Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Enjoy Fresh Life in Ba Be National Park

By just staying a few days in Pac Ngoi or any village in Ba Be national park, travelers can come back bustling urban life with a pleasant mood and fresh mind.

Life in Ba Be is so easy-going, where travelers can soak in nature and enjoy an authentic life. With presence of really few modern objects, Be Be is a wonderful place to escape from crowded city and busy life. Wi-fi is erratic, mobile wave and 3G wave are also weak. However, it’s ok. Look at another aspect, everything is still fine. No one and nothing can bother you in this out-of-the-way area. Let try a life without technology and conveniences.

Homestay in Ba Be national park

So as to enjoy this fresh life, you can select a homestay of a Tay family, where you will experience a life at a traditional stilt house. My stilt house overlooks gentle Len stream, a great location to relax in every afternoon.

In this national park, Ba Be lake is the most striking. Boating around the lake, traveler will be contemplated a charming, breathtaking scene. The scenery changes as moving from south to north. 

The southern part focuses several docks. Here, water has a dark green and sometimes green of jade. Short and rank mountains embrace the lake, and trees are luxuriant. Some islets appear among the lake, in which the most well-known one is “Ba Goa” islet (The Widower islet). With tranquil atmosphere, you will just hear the rumble of boat machines. Ba Be is truly like Halong in land. 

The southern part of Ba Be lake

Up to the north, the landscape become different. Water has a light brown, yellow brown or yellow green. Perhaps this is because of alluvium. The two sides are covered with corn fields. Some herds of buffaloes slowly gaze. Some flocks of ducks and chickens forage. A few houses of thatched roofs are scattered, appear intermittently behind rows of bamboo trees. A number of dugout boats go up and down in the still and secluded space.  

The northern part of Ba Be lake

If you want to have adventurous feeling, you can kayak around Ba Be lake and discover it in your own way, or trekking over the hamlets to reveal the indigenous culture and life. 

In the afternoon, travelers can play at the stream in front of the homestay, wading and splashing on cool water, or just sitting on the lovely small bamboo bridge to silently read book and unwind. Every homestay also has some bikes, so you can ask the owner to borrow one and cycle around villages and visit corn, rice fields. 

Len stream - Pac Ngoi village - Ba Be national park

Fresh food in Ba Be is fish, shrimps and vegetables. Fish and shrimps are caught directly from the lake. Locals said that they put lift-nets down to the stream at 4-5 p.m. And at 2-3 a.m, they would pull lift-nets up to gather aquatic products. Most typical vegetable of this area is “bo khoi”, which has a fairly wild taste. A part from “bo khoi”, you can enjoy many other lush vegetables.
Here, there is no place for entertainment. When night falls, the entire space is sunk in darkness, unexpectedly quiet. Then, it is time for a comfortable sleep. Sleep early and wake up early, you will have a good health and cheery mind for activities tomorrow. Get up early, you can also contemplate rustic villages and beautiful fields in sunrise, incredible things that you may rarely see in your life. 

Ba Be national park
 By Xuan Tran (Kimina) - ActiveTravel Asia

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cambodia's Mysterious Beauty in Rain

Under a lens of a photographer, famous destinations in Cambodia like Angkor Thom, Killing Fields and Phsar Toul Tom Poung  (Russian market) unexpectedly become beautiful in an extraordinary way in rains. 

Cambodia in rain season 1
The rainy season in Cambodia runs from May to October. Barnaby Jaco Skinner – a Chinese photographer spent a month to travel around Cambodia and captured stunning moments about Cambodian people and country in wet climate condition. 

Cambodia in rain season 2
“Shooting photos in the rainy season is a big challenge.” – He told. However, looking at works after Barnaby Jaco Skinner’s journey, anyone also praises and admires as realizing enchanting beauty which is created by combination between ancient features of constructions and glitter of rainy drops.

Cambodia in rain season 3
Russian market is located in northern Phnom Penh. The name of the market was given after it attracted more and more interest of expatriate Russian people in 1980s. Here, travelers can choose and purchase craft products, gemstone, all kinds of jewelry, souvenirs and textiles.

Cambodia in rain season 4
Barnaby Jaco Skinner commended: “Russian market is one of the greatest markets in the world, where you can find and buy even motorcycle spare parts.”

