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/

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5 temples that bring a touch of serenity to the ever-bustling Ho Chi Minh City

More often than not, people see the fact that Ho Chi Minh City has been changing too much and too fast as a curse in disguise.

They complain about the disappearance of many ancient buildings that have been wiped out for the construction of new and more modern works.

However, in contrast to this common belief, centuries-old buildings are still standing across the city, formerly known as Saigon.

These five pagodas with histories dating back more than 200 years have survived the invasion of urban development and are well-liked by the public.

Giac Lam

 

Built in 1744, Giac Lam is one of the most popular and oldest pagodas in the city.

The pagoda in Tan Binh District is most famous for having 113 ancient Buddha statues, mostly wooden, and many sculpture works.

A seven-floor tower in front of the pagoda is specifically used for keeping Buddhist relics. Not far from the tower is a Buddha statue overshadowed by a sacred fig that was brought from Sri Lanka in 1953.

Giac Lam has a quite big garden with lots of trees aside.

Giac Vien

 

About two kilometers from Giac Lam, Giac Vien is like a smaller replica of the former.

In fact, Giac Vien’s location was originally the place where the wood used in the 1789 restoration of Giac Lam was stored.

A pagoda keeper who was asked to look after the wood built a hut so that he could stay here and carry out religious practices. When the repair work was completed six years later, the head monk of Giac Lam ordered the hut to be upgraded to a full-scale pagoda.

Giac Vien has 153 Buddha statues, mostly wooden.

Lady Thien Hau

 

The pagoda, which is dedicated to Lady Thien Hau, a Chinese patron goddess better known as Mazu, was built in 1760.

Located in the Cho Lon China Town, the pagoda is one of the oldest religious sites built by Chinese immigrants in the city. Its architecture still stays true to the original, regardless of numerous repairs.

While the pagoda is popular, attracting many visitors every day, it is especially crowded during traditional holidays.

It even has its own festival that is organized on lunar March 23. 

Phung Son

 

The pagoda was built in the early 19th century from a small house of worship.

It has gone through two major renovations, but its original architecture is still intact with wooden frames and ancient roof tiles.

About 40 Buddha statues are worshiped at the pagoda, located in District 11.

Sung Duc

 

Another popular destination among Ho Chi Minh City natives, Sung Duc was built in 1806 in Thu Duc District.

The pagoda boasts many antiques like a 1.3-meter high cooper bell, a 1.3-meter high wooden statue of the Buddha, and a drum that is more than 1.3 meters long.

The original Vietnamese story can be found here on Phu Nu news website

Nguồn: www.Thanhniennews.Com

 

Would you dare to join worm-eating challenge in Saigon? | Travel | Thanh Nien Daily

 

The challenge put forward by Bo Cap Lua Restaurant. Photo credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

More than 100 customers have taken up the gauntlet thrown down by a Ho Chi Minh City restaurant, which has offered VND1 million (US$47) to anyone willing to eat 20 deep-fried scorpions and five live coconut worms. 

The Bo Cap Lua (Fire Scorpion) Restaurant, which specializes in insects and reptiles, in Go Vap District launched the month-long challenge on March 1, Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper reported. 

Those aged 18 and above are invited to eat the scorpions and the worms in five minutes. Those aged below 18 can also take part in the challenge but they must be accompanied by a guardian. 

Daring customers who win the challenge will be awarded VND500,000 in cash and a restaurant voucher worth VND500,000. 

Those who fail must pay VND250,000. 

In the first 10 days of the challenge, only 10 among 100 contenders succeeded.

Pham Huu Nhat, who came here on Monday evening, said he was given a written contract in which the restaurant said customers can stop at any time if they do not feel well. Otherwise the restaurant will not take any responsibility for health problems. 

After he signed the contract, the service staff put a nicely decorated dish of deep-fried scorpions and a small bowl of fish sauce with soft, fatty and wriggling worms inside. 

Nhat said he suddenly felt terrified and wanted to give up, but the employees encouraged him to keep going. 

As the clock started ticking, Nhat quickly put the coconut worms into his mouth and finished eating them in just 30 seconds. 

He turned to the scorpions and ate them up in some minutes. 

The employees announced he had become the 10th customer to have won the challenge. 

Pham Quang Minh, the owner of the restaurant, said after the contest ended, similar challenges will be launched, and customers will be asked to eat lizard, cricket and spider. 

&Ldquo;We just want our customers to have fun,” he said. 

