What to see in Phu Quoc Island

The Phu Quoc Island is quite large with over 40 kilometers from north to south so you should rent a motorbike to get around Phu Quoc Island with just $10 per day. Beside, you can also rent a taxi for about $35 per day. If you want to have a motorbike tour, you should contact “D.S” Bar. Stephane, the owner, can advise you great itineraries. He used to be a tour-guide on this island; he speaks English, French and Spanish fluently. At D.S Bar, you can have a drink with good music, “flat” pool table and cheap cocktails. “D.S” Bar is opened until late night.

Roads going round the North Western corner of the island are an interesting ride with car or motorbike, the roads are quiet and safe and easy to ride. During your ride, you can stop for coffee or lunch at the Chez Carole Resort to see the views to the mouth of the Cua Can River.

an thoi phu quoc

Phu Quoc also is famous for fishing town of An Thoi at the Southern tip of the island. There are some fishing boats to see and you can also hire a boat to take you to other small islands in the South of Phu Quoc.

sao beach phu quoc

The prettiest beach on the island is Sao Beach can be founded at the Southeastern corner of the island with a restaurant/cafe and sun-bathing facilities. There are also quite nice beaches at the westernmost shores of the island and on the road east from Ganh Dau goes through dense forests.

There are beautiful pearl farms on the Western side of the island and South of Duong Dong. The Phu Quoc Pearl Farm is about 10 kilometers away, and they have a café, restaurant and a shop selling pearl products.

Phu Quoc Pearl Farm

Pepper farms at Phu Quoc Island should be visited, it clearly shown on the tourist map. The pepper plant is growing hanging from a long pole, with small green peppers in them. You can also buy pepper products to bring home as souvenirs

Phu Quoc is famous for Fish sauce. Phu Quoc’s fish sauce receives a lot of love from people not only in Vietnam but also in foreign countries. Some of the fish sauce factories can be visited.

Phu Quoc fish sauce

Ham Ninh fishing village on the East coast across the island from Duong Dong is also recommended when coming to Phu Quoc. In the dark, watching the local fishermen who uses attach lamps on their boats to attract squid is interesting thing you should not miss.

There is also a special breed of dogs that live on the island, they are similar to normal dogs except for the fact that they have 2 special markings on their back and this breed of dogs are more intelligent than others.

by Bonvini Monica


Non Nuoc village

After a 15-minute ride from the centre of Danang, the biggest city on the Central Coast of Vietnam, I reached its renowned stone carving village, Non Nuoc, which lies at the foot of the picturesque Marble Mountain.

Non Nuoc village

In the village, there are thousands of craftsmen working day and night to turn stone into works of art.

Speaking with 89-year-old Le Ben, one of the oldest artisans in the village, I found out that about 400 years ago, this village was established by Thanh Hoa resident Huynh Ba Quat, an expert in carving.

Le Ben shared that in the first half of the 17th century, Huynh Ba Quat left his hometown and went to Marble Mountain. Realsing that the area was abundant in marble, he decided to take some home and turned it into epitaphs and millstones. After receiving complements from villagers, Huynh Ba Quat passed his skills on to the younger generation.

“At that time, the most popular marble products were stone blocks to anchor boats, a variety of millstones, and tombstones. Besides, sculpture of sacred dragons, phoenix, turtles for pagoda, temples, and mausoleums were also in high demand,” says Le Ben.

Almost every tombstone in Quang Nam-Danang area from the 17th century to now has been made by Non Nuoc artisans. The Non Nuoc villages now also carve historical figures, spiritual characters and international celebrities.

Walking along Huyen Tran Cong Chua street, which features about one third of the stone art producing houses in Non Nuoc village, I was taken aback by thousands of stone artifacts of many sizes. The majority are spiritual, such as statues of Buddha, Maitreya, and Guanyin. There are also scared animals such as the dragon, phoenix, lion and elephant.

According to Tran An, the owner of Tran An Stone, the village’s leading sellers are statues of Vietnamese spiritual characters: “In order to meet the need of foreign visitors, we also make Christian characters like Jesus and Saint Mary.”

