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Thứ Năm, ngày 12 tháng 9 năm 2013

Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 2)

Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 2)

Trải dọc đất nước Việt Nam có quá nhiều cảnh đẹp. Miền bắc hùng vĩ núi non, miền trung biển xanh cát trắng, miền nam bồng bềnh sông nước... mỗi một nét đặc trưng địa lý đều góp thêm mầu sắc cho bức tranh phong cảnh Việt Nam.
Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 1
16. Đèo Khau Phạ - Mù Căng Chải
Đèo Phạ Đin: Đèo Phạ Đin dốc cao và vô khối những dốc cua tay áo, những đoạn đường cheo leo vực sâu mà không hề có ta luy hay vách ngăn. Miếu thờ bên đường nhan nhản... nhưng không vì thế mà cản bước những người mê chinh phục những cung đường đẹp.
Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 2
 
17. Núi Phan-xi-păng
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18. Sìn Hồ - Lai Châu
Núi Phan-xi-păng: Đỉnh Fansipan với chiều cao 3.143m là ngọn núi cao nhất Việt Nam, cũng là cao nhất trong 3 nước Đông Dương nên được mệnh danh là “nóc nhà Đông Dương”. Fansipan cách thị trấn Sa Pa khoảng 9km, cho nên ngoài niềm khao khát chinh phục đỉnh cao, tại vùng đất này, những người phượt sẽ được cảm nhận những nét đẹp của văn hóa người Mông hay thưởng thức những món ăn nướng thơm lừng của người dân nơi đây. Chính vì thế, mỗi mùa đông hay mùa xuân về, đây luôn là tâm điểm của những người mê phượt.
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19. “Cổng Trời” Đồng Văn
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20. A Pa Chải – cực tây Tổ quốc
 Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 6
21. Thiên Cầm – Hà Tĩnh
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22. Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng
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23. Phá Tam Giang
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24. Vịnh Lăng Cô
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25. Nghĩa trang liệt sĩ Trường Sơn – Quảng Trị

Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1)

Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1)

Trải dọc đất nước Việt Nam có quá nhiều cảnh đẹp. Miền bắc hùng vĩ núi non, miền trung biển xanh cát trắng, miền nam bồng bềnh sông nước... mỗi một nét đặc trưng địa lý đều góp thêm mầu sắc cho bức tranh phong cảnh Việt Nam.
Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 1
1. Tam Đảo    
  Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 2
 2. Hồ Đại Lải
Hồ Đại Lải: Là hồ nước rộng 525 ha xen lẫn những cánh rừng xanh thẳm, những bán đảo hoang sơ và các triền đồi bát úp. Quanh năm mặt hồ nước luôn gợn sóng trong xanh và đầy ắp. Giữa hồ là một đảo chim rộng tới 4,8 ha, cây cối xanh mướt và um tùm.
Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 3
 
