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Vietnam Travel News
Vietnam opens int’l airport in Can Tho

first-visitors-to-vietnmaAfter two years of construction, a new international airport opened in the Mekong Delta province of Can Tho Saturday.

The Can Tho International Airport, which cost VND3 trillion (US$153 million), was built on an area of 20,750 square meters with state-of-the-art facilities, the government said in a report on its website.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremomy, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said the new airport brings a great integration opportunity to Can Tho City and the Mekong Delta, linking it to other regions across the country and the world.

He also urged authorities to speed up the development of other infrastructure projects and solve transport problems that have hindered the trading of goods in the Mekong Delta.

Construction of the airport started in September 2005 and its first phase was completed in January 2009. The airport received 211,000 passengers in 2010, up 39 percent from the previous year.

The other three international airports of Vietnam are in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.
( Source Thanh Nien)
Vietnamese hotels make Condé Nast Traveler list

vietnamese-hotels-make-conde-travelaer-listFour hotels and resorts in Vietnam have made it onto Condé Nast Traveler’s 17th Annual 2011 Gold List of World's Best Places to Stay.

The winners were selected by the magazine’s 25,000 readers.

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, the Life Heritage Resort Hoi An, the Evason Ana Mandara & Six Senses in Nha Trang and the Park Hyatt Saigon were included on the vaunted list, which was released with the January issue of the magazine.

The Metropole was praised for its charm and central location. The Life Resort was lauded for its modern townhouses and river views. The Evason won for its “Southern California meets Cabo vibe” and the Park Hyatt in Ho Chi Minh City for its French colonial style rooms.

The Gold List was compiled using data collected during Condé Nast Traveler's annual Readers' Choice Survey. The scores are given based on the percentage of readers who rate each property feature (location, service, design, food, rooms and activities) as excellent or very good. Only candidates that received a required minimum number of responses were deemed eligible for an award, according to the magazine.

The Life Heritage and the Evason were also included in Condé Nast Traveler’s top-20 list of the Best Resorts in Asia, last November.

The 2010 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards ranked Evason Ana Mandara & Six Senses Spa 8th, followed by Life Heritage Resort Hoi An. The Nam Hai in Hoi An, took the 20th slot.
( Source Thanh Nien)
T?t Market

hanoi-to-host-spring-fairThe approach of T?t (Lunar New Year) is marked by an abundance of decorations in the street and traditional food in the shops. You can almost smell the coming Lunar New Year.

For Vietnamese people, T?t is an occasion not only to enjoy the change of year with family and friends but also the chance to thank the gods, spirits and nature, to visit friends, relatives and teachers, and to remember and honor their forebears.

Long ago, the phrase “s?m T?t” (buying for T?t) was spoken with passion by Vietnamese housewives - not that they had much money to splurge on T?t treats for themselves or the frequent guests they made welcome in their homes.

For the very poor, “s?m T?t” could be a real burden. Families would save up all year so that they could buy something special for themselves, their relatives, and their guests at this most special time.

In olden days, the anticipation would begin to simmer months in advance of the holiday.

Even in the harried, upbeat world of today with all its commercial culturalism and globalization, the lead-up to T?t is still a vibrant time in the countryside.

Now that incomes have risen substantially in Vietnam, most people have deeper pockets and no longer buy the cheap mång and mi?n (dried bamboo shoot and transparent noodles) months before T?t.

Less budget-minded than before, they go about their preparations quietly and rarely engage in animated chatter with their friends and neighbors about what shopping bargains are available where and how best to scrimp and save for T?t.

In the Vietnamese countryside, the important days for T?t shopping at the big provincial markets are the 23rd and from the 27th to the 30th of the final lunar month. This is when rural dwellers hunt for home decorations, prepared food and the essential ingredients for cooking up a feast.

The harvest done, villagers travel to market to prepare for the most important holiday of the year. It’s an exciting place to be, a hive of activity, chatter, color and fun.