Cambodia in rain season 5
Sliver pagoda or Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot pagoda lying in the core of Cambodian royal palace is a famous attraction in Phnom Penh. The name of the pagoda has its origin from the fact that there were 5,329 pieces of silver paved on the floor. Every piece is also handmade and weigh 1,125g. 

Cambodia in rain season 6
The memorial for ill-fated victims at Killing Fields, nearly 20km from capital Phnom Penh. This place has still maintained about 8,000 skulls of the people who were massacred by Pol Pot genocide regime. 

Cambodia in rain season 7
Barnaby Jaco Skinner advised travelers that they should hired a small boat to take photos in Mekong river and contemplated the residents who were fishing in the riversides. 

Cambodia in rain season 8
Below the lens of Barnaby Jaco Skinner, an abandoned house in Kampot also becomes attractive thanks to its mystery. 

Cambodia in rain season 9
The moment that dark clouds rolled was shot by the author in the outskirt of Kep city.

Cambodia in rain season 10
Barnaby Jaco Skinner enjoyed a pleasure when he stood in the top of hotel Two Moons in Kampot with several bottles of beer and contemplated patchy rays of light in the sky owning to thunder.

Cambodia in rain season 11
The photo was taken as he was sitting behind a tuk tuk in a heavy rain.

So, if you desire to have unique photos for your own, let be ready on an amazing adventure travel to Cambodia in the rainy season. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vietnam Railways Decreases Fares, Upgades Infrastructure and Launches Online Booking System

Thanks to Hanoi – Lao Cai express highway opened for traffic, many passengers switch from travelling by train to by car. In recent time, to deal with competition, Vietnam Railways has implemented efforts to enhance its quality services.

SLASH TICKET FARES

From 1st December 2014, ticket prices of Hanoi – Lao Cai train started to decrease by 3% to 25%.

On 1st December 2014, Vietnam Railways Corporation officially regulated ticket fares of Hanoi – Lao Cai route for trains: SP1/2, SP3/4, SP5/6 and SP7/8, with a decrease of 3-25% depending on each category. This is the good news for travelers who tend to take a Sapa tour or Sapa trek and expect to have Vietnam train experience. However, this decrease is not applied for the national festival days, Tet holiday and peak times in summer.

Accordingly, the lowest price of Hanoi – Lao Cai route is 145,000 VND (hard seat). To sleeper, the cheapest cost is 325,000 VND (air-conditioned berth in 6th department of 3rd floor).

The ticket of hard seat declines from 150,000 VND to 145,000 VND while one of air-conditioned hard seat falls to just 175.000 VND (the former price is 235,000 VND). The fare for air-conditioned soft seat drops from 280,000 VND to 220,000 VND (a drop of 60,000 VND, equivalent to 25%).

Specially, rates of air-conditioned sleeper of all departments also had regulations. Following this, many prices has a significant decrease of 22% to 25%. For instance, the cost of berth in 6th department 1st floor goes down from 500,000 VND to 390,000 VND; the price for sleeper in 2nd floor falls to 370.000 VND, the price of 3rd floor decrease from 415,000 VND to 325,000 VND (a decrease of 22%). The air-conditioned berth in 4th department of 1st and 2nd floor now has a price of 450,000 VND (the before cost was 600,000 VND, drop by 25%).

On the Tet holiday 2015, Vietnam Railways Corporation (VNR) will slash train fares by 17% compared to current fares and 20% over the previous Tet holiday. The discount will be available for the North-South and Hanoi-Lao Cai routes, starting from December 1.

Earlier, VNR launched a big promotion program, with 30-50 percent discount from September 4 to December 31 for tickets booked in advance with a distance of 1,300 km or more. Fares of sleepers were declined by 10% and discount was offered for groups.



UPGRADE RAILWAYS

The Vietnamese railway sector has been making an effort to upgrade their infrastructure, equipment and management. Services are also set to be improved to win back passengers’ trust.

On this time, Hanoi – Lao Cai railway has been upgraded and improved. As anticipation, the upgrade will be accomplished in the end of first quarter, 2015. After upgrade, the travel time between Hanoi and Lao Cai by train will be fell by 1.5 to 2 hours. Daytime trains will be also broadened to serve diverse demands of passengers.

LAUNCH ONLINE TICKET BOOKING

On 1st December 2014, VNR opened the system of online ticket booking for train through e-payment gateway issued by Smartlink Card Services Joint Stock Company and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank). Customers would not have to go to the station to buy tickets. They could do so from any internet-capable device.

