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Ancient culture preserved in Phước Lộc Thọ village



A corner of Phước Lộc Thọ ancient village. — Photo

Phước Lộc Thọ ancient village is a unique attraction of Long An Province with many old wooden houses in Việt Nam, bearing the cultural identity of three regions of the country. The area has a charming, ecological landscape with ethereal beauty and an enchanting nostalgic soul.

The village is located in Hựu Thạnh Commune, Đức Hòa District, about 4km from Đức Hòa Town and about 50km from HCM City.

The road to the village is relatively convenient. It only takes about two hours by motorbike from HCM City. Heading in the direction of Bến Lức – Long An, the village is located near Tân Tạo University.

This destination is set beside a peaceful and poetic river called Vàm Cỏ Đông. This famed river has been mentioned in many reputable poems and was inhabited by the Phù Nam people of Óc Eo culture. It is a restful resort to relax and soak in the beauty of nature. The destination is always crowded with tourists, especially those who love ancient beauty and traditional southern architecture.

A house in Phước Lộc Thọ ancient village. — Photo

The village in its current form was built by Dương Văn Mỹ, a passionate collector of antique furniture and construction, and opened in 2006 in an area of more than 10ha. It is divided into two separate areas: sightseeing and entertainment.

This village gate was built like the old city gate of the Vietnamese kings. The gate leads visitors to a large rock garden with images of birds eating fish and murmuring waterfalls. From the main entrance, on the right, is a set of marble statues, Phước Lộc Thọ.

The village has 22 old wooden houses dating from 80 to 150 years old, restored by talented sculptors, bringing the images of the cultures of three regions of Việt Nam. They are arranged according to each area with its own characteristics.

There are also hundreds of precious antiques, from daily life items of kings, mandarins, landowners and people to spiritual and cultural objects of the Vietnamese people, which are arranged in ancient houses.

There are many antique items in the Phước Lộc Thọ ancient village. — Photo

The Garden house in the village has a simple southern style. It consists of three compartments and two lean-tos. Strong and valuable wood such as căm xe, gõ, trắc and cẩm lai were used in the construction of the houses.

There is a house for famous families of the Nguyễn Dynasty. Inside it is decorated with many rare items such as dragon–shaped tables, elephant tusks, and antique sideboards inlaid with colourful mother-of-pearl.

Huế’s rường house is extremely sophisticated. This was a common house of mandarins and the upper class of the feudal period. Inside are many precious antiques of different ages, made of stone, wood, metal and ceramic.

In addition, there are six houses in the village in the style of the Central Highlands with gongs, statues and tools of ethnic minorities.

Notably, there is a house over 100 years old with 104 columns; it is designed under the ancient architecture of the north. The house represents majesty and magnificence. The columns in the main compartment are elaborately inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Phước Lộc Thọ ancient village is a unique attraction of Long An Province with old wooden houses in Việt Nam. — Photo

On its ceiling are images of a dragon, unicorn, turtle, and phoenix alongside four noble trees of apricot blossom, orchid, chrysanthemum, and bamboo. The walls are carved with fruits and birds representing happiness. Many rare and precious antiques are displayed, such as the queen’s mirror and king’s bed.

In the village, visitors can see many cultural objects of the Vietnamese people with diversified materials of wood, iron, bronze and ceramics of various ages. Antique items that bring modern style from the French colonial period to Việt Nam include telephones, radios, phonographs, cameras, and night lights.

Because of the ancient and unique features, Phước Lộc Thọ Village has become a filming location for many historical films. The Việt Nam Book of Records also recognised the village as the place with the most ancient houses in the country.

This stunning village is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in Vietnamese history, architecture, or elegant aesthetics. VNS



Vietnam expects to enter top 30 countries in terms of tourism competitiveness: PM



Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh expressed his belief that Vietnam will become one of the top 30 countries worldwide in terms of tourism competitiveness, while chairing an national teleconference on tourism on March 15.

Vietnam expects to enter top 30 countries in terms of tourism competitiveness: PM hinh anh 1Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh speaks at the meeting. (Photo: VNA)

– Prime Minister Pham Minh
Chinh expressed his belief that Vietnam will become one of the top 30 countries worldwide
in terms of tourism competitiveness, while chairing an national teleconference on tourism on March 15.

The country’s tourism sector should develop strongly
with “special products, professional services and clean environment” to make
Vietnam a safe, friendly destination, he said.

