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Sa Pa tourists experience a dose of local life

Sa Pa tourists experience a dose of local lifeTourists to Sa Pa town in the northern province of Lao Cai are increasingly experiencing the traditional customs of locals, including making the unique herbal bath remedy of the Red Dao ethnic minority people in Ta Phin commune.

Taking part in the “One day as Sa Pa farmers” programme, which opened on May 3 as part of the 2014 Sa Pa Culture-Tourism Week, tourists are able to spend a day with local people, trying their hand at the typical practices of mountainous residents.

The small Ta Phin commune nestles in a stunning and untouched valley located 12 km northeast of Sa Pa.

According to experts, the bath remedy of the Red Dao people contains more kinds of medicinal plants than other Dao groups, varying from 10 to a hundred depending on the purpose of the remedy.

Following Ly Ta May, one of only a few locals in Ta Phin offering a medical bathing service, a group of visitors can travel into the forest to pick up plants. They are taught about the use of each kind.

The remedy is said to help treat many diseases, especially arthritis and skin ailments, and has become part of cultural identity of Dao people.

Returning from the forests, visitors can learn how to weave and dye fabric, and make brocade in a traditional Dao way.

Mai Thi Ngoc, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City , said she could not imagine that it takes so many stages and so much time to make a product that she often sees in the hand-made shops.

“Trying to make a complete product such as a handbag, a hat or a shirt, is a fascinating experience for me”, she revealed.

Apart from making herbal bath remedy and brocade, tourists can also explore the traditional houses of Red Dao people and practice farming by controlling buffaloes and tilling terraced fields. Traditional dishes in Ta Phin are also an attractive part of the programme.

“I will definitely return here, as the activities of the programme bring me closer to the nature and let me enjoy the diverse culture of locals”, said one visitor from California in the United States .

With the unique features that it offers, the “One day as Sa Pa farmers” programme is expected to attract more tourists to the town.

Visitors delighted with Sa Pa cloud festival

Thousands of visitors have been immersed in the vibrant atmosphere of the “festival in the clouds” that opened in foggy Sa Pa township, the northern province of Lao Cai, on May 1.

As a feature of the 2014 Sa Pa Culture and Tourism Week, the two-day festival includes folk music performances, a souvenirs market, ethnic customs shows and diverse traditional games.

During its first day, tourists enjoyed a cultural event hosted by the ethnic Mong group in San Sa Ho commune, during which they learned about the arts of silver carving and bronze casting.

Earlier on April 30, the cultural week began with over 20 musical performances.

Between now and May 4, the event will present a photo exhibition, a large-scale flower display and a trade and culinary fair, among other events.-

Tourism sector prospers from long holiday

The domestic tourism sector thrived during the National Reunification Day and May Day holidays, with sunny weather helping lift the number of vacationers by 20% compared to the same period last year.

According to the Administration of Tourism, foreign visitors to Vietnam in April reached 745,980, up 5.11% over the previous month and 21.51% over April last year.
The result has pushed the total number of foreign tourists in the first four months of this year to more than 3 million, a rise of 25.32% over the same period last year. Total earnings from tourism hit VND89.4 billion , up 29.4% year on year.

Localities through out the country, from the northernmost province of Ha Giang to southernmost locality of Ca Mau, have seen a peak in the number of visitors since the beginning of this year.

Ha Giang province attracted thousands of visitors, with about 30% foreigners, while Ca Mau province welcomed more than 90,000 tourists.

The island district of Ly Son in the central province of Quang Ngai, as of May 3, welcomed more than 3,000 visitors during the ongoing holiday period, three times higher than the locality’s expected figure.

According to Vice Chairwoman of the Ly Son People’s Committee Pham Thi Huong, all local hotels and guesthouses were full of tourists, while four vessels brought up to 1,000 visitors to the island every day.

However, during the five-day holiday, prices of accommodation and restaurant services rose by 20-30%, she said.

Ly Son has become a popular tourist attraction for both domestic and foreign tourists. It boasts a lot of intangible cultural heritage, such as traditional boat races and the Hoang Sa Soldier Feast and Commemoration Festival, which was recognised as national heritage in April last year.

