Thứ Năm, 31 tháng 1, 2013

Get your noodle around Vietnamese food


Take a gastronomic tour of Vietnam, but be warned – do not read this article if you are even slightly hungry.

1. Pho

They call it beef noodle soup, and such it is, but so much more. It is Vietnam in a bowl. Pronounced like ‘fur’ (but drop the ‘r’), it is beef noodle soup raised to the nth degree. You can have pho everywhere in Vietnam, but it is almost a cult in Hanoi.

From the garnish tray, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add beansprouts to the soup, and a dash of chilli sauce and fish sauce. Lastly, sprinkle it with coriander leaves, or mint leaves, or basil. Or all of them. With your chopsticks, thrust deeply to the bottom of the bowl. Lift the noodles above the surface and let the dressings you’ve added subsume into the body of the work. Lay the noodles back to rest. In the next minute the flavours will marry. The more traditional beef variety of pho is called pho bo, while the chicken is pho ga

2. Mon cuon (Rice rolls)

Rice rolls are produced everywhere in Vietnam, with the most well-known being goi cuon, but the variety that are made in Hanoi, banh cuon, have their own special characteristics. The wrappings of banh cuon are as thin as a sheet of paper, appearing as edible alabaster, soft yet offering something to the teeth. Ingredients may include grilled pork, fried bean curd, or vegetables. If you’re really lucky, they’ll add a drop of coleopterous essence (a highly aromatic secretion from the gland of a type of beetle).

Northern specialties

The basic tenets of the north’s cookery are more closely aligned with China than that of other local regions. Fewer spices are available than in the south, but the people couldn’t do without black pepper. They use a superior grade that is mild, yet intensely aromatic, and with a sweetness that is unique to this land. Equally important are the sweet and pungent herbs – basil, mint, coriander, spring onions, and several other tasty leaves.

3. Bun cha

Bun cha is pressed pork served on a bed on of cold rice noodles and dressed with a few herbs. The meat is always cut from a piece of well-marbled pork. It is marinated in a mixture of sweet, hot, sour and salty, and the resulting product tastes like none of its constituent flavours, yet more than the sum of its parts.

4. Snail dishes

In Hanoi there is a type of snail living in ponds and lakes that grows to the size of a golfball, has a streaked colour, and, while chewy, is very tasty. They are called ‘oc‘. Bun oc are boiled snails dipped in nuoc cham, placed in a bowl of rice vermicelli and snail consommé poured over. You can also get bun oc in many seafood restaurants. Oc ngoi are minced snails mixed with onion, garlic and mushroom; rolled in ginger leaves and stuffed in the shell of the snail; then stewed. Pull the ginger leaf out and the rest comes along. Oc hap bia are snails are steamed in beer. Try also oc xao ca vo (shelled stir-fried snails), oc cuon cha (rolled snail), bun oc kho (dried noodle and snails).

5. Lau (Hot pot)

The lau (hot pot) comes from China. It is a turban-shaped pan containing stock in the middle of which is a charcoal stove (now alcohol fuel is used). The stock is kept simmering throughout the meal. The lau is placed in the middle of the table, around which is a variety of foods, including rice vermicelli, pig’s heart, liver and kidneys, goat meat, eel, onion and vegetables. The less adventurous might opt for shellfish, river fish or chicken. Put as much food as you’d like to eat into the pot, give it a stir, and in about five minutes you’re ready for dinner. Keep replenishing the pot as you go. It’s rather like fondue, and just as convivial and fun. Depending on the ingredients used, it might be called lau de (goat meat), lau luon (eel meat) or lau thap cam (with many different kinds of meat).

Southern specialties

The south grows a greater variety of tropical and temperate fruits and vegetables, and more varieties of spice. Southerners also use more sugar in their recipes, even the savoury ones. Dining in the south is very much a hands-on experience. You will be presented with a plate of fresh lettuce and herbs. Take a little of the cooked food and place it in the centre of a lettuce leaf, add some of the herbs, and wrap the lettuce around the food and dip it into whatever sauce is close at hand.

6. Bánh xèo

Bánh xèo is a large crepe filled with goodies. The Vietnamese make it with rice flour and coconut milk, and fill it with meat and shellfish, as well as vegetables. Bánh xèo is often referred to in English as a Vietnamese ‘pancake’. We think this is an unsatisfactory translation, but there seems to be nothing we can do about it.


7. Claypot (noi dat)

Claypot cookery is very southern, and very satisfying. Claypots are usually small, often unglazed, with a lid, and look little different from a flowerpot with a lid. They were originally used by farmers and fishermen who had little to cook, few pots to cook in, and little fuel for the fire.

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Thứ Tư, 30 tháng 1, 2013

Is Myanmar’s Mrauk U the ‘next Angkor Wat’?


