Japanese cherry blossom festival to take place at Thang Long royal citadel

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has agreed to organize a Japanese cherry blossom festival 2015 on April 11th-12th at the Thang Long royal citadel in Ha Noi.

During the festival, Yosakoi traditional dance, cosplay performances, martial arts performances, and an introduction to special Japanese  food will be held.

Apart from the usual Sakura decoration, there will be interesting activities such as Sakura planting, exhibition, and an area introducing Sakura and photography.

The Japanese cherry blossom festival was first held in 2007. Each year, the festival attracts more than 100,000 visitors. This is an outstanding cultural activity in Viet Nam to introduce Japanese culture to visitors.

Last year, the festival took place at the Viet Nam Exhibition and Fair Centre on Giang Vo Street, Ha Noi in March. Organised by the Japan-Viet Nam Cultural Association Foundation, fresh cherry blossoms were imported from Japan and displayed at the festival.

Source: CPV

Link: http://vietnamtourism.gov.vn/english/index.php/items/8535

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IPU delegates share their views on Viet Nam

As part of the ongoing Inter-Parliamentary Union’s 132nd General Assembly, a city tour around Ha Noi and a visit to the Viet Nam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Dong Mo were organised for participants and their relatives.  

The participants also enjoyed a stage performance named “Colours of Vietnamese Ethnic Groups” introducing a number of traditional arts. Viet Nam News took the opportunity to ask some of the international guests about their impressions of Viet Nam.

Juan Pablo, Chile

“I have great impressions of Viet Nam. The country combines the old and the new. It has thousands of years of history but it is also a new nation of independence. Recent development has brought tremendous changes. I think this country has a lot of history, but is still a young nation.

“I’ve had a great time and feel a sense of expectation.

“This is my second visit to Viet Nam. Compared to my last time four years ago, I can see more buildings now. It’s a growing Viet Nam. Vietnamese are very proud of their culture, and they say it with pride.”

Stella Chungong, Switzerlands

“When I first landed in HCM City, my first impression was that the people here are very nice. Everybody is very helpful, very polite and very positive.

“Then I came to Ha Noi and learnt about the different seasons here and how it moves from spring to summer.

“Before my trip, I knew that the food here is great because near my house in Geneva, there is a Vietnamese restaurant and I used to go to sometimes. The food there is very nice, but the food here is even better than Geneva.

“Today we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and learnt about the history of his life. I was so touched because it’s very rare to find a great man like that. And he gave so much for the people.

“When I return to Geneva, I will tell my friends that they should visit Viet Nam where the people are warm and the food is good. There are also a lot of things to learn and to see from the history and culture.”

Mwaula Solopi, Zambia

“Before coming here, I knew a very little thing about this country. I want to learn more about the culture. There is a lot of development that I want to know about.

“I can feel the warm atmosphere from how people treat me here. You can’t get this from a book. You have to really come and experience it yourself.

“When I get back to my country, I will tell people that Viet Nam is a place you much visit. It is a long journey from my country, but it’s worth it.”

Batzandan Jalbasuren, Mongolia

“Viet Nam has become a destination for many official events such as this Inter-Parliamentary Union General Assembly and I think the country has a great future.

“The food here is delicious. In Mongolia, people really like pho, which is quite similar to Mongolian traditional soup. I see that Vietnamese people are like Mongolians. There are many similarities between us.

Iman Altarawneh, Jordan

“I like the culture here. Vietnamese people are helpful and friendly. Viet Nam also has a very nice nature. I like the food here.

“If I want something special in my country, I will try Vietnamese food. There are some Vietnamese restaurants in the Middle East, especially in Dubai.”

Petra Osarsson, Sweden

“This is the first time I have been to Viet Nam. We are staying in a hotel in central Ha Noi. I have had a chance to see the daily life of people around my hotel. I feel Vietnamese people are very hospitable. It is interesting to find that Vietnamese people often live in big families.”