3. Tây Thiên 
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  4. Tam Cốc – Bích Động 
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5. Thắng cảnh Hương Sơn 
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6. Thu Hà Nội
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7. Hồ Ba Bể 
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8. Danh Thắng Yên Tử
Hồ Ba Bể: Hồ Ba Bể là thắng cảnh thiên nhiên độc đáo của tỉnh Bắc Kạn và được Unesco xếp vào danh sách hai mươi hồ nước ngọt đẹp nhất thế giới. Hồ trải rộng gần 2km và dài tới hơn 8km. Có nhiều hòn đảo lớn nhỏ nằm rải rác trong lòng hồ và mỗi hòn đảo đều được xem như một “khu rừng nhỏ”.
Yên Tử: Vào mùa lễ hội, chỉ việc xếp hàng để đi cáp treo lên chùa Hoa Yên, nơi vua Trần Nhân Tông tu hành bạn đã phải đợi cả nửa tiếng đồng hồ, thậm chí còn lâu hơn nữa vì dòng người nô nức chảy hội quá đông.
 Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 9
9. Thác Mơ – Tuyên Quang
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10. Vịnh Bái Tử Long
Thác mơ: Thác mơ thuộc thị trấn Nà Hang, huyện Nà Hang, tỉnh Tuyên Quang, nằm giữa khu bảo tồn thiên nhiên Nà Hang, cách thị xã Tuyên Quang khoảng 100km.
Thác gồm có 3 tầng, muốn lên tầng thác thứ 2, du khách phải leo khoảng hơn 10m thang dây. Tại chân tầng thác thứ 2 có một hồ nước nhỏ, trong vắt. Lên tầng này, du khách được đắm mình trong khung cảnh kỳ vĩ với những hang động nhũ đá lung linh huyền ảo. Tại tầng thác này nước chảy êm ả hơn, luồn qua những kẽ đá, trên những khối đá to rêu phủ xanh rì trông như những tấm thảm nhung. Bám tiếp thang dây, du khách sẽ tới đỉnh tầng thứ 3 của thác. Đứng trên đỉnh ngọn thác hùng vĩ này bạn có thể chiêm ngưỡng toàn cảnh thị trấn Nà Hang với 99 ngọn núi trùng điệp bao quanh.
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11. Cô Tô
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12. Lũng Cú
Cô Tô: Cô Tô là một quần đảo nằm trong vịnh Bắc Bộ bao gồm các đảo Cô Tô lớn, đảo Cô Tô nhỏ, đảo Thanh Lâm, đảo Trần và vô số hòn đảo nhỏ khác. Ở Cô Tô, bạn có thể được chơi đùa với nước biển trong vắt ở hàng loạt bãi biển đẹp như bãi Tàu Đắm, Hồng Vàn, Vàn Chải, Bắc Vàn, Vòm Si, Vụng Ông Viên…
Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 13
 
13. Đèo Ô Quy Hồ - Lào Cai
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14. Đèo Mã Pí Lèng - Hà Giang
Đèo Mã Pí Lèng: Đứng từ mặt bên này thấy toàn con đường dài phía bên như một con rắn trườn lượn mình vắt từ ngọn núi này sang ngọn núi khác.
Khám phá Việt Nam qua 50 điểm đến đẹp (phần 1) - 15
 
15. Đèo Phạ Đin - Lai Châu

Thứ Hai, ngày 06 tháng 5 năm 2013

Attractive and adventurous Nha Trang sea sports


In the summer, Nha Trang beach is very charming. According to international sports experts, Nha Trang is the only destination in Vietnam being able to develop all types of sea sports. 

Sea sports festival is considered as “a green message” of Nha Trang sea festival, took place every two years.

Waking up before the sun rises, thousands of people flock to the sea to cheer athletes on.  There are many sports here such as swimming, shaking basket boats, diving, windsurfing, jet skiing, kayaking etc.

The festival has a special attraction to everybody. Many tourists in the Northern or in the Southern of Vietnam pay a visit Nha Trang just in order to try playing water sports. They can experience interesting sports like parasailing or surfing.

Even if  visting Nha Trang one time, most people enjoy playing sea sports in Nha Trang.

Basket boats racing

Parasailing

Parachuting

Jet skiing
Translated by Nguyen Quynh

Thứ Tư, ngày 18 tháng 7 năm 2012

Taxis in Saigon - How to avoid being taken for a ride

Taxis are a surprisingly cheap way to get around the major cities in Vietnam - and if need be, its event not too prohibitive to take a taxi between cities. In Saigon the crowded streets and haphazard construction can make walking a very hot and tiring exercise so it can be quite a relief to hop into a nice cool taxi when you are starting to wear out.
In general cross city taxi travel in Ho Chi Minh City between major tourist sights can be achieved for $1-2, occasionally up to $5 or $6 if you need to travel a particularly long way - for instance from downtown Dong Khoi area up to Chinatown. The vast majority of taxi drivers are very courteous, helpful and safe drivers, if a little too fond of their horns at times, so you should feel free to relax and enjoy the scenery as you drive.
That being said, taxis are not closely regulated and if you do not travel with a trusted brand you may find the meter has been fiddled and you are paying over the odds. The government have recently been holding a crackdown on dodgy taxis at the airport in o Chi Minh City which appears to have been quite successful, but it seems little is being done to put a stop to overcharging in private taxis in town.
To help visitors and expats new to the city we've put together a guide to the taxis to trust and those to avoid. Its quite easy to stick with the trusted brands if you follow our guide below - and if you feel you are being taken for a ride, just ask the driver to pull over and choose another cab. You will have to pay whatever is on the meter if you want to avoid a very lengthy argument, so it is better to stop and do so sooner rather than later!

