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Escape busy HCM City to Tây Ninh for the weekend



Explore Tây Ninh’s cultural and ecological tourism at the weekend. — VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — If you are looking for a quiet place, spiritual blessings and natural wonders for the weekend but do not have too much time, Tây Ninh Province is a perfect option.

Tây Ninh is blessed with beautiful landscapes including Bà Đen Mountain and Lò Gò – Xa Mát National Park.

Bà Đen Mountain is famous throughout the country. These advantages are helping Tây Ninh develop its cultural and ecological tourism.

It is a famous spiritual tourist draw. Travelling by cable car, visitors can take in historical sites and old pagodas.

From Bà Đen Mountain, tourists can view Dầu Tiếng Lake, 25 kilometres from Tây Ninh. This is the biggest artificial freshwater lake in Việt Nam, with an area of 27,000 hectares.

Tây Ninh also has the ecological diversity of the 18,000 hectare Lò Gò – Xa Mát National Park, home to diverse species of fauna and flora.

Beside mountains and national parks, Tây Ninh is also home to 12 different traditional crafts, including those making rice paper, chili salt, incense, woodwork, and conical hats. — VNS



Mê Linh flowers as colourful tourist destination




JOYOUS COLOUR: Hà Nội’s Mê Linh District is home to many different kinds of flowers and bonsai trees. The district leaders plan to make their land a tourism destination of the northern region. Photo

Thanh Hà

Roses, daisies, lilies and many beautiful bonsai trees are here and there and everywhere for visitors to see in Mê Linh, the famed flower-growing centre of Hà Nội. The district is also home to many cultural festivals and spiritual sites boasting fantastic eco-tourism.

“Here in Mê Linh, there are 161 relic sites, more than 200 typical traditional festivals and a range of tourist sites,” said Hoàng Anh Tuấn, Chairman of Mê Linh District People’s Committee.

“Among the relics, 25 are national relics and one is the national special relic of Hai Bà Trưng Temple where we organise the annual Hai Bà Trưng Festival.

“Visiting Mê Linh, people can admire our Hạ Lôi Flower Village, visit the President Hồ Chí Minh Memorial Area at 79 Springs Hill, and enjoy the high-tech organic agriculture zone combined with an educational farmhouse.”

These advantages and good transport links have encouraged local authorities to build a plan to develop Mê Linh into a sustainable eco-tourism destination with the largest flower market in the north.

Land of flowers

Located 30km north of the capital, Mê Linh has almost 2,000ha of flowers. Farmers supply flowers to the capital and other provinces and cities across the country. 

Mê Linh’s is almost full of flowers all year round but farmer Phạm Đức Tài said the most beautiful time is from September to April.

FLORAL BEAUTY: Miss Tourism World 2022 contestants enjoy their time at the first Mê Linh Flower Festival in December 2022. Photo

“At this time, fields are covered by violets, gladiolus, mimosas, roses, daisies and lilies, bringing new colours. And we also welcome many tourists who either come to take photos, or buy flowers and bonsais,” Tài told Việt Nam News.

Tài said that in addition to fresh flowers, farmers in Mê Linh now produced dried ones that last many months with their vibrant colours retained. 

“Flowers are dried with hot sand from techniques we learnt from Japan. After two to three weeks, fresh flowers will be converted into dried ones with their beauty kept almost 100 per cent,” he said.

He added their new products received great feedback from local customers, and they also received orders from international clients.

“Farmers here have great skills and a good aesthetic sense, so they can breed hybrid flower varieties to create such special colourful bonsais,” said Đào Mạnh Tiến, a visitor from Ba Đình District.

“My family loves roses, and we often go to Mê Linh at the weekend to visit pagodas and temples, go sightseeing and shopping for ornamental plants. This flower hub is not as crowded as those in the city, and it’s not too far to travel. The atmosphere is fresh and cool. What a way to relax,” he said.


BOUQUETS: Mê Linh farmers provide dried flowers to both local and international customers. — VNS Photo Khiếu Thanh Hà

Chairman Tuấn said that Mê Linh organised the first flower festival in December 2022. Entitled Mê Linh Brilliant with Flowers, the festival lured thousands of visitors to the three-day event that spanned 4,300 square metres.  He said it would now be organised annually to make Mê Linh a must for flower lovers.