Passengers can access the websites selling e-ticket: www.dsvn.vn, www.vietnamrailway.vn or www.vetau.com.vn (all are Vietnamese) to look up information, select routes, cars and seats, proactively book tickets and make payment in sight on the by international as well as domestic credit cards in a flexible and convenient way. To be able to carrying out online payment transaction on e-ticket selling websites of VNR, customers need to register the online payment service or payment services via Internet Banking of banks (view instruction for payment at here). The online system would require passengers to provide full personal information and their Identity Card numbers so as to avoid fraud.

After successful online payment, customers print booking code and bring it along with valid identification papers then coming to the train stations to take tickets. One customer is enabled to order a maximum of 4 tickets in Tet holiday and must go to train station to get tickets at least 30 minutes in advance before train departs. The online ticket system allows passengers to reserve seats 24 hours before the train departure time.

To return train tickets purchased through online payment system, customers go to station to complete procedures and pay fee of ticket return. VNR will refund fares to bank account of customers within one work-day as from customers has accomplished ticket return procedures. In circumstance of making payment, customers contact with Customer Support Center of Vietnam Railways Corporation via hotline 19006469 for help.

This is list of 23 domestic banking cards which are accepted to make a payment for train e-ticket of Vietnam Railways via e-payment gateway supplied by Smartlink and Vietcombank, including: Vietcombank, Agribank, BIDV, Techcombank, VIB, Eximbank, Military Bank, HDBank, ACB, Sacombank, VPB, Maritime Bank, NCB, Viet A Bank, GPBank, OCB, Ocean Bank, BacABank, ABBank, TPBank, LienVietPostBank, SHB, BaoVietBank. In this December, Smartlink continues to coordinate with Vietinbank and DongABank to provide online payment services of train e-ticket for domestic cardholders of these two banks. Up to 15 hour of the first day selling train ticket for Tet holiday (1st December), turn-over of online payment for e-ticket carried out via Smartlink e-payment gateway was barely 4 billion VND.


DELIVER ONLINE TICKET TO HOME IN HANOI AND HO CHI MINH CITY

Railway passengers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City who have booked tickets and paid for them online can have their tickets delivered to their home for free at their request as of next month.

Accordingly, after booking and paying for their tickets at www.dsvn.vn, www.vetau.com.vn, or www.vietnamrailway.vn, passengers in Hanoi can call 04.39423949 (the Hanoi railway station), and those in HCMC can call 08.38436528 (the HCMC railway station) to request their tickets to be delivered at home, provided that they do not live more than 7 km from the respective stations.

Those who have paid for their tickets online but did not request home delivery are required to pick up their tickets at least 30 minutes before their scheduled departure.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Top Often-Destinations for Vietnam Adventure Tours

With stunning scenery and impressive culture, these famous destinations in Vietnam will offer travelers exciting adventure trips.

1. Sapa

This Vietnam’s destination is too famous such an extent that it is always present in Vietnam tourism brochure. However, if just wandering around Sapa town, travelers will miss a chance to have a memorable trip. Sapa town just likes a miniature Hanoi, accompanying colorful minority groups. Thus, let’s carry a rucksack and to be ready for a trekking expedition to remote villages. Scenery, people, culture and everything will be much more fascinating. Trekking trails will lead through jungles, mountains, fields, streams, hidden soil-trails only used by locals, and rest at ethnic minority villages. Along paths, adventurers will encounter “real” minor people, who are doing life activities, or working to earn their living. Specially, contemplating firsthand Sapa rice terrace (which was estimated as one of the 30 most beautiful places in the world by Mother Nature Network), and other stunning scenes is completely different to seeing from an automobile or a hotel at a far distance. Let’s leave cozy hotel-rooms and stay overnight at a homestay to experience a distinctive life with locals: arduous, but funny and valuable.

Head off a hiking & homestay Sapa to the most marvelous valley – Muong Hoa and other villages. Visit here.

trekking Sapa

2. Mount Fansipan

With an altitude of 3,143m, Mount Fansipan is the highest in Indochina, and also dubbed as “The Roof of Indochina”. Fansipan conquest is the dream of many young Vietnamese. For ones who indulge in climbing but not too so fantastic to conquer Everest, Fansipan may be an appropriate choice.  This mount is just 9km from Sapa to the southwest. Therefore, as travel to Sapa, travelers can take a hike to this mount on the same occasion.

