Miss Universe Vietnam: Photogenic Beauties

VietNamNet Bridge – The twenty girls in the Miss Universe Vietnam 2008 finals in the morning on May 25 participated in a photogenic competition to choose the winner of Miss Photo at Vinpearl Land, Nha Trang city.

Vo Tien
Source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn
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Miss Universe Vietnam competitors at beach

VietNamNet Bridge – The twenty candidates entering the final round of Miss Universe Vietnam 2008 pageant show-off their bodies in the swimsuit competition at the beach at Vinpearl Land tourist site in Nha Trang city on May 25. VietNamNet captured the show.

Source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn

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Hand luggage: making light of the rules

Travel to the airport with hand baggage only if you want to minimise terminal stress and avoid the new hold luggage fees, says Nick Trend.
Dont let lost luggage ruin your holiday

How can you minimise the misery of airport queues and disappearing luggage this summer? The most effective strategy is to travel light. If you can pack so ruthlessly that you carry only hand baggage, you will not only avoid the increasing risk of losing your luggage but you might also save money.
On the News page, we report that this week EasyJet became the latest no-frills airline to announce that it is to start charging for hold baggage.

Travellers with hand baggage only who check in online (which you can now do on most scheduled airlines) will avoid delays at check-in desks and have to queue only at the security gate.

But how realistic is it to travel in this way? It depends obviously on how much you have to pack, but also on the airline you are flying with.
This summer, airports are strictly enforcing the latest Department for Transport security rules. You can only carry one item of cabin baggage through security - any additional handbag or laptop must be able to fit into the cabin bag. The complication for travellers is that while the DfT sets a maximum size for this bag of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, airlines are free to specify smaller dimensions, and many do.

In fact, of the dozen British airlines I surveyed, only three stuck to the full size limits: British Airways, Excel and Monarch. Of these, only British Airways did not specify a weight limit; Excel set a 5kg limit, and Monarch was more generous at 10kg on its scheduled flights (5kg on charters).

The meanest was First Choice, with a size limit of 45cm x 35cm x 20cm and a weight of 5kg.

Remember, though, that if you do travel with hand luggage only, you have no way around the restrictions on what you can carry. So it's even more important to make sure you know the current rules. You will only be able to take liquids, gels and aerosols in individual containers of 100ml, and all containers must fit comfortably in one, transparent, re-sealable bag no larger than 20cm x 20cm (eg, a freezer bag).

You won't be able to carry sharp objects such as penknives or scissors. For full details, see www.dft.gov.uk. To help you pack this summer, my colleague Charles Starmer-Smith has selected five of the best in-flight bags and given their dimensions (right). Below, I have listed details of major airlines' hand-baggage restrictions.
Hand-baggage restrictions

These are restrictions for economy-class ticket-holders, as specified on the airlines' websites. Some airlines do not give a weight limit, but the catch-all requirement is that you must be able to lift the bag safely into an overhead locker. Be sure to include any protruding wheels, handles, side pockets etc when measuring the bag.

BMIbaby (0871 224 0224, www.bmibaby.com). Size: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.

British Airways (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com). Size: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (some airlines operating franchises for BA, such as Loganair, have different limits; see website).

EasyJet (0905 821 0905, calls cost 65p per minute; www.easyjet.com). Size: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.

Exel Airways (0870 320 7777, www.xl.com). Size: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm; weight: 5kg.

First Choice Airways (0870 850 3999, www.firstchoice.co.uk). Size: 45cm x 35cm x 20cm; weight: 5kg.

Flybe (0871 700 0535, www.flybe.com). Size: 50cm x 35cm x 23cm; weight: 10kg.

Monarch Airlines (08700 405040, www.flymonarch.com). Size: 56cm x 45cm x 25cm; weight: 10kg (but 5kg for charter flights sold through a tour operator).

MyTravel (0870 241 5333, www.mytravel.com). Size: 45cm x 35cm x 20cm.

Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www.ryanair.com). Size: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm; weight: 10kg.

Thomas Cook (www.flythomascook.com). Size: 43cm x 28cm x 23cm; weight: 5kg.

Thomsonfly (0870 1900 737, www.thomsonfly.com). Size: 55cm x 40cm x 20cm; weight: 10kg.

Virgin (0870 380 2007, www.virgin-atlantic.com). Size: 56cm x 36cm x 23cm; weight: 6kg.
If you have to check in luggage

Put full details of your home address and itinerary inside the bag so that if the labels are ripped off, your bag can still be identified.
Pack some essentials such as a change of clothes in hand baggage
Make sure your travel insurance includes adequate cover for the contents of your bags.
If your luggage does not arrive, be sure to report the fact and fill out the necessary forms before leaving the airport.
Hand luggage

Reviews by Charles Starmer-Smith.

Mandarina duck ISI
Price: £130
Size: 55cm x 20cm

This lightweight backpack, which doubles as a wheeled case, fits within the most miserly hand luggage restrictions. With resinbonded fabric, it is also durable. Selfridges (0870 8377 377).

Rimowa Bolero
Price: £290
Size: 54 x 38.3 x 19.5cm

A piece of German precision engineering, this polycarbonite trolley is teak-tough and comes with zippered exterior pockets for your laptop and other accessories (www.rimowa.de)

Antler Bond Street
Price: £125
Size: 47cm x 34cm x 20xm

This pinstripe lightweight trolley runs particularly smoothly. Made from denier woven twill fabric, it has TSA-approved locks and comes with a seve-year guarantee (www.antler.com)

Delsey Morphos
Price: £299
Size: 53cm x 37cm x 25cm

With twin compartments and racing-style wheels, this cabin trolley from Delsey's prestige collection looks good and fits within all but the most strict guidelines. (www.desley.com).