The central city of Da Nang has lured nearly 210,000 visitors, including nearly 40,000 foreigners, more than a 50% rise over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the ancient capital of Thua Thien-Hue also welcomed 62,356 visitors, including 8,690 foreigners from April 30-May 2.

Director of the Hue Relics Conservation Centre, Phan Thanh Hai, said the province has earned VND3.797 billion from tourism services during the holidays.
The province also organised a number of fascinating programmes to entertain visitors, including folk music performances and food festivals.

The central province of Nghe An, which boasts the famous Cua Lo beach and was the home of late President Ho Chi Minh, also saw a 15-20% increase compared to normal days.

Construction on mega-resort in Thanh Hoa underway

The FLC Group, a Vietnamese investment company, started construction on a VND1,200 billion international golf and resort complex, the largest tourism project in northern Thanh Hoa province, on May 4.

The elaborate high-end 18-hole golf course, named FLC Samson Golf Links,is being built to international standards, replete with a system of mature green trees, grass carpet, water reservoirs and lakes, clubs, hotels, and luxurious villas on an area of 92.4 hectares.

The complex is expected to be completed in ten months and fully operational in time for National Tourism Year 2015.

In other high-profile projects, FLC Group is constructing a Con Noi culture and tourism complex in Sam Son along with a five-star resort next to a golf course on over 340 hectares with a total investment of VND4,300 billion.

The complex is on a calibre consistent with Vinpearl in Thanh Hoa province and includes indoor and outdoor entertainment sites, a system of restaurants and bars, swimming pool, hotels and villas. For a bit of extra flair, FLC Group is installing a modern cable system which connects the Con Noi culture and tourism complex to the land to serve tourists.

FLC Group plans to invest around VND5,500 billion in Sam Son commune to provide high-end services and be a key player in transforming Thanh Hoa into an attractive tourist destination in the north and north central region.

Foreign arrivals up 27% in 4 months

Foreign arrivals to Vietnam in the first four months of this year are estimated to hit 3.1 million, a year-on-year increase of 27.3%, according to the General Statistics Office.

Air travelers were 2.5 million, up 23.5%, while those travelling by road recorded 584,500 people (up 68%) and by sea with 34,500, down 56.1%.
The number of visitors going on holiday reached 1.9 million people (up 25.3%), those going on business were 516,900 (up 27.2%) and those coming to Vietnam to visit relatives were 534,100 (up 33.1%).

Visitors from most countries and territories went up from the previous year-China (up 46.9%), the Republic of Korea (6.7%), Japan (8.5%), the US (6.7%), Russia (7.4%), Taiwan (24.3%), Cambodia (32.2%), Australia (7.5%) and Malaysia (15.8%).

Binh Thuan lures large number of holiday-makers

The central coastal province of Binh Thuan recorded a drastic increase in the number of holiday-makers to local tourism sites during the National Reunification Day and May Day holidays that began on April 30.

The province’s tourism sector estimated that about 70,000 domestic and foreign tourists arrived in the locality from April 30 to May 3, representing a year-on-year rise of 13 percent.

Inspections of businesses operating in tourism have been intensified to control the prices of tourism services, especially room rentals.
Binh Thuan is becoming an attractive tourist attraction for both domestic and international tourists, especially those from Russia, China, Germany and the Republic of Korea.

Vietnam’s popular tourism spots have been swamped by visitors during the five-day holiday as sunny weather helped lift the number of vacationers by 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

Hue welcomes over 62,000 visitors on holiday

Hue is brimming with tourists as tens of thousands have flocked to the province and surrounding area for the five-day holiday, starting on April 30, said Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Relics Preservation Centre.

Over the past three days, the Hue Relics Complex has welcomed over 62,000 holiday-makers, including 8,700 foreigners, earning a total of VND3.8 billion in revenue.
Notably, the hotel occupancy rate in Hue city alone reached 95%, with some high-end hotels fully booked.

The provincial tourism sector has teamed up with travel operators to launch promotions to attract visitors.

Promotional programmes offering 20% discounts on tickets to local relic sites and 50% for Nha Nhac (Royal Music) performances have been a tremendous success.
Visitors especially favour the preferential discounts on rooms and meals featuring traditional Hue dishes.

Also proving to be popular is a tour of the region via “The Central Vietnam Heritage Road” and visits to the Tam Giang lagoon to dine on the traditional cuisine.