Anyone who would like to take the challenge can visit the restaurant at 17B Road 11, Ward 11, Go Vap District. 

 

A contender eats a deep-fried scorpion. Photo credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

A contender eats a raw coconut worm. Photo credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

Nguồn: www.Thanhniennews.Com

 

Visit this famous Vietnamese cattle market (no, not that kind)

 Can Cau Cattle Market in the northern highlands province of Lao Cai is the largest of its kind in Vietnam’s northwestern region with hundreds of buffalo and cows put up for sale. It is organized every Saturday along the Can Chu Su Hill in Can Cau Commune, about 115 kilometers from Sa Pa.

 Most of the buffalo here are male, huge and strong with quite threatening looks.

It is not unusual for some of the aggressive-looking animals to suddenly start a fight.

 The market attracts many tourists, foreign and Vietnamese.

 Many people come to the market to sell and buy cattle, while some are just watchers.

 Some onlookers gather for chit-chats.

 Buffalo traders are recognizable with backpacks or shoulder bags, often made from traditional brocade. It is said that a trader can carry up to hundreds of millions of dong with them to the market.

 Although buffalo are often considered an important asset of farmers, they do not have fixed prices. Instead, both sellers and buyers decide on the animals’ value and then negotiate with each other. This buffalo for instance is offered at VND40 million (US$1,800).

 Among the buffalo put for sale, many are sold specifically for breeding, while others for farming or meat.

 Can Cau Market often ends soon after noon. When traders have bought enough buffalo and left with them on trucks, many sellers stay at the market to buy necessities before leaving as well.

Original Vietnamese story can be found here on VnExpress

Nguồn: www.Thanhniennews.Com

 

Cao Bang – top five beautiful treks in South East Asia

The Hanoitimes – With stunning landscapes of mountain, caves, lakes and the impressive Ban Gioc water falls, northern Cao Bang province ranks fifth among top five ideal destinations for trekking tourists, according to SkyScanner website.

Trekkers can go to Cao Bang by air starting from Hanoi and then getting buses to the province within five hours.
Among the list are terraced paddy fields Banaue in the Philippines, Rinjani volcano and Lombok Island in Indonesia, Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo, and Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Here are some photos:

Ban Gioc water falls in Cao Bang province

Ban Gioc water falls in Cao Bang province

Terraced paddy fields Banaue in the Philippines

Terraced paddy fields Banaue in the Philippines

Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park

Rinjani volcano and Lombok Island in Indonesia

Rinjani volcano and Lombok Island in Indonesia

Chiang Mai in Thailand

Chiang Mai in Thailand

 

Source VOV/Hanoitimes

 

 

Photos: The last bronze censer making village in Saigon

Photos: The last bronze censer making village in Saigon

VietNamNet Bridge – Many households in HCM City on Nguyen Duy Cung Road in Go Vap District’s Ward 12 are pursuing a traditional bronze casting craft. One month before the lunar New Year, they are working day and night to meet the need of the market for bronze censers.

 

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết

All bronze products here are made manually, so the prices are higher than similar products on the market.

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết
Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết
Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết

Making a mould is the most important step.

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết

Mr. Hai Thang, the owner of a bronze casting facility here, has pursued this job for over 50 years.

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết

Thang said previously over 30 households did this craft but now there are only five. However, he is pleased that many young people are interested in the craft.

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết
Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết

He said his facility produces more than 2,000 censers a year. In the last two months of the year the enterprise has to cast more than 400 censers.

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết
Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết
Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết

Depending on the quality of copper, a set of censers is priced from VND5 to VND12 million ($250-$600).

Làng đúc lư đồng cuối cùng ở Sài Gòn hối hả chạy hàng Tết
 
 

Zing/VNN

Nguồn: english.Vietnamnet.Vn

Link: http://english.Vietnamnet.Vn/fms/vietnam-in-photos/123670/photos–the-last-bronze-censer-making-village-in-saigon.Html

Green guards of Son Tra Nature Reserve – Features – VietNam News

Green guards of Son Tra Nature Reserve

Mountain view: An bird's-eye view of Son Tra Mountain. Photos Courtesy of Bui Van Tuan

Son Tra Nature Reserve in Da Nang, known for its rich biodiversity, is home to 200 Red-Shanked Doucs – a kind of langur that was declared endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2013. Efforts have been made by biologists to protect the primate, which only lives in east-central Laos and Viet Nam, from extinction as well as from the rapid urbanisation of Da Nang. Hoai Nam reports.

