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You are here:      Home News Latest News Vietnam Travel News 2011
Vietnam Travel News 2011
Getting the most out of Sa Pa travel

Located in the northwestern mountains of the country, Sa Pa is a modest town nestled within the Hoang Lien Son mountain range in Lao Cai Province. Sa Pa is an excellent destination to enjoy outdoor activities with stunning landscapes that attract both domestic and foreign tourists.

Locals introduce brocade products made by ethnic Mong and Dao people to foreign tourists

Travelling in Sa Pa, few tourists miss an opportunity to trek to mountain villages and majestic waterfalls.

Cat Cat Village sits atop unspoiled landscapes and is a desirable destination for trekkers seeking to spend full days walking in a world of natural charm and tranquility.

Visiting the village, tourists will discover various traditional trades of the local people such as weaving, jewelry manipulation, metal work and stone carvings.

The road from Sa Pa winds through hilly terrain, past terraced paddy fields. A sign reads "Welcome to Cat Cat Cultural Village", greeting visitors as they arrive at the entrance of the village.

A leisurely walk within the old village provides visitors with a better understanding of the traditional customs and practices of the ethnic Mong people that live here.

While wandering around the village, I continually asked the locals about their crafts and houses. I was curious about everything and the locals were friendly and ready to help. They also politely asked me to buy some hand-made souvenirs.

Visitors in Cat Cat have an opportunity to admire and watch locals sit with looms and create colourful pieces of brocade. When these pieces of brocade are finished, they are dyed and embroidered with beautiful designs of flowers and birds. Interestingly, Mong women use plants and leaves to dye the fabrics. After dyeing the fabric, they then roll a round, smooth piece of wood, covered with wax, over the material in order to polish. By doing this it helps to make the colours more durable on the fabric.

In addition to their weaving craft, many residents in Cat Cat are good at making gold and silver jewelry. Their products are quite sophisticated, especially the women’s jewelry.

Further into the village are waterfalls along with a stream that weaves its way around boulders, hills and mountains. The pristine stream is spanned by a suspension bridge, which offers a good view of the waterfalls and mountains.

The path after the bridge passes through bamboo forests filled with wild flowers and past tranquil brooks.

Another must-see village is Ta Phin, a remote village located 12km from the centre of Sa Pa, which still retains traditional customs and lifestyles of the Dao, Tay and Mong ethnic groups.

Terraced rice fields make Sa Pa picturesque

It’s recommended for tourists to catch a local xe om  in order to get there. Another option is to rent a motorbike, which provides a convenient and interesting way to discover the landscape and villages.

Despite the winding road to the village, tourists can see picturesque rolling hills and terraced fields on the way. Much of the Sa Pa valley has been cultivated into verdant rice paddy fields equipped with irrigation systems.

Capitalise

Ta Phin village seeks to capitalise from tourism and thus causes local children and adults to constantly follow visitors, in an effort to persuade them to buy wallets, hats, bags or fabric. However, these sellers tend to be friendly and hospitable.

The villagers often invite tourists to visit their homes, where they show them how they live and what they have, and tell about their families. Their living standard is still low, but their lives have been improved by the expanding tourism industry.

"We women are so active – not only do we grow vegetables and raise pigs and get wood for the fire, we also try to learn English so we can talk to tourists," said a 25-year-old Dao woman. "Before there were tourists we were very poor, but now we can make handicrafts, make money and meet people."

Ta Phin Village is able to win tourists’ hearts thanks to the beautiful sights that surround it. Lavie waterfall is a common destination for trekkers. After trekking through forests, maize fields and mountains, tourists often enjoy soaking in Lavie stream and sunbathing on flat boulders.

After a long day of walking on the curvy roads and hills around Sa Pa, it was pleasant to soak my bones and muscles in a traditional Dao herbal bath at Ta Phin.

Soaking in medicinal waters may make you feel a little tipsy. When you start feeling dizzy, it’s time to get out of the wooden bathtub. After the soak, I finally felt relaxed. The herbal bath was good for my health, mind and bones.

I was very happy to have a chance to travel to Sa Pa. I will never forget how it felt to stand in front of imposing, beautiful mountains.

