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Lucky Adventure Travel Indochina – Summer Promotion 2013

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA has launched “Great summer holiday with lucky travels” for summer promotion 2013 in Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia. The program applies for all customers request tour on website from 25 March to 30 September 2013.

Conquering Fansipan Vietnam to be the champion

Fansipan is the highest peak of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, so it is called the “Roof of Indochina” while the local people call it Huasipan, which means large tottering rock.

Motorbiking Ho Chi Minh Trail, Vietnam - an unforgettable travel adventure

Riding a motorbike from the North to the South of Vietnam was an amazing experience. Now, while I didn’t ride the motorcycle on myself (Anthony did an amazing job!) it is still something that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Discover Vietnam by cycling

People who had traveled to Vietnam agreed that it was an interesting experience in general, but the bicycle tours definitely brought more adventurous excitements.

A Look into Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site and it really deserves the designation. It is one of the most exciting unusual places I have been to in my life.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Seven attractive destinations in Vietnam

Beautiful beaches, year-round green tropical parks, mighty rivers, unique fishing villages, special culinary characteristics ... are always the force of gravity of Vietnam in the eyes of foreign travelers.

1. Hanoi


Voted by Smart Travel Asia magazine as one of the most attractive destinations in Asia, Hanoi has its own charm to attract domestic and foreign tourists.

Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Hanoi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda (built in 1049), the Temple of Literature (built in 1070), Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi Opera House, President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum...

Hanoi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake..., which are the lungs of the city, with their surrounding gardens and trees providing a vital source of energy.

Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Hanoi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Hanoi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk...

2. Sa Pa

Sapa
Cool climate all year round and the beautiful natural landscapes are the most charming features of Sa Pa. 
Sapa Vietnam is a favorite attraction to tourists, both domestic and foreign thanks to its beautiful scenery and colorful culture. The French used to consider Sapa as Summer Capital of Northern Vietnam in the early decades of the 20th century. Its naturally gifted beauty keeps attracting more and more people to spend their vacation there since then.

Aside from leisure pace of sightseeing and exploring the diversity of culture in Sapa, this is also an ideal place for more adventurous tourists with many trekking tours available. Or, you can also do some trekking on your own and stay with the hill tribes for an insightful understanding of the ethnic groups here.

 April and May are the best time for tourists to watch the most scenic beauties of Sapa, or else it might be cold and foggy before that and rainy after that. During these two peak months, the town is blossoming with pink and white flowers, and green pastures in valleys. The clouds that settle in the valley in early morning would quickly disappear.

 Most tourists agree that it would be regretful if the leisure and relaxation time in cool and fresh weather is not accompanied by visiting trips to Sapa's prideful natural beauty spots, such as Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave.

 Sapa is home to various families of flowers of captivating colors, unique in the vast country. When Tet, the Lunar New Year Festival, comes, the whole township of Sapa is filled with the pink color of peach blossom brought from the vast forests of peach just outside the town. Sapa is regarded as the kingdom of orchids as well.

Foreign tourists are actually fond of scarce and precious specialties of Sapa, such as forest's product, handicrafts, delicacies (smoked meat, "thang co", "cai meo", san lung wine, corn wine, etc.), typical of ethnic minority people.

Local markets are the town's typically cultural element, which are always crowded and joyful, attracting hundreds of visitors. This is the common place for minority groups to gather and exchange goods. Market sessions are also a chance for local people to promenade. No foreign visitor could help joining such a market session, a typical cultural element of Sapa. What’s more, tourists coming to Sapa at weekends have the great chance to learn about local ethnic people's courtship and martial life, through the Sapa love market and wife kidnapping ceremony of the H'Mong group. The ceremony will begin on April 29th.

3. Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Imagine 2000 or more islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of breathtaking beauty. Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, and legend claims the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, this mystical landscape of limestone islets is often compared to Guilin in China or Krabi in southern Thailand. In reality, Halong Bay is more spectacular. The bay’s immense number of islands is dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, and their sparsely forested slopes ring with birdsong.

Beyond a boat cruise, visitors to Halong also come to explore the caves. There are few real beaches in Halong Bay, but Lan Ha Bay has idyllic sandy coves a short boat hop from Cat Ba Town.

Sprawling Halong City is the bay’s main gateway, but the raffish collection of high-rise hotels and karaoke bars is not a great introduction to this incredible site.