Samsonite Xlite
Price: £329
Size: 50cm x 35cm x 20cm

Using a combination of composite panels and cowhide leather, Samsonite claims this range is its strongest and lightest yet. (www.samsonite.com)
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk
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Frankfurt: the city in a suit

Jeff Mills chooses the best sights, hotels, restaurants and bars for business in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt rightly continues to stake its claim as one of the most important business and financial centres on the European continent. And although it often suffers from a somewhat staid reputation, look beyond the slick high-rises and you will find a city with a surprisingly vibrant lifestyle.

Much of the old town was destroyed during the Second World War – hence all the new buildings – but small pockets remain, including the attractive stretch of museums along the River Main, the imposing Cathedral and the cobbled square of Römerberg.

You could find yourself doing business in almost any part of the city, although the main concentration of commerce tends to be in the area around the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and towards the Borse (Stock Exchange) just a short walk away.

Top five sights

1. Römer and Römerberg

Statue of Justice in Romerberg Square, Frankfurt travel guide

The City Hall, with its gabled Gothic façade, is widely recognised as the city’s emblem and is where banquets were held to celebrate the coronations of the Holy Roman Emperors. The square was lovingly restored after it was damaged during World War Two.

0049 69 21 23 4814
The Römer is open daily 10 am-1 pm, 2 pm-5 pm

2. The Goethe Haus and Museum

The birthplace of Germany’s most famous poet is today a sizeable museum, furnished with pieces which belonged to his family.

Großer Hirschgraben 23-25
0049 69 13 8800
Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm and 10am-5.30 pm on Sun
€5 (£3.35)

3. Sachsenhausen

The old quarter of Sachsenhausen, on the south bank of the Main River, has been preserved, or at least recreated, as it once was. This is the area to find the “Ebbelwei” – apple wine – taverns.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk
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Vietnam Travel Guide

Social Conventions
Handshaking and a vocal greeting is normal. Clothing should be kept simple, informal and discreet. Avoid shorts if possible as they are usually only worn by children. Footwear should be removed when entering Buddhist pagodas. Vietnamese people should not be touched on the head. Photography: There are restrictions at ports, airports and harbors, and in similar areas elsewhere. It is courteous to ask permission first before taking photographs of people.

Officially prohibited but widely practiced, especially in the south. Discretion is advised.

International Travel:

Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe and can include the death penalty.There have been renewed outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu) throughout Vietnam. Coming into contact with poultry should be avoided and care should be taken when consuming poultry dishes that the meat is sufficiently cooked.

Vietnam’s national airline is Vietnam Airlines (VN) (website: www.vietnamairlines.com.vn). The most usual routes to Vietnam are from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Paris, Singapore and Taipei. Most Asian carriers have flights to Vietnam, as do Air France and Qantas.

Approximate flight times
From Hanoi to London is approximately 17 hours, including two hours' stopover in Bangkok.

International airports
Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) at Noi Bai is 45km (28 miles) north of Hanoi. Buses and metered taxis are available. The airport has basic facilities.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is 7km (4.5 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City. Buses and metered taxis are available.

Departure tax
US$12 (Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi) and US$8 (Da Nang), payable in US Dollars or New Dông.

The major ports are Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau, Haiphong, Da Nang and Binh Thuy. International cruise facilities are available.

It is possible to cross into China by rail from Lao Cai to Kunming in the Yunnan province of China or through Lang Son to Nanning. There are trains from Beijing-Dong Dang-Hanoi and back twice weekly.

There are routes to Guangxi, China through Lang Son, Cambodia through Moc Bai and also to Laos at Lao Bao and Cau Trieu.

It is important to remember that all Vietnamese visas are issued with a specified exit point. If this exit point needs to be altered, it must be done so at an immigration office or through a travel agent in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Duty Free
The following items may be freely imported into Vietnam by foreign visitors without incurring customs duty:
400 cigarettes; 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco; up to 5kg of tea and up to 3kg of coffee; 1.5l of liquor at 22 per cent and above, and 22.2l of liquor below this amount, and 3l of all other alcoholic beverages; a reasonable quantity of perfume and personal belongings; other goods not exceeding D5 million.

Prohibited items
The importation of non-prescribed drugs, firearms and pornography is prohibited.

Internal Travel:

Vietnam Airlines (VN) operates daily flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang and Nha Trang. Regular services are also provided between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Buon Ma Thuot, Dalat, Na San, Phu Quoc, Pleiku, Qui Nhon and Vinh. The Northern Airport Flight Service Company operates flights by helicopter to Halong Bay from Hanoi.
Departure Tax: D20,000 from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong and Da Nang. D10,000 from other airports.

A local network operates between ports. Cruise facilities are available. Contact the Embassy before departure.

Visitors may use the rail transport system independently or as part of a rail tour. Long-distance trains are more expensive but are faster, more reliable and more comfortable. Although a few carriages now have air conditioning, facilities are still short of international standards, and foreigners’ rates are comparable to the air fares. The main rail route connects Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the journey can take between 30 and 40 hours. There are also services from Hanoi to Haiphong, Dong Dang, Lao Cai, Thai Nguyen and from Yen Vien to Ha Long. Contact Vietnam Railways (website: www.vr.com.vn) for more information.

There is a reasonable road network. Traffic drives on the right. Roads, especially in the north, are often in a bad state of repair and may be impassable during the rainy season. Driving in Vietnam can be a hair-raising experience as the normal rules of highway discipline are rarely followed by the majority of drivers. There is a good highway from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Bus: Services are poor and overcrowded. Minibuses often run between tourist hotels in the major towns. Car hire: It is possible to hire chauffeur-driven cars. Documentation: An International Driving Permit and a test (taken in Vietnam) are required.