Land of heroines

Mê Linh is also well-known as the hometown of Việt Nam’s first two female rulers, Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị. The sisters (who lived between 14 and 43 AD) spent their childhood, grew up and rode elephants to lead their troops to defeat the cruel Chinese Han invaders.


BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: The Hai Bà Trưng Temple, a national special relic. — VNA/VNS Photo 

The sisters are considered the first heroines of the country.

The temple here is not only a sacred spiritual place where people learn about national history, but also home to many valuable and precious relic items made of wood, stone, bronze, porcelain and paper.

Imbued with traditional culture, the temple is preserved and honoured as a place for education about traditions and for cultural and religious activities. It was recognised as the National Special Relic in 2013 and named as a “Hà Nội tourist destination” in 2022.

According to Chairman Tuấn, Mê Linh is implementing a VNĐ500 billion (US$21 million) project to renovate, embellish and complete works in the temple. The work will preserve, promote, and sustain the surrounding heritage and traditional culture of the building.

PROCESSION: Hai Bà Trưng Temple Festival is the largest spiritual and cultural event held annually in Mê Linh District. — VNA/VNS Photo

Every year, the Hai Bà Trưng Temple Festival is held on lunar January 6 in Mê Linh Commune. 

It opens with the procession of the king’s palanquins, fighting-elephants and offerings. The respected elders in the village are selected to beat drums and gongs, while strong men and beautiful girls carry two palanquins. Villagers display their offerings to welcome the procession.

The festival includes many cultural activities, such as traditional dances, wrestling and folk games. It was recognised as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2018.

Relaxing land

In addition to cultural and spiritual hotspots, visitors can enjoy a day full of activities at the 79 Springs Hill ecotourism complex. The green and fresh environment will keep people away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is an ideal place for camping, team building, aquatic sports, and campfires. 

You can also visit Linh Ấn Pagoda, Báo Ân Temple worshipping heroes and martyrs, and one of the first-ever President Hồ Chí Minh statues here.


ANCIENT CRAFT: Farmer Vũ Thị Nguyệt dries her family’s rice paper, a speciality of Trung Hà Village in Mê Linh. — VNS Photo Khiếu Thanh Hà

Touring the district’s traditional craft villages is a much-loved choice of many visitors where they can buy local specialities such as peanut candies in Yên Thị Village, vermicelli noodles and rice paper in Trung Hà, as well as bamboo and rattan weaving products in Nam Cường.

Future plans

Mê Linh recently hosted a farm trip and workshop gathering many travel agencies and tourism officials of Hà Nội, who contributed their ideas to help local managers recognise the potential of tourism here.

Most agreed that Mê Linh had many advantages in the tourism industry with its long history, revolutionary tradition, and rich customs and traditions.

But there is a lack of experiential tourist products, transport is limited, and the craft village activities can be unattractive.

Tourism supporting infrastructure such as goods and souvenir shopping facilities and parking lots are not available, or they are too small and unprofessional to meet the needs of tourists. 

Trần Thị Lan, deputy head of the Mê Linh’s Department of Culture and Sports, said the district was aiming to turn tourism into an important economic sector by 2030. 


GREEN AND CLEAN: 79 Springs Hill is an ideal place for a-day-out for family and friends. — Photo

A system of synchronous and modern facilities would be needed, and quality tourism products must be imbued with national culture and be environmentally friendly.

“We will cooperate with travel agencies to build tourist routes connecting destinations to link with the 79 Springs Hill, agricultural tourism at traditional flower-growing villages and fields of clean vegetables for people to visit,” Lan said.

“We will build a chain of garden houses to grow and display high-tech flower varieties to attract tourists. We will also coordinate with partners to build tours and routes connecting with the tourist destinations of our neighbouring districts of Đông Anh and Sóc Sơn.” VNS


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Nature’s getaway: popular and picturesque camping sites in Hà Nội



By Thanh Nga

Instead of opting for long-distance travel, many families and groups of young people, due to their busy lives, have chosen to camp on the outskirts of Hà Nội for short trips to unwind, relax, and enjoy themselves. Here are some recommendations for popular and picturesque camping sites in the city’s suburban districts.

