyen Thi Thoan, Director of An Truong Phat Trade and Service Company, has noted that people now tend to order big cars. The number of clients ordering 45-seat cars has increased significantly. “Travelers may gather in big groups and rent big cars, which helps reduce the costs,” Thoan said.

She also said that in previous years, clients mostly made 2-day-and-1-night tours to Yen Tu-Cua Ong. However, nowadays, they tend to depart early in the morning and return home late.

Due to the low demand, Tien Thanh has raised the service fee by 200,000-400,000 dong per route. The cost for the travel to Yen Tu pagoda is 2.2 million dong, to Huong Pagoda 1.6-1.9 million dong, Tran Temple 1.6 million dong.

Tuan Minh has announced the rent of 5-6 million dong per day for 45-seat car to Bai Dinh-Trang An pagoda on weekend. Thoan said she may have to reduce the rent for the trips to depart after the 15th of January.

Travel firms scramble for short tours

After offering two tours from HCM City to Yen Tu, Huong and Bai Dinh Pagodas at 7.7-8.1 million dong (4 day tour), Du Lich Viet is selling the six day tour HCM City – Hanoi – Tuan Chau Island – Sa Pa. The travelers, who book the tour, will have to pay 9 million dong.

Meanwhile, Saigontourist is selling 10 tours to the northern, central and southern regions by air and road, which would depart in February and March, 2012.

“We are waiting for the airlines to accept the preferential airfares. Hopefully that the tour fees would not increase,” An said.

In Hanoi, on the ancient streets, travel firms organize short distance tours every day with low tour fees and flexible conditions. Vuong Manh Tien, a senior executive of Vietnam Open Travel, said one has to pay 400,000-500,000 dong only to go to Yen Tu, Huong and Bai Dinh pagodas, not including the tickets for suspension cable.




Heavy rush for domestic, foreign tours during Tet

This period the Asiatic governing had declared the Tet pass schedule such early, prompting people to race to production tours, with   direction agencies having inferior minute to groom for a variety of exciting tours.  

Writer grouping necessity to hold elongated distance tours, since this assemblage the Tet holidays give be for 9 oblong life. Few localized movement agents news that the amount of incoming and outward tours registered during Tet soul increased by 30 proportion compared to the unvaried period net period.

Traditionally, for generations the Vietnamese people have preferred to spend Tet holidays with their family members at home. This culture is changing fast, and many now look forward to using their free time to take tours either within the country or abroad.

Travel agencies inundated with tour bookings

According to travel agencies, 70 percent of tourists have registered for tours that offer low airfares.

Saigon Tourist Travel Company is organizing more than 150 domestic tours during the Tet holidays, serving more than 120,000 tourists nationwide, an increase of 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

The number of overseas Vietnamese account for 31 percent. The destinations most popular with overseas Vietnamese are Nha Trang, Da Lat, Hue, Hoi An, Phong Nha, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.

Fiditour Company has registered about 10,000 tourists for inbound tours and 8,000 for outbound tours during Tet, an increase of 24 percent compared to the same period last year.

Viet Travel Company said that 3,500 tourists will depart on January 24 (January 2 of the lunar calendar), of which 1,900 are registered for inbound tours and 1,600 for outbound tours.

The number of tourists registered for Thailand tours have increased this year. 600 out of 3,000 tourists registered for tours to Thailand at Viet Travel.

This proves that a long Tet holiday schedule motivates people to travel to far off destinations.

Travel agencies welcome international visitors

Many local travel agencies are preparing to welcome international visitors during Tet in Vietnam.

Saigon Tourist will welcome more than 2,000 international visitors from European countries, including crew and passengers of Costa Classica cruise ship on January 22 (December 29 of the lunar calendar) on a visit to Ha Long Bay.

On January 23 (January 1 of the lunar calendar), Saigon Tourist will see off the Costa Classica cruise ship from Hai Phong to Da Nang and the Superstar Aquarius cruise ship with 1,000 international visitors and crew members from Da Nang to Hue.

On the same day, Saigon Tourist will also welcome Indochina river cruise liner with more than 50 international visitors from France and Belgium for a five days tour of Chau Doc – Sa Dec – Vinh Long – My Tho – Ho Chi Minh City.

Mekong Delta provinces are proving to be attractive destinations for international tourists.

Tourism sector bemoans sharp price hikes

A value alter in nigh all services from hotels to displace and restaurants and a higher work range at hotels than the regular surface fuck conveyed the toll of inward touristry surging.

Bui Viet Thuy Tien, managing director of Asian Trails, said many hotels in HCMC, mainly luxurious ones, often set a higher exchange rate than officially quoted by banks.

While foreign partners make transfers in foreign currency, hotels fix the exchange rate at VND22,000 per dollar, instead of the VND21,000 quoted by banks, thus causing losses for tour operators who are partners of these hotels.

“With such a high exchange rate, we lose about 5% for each U.S. dollar and the loss will amount to hundreds of millions of Vietnam dong for total sales of US$100,000,” Tien added.

As per the Government’s Decree 95/2011/ND-CP on foreign exchange and gold trading management that took effect on October 20 last year, those quoting prices in foreign currency will be fined from VND300-500 million.

Under the new decree, tourism companies and hotels have found it hard to provide local currency prices to foreign clients, so they insist on the quotation in the dollar or euro.

To deal with the problem, domestic travel agencies plan to adjust their tour prices. “We are forced to adjust up prices given the rising tour package price, but we also have to manage to survive the current fierce competition,” said Hoang Huu Loc, chairman of Saigontourist Travel Service Company.

Similarly, local hotels have difficulty setting prices for service agreements under the present circumstance. They are concerned their competitiveness will be eroded when applying a high exchange rate but consider this solution the best way for helping them avoid risk of exchange rate volatility.

“We have had no choice but to charge a high exchange rate for a number of contracts,” said Nguyen Thi Xuan Hong, director of Vien Dong Hotel.

Like in previous years, the local tourism sector this year has failed to maintain inbound tourism prices. The package tour price in this segment has gone up by at least 5% to 15%. On the contrary, neighboring countries have kept prices unchanged in order to attract more customers in the face of the global economic downturn.

Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travelink, said prices of all services had surged, with the transport fee increase recorded as the highest level. He clarified that every service is part of the whole package tour, so it is impossible for tourism businesses to keep prices unchanged if the price of a service rises.