What a T?t market offers

The atmosphere of T?t is in the air already as people flock from the remote villages to the big markets. Many set out early in the morning to buy gifts for friends and future in-laws. Farmers bring the best produce from their fields and gardens to the busy world of the T?t market.

These shopping excursions offer a window into Vietnamese culture and customs.

A typical ch? T?t (T?t market) is characterized by a true abundance of g?o n?p (sticky rice), lá dong (green leaf), rice wine, flowers and all kind of food, fruit and decorative plants for T?t. The 23rd is special as that’s the day for buying cá chép (carp) to release later on as an offering to Táo quân (the Spirit of the Kitchen).

Nowadays, the T?t markets feature more and more imported goods alongside the traditional fare.

Special T?t markets

Closing out the old year, a T?t market is not just for serious shoppers but for everybody to breathe in the festive air and enjoy the colorful spectacle.

Big flower markets are common as T?t approaches. One such extravaganza filled with spring blossoms and bonsai trees is held along the Yen Phu road near the villages of Ngoc Ha and Quang Ba in Hanoi. They call it a “flower road market” and each year it seems to stretch out along the road farther than ever (three kilometers at last count).

Two or three weeks before T?t is the time to visit the “flower road market” to buy house plants or a d? quyên (Rhododendron) tree in bloom. Needless to say, it’s full of sightseers revelling in the spring atmosphere.

A T?t market in Vietnam’s uplands is especially exotic. Starting early in the morning, a seemingly endless line of locals on foot, horseback or motorbike snakes into market, filling the stalls specializing in mèn mén (boiled corn powder) and th?ng c? (horse innards soup).

In Nam Dinh Province, in the north, a special market is held from the seventh day of the new lunar year called “Ch? Vi?ng” or “Ch? Âm Ph?,” which means “the market where you can meet the dead.”

Besides shopping for beef and antiquated farming equipment at Ch? Vi?ng, it is said that people can meet and talk with their dear departed on the evening of the seventh and the next morning, if they are lucky.

Visiting a T?t market is a fascinating experience, full of sights, sounds, scents and emotions.
(Source Thanh Nien)
Top 10 dream business destinations
10-destinationsYour colleagues are coming in from Tokyo, you are currently in Vietnam, and your negotiating partners are stationed somewhere outside Baltimore. If location does not really matter, go somewhere for that hard bout of negotiation where location is everything... and where there is little except the natural world to distract you from really getting down to business.

1. Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
With the resort's (www.fourseasons.com/maldiveslg/) several conference-sized rooms, and private sea plane transfer from capital Malé, end your working day by dipping your toes in the Indian Ocean, then refresh for another day of discussion back in your serene thatch-roofed water bungalow. Visit the Marine Discovery Centre, which pioneers research into white sharks and manta rays, and consider persuading your company to give a little something in support of the Maldives' environmental efforts.

2. Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar
Only fourteen guests in total are accommodated on this coral-fringed island (www.chumbeisland.com) floating just off Tanzania's fabled Zanzibar Island. With no mod-cons to disturb you, this is the place to go if intimate, barefoot strategising is the order of the day. Simple, eco-friendly and exclusive, you will soon be resorting to good old fashioned pen-and-paper, then making up for the inconvenience with some of the world's best snorkelling and a home cooked dinner by candle-light.

3. Ireland
With sprawling country castles and wild, rain-lashed scenery in abundance, Ireland's the place to get down to work beside a roaring log fire with perhaps a tot or two of local whisky to grease the cogs. Consider Castle Leslie (www.castleleslie.com), the perfect 1,000-acre estate for a larger corporate retreat, or Tankardstown (www.tankardstown.ie), a smaller, stunningly restored Georgian mansion complete with meeting room and set amid glorious parkland.

4. Clayoquot Sound, Canada
At the mouth of a river off the western coast of Vancouver Island, you will find the Clayoquot Sound Resort (www.wildretreat.com), a series of truly luxury tents harking back to the grand Victorian days of travel. Build team spirit with surfing, kayaking or horse riding adventures, then socialise over a sumptuous locally sourced grilled oyster chowder.