Myanmar (Burma) is becoming the new hotspot destination of Southeast Asia. Now that the US has re-established diplomatic relations with the newly civilian government and the National League for Democracy has dropped its long-standing travel boycott, tourism has tripled, with visitors zeroing in on attractions like Yangon’s 2000-year-old gold-covered Shwedagon Paya, the floating markets of Inle Lake, and Bagan’s 4000 ancient temples.

Some visitors dub Bagan as the ‘next Angkor Wat‘ and it is a wonderful site, particularly when you explore outer temples with a flashlight and a sense of imagination. But after updating Lonely Planet’s guidebook to Myanmar twice, I’d have to admit it’s not even my favorite ruin in the country. I prefer Mrauk U, an elusive kingdom-turned-village in the hills of Rakhaing State near the Bangladesh border. Practically severed from road access with the country, Mrauk U is the timeless home to 700 ancient temples that serve as a backdrop to a still-active village life of goat herders, cauliflower farmers and passing monks.
Burma goes slow, Mrauk U slower. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.

Seeing temples

Rising beside canals and in between rolling hills, Mrauk U’s 700 temples date from the city’s heyday from 1430 to 1784, when emperors sent navies to conquer nearby ports and hired Japanese samurai for bodyguards. You can tour the site by a rented bike, or on a jeep or horse cart tour (from US$10 or US$15 a day).

The usual starting point is in the ‘north group,’ around the 16th-century Shittaung Paya – where you pay a US$5 zone fee to visit all of Mrauk U. Across the road is the more interesting Dukkanthein Paya, a bunker-style site with a spiraling passageway inside lined with Buddhas and fun models of Mrauk U’s ’64 traditional hairstyles’. (It’s shown behind the well in the video, above.)

Make sure to reach the earthquake-damaged Kothaung Paya, named for its supposed 90,000 images – many seen in an encircling walkway. Just south, across the dirt path, is what appears to be a hill, but is the overgrown site of Peisi Daung Paya, with a wonderful panorama of village life.

Chin villages

Most of Chin State, just north of Rakhaing, can only be visited by special permit, but it’s possible to visit a few Chin ethnic villages from Mrauk U on a day trip. It’s great fun just for the journey, which involves a five-mile ride to the clear Lemro River, and a three-hour chugging boat ride past peanut farms to villages such as Pan Mraun.

The Chin are famous for the tattooed faces of the women, though only older women have them anymore. There’s no electricity or running water out there. Before going, it’s worth asking at the guesthouse for suggestions on possible donations (eg anti-malarial medicines, available in Mrauk U, are in very short supply in the Chin villages). A full day trip, with guide and boat, should cost about US$100.

Where to stay

Mrauk U only has running electricity from 7am to 3pm and 6pm to 11:30pm, though some guesthouses use generators at night. Our favorite hotel is the Shwe Thazin, with air-conditioned rooms from US$50.

A simpler option I’ve enjoyed – along with the little toads that sometimes hop around the lobby – is the friendly Golden Star Guest House (tel 95-43-24200, ext 50175). Rooms start at US$5. Staff will bring hot water in buckets if you like.

Getting there

Half the fun of visiting Mrauk U is getting there. From Yangon, flights on Air Bagan and Air Mandalay go to the historic port city of Sittwe on the Bay of Bengal. As soon as you land, you’ll get many offers for boat services to Mrauk U. Private boats fit up to six people and are about US$120 round trip, including a few days’ time at Mrauk U. The government’s ferry (tel 95-43-23382) is bigger, slower, goes just twice weekly, but more comfortable and costs only US$4 one way. Plus you might get offered fried crickets at one of the local stops.

It’s not advised to take a boat after dark (I once saw washed-up luggage of a tourist boat that capsized in a sudden storm – its riders just offshore, but they couldn’t see their way in the pitch dark and drowned; the ferry is more stable in winds). If you stay in Sittwe, the best option is the Shwe Thazin Hotel. And try to fit in the amazing morning fish market before heading out.

A bonus beach stop

Because most flights between Yangon and Sittwe stop in Thandwe, near the gold-sand beaches of Ngapali, many visitors consider doubling up the Rakhaing experience by spending a few days in Mrauk U, and adding a couple more at Ngapali afterwards. It’s a laid-back, stunning spot, with horse carts sometimes using the beach, and not much else. The specialty here – other than reasonable half-day snorkel tours – is the squid. You’ll see the lights of squid boats come on as the sun sets on the horizon, and find superb squid with garlic sauce at open-air restaurants along the town’s lone road. Seriously, it’s the best food in the country.
A favorite mid-range spot is the Royal Beach Motel, with rooms from US$40.

