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Discover Halong Bay - World Heritage of Vietnam

If Hanoi is the grand old dame of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City is the brash young floozy, then Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An are the alluring mistresses you encounter along the way.

How to find safe travel in Halong Bay

Having read the news about tourist boat sunk in Halong Bay, Vietnam some days ago, ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to give out some advices about how to travel safely and enjoyably in Halong Bay.

Cruising Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay looked picturesque and was sunny and warm. Indochina sails, Ha Long bay , Vietnam We got up early today as we need to catch the bus for our trip to Ha Long Bay, about 3 hours west of Hanoi.

Kayaking and Cycling in a World Heritage Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most spectacular, and therefore heavily 'touristed' attractions in Vietnam. Kayak on Ha Long bay, Vietnam .

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.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tet- New Year, Vietnam, Ancient Customs

For the Vietnamese people, Tet is the most sacred time of the year.

Peach Flowers of Tet - Vietnamese Lunar New Year

On lunar New Year's Eve, each member of a family and of society exchange sincere good wishes, strengthening common cultural ties. Tet is also time to reflect on the spiritual life.

In Hanoi, on the stroke of midnight, the whole family sits down to eat together. The house has been cleaned well in advance. The family altar is decorated with fresh flowers, fruits (5 kinds of fruits with 5 different colors) and red candles. During Tet, angry words are forbidden. Most Hanoians visit pagodas, and make sure to bring home a leafy branch, an ancient symbol of prosperity.

During the next few days, it is crucial for people to visit as many of their relatives, friends and former teachers as they can manage. As an old proverb says:" the first day of Tet is for parents, the second for friends, and third for teachers".

When visiting families, it is customary to offer children and old people money in a lucky red envelope, to wish the elderly a long life and the children a year of fast growth. Visitors wish their hosts happiness, wealth and success as soon as they arrive.

In the Centre of the country, people put a lot of energy into Tet's preparations - they are busy baking biscuits and sweets months beforehand. The people of Hue in particular are famous for their delicious food, cakes and jam.

During Tet, old people sit down together to share a bottle of wine. In Hue, people who have mastered Chinese calligraphy to give as seasonal presents are greatly respected. Some hire boats and drift down the Perfume River reciting poetry recalling old times and floating candles on the water.

Tropical HCM City is more vibrant, with friends getting together to have fun. Here as well, people visit pagoda, often next carrying huge sticks of incense or giant candles.

The free and easy Saigonese are not as bound by tradition as their northern cousins. Many take their families to beaches, pagoda and amusements centres. Most shops stay open, and shopping is a popular pastime. Just like in the rest of the county, though, the Saigonese never forget to wish one another all the best for New Year.

Source: thingsasian

Recommendation in Vietnam:

Ha Long Bay

Monday, December 7, 2009

Do You Know How Vietnamese People Cultivate Wet Rice?

Some 70 per cent of Vietnam’s population is engaged in agriculture, which uses over 20 per cent of the country’s area and produces 15 per cent of its GDP.

Farmer in Northern Vietnam - Copywrite Brenda Sunno

Vietnam has two huge deltas: the Mekong in the south and the Red River in the north. From time immemorial the Vietnamese have known how to build dykes and avoid flooding, creating more land for wet –rice cultivation. Thousands of kilometres of dykes have been built along the Red River to protect this vast fertile delta and its population.

Recently my friend Huong Do and I visited her uncle, who is a farmer in Hai Duong province in the very heart of the Red River delta. The host, Mr. Hien, was very enthusiastic about showing us rural life.

Generally they cultivate two types, sticky rice and ordinary rice. The first is used for special events and ceremonies such as Tet ( lunar New Year) and weddings.

Talking about wet-rice-cultivation, Mr. Hien recites a Vietnamese proverb:’Nhat nuoc, nhi phan, tam can, tu giong’. This translates as ‘First one needs water,then manure,then diligence, and finally high quality seed’. ‘In the north we have two rice crops and one subsidiary one, according to the weather’, he said.

The winter –spring crop begins in the 12th lunar month and finishes in the fourth. The summer –autumn one lasts from the sixth to the 10th lunar month. After these crops there is time for the land to heal and we plant maize,taro, potato and sweet potato’.