Since most drivers only speak Vietnamese do bear in mind that at times a detour they are taking may be to avoid heavy traffic and roadworks to get you to your train, bus or plane on time, rather than to inflate the meter. There may be a few crooks operating tourist taxis but the majority of taxi drivers are legitimate, so try to avoid taking a cynical view on your travels - you will enjoy your time in Vietnam a great deal more!

The taxis to avoid

It may have a meter, but..
It's a dead giveaway really. You will see many of these taxis hovering in the tourist areas, outside backpacker ghettos, museums and late night bars but rarely picking up local passengers .. What do they know that you don't?
Taxi Du Lich
It's quite simple actually - painted on the side or on the roof are the words "Taxi Du Lich" - which translates as 'Tourist Taxi'. While I generally like to advocate supporting independent traders chances are you are more likely to pay much more for your fares in one of these than in a taxi run by a major company.

Taxis we know and love

Vinasun

Vinasun - Possibly one of the most comfortable fleets - at least in Saigon - Vinasun have cool, clean and spacious cars and seven seater 'people carrier' style taxis. Their meters start low - around 12,000 Dong - and the drivers are friendly and helpful
Mai Linh Taxis

Mai Linh - One of my favourite transport companies in Vietnam, Mai Linh are building an empire on good service and fair pricing. I always use their buses when I have the choice and their taxis are great too - though the larger vehicles in their taxi fleet are a little boxy compared to Vinasun's, but to be fair I am a fair bit taller than your average Saigon resident.
VinaTaxi

VinaTaxi - bright and yellow just like new york taxis, Vinataxi are cheap and cheerful. Meters start at 9,000 Dong which perhaps reflect the age of the fleet - they were the first taxi company in Saigon and some of the cars are beginning to look a little sad and old. Still, they are dependable and very competitively priced, so you can't complain.

The following are also great value:

Although you may not see so many of them, all of the following cab companies will give you a decent rate and a comfortable journey.
Savico
Savico
Saigon Tourist
Saigon Tourist

Hoang Long (i forgot to take a picture of this one but it'll be up soon!)
PetroVietnam

The pretenders


Vinamet Definately not a Mai Linh

Sadly success often leads to copycats in Vietnam and the same is true of taxis. Therefore if you see a 'Vinamet', 'Vinameter', 'Lai Minh' or similar play on one of the popular brands above chances are its a fake and given the slightly unscrupulous adoption of their competitor's names it is fairly likely they may be just as unscrupulous when it comes to setting their meters.

Outside Saigon - what to look for in a good taxi

Many towns have their own local taxi companies so it is difficult to list them all. Mai Linh and Vinasun above can be found in just about every town in Vietnam and are consistently reliable, but many of the smaller local operators can be cheap and effective so don't be afraid of giving them a go.
In general we would recommend looking for the following before you get in a cab:
  • A clean, reasonably new car - legitimate companies care about their image so their taxis will look in a much better condition than the fly-by-nights
  • A brand name and logo - preferably one that doesn't look like a copy of someone else's!
  • Perhaps most importantly - a 'So Dep' or 'pretty (phone) number' such as 8111 111 or 27 27 27 27 - these are expensive and first come first served and so usually imply the taxi company is in business for the long term.

Nam Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park

vyacheslav stepanyuchenkoCat Tien National Park, located 150 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City, covers an area of 720 square kilometres and protects some of Vietnam's most endangered species of plant and animal life. For visitors to Vietnam who enjoy the outdoors, Cat Tien National Park is a must-see destination.