5. Goa, India
Easy to reach with Kingfisher flights (www.flykingfisher.com) from Mumbai or Delhi, retreat to the Park Hyatt Goa (goa.park.hyatt.com) for fabulous food, extensive grounds, plenty of space for meetings and a quiet, calm beach to explore once the working day is done. For something more unusual, rent Aashyana (www.aashyanalakhanpal.com), a luxurious villa in Candolim sleeping up to 13 guests, with extra cottages dotted about the grounds and a staff of 19 to cater to your every whim.

6. The Pampas, Argentina
If your idea of relaxation after a long day's deal-making is a quick game of polo, followed by another of Scrabble, whisk your important colleagues to the red-blooded Estancia El Rocio (www.estanciaelrosio.com), where the steaks are juicy and the welcome warm. With just a handful of rooms and few distractions save mile upon mile of grassy Pampas, this is the perfect place for a few people to knuckle down and get things done, stopping for a bracing gallop whenever the adrenalin needs pumping.

7. Conrad, Bali
With a solid reputation for its business traveller-friendly facilities - including its own dedicated meeting planner - along with the perks of a beachfront Balinese location and its fabulous Jiwa Spa, the Conrad (www.bali.conradmeetings.com) is the perfect destination for a tropical conference.

8. The Nam Hai, Vietnam
Stunning villas set along a mile of central Vietnam coastline - and within easy reach of several Unesco World Heritage sites for those moments off work - the Nam Hai (www.thenamhai.com), now offering corporate facilities, makes for a thoroughly tranquil retreat, with the option of a few five o'clock rounds on the nearby Casuarina-brushed Montgomerie Links golf course.

9.Nikoi Island, Bintan Islands, Indonesia
Hold important talks uninterrupted on this incredible island (www.nikoi.com) just one degree north of the equator; eco-friendly and with no in-room television to disturb you, it is a massage rather than CNN on the menu during downtime. Don not worry, though: there is cell-phone reception so the office can still reach you - if you choose to let it.

10. Hollywood, US
Though it might not be strictly conducive to getting much work done, credit yourself as Executive Producer no matter what your real vocation at the venerable Chateau Marmont (www.chateaumarmont.com), the stuff of real Hollywood legend. With secretarial services readily available, you can make that once-in-a-lifetime deal at the Bar Marmont then have someone else type it up for you while you discretely spot celebrities around the pool.
( Source BBC)
In Hanoi, spring blossoms on Hoang Hoa Tham Street

tet-marketTet (Lunar New Year Festival) is never complete without spring flowers.

In the north, when the spring comes and hundreds of species of flowers come into bloom, it is time to buy flowers and bonsai to welcome the New Year.

Hoang Hoa Tham Street in Hanoi is at its most lively just before the Lunar New Year, with hundreds of flower and bonsai shops setting up on the pavement. The air is filled with the scent of roses, lilies, cherry blossoms, apricot blossoms, water rain and other spring flowers.

Located near Ngoc Ha flower village, this street is known to Hanoians as the place to get seasonal flowers and bonsai. Setting up next to the numerous professional shops, many local vendors deliver trees and flowers from their own gardens, boasting the most competitive prices.

Hoang Hoa Tham Street is the place to find Tet holiday flowers at reasonable prices. If you are looking for some special decoration for the living room, a kumquat tree, or cherry and apricot blossoms would be a good option. There are also many trees and creeper plants on offer, including bamboo trees and jasmine shrubs and vines.

“I am looking for a kumquat tree for the New Year,” says Le Van, a student doing his shopping on the famous street. “I need a tree with yellow flowers and healthy green leaves and buds, so we can keep the tree for at least a month during Tet.”

And just in case you’ve bought more than you can carry, you don’t need to worry about how to take your trees home. There are numerous xe om (motobike taxi) drivers waiting and willing to help you.

(Source Thanh Nien)

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