More information

You can get a good sense of Mrauk U in two days, though three is better if you plan a day trip to see the Chin villages. A good private travel agent in Yangon can help with details including ferry times, flight reservations, even a guide if you like. The best choice is Good News Travel 

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Thứ Ba, 29 tháng 1, 2013

Tet Nguyen Dan: tips for welcoming the new year in Vietnam


Location: throughout Vietnam
Dates: Lunar New Year (between 19 January and 20 February)
Level of participation: 3 – a New Year’s Eve as raucous as any

In Vietnam, Tet ushers in the New Year and is by far the biggest day on the national calendar. Tet rites begin a week before New Year’s Day, and the first three days of the New Year are official holidays, but the event visitors will really want to experience is New Year’s Eve. This is the one night that Tet becomes a boisterous celebration; the rest of the time it’s a fairly quiet family affair.


One week before the New Year, Tao Quan – the three Spirits of the Hearth, found in the kitchen of every home – are said to ascend to the heavens to report on the past year’s events to the Jade Emperor. Altars, laden with offerings, are assembled in preparation for the gods’ departure, in the hope of receiving a favourable report and ensuring good luck for the family in the coming year. People visit cemeteries and invite the spirits of dead relatives home for the celebrations. Absent family members return home so the whole family can celebrate Tet together.

A cay neu (New Year’s tree) is constructed to ward off evil spirits. Kumquat trees are popular throughout the country, while branches of pink dao (peach blossoms) grace houses in the north, and mai (yellow apricot blossoms) are popular in homes situated further south. For a spectacular sight, go to ÐL Nguyen Hue in Ho Chi Minh City, much of which is taken over by the annual Tet flower market. In Hanoi, the area around Pho Hang Dau and Pho Hang Ma is transformed into a massive peach-blossom and kumquat tree market.


On New Year’s Eve, prepare yourself for pandemonium. This night the Tao Quan return to earth, and at the stroke of midnight all problems from the previous year are left behind and mayhem ensues. The goal is to make as much noise as possible. Drums and percussion are popular, as were firecrackers until they were banned in 1995.

The events of New Year’s Day are crucial as it’s believed they affect the course of life in the year ahead. People take extra care not to be rude or show anger, and it’s vital that the first visitor of the year to each household is suitable. They’re usually male – best of all is a wealthy married man with several children. Foreigners are sometimes welcomed as the first to enter the house, although not always, so it’s unwise to visit any Vietnamese house on the first day of Tet, unless explicitly invited.

Essentials: memorise the phrase ‘chúc mùng nam mói’ – Happy New Year.
Local attractions: Out of Hanoi, visit the extraordinary rock formations of Halong Bay (or Ninh Binh, the so-called ‘Halong Bay in the rice paddies’), or grab a bike in Ho Chi Minh City and tour the Mekong Delta, one of the most faithfully flat lands on earth.
More info: Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (www.huongviettravel.com)

Source: lonelyplanet.com

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Thứ Hai, 28 tháng 1, 2013

Five must-follow Myanmar travel tips



Stroll past Yangon’s Bogyoke market and it’s impossible not to detect the fast-paced change that is sweeping through Myanmar (Burma). Government-backed banks on the market’s fringes are finally selling Kyat at a market rate, while hawkers openly tout Aung San Suu Kyi T-shirts and National League for Democracy (NLD) mugs.

Yet for all this, and the cautiously welcomed decision by the government to allow wider press freedom, Myanmar is still a very different place to travel than its Southeast Asian neighbours, lacking the widespread infrastructure and western comforts found over the border in Thailand. However, follow these tips and you’ll be certain to get the very best out of this stunning destination.

1. Pack noise-cancelling headphones

Before you leave for Myanmar, be sure to spend any extra cash on a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones, essential for cutting out the booming, distorted sound of the TV on long-distance bus rides. Buses are by far the cheapest way to travel in Myanmar, meaning 52-seat coaches are chock full of locals looking to be entertained. The Burmese are fanatical about music videos starring perfectly coiffed but unlucky-in-love boys, soaps centring on love triangles at street corner tea stands, and lengthy clips of Buddhist chanting. All bases are covered, at ear-splitting volume, whether on a short hop from Yangon to Bago or on the epic ten-hour west-east route from Bagan to Inle Lake. On overnight buses, the TV can be left on until as late as 1am.

2. Go veggie

Burmese food can be every bit as delicious as its Thai and Vietnamese cousins. But eating meat here can be a chastening experience. According to one Bagan cafe owner, chickens can be kept for as long as 15 years before being slaughtered when they finally stop laying eggs. We don’t need to tell you that the meat is hardly succulent and tender. Similarly, a short walk through Nyaungshwe market’s meat stalls is fascinating, but won’t leave you hungry for beef. Instead, go veggie. Thanks to the huge Buddhist population, options are plentiful. The ethnic Shan food is especially good for non-meat eaters, with hearty noodle broths supplemented with super-fresh greens, many grown on the floating fields around Inle Lake.