To Start a crop we have to prepare the land. We empty the water from each field. Then we plough deep and rake it carefully with the help of the buffalo. The buffalo is well cared for and respected in the same way that many foreigners care about dogs’.
There are three things that are critical to every Vietnamese farmer’s life: purchasing a buffalo, getting married and building a house.

‘In order to prepare the land we put down fertiliser, either natural or chemical.water is constantly needed too’.’Different varieties of rice are very important.

Normally we select the best species from previous crops, using techniques passed down through generations. “In order to germinate it we put the paddy in a jute sack and soack it in water for 24 hours. We then take it out of the water and arrange it in a dark, damp place to facilitate germination. After 12 hours we repeat the process.

In cool winter weather straw ash is mixed with the paddy in order to keep it warm. When the roots reach two to three centimetres you can sow rice in a small prepared area.

During this period the young rice plants need water, but not too much. After one month you pick the young shoots and transplant the rice seedling to another field. ‘Working the fields requires diligence, During the three- and-a- half months of rice development you have to constandy watch your field! You need to pull out any weeds growing with the rice. This work is normally reserved for women.

There has to be water in time for each period of development of the rice’.
The ethnic minorities in mountainous areas practice wte- rice-cultivation on terraces.

It is not until you actually take off your shoes, roll up your trousers and muck in that you really appreciate the skill and energy required to harvest rice.

As Mr Hien says,’when the rice is mature the whole family has to work. We cut the rice with sickles and bring it home by ox cart.

Fortunately, machines are now used for separating the paddy and straw. Last year we had a big harvest. This year we have had to work very hard due to floods’.

With a trace of sadness Hien adds that the farmer’s life is till difficult. ‘We depend on rice but if the price is too low there is no profit. The government should pay more attention to our life, to build processing zones for agricultural products and find markets for us’.
Famers in the south harvest three crops a year and the wet-rice-cultivation technique is also different.

Source: thingsasian.com

Recommendation: http://www.indochinasails.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

The author has an unforgetable experience when she arrived Hanoi.

A barbershop on the streets of Hanoi

It’s an act of faith! Crossing the street in the city of Hanoi in Vietnam is an experience I will never forget.

The roads are literally wall to wall traffic. Motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, cars, hand carts, buses, cars, mopeds, taxis and trucks whiz by in a blur of color and motion. There are very few traffic lights and I quickly learned that the ones which do exist are just for decoration.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ha Long Bay: one of the world’s natural wonders

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said on October 8 that Ha Long Bay has been ranked as one of the 150 most beautiful natural wonders in the world by a French leading e-magazine.

Indochina Sails on Halong Bay by you.

Indochina Sails on Halong bay

An article portraying Ha Long Bay – a world natural heritage, was published in September in the Voyager (tourism) column of L’Internaute magazine.

The article noted that apart from its thousands of charming islands and beautiful caves, Ha Long Bay is also home to a wide biodiversity that includes eco-systems like mangrove forests, coral reefs and tropical forests.

The Bay, twice recognized by UNESCO for its landscape and geological value, has advanced to the final stage of a campaign to vote for the world’s seven new natural wonders by the NewOpenWorld.

It currently ranks 4th out of the 28 successful landscapes in terms of votes.

Vietnam is making an effort to promote and preserve the Bay to encourage the community, especially friends across the world to vote for it.

Reported by: VOVnews

Recommended for vessels on Halong bay, Vietnam:

Indochina Sails: info@indochinasails.com


Mid-Autumn Children's Festival, Vietnam

Mid-Autumn Children's Festival or Tet Trung Thu is a wonderful time to visit Vietnam. The festivities last for several days and there is singing and shouting. Children wear masks, parade happily in the streets and bang their drums. Parents buy lanterns and toys for their children and prepare their favorite dishes. Special cakes are made and exchanged, and fruits are plentiful.

Full moon on halong bay cruises by you.

Full Moon Festival in luxury cruise on Halong bay

The festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, the day of the first full moon closest to the autumn equinox when the moon is at its fullest. The autumn equinox always falls on September 23. This year, the Children's Festival will occur on October 8. At the spring and autumn equinoxes the duration of day and night is equal and the sun appears directly overhead at noon at the equator. After September 23 the days become shorter and the nights grow longer.

The little dragon- Halong bay, Vietnam

Often called the baby of Ha Long Bay, beautiful and diverse Bai Tu Long Bay holds its own.