Source: VNS
Link: http://vietnamtourism.gov.vn/english/index.php/items/8536
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Cuba: Travel Section Plans for an Emerging Hot Spot

Cuba! As the Obama administration eases up on travel restrictions to Cuba, the Travel editor, Monica Drake, is thinking about how the section will cover the new destination. Some insight into her thinking:

Dec. 21, 2014. A Cuban flag at Santa María beach in Havana's Playas del Este.

Dec. 21, 2014. A Cuban flag at Santa María beach in Havana’s Playas del Este.Credit Lisette Poole for The New York Times

There is a 630-room Caribbean resort called the Paradisus set on a sliver of a peninsula that juts out into the sea. It has a spa, a gym, 10 bars, eight restaurants and, despite the fact that it sits on a popular beach, it also has eight pools, some of which allow you to swim up from your suite.

It is indistinguishable from many all-inclusive lodgings on neighboring islands save for one fact: It is in Cuba. And it is not the only such resort there.

In the popular conception, Cuba remains a humble place frozen in time (a consequence of its exclusion from our economy), but one that is more authentic because it has not been corrupted by the worldwide proliferation of Starbucks and W Hotels. Cuba means classic cars in vivid colors, cigars worth breaking the law to enjoy back home, and dilapidated colonial buildings where some of the greatest musicians play Latin jazz, their brilliant music soaring amid the decay.

But the actual country, like any other, is a living, breathing society, one that has steadily changed and courted tourists from overseas, American sanctions notwithstanding.

Now, Cuba is bound to change even more swiftly as the American hospitality industry seeks to wedge its way in. And we will continue to cover that compelling story.

While we do that, I plan to challenge travel writers not to fall back on the fable-like narrative, the tale of purity – of a stagnant world, stuck in a time capsule – soon to be spoiled even as its economy improves.

I want us to cover the upscale resort island of Cuba that European tourists already know, the hip-hop scene so influential that the United States Agency for International Development sought to infiltrate it, and the contemporary art community so renowned that its creators’ works are part of the collections of prominent museums like the Guggenheim. These are the things that draw Americans by the thousands every year.

Of course, there is incredible want and poverty to explore in Cuba. And that is a central element of why Cuba matters now – its economy is about to get a jolt, although it remains to be seen how big that change will be. Our main focus in the coming weeks will be to try to make sure that in any travel narrative, poverty has a proper context, that we don’t run gratuitous pictures of shirtless, shoeless children running down dusty streets. In all travel writing, it is tough to write about poverty without seeming to exoticize the impoverished; avoiding this trope will be a particular focus of mine.

And of course we’ll cover the nuts and bolts – we plan updates on the evolving American rules on travel to Cuba and the accommodations and services for people who visit.

I’ve long wanted to go myself, not because Cuba is the last frontier for American travelers but because I know that there is more to it than the ’52 Chevys by the beach. And, if travel is about creating once-in-a-lifetime memories, what better way to do it than to go to a place that may never be the same again?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2015/03/25/cuba-travel-section-plans-for-an-emerging-hot-spot/

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )

VAT refunds for foreigners at Phu Quoc Airport

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh made the statement on behalf of the Prime Minister and assigned the Ministry of Finance to coordinate with relevant agencies to implement the provision.
Phu Quoc Airport began offering international routes in February 2014 with four weekly flights to Russia. Later, two routes linking Phu Quoc with Singapore and Cambodia’s Siem Reap became operational with two and three flights a week, respectively.