3. Wear shoes at all times

All Asian cities can feel grubby in rainy season. But Yangon suffers especially during the wet months of June to September. Wearing shoes is vital at this time. Not only will it stop your feet from getting soaked, you’ll also avoid any nasty stubbed toes on the uneven pavements, of which there are many. The city has largely been left to its own devices by the government since the capital was moved to Nay Pyi Taw in 2005. Rubbish goes uncollected, many sidewalks are simply muddy paths and rats scavenge openly in side streets. Sandals are not a smart idea if you’re even slightly squeamish about what you might tread in. Ditch them and you’ll be able to stride fearlessly through this delightful, crumbling colonial city.

4. Check your cab has got a handle to hold on to

Owing to economic sanctions imposed by the West since the military crackdown of 1988, taxis in Myanmar are by and large ageing white Toyota Celica estates. Car imports are heavily restricted and only the very richest manage to get hold of swanky new 4x4s. While the engines of these old motors still purr thanks to Burmese mechanical nous, they’re obviously well behind the safety-focused cars of today. Seat belts on back seats are notable by their absence, so before you slide in and get driven off into the chaos of Yangon’s roads, be sure to check your cab at least has a handle for you to grab hold of when flying round corners or overtaking colonial-era trucks on single lane highways.

5. Never sit down on hired bikes

Hiring bikes is one of the best ways to see rural Myanmar, giving a great insight into areas well away from the major cities of Yangon and Mandalay. But if you want to enjoy sitting down for a meal after a long day’s ride, then be sure to stand on the pedals as often as you can while you’re out sightseeing. This is especially true on the rutted roads around Nyaungshwe, a truly bone-shaking experience that’ll be made all the more uncomfortable if you use the saddle. It might seem more awkward, but you’ll be skipping some of the harshest saddle sore imaginable come the evening.

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Thứ Sáu, 25 tháng 1, 2013

Echo From The Legends


Day 1: ARRIVAL - HANOI (-/-/-)
On arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you are met and transferred to hotel for a check-in.
The rest of time, you will be free on your own to refresh after a long flight.
O/N in Ha Noi.

Ha Noi - Vietnam Travel Packages Day 2: HANOI – FULL DAY OF CITY TOUR (B/-/-) Today we commence our sightseeing of Hanoi with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nation's founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts. Close to this complex is the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of Hanoi. We follow this with a visit to the Temple of Literature, well known as Vietnam's first university, and the Ethnology Museum which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnam’s ethnic minorities with their own traditions, cultures & life-styles. The peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the bustling Dong Xuan Market are also visited before taking 1-hour cyclo around the old quarters.
Lastly, you will have a chance to enjoy a very unique traditional art performance named Water Puppet Show.
O/N in Ha Noi.

Day 3: HANOI – HA LONG BAY (B/-/-)
At 08:30: you will be driven to Ha Long bay.
12.30 We are welcome on the traditional junk and have welcome drink. Start the boat trip to visit Halong Bay, listed as a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty. This picturesque “Dragon descending to the sea” Bay has 1,969 limestone islets rising from the sea, many of them containing beautiful grottoes. Visit of a grotto then seafood lunch on board.
The excursion includes the visit to Con Cho Island, Dinh Huong Island, Canh Buom Island, Ga Choi Island. Swimming on Titop or Hoa Cuong beach. Watching sunset. Fishing with seine and owing bamboo boat (on request).
Dinner and overnight on board.

Ha Long - Vietnam Travel Packages Day 4: HALONG BAY – HANOI – COOKING CLASS (B/-/-)
Breakfast on board or getting the breakfast box.
Continue to visit other corners of Halong Bay. Brunch is served on board.
11h30: Transfer back to Hanoi with stopover at Dong Trieu ceramic village.
16h00: Arrive in Hanoi.

* Optional Cooking Class: (Upon your request)
At around 18:00, you will have a chance to take a Cooking class at Anh Tuyet Restaurant to learn 3 traditional dishes of Hanoi. ( Ms Pham Anh Tuyet, owner of the restaurant at 25 Ma May Street, still keeps original characteristics of traditional dishes:
+ Nem (Spring- rolls).
+ Ca Hap ( Steamed Fish with dill).
+ Nom (Mixed Salad).
This restaurant is a rare destination that keeps specific characteristics of old Hanoi, therefore many foreign tourists come there.
Apart from introducing Hanoi’s dishes, over the past years, Ms Tuyet has taught foreigners how to cook traditional dishes. Profits are not all the things that count to her. What she likes is to help foreigners have comprehensive understanding of a close, noble but luxury Hanoi.)
O/N in Hanoi

Day 5: HANOI – SIEM REAP (B/-/-)
After having breakfast, you will be at leisure until transferred to Noi Bai airport for a departure flight to Siem Reap.
Upon arrival, you will be met & escorted to your hotel for a check-in
O/N in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap - Cambodia Tours Day 6: SIEM REAP (-/-/-)
In this morning, we will start visiting the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate (with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk), Bayon Temple(unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
In the afternoon, visit the most famous of all the temples on the Angkor plain: Angkor Wat. The temple complex cover 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat's five tower symbolize Meru's five peaks, the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat symbolizes the ocean beyond
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng, one of two hills dominating the plain of Angkor, from where you will have a spectacular view of the Western Baray and Angkor Wat.
O/N at hotel.