The leader reiterated the target of welcoming from
47-50 million international visitors and raising the sector’s GDP contributions
to about 14-15%, as set at the 13th National Party Congress.

He emphasised favourable conditions for the sector
to growth further, including one world wonder, 18 world heritages and more than
41,000 tourist sites, among others, saying tourism development is the responsibility
of the entire political system, all agencies and the whole society.

Domestic tourism should be placed in the country’s general socio-economic
development as a spearhead economic sector and should be linked with regional and
world tourism, with international standards, he noted.

Regarding key tasks in the time ahead, PM Chinh asked
ministries, agencies and localities to seriously implement viewpoints and
guidelines of the Party, laws and policies of the State on tourism, while stepping
up tourism restructuring.

He urged reviewing, amending and supplementing
relevant mechanisms, policies and regulations, increasing investment and
mobilising more resources for the sector, including those from the private sector,
helping travel firms and households access loans, enhancing digital
transformation, and building and developing a smart tourism ecosystem in

The PM stressed the need to facilitate the
opening of air routes and strengthen international cooperation, especially with
big, multi-national groups and corporations, in this field.

He assigned the Ministry of Culture, Sports and
Tourism to continue implementing the project on tourism restructuring towards
the status of a spearhead economic sector, effectively utilise big sources of
holidaymakers and promote products in which Vietnam has strengths like cultural
tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism,
medical tourism and agriculture-based tourism, among others.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representative
diplomatic offices abroad were asked to coordinate with other ministries and
agencies in the communication work, and in implementing visa and immigration policies
for international visitors.

PM Chinh suggested the Ministry of Industry and Trade
integrate tourism into trade promotion programmes both at home and abroad, and
the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development promote tourism based on
agriculture, rural areas and farmers.

The government leader also gave tasks to People’s Committees
of cities and provinces, and  travel associations
and firms.

Participants at the conference looked into opportunities and challenges
to the tourism industry, and sought solutions to them, proposing that
international travel companies should be encouraged to invest and operate in

Statistics by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and
Tourism showed that the number of international visitors to Vietnam jumped to
18 million in 2019 from only 7.9 million in 2015.

Vietnam’s average annual tourism growth of 22.7% is among
the highest in the world, according to the World Travel Organisation.

The country’s tourism has moved up eight places on
the 2021 Tourism and Travel Development Index (TTDI) to the 52nd position as compared
with that in 2019, said the World Economic Forum (WEF) Report.

With six out of the 17 pillar indexes ranked among
the top in the world, Vietnam’s tourism ranks among the top three fastest
growing countries.

Since the border reopening on March 15, 2022, the
sector has been recovering, especially domestic tourism.

Last year, the country served 101.3 million domestic
visitors and 3.5 million foreign tourists, and raked in 495 trillion VND from
the industry, up more than 23% from the set target, and equivalent to 66% of
the 2019 figure./.


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Mong Cai int’l border gate welcomes first foreign tourist group post COVID-19



The pair of Mong Cai (Vietnam) – Dongxing (China) International Border Gates officially resumed customs clearance procedures for international tourist on March 15.

Mong Cai int’l border gate welcomes first foreign tourist group post COVID-19 hinh anh 1Mong Cai International Border Gate welcomes the first foreign tourist group post COVID-19 on March 15. (Photo: VNA)

Quang Ninh – The pair of Mong Cai (Vietnam) – Dongxing (China) International Border Gates officially resumed customs clearance procedures for international tourist on March 15.

The first foreign tourists entering Vietnam through the border gate in the northern province of Quang Ninh on the day were a group of 38 Chinese tourists. They are scheduled to visit several places in Vietnam during their four-day tour such as Ha Long Bay (Quang Ninh) and the capital city of Hanoi.

The Mong Cai – Dongxing International Border Gates were officially re-opened on January 8 but only Vietnamese and Chinese citizens were allowed to go through to return home after a period of being stuck due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On February 21, import-export activities were fully resumed, and individual travellers were allowed to go through the border gates.  

It is expected that about 3,000 people will go through the border gate on March 15, the day China re-opened group tours to Vietnam.

Both the authorities and tourism agencies in Quang Ninh have got infrastructure and staff readied to receive foreign tourists. 

Vietnam is on the list of countries to which Chinese group tours can be conducted starting from March 15 in the second phase of China’s pilot programme on resuming outbound group tours./.