Ninh Binh sees leap in tourist arrivals during holiday

The northern province of Ninh Binh welcomed over 106,000 domestic and foreign visitors from April 30 to May 4, a year-on-year increase of 10 percent.

The tourism sector grossed 114 billion VND (5.4 million USD) in April and the first week of May, according to the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
This year, national Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) were joined with the weekend to make up a five-day holiday.

The stunning Trang An ecotourism complex, which is dubbed as Vietnam’s ‘Inland Ha Long Bay’, together with the former royal capital of Hoa Lu, the Phat Diem stone cathedral, and the Bai Dinh pagoda – a cluster of Buddhist architectural structures, are among the most popular destinations.

Covering an area of nearly 2,000 hectares, the Trang An scenic landscape site is scattered with karst topography such as limestone mountains, caves and lakes. It is seeking the UNESCO recognition as world natural heritage.

The province is also gearing for the 2014 United Nations Day of Vesak (the day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death) which will begin at the spiritual tourism complex of the Bai Dinh pagoda on May 7-11.

The event, the second of its kind hosted in Vietnam, is expected to welcome about 5,000 guests, including 1,500 from 95 countries and territories abroad.
The Vesak observation in Hanoi in 2008 drew over 600 Buddhist delegations across the globe.-
An Giang attracts thousands of holiday visitors

More than 63,000 tourists visited spiritual and eco- tourism sites in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang during the holidays marking National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day.

The destinations that lured the most tourists during these days were the Lam Vien Nui Cam tourism site, Tuc Dup Hill and Tra Su Cajuput Forest.

According to the management board of the former, the site’s Mitreya statue, Thuy Liem Lake and Van Linh Pagoda received about 38,000 holiday-makers during April 30-May 3, up 25 percent over the same period last year.

Tuc Dup Hill in Tri Ton district also attracted a larger number of tourists during these days.

Vietnam’s tourism sector thrived during the National Reunification Day and May Day holidays, with sunny weather helping lift the number of vacationers by 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

According to the Administration of Tourism, foreign visitors to Vietnam in April reached 745,980, up 5.11 percent over the previous month and 21.51 percent over April last year.

The result has pushed the total number of foreign tourists in the first four months of this year to more than 3 million, a rise of 25.32 percent over the same period last year. Total earnings from tourism hit 89.4 billion VND, up 29.4 percent year on year.

Tourists flock to Dong Van Stone Plateau during holiday

The number of tourists visiting Dong Van Stone Plateau, a global geological park in the northern province of Ha Giang surged during the five-day holiday that began on April 30.

According to Ly Trung Kien, Vice Chairwoman of Dong Van district People’s Committee, thousands of visitors thronged popular destinations in the area, including the Dong Van ancient street, Lung Cu flagpole which marks the country’s northernmost point and the old mansion of the Vuong family who used to be the King of the local H’Mong ethnic tribe.

Kien said around one third of the tourists were foreigners, and most of domestic tourists were from the central and southern regions.

Recognised as a member of the Global Network of National Geoparks (GGN) in 2010, Dong Van plateau is spread over the four districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Meo Vac and Dong Van.

As Vietnam’s first geological park and the second of its kind in Southeast Asia, after Langkawi Geological Park in Malaysia, the 2,356 square kilometre plateau is 80 percent limestone and contains the fossils of thousands of species of prehistoric creatures from 400-600 million years ago.
It is also home to 250,000 people from 17 different ethnic groups, who boast unique cultures that have been fostered over the centuries.

Vice Chairman of Ha Giang provincial People’s Committee Sen Chin Ly said the local authorities have taken a range measures to ensure security and safety while meeting the demands of tourists. The districts have been organising many cultural activities with the participation of ethnic people to welcome visitors.

He added that the completion of upgrading work on the National Highway 4C from Ha Giang city to the four districts on the stone plateau has helped attracted more visitors.

Towards developing tourism into a main income source, Ha Giang authorities are making steps to attract investors and promote the province’s attractions through upgrading infrastructure at main local destinations and building more tourist products with local characteristics.

Last year, the province welcomed some 440,000 tourists, up 5.3 percent from 2012, with 130,000 coming from abroad.