Love and dedication is needed to produce each piece and some take an artisan weeks or even months to finish. “If you are hardworking, you can create a miniature after a few months of learning. However in order to carve a more complicated statue, you have to study for years,” Tran An explains.

No easy task

On the trip, I met a young craftsman named Tuan who has been studying carving for two years. “Before carving, we have to make a sketch on a stone block first. When I started learning, I made a lot of mistakes such as chiseling too hard or too soft. As a result, it took me months to finish my first product, which was only 20-centimeters high,” Tuan shared.

One of the hardships that Non Nuoc artisans have to face is breathing dusty air everyday. As a result, many people have to resign because of lung diseases even though their love for carving is still burning. Instead, they move to the sales teams so that they can contribute to their traditional profession.

Attracting tourists

American tourist, Alena, told me that she heard about this village from a friend. “When I saw the miniature sculpture he brought home, I knew that I would visit Vietnam someday.”

My taxi driver, Luong, told me that an Australian came and spent over US$200,000 on marble here. “They don’t have this type of art in other countries, so people are willing to spend thousands of dollars,” he said. “Yesterday a lady bought a 1.3 meter high Guanyin statue for about VND80 million (US$3,700).”

Currently, Non Nuoc village is home to around 500 manufacturers providing over 4,000 jobs with an average wage of VND2-3 million (US$92-134), which can give a Danang family a decent life.

Say goodbye to Non Nuoc village, I could see a bright future for Danang city and Ngu Hanh Son district in particular.


Why do you freaking honk?

In Vietnam, it’s pretty much the first one, and it sounds so bad on the packed roads of Saigon. Let me put the question another way.

The usual heavy traffic in Ho Chi Minh often comes with a lot of honking. Photo credit: Bloomberg

The usual heavy traffic in Ho Chi Minh often comes with a lot of honking. Photo credit: Bloomberg

Is honking free speech or a crime?
I was traveling to work this morning when the driver of a giant public bus kept honking his horn on tiny Nguyen Du Street. Cars and motorbikes tried to give way, but there was not much space.
So the bus driver kept at it until we all came to a red light. 30 seconds… 15… 5… 3… BEEP! BEEP! He was honking again even before the green light was back on. I turned into another road just to escape from him.
Some people say public bus drivers have time pressure. But it is not just them who are horn-happy. Many others are also quick on the draw, blowing the horn for no reason except that they want to go ahead.
My foreign friends say they can get at least one middle finger shown if they honk at another driver to indicate they want them to give way.
One afternoon two years ago my friend was driving me around Kuala Lumpur when a car in front of her kept zigzagging. We never found out if the driver was high on drugs, drunk or sick.
My friend had to slow down for fear of getting into a crash, but after around five minutes she lost patience.
She honked loud and long, which made the driver drive straight and move to one side for her to pass.
She immediately sped up.
“That driver might follow us and beat us,” she told me.
A Filipino friend in the car was also scared.
“What do you do that for?” he almost screamed.
I was not. Unfortunately, in Vietnam, you are not scared of honking at people. Honking is so loud and so often in the country that people just seem to accept it, and you should be scared, in fact, of asking them not to honk.
Vehicle horns are designed for the primary purpose of warning other vehicles of danger. Some also use it to punish others doing the wrong thing on the road, like my friend did.
But somewhere along the way, it has become habitual and a major cause of noise pollution, not just in Vietnam but around the world. The World Health Organization said in a 2011 report that one million healthy life years were lost every year due to traffic-related noise in Western Europe.
Since honking is a habit, it is hard to stop, just like we cannot stop people from using plastic bags or smoking even by printing graphic lung and throat cancer images on the pack.
From what I have read, there is a campaign in Mumbai to curb its honking “epidemic” by installing a device called Bleep to help drivers become aware of their unconscious honking.
It is a red button with a frowning face near the steering wheel that beeps repeatedly when the driver honks. They have to press the button to silence it.
Tests found honking by cars with the button reduced by 61 percent.
Most other countries use cash fines, which is US$350 in New York. In Peru, which is also known for its honking problem, the police can seize the vehicle as well.
Vietnam has a maximum fine of VND200,000, or less than US$10, on drivers if their honking disturbs the peace in a residential area between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
In a country where traffic cops force people to drive past red lights and stop at green to make way for officials’ cars (I’ve seen that with my own eyes in Saigon), such a rule hardly means anything.
One time I was in a taxi when the driver said a young girl had paid him twice the fare for not touching his horn. I was not sure if it was a suggestion for me, but yes, a driver who controls themselves from honking in the city deserves a reward.
It really gets on your nerves when in heavy traffic drivers keep pressing their horns and pass their stress and impatience to others.
Maybe paying a few bucks to stop people from honking is a good solution.