There are local bus services in Ho Chi Minh City and in Hanoi, which also has a tramway. It is also possible to travel by taxi, motorbike or cyclo (cycle rickshaw; motorized version also exists); the last of these options can leave the traveller vulnerable to theft from opportunistic passers-by and the government is trying to phase them out. When traveling by taxi, it is advisable to note down the driver’s registration number (displayed on rear side of taxi) for security reasons.
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Travel Information of Vietnam


Vietnam borders with China in the north, Laos and Kampuchea in the West, and the Pacific Ocean in the east. Its lies in the centre of South-East Asia. Vietnam's territory stretches from Lung Cu village (Ha Tuyen province) in the north to Rach Tau hamlet (Minh Hai province) in the south. It is a S-shaped pennisula, with thousands of off-shore islands and archipelagoes; the biggest of which are the Hoang SA (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagoes. Vietnam's mainland covers 331,689 square kilometres .

According to archaeological discoveries made at Do Mountain, it is believed that life in Vietnam began as far back as 300,000 years ago. Officially, the history of Vietnam stretches back 4,000 years when it was founded by the Hung Kings. It was then named Van Lang.

When speaking upon the history of Vietnam, it is important to note the large role played by the French in Vietnam. It began in 1858, when the French took over Danang in southern Vietnam. Over time, more and more territory was won over by the French. It wasn't until 1954, when the French surrendered to to the Viet Minh, ending the French Indochina War, that the French colonial control in Vietnam ended.

The immediate image in the minds of most people at the mention of Vietnam is that of the war fought against the United States some twenty years ago. Most people think of the country only in terms of the American conflict in Indochina. The war ended nearly twenty years ago, and today, despite lingering signs of past American involvement, the situation in Vietnam is markedly different. People have finally begun to look at the country from another perspective, now that travelers and tourists from the West are being welcomed into what was once a forbidden country. It may take a bit more effort and tenacity to plan an excursion into Vietnam than it would for another Southeast Asian country, but Vietnam has much to offer in terms of culture and sights.


The weather in the southern part of Vietnam is tropical. It is monsoonal in the north, bringing a hot, rainy season from mid-May to mid-September and a warm, dry season from mid-October to mid-March. Occasional typhoons from May to January bring extensive flooding to the middle regions of Vietnam.


The vast majority of the population is Vietnamese with minute percentages of Chinese. The Viet culture originated on the delta of the Red River and the Ma River where the Viet people cultivated paddy fields. They led a simple farming life in small villages, usually living around a communal house. Today the people living in the countryside follow this lifestyle. The Viet people are influenced by Confucianism, in particular the principle of respect for their elders.

In spite of the immense suffering of the Vietnamese and the somewhat ruined state of the country, they are generally warm and friendly, and surprisingly, the Vietnamese bear little if any resentment or bitterness toward Americans. Children in the streets will commonly greet visitors with the name Lien Xo, which means Russian, but they will easily be corrected if you respond, 'Hello!' or 'Good morning' and explain you are an American, European or Australian, etc.

Ethnic Groups:
The country is predominantly 85-90% Vietnamese, 3% Chinese, ethnic minorities include Muong, Thai, Meo, Khmer, Man, Cham, and other mountain tribes.

Vietnamese is the official language; French, Chinese, English, Khmer and tribal dialects (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian) are also spoken.

Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Roman Catholic, indigenous beliefs, Islamic and Protestant.


Be firm, yet diplomatic when dealing with officials who will often be very rigid. In the case of misunderstanding, patience is the best policy.

Small gifts such as cigarette lighters, pens, foreign cigarettes, liquor, perfume and even shampoo are greatly appreciated by anyone you wish to make friends with in Vietnam.

Out of politeness, always ask permission before taking photos of people. The same rule of thumb also applies to photos taken in places of worship. Permission will almost always be granted.

A gentle handshake is the most appropriate manner of greeting.

Be very discrete about giving anything to beggars frequently encountered in Ho Chi Minh City. If anyone is seen giving handouts to a beggar, he or she may end up being pursued by a mob of other beggars. This does not help create a good image for foreigners; it gives them instead the reputation of being easy to hit up for money.

Beware of pickpockets. Keep your ID and passport in a safe place and carry only photocopies of those items.

Remove your shoes before entering Buddhist pagodas. Small donations placed in the boxes found in temples are appreciated. It is acceptable to keep your shoes on within Chinese pagodas.

Never let the soles of your feet face other people or any sacred monument, such as a statue of Buddha.


The Dong (D) is the official currency in Vietnam.
Exchange rate is approximatley 1 USD = 15,000 Dong (Sep 01)

Bank notes currently in circulation are in denominations of 100 / 200 / 500 / 1,000 / 2,000 / 5,000 / 10,000 / 20,000 and 50,000 Dong

Notes under 200 Dong have little value and are rarely used.

The U.S. dollar is more or less a second currency in Vietnam. Other foreign currencies are not readily accepted. A large supply of US$1, US$5 and US$10 are almost essential for tipping, for small expenses and for hotel bills. U.S. money is so common that change will frequently be given in dollars.

You may bring in an unlimited amount of foreign currency as long as it is declared on the forms provided by customs officers. Foreign currency can be exchanged for dong at your hotel or at the State Bank of Vietnam.


Population: About 78 Million People
Capital: Hanoi
Flag: The flag of Vietman is red with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center.
Shop Hours: Shops run from 7 or 8am to 11 or 11:30pm. Some are open from 1 or 2pm to 4 or 5pm.
Bank Hours: Most banks are opened from 7am or 8am to 11am or 11:30am Some are open from 1pm or 2pm to 4pm or 5pm.
January 1 Solar New Year's Day
January/February Tet (Tet Nguyen Dan). The most important Vietnamese annual festival. This marks the new lunar year and the advent of spring. This is a three-day holiday, usually at the end of January or the beginning of February (according to the solar calendar)
February 3 Anniversary of the Foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam
April 30 Liberation Day, the day on which Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) fell to Hanoi in 1975. This holiday is commemorated nationwide.
May 1 Labour Day
May 19 Birthday of President Ho Chi Minh
September 2 National Day of Vietnam

Time: +7:00, Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and 14 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.

Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but it is enormously appreciated. A 5-10% tip for a meal is a very small amount of money, but to the average Vietnamese, it could easily equal a day's wages. Avoid tipping too much, as it will set a precedent for others.

Restaurants: Government-run restaurants catering to tourists add a 10% service charge to the bill.

Porters: Porters, if they are available, can be tipped with American coins.

Hotel maids: Government-run hotels catering to tourists charge an automatic 10% service fee.

Taxis: Generous tips are not necessary. A small gratuity, however, is expected by cab drivers.


Passports and visas are required for entry into Vietnam. The best place to obtain a visa for Vietnam is Bangkok. The visa will specify where you will be arriving and where you will be leaving, in addition to how long you can stay.

Formerly, tours had to be booked to obtain a visa, but this is no longer the situation. Potential visitors to Vietnam must fill out three applications for entry and exit visas, accompanied by three passport photos 4cm x 6cm. One of the applications must be sent to the most convenient diplomatic or consular mission of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The other two applications/photos are carried with you and handed in at the first point of entry.


Duty-Free Items
Visitors may import 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, 1 liter of wine, 1 liter of liquor and an unlimited amount of film. Commercial goods and items of high value being taken out of Vietnam require export permits from the Customs Service. Antiques may be confiscated permanently. No local currency may be taken out of the country.

The Customs Service Headquarters
21 Ton Duc Thang St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel 90095


Noi Bai International Airport
Tan Son Nhat Airport
Ho Chi Minh City
Fares are significantly lower for those flying to Ho Chi Minh City. Although flights are available from the capitals of most Southeast Asian countries as well as from Sydney and Melbourne, the best place is from Bangkok as visas are easiest to obtain there.

Vietnam Airlines (International)
116-118 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 292118
Vietnam Airlines (Domestic)
27b Nguyen Dinh Chieu St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 299980
Air France
Dong Khoi and Le Loi St. (Caravelle Hotel)
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 241278
4H Le Loi St.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 93489
Thai Airways
116 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 292118
Philippine Airlines
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 292200
116 Nguyen Hue Blvd.
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel (08) 30695

There are currently no train lines running between Vietnam and its neighboring countries.

Traveling by road from Cambodia is a slow and expensive alternative to flying. It is highly advisable that travelers fly in instead.

Ships and Ferries

There are no official passenger services. Travelers may be able to ride on a cargo ship to Ho Chi Minh City, Danang or Haiphong from Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and France. Check with the local shipping and travel agencies for rates and availability. A ferry service runs from Cambodia to Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta.



Car rentals are currently not in existence. Cabs, which are unmarked cars without meters, can typically be rented for the day for US$30 to US$40. Trains
The Vietnamese railway system runs from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi along the coast and links with Haiphong and the regions further north. Odd-numbered trains travel South, and even-numbered trains travel north. The fastest trains take at least 36 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Reservations should be made a day or more in advance. The major setback to the railways is that tourists are charged many times more than Vietnamese people in the form of an outrageously high surcharge. For long distance traveling, it is best to fly.
The bus system runs almost everywhere within the country, with stations built around the country dividing the territory into regions. Buses tend to be slow and unreliable.


Ho Chi Minh City
This is the largest city in Vietnam. It is the industrial, commercial and cultural center of the country. The central city area is still called Saigon.


This museum exhibit crimes committed by the Americans during the war. Photographs of the famous My Lai massacre, human embryos, genetically deformed babies and innocent civilians being tortured can be seen on display. An array of US armored vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are displayed in the courtyard. You can also see a guillotine used by the French to de itate troublemakers in the riots of the 1920s and a model of the famous tiger cages used by the South Vietnamese to house VC prisoners on Con Son island. The War Crime Museum basically reveals a different side of the stories about wars - the innocent victims of modern warfare.


Built in 1929 by the Societe des Etudes Indochinioses, it was formerly named Blanchard dels Brosse. A big statute of President HoChiMinh stands in the main lounge of the museum. The museum has an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the primitive age, bronze age, the Tran dynasty and the Le Dynasty. Take a look at the array of musical instrument especially the special monocord of the one string musical instruments. There are many valuable relics taken from Cambodia's Angkor Wat.


In 1868, the Norodom Palace (original name) was built for the French Governor-General of Indochina. A striking modern architecture was built when the original buildings were damaged by bombs. Rebuilt in 1962, it comprises of a ground floor, 3 main floors, two mezzanines and a terrace for helicopter landing. The palace includes many tastefully decorated rooms such as the reception room, the cabinet reference room, the study rooms, the credentials presentation room and the banquet room. It also has a basement with a network of tunnels connecting to the telecom centre and war room and one of the longest tunnels which stretch all the way to the Revolutionary Museum. The grounds outside contain one of the first tanks to burst through the gates of the palace to signify the end of the Vietnam War as well as the fighter plane which dropped further bombs towards the end of the war. Independence Palace was renamed the Unification Palace to denote the spirit and strong will for national independence and reunification

Ben Thanh Market

The Ben Thanh Market, formerly the main railway terminal, is the largest of the markets scattered throughout the city. A wide variety of goods are available, from imported electronics to imported perfumes.
Notre Dame Cathedral
This Catholic church was constructed in 1883 and is located near the Tu Do (Dong Khoi) Street, the former red-light district.

Presidential Palace

This building is now called the Reunification Hall. The center was built as a modern administration center and is where the war and the American involvement in Vietnam ended in April 1975, with tanks invading the compound. Guided tours will take visitors through the various rooms within the complex.


Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. Sights include the Binh Tay Market, the An Quang Pagoda (District 5) and the scenic Thien Hau Temple.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
A modern Japanese-style Buddhist temple, easily one of the largest and most impressive in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tay Ninh

Cu Chi Tunnels

An extensive network of nearly 200 miles (322mi) of Viet Cong tunnels used in the French Indochina war and American war. The tunnels have complete facilities, from kitchens to printing presses and even street signs, all of which were used to aid the NLF (National Liberation Front) military. Tours involve a description of the tunnels, after which tourists are allowed to crawl about the maze. Located in Tay Ninh (suburb of Ho Chi Minh City), 24 miles (39km) northwest of central Ho Chi Minh City.


