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Golf packages popular with tourists  

A golfer teeing-off at the Vietnam Golf and Country Club
The sport of golf, commonly seen as an activity reserved for the upper-class, is not only a good form of exercise, but relaxing as well.

Golf has become a popular pastime among businessmen looking to escape from the grind on weekends.

With such strong demand for the sport, a number of tour operators are adding golfing onto their itineraries. Several golf tours offered by Saigontourist include numerous golfing destinations around the country.

There are 15 golf active courses in Vietnam: the Vietnam Golf and Country Club in HCMC, the Long Thanh Golf Club and Residential Estate in the southern province of Dong Nai, the Song Be Golf Resort in Binh Duong Province, Ocean Dunes Golf Club in the coastal province of Binh Thuan, the Paradise Golf Club and the Beach Resort in Vung Tau City, the Dalat Palace Golf Club in the city of Dalat the Kings’Island Golf Resort and Country Club in Ha Tay, the Chi Linh Star Golf and Country Club in Hai Duong, the Hanoi Golf Club in Hanoi and the Tam Dao Golf Resort in Vinh Phuc.

Each of these courses offer VIP memberships and hold tournaments featuring famous golfers.

The country’s wide array of golf courses makes it easy for tourist companies to design packages that meet demand for exploring new destinations and playing a few rounds of golf.

The tours offered by Saigontourist include shelter, meals, course fees, caddie fees, tour guides, insurance and transportation. Tourists can sign up for half-day tours of golf courses in HCMC, Binh Duong or Dong Nai provinces. For US$110, one can travel via coach to the Vietnam Golf and Country Club from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every weekday. Tours for two days and one night in Vung Tau Province, Binh Thuan Province or Dalat are also available.

For those interested in golfing in the northern provinces, Saigontourist is offering a private tour to Tam Dao Golf Resort. Tam Dao boasts fresh air, natural landscapes and peaceful forests and mountains. The two-day, one-night tour departs from Hanoi and costs US$360 per person. (Tien Dat - Marketing & Hotel Management Department - February 29, 2008)

For more information about golf tours, contact Saigontourist:

· Saigontourist Travel Service: 49 Le Thanh Ton street, District 1, HCMC. Tel: (08) 827 9279.
· Saigontourist Hanoi Travel Service: 55B Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hanoi. Tel: (04) 825 0923.

Mekong Delta –  Great Place For Travel

Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta offers tourists a chance to explore its culinary and culture values in 2008

The Mekong Delta has been famous for years as a destination for those who want to enjoy the fresh air of the countryside. Can Tho, a typical city of the Mekong Delta, has been chosen to host this year’s national tourism year event.

The Vietnam National Administration for Tourism and the Government have assigned the city to host the program, which will be themed Tourism Year: Mekong-Can Tho 2008 – Travel in the Mekong Delta’s Waterway Region.

This event will provide the region with an opportunity to demonstrate its tourism achievements and potential, as well as its industrial development, to those who know it as well as to those who have not yet discovered it.

This is one of the most important national events to be held in the region in 2008. Almost 50 tourism events will take place during the year in Can Tho and throughout the region, including the tourism year launch ceremony, national festivals, folk and cultural festivals (such as the Spring Festival), and tourism events in relation to history, culture, sports and conferences. With all that is planned for the year, the city is expecting to welcome over two million tourists with total revenue of about VND600 billion.

As part of the program, there will be a culinary show entitled “Southern Specialties” at the Hoa Su Resort on Cai Khe Islet in Can Tho from February 22-26.

Saigontourist Holding Company, one of the main organizers of this culinary experience, has invited its affiliates to sponsor the event. Eight booths representing various hotels and restaurants will be set up for the promotion; namely the Grand Hotel, Thien Hong Hotel, Dong Khanh Hotel, Saigon-Can Tho, Saigon-Vinh Long and Que Huong Company. Que Huong has spent VND200 million sponsoring the event. (Dat Tien - Marketing & Hotel Management Department - February 23, 2008)

For more information or to book a tour, contact Saigontourist Travel Service.