Indochina Sails By Active Travel Vietnam by you.

Indochina Sails on Halong bay

The Vietnamese nation was invaded so often in ancient times that God was moved to send a dragon and its child to fight the enemies.

Cruising in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh has thousands of islands and many beautiful areas.

cruise on Halong bay by Indochina Sails by you.

Cruise on Ha Long bay by Indochina Sails

For nearly a decade, the nominee for a Natural Wonder of the World title has attracted more tourists since the bridge linking Bai Chay (Chay Beach) and Hon Gai (Gai Islet) was built.

In the bay area, there are many caves, beaches, restaurants, hotels and entertainment sites. Among its well-known scenic spots and tourist sites are Thien Cung, Dau Go and Trinh Nu caves, and Ti Top, Tuan Chau and Ba Trai Dao beaches.

How to Enjoy a Trip to Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam is a country of stunning natural beauty and a turbulent history. In the northern part of Vietnam, near Hanoi and the country's border with China, lies Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The towering natural cliffs and islands that rise above the bay offer a picturesque view and the smooth water is an ideal surface for boats of all sizes.

Indochina Sails on Ha Long bay by you.

Indochina Sails on Halong bay

Step 1 Tour the bay. One of the most popular activities in Halong Bay is a boat trip across the bay. Peruse the range of tours and tour operators available until you find one that suits your needs and budget. For excellent views and a romantic atmosphere, take a sunset cruise. When out on a boat, take a jacket; the weather in this part of Vietnam can change rapidly.

Step 2 Rent a boat. If boat tours with large groups of people are not suitable, consider renting a kayak or smaller boats. You might choose to tour Halong Bay in a group of kayakers, or set out on your own. Be sure to ask about safety standards and ideal itineraries. Remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of water, as Vietnam’s sun can be harsh during the warmest part of the day.

Step 3 Bring your camera. Halong Bay offers countless photo opportunities. It has arguably the most stunning natural scenery in all of Vietnam, and is ideal for photos at all times of the day. For dramatic photos, head out to Halong Bay at sunrise or sunset to capture the reflection of the colored sky on the water, with the cliffs in the background. Be sure to bring extra sets of batteries and ask your hotel staff about the best vantage points.

Step 4 Learn basic Vietnamese phrases. Many vendors and hotel owners near Halong Bay will know a significant amount of English, but it is a good idea to memorize handy phrases in Vietnamese. Locals will appreciate that you took the time and effort to appreciate their culture, and you will likely receive kinder treatment. Bring a Vietnamese phrasebook on your trip to Halong Bay, and refer to it as needed.

Step 5 Be prepared for culture shock. Vietnam has seen an increase in tourism in recent years, but visitors should still be prepared for a vastly different culture. Because Halong Bay is a popular destination for foreign and national tourists alike, there is a significant infrastructure. If you arrive prepared to be patient in situations that will inevitably be frustrating, your trip will be infinitely more enjoyable.

Step 6 Travel safely. Vietnam is generally a safe and friendly country, but dangers exist in high-traffic tourist areas like Halong Bay. When in public, be careful to keep your bag across your chest and in front of you to avoid petty theft; keep wallets in a front pocket to avoid pickpockets. When choosing meals, be careful to choose food that has not been left to

Source: ehow

Recommend vessels for Halong bay cruises:

Indochina Sails: Email: info@indochinasails.com, http://www.indochinasails.com

Tags:Halong Bay cruises | Halong Bay tours | Cruise Halong Bay | Halong Bay Vietnam | Halong Bay Travel | Halong Bay Junks |

Halong bay - Offshore paradise

Spending a couple of days floating on the waters of Halong Bay is always an unforgettable experience for Duc Hanh

I arrive in Halong at noon. The sun is high in the sky and burning bright. On the pier countless wooden junks, sailboats, speedboats and tiny bamboo boats bob in the water expectantly as tourists arrive from Hanoi in vans, cars and buses. Personally after a four-hour-stint on the road, I’m dying to get out the water and feel the sea breeze running through my air. I presume as normal with Halong tours we’ll be left “sitting on the dock of the bay” for the best part of an hour, but almost instantly a speed-boat arrives with a flourish and as soon as we pile on board we’re zooming towards our large and handsome junk, the Indochina Sails, which the captain proudly announces is 44m?long and 8.5m?wide – and indeed it seems a fine, seaworthy vessel to me!