The journey with a long trail will be greater, more challenging, but also more beautiful views. However, once immersing in natural pureness, and enjoying the victory of setting foot on this peak, hardship seems to have disappeared. The hike will pass jungles and mountains, so travelers can easily learn local knowledge about the Vietnam’s nature and hill-tribe culture. Yes, learning from reality.

Toughness, strong will, and determination, those are the meanings Mount Fansipan conquest.

Consulting at activetravelvietnam.com, Conquer Mount Fansipan - Sinchai Route - A long trail with a lot of fabulous scenes.

conquer Fansipan

hiking Fansipan

3. Mai Chau

Escape from busy cities, let’s experience an extremely peaceful life in Mai Chau. This area is the home of Thai, Muong and H’mong people, which are Vietnamese ethnic minorities. Just only 135 km from Hanoi, it is so easy to reach here. Naturally, it has spectacular scenes and also the original cultural identity like descriptions on websites. But peace is the most impressive. Peace in just landscape: rice terraces, tea plantations, streams. Peace in just the life of locals. Residents here work hard on fields, on forests, on weaving looms…

Mai Chau’s culture is gentle and lyrical. The rhythm of life is also slow and tranquil. By trek or bike around villages, travelers will feel these. Choosing less touristy roads and villages for the itinerary, it will be much more interesting.

If opt homestay, travelers will stay at traditional stilt houses and do housework with locals. Yummy cuisines are always ready for guests. At night, the space becomes throbbing by blithe melodies and rhythmical dances. The trip ends with a good sleep in this peaceful heaven.

Get away to peaceful Mai Chau, travelers can take a trekking or biking tour through exotic villages. 

biking Mai Chau

Mai Chau tour

4. Mekong delta

Vietnamese people usually say “thang canh co bay”, meaning that land is too large that stocks can fly straightly to endless. This is just one of images of Mekong delta. Located in northwestern Vietnam, this land is the country’s greatest rice basket. The region is covered by an interlaced canal system. So the residents were familiar with waterway-life long ago.
Locals are gentle and rustic. Scenery is tranquil. Travel to Mekong, travelers will refresh your mind.

The richness and vastness make this plain region have an abundant culture. Taking part in various activities, travelers will understand relatively about this culture.
Cycling around fields and villages is a nice way to see the everyday life of locals. On the roads, travelers can talk to them and try experiencing some of their jobs. Many other places can be visited along biking trail, namely temples, orchards, local primary schools, or local households. Particularly, travelers can visit and discover traditional trade-villages of coconut-candy, rice-paper, rice-wine, snake-wine, pop-rice, pop-corn, etc.

Adventurers also should not skip a boat trip to floating markets, the special places with a boom of colors, sounds and scents. These market have a lot of beautiful agricultural products, especially fruits. Let’s come and observe how they trade, how they communicate, and how they speak for sale.

Mekong delta tours may please someone who are curious. Travelers can learn a plenty of local things, such as how to buy fruits and food, how to cook local cuisines, or how to make traditional conical hats. If love nature, let’s visit mangrove forests as Tra Su, where travelers can observe colonies of water-birds, bats and other rare spices.

Explore Mekong delta with many memorable activities. View here.

explore Mekong delta

Top Trekking Destinations in Vietnam Captivate Travelers

Mount Fansipan, mount Hong Linh or Bach Ma national park are enchanting trekking destinations in Vietnam. 

Trekking is a long walk to remote villages, jungles, mountains and other distant regions, to discover new lands and experience new life. Three-fourths area of Vietnam is mountains and hills. With mountainous terrain, Vietnam has many ideal areas for trekking and hiking.

1. Mount Fansipan (Lao Cai province)

Conquer Fansipan

Fansipan is the highest mountain in Vietnam and Indochina peninsula, and also was dubbed as “The roof of Indochina”. It is just 9 km from Sapa to the southwest, which is a hot attraction of Vietnam travel. Therefore, if get a trekking tour to Sapa, travelers can take an adventure to this mount on the same occasion.

This peak is regarded as a top conquering target to Vietnamese backpackers. With the height of 3,143 meters, travelers can conquer this mount by three various ways. The easiest route departs from Tram Ton to the peak then come back by just this way. The time trekking lasts 2-3 days.

