Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discovering the Mekong Delta tours

To mark the inauguration of the cable-stayed Can Tho Bridge that has the longest main span in Southeast Asia, Saigontourist Travel Service Company is launching new tours of the Mekong Delta
The tours include a four-day Cai Be-Vinh Long-Can Tho-Bac Lieu-Ca Mau tour, priced at VND3, 215, 000-VND3, 995, 000, departing on Thursdays and Saturdays; and a two-day Cai Be-Vinh Long-Can Tho tour, priced at VND1, 415, 000-VND1, 775, 000, departing on Thursdays and Saturdays. Tourists will discover the local village life with visits to floating markets, islets, orchards and a chance to listen to amateur southern opera.

From April 1, Saigontourist has increased the domestic insurance benefit it provides for tourists that take domestic package tours departing from all over the country with a maximum insurance benefit of VND60 million/tourist. 
With the new Can Tho Bridge across the Hau River opened to traffic on April 24, linking Can Tho and Vinh Long, the overland journeys in the new tours arranged by Saigontourist, which have been departing every week since late April, will help tourists discover the attractions and distinctions of the Mekong Delta. On the Cai Be-Vinh Long-Can Tho-Bac Lieu-Ca Mau itinerary, tourists will visit famous floating markets of the Mekong Delta, including Cai Be floating market in Tien Giang Province, which is held all day with hundreds of boats full of fruits; Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho Province, where tourists will enjoy local specialties on a friendly local boat; and Ca Mau floating market, a crowded market that is filled with the aroma of cakes and the green color of fruits and vegetables.

Along with “Discovering the Mekong Delta, ” Saigontourist has recently introduced a four-day Chau Doc-Rach Gia-Phu Quoc tour, priced at VND3, 359, 000-VND3, 529, 000, departing on April 30, helping tourists enjoy the scenery and specialties of the Mekong Delta and relax on Phu Quoc Island.

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Travel by bus in vietnam

Bus is the most popular way for travelers on a tight budget to choose. Traveling by bus allows traveler to stop in any destination and stay as long as they like at reasonable prices. Although, compared with train bus hardly can give passengers a comfortable trip, it's still a hard-to-beat means of transportation in Vietnam.
If you want to discover thoroughly a certain place and gain more local experiences, public buses are an option worth considering. They run many of the same routes everyday and also additional routes throughout Vietnam.
Though, there are areas in which public buses are forbidden to access, such as District 1 and 3 in Ho Chi Minh City. So, for the sake of yourself, you should get a map of the main routes of each city's public buses on sale at bookstores. Ticket can be purchased directly at the bus stations or on buses at low prices. However, you should acknowledge the discomfort when taking this vehicle.


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Vietnamese Border Crossings

To Laos

There are two border crossings to Laos:

▼ Keo Nua Pass (also known as CaU Treo):
From Hanoi, you can take direct overnight buses to Vientiane, across the border at Cau Treo, 80kms from Vinh City in Vietnam’s Central Provinces. For tickets and information, contact Hanoi’s tours and travel agents, under Travel Contacts.

 Lao Bao:
From Hue, direct buses for Savannakhet cross the border at Lao Bao, near Dong Ha in the Central Provinces.

To Cambodia

There are three border crossings to Cambodia:

▼ Moc Bai:
The main overland border crossing to Cambodia is northwest of Ho Chi Minh City at Moc Bai (in Tay Ninh Province). Direct buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh take around eight hours. Tickets cost between $8-16.

▼ Vinh Xuong:
A new riverside border crossing called Vinh Xuong is located 30kms north of Chau Doc, in the Mekong Delta at Vinh Xuong. For boat transfers up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh,

▼ Tinh Bien:
The third international border between Cambodia and Vietnam had been opened at Tinh Bien, about 25 km west of Chau Doc.

To China
There are three border crossings over China:

▼ Lao Cai - Ha Khau
The Hekou Bridge overland border to China is at Lao Cai, (the main train station for Sapa) in the northwest. Twice weekly trains also run from Hanoi to Kunming in China; you can also board the train at Lao Cai Train Station. .

▼ Mong Cai - Dong Hung
The Mong Cai - Dong Hung - the third border crossing China can be found at Mong Cai Town, northeastern of Vietnam. To get there, you can get hydrofoils direct from Hai Phong or Ha Long (see hidrofoils).

Contact the main boat jetties in town for tickets & information.

▼ Huu Nghi:
Huu Nghi is an overland border of 18kms north of Lang Son, in the northeast. From Hanoi, minibuses depart from Gia Lam Bus Station for Lang Son. There are also local trains from Hanoi, which stop at Dong Dang Station, 4kms away from Huu Nghi. The international train for China (Beijing) departs Hanoi’s main train station via Dong Dang Station, but you can only join the train at Hanoi.

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Warning - Kayaking in Halong Bay

We just had the most horrendous experience in Halong Bay with a kayak. Kayaking is generally assumed to be very safe in these calm waters but there are some serious hazards that we were not warned about. A friend and I kayaked around some of the karsts. As we approached what looked like just another cavern in a wall, our kayak got sucked in. We didn’t really know what was happening but couldn’t stop the kayak and smashed into the wall of what turned out to be a cave.
The impact capsized the kayak. We managed to cling on to it but couldn’t understand why it was getting darker around us. When we barely saw any light from the now far-away entrance, we abandoned the kayak and tried to swim, realising for the first time that we were in a very, very strong current dragging us further into the cave. Swimming was no use and eventually we managed to hit the walls, now in utter darkness. My friend and I were separated but could still communicate with each other by shouting. We then desperately tried to claw our way back along the walls against the current. It took about 45 minutes to an hour before we saw daylight again in the distance.
Luckily another friend had seen where we disappeared and returned to our boat to alert the crew. They were unfortunately ill equipped to deal with the situation and managed to get themselves into trouble by following us into the cave. Eventually we were rescued by another tourist kayaker on a rope. We sustained serious lacerations to body, hands and feet from clinging on the sharply-countoured cave wall and the whole experience was absolutely terrifying.
Swimmers less strong or less confident in the water may well have been swept all the way or drowned. Locals later told us that we were lucky to have survived; apparently the cave may be up to 200 m deep. Why there is such a strong current we could not work out; there may be sinkholes into which we could have been sucked.
Our nightmare was unfortunately not over. Our hosts were not worried about our injuries or trauma - instead we were soon approached to pay 500 US dollars for the lost kayak. We were threatened to be held to ransom in the boat if we did not pay and even later, when we talked our way to be returned to Cat Ba where we booked the trip, we were blackmailed as the company held our passports. Eventually, we parted with 150 US dollars just to get away and have our injuries seen to.
I have travelled to many countries in the world and I am saddened at how this experience turned out for us. Please spread the word that the caves around Halong Bay can be dangerous.