Le Thi Trang, deputy director of the Biodiversity Conservation Centre (GreenViet), and her colleagues were working hard as they climbed uphill during a trek at the nature reserve. They host these for students, along with two-hour educational seminars, on Sunday afternoons.

The regular Sunday programme is part of a long-term communication campaign GreenViet started in 2009, "I Love Son Tra". The field trips, designed for students, give them a chance to learn more about wildlife and get involved with nature.

Their aim in starting the campaign is to call on people to protect nature and show their love for it by being more environmentally conscious. Students can participate in environmentally friendly activities, like collecting rubbish on Son Tra Mountain.

"We hope to educate more teens and primary school students about nature, and the importance of wildlife and habitat protection in Son Tra Nature Reserve," Trang said. "Nearly 1,000 teenagers and kids have joined field trips to Son Tra Mountain to explore and learn about the importance of forests and protection of the endangered langur."

Sightseeing: Students join a field trip to Son Tra Nature Reserve.

Trang, whose nickname is King Kong, said two primary schools in Da Nang had included the programme in their extra-curricular activities.

The programme teaches kids about the reserve, which is at risk due to hunting and urbanisation. Its area also shrank from 4,900ha to its current 2,500ha between 1977 and the early 2000s.

Staying on course

Dr Ha Thang Long, head of the Frankfurt Zoological Society's representative office, said raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity in national parks and nature reserves was a good way for Viet Nam to stay on course in its goal of protecting nature and wildlife.

"People will gradually come to understand the importance of nature and wildlife protection through education," said Long, 38.

"In 2009, the Frankfurt Zoological Society started the Viet Nam Primate Conservation Programme, through which it financed research on biodiversity and langurs by Da Nang Teachers' Training College students."

Long, a langur researcher in Viet Nam, said the project aimed to strengthen the capacity of young conservators working on improving biodiversity in Son Tra and Viet Nam more generally.

According to the latest report from the Viet Nam Association of National Parks and Nature Reserves, the country has 164 nature reserves, with a total of 2 million hectares of special-use forest. But only 10 per cent of rangers have been educated on biodiversity. Only three or four of the 30 rangers working at the reserve are trained in biodiversity management.

Endangered primate:A photo of a Red-Shanked Douc snapped by a biologist of the Biodiversity Conservation Centre (GreenViet) in Da Nang.

The Frankfurt Zoological Society has followed a long-term strategy on biodiversity and langur conservation in national parks and nature reserves in Ninh Binh, Quang Binh, Khanh Hoa, Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Kon Tum since 1991, with an annual budget between US$200,000 and 250,0000 that helps pay for rangers to patrol the forests regularly.

"Only continuous forest patrols with sufficient financial support can effectively control illegal hunting and logging," Long said.

Leading to extinction

Traps and snares are dangerous tools that can lead to the extinction of endangered animal and bird species, especially in Son Tra, which is accessible by car and motorbike. It sees around 10,000 visitors per month, and GreenViet volunteer have found 150 traps in a just few days' worth of forest field trips.

"It's an easy way for poachers to make money," said Tran Huu Vy, GreenViet's director. "They spend one or two days in the forest setting up traps using steel wires, each with lassos on two sides of them. Then they return a few days later to collect the animals they caught. Weasels, squirrels, muntjac deer and civets fall into the traps very easily at night. A live animal could earn them VND6 million."

In addition to hunters, hotels, resorts and restaurants are harming wildlife on Son Tra Mountain. They set up pipe systems to draw water from streams on top of the mountain, which means animals further down get less sources of water.

Huynh Tuong Vy, a third-year student at Da Nang Teachers' Training College, has researched monkeys and biodiversity communication in Son Tra since 2013 with sponsorship from the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The rhesus macaque (macaca mulatta) is a breed of monkey living in Son Tra that hasn't yet been classified as an endangered primate.

Sunset: Son Tra Peninsula in the evening.

"I fell in love with researching the rhesus macaque, which is one of the best-known species of old-world monkeys," Vy said.

"Monkeys act like kids. They are lovely and intelligent. I even approach them when walking in the forest.

"I joined all environmental communication classes and summer extra-curriculars for primary school students in Da Nang."

The number of macaques in Son Tra is decreasing, and several would be extinct without biodiversity protection efforts, Vy said.