The second route lasts about 4 days with the road length is 19.5 km, starting from “the spine” of Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Also departing from Tram Ton, but for the return road, travelers will pass through Muong Hoa valley, Cat Cat spring and go along the eastern flank of Hoang Lien range. 

The third route is more difficult as departing from Doc Mit, Binh Lu to the top. This is an extremely dangerous route and just professional climbers with full of equipment dare to take it.

There are also other routes, which can be longer or shorter, lead climbers pass through some special scenes. Depending on hobbies, healthy and time, travelers can choose a suitable route for self.

You can consult Fansipan routes at here.

2. Apachai (Dien Bien province)

Apachai trekking 1

Apachai trekking 2

Known as the westernmost point of Vietnam, Apachai is located in Xin Thau commune, Muong Nhe district, Dien Bien province. This is the special border fork of Vietnam, Laos and China. The road is not too hard like one to Fansipan. But trekking tours to this region still make many travelers depressed.

The Apachai landmark conquest usually takes place in the day-time. Depending on weather conditions, travelers will have to spend 3 to 5 hours for ascending and descending. After a long journey of coming over blady grass hills high over a person’s head and the primeval forest, you will see firsthand this historical landmark.

Apachai landmark is at the altitude of 1,400 meters above the sea level. It was made of granite with the square platform facing three directions. Each side was engraved a country name by Vietnamese alphabet and a national emblem of three countries Vietnam, Laos and China.

3.  Ham Lon mountain (Hanoi city)

Ham Lon climbing

Located 40 km from the central Hanoi, Ham Lon mountain is an ideal weekend trekking destination for many people. With the height of 462 meters, this mount is usually opted as a practice and rehearsal place for trekking tours of Fansipan or Apachai.

Travelers normally have 2 routes to conquer this peak. With the easier one, hikers follow a flat trail, few bushes and it takes about 2 hours. The second way is appropriate to adventurous people, going along the stream. The travel time is around 4 hours.

Hikers should bring along camping tents to stay overnight on the mountain to contemplate amazingly beautiful scenery of the dawn and the sunset.

4. Pu Luong national park (Thanh Hoa province)

Trekking Pu Luong nature reserve 1

Trekking Pu Luong nature reserve 2

Pu Luong national park is a nature reserve zone located in the northwest of Thanh Hoa province. This area belongs to the locality of two districts: Quan Hoa and Ba Thuoc.

With the area of 17,662 ha, this is the largest karst forest and lowland that remains in northern Vietnam. Pu Luong has mainly three kinds of thick forest, comprising lowland and low-mountain jungles, jungles on limestone mountains, and floristic composition of bamboos and shrubs. Not only that, this national park has mount Pu Luong with the height of 1,700 meters. Trekking in Pu Luong nature reserve attracts many travelers. With 5 hours for conquering targets, climbers will gain unforgettable experiences.

5. Hong Linh mountain (Ha Tinh province)

Hong Linh trekking

As the most famous mountain in Ha Tinh, mount Hong Linh is so-called as Ngan Hong or Ru Hoong. The mountain lies between Hong Linh township and two districts of Nghi Xuan, Can Truong. This is one of a few place names carved into “Bach khoa thu cuu dinh” presently placed in Hue Imperial Citadel (9 big bronze incense burners, which have been used as an encyclopedia).

Hong Linh has many summits, from the northwest to the foot, there are included the tops of Nam Ban, Yen Xuan, Da Hong and Cot Co. Besides, the area owns numerous caves, consisting of 12 Cua cave (12-Entrance cave), Che Hai, Da Hang, Ham Rong, along with 26 rivulets flowing from the mountain. Conquering this mountains, climbers can search more about interesting legends and historical stories.

6. Bach Ma national park (Thua Thien Hue province)

Bach Ma trekking

“Da Lat of the Centre” is the name people give for Bach Ma national park. Located about 40 km from the south of Hue city, Bach Ma looks like a white horse stretching its legs out the big sea (Bach: white, Ma: horse). The area is a part of North Truong Son range (Annamite Mountains) and the centre of the forest strip stretching from Bien Dong (the East Sea) to the border of Vietnam and Laos.

Reaching the peak of Bach Ma at the altitude of 1,500 meters, travelers have to overcome a long journey with the road length of 19 km from the mountain foot. The way is meandering and steep. However, the higher the hiking up, the more spectacular the scenery is, which make travelers rejoice. Trekking duration is about 3 to 4 hours.