Saigontourist Travel Service Company
Add: 49 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist.1, HCM City
Tel: 8279279, email: info@saigontourist.net
Website: www.saigontourist.net
Saigontourist Holding Company
Add: 23 Le Loi St., Dist. 1, HCM City
Tel: 8225887, email: saigontourist@sgtourist.com.vn
Website: www.saigon-tourist.com

Foreigners experience Tet cultural immersion

A foreigner learns to pack Banh Tet (a kind of Vietnamese traditional cake make from glutinous rice filled with green beans and pork) on her tour during last year’s Tet festival with a local family in the Mekong Delta City of My Tho
Last week my friend, an Australian businessman working in HCMC, asked me to explain the appropriate behavior when visiting people during the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet of Vietnamese.

This is the first time he will be celebrating New Year in the city, so he wanted to learn about the customs of local people on this special holiday. “I am afraid that I will do the wrong thing when I visit my colleague’s home, since my knowledge of Vietnamese Tet culture is limited,” my friend said.

He has a keen interesting in every thing that the Vietnamese do during Tet. “Because many members of staff are on leave during the holiday. I want to know what they will do during the long break” he said.

I told him many things about our local customs during the Lunar New Year holidays, but he kept asking for more detail so he could fully understand.It is really difficult to explain every thing regarding local culture to foreigners. For that reason, I suggested he join a special tour to experience how local Vietnamese people celebrate Tet in their real life.

The tour departs every day from February 7 to 10, 2008 or the first to the fourth day of Lunar New Year. Foreign visitors will have two choices, the first is a daylong trip to enjoy Tet with a family in HCMC, and the second is the same trip to the Mekong Delta City of My Tho.

The daylong trip takes in the Tao Dan flower market in downtown HCMC, the templeof Thien Hau, and includes an hour riding a chauffeur-pedaled tricycle, known as cyclo, around the chinatown in District 5.

The same trip in My Tho includes visiting Lac Hong flower market, Vinh Trang Pagoda, a fruit garden, and learning how to make Banh Tet cake (the Vietnamese traditional cake made from rice filled with green bean paste and fat pork).Both trips include dining in a Vietnamese home.

One advantage of these excursions is that, while many tours forTet are already fully booked, this tour can be reserved right up to the day of departure.

"Visitors can book the tour in the morning to depart in the afternoon,” said Doan Thi Thanh Tra, deputy head of Saigontourist’s planning and marketing department and the tour organizer.

She also said that the tour operator has combined with four families in HCMC, and three in My Tho who celebrate Tet in a tradition way and will welcome foreigners to enjoy Tet with them. “The head of the family in HCMC is a culture expert, and his family has lived for three generations under the same roof.We think that foreigners will learn more about Vietnamese customs by spending time with an expert,” she said.

Saigontourist has been arranging this special tour for six years running, aiming to give foreigners a ‘Tet cultural immersion’ experience.By the end of last year’s Tet holiday, around 400 foreigners had enjoyed the tour.

The tour to My Tho City costs US$40 per guest, and the city tour costs US$30 per person.

For further information, contact to Saigontourist Travel Service Co., at 49 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, HCMC, Tel: (08) 824 4554 or 090 928 544. Email: camgiang@saigontourist.net. (Minh Duy - The SGT Daily - No. 3123 - January 31, 2008)

Saigontourist Travel Service prepares for Tet Holiday

To provide tourists with the opportunity to enjoy the spring-time Tet holiday, Saigontourist has designed hundreds of tours

These tours have the overall name of Traveling in the Year of the Rat with Saigontourist – Everything to Your Liking. A few of them are as follows:

* Chau Doc-Rach Gia-Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Island is the most beautiful and attractive sea tourist haven in Vietnam. The island features a pure natural environment that is ideal for leisure and sightseeing. The tour leaves HCM City for Chau Doc. On the way, tourists will have the opportunity to contemplate the beauty of My Thuan Bridge, travel on National Highway 88 and pass by the famous Vam Cong Ferry. Before arriving in Chau Doc, tourists visit Ba Chua Xu Pagoda. Later on they drop by Thoai Ngoc Hau Mausoleum and Tay An Pagoda. After that, tourists will spend a night in Rach Gia City.

The second day begins with a tour on a hydrofoil to Phu Quoc. There they visit Ham Ninh fishing village and enjoy fresh seafood. Then they take a trip to Tranh Spring, Cau Palace and Sung Hung Pagoda. On the third day, tourists will travel around the south of the island with the ideal, beautiful beach of Phu Quoc. The island has many places to interest tourists, including the pearl growing establishment where tourists can contemplate the beauty of products made of pearls and buy something beautiful. They will also go to An Thoi Port and swim at Sao Beach, which has a beautiful sand dune. The prison that is recognized as an important historical relic is also on the tour’s itinerary.