Cruises on Halong Bay

Northern Vietnam’s climate is tropical. The dry season is cool, and lasts from October to April, while the wet season, from May to September, is warmer. The average temperature is 23°C.

Hanoi is not only the country’s capital but also the cultural centre of Vietnam. A modern city, it is home to over 600 pagodas and temples and offers visitors a chance to experience the culture and history within a constantly bustling urban setting.

From Hanoi, visitors can embark on an overnight train heading further north into the mountains of Sapa. Trekking through the breathtaking scenery over natural waterfalls, rice paddy fields and wild bamboo forests, you can also stay overnight in a traditional Vietnamese long house hosted by one of the many hill tribe families.

If you head east for three hours from Hanoi, you will reach Halong City, your gateway to the awe-inspiring Halong Bay, the treasure piece of Vietnam. Listed with UNESCO, this pristine turquoise bay comprises of almost 2,000 islands, and it is picturesque from every angle.

Explore Halong Bay

Ever since I saw the movie "Indochine," I've wanted to visit Ha Long Bay. I loved the haunting scenes where Camille and Jean Baptiste, her beloved French soldier (originally her adoptive mother's lover - it's a French film after all) float through the islands in a small junk. Camille's just killed a French soldier, they're fleeing the French army, and they're without food or water and are barely conscious, but it's all terribly romantic, like they are the last two people on earth, together at last.

My Ha Long Bay journey was not exactly cut from the same cloth. I was about 60 years too late for the sexy French soldiers. I took a package tour on a junk like everyone else, since it's the easiest and cheapest way to see Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. After researching a few companies

and reading lots of stories on-line about nightmare trips, I booked a 3 day/2 night trip with Active Travel Vietnam.

Halong Bay
Halong Bay

The first leg of the journey was a 3 hour bus ride through the North Vietnamese countryside where highly industrial meets pre-industrial. After we left the urban sprawl of Hanoi, the road was lined with giant factory complexes. Our guide proudly pointed them out as examples of recent foreign investment. In between the factories, in between the houses, and seemingly in every available scrap of land are the green, green rice fields. Huge power lines tower over them, factories abut them, towns surround them, but the rice fields do not yield. Vietnam is the second biggest exporter of rice (next to Thailand), and that’s after the immense amounts of rice consumed by a domestic market of 85 million people. It’s a lot of rice.

Halong Bay–The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Kayaking on Halong Bay

Just got back from Halong Bay this afternoon and it was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful–even more than I expected. We left at around 8am from the hostel and were picked up by Active travel Vietnam _ the tour company that we’d booked with. We picked up 6 others, a Scottish couple living in Malaysia and a pair of couples from Spain. We then departed for Halong Bay, about a 3 and 1/2 hour drive. We also then met our tour guide Ngoan, a slim young woman who spoke pretty good English. She was no Wasa though! She briefed us on Hanoi and Halong Bay history and then told us about where to go in Hanoi to find good dog and cat meat. (We weren’t too interested). And she told us about how Vietnamese people like to string up live cobras from trees, skin them, and then drink their blood while it’s still hot from the dangling end, like some kind of bizarre tribal beer bong. Yummy.

An ode to Ha Long Bay on Indochina sails cruise

It was my fourth visit to Ha Long Bay, but the first time my mother and I could together float on the sea, from sunset to sunrise on a large wooden junk.
by Cam Giang

Follow the leader: Holidaymakers explore limestone rock formations in Ha Long Bay. Kayaking is just one of many activities tour operators offer in the area. — Photos courtesy Indochina Sails

A new paradise aboard with Indochina Sails

Ha Long – a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders- may have never been easier and more comfortable to discover with INDOCHINA SAILS. Let’s get aboard.

The boarding time is 11h 30 am. Passengers are welcomed with smiles and the sound of drums. The friendly staff provide each with a fresh cool tower and a welcome drink to refresh after a long travelling distance. One hour to take a short rest before lunch at magnificient seascape.

This traditional junk is special from its materials to decoration. It is made by Aroma woods, a relaxing perfume living in every corner of the ship. With 15 air-conditioned rooms of twin, double and single, Each room is luxuriously and neatly decorated in 4 star style. It is a truly perfect paradise for those who travel in couple, with friends or alone.

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