 
French organisation to help preserve Ha Long heritage sites

French voluntary organisation Solidarites Jeunesses Viet Nam will begin a two-week campaign to preserve world heritage sites in Ha Long City next week.

Seven Vietnamese and one volunteer each from Canada, France, Germany and South Korea will clean up the beach, speak to local residents about the need to protect the environment, and consider measures to mitigate the adverse effects of economic and tourism development on the environment and people’s lives.

To be done in co-ordination with the Ha Long Bay Management Board, it is one of a dozen voluntary campaigns to preserve and popularise world heritage sites under the "World Heritage Volunteers: Patrimonito Rolls up the Sleeves" programme by UNESCO and Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service.

Solidaretes Jeunesses Viet Nam has undertaken environmental and social activities in Viet Nam since 2004.

 
French consulate holds contests for bartenders, sommeliers

The French Consulate General in HCM City, in co-ordination with the Sai Gon Bartender & Sommeliers Association, organised the Viet Nam Best Sommelier Competition on Wednesday.

The event was attended by president of the Sommeliers Bordeaux, Jean Pascal Paubert.

Hoang Anh Tuan, Sommelier at the Sofitel Metropole Ha Noi, won the contest, with the second place going to Nguyen Ngoc Nha Phuong of the Fine Wine Company.

Tuan will compete against peers from Southeast Asia on October 23 in Singapore to select a regional winner.

 
Foreign media eye Vietnam tourism

Almost 20 reporters and photographers from 13 world leading tourism magazines have arrived in Vietnam with the aim of promoting Vietnam’s tourism.

The reporters from the National Geographic, CNN Traveller, Lifestyle Travel Asia, Business Traveller, The Improper will make field trips major tourism destinations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Danang, Hoi An, Halong Bay.

According to Director General Department of International Cooperation Nguyen Van Tinh, the department division has so far welcomed more than 10 groups of foreign reporters and televisions to make films on Vietnamese culture and tourism.

The department will push up promotion campaigns on Vietnam’s landscapes and heritages, and the “Impressive Vietnam” campaign on the world leading tourism journals, including UNESCO’s World Heritage, Jestar Aviation, and Asta of the US Association of travelling agents, Tinh said.

 
Enjoying Gong Festival

Tourists nationwide are attracted to the exciting festivals of the Central Highlands. Notably, this year’s International Gong Festival is held in Gia Lai Province. This is an activity to honor the value of the Central Highlands’ gong culture space of Gia Lai in particular and of the Central Highlands in general.

The festival is aimed to preserve and revive the Central Highlands’ gong culture space as one of mankind’s oral and intangible masterpieces. The International Gong Festival 2011 draws the participation of 34 provinces and cities, and five countries in the region that have gongs.

The tour operated by Vietnam Heritage Travel offers visits to Dray Nur Waterfall, the most impressive waterfall on the Srepok River, and Gia Long Waterfall, a national historical monument and scenery. Then tourists have an overnight in Buon Ma Thuot City.

On the next day, tourists depart for Pleiku and Kontum to visit the Wooden Church, a 150-year-old church made of iron wood in Kontum Town, and Yaly Hydro-power Plant, a great work of the century in Gia Lai. In the evening, tourists will join the International Gong Festival of the Central Highlands ethnic minorities and other countries in the world.

The tour moves on a visit to Buon Ma Thuot City. Tourists will feel interested in sightseeing Ako Dhong and Jun villages to learn about the life of the ethnic minorities. Especially, tourists will ride elephant around the village and visit Lak Lake forest, which is surrounded with primeval forest and diverse faunas and floras. This was a venue for the king to relax when he visited Buon Ma Thuot.

Then, the tour features visits to Dray Sap Waterfall Eco-resort on the Srepok River. There, tourist groups are free to play team games or enjoy the view of the Srepok River and the imposing scenery of the forest and mountain. Notably, tourists can take a dugout canoe ride on the Lak Lake.

Visiting ancient houses-on-stilts following the Thai and Lao architecture, learning how to tame an elephant, visiting long houses, 200m-long suspension bridge, swimming on Tien Beach, having dinner with rice cooked in bamboo pipes and enjoying ruou can are some highlights in the tour.

Before returning to HCMC, tourists stop by Buon Ma Thuot Market to buy the Central Highlands’ delicacies for their relatives.

 
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