This tour takes four days and three nights. It costs from VND2,492,000 to VND3,786,000 per tourist. Tourists will travel by road and hydrofoil. This tour departs on the second, third and fifth days of the Lunar New Year, or February 8, 9 and 11.

* Ninh Chu – spring in the mountains

For Vietnamese, welcoming the New Year among the mountains is a great way to attract luck. The highlights of this tour include travel in forests, and to beaches and hot springs.
The tour departs from HCM City, stopping at Ca Na Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in central Vietnam. When they reach Ninh Chu, they can bathe in the sea and visit Krong Pha Hot Spring on Hon Ba Mountain. The spring was discovered in 1923 by Blonel, a Frenchman. There they can let the body relax in the natural, mineral mud.

Later they visit Thuong Spring in La Vang Village where there is a garden of roses. Listening to the gentle rhythm of the waterfall gives tourists a great feeling. The Fairy Waterfall, one of the nature’s masterpiece which has rocks rising to different heights, is a memorable spot. Tourists can stroll along the waterfall, go fishing and take photos. Then they go to visit Poklong Garai Tower, an architectural masterpiece of the Cham people which was built late 16th century. They tour around Phan Rang City, go shopping at its market and buy specialties of the Panduranga region.

This tour takes three days and two nights. It costs VND1,650,000 per tourist. Transport is by road. The departure days are the second and fourth days of the Lunar New Year, February 8 and 10.

* Lao Cai-Hekou-Kunming

Among the 100 tours for the start of spring, the Lao Cai-Hekou-Kunming tour appears to be one of the most interesting of its kind. Places visited include Lao Cai, Lo Tay, Co Dong, Thach Lam and China’s Yunnan Province, which have a variety of scenery to offer tourists. This tour takes seven days and six nights. It departs on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year, or February 13, and costs US$255/person for a group of 10, excluding air and train tickets. (January 12, 2008)

Saigontourist Travel Service
Add: 49 Le Thanh Ton St., Dist. 1, HCM City
Tel: 8279279, website: www.saigontourist.net

Tet Tours Go Far And Wide

A group of tempting tours are available for the Lunar New Year. They focus on enjoying the spring in the north.

Fiditour has a group of tours named Enjoying the New Year in Vietnam. These are long-day tours aimed to introduce tourists to attractions that are of interest at that time. Tourists will also have a chance to experience the spring-time atmosphere in different places of the country.

This year, the trend has been tours to the north. People love to travel to Hanoi to enjoy the spring, to Sapa to see the peach blossoms, to Huong (Perfume) Pagoda and Yen Tu Mountain – Vietnam’s Buddhist capital 700 years ago – to pray for a good and prosperous year to come.

The tour called Truong Son Road Connecting Three Heritage Sites is also attractive. It introduces famous attractions like Ngu Hanh Son with its mysterious caves, Hoi An Town, Ba Na Mountain, Hue, and Phong Nha Caves. As well, there will be many places that tourists will visit during the journey, including Hien Luong Bridge, the Ben Hai River which used to be the border separating the north and south of Vietnam, the Nhat Le River in Quang Binh Province and Truong Son Cemetery, to name just a few.

However, if tourists have plans for short-day tours, the operator also has tours to offer. Fiditour has tours to Nha Trang, Dalat, Buon Ma Thuot, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc and Ninh Chu. In particular, Fiditour has prepared a tour to Phu Quoc Island by speedboat at a very attractive price: VND2 million a tourist for three days and three nights in a three-star hotel. This tour is scheduled to depart on the second, third and fourth days of the Lunar New Year.

The New Year in Vietnam tours are quite diverse. They include Hanoi-Sapa-Halong Bay-Tuan Chau Island-Yen Tu, which takes six days and five nights and departs on the second day of the Lunar New Year, at a cost of VND4,480,000/person; Hanoi-Halong Bay-Tuan Chau Island-Yen Tu over four days and three nights, departing on the second day of the Lunar New Year, at VND2,750,000/person; Hanoi-Halong Bay-Tuan Chau Island-Yen Tu-Huong Pagoda over five days and four nights, departing on the second day of the Lunar New Year and costing VND3,730,000/person; and Danang-Ba Na-Hoi An-Hue over four days and three nights, departing on the second day of the Lunar New Year and costing VND2,460,000/person.

