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HCM City kickstarts domestic travel with closed tours to safe destinations



Visitors pose for a photo at the Bà Đen mountaintop on October 18.  Photo Thu Hằng

The HCM City tourism sector has co-operated with travel firms and destinations in the city to promote online booking and payment solutions. It has collaborated with Traveloka Vietnam and Shopee Việt Nam to support the city’s digitalisation process and promote travel products and communications campaigns. Thu Hằng reports.

Vaccinated locals from HCM City are now eager to travel again to relieve the pandemic’s mental strain after more than four months of pandemic-related lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Vũ Văn Phú, 25, spent a joyful day with his colleagues on a one-day trip to the Bà Đen Mountain Relic and Cultural complex in the southeastern province of Tây Ninh.

He was one of 105 travellers who joined the first closed tour from HCM City to Tây Ninh after more than four months of travel restrictions.

“The trip was a reward that my company offered employees who have spent months working and staying at the company during the pandemic.”

“In the past four months, we had to work and stay at the company. It’s definitely a relief to finally step out of HCM City to get some fresh air. This trip partly satisfied my wanderlust and made me feel like everything is gradually returning to normalcy.”

“My company plans to organise a beach trip for employees and their relatives to the (southern coastal) city of Vũng Tàu in the next few days.”

Tourists can visit the sacred Bà (Lady) Temple on the mountainside of Bà Đen Mountain and go by cable car up to the Bà Đen mountaintop at the height of 986 metres.

The one-day tour for domestic travelers who have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses from HCM City to Bà Đen Mountain in Tây Ninh is part of an effort to resume travel linkages between the two localities under agreed health protocols.

Trương Quang Hùng, director of Tây Ninh Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that vaccinated travelers from HCM City can now join a group tour to visit Bà Đen Mountain.

It has not received individual tourists due to concerns over safety as the vaccination rate in the province remains low.

All staff working at the Bà Đen Mountain Relic and Cultural complex and tour guides are fully vaccinated.

More tourist sites in the province will reopen for domestic travelers when local residents are fully vaccinated. Around 76 per cent of its adult population have taken one shot.

Nguyễn Ngọc Tấn, general director of Saco Travel, said the closed tour for more than 100 tourists from HCM City to Tây Ninh kickstarted his company’s operation after months of suspension due to travel restrictions.

The company’s staff are fully vaccinated and have been trained in COVID-19 prevention and control by the HCM City Centre for Disease Control.

Saco Travel is also planning to organise tours from HCM City to central provinces and the northern province of Hà Giang, he said.

Travellers join the first closed tour from HCM City to Tây Ninh after more than four months of travel restrictions. Photo Thu Hằng

 Phased plan for recovery

HCM City has revealed a three-phase plan to revive its tourism sector, seeking a “travel bubble” with many cities and provinces as case numbers in the country continue to drop.

Nguyễn Thị Ánh Hoa, director of the city’s Department of Tourism, said inter-provincial tours from HCM City to Tây Ninh would be the first step in the launch of a programme to revive the tourism sector.

In the first phase, the city will open tours to “green”, or safe, areas with a low infection risk and pilot closed tours to Tây Ninh Province this month to gradually resume tourism activities.

Tourist accommodations and tourist sites will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

In the second phase from the beginning of next month until year-end, inter-provincial group tours will be expanded to safe destinations nationwide.

In the third phase next year, tourism activities and products in the city will fully resume.

With a high rate of vaccinations for adult and 80 per cent of employees in the travel sector fully vaccinated, HCM City authorities plan to revive domestic travel with more inter-provincial tours to safe destinations nationwide.

The city is working with tourism authorities in the central provinces of Khánh Hòa, Phú Yên, and Bình Định to open closed tours to safe destinations for domestic travelers.

Public-private cooperation and close linkages of 30 travel operators and tourist destinations in the city are key factors in the revival of the tourism sector, she said.

