Sunday, May 29, 2011

Active Travel Asia Launches Great Vietnam & Cambodia Summer Promotion 2011

Active Travel Asia (ATA) is offering Great Summer Promotion 2011 in Vietnam and Cambodia. These promotions are guaranteed by luxurious adventure tours, add-on values and reasonable prices.

Active Travel Asia kicks off Special Summer Promotion 2011 covering all kinds of adventure tours include trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking and family adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia. All promoted tours are in Vietnam (, Cambodia ( and three others between Vietnam and Cambodia ( Depend on the value of tours; travelers are got special value-added services.

With this promotion is starting from May, 1st to Sep, 31st 2011, ATA guarantees the best Vietnam and Cambodia travel packages with good prices as well as attractive add-on values as below:
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA under US$ 300, ATA offers free visa approval letter.
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA from over US$ 301 to US$ 1000, ATA offers free visa letter, free water Puppet Show and free 2-hr rickshaw guided tour in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA from over US$ 1000 to US$ 2000, ATA offers free visa letter, Free water Puppet Show +and free half-day guided city tour.
  • Travelers book tours and services with ATA from over US$ 2000, ATA offers free visa on arrival, free airport transfer (2 ways) and free guided half-day city tour.
  • This promotion is applied for group size from minimum 1 person to maximum 4 persons. If group is bigger than 4 persons, the promotion for 4 people is applied for the group.
  • This promotion is applied for booking from May, 1 to Sep, 31
The promotion provides travelers real experiences in hidden Indochina (Cambodia and Vietnam travel) with add-on valued services. This makes it suitable all types of groups and those who love any kind of adventure activities.

For the whole Summer Promotion of Cambodia and Vietnam Tours, please refer to or contact ATA at

With the add–on values from this Great Summer Promotion 2011 of ATA, the hesitance will be replaced by the smart decision from who are exited in traveling and getting more real experience.

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ACTIVE TRAVEL ASIA (ATA) is established in 2006 and has grown to become one of the Indochina's leading adventure travel companies. ATA offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A 'Junk' Trip in Vietnam

I hunkered in the doorway of an office building as gray clouds moved in, threatening to break open above me. Piles of luggage were stacked in the doorway, but I held tightly to my backpack. As a solo traveler making my way through Vietnam, I had yet to let someone else touch my bag, the essence of my livelihood halfway around the world.

Earlier that morning I had taken a hired car from Hanoi to the coast of Vietnam. This part of the country, known as Halong Bay, was rumored to be tacky and touristy, so I opted instead to head straight for the water.

In fact, most travelers come to Halong Bay for one thing: To tour the bay by junk. These pirate-looking ships generally hold anywhere from a single couple to several dozen people, depending on the boat and tour operator.

Cruises at Halong Bay, Vietnam
Of the nearly 2,000 islands in Halong Bay, only about 300 of them have names. These sheer-faced rocks, covered with luscious trees and foliage, rise out of nowhere in the sea. Apparently birds, snakes, and monkeys live on them, but I can’t imagine that much else does.

As the junk floated among the islands, I sat on the top deck; my legs dangling over the edge of the boat, watching the world recede behind us. The warm, humid air sat heavy on my shoulders, and the dark green of the islands reflected onto the rough surface of the water despite the overcast sky. I felt like we were cruising through a waterlogged version of Jurassic Park.

We piled into the day cruiser that was pulled alongside the junket. One of the boat hands steered the craft toward Công Ðâm. The village “chief” greeted us, poured lukewarm tea into a set of chipped mugs and answered our questions about his home. This, the second largest fishing village in the bay, is only inhabited by 163 people.

As we floated in boats paddled by women in the village, I watched daily life on the water. Dogs lounged on the porches; wet clothes hung from the eves above makeshift porches that surrounded colorful homes sitting atop big plastic barrels.

Fishing village in Halong Bay
Despite rain, we set out in kayaks the next morning. I’d been kayaking in calm, clear waters before, but the rough conditions and inclement weather made the paddling tough, despite the fact that I was sharing a boat with Ahn, our guide, who kayaked several times a week.

He muscled our boat between the outcroppings as I feigned my attempt to help power the boat. Several times we stopped the kayak, rain pouring down, waiting for the others to catch up.

The next morning, our final day in the bay, I awoke to a bright sun and clear sky. The emerald foliage of the outcroppings was painted a surprising shade of brilliant green, which reflected in the water like a flat mirror.

We hopped in the kayaks and paddled to a small island with a large cave. The opening on the island was heavily trafficked.

And so we moved through the cave, trying to guess Ahn’s made-up formations quickly so we could get back in the sun.

Source: volumeone

Sunday, May 15, 2011

From the Back Seat: Memories on a Motorcycle in Vietnam

Riding a motorbike from the North to the South of Vietnam was an amazing experience. Now, while I didn’t ride the motorcycle on myself (Anthony did an amazing job!) it is still something that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Each day we were faced with new challenges and amazing sights making the journey all the more incredible. I think what made it so momentous was the simple fact that we were in control of where we wanted to go on the trip. It didn’t have to be governed by train and bus timetables (how we normally get from A to B). We were able to stop anywhere we wanted to and take our time to stop and smell the rice paddies!