Day 7: SIEM REAP - Departure (B/-/-)
Breakfast at hotel
In the morning, you will continue your temple visits. Included are Prasat Kravan (with its unique brick sculptures), Srah Srang ("The Royal Boths" was once used for ritual bathing), Banteay Kdei (surrounded by four concentric walls), Eastern Mebon (guarded at its corner by stone figures of harnessed elephants, some of which are still in a reasonable state of preservation) and the "Mountain Temple" of Pre Rup until sunset.
In the afternoon, transfer to the archaeological site and continue to the temple tour. Visit Ta Prohm, one of the most beautiful temples in the area. Ta Prohm has been left relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery, then, visit Takeo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda temples. Transfer to Siem Reap airport for departure to next destination.

INCLUDING:
• Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
• Accommodation in hotels (shared twin room)
• Meals as indicated: B = breakfast, L = lunch or D = Dinner
• English or French speaking guide
• Entrance fee to indicated sights
* Cooking class
• Boat trip in Halong

EXCLUDING: International flights (Hanoi – Siem Reap), Other meals, tip, drinks, airport tax, single room, personal expenses, insurance...
* Notes:
+ FOC means Free Of Charge applied to the tour leader escorting the group of 15 people & onwards.
+ Standard Class is applied to 2-star hotels
+ First Class is applied to 3-star hotels
+ Superior Class is applied to 4-star hotels
+ Deluxe Class is applied to 5-star hotels 

Cost in US$ per person in the party (Valid until 30 Sep'09 )
ECHO FROM THE LEGENDS
Standard
First
Superior
2 pax
591
671
852
3 - 6 pax
548
616
797
7 -10 pax
461
530
700
11 - 14 pax
423
491
681
15 - 19 pax
419
490
670
20 pax & plus
394
453
642
Single supplement
142
221
402
Full board supplement
150
150
150

* Note: The supplement for the current airfare (Ha Noi – Siem Reap) is US$ 241/person (This airfare could be changed at the time of booking or issuance without prior notices)

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Explore Hill -Tribes On Bikes


Detail Itinerary

Day1: Hanoi Arrival

Ha Noi - Vietnam Travel Packages we are met and transferred to hotel. Ha Noi , Vietnam's capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ?s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. O/N in Ha Noi

Day 2: Hanoi - Thai Nguyen - Bac Can. (B, L, D, ~80km) We take bus transfer to Thai Nguyen. Bike ride to Bac Can. First day easy ride up and down hill, scenery of palm trees with village of Tay and Nung a long the way. O/N Bac Can.

Day 3: Bac Can - Ba Be National Park. (B, L, D, ~78km)
Bac Can - Ba Be - Vietnam Travel Packages Morning ride 20 km outside Bac Can and up hill, turn off highway 3 to a quiet road, great view small village of Tay and Thai on the opposite of the river. Later afternoon we take our boat cruise on Ba Be lakes and walk around Pac Ngoi village. O/N Ba Be national park.

Day 4: Ba Be - Bac Me. (B, L, D, ~ 80km )
Morning boat cruise with our bike to waterfalls, then we start a cycling adventure on a small trail to Bac Me (no jeep support). O/N Bac Me.

Day 5: Bac Me - Ha Giang. (B, L, D, ~ 63km )
Good paved road along Gam river. O/N Ha Giang.

Ha Giang - Vietnam Travel Packages Day 6: Ha Giang - Heaven gate pass - Hoang Su Phi. (B, L, D, ~106km)
Easy ride 45km down highway 2 to Tan Quang where we turn left and up hill to the mountain again. Best mountain view today, chalenge climb through the Heaven gate pass to Hoang Su Phi town. O/N Hoang Su Phi.

Day 7: Hoang Su Phi - Xin Man - Bac Ha. (B, L, D, ~70km)
Some part of the road is bad, but great view along Chay river. This is totally a new road - built on the former trail of the flower H'Mong tribes. O/N Bac Ha.

Day 8: Bac Ha - Sapa (B, L, D, ~ 80km) 
A relaxing day promenade around Bac Ha Sunday market, see a market day for all tribes: Tay, Nung, Dao, Flower H?Mong, Giay, and Phu La etc? Afternoon we ride bike around H?Mong village. O/N Sapa.