Tuy Lai Lake

Tuy Lai Lake is a diverse ecosystem comprising rivers, mountains, caves, and valleys. — Photo

Tuy Lai Lake is an ideal destination for visitors seeking to set up camping tents and enjoy barbecue with their friends or families over the weekend.

Located in Mỹ Đức District, approximately 45km from central Hà Nội, the lake is part of the sprawling Tuy Lai complex, which spans over 26sq.m and boasts a diverse ecosystem comprising rivers, mountains, limestone formations, caves, and valleys.

The landscape of Tuy Lai Lake extends from Thượng Xã Village, Thượng Lâm Commune to the foothills of Hàm Long Mountain. The scenery here retains its untamed beauty, providing a sense of serenity and tranquility. The juxtaposition of the mountains against the tranquil blue lake, with scattered rocks and islets dotting the water’s surface, has earned it the reputation of being a miniature Hạ Long Bay of Hà Nội.

Visitors can bring their own tents and hold outdoor barbecues parties, or even opt for overnight stays. However, due to limited tourism development in the area, there are few services available near Tuy Lai Lake. Therefore, visitors are advised to bring their own supplies and food from home.

Red River Beach

Along the banks of the Red River, there are numerous camping spots to choose from. One notable location is in Vân Nam Commune, Phúc Thọ District, which is approximately 40km from the city centre.

This area boasts a spacious and level grasslands where visitors can set up their camping gear and relish breathtaking views of the sunset and sunrise over the Red River. The sight of herds of buffaloes and cows leisurely grazing adds to the ambiance of a peaceful village. Additionally, visitors can engage in activities such as fishing, swimming in the river, and even lighting campfires to enhance their camping experience.

Accessing this site is relatively easy. Since it is a completely natural area, there are no services available on-site. Visitors should come prepared with their own supplies.

Due to its proximity to Hà Nội, visitors have the flexibility to make day trips or camp overnight on weekends at Bù Hill. — Photo

Bù Hill

Bù Hill is situated on the border between Chương Mỹ District, Hà Nội, and Lương Sơn District, Hòa Bình Province, approximately 40km from central Hà Nội.

The hill is renowned for its reed grass fields, particularly noticeable around October. During the summer, it serves as an ideal camping destination, offering cool and fresh air.

Due to its proximity to Hà Nội, visitors have the flexibility to make day trips or camp overnight on weekends. The best time to witness the beauty of the reed fields is early morning or during sunset on clear sunny days. At these times, the entire area transforms into a mesmerizing orange-pink hue under the sunlight.

At Bù Hill, visitors can also partake in paragliding. Launching from an altitude of 655m, you can glide through the sky while enjoying panoramic views of the sprawling hills and mountains. The service provider at Bù Hill holds a licence from the Ministry of National Defence, ensuring regular equipment checks and prioritising safety before and during takeoff. By following the instructions of the experienced pilots, you can fully enjoy this exhilarating experience with complete peace of mind.

When planning a picnic at the hill, it is advisable to bring a tent, food, drinks, mosquito repellent, and a jacket. While camping at the paragliding take-off area is possible, it is worth noting that these spots can be windy, so it is recommended to check the weather conditions beforehand.

A visitor partakes in paragliding at Bù Hill. — Photo

Camping Sport Đồng Mô

Camping Sport Đồng Mô is a newly established camping area located approximately 40km from Hà Nội, within the Đồng Mô tourist area in Sơn Tây Town.

Upon arrival, you will be captivated by the vibrant greenery that surrounds you — lush trees, blooming flowers, and a clear blue sky mirrored by the gently rippling lake waters. As you lift your gaze towards the sky, you can spread your arms wide and take a deep breath, immersing yourself in the invigorating freshness that fills your lungs. The sounds you hear are not the typical noises of cars, motorbikes, or construction; instead, they are the rustling of leaves, the whisper of the wind, the cheerful chirping of birds, and the shared laughter of fellow campers.

The expanse of green grass and spacious grounds provide ample space for setting up tents freely. At Camping Sport Đồng Mô, you need not worry about bringing cumbersome outdoor equipment, as you have the option to rent everything you need at a reasonable cost.