"The disappearance of the monkey will destabilise the ecological system's balance and biodiversity," she said.

However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said it was not as concerned about the macaques as other endangered animals, because of their wide distribution, presumed large population and tolerance of a broad range of habitats, she explained.

Wildlife watch

Bui Van Tuan, a member of the Viet Nam Primate Conservation Programme, offers night wildlife tours in Son Tra.

A 29-year-old biologist, Tuan has six years of experience trekking in forests and researching langurs. He doesn't do the tours for profit, but young people and nature lovers may accompany him on his night treks in the forest.

"The trip will provide young people a full view and angle of nature knowledge, and life skills for surviving in the forest," he said.

"They can then tell their friends and family members about the importance of protecting the environment and wildlife."

Tuan said it would be like a night forest patrol session, and guests should bring nets, insect repellant, leggings, hiking shoes, compasses, cooking pots and coffee filters. A GPS would be provided.

"Son Tra is a tropical evergreen forest, so it has a crowded population of wildlife flora and fauna," he said.

"The forest is ideal for wildlife adventurers. Visitors can see and snap photos of nocturnal animals. It's so exciting when you catch the colourful, twinkling, reflected eyes of animals."

Son Tra is home to 200 langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus). Trekkers can see them moving through big trees early in the morning looking for food.

"You should prepare food at home for lunch, because you must cook your dinner at the sleeping place near a stream," Tuan said. "It's a short trip in the forest, so you do not need much food or personal belongings."

It becomes dark quickly in the tropical evergreen forest, and adventurers must search for a place to stay for the night.

"By a stream is the best place to camp at night, as you need water for cooking," he said. "But you should not lay down your hammock near bushes, because of snakes."

The biologist said the night treks with flashlights and cameras are always amazing. Visitors often see civets, weasels, reptiles, frogs and birds.

"I have taken many photos of animals at night," Tuan said.

"The animals often stand up to take a look at the flashlight and it's easy to snap a picture of them. Vipers and frogs reflect the best colours for photos.

"The trip helps young people share their love for nature and become closer to the forest. It's the best way to educate young people about environmental protection and hunting."

Cyrill Russo, a French photographer, said Son Tra was a "green" treasure of Da Nang, with its myriad flora and fauna, beaches and unique landscapes.

Russo said the large amount of langurs in the area made the reserve an amazing part of the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang.

Trang from GreenViet said visitors should not litter in the forest, as it could poison the animals.

"We have launched fan page called ‘Let's Save the Red-shanked Douc in Son Tra' and another page called ‘Son Tra Little Green Guards', an education programme for kids, in a crucial effort to protect the environment of the peninsula and the rich biodiversity of the nature reserve," Trang said.

"It's a precious treasure. Protect the environment or we'll face the anger of mother nature." — VNS

Nguồn: vietnamnews.Feedsportal.Com

Link: http://vietnamnews.Feedsportal.Com/c/35237/f/655043/s/42eaab7f/sc/10/l/0lvietnamnews0bvn0csunday0cfeatures0c2659470cgreen0eguards0eof0eson0etra0enature0ereserve0bhtml/story01.Htm

National Park birds take wing under dedicated care – Features – VietNam News

National Park birds take wing under dedicated care

 

Watching out: The Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap Province, covering 7,588ha, including 2,880ha of cajeput trees, is home to 198 bird species, more than 50 kinds of fish and268 other aquatic species. &Mdash; VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Van Tri

By Tan Duc

Over the past few years, some veterinary experts, forest rangers and volunteers in Viet Nam have been rescuing and caring for birds, particularly endangered species, at a national wildlife reserve.

Tram Chim National Park in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap spans several communes in Tam Nong District. It is home to 233 species of waterfowl, amounting to a total population of hundreds of thousands of these birds, accounting for a quarter of the entire country's bird population.

Among the birds at the park, many are rare species listed in Viet Nam's and the World's red books of endangered fauna and flora.

The 7,300-ha park boasts vast expanses of lush cajuput, which have long been a haven for rare waterfowl species such as white-winged wild ducks, spot-billed pelicans, lesser adjutant storks and, particularly, red-headed cranes.

The red-headed crane is the largest of the crane family and is on the brink of extinction worldwide.

Over the past several years, apart from efforts to prevent wildfires and protect the cajuput forests of Tram Chim Park, particular attention has been paid to the conservation of the waterfowl – the park's special residents.