Most visitors sensibly opt for tours that include sleeping on a boat in the bay. Some travellers dodge Halong City and head straight for Cat Ba Town, from where trips to less-visited, equally alluring Lan Ha Bay are easily set up. Cat Ba Island can also be a good base for visiting the landscapes of Halong Bay itself.
As the number-one tourist attraction in the northeast, Halong Bay attracts visitors year-round. February to April is often cool and drizzly, and the ensuing fog can make visibility low, but also adds an ethereal air. From May to September tropical storms are frequent, and year round, tourist boats sometimes need to alter their itineraries, depending on the weather. Some tour companies offer full or partial refunds if tours are cancelled; check when you book.

4. Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnel
Cu Chi Tunnel is 70 km from Ho Chi Minh City in the Northwest. It is miniature battle versatile of Cu Chi’s military and people during the 30-year struggle longtime and fierce to fight invading enemy to receive independence, freedom for motherland. It also is the special architecture lying deeply underground with many stratums, nooks and crannies as complex as a cobweb, having spares for living, meeting and fighting with total lengths over 200 km.

Real legends coming from the Tunnel are over human imaginativeness. Creeping down into the tunnel, only some yards, you can find out why Vietnam, A tiny country could defeat its enemy, the large and richest country in the world. Why Cu Chi, a barren and poor land could face strongly for 21 years to the army crowded many times compared with its force, warlike and equipped modern war weapons and means.
In the fight, Cu Chi people won illustriously. Thanks to systems of tunnel ways, fortifications, combat trenches, soldiers and people of Cu Chi fought very bravely creating glorious feat of arms. The American invaders at first time stepped into Cu Chi land, they had to face so fierce resistances from tunnels from important and very difficult bases that they cried out, “Underground villages”, “Dangerous secret zone”, “cannot see any VC but they appear everywhere”… With its war pasture, Cu Chi Tunnels become a historical war hero of Vietnamese People like a 20th century legend and famous land in the world.

5. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc
One of Vietnam’s star attractions, mountainous and forested Phu Quoc is a splendid tropical getaway set with beautiful white-sand beaches and quaint fishing villages.

The tear-shaped island lies in the Gulf of Thailand, 45km west of Ha Tien and 15km south of the coast of Cambodia. At 48km long (with an area of 1320 sq km), Phu Quoc is Viet­nam’s largest island.

Phu Quoc is not really part of the Mekong Delta and doesn’t share the delta’s extraordinary ability to produce rice. The most valuable crop is black pepper, but the islanders here have traditionally earned their living from the sea. Phu Quoc is also famous in Vietnam for its production of high-quality fish sauce (nuoc mam).

The island has some unusual hunting dogs, which have ridgebacks, curly tails and blue tongues and are said to be able to pick up their masters’ scent from over 1km away (the nuoc mam their masters eat certainly helps). Unfortunately, the dogs have decimated much of the island’s wildlife.
Despite the impending development (of a new international airport, a golf course and a casino), much of this island is still protected since becoming a national park in 2001. Phu Quoc National Park covers close to 70% of the island, an area of 31, 422 hectares.
Phu Quoc’s rainy season is from July to November. The peak season for tourism is midwinter, when the sky is blue and the sea is calm.

6. Mekong River

Mekong Delta River
Vietnam is famous for its two big areas growing rice. The one in the North is the Red River Delta, and the other in the South is the Mekong Delta.

The Mekong Delta is formed from the mighty Mekong River which originated from the Tibetan highland plateau 2,800 miles away. The river makes its way through China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam before flowing into the sea. The part of the river running through Vietnam is tore into nine branches and named Cuu Long by Vietnamese locals, which means Nine Dragons to describe the nine branches that terminate the flow of this great river as it is absorbed by the sea.

The locals in Mekong delta live right on the edge of the rivers or canals. Their home structures varied from place to place as they are built conveniently from whatever materials found. Fisheries can be found right under those homes. It can be said that life in the delta is tightly woven with its rivers with floating markets while other activities and businesses are conducted on its banks.

Visiting the Mekong delta, tourists can stop at major cities and towns such as Bac Lieu, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre, My Tho, Chau Doc, Sa Dec, Long Xuyen and Can Tho… Aside from the cities, there are many national parks and nature reserves in the area. Some of the names are Con Dao national park, Lung Ngoc Hoang nature reserve, Mui Ca Mau national park, Nui Cam nature reserve, Phu Quoc national park, Thanh Phu nature reserve, Tram Chim national, etc…

Taking a Mekong river cruise is the best way to experience the local life on the river as well as to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. There are many cruise operator offering cruising services for tourists.
The usual itinerary for a Mekong trip is around 5-7 days. The trip often starts from Ho Chi Minh City and then goes down along the Tien River or Hau River. For longer itineraries, a few tourist destinations in Cambodia or Laos can be included in the routes.

