Thứ Ba, ngày 11 tháng 3 năm 2014

Of dreams and dragons

  Christina Pfeiffer sails into a watery world of legends and stunning seascapes aboard a two-night cruise of Halong Bay.  

As twilight turns to dusk, it feels as if our ship is being slowly swallowed up by the land and seascapes. As my eyes soak up the ethereal scene, I’m almost convinced the local stories about dragons could be more than a fairy tale. Soaring limestone karsts stretch towards a pale lavender sky. The sun polishes the water with a golden glow, as silver clouds fade into the sunset. Water laps against the ship’s hull as wine glasses clink and laughter drifts from the ship’s Sun Deck above.

Vietnam, according to legend, was once protected by dragons, and Halong (which means descending dragon) Bay was where the dragons came down to earth in a major battle.


Da Lat flower festival to offer free wine


Apply vietnam visa


The dragon defenders spat out jewels and jade that grew into soaring limestone islands upon which enemy ships were wrecked.

The bay where the mother dragon descended was called Halong, while the bay where her children appeared was named Bai Tu Long.

So captivated have I been by the sunset that I missed the hour-long Vietnamese cooking demonstration aboard our cruise. The Au Co launched under two years ago and is one of the newest luxury ships on the bay.


My two-night cruise is part of an 11-day tour of Vietnam with Wendy Wu Tours. From Hanoi, a minibus whizzes past panoramas of farmland, rice fields and towns in the Red River Delta. Aside from a bumpy section of road close to Halong Bay, the roads are reasonably smooth. Even so, the journey takes four hours, but it’s worth the trip to see this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Halong Bay is in the Quang Ninh Province of Vietnam. It covers about 1553 square kilometres and has 775 islets, mostly limestone, formed over 500 million years.


Waiting to board at the cruise company’s outdoor check-in lounge at Tuan Chau dock, we have cool towels, soft drinks and a ringside view of the red carpet down to the water, where boats and motorised tenders ferry groups of passengers between ship and shore.

The Au Co has 32 cabins, including two charming Long Quan suites at the bow, furnished in French provincial style, and two Au Co suites with roomy terraces. Deluxe and executive cabins have polished timber floors, dark timber wall panelling and crisp all-white bedding.

Each cabin has a mini bar, hairdryer, safe and satin bathrobes. Timber-framed french doors with floor-to-ceiling glass panels lead to a small balcony with timber chairs and table.


The ship’s restaurant follows the concept of Wu Xing, the five elements of Chinese philosophy: fire, wood, metal, water and earth. The chef has created fusion dinner menus of five courses, each representing an element. Vietnamese and Western dishes such as chicken and pomelo salad, spring rolls, clam chowder, basa fish with mushroom sauce and creme caramel with sweet potatoes feature.

While the food isn’t fine dining by Western standards, dishes are full of flavour and well presented. The waiters are attentive and endeavour to please, but not every staff member speaks English so communication can be frustrating.


This ship is marked out by its itinerary and the activities it offers. Hundreds of ships cruise around Halong Bay and most follow similar routes, making the popular spots on the bay quite crowded. So the Au Co’s route to Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island is a selling point (although Cat Ba Island is temporarily off the itinerary).


Bai Tu Long National Park is relatively empty but it is just as beautiful as Halong Bay. After lunch at Bai Tu Long Bay, we climb into kayaks and paddle to Vung Ha beach. There’s only one other kayaking group there and it feels like we’re exploring an undiscovered region. Another time, we strap on headlamps and paddle into a dark cave, with bats hanging from the roof, and paddle around the bay through another cave and into a lagoon surrounded by limestone cliffs.


My favourite excursion is a visit to Vung Vieng fishing village, where we meet children at a local school before climbing into wooden rowing boats for a tour of the village’s colourful timber floating houses. The verandahs are a jumble of nets, potted plants, fishing equipment and clothes drying on lines.


