Vietnam’s World Leading Tourist Destinations

By: Laura Hill

World’s Leading Green Resort

World’s Leading Iconic Hotel

World’s Leading Luxury Wedding Resort

Vietnam’s Success at the World Travel Awards

In a year where we have likely spent more time at home than ever before, and travel has been restricted for many, it is easy to forget what an incredible country Vietnam is. From white sand beaches, to lush green forests, from spectacular and iconic rice terraces, to vibrant cities, Vietnam is fast becoming recognised as one of the most desirable destinations for international travellers to visit.

This was confirmed by judges at the recent World Travel Awards, where Vietnam picked up a number of titles including World’s Leading Heritage Destination 2020 and World's Leading Natural Landscape Tourist Attraction 2020!

Vietnam World Travel AwardsIntercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Established in 1993, the WTAs celebrate excellence across all areas of the tourism industry and are recognised globally as a hallmark of quality. Below, we look at each of the locations in Vietnam that were considered to be world leaders in 2020!

World’s Leading Green Resort 2020: Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Since opening in June 2012, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has developed a reputation for being a work of art as much as a resort. Nestled in the myth-filled hills of Son Tra Peninsula nature reserve, and surrounded by a stunning landscape with panoramic views of the East Sea, this is a truly luxurious resort that showcases the best Vietnam has to offer.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsIntercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Once again recognised as a leader in eco-resorts Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort was acknowledged for its dedication to reducing carbon emissions and aiming to protect the ecosystem of the Son Tra Peninsula.

With such an exceptional resort located in an area of such natural beauty, this is certainly a destination that should be high on your ‘to visit’ list for 2021!

World's Leading Cultural Tourist Attraction 2020 and World's Leading Natural Landscape Tourist Attraction 2020: Sun World Fansipan Legend

Before being branded by Sun World as ‘The Fansipan’, this mountain was just called ‘Fansipan’ and was best known for being the highest mountain in the Indochinese peninsula. At 3,143 meters, the climb to the top was (and still is!) manageable in a day, but not totally without its challenges. With stunning views at every turn, and the beautifully temperate climate of Sapa offering a welcome break from Vietnamese humidity, climbing Fansipan was a highlight for many who visited the region.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsSun World Fansipan Legend

Nowadays, Sun World Fansipan Legend contains a variety of tourist attractions, an amusement park and, the pièce de resistance, a record-breaking cable car that whizzes visitors to the top of the mountain without the struggle of the hike, but with all the benefits of the spectacular scenery.

With a variety of cultural and spiritual attractions adding to the natural allure of the site, it is easy to see why Sun World Fansipan Legend was recognised at this year’s awards.

World’s Leading Iconic Hotel 2020: Hotel de la Coupole M'Gallery

If you fancy taking a trip to the World’s Leading Natural Landscape Tourist Attraction, why not couple it with a stay in the World’s Leading Iconic Hotel? Located just 5 kilometres from Sun World Fansipan, Hotel de la Coupole is as traditional as Sun World is modern. An enchanting mix of haute couture and hill tribe style, this stunning hotel is infused with the glamour of 1920’s art deco luxury.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsHotel de la Coupole M'Gallery

With a luxury spa and extravagantly vast swimming pool allowing spectacular views across the Sapa valley, luxury, relaxation and indulgence are high on the list of priorities at Hotel de la Coupole. “A haven in a heavenly setting” is possibly an understatement.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsHotel de la Coupole M'Gallery

World's Leading Iconic Tourist Attraction 2020: Sun World Ba Na Hills

Also recognised as Asia’s Leading Theme Park 2020, Vietnam’s Leading Theme Park 2020, and awarded recognition for containing the World's Leading Cable Car Ride 2020 and the World's Leading Iconic Tourist Bridge 2020, Ba Na Hills in Da Nang is clearly doing a lot of things right.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsSun World Ba Na Hills

Located 20 kilometres outside Da Nang city, atop a small mountain, Ba Na Hills replicates many of the successes on ‘The Fansipan’, but with a distinctly European flavour. ‘The French Village’ is a particularly popular attraction with locals, but it is the now world-famous Golden Bridge that is the true star of the show. Recognised by Time magazine in 2018 as ‘one of the world’s greatest places to visit’, the spectacular views and unique design have since become an Instagrammers dream!