Thuy Vi/Thanhniennews


Tips for your trip to Da Lat alone

If you love the soft beauty of Da Lat and would travel alone, hope that the following information will help you to arrange your trip.

1. Transportation:

– From Hanoi:

+ By Air: It takes 1:40 – 2 hours to fly from Hanoi to Dalat.
With Vietnam Airlines, there is one round trip flight per day and four times per week. Particularly, flights take off at 1:30PM from Hanoi to Dalat and at 11:00AM from Dalat to Hanoi on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
You can buy ticket online or through a travel agent, or possibly at the front desk of your hotel.
Cost: Around USD 300.00 for a round trip ticket

+ By Coach: It takes 22 – 24 hours to drive from Hanoi to Dalat.
You can buy the tickets at Giap Bat coach station at No.6 Giai Phong Street in Hanoi or at Nuoc Ngam coach station with Tai Thang Bus Company. You can buy tickets at the station, travel agencies, or at your hotel.

+ By Train: It takes 27 hours to travel by train from Hanoi Railway Station to Nha Trang Station and another 3.5 hours to travel by coach from Nha Trang to Dalat. For the coaches from Nha Trang to Dalat, there are Phuong Trang Express and Mai Linh Express for your reference.

– From Sai Gon: You can take a passenger car such as Thanh Buoi cars or Mai Linh Cars with 50 seats depart once every hour. Tel: 08.3830.8090

2. Transportation in the city

– Motorbike: you can rent a motorbike in streets to Dalat market (Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street)
– Double bike: mostly bike rental businesses are at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street or Bui Thi Xuan Street or around Xuan Huong Lake
– Carriage: Once coming to Dalat, you should take a carriage to tour around the city. You can take one at the junction near Thanh Thuy restaurant.

3. Accomodation

Prices of hotels in Dalat are from USD 15.00. Three or four star hotels are located near Xuan Huong Lake. If you want to enjoy a more private space, a villa outside the city is highly recommended. Most of big hotels in Dalat offer special promotional programs on Christmas. You are advisable to make a reservation as soon as possible in case all hotels are fully booked during the festive season.

4. Specialties: Wine, hot soya milk, fresh fruits, vegetable, tea, flower and plan.

5. Famous attractions:

– Than Tho Lake: from Dalat city center, go along Thai Phien – Chi Lang Street. The lake is situated in the pine forest.
– Love valley: is one of the most romantic destinations in Dalat, about 6km from the city center in the Northeast
– Flower Garden: is located by Xuan Huong Lake with various types of flowers
– Bao Dai Palace: includes three palaces of Emperor Bao Dai in the city
– Truc Lam Monastery: an extraordinary structure situated in Phung Huong mountain peak and surrounded by an immense pine forest with the turquoise Tuyen Lam lake.
– Tuyen Lam Lake: the largest fresh lake in Dalat located near Phung Hoang Mountain, about 6km from Dalat. The lake has many small oases and turquoise water.
– Langbiang Mountain: or also known as Nui Ba Mountain have a height of 2,169m. It is a special destination for picnics, explorations of nature and local culture. From Langbiang peak, you can have the panorama view of Dalat with villas, schools and churches with high bell tower.

Dalat is covered by cool mist in the day and cold mist at night. Visiting Dalat in the Christmas time, you will feel like walking in a picture.