Phu Quoc international airportThe airport VAT refund for foreigners and overseas Vietnamese is expected to boost Phu Quoc Island’s tourism development.
Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport were the first to pilot the refunds in July 2012, officially providing VAT refunds in July 2014.
Also since July 2014, five other entry ports have started refunding VAT for foreigners and expatriates, namely Da Nang International Airport and Da Nang Port (Da Nang city), Cam Ranh International Airport and Nha Trang Port (Khanh Hoa province), and Khanh Hoi International Seaport (HCM City).
Source: hanoitimes.com.vn
Link: http://hanoitimes.com.vn/travel/attractions/2015/03/81e0908d/vat-refunds-for-foreigners-at-phu-quoc-airport/

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )

‘French Village’ to open soon to tourists in Da Nang

Photo credit: Zing

Work on a six-hectare area that consists of 20th-century French-styled castles and houses is set to be completed by the end of April on popular tourist mountain Ba Na in Da Nang.

French Village, as the site is officially known, also includes a hotel, a shopping mall, restaurants, and an indoor theme park, news website Zing reported.

Its investors expect the US$70-million village to bring tourists back to the time when the mountain, about 46 kilometers southwest of Da Nang, was home to a luxury resort built by French colonialists in 1901 for military officials and high-ranking civil servants.

Ba Na, which is nearly 1,450 meters above the sea, once had more than 200 French-styled villas, hotels, market, opera house, and stadium.

Most of them, however, were destroyed after the 1945 August Revolution that forced the French to withdraw from Vietnam.

The remains of the former resort are now just small paved paths, moss-covered walls, or ruins of fireplaces.

Source: www.thanhniennews.com
Link: http://www.thanhniennews.com/travel/french-village-to-open-soon-to-tourists-in-da-nang-39630.html

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )

Vietnam to launch non-stop tolling on spinal highways

Vietnam on Tuesday announced a new plan to replace toll takers with electronic collection systems on the National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Highway, a move that aims to eliminate delay at toll gates and cut costs.“Three ETC stations have been put into use, in Hanoi, Quang Binh and the Central Highlands, on a trial basis,” Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Hong Truong said at a press briefing in Hanoi.

An ETC station determines whether vehicles are enrolled in the program, alerts toll collectors about those that are not, and electronically debits from the accounts of registered car owners without requiring them to stop.

Truong said the new system will gradually replace all current toll gates, including 35 on the National Highway 1A alone.

In order to use the system, vehicles have to be equipped with a tag on its windshield with electronic information to be read by the station’s sensor.

Vehicles without the tag will have to stop and pay manually, the ministry said.

The transport ministry said it is considering upgrading toll stations so that they can also automatically detect overloaded trucks.
Cutting costs

The new system is expected to save costs significantly due to less personnel and no more delay on toll roads.

“Taiwan has 127 people operating 350 toll stations nationwide while Vietnam has 100-120 for just one station alone,” Truong said.

“The new system requires only 10 people per station.”

According to Pham Hung Dung, chairman of TASCO, a company that invests in most of Vietnam’s toll stations, around 100 ETC stations in total will be launched by the end of 2016, when the upgrading of the National Highway 1A and Ho Chi Minh Highway completes.

“These ETC stations will reduce operating costs by VND3.4 trillion (US$159 million) a year in comparison to traditional toll gates,” he said.

Ho Chi Minh and 1A are two major highways that run from the north to the south.

The National Highway 1A connects Lang Son and Ca Mau, running more than 2,300 km (1,430 miles) through 32 cities and provinces.

Meanwhile, the Ho Chi Minh Highway runs along the west side of the country, connecting Cao Bang and Ca Mau via the Central Highlands with a total length of 3,167 km.

Source: www.thanhniennews.com

Link: http://www.thanhniennews.com/travel/vietnam-to-launch-nonstop-tolling-on-spinal-highways-39659.html

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )

Banh Khot Goc Vu Sua: top option for tourists

Tucked away down a bustling small street not far from the Vung Tau waterfront, local eatery Banh Khot Goc Vu Sua goes about its business as the area’s king of banh khot.


For those unfamiliar, banh khot are mini-sized rice cakes which are fried and served with fresh mustard leaves and herbs, as well as sweetened nuoc mam fish sauce for dipping. Intrinsic to the recipe are fresh shrimp, coconut milk and lettuce to wrap the little pancakes. This finger food to the extreme, and if this restaurant served anything else, no one was there to order it.