World’s Leading Luxury Wedding Resort 2020: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay

Once a 19th-century French university, now an eclectically themed, lavish beachfront playground JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa is a luxury haven on the beautiful island of Phu Quoc.

It is easy to see why the resort was recognised at the WTAs for the ability to host an unforgettable destination wedding. With facilities to provide both small, intimate services and lavish, extravagant celebrations, this is certainly a destination that can appeal to every type of bride.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsJW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay

Plus, with access to the soft, white sands of stunning Kem Beach, luxurious, stylish accommodation and a variety of eateries to suit every palate, it is a destination that appeals to every type of guest!

Vietnam World Travel AwardsJW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay

World’s Leading Regional Airport: Van Don International Airport

Just 2 years old and already a world leader, Van Don International, another baby of the ubiquitous Sun Group, is a state-of-the-art travel hub primarily servicing UNESCO world heritage site, Ha Long Bay.

Vietnam World Travel AwardsVan Don International Airport

Also awarded a special prize at the Prix Versailles awards, Van Don is a symbol of things to come in the Vietnamese tourist industry. Let’s hope that in 2021 the tourists can return and Vietnam can continue to develop its reputation for world leading travel and tourism!

For details of all winners at the WTAs visit www.worldtravelawards.com

Banner Image: Golden Bridge


Should Vietnam Rethink Tourism? Interview with Patrick Gaveau

By: Keely Burkey

The typical travel route for tourism in Vietnam is from the north to the south, and sometimes the other way around. How is this style of tourism killing Vietnam’s potential as a tourist destination?

I wouldn’t say it’s killing it, but certainly it’s restricting the potential for growth. For many travellers, in particular from Australia and other English-speaking markets, Vietnam is still very much seen as a “bucket list” destination, a once-in-a-lifetime trip not to be repeated. For some it is their first trip to Southeast Asia, though more often than not they’ve already travelled multiple times to what we call “fly and flop” beach destinations like Thailand and Bali.

travel in vietnamImage source: baohaiquan.vn

Though Vietnam has some very attractive beaches, it is seen more as a cultural travel experience and it struggles to compete with its more established, experienced neighbours. When the potential of new sites or areas is recognised, these are too often monopolised and destroyed by local interests.

What does the current tourist industry look like in Vietnam?

If you look at these source markets, you will see they are filled with competing general sales agents all offering what on the surface seem to be similar types of travel itineraries, and they are all fighting for a piece of the same pie. There are plenty of unique and specialist offerings out there, but these are primarily suited to niche interests and usually don’t receive the same sort of marketing attention. There are real costs associated with all forms of distribution, so products need to pay their way, so to speak, in terms of return on investment.

So, you think it’s primarily a marketing issue?

The issue around effectively marketing and promoting non-generic itineraries is there, but it’s further challenged by the limited knowledge of traditional travel agents. Many of them haven’t travelled to this part of the world, so they stick with what they know and trust, through a tried and tested product.

travel in vietnamImage source: baomoi.com

Familiarisation or educational trips invariably focus on the main highlights of the country through a north to south trip (or vice versa), so they just don’t have the confidence or knowledge to go beyond this.

Few tourists return to Vietnam for a second trip. Why do you think this is?

There are a host of reasons: the lack of an effective national tourism body to market the destination; the relatively high cost of travel; the cumbersome and expensive visa process; the over-development and pollution of natural attractions; the constant tourist rip-offs; substandard services and a flawed hotel rating system.

What other travel patterns or tours should be created to change this and to encourage more return trips to Vietnam, as it is in Thailand, for example?

There are probably only two main reason travellers would return: to visit an area not previously seen, or for a traditional beach-style long stay. Of the latter, we are seeing the emergence of Danang/Hoi An as a destination for repeat travellers (more so than Phu Quoc, though this is also increasing), though the percentages are still relatively small. This should continue to grow as infrastructure slowly improves.

travel in vietnamImage source: baotuyenquang.com.vn

As the number of hotels and resorts increases, so will the competitiveness of rates, along with an increase in international carriers adding direct routes to Vietnam.

How can travel agents help tourism in Vietnam grow sustainably?