More Info:
Tourist information on Vietnam is available on the http://www.evivatour.com/


Mai Chau, Vietnam – fresh Asian destinations

After attending the Vietnam International Conference in Finance in Hanoi, we had 1 free day before coming back to Singapore. We were interested in going to Sapa and experiencing ethnic minority’s life in Vietnam. However, as the time was constrained, we had to choose an alternative destination.

Mai Chau is recommended by Eviva Tour as the closest place from Hanoi to find ethnic tribes. It took us only four hours by car from the city, much closer than the distance from Hanoi to Sapa, which would take us 12 hours traveling by train. We settled in an eco-friendly stilt house with a real minority family, who complements their income from purely farming to a higher level by hosting traveler. It might not be completely authentic but it was a great experience. Their hospitality was a highlight along with the delicious family meals. We also bought some handmade weave souvenirs for housing decoration. Indeed, the family had a very good business and they succeeded in making tourists like us satisfied.

After taking a nap, we stared to get around the valley. As the location is surrounded by limestone cliffs and dramatic hills, Mai Chau seems to be isolated from the outside hustle and bustle world and remain its tranquility with gurgling streams and bird song.

Mai Chau, Hoa Binh-1

The beauty of this foggy valley can represent a classic rural of Vietnam. The small town was surrounded by lush green rice paddies, doting with conical hats and water buffalos of farmers.

Mai Chau, Hoa Binh-2

There is minimal traffic and excellent for walking and cycling activities. The White Thai locals do not wear their traditional costumes every day; however, they still retain their cultural uniqueness. On Saturday night, they gathered in communal house and perform cultural dances and games by blazing fire. It was a delightful experience in Vietnam and Mai Chau has now been added to my list of candidate places to retire (-__-)

(Written by Jemma Marie)


5 useful tips while traveling in Vietnam

Each country has its own rules for traveling in general. However, due to the difference in each one’s culture and characteristics, there would be different tips for traveling in these typical countries. Vietnam is not an exception for this rule as Vietnam has 54 different minorities and each one has their own culture and beliefs.

Therefore, these 5 tips might be helpful for you while traveling in Vietnam based on my experience while traveling here with Ms. Trang – a tour guide of Eviva Tour Vietnam.

1. Always look at every direction carefully before crossing the road

crossing the road in Vietnam

If you come to Vietnam the very first time, you will be very surprised by the way Vietnamese people driving and crossing the road. Anywhere in Vietnam, you would see tons of motorbikes coming from every possible direction. Yes! Every possible direction! Some people might want to save time from traffic jams on the road, so they even drive their motorbikes ON the pavements to go ahead of the others. Therefore, the pavements in Vietnam are not always a safe place to walk. However, you need to get used to it as it is a part of Vietnamese culture.

2. Always be careful if your taxi driver ask you which way to go

Traveling by taxi seems to be a common way of going to where you want in any town or city in the world. However, some taxi drivers in Vietnam may want to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know the way, so they would choose the longest route to rip you off. So you should choose carefully the brand of the taxi you will get into will be really helpful tips if you are going to travel to Vietnam.

3. Always ask the price first before you touch or decide to buy something.

Except for shops that show the prices for each item clearly, you should always ask the shop keepers for prices beforehand. Some people would want to charge foreigners for higher prices than its real prices because of the differences in the exchange rate between dollars and Vietnamese dong. They think that it would not take much difference to foreigners if they raise the prices only from $1 to $1.5. So if you don’t want to be charged higher or ripped off, you should know the prices clearly beforehand.

4. Never let your hand out of your bag

This might be one of the most important tips while traveling in Vietnam as thieves here may drive motorbikes pass you and take your bags away from you by force and he acts fast! One minute earlier, your bags still here with you, and just a second later, you lose your bag. You remain there with some injuries in both physics and mental. You might not know what has just happened to you until a minute later. So, never let your hand out of your bag and never let your bag out of your sight!

5. Be careful whenever you are at a crowded place

You might never think of the situation of while being pushed, your bag is also being ripped and thieves are taking things from your bag! Those thieves are smart and know that crowded places are the perfect places for them to earn money. Therefore, if you walk through a place that is crowded, you should put your bags in front of you and never put things or money in your back pockets of your pants since those are the easiest places to steal things from you.