Sapa - Vietnam Travel Packages Day 9: Sapa - Than Uyen. (B, L, D, ~ 95km)
From Sapa we start the day?s ride with a 15kms climb to the top of the Tram Ton Pass, stopping on route to visit the ?silver waterfall?. Then it?s a 26kms plunge down to Binh Lu junction. From here we continue along the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, there are a number of hard climbs but the magnificent landscape makes the hardship all worthwhile. We finish with a 20kms descent to Than Uyen.

Day 10: Than Uyen - Tu Le (B, L, D, ~ 88km)
We follow the valley out of Than Uyen until the road begins to wind up into the hills. This rugged terrain of dense vegetation brings us into contact with the Black Hmong and the mysterious White Tay people who are famed for their folk music, poems and songs. We end the day at Tu Le.

Day 11: Tu Le - Nghia Lo (B, L, D, ~ 65km)
Today we pass large white limestone mountains as we explore the ?real Vietnam?. We will cycle through meandering roads before we finally end the day in Nghia Lo. It sits on a mountain ridge overlooking the Red and Black River and is home to the Thai, Nung, H?mong, La Ha and Ma peoples.

Day 12: Nghia Lo - Yen Bai (B, L, D, ~ 74km)
The route today day takes us on the back roads to Yen Bai. A spectacular road through undulating terrain of tea plantations, lush forests, rice fields and gum trees.

Yen Bai - Vietnam Travel Packages Day 13: Yen Bai -Hanoi (B, L, D, ~ 38km)
Our last day in the saddle takes us back to paved roads through the rolling terrain of tea plantations lush forests, rice fields and gum trees used for paper production. We finish cycling early in the afternoon, then transfer back to Hanoi.

Day 14: Hanoi - Departure (B)
There is a free time for you to relax or further explore Ha Noi. The trip ends after your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure

Included 
* English Speaking tour leader (other languages upon requests)
* All accommodations base on twin-share at hotel, guesthouse and Home stay.etc…
* Meals detailed in the itinerary (B = Breakfast , L = Lunches ,D = Dinners)
* A/C transfers and transportation.
* Boat trip mention in itinerary
* Mountain bicycle 24 or 27Speed (LA bike or Trek bike. etc…)
* Sightseeing excursions as outlined in itinerary
* Pump, bike tools, spares tubes.
* Spare bike
* Cold water box, small fresh towel.
* Mineral water drinking.
* Seasonal fruits.
* Snacks
* Kayaking Boat

Excluded: 
* International airfares
* Travel insurance and bike helmet (compulsory)
* Items of a personal nature
* Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
* Mineral water beyond that supplied
* Optional excursions
* Additional transport required due to any emergency situation
* Personal expenses such as telephone and laundry bills
* Visa fees
* Departure taxes
* Tipping for guiding

Note 
This itinerary allows for seven field days on the cycling section. You will be able to decide for yourself at any time during each of these days how far you want to cycle. Average daily cycling distances are approximately 60 -100 km. These distances may vary according to weather, road conditions and group fitness and preferences. This is a sightseeing cycle tour, not a marathon or time trial.

What to bring: 
1. Bike Helmet
2. Small backpack
3. Shoes and shorts for cycling
4. Sunglasses
5. Gloves
6. Professional Pedal
7. Sun block
8. Camera + Film
9. Insect repellent
10. Original Passport
11. Wide brim hat
12. Bike water bottle (if you don't want to use our bottle)

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com

Thứ Năm, 24 tháng 1, 2013

Ngwe Saung Beach Break

  Day 1: YANGON - NGWE SAUNG  
Ngwe Saung BeachThis morning you will be picked up from your hotel for the drive through the Irrawaddy Delta to Ngwe Saung.
Ngwe Saung, which means Silver Beach, is located about 5-6 hours drive from Yangon on the beautiful Bay of Bengal and features 14 kilometers of sandy beaches. 
Arrive this afternoon in Ngwe Saung.
Overnight in Ngwe Saung.




Day 2: NGWE SAUNG (B/-/-)
Breakfast at the hotel and day at leisure in Ngwe Saung.
Overnight in Ngwe Saung.

Day 3: NGWE SAUNG (B/-/-)
Pathein 1Breakfast at the hotel and day at leisure in Ngwe Saung.
Overnight in Ngwe Saung.

Day 4: NGWE SAUNG – PATHEIN – YANGON (B/-/-)
After breakfast, enjoy a few more hours of relaxation before departing for Yangon late this morning.
On arrival Yangon, transfer to either your hotel or to the airport for your onward flight.



