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Shopping in Hanoi – What to buy and where to buy it!

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Shopping in Hanoi - What to buy and where to buy it!We wrote a very popular shopping article focused on Ho Chi Minh City 2 years ago, and have since had many requests for a similar piece for Hanoi. Shopping posts are difficult to do however, because there are so many unique things that you can buy in Vietnam that it’s impossible to include everything in a single article.We think this blog post offers a fairly comprehensive list of things that most people will want to buy when they visit Hanoi however.What to buy in Hanoi:Silk and ClothingLacquerwareDo PaperEmbroiderySouvenirsProducts of the Ethnic MinoritiesBamboo and RattanLacquer Paintings and Cloth PaintingsLuxury Goods (Real and Fake)Housewares and Ceramics1. Silk Goods, ClothingSilk is everywhere in Hanoi. Scarves and sleeping bag liners are available at every tourist shop. Raw fabric is rolled and stacked, waiting to be turned into a creation of your choosing. Finished dresses, men’s ties and Ao Dai, the traditional Vietnamese d…

Hoi An named world’s top 5 budget – friendly destination

Hoi An named world's top 5 budget - friendly destinationPost Office’s Holiday Money, a database of travel costs, has just revealed 30 cheapest cities for British travelers.To little surprise, Hoi An has been;named among the most affordable.Rankings are based on the minimum required budget for 10 holiday items U.K. tourists are likely to purchase, including a cup of coffee, a pint of beer, a bottle of water, sun cream, insect repellent, and a three-course dinner for two with a bottle of wine.At total cost of $102.86, this year the UNESCO-listed town in central Vietnam has jumped six spots from the previous year to fifth place worldwide and became the most affordable destination in Southeast Asia, according to Post Office’s Holiday Money.In Hoi An, for just $3.54, travelers can have a taste of beer or they can pay $2.52 for a cup of coffee.Affordable romantic dinner for two also makes Hoi An as a budget-friendly city;where tourists can enjoy a date night for less than $70.Leading th…

Seven new river tours launched in Saigon

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Seven new river tours launched in Saigon Each canoe is capable of carrying 20 passengers at maximum speeds of 50kph, Saigontourist said at the launch ceremony at the city’s Tan Cang tourism area.The high-speed boats will bring tourists from Tan Cang to Cu Chi, Binh Duong, Can Gio and District 9 at a costs ranging from VND750,000 (US$33) to VND2.14 million ($94) per adult, and VND560,000 ($25) to VND1.61 million ($70) per child.While these destinations are not new to river tourism, Saigontourist says several new features on their tour routes will attract new visitors.One attraction featured on a Saigontourist canoe tour along the Tan Cang – Cu Chi route is a stop in Binh Duong to tour an orchard and ancient house. The former Bach Dang – Cu Chi river tour doesn’t stop in Binh Duong.Similarly, the route to Can Gio will not stop at the Dan Xay ecotourism area, a common feature in other tour packages.  Instead, tourists will be taken to Can Thanh, the center of the outlying district, where …

11 saftey tips for kids on travelling in South East Asia

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11 saftey tips for kids on travelling in South East Asia
Chris and Jack playing on the school fort A friend recently asked me as she was about to jet off to Bali if I had any tips on travelling with kids in South East Asia.  Whether you are heading to the region for a holiday in the sun or an extended period of time, there are some things to be aware of to keep your children safe and healthy throughout the journey.  Here are my top 11 tips to help you avoid any mishaps or illness along the way.#1 Ensure the street food is cookedIf it has been sitting for a while don’t go there! If your child is going to get ill while travelling to South East Asia it will generally be due to contaminated food or water.  We ate plenty of street food throughout our travels and I highly recommend it, but be selective and ensure any meat is freshly cooked and hasn’t been sitting there for a long period.  If you are unsure, just put the food back on the grill for a little longer or choose a vendor that has con…

9 new reasons to pack up and get out of Saigon right now

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9 new reasons to pack up and get out of Saigon right nowFed up with Saigon's noise and dust? Pack your bags and prepare to set sail.Major travel company Saigontourist launched seven new river tours on Thursday, offering voyages to rural attractions in the city and the neighboring province of Binh Duong.The one-day trips set off from Tan Cang Port in Binh Thanh District and take visitors away from the urban noise to major rural attractions including the mangrove forests in Can Gio District, the Cu Chi Tunnels, temples, orchards and garden houses where fish, birds and monkeys can be found within touching distance.Each tour can accomodate between six and 25 people at a time and costs VND750,000-VND2,099,000 ($33-92) per person, with a 25 percent discount for children.Whale worshipping festivalFishing boats parade during the Nghinh Ong Festival in Saigon to show respect to the guardians of the sea. Photo by VnExpress/Phu ThoSaigon also plans to organize a whale worshipping festival ne…