Nguyễn Minh Mẫn, marketing and communications director of TSTtourist, told Việt Nam News: “His company last week resumed operation, with about 40 per cent of staff returning to work. They are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

The company on October 11 opened tours to safe destinations in the city and received many inquires about group tours to Củ Chi and Cần Giờ districts in HCM City and the coastal city of Vũng Tàu.

Family groups mostly booked tours to travel later this month and next month. 

Inter-provincial tours from HCM City to neighbouring provinces such as Tây Ninh, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Long An, and Tiền Giang and central provinces of Khánh Hoà, Phú Yên, and Bình Định will soon resume under tourism linkages between HCM City and these localities, he said.

TSTtourist is updating information from other localities on safety requirements to offer tourists closed tours to safe destinations in other provinces. This is a positive sign for expected demand in the year-end season.

Cable cars to the Bà Đen mountaintop at a height of 986 metres, known as the roof of the Southeast region, on October 18. Photo Thu Hằng


Domestic tourists from HCM City on a cable car to the Bà Đen mountaintop at a height of 986 metres, known as the roof of the Southeast region, on October 18. Photo Thu Hằng




Three Vietnamese directors win awards at Singapore International Film Festival



Three young Vietnamese directors have been named the winners of various prizes at the 2021 Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF).

The 2021 SGIFF ran from November 25 to December 5, featuring a diverse and inclusive range of over 100 films by filmmakers from all over the world.

The winners of the festival’s Silver Screen Awards were announced on Sunday.

Representatives from Vietnam won three awards this year.

‘The Men Who Wait’ by Truong Minh Quy won the Best Southeast Asian Short Film.

A screenshot from ‘Grandma’s Broken Leg’ by Huynh Cong Nho. Photo: SGIFF

A screenshot from ‘Grandma’s Broken Leg’ by Huynh Cong Nho. Photo: SGIFF

The organizing board stated that the film depicts the aspirations and loneliness of people in their most vulnerable state.

‘Grandma’s Broken Leg’ by Huynh Cong Nho was honored with the Youth Jury Prize.

The Fellowship Prize was given to Pham Hoang Minh Thy for ‘Daughter of the Mountain God.’

Thy shared this prize with Filipino director Paul Rembert Patindol for his ‘Rafael’ film.

This year’s Best Film went to ‘Hit The Road’ by Iranian director Panah Panahi, while the Best Director title was presented to India’s P.S. Vinothraj for ‘Pebbles.’

Vietnamese director Pham Hoang Minh Thy. Photo: SGIFF

Vietnamese director Pham Hoang Minh Thy. Photo: SGIFF

The SGIFF is the largest and longest-running film event in Singapore.

Founded in 1987, the festival focuses on showcasing international films and providing a global platform for the best of Singapore cinema, according to its website.

With the Silver Screen Awards as a component, the event recognizes excellence in Asian cinema in two main categories – Asian Feature Film Competition and Southeast Asian Short Film Competition.

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Vietnamese, Hollywood films hit cinemas in festive season



Teenage actress Lâm Thanh Mỹ plays in ‘Bóng Đè’ (The Ancestral), a long-awaited horror movie directed and written by Lê Văn Kiệt, which is coming to cinemas on December 24. Photo courtesy of the producer

HCM CITY – A number of Vietnamese and Hollywood movies will be released during the festive season to attract audiences back to the cinemas.

Bóng Đè (The Ancestral), a long-awaited horror movie directed and written by Lê Văn Kiệt, is coming to cinemas on December 24. Even though the film has not been officially released, it has already been licensed for distribution in 25 countries.

The work revolves around a widower named Thành and his two daughters. After suffering a family tragedy, Thanh and his children move to a centuries-old ancestral home where both daughters fall prey to sleep paralysis and night terrors.

The film features actor Quang Tuấn and teenage actresses Lâm Thanh Mỹ and Mai Cát Vi.