RATES AND CONDITIONS
ACCOMMODATION

 

DELUXE OPTION
CityHotelRoom Category
Ngwe Saung
Bay Of Bengal
Bengal Suite

SUPERIOR OPTION
CityHotelRoom Category
Ngwe SaungThe Palm Beach
Sea View (Ocean Front View)

Pricing sheet: in US$ per person(Rates are valid 1 October 2010 - 30 April 2011)
Hotel
Category
123-45-6Single Supplement
First Class1060535405399245
Standard940479419319145

NOTE: This program is only available October – April due to rainy season closures. 
 

NOTE: Surcharges may apply for holiday periods like Inle Lake Festival, Christmas, New Year, Water Festival, etc.
For group size of 7 or over, please contact us for pricing information


INCLUDING:
- 3 nights accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room with daily breakfast
- Transfers and transportation with private A/C vehicles

EXCLUDING:- International ticket to/from Yangon- English-speaking guide Service- Meals other than mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)- Visa arrangements for Myanmar- Visits not mentioned in the program- Drinks and personal expenses- Tips and porters at the hotels- International departure Airport Tax Yangon (USD 10/pax at present)- Any other items not mentioned

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
Vietnam Travel Packages | Vietnam Visa  | Cambodia Tours | Myanmar Tours | Laos Tours | China Tours

Thứ Tư, 23 tháng 1, 2013

Trek through Hoang Lien National Park, ref: T3B

Highlights:
The trip offers you an opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful parts in Sapa area, which is under protection of Hoang Lien National Park. The night you spend in campsite nearby a river will be memorial moments along the trek.

Itinerary:
GiangTaChai-VillageDay 1: Sapa - Su Pan - Giang Ta Chai - Den Thang (-, L, D)
Met up at your hotel in Sapa by  local guide and driver then transferred by car toward Muong Hoa valley. Your trek will start from a point near Su Pan School along a narrow dirt trail downhill to the bottom of Muong Hoa Valley, then uphill all the way for nearly 6 hours through Giang Ta Chai Village of the Red Zao, through bamboo and rain forest to Den Thang Village of the H?mong. Lunch break for an hour at a nice spot amongst wild nature.

The trek will be softer in the afternoon and you will arrive to Den Thang Village of the Black H?mong at about 4.00pm.  The  rest  hour  is  for  walking  to  explore  this  remotest  village  of  Sapa  which surrounded by high mountains and forest of the Hoang Lien nature reserve.
Approx: 1 hour driving/ 6 hours walking/ 1 hour lunch

TaTrungHoDay 2: Den Thang - Ta Trung Ho (B, L, D)
The trek today takes you through beautiful rice paddies and over old  suspension bridges. You  will trek on small trail sneaking through rainforest. You will leave Den Thang at about 09.30 to follow a dirt trail through narrow terraced rice fiels, forest for nearly 3 hours. Lunch break along the way.
After lunch, the trek wills becomes tough on tinny footpath going up and down, which requires some concentration. You will reach to Ta Trung Ho village of Red Dao minority in mid afternoon. The rest hours is for walking around to explore unique living way of the Red Zao which has just been visited by foreign visitors.
Approx: 5 hours walking, 1-hour lunch.

TaPhin-VillageDay 3: Ta Trung Ho - Nam Toong - Ban Ho - Sapa (B, L, -)
You are now at the fringe of the rain forest by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina with its 3143 m, is located in this mountain range. You will start the trek today by ascending to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority. Here y our lunch will be prepared in a local school.
In the afternoon, before descending to Ban Ho, you can make a stop by a waterfall to refresh. Then where your car takes you on the journey back to Sapa.

Cost in US$ per person in the party of (valid 30 Sep '11)
Trek through Hoang Lien  National Park, ref: T3B
1 pax
216
2 pax
162
3 pax
141
4 pax
134
5-8 pax
122
9-12 pax
117
13-16 pax
111

 INCLUDING:
  •  Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
  •  Accommodation in homestay
  •  Meal as mentioned: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
  •  English or French speaking guide
  •  Entrance fee to indicated sights
EXCLUDING: Other meals, tip, drinks, single room, personal expenses, insurance...

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://ww  Visa  | Cambodia Tours | Myanmar Tours | Laos Tours | China Tours

Thứ Ba, 22 tháng 1, 2013

Northern Shan State By Train

ITINERARY
 Day 1: MANDALAY – PYIN OO LWIN
Pyin Oo Lwin - Myanmar ToursThis morning, leave Mandalay for a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (also known as Maymyo) located on a plateau 1,000m above sea level. Many reminders of the colonial era are still present in Pyin Oo Lwin, including brick and timber houses.
Pyin Oo Lwin is home for many ethnic tribes as well as a considerable numbers of Nepalese and Hindu who migrated during the British occupation, famous for its climate weather.
Enjoy a traditional horse cart and carriage ride through town. Stop at the Botanical Gardens, 432 acres of leafy gardens home to a diverse mix of botanical species from around the world. The Gardens were established by Sir Harcourt Butler, former Governor of Burma.