Bangkok named Best Leisure Destination in Asia Pacific

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Bangkok named Best Leisure Destination in Asia PacificThe Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Hong Kong Office, Ms. Sarima Chindamat, received the award from the magazine’s representative, Mr. Willian Tang Tat Chi, a Hong Kong-born veteran fashion designer, at a ceremonial luncheon on 8 September 2017 in Hong Kong. The St Regis Bangkok won the Best Business Hotel in Bangkok honor.Ms. Sarima said that the Best Leisure Destination in the Asia Pacific and the Best Business Hotel in Bangkok awards reflect the hard work and close cooperation between Thailand’s private and public sectors plus an ongoing commitment to the highest standards of service and product excellence.She said, "Bangkok has superb hotels and improving mass transit infrastructure that helps visitors conveniently move around the city. The destination offers no shortage of entertainment options, ranging from superb restaurants, excellent shopping, and unique Thai local experience.”This marked the 26th …

Plan to promote night tours of historical sites in Ayutthaya

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Plan to promote night tours of historical sites in Ayutthaya Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat attended a meeting to discuss a master plan on the conservation and development of the Historical City of Ayutthaya, before the Cabinet retreat in Ayutthaya province on 19 September 2017.Mr. Vira said that the Ministry of Culture had worked out the master plan, under which local people would play a greater role in helping preserve and develop historical sites. In 2017, the Cabinet approved 15 projects, with a budget of 337 million baht, to improve the landscape of major temples in Ayutthaya. These projects also involve light decorations at tourist and historical sites.Mr. Vira said that the Ministry of Culture was also preparing a cultural route, linking the Historical City of Ayutthaya with the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns. It would also develop the quality of various cultural attractions, so that they would become world-renowned tourism sites.He instructed the…

TOP 5 Tips for Surviving Vietnam

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Top 5 Travel Survival Tips for Traveling to Vietnam (Southeast Asia travel)..Of all the Southeast Asian countries  out there, Vietnam happens to be the trickiest and I will tell you why. Today I’m going to share with you my…Top 5 travel survival tips for surviving Vietnam.Mekong Delta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City , …Sapa.People wearing little conical hats called coolies… depending on the city grow to or the village, Vietnam can be a fairly bustling place.1. Beware of theft.Sorry sorry it happens there it happens there a lot. Focus. Know where you’re going.  Know what’s around you.  In the course of around two weeks  I met for travelers that had been robbed in various different ways.– Bag snatching. – Taking out a wad of cash, when you’re paying a motorbike taxi.    – Leaving your backpack at a hotel storage space or luggage space because you’re going to take a trekking tour.-  Leaving your valuables unattended while you’re searching for money to buy a drink.I’m going to leave a link right…

How to stay safe and avoid scams in Vietnam – Part 1: North Vietnam

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Generally, Vietnam is a very safe country in which to travel. Compared to most major tourist cities in the West – Paris, London, New York, Rome – the streets of Vietnam’s urban centers are much less threatening. However, in some of the more popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, there are a handful of tourist scams and safety hazards that all travelers should be aware of. In this XO blog – the first in a two-part series – we describe some common scams in tourist hotspots in the north of the country; Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Sapa. This guide to avoiding common tourist scams will help you get the most out of this fabulous country and avoid any negative experiences. (Read Part 2 of this series HERE).Even at night, Hanoi is safer than most cities in the West HANOI:Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, is one of the busiest and most beguiling cities in Southeast Asia. But, as tourist numbers have risen steadily, so too have tourist scams.Airport Taxi Scam:Many visitors emerge from Hanoi’s Noi Bai …

How to stay safe and avoid scams in Vietnam – Part 2: South Vietnam

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In this, the second part of our two-part series on avoiding common tourist scams in Vietnam, we focus on popular tourist destinations in the south of the country. Saigon, Nha Trang and Hoi An all have their fair share of scams and safety hazards that travelers should be aware of. (Read Part 1 of this series HERE).Famous for its beaches, the south has its fair share of scams to look out for SAIGON:Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is Vietnam’s biggest, busiest, and most exciting city. In any such city there are always going to be scams and dangers to beware of.Airport Taxi & Cyclo Scams: You can learn more about these notorious scams in this comprehensive blog post.**** If you would prefer to avoid dealing with taxis altogether, or if you’re arriving to Ho Chi Minh City very late and/or you have young children, we can highly recommend Drive Vietnam for the best Ho Chi Minh City airport transfers ****Hit-and-Run ‘Cowboys’:Drive-by snatchings (including backpacks, handbags, cameras slung arou…

Chinese tourists top list of foreign visitors to Vietnam

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Chinese tourists top list of foreign visitors to VietnamVietnam also saw an impressive growth of ROK visitors with a rise of 51%. In the first nine months, the country welcomed 1.7 million of Korean tourists, an increase of more than 170,000 compared to the same period last year.Meanwhile, the number of Russian visitors to the country reached more than 420,000 against last year’s figure of 434,000.Quang Ninh, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc are the favorite holiday destinations for foreign visitors.Vietnam is currently launching tourism promotion activities by advertising new destinations for visitors from China, the ROK and Russia and diversifying their tourism products.In the reviewed period, the total number of foreign arrivals to Vietnam;surged 28% to 9.4 million compared to last year’s corresponding period.The number of visitors travelling by air increased 31% to 8 million while tourists arriving by road jumped nearly 30%. The number of visitors traveling by sea decreased more th…