Cao Daism seeks to create the ultimate religion by fusing Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist and Catholic beliefs into a synthesis of its own. Witness the solemn ceremony of the unique religion - Caodaism at Caodai Holly See at its noon tide prayer service with followers dressed in red, blue, yellow and white robes. There is the divine eye above the altar, the religion's official symbol. The temple has nine levels which signify the nine steps to heaven, each level marked by a pair of multicoloured dragons.


One of the world's largest delta, the Delta Region is formed by the various tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which begins its journey to the sea in Tibet and winds its way for 4500 km through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Southern Vietnam. The vietnamese name for the Mekong is Cuu Long which means 'nine dragons' and this is represented by the nine exit points of the Mekong River as it flows into the sea. The land of the Mekong Delta is renowned for its richness. Known as Vietnam's breadbasket, it produces enough rice to feed the entire country with a sizeable surplus leftover. Take a sampan ride that meanders through small villages and experience the simple lives of the Mekong people

Vung Tau Beach

Located at the mouth of the Saigon River is the popular Vung Tau beach resort. Pineapple Beach is probably the most pleasant, with its villas and generally tranquil atmosphere. The temples are a definite must-see. The Niet Ban Tinh Xa is the largest temple in Vietnam. Tourist accommodations are available at the Hoa Binh Hotel, as well as the Thang Loi, Thang Thai and Tho Nguyet.

Nha Trang

The central region near Nha Trang features some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. The ocean waters are transparent, and the sands immaculate, attracting more and more visitors in recent times. Tours cover the Cham Ponagar complex, the north tower of which was built in 817 A.D. Ruins of the long-deceased Champa still stand as a testament to this once prominent kingdom.


The mountain resort among the Central Highlands has scenic surroundings as well as remnants of the French colonial era. The Ethnic Minority Museum is certainly worth visiting for those interested in the costumes, gongs, ornaments and other artifacts collected by locals from the Lam Dong province. As another point of interest, there is even an old abandoned nuclear power plant.

Danang City

Known as Tourane under the French, Danang is a seaport of endless stretches of unspoiled sandy beach midway between Ha Noi to the north and Ho Chi Minh City to the South. The city was also the center of civilization of the Champa Kingdom, a kingdom which flourished In the area as early as the 2nd century A.D. Appealing stone sculptures (from the 4th-14th centuries) of Vishnu , Shiva and other Gods of this Kingdom can still be found in the Cham museum located in the center of the city Towards the coast south of Danang are five large hills known as the Marble Mountain. Mysterious caves within the mountains shelter altars delicated to Buddha, Bodhisattvas and The different genies arising from the popular beliefs of the area's inhabitants. With its own international and domestic airport, Danang provides an ideal stopover based for excursions to the ancient town of Hoi An, the imperial city of Hue and My Son-site of the Ruins from the Cham civilization.

Cham Ruins

For those interested in seeing all that these fifteen towers have to offer, plan on spending a minimum of one day. These towers are located at My Son in the Duy Xuyen district.
Cham Museum
The Cham Museum built in 1915, expanded in 1935 , completed in 1936, is in a lovely setting And has large, open well lighted rooms with around 296 statues and artifacts of the Cham People dated back to the 7th century.
Marble Mountains
Consisting of five limestone peaks, about five (8km) miles south of town. They can be explored by following the paths leading to the peaks.
Non Nuoc Beach
China Beach, one the most wonderful beaches of Vietnam , was once an in country rest and Recreation centre for the US military during the Vietnam War.

Hoi An Ancient Town

Forty-five minutes by land south-east of Da Nang is the ancient town of Hoi An, which was one of the most important trading ports in Southeast Asia for merchants from China, Japan and afar for a couple of centuries ago. Originally a seaport in the Champa Kingdom, by the 15th century It had become a coastal town under the Tran dynasty. Also served as the hub of East-West c ultural exchange, Hoi An's ancient past is superbly preserved in its fascinating temples, pagoda, shop houses and home which make up the town's old quarter. Walking in the streets of this ancient town, one can observe the influence of the architecture, Sculpture and decorative styles of China and Japan and the skill of former Vietnamese architects Who have absorbed their influences and created something similar yet somehow uniquely different.


Hue, the imperial city, the citadel-city of Phu Xuan was originally built up during the end of 17th Century and became a political capital as well as the Imperial City of Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 till 2nd September 1945 when the Communist Party, leaded by President Ho Chi Minh had declared the Independent of the Nation and took over the power from the defeated Japanese Governor. Nowadays, this small & poetical city of 280.000 habitants becomes one of the main tourism site of Vietnam destination by its splendid tombs of the Nguyen emperors, several notable pagodas especially the Thien Mu Pagoda, the remains of Citadel as well as the romantic Perfume River where a cruise tour with Hue music performance in the moonlight was always provided since long time ago. Normally, visiting Hue within a day is a bit rush but still enough time to cover the main attractive sites such as The Citadel, The museum of antique, the tombs of Khai Dinh and Tu Duc emperors and a 02 hours cruise with stop over at Thien Mu pagoda.