Bird vets, nannies

Among the forest rangers and volunteers riding a motorboat into one of the park's stretches of cajuput was Nguyen Thi Nga, a 34-year-old veterinary expert.

After half an hour of travelling across the wetlands, Nga signalled to the boat driver to turn off the engine.

She promptly grabbed an oar and gently manoeuvred the boat closer to the observatory, which is some 20 metres tall and built from green iron poles.

"We're at the bird breeding ground now. Please speak in whispers, or the birds may get startled," Nga, the team's only female member, murmured before briskly climbing onto a ladder leading to the top of the observatory.

Since she was a young girl, Nga, a native to the land, has cherished her dream of owning the area's largest bee farm.

She graduated from a local university's veterinary faculty, ready to turn her dream into reality.

However, after spending some time working at Tram Chim Park, she gave up her bee dream and became a vet and nurse to the park's waterfowls without even noticing the change.

She also saves and plays nanny to newborn birds that fall out of their nests during storms and acts as a trainer to fledgling ones.

Nga revealed that the 3ha breeding ground thrived robustly even though it was formed just over two years ago.

The ground is now a haven for over 10,000 nests, 60 per cent of which belong to the Little Cormorant, scientifically termed the Phalacrocorax niger.

The remaining nests belong to the dieng dieng (snake-necked pelican) and several other species.

At the top of the observatory, the nests are seemingly within reach, with the fledgling birds straining their necks as they wait for the food their mothers will bring home.

The breeding season for the two species typically spans from August to November each year, which coincides with the peak of the rainy, flooding season.

The Little Cormorant, which is by nature careless, generally builds its nest wherever it perches, including on unstable niches. As a result, its young often fall into the water during gusty storms.

"Helped by the forest rangers, we scoop them up and nurse them until they're strong enough to fly back to their nests," Nga said.

"Giang sen (or Indian crane, scientifically termed Mycteria leucocephala), which is listed in the Viet Nam Red Book, has seen a notable rise in numbers this year, with the current number estimated at some 10,000 individuals," Nga said proudly.

Relentless efforts

Founded three years ago, Tram Chim Park's rescue and conservation team now has six members, who are tasked with conserving waterfowls, sea creatures, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Nga is in charge of protecting the waterfowls and is assisted by forest rangers and volunteers.

Next to the observatory at the birds' breeding ground, rescuers have set up a camp, where two of them remain on standby day and night.

"The on-site rescue effort is integral to our conservation work. The rescuers provide emergency care and release birds that are strong enough to fly back to their nests on their own. Birds that are too young and feeble for this are brought back to our center, where they are cared for until they can safely rejoin their natural habitat," remarked Nguyen Van Nghia, a forest ranger and one of Nga's enthusiastic volunteers, who was on standby at the camp.

Nga and her team also take turns patrolling for sick or trapped birds and bring them back to the center for further care.

Their dedication had a positive impact on the locals, Nga shared.

A local couple once discovered a spot-bill pelican that wouldn't eat for several days.

"We examined the bird and put it on medication to treat its digestive disease. After four days, the bird made a full recovery. We were on the verge of tears then," Nga recalled.

Not long before that, her team had also admitted for treatment a lesser adjutant stork rescued by locals. The bird had injured its leg and couldn't fly.

After nearly 10 days in intensive care, the stork fully recovered and flew away.

"Some years ago, 10 per cent of the park's young birds were falling to their death every year. Since Nga's team was deployed, their hard work and devotion have remarkably reduced the young birds' fatality rate," observed Nguyen Van Hung, the park's director.

Nguyen Hoang Minh Hai, a park official, said the park management would propose to the provincial authorities that Nga's conservation team be developed into a specialized center under the park's authority.

While Nga and her team have made tireless conservation efforts, poaching and trading of Tram Chim National Park's birds, including Red-Book listed ones, remain rampant.

Waterfowls are blatantly put on sale in public along several sections of National Highways 1, 91, 91B and on interprovincial road 943 in Dong Thap and the neighbouring provinces of An Giang, Hau Giang and Can Tho City.

On sale are plucked, slaughtered and even living wild birds. &Mdash; VNS

Nguồn: vietnamnews.Feedsportal.Com

Link: http://vietnamnews.Feedsportal.Com/c/35237/f/655043/s/4330db8b/sc/8/l/0lvietnamnews0bvn0csunday0cfeatures0c26630a70cnational0epark0ebirds0etake0ewing0eunder0ededicated0ecare0bhtml/story01.Htm