Plant and Animal Life at Cat Tien

Cat Tien National Park was initially protected by Vietnam in 1978. Consisting of two adjacent segments, Cat Loc and Nam Cat Tien, the park stretches over three different provinces and is surrounded by agricultural land.
The park's forest is one of the last tropical rainforests left in Vietnam, and as such it is a haven for a diverse array of otherworldly trees, brightly-coloured butterflies, endangered reptiles and amphibians, and mammals ranging from monkeys to rhinoceroses.
The rhinos are a particular point of pride for the park. In 1992, a herd of Vietnamese Javan Rhinos were discovered in the Cat Loc area, one of only two remaining herds in the wild. Unfortunately, like so many mammals once plentiful in Vietnam, the rhinos used to be the most populous species in Asia, but was hunted into near extinction in the nineteenth century. Although European hunters were initially to blame for the depopulation of the rhinoceroses, today the animals are threatened by traditional Chinese medicine. One poached rhino horn can earn as much as £20,000 on the black market, making the rhino herd a very tempting target for impoverished local farmers.
vyacheslav stepanyuchenkoOther threats to the park include illegal logging and the local population's push to open more acreage to agriculture. The visits and donations of foreign tourists provide much-needed funding to help the park conserve its unique forests and unique animals. Visiting Cat Tien National Park, then, provides not just a fun outdoor adventure, but also a way to contribute to the conservation of one of Asia's last untouched tropical rainforests.
Some eco-tourists enjoy participating in the park's conservation initiatives, which include sponsored tree replanting. For just £13, visitors can plant a tree in the park to help keep it green.

Visiting the Villages Around Cat Tien National Park

After you have a chance to plant a tree and snap a photo of a rare rhino or golden gibbon (one of the park's many primate species), you might decide to supplement your natural sight-seeing with some cultural sight-seeing.
The people living in the central valley of the Cat Tien National Park reserve include the Chau Ma and the Stieng. These ethnic communities, located mostly to the south of Cat Tien, have lived in the area for many centuries. A day trip into one of these rural villages may provide interesting insight into the way of life of these traditional farmers, as well as a unique opportunity to understand a very different part of Vietnam.
For the eco-tourist in Vietnam, Cat Tien National Park, including the larger area of Nam Cat Tien and the smaller Cat Loc, are important destinations. Offering a chance to see some of the rarest flora and fauna in Southeast Asia, a visit to Cat Tien National Park also reaffirms the importance of preserving ancient ecosystems from extinction. Visiting Cat Tien gives the European tourist a chance to give back to a region that Europe has greatly benefited from over the past few centuries.

Museums in Saigon

Vietnam has a fascinating 2,000 year history and there is plenty to learn about the country's past and how it affects life today. Sadly, however, while there are some excellent museums in Vietnam not all live up to the same standard - many are lengthy photo galleries with few English translations of the contexts or history behind the photos, leaving the visitor bewildered even if they have some prior knowledge of the subject.
That being said, if you choose the right museums on your trip you can learn a great deal and begin to appreciate more the rich history of this country.
The Museum of Vietnam's History
(Inside the gates of the HCMC Zoo/Botanical Gardens, Le Duan, District 1)
Possibly one of the best museums we've seen in Vietnam, the natural history museum of Ho Chi Minh City manages to chart the country's history from prehistoric times and 10,000 year old artifacts to the wars with China and the numerous dynasties that have shaped the development of the Vietnamese nation over time. There are some fantastic examples of sculpture and art from the Cham and Oc Eo civilizations, statues of Buddhas from across the region, collections of porcelain and art from various historical periods and a even a mummy found preserved in Saigon. The narratives on the walls throughout the museum also go some way to helping the visitor understand the many periods of Vietnamese history, with only a few gaps. Highly recommended.
The War Remnants Museum
(28 Vo Van Tan, District 3)
Practically required viewing for any visitor to Ho Chi Minh City, the War museum is an comprehensive collection of photographs, video and other evidence detailing the horrors of war and the aftermath of unexploded ordinance, agent orange and other legacies of the combat. Remarkably the museum manages to avoid being overly political, instead pointing the finger at the senseless nature of war itself rather than focusing too closely on assigning blame. It is a sombre and moving experience, but it is highly recommended both to help understand what Vietnam went through and as a reminder of the importance of campaigning for peaceful solutions to differences between nations.
Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum
(Duc Chinh Street, District 1 - Behind the bus station opposite Ben Thanh Market)
Housed in a beautiful old building from the colonial era, the Fine Arts Museum has an interesting collection of works from both contemporary and traditional artists, as well as a fascinating collection of statues and artifacts dating back as far as the first century AD on the 3rd floor. Well worth a visit.
The Ho Chi Minh Museum
(1 Nguyen Tat Thanh, District 4)
Just over a bridge from the downtown areas of Nguyen Hue and Dong Khoi (the traffic is vicious so we'd advise jumping in a taxi rather than walking over the bridge!) on the banks of the river is a museum devoted to Ho Chi Minh. It is set in an attractive building and garden with good views of the river, and contains a potentially fascinating collection of photographs detailing the life of Ho Chi Minh. Sadly this potential is lost as so many of the photos captions, even when translated, fail to explain the significance of events or meetings depicted in photographs, making the experience somewhat bewildering for those that have not already studied the life of Ho Chi Minh (which, of course, most Vietnamese people have)
While the photos themselves are interesting, the museum is not really recommended unless you have a lot of time on your hands or a strong interest (and prior knowlege) in the man that lead Vietnam's campaign for independence.