They can market and develop a range of innovative packages specifically aimed at these returning travellers. These could include (but aren’t limited to): special city stays with unique inclusions, like going to the less-visited central highlands region. This could be easily combined with a Danang or Hoi An beach stay or a stay in the country’s far northwest, like Sapa, Mai Chau which are both easily accessible from Hanoi. Or you could have Mekong Delta overnight cruises as opposed to the commoditised day tours. This could also include the longer Mekong cruises, which have become so popular in recent years. All of this can be combined with the proper promotion of Vietnam’s best beach locations and advice on the best time to visit the various regions. These more often should be included in planned familiarisation or educational trips, ensuring that travel agents broaden their knowledge for use in the sales process.

travel in vietnamImage source: zone8.vn

Banner image source: dulich.dantri.com.vn

 


Ghenh Da Dia Phu Yen (The Sea Cliff of Stone Plates)

By: City Pass Guide

Video source: Du Lịch Quy Nhơn Bình Định

Banner Image source: ibb.co


Adding A Stroke of Art To City Pass Guide

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam in new style of capture

Richie Fawcett

British sketch artist Richie Fawcett has been living and working in Vietnam for almost three years, but it’s only in this past year that he, and everyone around him, has begun taking his inherent drawing skills seriously. Richie initially ventured to Vietnam to open a variety of bars and restaurants – something he’s spent a fantastic 15 years doing around the world.

Richie soon realised, however, how lucky he was to be in a country where he was surrounded by a visual feast, a photographer’s dream.

As a professional photographer in London in the late 90s Richie had been searching for an alternative way to capture the essence of the street scenes that had always intrigued him. Using a camera seemed far too easy - there was no reason for him to stay in the same spot and analyse a scene for hours on end.

At that point, Richie drudged up his long lost, and virtually unknown, talent and begun sketching his favourite street scenes and cityscapes.

Richie’s time in Vietnam, especially living in central Saigon, is what reignited his interest in sketching. Being able to capture the vibrancy of the people and culture gave him renewed energy to physically realise the way in which people live and work in the rapidly changing urban landscape of Saigon. 

Another aspect that has motivated him to start sketching again, is his appreciation for history and the fact at Saigon, especially, is developing so quickly; many of the old historic buildings of central Saigon have been torn down to make way for new developments.

Although the sites of these developments are often left untouched for years, it’s prompted him to capture the life of the city’s old streets before they’re lost forever. A specific instance of this can be seen in Richie’s four original drawings of Ben Thanh Market  - North, South, East and West.

These were drawn because there is a building development opposite that will one day obstruct the view of the Museum of Fine Arts  – a favourite and, thus, a place in which he has spent countless hours exploring. In fact, he’s spent so much time in and around this building that the staff know him commonly as Waisee . There’s always an exchange of smiles, “Xin chao,” and, “Have a look at what I’m drawing today.

Richie Fawcett

Richie often gets the same reactions when people catch him drawing a scene: they’re either really excited, “Dep dep dep!” or they im/mediately stop talking, have a seat and stare for ages. It’s a brilliant, and yet disarming, way in which he connects with the community. His connection goes as far as the street sellers who actually stop hassling him after seeing him frequent the same spot hour after hour – they’ve even been known to stop working and sit next to him while he draws.

Richie’s sketches now take an average of 4 - 5 continuous hours. This may seem like a long time, but in the beginning they would take weeks, even months, of dedicated time going back and forth to the same spot each day. The result of this work is a collection of panoramic cityscapes in pencil, pen, ink and Chinese ink wash. 

His style of work begins with a skyline, and ends with the characterisation of the people in the landscape. He has a second small pocket sketchbook crammed full of countless individual characters going about their daily tasks.

Since beginning his sketching, Richie has already held a successful solo exhibition at Au Parc titled, ‘Carte Postale de Saigon’ . He has been interviewed for Tuoi Tre TV and has been on the national news, celebrated as a foreigner who appreciates and expresses Vietnamese culture in his own artistic manner. As a result of this exposure, he now has a following of private collectors.

It was on the night of his very first exhibition that he bumped into Patrick Gaveau of City Pass Guide, who happened to be getting a takeaway, but took away an instant interest in Richie’s artwork instead. They im/mediately set a date to meet. The rest, as they say, is history.