7. Hoi An

Hoi An
The ancient town of Hoi An, one of six features in Vietnam granted world heritage status is a very popular destination for tourists. It is renowned for its peacefulness. But when the moon gets fuller in the middle of the lunar month, this cozy town with old houses and small streets looks even more romantic and beautiful as colorful lanterns light the night-time scene.

Long-lived traditions and customs tell tourists a lot about the lifestyles of Hoi An people going way back. Tourists have the chance to learn about such activities of Chinese origin as bai choi or Vietnamese musical bingo. Then there is Chinese chess, earthen-pot breaking while blindfolded and more.

 In addition to the beauty of Hoi An, the dedication of local tourism managers have turned the town into a must-visit destination for tourists when they travel around the important central part of Vietnam. That Hoi An can provide tourists with more diversified services and local cultural features makes it even more attractive.
Walking, biking or using a cyclo-pedicab to cruise through the narrow streets is equally enjoyable. Visitors just need to bear in mind that they will need to stop a lot as every corner of the town is likely to attract their admiration.

The more the town is explored, the more enjoyable it is. Tourists are introduced to ancient mossy tile-roofed houses with special architectural features and very Chinese names like Sanh Hien and Phung Hung, the Japanese Bridge, the assembly halls of Chinese from Fujian and Guangdong, the Hong Phat Church, and the house of the Tran family.

Walking along Bach Dang Street by the Hoai River late in the afternoon or sitting at Cua Dai Beach to enjoy seafood in the dreamy light of kerosene lamps is a fantastic experience. With the lamps from afar, Cua Dai Beach looks like a piece of the dark and starry sky. In that atmosphere tourists have mysterious and floating feelings.

Greener rice fields, villages and islets are the new destinations that make Hoi An “a new ancient town." Besides the newly-built resorts at Cua Dai Beach, along the way to this area tourists can enjoy the freshness of the surroundings and the beauty of a picturesque scene with buffalos, fishing boats and spongy waves.
High-speed boats take tourists to Cu Lao Cham, also called Heavenly Islet. There, tourists witness the beauty and wildness of such beaches as Bai Bim, Bai Ong and Bai Chong, as well as take part in activities like exploring coral reefs, swimming, and enjoying seafood.

Source:VietNamNet Bridge 

ACTIVETRAVEL AISA would like to recommend Motorbiking the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Complete Challenge tour .The legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail was the supply line used by North Vietnam to link North and South Vietnam during the American War. Soldiers, ammunition, weapons and supplies were carried by hand, bicycle and truck for hundreds of kilometers through the otherwise impenetrable jungle that covered Vietnam’s mountainous border with Laos. A testimony to the ingenuity, fortitude and commitment of the northern Vietnamese, the trail slipped from use at the end of the war and was taken back by the jungle. Recent road work that follow original sections of the trail have changed this. Besides incredible driving, deep in the Vietnamese countryside, this ride takes in the charming ancient trading town of Hoian, Khe Sanh battle site and DMZ. 

Highlights:

  • Stunning scenery
  • Historical sites
  • Charming ancient trading town of Hoi An
  • Relaxing in Dalat
  • Encountering ethnic minorities
  • Just you, no others travelers
  • All inclusive

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Things you need to know when Travelling Within Vietnam

By Mercredi 
Vietnamese people are very gracious, polite, and generous and will make every effort to make guests feel comfortable. These are the experiences that will enrich your visit to Vietnam. 


DO 
* Store your cash, credit cards, airline tickets and other valuables in a safe place. Most 4-star hotels have in-room safes; otherwise ask the reception to keep your valuable things in their deposit facility. 
* Always be careful of the belongings you carry with you during your holiday. 
* Take care of all your valuables. Never leave your bags unattended 
* Vietnamese dress conservatively. Despite the heat, it’s best not to show off too much skin. If you do, especially girls, you’ll only draw stares from the locals. 
* Dress discreetly while entering temples and other religious places. 
* If invited into a home, always remove your shoes at the front door when entering. 
* Ask for permission when taking a photograph of someone. If they indicate that they do not want you to, then abide by their wishes. DO NOT offer money or push the issue. 
* Use waterproof sun cream if you plan to spend a good amount of time in the water when you travel to Vietnam. 
* Change money from a recognized moneychanger. 
* Indulge in some haggling while buying goods without price tags whenever you go shopping in Vietnam. 
* Travel with recommend tour agencies. Even if you plan to buy tickets when in country, research your journey a little first on the Internet. 