Citadel & Forbidden City
This forbidden city of 10km. perimeter has 4 main entrance gates and well defended by kilometers of rampart was built in 1804 by the first emperor Nguyen Anh on a site chosen by geomancers and look likes a Chinese forbidden city in Beijin. Some parts of this forbidden city were totally destroyed during the war where now are under reconstruction providing UNESCO & Japanese non-government associations' fund. Lucky thing is most of the main area such as the citadel (the Imperial Enclosure), Flag Tower were remain intact where received hundred of visitors daily.
The Museum of Antique (Imperial museum)
This beautiful hall which house the Imperial Museum was built in 1845. The most precious artefacts were lost during the war (1954-1973) and the liberation day (1975) but ceramics, furniture and royal relics are remain until the present time.
Khai Dinh Emperor's Tomb
This is the final monument of the Nguyen Dynasty. The complex features ceiling murals, frescoes and a dragon staircase. Located on the slopes of the Chau E Mountain, six miles (10km) south of town. It takes almost 10 years (1920-1931) to finish this grandiose concrete tomb which is completely unlike the others tombs where there was a mixture of typical Vietnamese & French colonial architecture. After climbing 36 steps passing by rows of elephants, horses, civil & military mandarin you will be reached the main building where a full original artefacts are displayed to the public.
Tu Duc Emperor's Tomb
The most impressive of the tombs and pagodas at Hue. Located at the tributaries of the Perfume River, seven miles (11km) south of Hue, this complex has beautiful architecture, intricate decor and military statues. This majestic and serene tomb with lake view, grove of pines, temples, living house area is the most expensive tomb which was completely terminated after 5 years by thousands of labor-worker (1863-1868) for this intellectual-poet emperor.
Minh Mang Emperor's Tomb
The most impressive of the tombs and pagodas at Hue. Located at the tributaries of the Perfume River, seven miles (11km) south of Hue, this complex has beautiful architecture, intricate decor and military statues.
Thien Mu Pagoda & Perfume River Cruise
Unlike the typical boat used to provide in the past the present Hue cruise is providing a motorized boat which carry a 2 hours cruise along Perfume River including a 30 min stop over Thien Mu pagoda. This pagoda located on the hillock overlooking the Perfume River, built in 1844 by Thieu Tri emperor, 21m-high octagonal tower with seven-storey is one of the most famous structures in all over the country and become an unofficial symbol of Hue until now.


One Pillar Pagoda
Built in the 11th century, this pagoda sits on a stone pillar in the middle of a pond. This is one of the more unusual structures in Vietnam.
Lenin Park (Thong Nhat Park)
Built over a former marsh, this park surrounds a large lake containing a statue of Lenin, often the object of jokes among the locals. The park itself is quite beautiful.
Tran Nhan Tong Street.
National Preserve of Cuc Phuong
This national park is one of the last tropical primeval forest reserves on Earth. There are 64 species of fauna and thousands of species of flora, many of which are extinct everywhere else in the world. Bizarre and fascinating species of animals from flying lizards to monkeys dwell within the park's 61,000 acres. Caves and grottoes, where various artifacts have been discovered, are located in the mountains within.
Ha Nam Ninh Province. It is located approximately 62 miles (100 Km.) southwest of Hanoi.
Thu Le Park
Located northwest of Hanoi in the Thu Le village.


Cat Ba
This island is the largest in the Cat Ba archipelago. It is potentially one of the major beach destinations in Southeast Asia. This region has beautiful beaches and pristine waters. Within the mountains are caves and grottos. Located 36 miles (58km) east of Haiphong.

Halong Bay

One of Vietnam's most beautiful areas, Halong Bay has fascinating limestone formations, coves for nighttime excursions, sheer cliffs, grottoes, arches and scores of small islets.


Vietnamese food varies from region to region. Almost 500 traditional dishes have been recorded! Rice and noodles are staple foods, served with nearly all meals. The most popular dishes are nema rán (spring rolls), bún thang (noodles with sliced pork, eggs, shredded chicken and shrimp), shellfish steamed with ginger and sea crabs fried with salt. Among common ingredients used are: shark fin, duck, pork paste, fish, spices, fruits, vegetables, crab meat, lobster and oysters.

Imported beer is available in Vietnam, although a number of domestic beers are brewed. Rice wine is very popular, and there are many brands available. There is a variety of fruit wines such as apricot, orange or lemon. Soft drinks are processed from the many varieties of tropical fruits available. Water from the tap should be avoided, even though it has already been filtered and sterilized at 10ºC. If you must drink it, boil the water first.


Vietnam is not the place to go for the latest in nightspots, but a number of large hotels have nightclubs and dance halls. Bars are fairly easy to find, even in smaller hotels. Try asking the locals for the current popular spots.


Police: 03
Ho Chi Minh City Police Station
161 Nguyen Du, Quan 1
Tel 99398 or 97107
Open from 8am-11am and 1pm-4pm
Hanoi Police Office for the Registration of Foreign Visitors
63 Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi
All visitors must register with the police within 48 hours of arrival. If you are on a tour, this should have been taken care of (but check anyway).
Fire Department: 08
First Aid: 05
International Dialing Access: Available at major tourist hotels and post offices
Country Code: 84
City Codes: Hanoi: 04 / Ho Chi Minh: 08
When calling from within the same city, delete the city code from the number. When calling to another city from within Vietnam, use the entire city code. When calling from outside Vietnam, delete the first digit (0) from the city code.

Greetings - Chao ong (ba)
How are you? - Ong (ba) co khoe khong?
Fine, thanks - Cam on rat tot
My name is ... - Tên tôi là ...
I don't understand - Tôi không hiêú
Restaruant - nhà hàng
Telephone - diên thoai
Hotel - khách san
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Map of Vietnam

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Halong Bay

tilehalong.gif (13831 bytes)

Situated in the North-East region of Vietnam, Halong Bay is a bay in the Gulf of Tonkin comprised of regions of Halong City, the township of Cam Pha, and a part of the island district of Van Don. Halong Bay borders Cat Ba Island in the southwest, the East Sea in the east, and the mainland, creating a 120 km coastline.

Halong Bay is made up of 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds of islands, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the southeast (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay), and the southwest (belonging to Halong Bay). This densely concentrated zone of stone islands, world famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves, forms the central zone of Halong Bay, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.halong.gif (32648 bytes)

The bay itself has an area of 43,400 ha, consists of 775 islands, and forms a triangle with the island of Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto) to the west, the lake of Ba Ham (Three Shelter Lake) to the south, and the island of Cong Tay to the east.