Cu Chi Tunnels, Saigon

Cu Chi Tunnels, Saigon

During the 1960s, the communist guerrilla fighters in South Vietnam, or Viet Cong, befuddled American troops by seeming to completely vanish into the jungle, leaving not a trace behind. It took the Americans some time to figure out that the Viet Cong were slipping away into complex tunnel systems located beneath the jungle floor. At any given time, thousands of Viet Cong troops would live inside these tunnel systems, only emerging at night to tend crops, find supplies, or attack the Americans. At some points during the war, the Viet Cong would remain underground for months at a time, not even seeing the sun.
One of the largest tunnel systems was the Cu Chi tunnels, running from the outskirts of Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City) all the way to the Cambodian border. The whole tunnel system is 75 miles in length and has three distinct stories underneath the ground. During the war, the tunnels were continually expanded as fighting dragged on. Today, the tunnels have been reinforced and expanded for western tourists, and are a very popular destination for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City.

History of the Cu Chi Tunnels

The Cu Chi tunnels were started long before the American Vietnam War. The Vietnamese first began building the tunnels during the 1940s, when Ho Chi Minh and his communist forces were fighting the Japanese invaders. The tunnels were all dug by hand, one basket of dirt at a time. When the Americans came, the guerrillas once again used the tunnels as underground military bases, moving troops, supplies, and intelligence from place to place without detection.

Tunnel Rats and Ferrets

At first, the Americans declined to explore the tunnels, which were designed for the smaller-framed Vietnamese soldiers. Additionally, the Viet Cong had installed deadly booby traps to ward off the few who would try to invade them. In 1966, the Americans tried to destroy the tunnels by dropping heavy bombs throughout the Cu Chi region, but this was largely unsuccessful.
With large bombs not working, and gas and grenades thrown into tunnel entrances proving to be equally ineffective, the western troops eventually realized they had to train individual soldiers to infiltrate the tunnels. The American, Australian, and New Zealand troops who volunteered for this unsavory job earned the nickname “tunnel rats”, or “ferrets” in the Australian Army.
Besides the booby traps and the enemies lying in wait, the tunnel rats had other things to worry about: inside the tunnels often crawled snakes, poisonous centipedes, scorpions, ants, and bats. Equipped only with a pistol, knife, a flashlight, and a piece of string to find his way out, the tunnel rats crawled through the stale air in the pitch black darkness looking for documents, weapons, and other items from inside the tunnels.

The Tunnels Today

The foreign troops never succeeded in destroying the Viet Cong tunnels, and today the Vietnamese believe they won the war thanks to the ingenious tunnels.
Well-maintained and free of booby traps and poisonous creatures, tour guides lead groups of westerners through the widened tunnels every day - but one has to wonder if this constant promotion of 'war tourism' is healthy for a country where so many of the population have long ago moved on from the war. Its true that most people who have yet to visit Vietnam know only of the war and little else, but surely a visit to Vietnam should be an opportunity to challenge that and show what Vietnam is about in the 21st Century?
In our opinion, unless you have a particular interest in engineering your time is likely better spent in Saigon itself if you wish to learn about life in this country now and where it is headed in the future.

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