At Camping Spot Đồng Mô, you need not worry about bringing cumbersome outdoor equipment, as you have the option to rent everything you need at a reasonable cost. — Photo

Quan Sơn Lake

Quan Sơn Lake is located approximately 50km southwest of Hà Nội’s city centre in the suburban district of Mỹ Đức. Often referred to as a “green gemstone”, this lake offers a perfect weekend retreat for nature lovers.

Encompassing an area of around 850ha across five communes in Mỹ Đức, Quan Sơn Lake boasts a captivating landscape that combines the elements of sky, water, and towering limestone mountains. It features 100 limestone mountains scattered across its surface.

In addition to its natural beauty, Quan Sơn Lake holds cultural and lifestyle significance within the Northern Delta region. The authentic charm of Vietnamese villages is reflected in the scenery along the riverbanks, fields, and tranquil houses. These qualities make it an appealing destination for both locals and tourists, particularly during weekends.

Quan Sơn Lake offers a perfect weekend retreat for nature lovers. — Photo

Camping is a highly popular activity at Quan Sơn Lake, often hailed as a paradise for picnics. The breathtaking scenery, tranquil ambiance, and cool air create an ideal setting for a trip. Visitors can set up tents by the lake and organize small barbecue parties.

It’s important to note that when camping at Quan Sơn Lake, you need to bring your own tent and necessary equipment. The surrounding area is relatively deserted, with limited options for tent rentals or food vendors. To ensure a comfortable overnight stay, prioritize essentials such as tents, sleeping bags, and insect repellent. 

Fishing is also a popular activity at the lake. Fishing tickets typically range from VNĐ200,000 to VNĐ300,000 per person, and purchasing a fishing ticket usually includes free admission. After enjoying a relaxing time by the fishing rod amidst the beautiful natural scenery, you can savour your catch at a BBQ party. VNS


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Accor expands its dominance in Asia



Sea view from Novotel Nha Trang. — Photo courtesy of the hotel

HCM CITY — Accor, the leading international hospitality operator, has signed a total of 35 properties in Asia so far in 2023 under iconic brands such as Novotel, Mercure, Handwritten, and Swissôtel.  

In Việt Nam, the newly launched Novotel Living Saigon South consists of 175 guestrooms and apartments, a restaurant, bar, gym and sauna.

The hotel is located in HCM City’s District 7, a short five-minute walk from the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center and only eight minutes from Crescent Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in the city.

Amenities cater for extended stays and include in-room kitchenettes, meeting rooms, dry cleaning laundry services, and complimentary parking. This establishment holds the promise of being an ideal new lodging option for business travelers visiting HCM City.

With its delectable cuisine, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality, Việt Nam is more than ever a tourist hotspot in Southeast Asia, having also emerged as one of the top 10 countries for remote working, as the country’s climate and affordable lifestyle attract digital nomads and bleisure travelers.

More and more travelers are opting to extend their plans to stay in the country thanks to the extension of tourist e-visas from 30 to 90 days, starting from August 15.

Accor’s hotels across Việt Nam have recognised the unique requirements of long-stay travelers and tailored their offerings to ensure guests have a memorable and fulfilling experience throughout their stay, providing an array of amenities and services that cater to guest’s needs, whether for work, leisure, or a blend of both.

Accor is focused on building on the strengths of its flagship brands by ensuring consistent guest experiences, and revitalising hotel design, ensuring welcoming environments and on-trend experiences.

“At Accor, we strive to be a preferred partner for hotel owners, driving value and business performance through our comprehensive expertise and services,” said Garth Simmons, chief executive officer, premium, midscale and economy division for Accor in Asia.

“We are proud to offer powerful distribution capabilities and expertise across a range of functions by our teams spread across Asia to drive exceptional performance. We have adopted a ‘multi-local’ approach in which we tailor our projects to each destination, with culturally and locally relevant food and beverage concepts, entertainment, and design aesthetics to attract local residents as much as travellers and create an authentic experience. We’re excited to continue our rapid pace of expansion across Asia in the months to come,” he said. —VNS


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