It was hard to pinpoint my favorite memories, but for anyone thinking of doing a trip similar to this, I hope this post inspires you! It was an amazing journey and loved every minute of it!

Rice Paddies
Rice fields in Vietnam
I had always wanted to see the bright green rice paddies that I seen in so many photos and our time in Vietnam I defiantly got what I asked for! We would ride for hours and hours through countless rice paddy fields, each one greener than the last. The fluorescent color of the neat fields would be on either side of us. We stopped often just to stare at the endless plains of the newly growing rice.

Road Butterflies

When we were riding on the Ho Chi Minh Road, there would be stretches of the trail where hundreds of butterflies would flutter up from the road and surrounding trees and shrubs. We would sometimes find ourselves riding through almost hundreds of them-I felt like I was in the forests of Narnia! Anthony said they were just moths but I still protest that they were beautiful butterflies just fluttering by!

Iced Tea

A common drink in Vietnam is Iced Tea or Tra Da, and it quickly became our favorite drink to rehydrate with whilst on the road. Rather than being a sweet tea it is usually just green tea or another kind of herbal tea with ice added. So thirst quenching and refreshing!

We would stop at little roadside cafes regularly to grab one of these cheap and satisfying drinks. Many a time the owners would continually top up our glasses with a big grin. They seemed to be so proud to serve us.

At one town, Kham Duc we stopped in and got ourselves tea from a family. Minutes later the wife brought out some freshly baked teacake for us to eat with cream-scrumptious! We had about three glasses of tea each and chatted to the family in broken English.

When we were ready to leave and went to pay they would not take our money. No matter how much we plead with them, they would not take our cash. This was true Vietnamese hospitality that we had experienced and were so grateful for.
Motorcycling in Ho Chi Minh trails, Vietnam
Getting Dirty

One day we were taking our motorbike through the countryside around Hue so we could independently visit some tombs and mountains. Since I was in charge of the map it was my job to get us to where we wanted to go. Bumping along a dirt road I soon realized we were going the wrong way and the actual track was on the opposite side of rice fields. We sloshed our way slowly through. We weren’t hurt-just dirty, but that didn’t stop us from continuing the day to see the tombs!

Being on the open road in Vietnam was unbelievable. Noisy at times, busy most of the time but such a great trip. We did over 3500km in the two months we were there. I love thinking that in years to come I can look back on my trip with Anthony on our trusty ‘Bullet’ and have great stories to tell the Grandkids!

Find our more Vietnam motorcycling videos here

Source: positiveworldtravel

Friday, May 13, 2011

Luang Prabang: The Epithet of Laotian History, Culture and Nature

Formed at the convergence of the famous Mekong and Kahn rivers in Laos, the town of Luang Prabang is the archetypal product of when colonial and traditional architecture collide. Groomed in pristine fashion, one would think he is the first to discover this exotic landscape.

Palm trees line the riverside, as the spires of divine stupas protrude through the trees, and all while in the company of Buddha’s servants.

Above ground level, the views will take your breath away as the landscape proudly shows off its mountainous terrain. As you weave through hiking grounds blessed doused in nature’s beauty, one cannot help but act with acquiescence as you discover serene tropical nooks and tranquil waterfalls.

Luang Prabang is a place where sights, sounds and curiosity guide your adventure , and when it’s all said and done, and you’ve moved on, yields a memory you will never forget. Below are a few places you won’t want to miss seeing.

Vat Xieng Toung

One of the more popular sites in Laos, Vat Xieng Toung (Temple of the Golden City) also serves as one of the country’s most important landmarks, having been built by King Setthathirat in the 16th-century supposedly on the site where the first stone was lain in the newly founded Luang Prabang.

Today, the temple resides surrounded by a majestic garden along the Mekong River. It is ornamented by a gilded door, mosaics, and stories etched in gold leaf telling the tale of the now-famous Laotian town.

Haw Kham Royal Palace

The other major historical building in town is Haw Kham Royal Palace (Golden Hall) formally that of King Sisavang Vong and his heirs before the monarchy was abolished during the height of communism. Today a statue of the king adorns the palace grounds, as well as the palace’s most important statue, the Pha Bang Buddha image, made almost entirely of pure gold.

Haw Kham Palace

Built in both French and Laotian style architecture, the palace takes on the shape of a cruciform and inside provides arts, paintings, statues, and murals of traditional Laotian life, and history, and of course, symbolizes the lives of Laotian royalty.

For an added bonus, make your way to the top of Mount Phousi, where you can take in perhaps the greatest view of the palace.

Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls

For all that is great about the town of Luang Prabang, the allure of this most beautiful destination is not just in its history and architecture, but its nature as well. Located about 19 miles (30 km) from town lies the Tat Kuang Si waterfalls, a virtual paradise away from civilization.

You can hike the multi-tiered falls and take a dip in the blue waters at your leisure just be careful, it is quite cold. Along your way, stopover at the sun bear sanctuary, where caretakers watch over bears saved from poachers.