Source: http://blog.evivatour.com/5-useful-tips-while-traveling-in-vietnam/

5 things FREE in Da Nang

Da Nang is not only one of the top wonderful destinations in Vietnam with stunning landscape and delicious seafood but also is well-known as the most civilized city in Vietnam. Moreover, Da Nang has free things that will amaze tourists.

1. Free pure water on street

You can easily see a bottle of iced water or a pot of tea along your sidewalk and you are welcome to take a rest and drink a cup of tea/water without paying any fee. It starts from the desire of kind citizens who want to send small gifts for the tourists who are thirsty because of hot weather in Da Nang, or for the homeless and the poor people. This is a very beautiful and meaningful action in Da Nang.

Source: http://static.bizlive.vn/uploaded/dinhthom_pv/2014_06_26/tra%20da_xkei.jpg

Photo: bizlive.vn

(Source: http://bizlive.vn/song/nhung-dieu-thu-vi-hoan-toan-mien-phi-chi-co-o-da-nang-244671.html)

2. Free wifi

In Vietnam, apart from Ha Long, Hoi An and Hue, Da Nang is the forth city deploying free wifi. It is useful for the tourist as well as for education, traffic management, pollution warning, etc

Free wifi is now available in Da Nang (Photo)

Free wifi is now available in Da Nang (Photo: bizlive.vn)

3. Free sightseeing destination

There are famous destinations in Da Nang such as The Cock, Linh Ung Pagoda, Non Nuoc stone caving village, Han River, etc and tourist do not have to pay fee for entry. Especially, in annual 30/4, tourist will have chance to enjoy the fireworks competition for free in Da Nang.

Beautiful Song Han (Photo: Bizlive.vn)

Beautiful Song Han (Photo: Bizlive.vn)

4. Free public toilet

The public toilets at the bus station in Da Nang center are tiled by ceramic. They are clean, airy and equipped with mirror, comb and liquid soap. It is opened from 4.30 am and closes at 9 pm and the tourist must comply with the rules of putting off shoes, sandals before entering to toilet to ensure no dirt dragged inside.

5. Free hospital for cancer patients

It is opened since 2013 with the size of 500 beds, 27 faculty and equipped by modern machinery systems and synchronized to meet the needs of cancer care as multi slice CT-scan, 3T MRI machines, 4D ultrasound scan, etc, and automatic biochemical analyzer, equipments and systems of radiotherapy techniques. Mr Nguyen Ba Thanh – the secretary of Central Committee said that “this is the first non-profit cancer hospital in Vietnam which is funded by donations and sponsorships. The poor patients can receive free cancer treatment here.”

by: Kamberidis Nikolaos
Source: http://blog.evivatour.com/5-things-free-in-da-nang/

No visa fee proposed for int’l travelers

The Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA) has proposed the Government exempt all international visitors to Vietnam from the visa fee from July and December this year to rein in the continued fall in foreign arrivals.

No visa fee proposed for int’l travelers

Vu The Binh, vice chairman of VITA, said if the visa fee of US$45 per person was removed, local tour operators would be able to woo more international travelers as tourists could save not only the visa fee but also other service charges when applying for visa.

According to VITA, apart from the complicated visa procedures and unattractive tourism products, the fall of the euro, yen and Australian dollar against the U.S. dollar has sent Vietnam tour prices up. This is one of the reasons behind the drop in international arrivals in Vietnam since mid-2014.

The local currency has been devalued by only 2% against the U.S. dollar in the year to date while other foreign currencies have weakened sharply versus the greenback.

Besides the visa fee exemption, VITA suggests the Government approve value added tax (VAT) breaks and delay corporate income tax payments for travel enterprises and hotels for six months or one year so that they can have money for promotion programs to attract foreign visitors.

“Similar programs were launched in 2009 when international arrivals declined and they helped increase the number of foreign visitors to the country by 36%. The current situation is the same, so measures should be taken to assist firms to cut prices and woo foreign customers,” Binh said.