Richie went on his first trip to Hanoi during Tet where he managed to produce over 15 panoramic cityscapes in six days. Hanoi has left a fantastic impression on him, and he’ll soon be back to capture the plethora of scenes still available.

Richie Fawcett

He’s currently planning a travelling exhibition, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, exclusively featuring his signature panoramic cityscapes from both Saigon and Hanoi. It will feature both old and new meter-long sketches demonstrating the contrast between two astounding cities in an amazing country.

The exhibition will be shown in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with dates to be confirmed; watch this space for updates.

In addition to numerous individual commissions from businesses and residencies, Richie is currently working on sketching the vibrancy of Vietnamese life for the 11th edition of the City Pass Guide and for their upcoming website and mobile applications.


He looks forward to continued collaborations with City Pass Guide, where he is able to showcase his work while providing invaluable pieces for the premium travel guide company. And to think, it’s all thanks to a takeaway and a chance meeting.

Authors & Editors: Richie Fawcett & Kendra Bernard

Richie Fawcett


What to do in Phu Yen, Tuy Hoa?

By: Bob Johnston

Phu Yen, Tuy Hoa…why bother

That’s the question however, the answer is getting easier with every year. Lonely Planet tells you to pass it by; most of the other guidebooks give it a small paragraph at best but say about the same thing. The ones that provide any information at all are telling you things which are six to ten years out of date at best.

Until last summer, when someone got off the bus or train here and found our place, the few visitors would ask ‘So, how many tourists do you normally get here?’ My pat answer was ‘Tourists here are like Bigfoot sightings in other places.’ Then, last spring, some Russians picked Tuy Hoa as a destination; since then (through no fault of the Ministry of Travel and Tourism) we seem to be getting more casual visitors to the area.

What Phu Yen, Tuy Hoa can offer

Tower in Phu YenThose looking for a highly charged night life will be sadly disappointed, it just ain’t here. There is one ‘disco’ operated by the same group who own the CenDelux hotel complex. It’s populated by a very small group of zombie-like young men most of the time. The same area is peppered with karaoke bars as is the rest of the town.

What we do offer is a dip into the real Vietnam with very short travel times to do so…we can offer relaxation and a severe lack of street peddlers. Chill time of the first order.

Miles of deserted beaches, short trip times will get you deep into the farming country or into the lush green of the local mountains. Tuy Hoa is a nice clean town to walk around in with friendly people where you will still find relaxed tourism. Trekking around or into the hills is relaxing, enjoyable and convenient. However, you won’t find many amenities so plan on bringing your own.

Also, you won’t find tourist information readily available. A simple thing like a local map with points of interest listed makes a showing once in a while then quickly becomes unavailable. The major points of interest (in the province) can be found by doing a quick search on-line; getting to most of them takes some work.

When to visit Phu Yen, Tuy Hoa

There is no hard and fast rule about ‘best time’; the best guess answer to that is normally April through the end of September, give or take a month on either end. It all depends on the weather patterns. Two years ago a Vnese friend announced that the monsoon season was over when the sun came out for a week in February; at the end of that week the sun went away and it rained for the next three weeks solid.

How to get to Phu Yen, Tuy Hoa

Located about half way between Nha Trang and Qui Nhon it’s about a two and a half hour trip by bus from either city. There is a local bus service from Qui Nhon which runs pretty much hourly seven days a week. Both north and southbound trains have this as a stop about 6 times a day and there is a ‘local’ which originates in Qui Nhon and runs south to Phan Rieng some days (they don’t really have that schedule nailed down yet).

By air, no problem. There’s a small plane going north or south once a day so you can arrive in the morning or mid-afternoon. The airport is a short taxi ride from town.

You can also find some tips for accommodation and food in Phu Yen, Tuy Hoa in my next article.


Other articles:

Top 5 things to do in Saigon

Top 5 things to do in Danang

Top 5 souvenirs to buy in Vietnam

Top 5 things to do in Quy Nhon

Top 5 dishes to try in Nha Trang

Top 5 things to do in Nha Trang

Top 5 dishes to eat in Hanoi

Top 5 places to go shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Top 5 Che-sweet soups must try in Saigon



Is Tet Trung Thu still there ?