DON’T 
* Never carry more money than you need when walking around the streets. 
* Do not wear large amounts of jewelry. There are two reasons for not doing this: (1) It is considered impolite to flaunt wealth in public; (2) It is more likely that you may become a victim of a pickpocket or drive-by bag snatcher. 
* When taking a ride by motorbike taxi (xe om) make sure your bag, if any, is not on display or easy to grab. Bag snatches, although still rare, are probably the most likely crime a tourist would encounter, and it raises the probability immensely if you are tailing a camera or a laptop in the wind. 
* Don't wear singlet, shorts, dresses or skirts, or tops with low-neck lines and bare shoulders to Temples and Pagodas. To do this is considered extremely rude and offensive. 
* Avoid giving empty water bottles, sweets and candies or pens to the local people when trekking through ethnic minority villages. You cannot guarantee that the empty bottles will be disposed of in a correct manner, and the people have no access to dental health. If you want to give pens, ask your guide to introduce you to the local teacher and donate them to the whole community. 
* Never sleep or sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the family altar when in someone’s house. 
* Do not try to take photographs of military installations or anything to do with the military. This can be seen as a breach of national security. Never take video cameras into the ethnic minority villages. They are considered to be too intrusive by the local people. 
* Physical displays of affection between lovers in public are frowned upon. That’s why you may come across couples holding hands but not hugging or kissing. 
* Losing your temper in Vietnam means a loss of face. Keep a cool head and remain polite, you’ll have a greater chance of getting what you want. 
* Remember, this is Vietnam, a developing country, and things don’t quite work as you are maybe used to. Don’t be paranoid about your safety; just be aware of your surroundings. 


The above advice is meant to help you have a perfect trip to Vietnam. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SUNRISE OVER HALONG BAY

Written by Jenmodelm

We all waited and waited for the sun to rise over the giant rock mountains. It was nearly 6:30am before the sun peaked over the rocks.It was a glorious magnificent sunrise.

Sunrise from the boat…a lovely sight.
 Breakfast was served shortly after, it was an Early start to the day. I couldn’t wait for coffee.Each got one fried egg and as much dry white toast as we wanted.

After breakfast we had to be checked out of our rooms by 9am so the boat men could get ready for the next tour. We were stopping by the floating village. We were greeted by the sound of blasting techno dance club type music coming from somebody’s shack. It was so odd. We got in groups of four and ladies came in small wooden row boats to take us around the small village of 300 people; the biggest floating village in halong bay. They even had a little floating primary school. Most parents don’t want their children to go to the city to get more education because it costs money and they want them to stay and hell fish.

The wooden houses floated on large ice chest sized styrofoam or big blue plastic tanks the size of a beer keg. Few people smiled or waved. I think there’s mixed feelings of tourists snapping away photos and strolling through their little village. They have to get at least one tour group a day– minimum. It’s low season here I’m Vietnam too. Our tour guide also said some local people are not so thrilled about the tourists visiting and have been doing so for the last sight years now. The people moved from the mainland to the floating villages because there is more fish available out in the open waters, they don’t have to pay taxes and they prefer the lifestyle.

After seeing the floating village we had two and a half hours back to the mainland. While most people took refuge in the shade I relaxed on the Sundeck soaking in the suns rays and view. Even though our boat went very slow and the scenery was similar I enjoyed soaking as much of it in as I could. I was so relaxed I failed to put sunscreen on my tummy.

A local  fishing boat in the bay
Once back on the mainland we had a quick transfer to our ethnic travel van and an hour drive north towards the Chinese border. We would depart from another Fishing port to our next destination. A small long skinny island with essentially no tourists but ourselves.We had seafood lunch on the boat. Always so good.

A local rows a boat in the bay. Many locals still live and work on the water in the bay.
We were able to kayak one more time, although this time much less impressive than the first. There were no large rock formations or caves to go under.Instead it seemed we were kayaking in a big lake. It was strange to think it was still actually the ocean. We went for a quick swim and jumped off the boat being careful not to get stung by any jellyfish.

Kayaking is a great way to get up close.
The boat continued on for another hour and we sat on the roof of the boat watching the sun set. It was glorious. The sun was just a bright orange ball. Like a Japanese sun in Vietnam. It was really stunning.We arrived at the pier and it was nearly dark. Two tuk tuk scooters picked us up to our homestay.

Sunset in the bay left a golden glow. A great reason to do an overnight junk boat.
I was surprised to get my own room. Unlike the homestays in sapa where mattresses are set side by side, our tour guide said that ethnic travel paid for this family’s Home to be extended into.More of a guesthouse. They wouldn’t make any Money for three years to pay off the house,Thereafter they would make money from it. The family is retired, so they seemed happy to be doing it.