Viewed from above, Halong Bay resembles a geographic work of art. While exploring the bay, you feel lost in a legendary world of stone islands. There is Man's Head Island, which resembles a man standing and looking towards the mainland. Dragon Island looks like a dragon hovering above the turquoise water. La Vong Island resembles an old man fishing. There are also the islands of the Sail, the Pair of Roosters, and the Incense Burner, which all astonishingly resemble their namesakes. The forms of the islands change depending on the angle of the light and from where the islands are viewed. At the core of the islands, there are wonderful caves and grottoes, such as Thien Cung (Heavenly Residence Grotto), Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto), Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), and Tam Cung (Three Palace Grotto).

Halong Bay has many links to the history of Vietnam. For example, there are such famous geographical sites as Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port), Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems about emperors and other famous historical figures), and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors).

It has been proven by scientists that Halong was one of the first cradles of human existence in the area at such archeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu, and Thoi Gieng. It is also a region of highly-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life.

With all this in mind, the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO (in Thailand on December 17th, 1994), officially recognized Halong Bay as a natural heritage site of worldwide importance.

I. Grottoes

Dau Go (Driftwood) Grotto

hl_daugo.gif (12997 bytes)Dau Go Grotto is found on Driftwood Island, formerly known as Canh Doc Island. The name Driftwood Grotto comes from the popular story of the resistance war against the Nguyen Mong aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Dao was given an order to prepare many ironwood stakes to be planted on the riverbed of the Bach Dang River. The remaining wooden pieces were found in the grotto and, as a result, the grotto was given its present name. The entrance is reached via 90 steps up the island. The grotto is divided into three main parts. In the first chamber, many forms can be seen in the rock, depending on the imagination of the observer. In the middle of the chamber, on the top of the pillar, there appears to be a monk draped in a long, dark cloak, with his right hand clasping a cane. Moving into the second chamber, visitors pass through a narrow "door", naturally formed through erosion. The light here is mysterious, and new images appear in the stone. At the end of the grotto is a well of clear water surrounded by four ancient walls.

In this grotto, there remains an engraved stone stele singing the praises of Halong Bay ordered by Emperor Khai Dinh when he came to visit the grotto in 1917. Dau Go is 40 minutes from Bai Chay. Admission is 15,000 VND per person, 5,000 VND for children under 15, and children under 6 are free.

Trinh Nu (Virgin) Grotto-Trong (Male) Grotto

hl_trinhnu.gif (12257 bytes)The Virgin Grotto is situated in the island range of Bo Hon, in the system comprised of the Surprise Grotto, Dong Tien Lake, and Luon Grotto. The grotto is 15 km south of Bai Chay Beach. For some fishermen, the Virgin Grotto is home, while for young lovers it is a popular romantic rendezvous site.

According to legend, there once was a beautiful fisherman's daughter, whose family was so poor that they were in service of the rich administrator of the fishing zone, who forced the family to give him their daughter as a concubine. However, the fisherman’s daughter already had a lover and refused to marry the administrator. The administrator got angry and exiled her to a wild island where she suffered from hunger and exhaustion. One frightful night she turned to stone. On this same night, her lover, knowing of her danger, rowed his boat in search of her. However, a tempest destroyed his boat, and he floated to a nearby island. In a flash of lightening, he saw his lover in the distance, but his calls were driven away by the wind. In his final exhaustion, he also turned to stone (today’s Male Grotto).

When visiting the Virgin Grotto, you can still see the petrified girl with her long hair hanging down and eyes looking towards the mainland. Opposite the Virgin Grotto, the Male Grotto is still home to the lover whose his face is turned towards his mate. At times, his passionate calls and blows against the walls of the grotto can still be heard.

Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) Grotto

hl_thiencung.gif (13327 bytes)This recently discovered grotto is one of the most beautiful in Halong Bay. Thien Cung is situated on the southwest side of the bay, 4 km from the wharf outside of Halong City. It is located in a small range of islands that resemble a throne embracing two superb grottoes at its core. The way to Thien Cung is perilous, covered on both sides by thick forest. After entering a narrow gate, the magnificent, 130 m long grotto opens up.

According to legend, a beautiful young lady named May (cloud) caught the eye of the Dragon Prince and he fell in love with her. They were betrothed and got married in the very center of the grotto. All of the scenes of their wedding, which lasted for seven days and seven nights, have been seemingly fossilized in the grotto.

In the center, there are four large pillars supporting the "roof of heaven". From the base to the top, many strange images seem to exist in the stone, including birds, fish, flowers and even scenes of human life. On the north wall of the grotto, a group of fairies seems to be singing and dancing in honor of the wedding. Under the immeasurably high roof, stalactites form a natural stone curtain. There is also the sound of a beating drum made by the wind blowing through the stone.

In the last chamber of the grotto, a natural gushing stream of water babbles throughout the year. Here there are three small ponds of clear water. One path meanders out of the grotto.

Quang Hanh Grottohl_hanghanh.gif (12673 bytes)

Located 9 km west of Cam Pha, Quang Hanh Grotto is the longest grotto in Halong Bay. It is 1,300 m long, and stretches throughout the stone mountain of Quang Hanh. The French named it "Le Tunnel," or Tunnel Grotto.

Quang Hanh Grotto is accessible by either boat or car, but the entrance only appears when the tide is out. Ba Co Shrine (shrine of three girls) is in the grotto beside a smooth stone block. Legend tells that three girls, who were once journeying on the sea, came to the grotto to take shelter from the rain. They were so engrossed with the beauty of the grotto, that they did not notice the rising tide. They drowned, only to become water goddesses.

Quang Hanh Grotto is extremely beautiful. A small boat will take you through the stone passageway by flashlight, casting magical colors on the hanging stalactites.

II. Islands

Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain)

hl_nbaitho.gif (11416 bytes)Bai Tho Mountain is 106 m high. It runs along the coast, half on land and half in the sea. Sailing in the bay, one or two hundred meters from the mountain, one can see a poem carved on a flat stone cliff.