Meanwhile, the Truong Son Road Connecting Three Heritage Sites tours offer such journeys as Danang-Ba Na-Hoi An-Hue-Truong Son Road-Phong Nha Caves over five days and four nights, departing on the second day of the Lunar New Year, at VND2,860,000/person; Nha Trang-VinPearl Land over three days and two nights, departing on the second and the third days of the Lunar New Year and staying in five-star hotels, at VND3,530,000/person; Phan Thiet-Ta Ku-Mui Ne-Hon Rom over two days and one night, departing on the third day of the Lunar New Year at VND1,350,000/person; Dalat over four days and three nights, departing on the second, fifth and eighth days of the Lunar New Year and costing VND1,850,000/person; and Con Dao Island over three days and two nights, departing on the second and third days of the Lunar New Year and costing VND1,340,000/person.

Fiditour
Add: 129 Nguyen Hue St., Dist. 1, HCM City
Tel: 9141414, email: fiditour@hcm.vnn.vn
Website: www.fiditour.com

Visiting Lak Lake in the Central Highlands 

Many tourists think of Daklak as a destination to experience Gong culture, Buon Don, natural beautiful waterfalls, blending a cultural with an ecological tour.

Lak Lake has many specific characteristics of this plateau, and in Spring is especially beautiful and attractive.

Located in Lak’s suburban district, Lak Lake, which flows from the Krong Ana River, is about 50km from Buon Ma Thuot City. At about 500 hectares, the lake is one of the biggest in both Daklak and the Central Highlands area in general. Lak Lake provides local residents with a main irrigation water supply. The lake has many kinds of fish which contribute to the unique dishes made to entertain guest from afar, such as bitter egg-plant soup, of which the main ingredient is Lak Lake goby, Lak chicken, baked pig, sliced fried fish and especially bamboo-tube rice, which is made cooking perfumed glutinous rice in a Lo O pipe, resulting in a fragrant, fine taste.

Visiting Lak Lake is an occasion for tourists to take a dug-out canoe trip on the wide, clear blue lake. Sitting inside the canoe in the pure, quiet space of Lak Lake, listening the murmuring, lapping water on the side of boat is a exceptional and memorable experience.

Unique to Daklak is the Gong original culture and art, with its rich, ethnic character. The animated sound of the Gong, the singing to celebrate harvest time, treating guests of honor by fire light and a friendship cup of wine are the distinct cultural hallmarks of the Lak Lake area.

Another impressive form of entertainment at Lak Lake is riding elephants to Jun village and across the lake. Once you are settled on the elephant, which is controlled by a local mahout, you will start a comfortable journey discovering the life of M’Nong people who live in Jun village, and then end with riding across Lak Lake. Alternatively, tourists can ride bicycles to visit the villages, enjoying fresh air.

Beside accommodations such as the bungalows hidden behind the trees, there are also long houses in Ede (an ethnic minority in Vietnam) design, one of the Immaterial Cultural Specialties of Tay Nguyen, with capacity of 30 people.  The Bao Dai private residence is also found in Lak Lake, where Bao Dai (the last king of Vietnam) used to spend his vacations or go hunting, lying on the quiet hills with a picturesque view. From here you can enjoy a clear sight beyond the vast expanse of the lake, villages of M’Nong people, Elephant Mountain and the mysterious Chu Yang Sin Mountain.

Today, many tourism companies offer tours to Lak Lake, combined with other well-known places in Daklak, Kon Tum and Dalat.  Daklak tour prices for four days and three nights are from VND1.5 million to VND2.5 million per person, depending on transportation and hotel. (TienDat - January 4, 2008)

For more information, contact the following addresses:

Saigontourist Travel Service: 49 Le Thanh Ton, Dist.1, HCMC.
Tel: (08) 827 9279. Email: info@saigontourist.net
website: www.saigontourist.net
Daklaktourist: 53- Ly Thuong Kiet, Buon Ma Thuot City,
Daklak Province. Tel: (050) 852 108.
Email: daklaktourist@daklaktourist.com.vn
Global Holidays: 106 Nguyen Hue Blvd, Dist.1, HCMC,
Tel: (08) 822 8453, www.globalholidays.com.vn

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