Continue to the local market to see the multicolor flowers and vegetables on sale.
Overnight in Pyin Oo Lwin.

Day 2: PYIN OO LWIN – HSIPAW (B, L)
Hsipaw Mosque - Myanmar ToursAfter breakfast at hotel, transfer to the railway station for a 6-hour train journey to Hsipaw. The scenic journey crosses the famous Gokteik Viaduct which spans a 300-meter deep gorge in the Shan mountains.
Lunch-box on board.
Arrive this afternoon in Hsipaw, a pleasant small town on the banks of the Dokhtawady River. Take a short evening walk around Hsipaw.
Overnight in Hsipaw.

Day 3: HSIPAW (B, L)
Breakfast at a local restaurant.
This morning, take a light trek around Hsipaw with a local guide. You will pass paddy fields, seasonal cultivations, green mountains and stop in several villages along the way. Enjoy a picnic lunch during the trek.
This afternoon, return to Hsipaw by local boat on the Dokhtawady River.
Overnight in Hsipaw.

Day 4: HSIPAW – MANDALAY (B)
Mandalay - Myanmar ToursAfter breakfast, stroll around the Hsipaw market and visit the Shan Haw. This palace is one of the last remaining examples of a traditional Shan Palace and now serves as a small museum.
Depart Hsipaw early this afternoon for the six-hour drive to Mandalay, via Pyin Oo Lwin

RATES AND CONDITIONS
ACCOMMODATION

First Class Option

CityHotelRoom Category
Pyin Oo LwinKandawgyi Hill Resort or Aureum Palace
ROH or Deluxe Room
HsipawMr Charles Guest HouseJunior Suite

Standard Option
CityHotelRoom Category
Pyin Oo LwinRoyal Park View or Win Unity
Standard Room or Superior Room
HsipawMr Charles Guest HouseJunior Suite

Pricing sheet: in US$ per person
(Rates are valid 1 October 2010 - 30 Apr 2011)
Hotel
Category
12 3-4 5-6 7-10 11-15 Single Supplement
First Class85545542931931524965
Standard79955038929429521932

NOTE: Package based on service of 1 English speaking guide throughout trip, except for base 1 pax (different guide at each place).

INCLUDING:
- 3 nights accommodation on half-twin room basis with daily breakfast
- English-speaking guide from Mandalay
- Meals as mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles with drivers
- Train Pyin Oo Lwin – Hsipaw
- Local guide in Hsipaw on trekking day
- Horse cart tour in Pyin Oo Lwin
- Local boat on the Dokhtawady River
- Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program

EXCLUDING:
- Meals other than mentioned  (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- Drinks and personal expenses
- Tips and porters at the hotels
- Any other items not mentioned

Supplement guide other languages:
LanguageSupplement per group program ( US$ per package)
French /German / Italian / Spanish    316
Russian  345/ package (2-10 pax)
Russian404 package (11 & up pax)

REMARK: The above mentioned supplement for language guide apply starting from 2pax traveling. For 1 pax, TBA on adhoc basis.

IMPORTANT NOTES FOR MYANMAR: 
1. Please note that credit cards and traveler cheques are not accepted in Myanmar and that visitors must be bring sufficient cash (best in US Dollars, but Euros also increasingly accepted) to change and make any purchases and payments. Please bring new US Dollar bills ("big heads" instead of "small heads") and with series numbers not starting with CB as these are not accepted in Myanmar due to rumours these series are counterfeit.
2. Furthermore please inform passengers that they should NOT change money at the exchange booth at the airport just after immigration, as the market rate in town is MUCH better.
3. A surcharge might apply for peak season dates (Water Festival 12-18 April, X’Mas, New Year, etc.
4. Travelers to Myanmar are required to have a travel insurance covering the cost of medical evacuation flights.
5. Visas are required by all visitors to Myanmar. A visa must be obtained before entering Myanmar or On Arrival Visa is available at all international airports (Yangon & Mandalay). The visa application form is also available at all international airline linked with Myanmar or on-line. To apply on arrival visa, one must have 2 passport photo (4x6 cm) taken within last 6 months and passport must be valid 6 months after arrival date. For more detail information, please contact Sales@huongviettravel.com 
6. The schedules of domestic flights in Myanmar are provided as an indication only. Once a booking is confirmed we can provide more precise timings, but these remain nevertheless subject to change without notice by the airlines until traveling date. It might therefore in some cases be necessary to amend your program and itinerary due to such schedule changes. We thank you for your understanding.

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
Vietnam Travel Packages | Vietnam Visa  | Cambodia Tours | Myanmar Tours | Laos Tours | China Tours