On our last day, we anchor near Sung Sot (surprise) cave on Bon Ho Island, which is a busy area of the bay. It’s raining lightly so, donning a plastic poncho, I head up the stone steps to the entrance.


It’s impossible to avoid the crowds here but the view is worth the effort.

The stalactites and stalagmites in the cave are impressive.

We follow our guide along the path, which twists and turns through three chambers. She points out formations that resemble tigers, penguins and dragons.

We learn that Vietcong hid in these grottos in the Vietnam war. But the dimly lit chambers look so romantic I can hardly picture it. Just another one of captivating Vietnam’s surprises


Thứ Hai, ngày 10 tháng 3 năm 2014

Ba Vang Pagoda Spring Festival kicks off

  The Ba Vang Pagoda Spring Festival opened in Uong Bi city on February 8 (or the 9th day of the first lunar month of 2014).  

Prominent among those were Deputy Secretary of the provincial Party Committee cum Chairman of the provincial People’s Council Nguyen Duc Long, Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People’s Committee Vu Thi Thu Thuy.

The opening ceremony was attended by thousands of Buddhist dignitaries, monks, nuns, followers and visitors.


The festival consists of a ceremony to offer incense and pray for a peaceful country and prosperous people and a wide variety of religious and cultural activities, including sounding the drum, dragon dance, cheo singing performances, etc.


As a destination belongs to Yen Tu landscape, Ba Vang Pagoda was built in 1706 under the dynasty of King Le Du Tong. Its founder is Zen Master Mahasamon – Tue Bich Pho Giac. Many valuable historical and cultural relic made by stone, ceramics dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth century have been currently displayed at the pagoda.


Through the ups and downs of history, changes of time and the ravages of nature, the original pagoda was no longer present. It was restored in 1988 and rebuilt in 1993 in order to meet the demand for religious activities and beliefs of the local people and tourists. As planned, the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Ba Vang Pagoda (the first phase) will be held on March 9, 2014


Cua Ong Temple Festival to open on March 2, 2014

Accor expands luxurious hotel system in Vietnam


Thứ Ba, ngày 04 tháng 3 năm 2014

Vietnam Visa on Arrival departure from China

 Since 2010, Chinese government has not accepted Vietnam Visa upon Arrival. 

 We can help foreign citizens who depart from China to obtain a Vietnam Visa, please kindly follow some options as follows: 

You can come directly to Vietnamese Embassies/ Consulates near your location to apply a Vietnam Visa. You will take many days, much time or even more travelling around to do administrative procedures.

In order to save much time, money & reduce troubles in administrative procedures in Vietnamese Embassies/ Consulates or in case you live so far from these, just need use 3 simple steps from our website:www.Gettingvietnamvisa.Comto apply Vietnam Visa Online. After fill out the online form with your information as in your passport, submit this form online, we can receive this form in a couple of minutes & send you an email in reply. Here is our online processing visa fee for Chinese. We take 2 working days excluding Saturday & Sunday to process your visa, send it to Vietnam Consulate/ Embassy near your given place. You only need come to this place to pick up your visa with a little fee for stamp in a few hours. With this way, you can save more time, money as well as complicated procedures.

Other nationalities depart from Chinese international airports can follow these above steps to apply Vietnam Visa faster, cheaper & easier withwww.Gettingvietnamvisa.Com/. We exert all our strength to your convenience to apply a Visa to Vietnam

Apply Online Now - Have any  question ? Call us Today:(00) 84 962 655 556. You can also send email toinfo@gettingvietnamvisa.Comand Our Customer Support with reply within 2 hours during office and within 24 hours outside of office or send questions online corner of screen.

Il Visto per il Vietnam all’arrivo è legale?

Chưa đi chưa biết…chùa Hương


Thứ Năm, ngày 27 tháng 2 năm 2014

How airport fast-track service runs?