Pak Ou Caves

One of the most interesting and unique natural locations in the area are the Pak Ou Caves. Located about 15.5 miles (25 km) north from town, the caves reside over the Mekong, and are well-known for their diversely positioned Buddha sculptures, overlooking the river. (The sculptures were donated by the local population as the caves were once used as a shrine.)

Pak Ou Cave Buddhas

The caves are categorically divided into two levels, the lower (Tham Ting), located about 50 feet (15.24 m) above water level, and the upper (Tham Theung), which without a flashlight is extremely difficult to navigate. Once you are able to climb your way into the upper level, light a few candles surrounding the shrines and observe the almost quixotic beauty of Buddha silhouettes formulated on the cave walls.

The entrance to the caves is easily spotted and is accessible from the riverside. The most practical and scenic way to get to the caves is by boat from Luang Prabang, although a newly built road from town can also get you there.

>> Trekking to Pak Ou cave

Source: travelleradvise

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Look into Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site and it really deserves the designation. It is one of the most exciting unusual places I have been to in my life.

Halong Bay -Halong meaning “Descending Dragon”- is named after the thousands of island with bizarre rock formations and limestone cliffs that are within the Gulf of Tonkin, in the north shores of Vietnam. It is composed of more than 3000 islands of all shapes and forms, covered in green vegetation and protruding from the ocean’s surface.

If you are a nature lover, this place will enchant you with its many awe striking sites, and majestic natural composition.

Halong Bay's Sculptures
Halong Bay has plenty of grottos created by the wind and the emerald water of the gulf; it is a beautiful example of the effect wind and water erosion has on the landscape.

Among the sculptured islands and rock formations, Halong Bay also hides many deserted tinny white sand beaches that you can visit by boat, stop and enjoy for a while. In these locations you’ll be surrounded by nothing but nature.

A wonderful aspect of Halong Bay is that it has so many islands and rock pillars that every turn comes up with a surprise: another astounding sculpture, a perfect archway through the mountains, a peaceful lagoon where you can Kayak and enjoy the scenery……

Kayaking at Halong Bay
Another curiosity of Halong Bay is that, while sailing through it, you will occasionally come across floating fishing camps that are stationed in the middle of nowhere and are also an interesting site.

I was in Halong Bay during the rainy season, it fortunately didn’t rain but there was a lot of fog and the sun hid on and off behind the passing clouds. I reckon April would be a better month: no clouds, no fog; plus, when the sun shines and illuminates the Bay, it comes to glow in its entire colorful splendor.

I reserved my boat trip in the hotel I was staying in Hanoi and the service was very good. I had a cozy little cabin with a queen size bed and private bathroom in a wooden double decker old fashioned boat, with a windowed dining room from which you could appreciate the view and a deck to enjoy the fresh air; just perfect.

Halong Bay's Most Impressive Grotto
The boat tour will probably take you to the most visited grotto in Halong Bay, a massive cave formation on top of one of the mountain-islands. It is a cave complexly sculpted by the forces of nature. The ceiling, walls and floor are covered in stalactites, stalagmites and all sorts of strange formations. The cavern is well illuminated for one to fully appreciate the splendor of this majestic piece of art.

Cat Ba Island

The Boat Tour through Halong Bay includes an overnight stay in Cat Ba Island, the only populated island of them all. Cat Ba has a little town of about thirteen thousand plus inhabitants and nice long beaches, where you can swim, take nice walks, sit back and relax, or enjoy a sea side meal. But most importantly, Cat Ba Island is home to Cat Ba National Park, where hiking, trekking and/or biking are a pleasant way to explore the local flora and fauna.

Source: hubpages
Recommended tours:
Kayaking Halong Bay
Trekking Cat Ba National Park and Kayaking Lan Ha Bay & Halong Bay

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sapa ranked among top ten places to walk

Sapa Town in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai has been voted one of the world’s top ten spots for walking by popular travel guide Lonely Planet.

The other greatest places for walkers are the Grand Canyon in the US, Aoraki/Mount Cook Village in New Zealand, Lake District in England, Torres del Paine in Chile, Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, Brecon Beacons in Wales, Kakadu National Park in Australia, Taman Negara in Malaysia, and Dartmoor in England.

According to Lonely Planet, walking can be the best way to experience a place.

“Heaven on earth”

Sapa - the Cloud city of Vietnam
For Vietnamese, Sapa is also a top holiday destination.

1.600m higher than the sea level, Sapa has a mild temperature of 15 to 18 Celsius degree.

Though this town welcomes visitors all year around, it is generally agreed to be most beautiful in April and May.

Ethnic people in Sapa
Before the summer, the weather may be a bit cold and foggy, and after the summer, the rain season sets in.

In April and May, Sapa is blooming with green pastures and flowers, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in the country, and few visitors fail to marvel at the beauty of the cloudy valleys here every summer morning.

Sapa is also home to many breathtaking spots such as Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave.

And this is here that adventurers can climb to Vietnam’s rooftop on Fansipan Mountain at 3.143m above the sea level.

Source: dtinews