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Vagabond a perfect spot for café hopping



by Gia Linh 

The rising trend of ‘café hopping’, visiting more than one café during a single outing, has resulted in the omnipresence of many ‘instagrammable’ cafés.  The Vagabond Patisserie & Cafe in HCM City’s District 1’s Trần Cao Vân Street is one such venue, well-known among cafe-goers and sweets-lovers for their meticulously made seasonal cakes and drinks.

The word ‘vagabond’ is a nod to the owners’ philosophy of running their business outside traditional frameworks.

QUAINT: The Vagabond in 9 Trần Cao Vân Street in HCM City’s District 1 is famous for its beautiful decor and tasty cakes. – VNS Photo Gia Linh

I got to know The Vagabond through their advertisement on Instagram, and was completely taken by how pretty their cakes are. Seeing the pictures, reading the captions, and knowing that they made their pâtisserie from scratch stirred my curiosity. 

I could not wait to see this café, especially as I love baking. With two of my like-minded besties, we planned a date immediately.

Upon arrival, we were immediately awed by how it looked on the outside, an old world European concept with black-and-white exterior designs, an entrance filled with various plants, and decorations creating a mysterious, cozy atmosphere.

It was lively inside, but not too busy; jazzy 90s’ music was playing in the background. The staff were attentive, quickly setting up a table for us.

The interior had an antique, vintage theme: yellow lights, wooden tables and chairs, a floor-to-ceiling old bookshelf; it felt like a European café in the 80s.

Once we scanned through the menu, we were completely invested in the place. There are dozens of options, from desserts to coffee, tea, and even homemade ice-cream. We took a long time choosing, and ended up with three ‘no-baked’ cakes and two icy drinks.

The order came in no time, and the plating was perfect. We took tons of pictures, amazed by how beautiful the dishes looked, not wanting to ruin them. 

After planning what order we should try the cakes (from the mildest to strongest), we tried the mango and Yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) mille crêpe first. The aroma from the Yuzu hit us on the tip of our tongues, fresh and citrusy. The combination between the rich cream, tangy hint of Yuzu and mango, and soft, light crêpe layers was so refreshing.

Since it was cherry season, we could not skip the Souvie on the menu, a ‘cherry-bomb’ full of complex components, textures and flavours.

It was covered in a paper-thin layer of berry-flavoured chocolate, and on top was glossy marmalade made of cherry chunks. The inside was a work of art, with cocoa sponge-cake at the bottom, then a layer of chocolate mousse, cherry compote, and a third layer of cherry-infused cream cheese on top. The components worked together amazingly. The hint of chocolate recognizably enhanced the natural, sweet cherry flavour. 

CAKE OFF: The Vagabond seasonal cakes are visually satisfying and taste amazing. – VNS Photo Gia Linh

Setting the cakes aside, we headed for our drinks, starting off with the cherry berry kumquat tea. While we did find the tea refreshing with the taste of cherries and kumquat, and it would pair decently with creamy, heavy cakes, it was just a bit on the bland side. 

Contrary to the tea, we could not stop drinking the oat milk with brown sugar toddy palm, which more than lived up to our expectations. The milk was creamy, nutty, the sugar syrup added a hint of sweet, caramelising taste, and the brown-sugar coated toddy palms were chewy. We think we even prefer this one over traditional milk tea!

DELIGHTFUL DRINK: The nutty oat milk with caramelised brown sugar
toddy palms was an addicting drink. – VNS Photo Gia Linh

We finished off with a Greenerie, our last cake. According to the menu, this one contained a trio of pistachio, cherry, and matcha (a rather peculiar combination). At the bottom was a thin layer of Kyoto matcha sponge cake, on top was again the cherry compote, and finally, there was the pistachio cream. The matcha taste did not overpower the other flavours, and I especially loved the sheer nuttiness of the pistachio cream. It was my favourite cake of the three.

We sat and talked for hours, enjoying the last bit of everything. Nothing was overly sweet, and portion sizes were just enough. 

Items on the menu range from VNĐ80,000 to 180,000, and our bill came to around VNĐ660,000 (US$28), a great deal for the superb cakes and drinks.

The Vagabond also has another branch at 118 Hà Huy Tập Street, District 7.

With great service, beautiful decorations, and top-tier cakes and drinks, I highly recommend The Vagabond to those who want to have a unique café outing. VNS

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