 Step 1: Please choose Airport Fast Track Service item once applying for visa on arrival with detailed information of your exact flight number, departure and arrival time (GMT+7) or apply for the service via email or phone with the mentioned information. If your flight is changed, please notify us 48 hours before your landing (except Saturday, Sunday and national holidays)

 Step 2:  When your flight lands off Vietnam, please find our staff with the welcoming board having your name on it. In case you cannot find our staff.

 Step 3:  Give our staff your visa approval letter, entry and exit form, passport, 2 photos and stamping fee ($ 25 USD/person for single entry, and $ 50 USD/person for multiple entry visa) so that we can carry out the entry procedure for you.

Step 4: Take your passport back with Vietnam Visa stamped from our staff.

Who should use airport fast-track service?

We highly suggest the following groups to airport fast-track service:

- Those who enters Vietnam for the first time

- Those who needs to speed up stamping process at Vietnam airport

- Those who enters Vietnam with their children

- Those who travels in a big group

- Pregnant women

- The disabled


Miễn visa du lịch Đài Loan có điều kiện

Highlights of Cambodia


Thứ Ba, ngày 18 tháng 2 năm 2014

How to Get a Visa for Myanmar

Foreigners must have a visa sticker in their passport -- obtained in advance -- before they enter Myanmar. Several new border crossings opened up along the Burmese-Thai border in August 2013, allowing visitors to enter Myanmar overland and then exit via three different international airports.

Travelers to Myanmar have two options: apply for a Myanmar visa in their home countries, or apply for a Myanmar visa in China or Southeast Asia.

Due to international sanctions against Myanmar's regime government, there are no direct flights between Western countries and Myanmar. Many travelers opt to apply for a Myanmar visa at the embassy in Bangkok, then grab a cheap flight from Bangkok to Yangon.
2013 Update: Many international sanctions against Myanmar are being dropped by both the United States and European Union in 2013 -- direct flights may be soon to follow!
The Myanmar Visa

The Myanmar visa allows you 28 days of travel inside of Myanmar after flying into the airport or crossing the border with Thailamd; the visa can not be extended. A visa for Myanmar is only valid for three months from the date of issue, so plan your trip accordingly.

Visa regulations and lengths can change frequently, confirm with the embassy where you apply.
The Myanmar Visa Application

While applying for a Myanmar visa is slightly more involved than that of neighboring countries, the process is fairly straightforward. As with any regime, you may be asked additional questions and the application can be killed at the whim of officials who may be having a bad day.

Vietnam embassy in Australia

Vietnam embassy in Burma

Thứ Tư, ngày 12 tháng 2 năm 2014

Money Matters

The currency is the Lao kip (LAK), which comes in relatively small notes (the largest denomination equals about $12). Though the kip has stabilized in recent years, and most prices are now listed in kip, we've chosen to list all hotel rates in U.S. Dollars. The Thai baht is accepted in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and border towns. It's best to carry most of your cash in dollars or baht and exchange relatively small amounts of kip as you travel. At this writing, the official exchange rate is approximately 260 kip to the Thai baht and 8,000 kip to one U.S. Dollar.


There are now ATM machines throughout the country so changing money isn't a big issue anymore.


Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and some restaurants, but few shops. Banks in major tourist destinations will provide a cash advance on a MasterCard or Visa, typically for a 5% service charge. Western Union has branches in Vientiane and other major towns.


The Plain of Jars

Vietnam Immigration Office

Battambang Province


Battambang Province

Thứ Hai, ngày 10 tháng 2 năm 2014

Australian Electronic Travel Authority

An Electronic Travel Authority  is anelectronic travel visalinked to the applicant's passport permitting travel to Australia for tourism and business purposes. As an Electronic Travel Authority is an electronic travel visa, there is no stamp or label in the passport and passport holders fromElectronic Travel Authority -eligible countries can obtain an Electronic Travel Authorityonline.


An Electronic Travel Authority is a travel visa that is valid for one year and successful applicants are permitted to travel to Australia and stay for up to three months per visit.