These are urgent measures in the short term and VITA proposes the Government offer unilateral visa exemptions for tourists from Vietnam’s four major visitor-generating markets including Britain, France, Germany and Australia.

Source: http://www.vietnamvisa.org.vn/no-visa-fee-proposed-for-intl-travelers/

Traveling experience in Vietnam: Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City

When I think back to my holiday in Vietnam, I remember a land full of contrasts. Hanoi has a lot of different characteristics such as busy bustling specialized streets which sell single items or services, a peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake with its temples, pretty sesame trees, impressive ceramic road and historic French colonial buildings…

Hanoi in peaceful beauty in the afternoon.

Hanoi in peaceful beauty in the afternoon.

Hanoi people get up before dawn. The streets get noisy from 6am with motorbike engine and honks, public announcements and music from district’s speakers in the morning. From late afternoon until 11pm at night, the area around St Joseph’s Cathedral was crowded with young people, all sitting in the local cafes on pavements, drinking lemon ice tea, cracking sun-flower seeds and socialising with friends.

Saigon at night

Saigon at night

After spending 2 days in Hanoi, I flew to Ho Chi Minh City, a much more energetic city than Hanoi. It has a youthful spirit and a vibrant nightlife. The streets are wider and there are a larger number of tall office buildings than in Hanoi. In the cities, an image printed on picture-postcard of Vietnam, for example an old woman in a conical hat carrying fruits and local snacks on their shoulder, can be occasionally caught in daily life. However, that image will most likely be lost in a sea of motorbikes and cars. Traffic in both cities is chaotic and terrifying. Each motorbike carries not only people but also goods and poultry. On the day time, riders look like road warriors with helmets and scarves cover most of their face to keep out the hash sunlight. Every time crossing the road, I felt like committing suicide. Motorbikes and cars keep coming from every direction that it is impossible to see a clear straight path across the road. No one stops for pedestrians; they just go around you so our Eviva Tour guide gave me a “valuable” advice to survive: step slowly into the stream of the traffic, and don’t stop or make any sudden movements. If you are lucky you won’t be honked too much. It was a magic for me that I could escape from that chaos unscathed.

By Jeannie Averill Clement

Source: http://blog.evivatour.com/traveling-experience-in-vietnam-hanoi-vs-ho-chi-minh-city/

Everything about Phu Quoc’s specialities

We did have a memorable honey moon to Phu Quoc in 1 week. We were impressed by the sun, wind, sea and white sandy beaches; especially the specialties here: rambutan, fish sauce, pepper and sea food.

When we travel along the path across the island in June, we saw a rambutan garden with ripe fruit, ready to be harvested. The owners invited us to try the sweet rambutans they had just picked. We could also select the best fruit to buy and bring home. Rambutans bought directly from the farmers like this had excellent value. The garden itself also made a great opportunity to take photos.

Phu Quoc rambutan garden

We had chance to visit pepper gardens, situated near Ghenh Dau. The roads to the South of the island pass through pristine forests,. We were introduced that Phu Quoc pepper was plump, more fragrant and hotter than pepper grown in other regions, especially the red pepper. The local people sort it into three categories: red, white and black. And if we were lucky, we might get opportunity to see the white carpets of coffee flowers. Luckily, we did it! Although there were not many coffee plants as in the Highlands we had visited, their flowers attracted numerous bees, enhancing the picturesque beauty of Phu Quoc.

Photo by: NhomMua

Photo by: NhomMua

During our trip, we did not forget to visit the outstanding Nha Thung fish sauce factory. The fish sauce here is not only well-known in Vietnam but also all over the world. The fish sauce is contained in big wooden buckets which is made of ven ven trees.

Nha Thung fish sauce factory

On our last night on the island, we camped on the beach. We fried some fresh squid and sipped glasses of myrtle wine. Under the starry sky, it was so lovely to listen to the hypnotic sound of the waves and wind in the trees. Thanks to Eviva Tour Vietnam made it so special for us. With their recommendations, the useful information provided made this trip to Phu Quoc truly left its mark on us.

By Lydia Johanna Kunad

Source: http://blog.evivatour.com/everything-about-phu-quocs-specialities/


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