Nuoc mia, an iced sugarcane juice, went for roughly VND10,000 per glass and unsweetened ice tea was plentiful.

While a touch oily, these filling little snacks are synonymous with the area, and locals all swear by Banh Khot Goc Vu Sua as the top local option. Next time you’re in Vung Tau, give the pizzas and burgers a break and see what the locals are into; try some banh khot Vung Tau and you won’t regret it.

Banh Khot Goc Vu Sua is open daily from 7 a.m. at 4 Nguyen Truong To Street in Vung Tau.

Source: hanoitimes.com.vn
Link: http://hanoitimes.com.vn/travel/food/2014/06/81e07f36/banh-khot-goc-vu-sua-top-option-for-tourists/

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )

The sweet cake delicacy of Binh Dinh

Hong cake, which is made from sticky rice and sugar, originally had a milky white color but a cheery pink color was later added when the cake was used as one of the traditional wedding gifts presented to the bride’s family members.

The ingredient sticky rice must be fresh and of superior quality to ensure a characteristic chewy consistency and good taste for the cake, whose pink is produced by the flesh of gac (small red jackfruit-like gourd) and green by la dua (a kind of pandanus leaf).

The process of making hong cake is very simple. The sticky rice is soaked with warm water overnight before being ground into wet flour. Then, this flour is cooked and blended with boiling liquid sugar, and this mixture is poured into a square frame and pressed to form a large flat cake. The cake, whose ideal thickness is two or three centimeters, is finally cut into smaller pieces and wrapped in paper or banana leaves for later use.

Hong cake is a simple food delicacy. It is great to have it with a cup of hot tea in raining days.

Source: hanoitimes.com.vn
Link: http://hanoitimes.com.vn/travel/food/2014/10/81e08883/the-sweet-cake-delicacy-of-binh-dinh/

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )

Ugly as sin: Vandals deface iconic Notre Dame Cathedral despite pleas from church


Names, love vows are written all over a brick wall of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo credit: VnExpress

Vandals in Ho Chi Minh City seem to have found their new favorite target: the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The walls of the 138-year-old icon, which were made of bricks brought from France, are turning into a public board, with many love statements scribbled all over them.

People also wrote prayers or sentences proving that they had been there.

Priest Vuong Si Tuan told news website VnExpress that young visitors started to write on the walls more than a year ago.

He said the church attracts many people every day who come to take photos, meet with friends, , and at some point, they just decide they want to leave some notes.

“They are not aware that what they did was not right for such a famous building.”

He said the church has put up signs asking people to respect the religious site, but vandals just don’t stay away.


The church has fenced off a hidden corner or it would be turned into a garbage dump or public toilet. Photo credit: VnExpress

He said some people even left trash and urinated in hidden corners around the walls, forcing the church to fence off some of corners recently.

The church of more than 3,200 square meters was built between 1877-1880 by the French and is part of the city’s colonial core, together with the Post Office and the former Cercle des Officiers on Le Duan.

It is not only the main Catholic church in the city, but also a must-visit for tourists.Tuan said the church has reported to local officials about the vandalism and they promised they would deal with it.

“We cannot arrange people to guard the building day and night. The city needs to protect all the old buildings in the city, because they are its soul,” he said.

Source: www.thanhniennews.com
Link: http://www.thanhniennews.com/travel/ugly-as-sin-vandals-deface-iconic-notre-dame-cathedral-despite-pleas-from-church-38785.html

Founded in 2001, Exoticvoyages.com is the website about vietnam travel guide. The most beautiful destinations you should explore. The most delicious food you should enjoy. For example: history, people, culture, cuisine, destinations. We have everything what you need. (Ex: Things to do in vietnam, Things to do in hanoi, Non la, Things to do in Saigon, Vietnam souvenirs, best beaches in vietnam, Best time to visit Vietnam, Things to do in Sihanoukville,… )