In 1468, Emperor Le Thanh Tong, who was also a poet, made an inspection tour of the North-East region. He stopped at the foot of the mountain, and inspired by the magnificent beauty of his surroundings, he wrote a poem. Later, he had the poem engraved on the wall of the mountain. It is very interesting to climb the mountain and enjoy the panoramic view of the bay.

Tuan Chau Islet hl_tuanchau.gif (11380 bytes)

Situated 3 km west of Dao Go Islet, Tuan Chau Islet has an area of 300 ha. On the islet, there is a very simple bamboo house built by the inhabitants of Quang Ninh for Uncle Ho to rest after visiting Halong Bay. The house is now carefully preserved by the locals.

III. Beaches

Bai Chay

hl_baichay.gif (11569 bytes)Bai Chay is a resort located along the coast of Halong Bay. This is a windward ocean resort which has a year round average temperature of 20oC (68oF).

Bai Chay is a low gently sloping range of hills that runs along the sea for more than 2 km. Blended in among the pine trees are large hotels and small villas with distinguished architectural styles. Traveling down the asphalt road along the coast, visitors see long white stretches of sand and green rows of Casuarina trees, tucked under which are small family-run restaurants. After swimming at the beach, tourists can enjoy cold drinks and cool off in the breeze that sweeps in from the sea.
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Miss Universe 2008

Miss Universe 2008, the 57th Miss Universe beauty pageant, will be held at the Crown Convention Center (Diamond Bay Resort) in Nha Trang, Vietnam on July 14, 2008 where outgoing titleholder Riyo Mori will crown her successor. More than 80 contestants are expected to compete in the event which will be broadcast via NBC and Telemundo to TV outlets in more than 180 countries. The final presentation show is on July 8, the dress rehearsal on July 13 and the live telecast on July 14. Most activities are being held successively in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Nha Trang.


NEW YORK, NY - November 27, 2007 - Donald J. Trump, NBC Universal and Paula M. Shugart, President, Miss Universe Organization, announced today that the 57th Annual MISS UNIVERSE® Competition will air live from Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam. The glamorous live event, featuring some of the world's most beautiful women, will air from the Crown Convention Center, on NBC and Telemundo this summer.

"Vietnam has shown unprecedented growth in recent years, both in the business and tourism sectors," said Paula M. Shugart. "This worldwide telecast will mark the first event of its kind to be centered in Vietnam which of course will have special significance to the U.S. audience. I am very happy to have the Miss Universe Pageant be the catalyst for such an historic event."

"UniCorp is delighted that we have reached an agreement with the Miss Universe Organization to host the MISS UNIVERSE® 2008 Pageant in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Vietnam," says Chairman Tony Toan Nguyen. "We believe that the beauty, culture and hospitality of Vietnam will perfectly complement the pageant. We look forward to showing the contestants and the world our exciting, vibrant and picturesque country."

Japan native, Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007 will crown her successor at the conclusion of the telecast. During her reign, she has traveled the world as an advocate for HIV/AIDS education, research, and legislation. The newly crowned Miss Universe will go on to do the same.

Each contestant from more than 80 countries around the world will be judged in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview as they vie for the coveted title of Miss Universe 2008. In recent years, worldwide distribution of the popular competition has topped more than 170 countries.

Donald J. Trump and Phil Gurin will again serve as Executive Producers for MISS UNIVERSE® 2008.

The MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA® and MISS TEEN USA® Pageants are a Donald J. Trump and NBC Universal partnership. Utilizing its nationwide grass roots infrastructure, the Miss Universe Organization is committed to increasing HIV/AIDS awareness by focusing on women's health and reproductive issues. By forging relationships with organizations committed to research and education such as the Latino Commission on AIDS, God's Love We Deliver, APICHA and Gay Men's Health Crisis, Miss Universe is armed to impact women today. For more information, visit: www.missuniverse.com.

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Hue to affirm title as Festival City

The upcoming biannual Hue Festival in central Thua Thien-Hue Province will offer new and exciting performances of high professional and artistic quality, in an effort to live up to title of being Vietnam’s Festival City.

The Hue Festival 2008, themed “Cultural heritage with integration and development”, will take place from June 3-11. The festival coincides with the 15th anniversary of Hue imperial city’s world heritage site recognition and the 5th anniversary of the recognition of Hue court music as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage.

An ao dai (Vietnamese women’s traditional dress) fashion show, a performance of a heaven respect ceremony, the Nam Giao Altar and a Royal Palace Night are just a sample of the festival’s attractive events, Deputy Chairman of the Thua Thien-Hue Provincial People’s Committee Ngo Hoa said.

A focus of the festival will be the nightly royal art performances, feasts and games in the Dai Noi.

The Hue Festival 2008 expects visitors to the city will also explore the mysterious royal tombs, the Tam Giang Lagoon, the Bach Ma-Lang Co-Canh Duong tourist resort, local pagodas and enjoy the city’s food specialities.

Twenty-four art ensembles from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cambodia, China, France, Japan, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand, the UK and the US will give performances of their cultural heritage during the festival.

Foreign and domestic donors have pledged VND 10 billion for this year’s festival, tripling the figure for the previous festival in 2006.

Throughout the year, Thua Thien-Hue Province also hosts the Lang Co – Sea Legend Festival, the countryside market festival and the ethnic minorities’ culture festival. Deputy Chairman Ngo Hoa said the festivals reflect the harmonious union of the culture of Hue, Vietnam and participating nations.

The number of visitors to Hue during the festivals has been on the rise, from around 41,000 people in 2000 to more than 150,000 people in 2006. The Hue Festival 2008 is expected to welcome around 300,000 arrivals.

(Source: VNA)

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Hello World

Welcome to beauty and secret blog.
We will travel together through this blog, and explore each new part of the world, the people, the nature!
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