By: Quang Mai

“Why not? It is still there! Can’t you see all the mooncake boxes ready for gifts? Aren’t you going to the neighborhood with all the lanterns where children are asking their parents for the most beautiful festival stuff? Mooncake StallAnd surely you didn’t miss the preparations for the festival events for this weekend?” Yes, Vietnam is surely preparing to celebrate one of the most traditional and popular family holidays.


According to legend, Tet Trung Thu, Full moon Festival or Mid-autumn moon Festival is for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season. Appropriately, this could be called the Children’s festival. With the harvest finished in September, parents turn their attention back to family life with an opportunity to show love and appreciation for their kid in the most charming and fanciful night of the year – the full moon night of August in lunar calendar. The festival brings the family back together, as well as to celebrate a successful harvest that has separated family members for at least 3 months.



Children’s festival


Baby with lanternIn the cities, the streets are still full of people celebrating the tradition of family bonding. During the festival, parents buy their children toys such as rattles, drums and lanterns at the lantern neighborhood. In the past glossy paper lanterns with tiny candles inside were common place as the traditional festival toy, more child-safe modern battery-run lanterns have become more popular.


Carrying beautiful lanterns while singing and parading along the streets is a tradition of Tet Trung Thu. Little boys and girls walk hand in hand along the streets and show the best of their lanterns to their friends. They may also enjoy hearing from elders the legend of Cuội, whose wife was jealous of the magical banyan tree which can cure illnesses. In a jealous rage, she desecrated the tree. The tree then unrooted itself and rose up until it finally reached the moon. Desperate to keep the tree, Cuội tried his best to pull it down but unfortunately was pulled up with the tree and left his wife lonely on the ground. Every year, during the Tet Trung Thu, children light lanterns and participate in a procession to show Cuội the way back to Earth.



Side activities during Tet Trung Thu


Lion Dance


In Vietnam, there are many traditional activities for both adults and children during the festival including lion dances performed by both trained professional groups and amateurs. Lion dance groups perform on the streets and go to houses asking for permission to perform for the people living there. If accepted by the hosts, the ‘lion’ will go in and start dancing to wish the household good luck and fortune. The Earth Lord, ‘OngDia’, dances around the dragon, urging it on. 'OngDia', who has a smiling moon-shaped face, represents the prosperity and wealth of the earth.


Gifting and tasting mooncakeswith relatives, friends and colleagues is an indispensable delicacy for this festival. Mooncakes are perfectly packaged in square box with red or gold theme to demonstrate prosperity and wealth.The cakes are filled with lotus seeds, ground beans and orange peels and have a bright egg yolk in the center to represent the moon.


Vietnamese parents tell their children fairy tales and serve mooncakes along with other special treats under the silvery moon. A favorite folklore tale is the story behind the mythical symbol, "Ca Hoa Rong" who was a carp that wanted to become a dragon. In the story, the carp worked harder and worked harder and eventually transformed itself into a dragon. Parents use this story to encourage their children to work hard so that they can become whatever they want to be.



Festive Events in 2012


In Hanoi, on September 28th and 29th, from 5:00 PM onward, West Lake Park will feature children musical shows with a special activity for kids to make mooncakes. The West Lake Water Park has also organized a special family event on September 30th.


Bao Son Paradise also organizes an outstanding performance with laser lights, fireworks with lots of well-known Hanoian co/medians.


Visit lantern neighborhood on Hàng Mã Street in Hanoi.


In Nha Trang, Vinpearl Land offers wide range of culutral activites for children such as lighting up lantern, parading around the playground and plenty of performances like dancing, singing, magical show, "nhảy sạp" (dance with bamboo poles) in 2 days 29th and 30th. From now, you can travel to Vinpearl Land and receive special mooncakes made by Vinpearl Luxury Đà Nẵng.


In HCMC, Saigon Sky Deck will display 200 lanterns in the “Lantern Galore” from September 23th – 29th


Visit lantern neighborhood on Lương Nhữ Học Street from now (please don’t take any pictures if you don’t intend to buy any products)


Not only locals, but also foreign tourists are warmly welcomed to join in this special festival. So come out and take part in the event, seeing children carrying the lanterns, eating cakes and receiving gifts of celebration during the Tet Trung Thu!


  Thank you for Signing Up
Please correct the marked field(s) below.

IS THERE A STORY OR TIP

YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?

GET IN TOUCH