Saturday, May 5, 2007

Hanoi ancient city - symbol of country’s crafts

Hanoi, the ancient capital of Vietnam, is famous not only for charming landscape but also as home to various traditional craft villages, which represent unique cultural identities of the country through each historical period.
Used to be called Thang Long or Dong Do, the city had all those necessities of life – rucksacks, shoes, buttons, even headstones. In Hanoi ancient city, you can probably find a street dedicated to selling one of them. These streets haven’t simply sprang up by chance, they are part of the city’s colourful history of trade, not to mention the country’s rich artist diversity. Thousands of years ago, skilled craftsmen from localities across the country, together with their friends and relatives, migrated to Hanoi seeking a better life. With them came a variety of knowledge and expertise of products their home villages specialised in. In time, as these journeymen lived together, guilds were formed to protect the quality of their work and cooperation in production and sales. Blacksmiths from Hoe Thi and Da Sy traditional craft villages in Tu Liem and Ha Dong moved to Tan Khai hamlet of Hanoi to open forges, and so the area became Lo Ren (Forge) Street. Hang Dong (Copper Street) was famous for copper products made by craftsmen from the Cau Nom Village in northern Hung Yen Province and nearly Hang Thiec is known as Tin Street. The craftsmen produce tin-based products such as oil lamps and teapots. Due to changing times, the goods produced in this street had to evolve. Nowadays, commodities like tin dressers and cisterns have become more popular. At the end of the 19th century, many artisans from Nanh Village in Gia Lam District migrated to Hanoi to open shops specializing in leather products like addles, shoes and sandals, shaping Ha Trung Street. But it is different from Hang Giay (Shoes Street) which specialises entirely in footwear of various shapes and sizes. Silver and gold jewelry can be easily found in Hang Bac which of course means Silver Street. It is a venue for artisans from Dinh Cong Village in Thanh Tri District of Hanoi and Dong Xam Village in northern Thai Binh Province. At the end of the 15th century, hordes of craftsmen from Chau Khe Village in northern Hai Duong Province moved to the city to open money coinage workshops. Nowadays, tourists can change their currency at copious foreign exchange counters dotting in the street. And if you are hungry, take a walk down Hang Bun (Noodle street) or try one of the many delicious dishes freshly prepared at street stalls across the city. These streets have changed as time passed by, but the tradition of business known in Vietnam as buon co ban, ban co phuong (doing business together) is one of the few constants in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
( Source :VNA)

Phu Quoc Island lures tourists with visa exemptions

Accordingly, foreigners and Vietnamese nationals bearing foreign passports who want to enter and stay in Phu Quoc Island for less than 15 days will be exempt from visa application. Those who enter Vietnam through an international border gate and then travel to Phu Quoc Island will also be exempt from visa application. Passports must be valid for at least 45 days. After arriving in Phu Quoc Island, if visitors want to travel other localities or stay in the island for more than 15 days, the immigration department will be responsible for issuing visas right on the spot.
(Source : Voice of Vietnam)

Visa Exemption to Vietnam

- Not more than 30 days: for citizens of Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Laos.

- Not more than 15 days: for citizens of Japan and South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland.
(Vietnamese diplomatic and official passport holders are exempted from visa requirements to enter Japan).

- French citizens holding valid diplomatic passports are exempt from visa requirements when visiting Vietnam and are allowed to stay for up 3 months at one time or on several visits within six months since their first immigration dates. Vietnamese citizens holding valid diplomatic passports also enjoy similar privileges.

- Citizens of Chile and Vietnam holding valid diplomatic or official passports from one of the two countries are exempt from needing entry, exit and transit visas in the other's territory and are allowed to stay for up 60 days on each visit.

(Source : Voice of Vietnam)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Exploring culture of Vietnam’s southern waterways

The South of Vietnam is a spacious area with rivers, streams and green fields, forming a unique cultural feature of waterways. To explore some of the cultural features of the south while relaxing in open and luxuriant places, tourists visiting HCMC need only go as far as the Binh Quoi II Tourist Resort, 5km away from the city centre. Located on the banks of the Saigon River, Binh Quoi II Tourist Resort is built with different areas offering a variety of services, from food to entertainment, games, bungalows and stages for cultural and art performances that are rich in Vietnamese identity. One notable feature of the resort is the dance and music performance, staging a “traditional marriage ceremony of the South” in the customary style, in combination with a tour of the river. This performance is staged with great care to replicate a traditional marriage ceremony of the southern people, with the scenes from matchmaking, proposing marriage to meeting the bride and bringing her home in boats on the river. The programme runs from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Guests will be picked up at the port of Bach Dang Wharf in the city centre at 5:30 and taken on a tour of the Saigon River to Binh Quoi Tourist Village II. There, they will have a meal and enjoy the cultural performance from 7 p.m. The package price of the tour is US $13 per guests. This is the only tour offering this performance to foreign guests in HCMC. The unique tour attracts many tourists and leaves a unique impression. There are also a group of restaurants with a capacity for up to 1,000 guests in the resort along the Saigon River bank. Besides European and Asian dishes, these restaurants also serve specialties collected from many regions and areas around Vietnam, such as snails stuffed with meat and ginger leaves, grilled chicken with steamed glutinous rice, a five-coloured vegetable dish and fish hotpot. The restaurants also offer several buffet programmes with more than 60 kinds of seafood dishes. Guests may also order special dishes for parties. Binh Quoi Tourist Village II has a total of 43 bungalows sheltered in a quiet and green space that is hard to find in the busy city centre. The village is equipped with a number of canoes, all with lifesaving devices, and offers insurance to guests choosing to travel on the Saigon to visit places such as Can Gio Ecotourism Site, Cu Chi Tunnels, Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces.
(Source :Vietnamtourism-info)