Dinner was served at 7 and we helped to make fresh spring rolls with thin rice paper. Afterwards they were fried and ever so fresh and hot. Soo good! I also noticed that our leftover rice from lunch was being dried on the roof of the boat. They used it to make this amazing popcorn- tasting dried rice with corn. Never had anything like it.

After one beer at dinner and a full belly I was sapped. I called bed time at 9. Took a shower and Crashed just a little before 10.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend  Kayaking Halong Bay tour. Halong Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, covers an area of 1500 square km. with more than a thousand limestone peaks soaring from its crystalline emerald water. The calm sea provides an ideal location for sea kayaking as we paddle through a maze of islets amid dramatic natural scenery. With our modern kayaking equipment, we are able to maximize on speed and maneuverability as we explore the open sea and the many hidden lagoons and stalagmite caves that are difficult to access by any other means. After a day of paddling we unwind on our boat and enjoy dinner. This tour offers longer kayaking expedition of Halong Bay. We will paddle amongst islets, visit hidden caves, lagoons, unspoiled beaches, floating fishing village and talk with local fishman. 

Highlights: 




  • Amazing limestone formations
  • Inclusive junk for overnight
  • Beautiful and different kayaking route
  • Support boat all the time
  • All meals included

Thursday, September 19, 2013

World’s largest cave to open for public tours

Written by Soo Kim

Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world, will be open for public viewing from next year.
World’s largest cave opens for public tours.

Son Doong Cave

Son Doong's largest caverns are said to be big enough to enclose entire city streets 

Visitors can now book a six-day trekking tour through the remote jungle of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, including three nights in the magnificent Son Doong Cave.

Son Doong Cave

Led by a team of safety experts and guides, tour groups of no more than eight people will trek across river valleys and visit the Doong Village to meet the local Bru VanKieu people.

Tourists will witness jaw-dropping cave formations, including 250 metre-high cliffs where flying foxes, monkeys and hornbills may be sighted, and descend an 80-metre vertical drop before reaching the first passage into the grand Son Doong Cave which spans over 200 metres wide, 150 metres high and nearly nine kilometres long. Its largest caverns are said to be big enough to enclose entire city streets.


Son Doong Cave
The entrance to the Song Doong Cave was first found by a local called Ho Khanh in 1991 but the cave was fully uncovered by a British expedition team in 2009 led by Howard Limbert.

Son Doong has since been classified as the world’s largest cave by the British Cave Research Association. It is deemed to be nearly twice as big as Malaysia’s Deer Cave which is 90-metres wide, 100-metres high and two kilometres long.

Son Doong Cave

Tucked away deep within Phong Nha Ke Bang in the Quang Binh province near its border with Laos, Son Doong forms part of a network of nearly 150 caves yet to be explored in the Annamite Mountains.
Last month, six people from the US, Russia, Australia and Norway became the first foreign tourist group to have fully explored the Song Doong Cave.

Son Doong Cave
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Son Doong Surroundings: En Cave & Phong Nha National Park Discovery tour.Son Doong Cave, En Cave (Swallow Cave or Hang En) are the most spectacular sights in Quang Binh province (Central of Vietnam). Fortunately, when Son Doong is currently restricted to scientists and cavers only, we can have a great two-day trek to En Cave. The Cave is 1.645 m long and has three mouths. One is halfway up a mountain and two others are located on another mountain which has its foot on the south-east and north-west alongside Rao Thuong Stream. All of these make the cave different from other well-known caves in the country.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Enchanting Sapa through the lens of Thai photographer

During his recent visit to Vietnam, Thai photographer Anan Charoenkal had a chance to visit Sapa and shot stunning photos of this land in the ripe rice season.

Sapa in the harvest season.

The impressive arrays of colors.

In September, Sapa enters the new harvest.

Life is simple.
Morning dew on the terraced fields.

The ladders to heaven.

Clouds.

Yellow.

Blue sky, white clouds, yellow rice.

The harvest time has come.

Source: VietNamNet 

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like recommend Sapa Trekking & Homestay tour.At an elevation of 1,600 meters, Sapa is a delightful former French hill station situated in the mountainous region of Vietnam's northwest, close to the Chinese border. The region is home to many ethnic minority groups, each wearing traditional and colorful attire. This trip includes a trek through the hills and valleys of the Sapa region, discovering several different minorities along the way. You will experience overnight accommodation in the hospitable villages of Giay and Tay ethnic minorities. The apparent hardships are worth it though as we walk through some of the most spectacular scenery that Vietnam has to offer and experience unique villages culture. 

Highlights:

  • Awesome scenery
  • Rice terraces
  • Colorful minority groups 
  • Homestays in minority villages

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