Promoters of pop concerts, other events may ditch Malaysia as hard-line Islam gets a grip

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Organisers of pop concerts and some other big events are increasingly wary of including Malaysia on their itineraries, as the cancellation of a beer festival due to take place next month highlighted growing intolerance towards activities regarded as insulting to Islam by some Muslim groups.The promoters say that international music stars, especially those;known for risqué lyrics or revealing clothing, are unlikely to be;brought to Malaysia as part of regional or global tours. The same goes for any gatherings that;could in any way be deemed un-Islamic.While such concerns have been building for some time in this majority Sunni Muslim nation, the organizers say that the atmosphere has become particularly difficult in the past year.The politicization of Islam has increased as Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling party seeks to appease more-fundamentalist elements to secure its large, rural Malay vote bank ahead of an election expected in the coming months.A United Nations cultural righ…

HCM City rolls out seven new waterway tours

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HCM City rolls out seven new waterway toursAt the launching ceremony, Director of the municipal Department of Tourism Bui Ta Hoang Vu said that the move is significant to enhance the glamour and competitiveness of the city’s tourism.He stressed that with a canal system, Ho Chi Minh City boasts huge potentials to develop waterway tourism, thus it is necessary to develop tourism products based on available advantages.The new waterway tours are expected to help promote the city’s image;as a friendly, attractive and safe destination, he added.The tours include one to mangrove forest in the suburban Can Gio district,;one to the Cu Chi tunnel and another exploring the lower course;of Sai Gon river, all starting from Tan Cang tourism site. Prices for the tours range from VND750,000 (US$33) to VND2.1 million;(US$92.4), including light meal, lunch, local fruit, bottled water,;tour guide, entrance fees and pick-up costs.Five high-speed canoes with designed capacity of 25 passengers each will be…

Despite controversy, buffalo fighting festival resumes in northern Vietnam

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The Festival was temporarily;suspended when buffalo killed its ownerAuthorities in Do Son District in the northern city of Hai Phong resumed the district's traditional buffalo fighting festival on Thursday. The festival was temporarily;suspended nearly three months ago after a buffalo killed its owner during a match.A total of 18 animals participated in 17 matches to select a winner from the six-hour tournament. Thousands of tourists and locals attended the event, filling all four stands of the stadium. Source linkSee all : Despite controversy, buffalo fighting festival resumes in northern Vietnam

You’re not allowed to fall in love with an American under Trump’s new visa rules

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Dreams of starting a new life in the US and falling in love an exotic American? Better move those to the trash pile.Trump’s new visa rules[caption id="attachment_2182" align="aligncenter" width="748"] Trump is making it hard for visitors to work and ultimately live in the US[/caption]You're not allowed to fall in love with an American under Trump's new visa rules. Is this true?Donald Trump’s just made it even harder for those trying to enter the states. Is a cyber attack the best way to take down North Korea?He’s given immigration officials new grounds to deny entry — asking all;those who require a visa to follow-through on their stated;plans for at least three months.Failure to do so will make it harder for them for renew their visa or change its status.So if you’re in America for work, fall in love with a citizen and;get;married, it would;be;presumed;that you have deliberately;lied;and will make living in the states difficult in the future.Diane…

Vietnam Visa On Arrival – everything you need to know

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Vietnam Visa On Arrival - everything you need to know
Ben Thanh Market The whole idea of a Vietnam Visa On Arrival approval letter seems a little strange to me. Having to apply and send money to a website you don’t know is legit, to get emailed an approval letter that must be presented at your arrival airports Visa On Arrival office (with more money) before you get your visa is a real leap of faith, especially for the inexperienced traveller. Given Vietnam was the first country we went to when we left Australia, we were about as inexperienced as you can get. But this is the process we went through and it worked out perfectly.What is a Vietnam Visa On ArrivalAs the name suggests, a Vietnam Visa On Arrival is simply when you’re;issued with your visa when you arrive by plane, as opposed to organising it before you leave your country. You can go through your local Vietnamese embassy to ensure you have a visa before you leave your country if you prefer, but it’s more expensive, you’ll need t…

Top 13 things to do in Vietnam

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Top 13 things to do in VietnamFrom exploring the depths of a mysterious subterranean world to bargaining in a Mekong market, from sleeping under a bamboo roof in the mountains to scaling waterfalls in the Central Highlands, Vietnam is bursting with exciting things to do. In this XO blog post we outline the very best activities across the country – from the thrilling to the serene – in order to create the ultimate bucket list of things to do in Vietnam.1: CANYONING:Scaling waterfalls in DalatDalat might be famous as a former French colonial hill station in the Central Highlands, but these days it’s becoming the extreme sports capital of Vietnam. The rugged, mountainous terrain, forested hillsides, and mild temperatures make it perfect for outdoors activities: in particular, canyoning. Regular rainfall creates dozens of rivers and waterfalls in the area: canyoning essentially involves following the course of a river: clambering over boulders, climbing up rock faces, being taken along by…