Mỹ, 15, rose to fame when acting in the award-winning movie Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh (Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass) in 2015.

Meanwhile, the 12-year-old Vi is known for a supporting role in the action movie Hai Phượng (Furie), another work by director Kiệt which earned VNĐ160 billion (US$6.9 million) in the domestic market and VNĐ40 billion in the international market.

Kiệt graduated from the School of Theater, Film and Television at University of California, Los Angeles.

His popular works include horror film Ngôi Nhà Trong Hẻm (House in the Ally) and mystery-thriller Dịu Dàng (Gentle) – a modern Vietnamese adaptation of Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel A Gentle Creature.

Another Vietnamese film, Bẫy Ngọt Ngào (Naked Truth), a directorial debut by female director Đinh Hà Uyên Thư, is set to premiere on December 31.

Thư, who is famous for producing viral music videos for Vietnamese pop stars like Sơn Tùng M-TP, Noo Phước Thịnh and Tóc Tiên, has spent three years on the drama about love, friendship and marriage.

The film features Bảo Anh, Minh Hằng and Diệu Nhi, who are expected to guarantee box-office success for the film. 

‘Bẫy Ngọt Ngào’ (Naked Truth), a directorial debut by female director Đinh Hà Uyên Thư, is set to premiere on December 31. Photo courtesy of the producer

“We’ve spent a tough year due to the pandemic. We set the premiere day of Bẫy Ngọt Ngào on December 31, a special day when people welcome a new year. Out with the old, in with the new!” said singer-actress Minh Hằng, the film’s producer.

“The year-end season is the perfect time for a film release. Despite competing with Hollywood blockbusters, Vietnamese film producers have been working very hard to bring audiences quality productions. I believe our works are going to bear fruit and the Vietnamese film industry will see a bright journey in 2022,” said the 35-year-old.

Bẫy Ngọt Ngào was scheduled to be released in May, but was postponed because of the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rừng Thế Mạng (Survive), a psychological thriller by director Trần Hữu Tấn, which was scheduled to be released in June, will be in cinemas on December 31.

In addition, the festive season will see the premiere of Hollywood films in Việt Nam such as No Time To Die, Spider-man: No Way Home, Fast and Furious 9, and The Matrix Resurrections.

Nguyễn Hoàng Hải, chief content officer of CJ CGV Vietnam, said: “CGV hopes the reopening of cinemas revives the film industry. The company is ready to serve audiences with many Vietnamese and Hollywood films. In addition, many special Vietnamese film productions are completed and expected to premiere in the holiday season and for Tết (Lunar New Year).”

On November 19, HCM City authorities allowed cinemas to reopen in low risk (green), medium risk (yellow) and high risk (orange) zones, but not in very high risk red zones. Cinemas in green zones can operate at full capacity, while cinemas in yellow and orange zones must limit their capacity to 50 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively.

Employees and customers need to be fully vaccinated and must comply with 5K COVID-safety rules, and use QR codes and apps to make medical declarations.

Despire reopening, cinemas owned by Thiên Ngân (Galaxy) Cinemas, CGV, Lotte and BHD have not seen many moviegoers in recent days. 

Nguyễn Minh Đức of District 2 said he decided to go to the cinema alone, and not accompany his group of friends, to avoid gatherings.

“Many people are still worried about COVID-19, so they go to the cinema alone or stay at home to watch movies on streaming platforms,” Đức said:

Hải of CGV said since reopening, revenue has reached 30-35 per cent compared to before the pandemic.



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Writing contest for students launched




Students are encouraged to participate in the writing contest called Tết 5k (Lunar New Year Festival with 5K anti-coronavirus rules) launched by the Áo Trắng (White Long Dress school uniform) magazine in HCM City. Photo courtesy of the organiser


HCM CITY — A writing contest targeting Vietnamese students at home and abroad has been launched by the Áo Trắng (White Long Dress school uniform) magazine in HCM City. 

The contest, Tết 5k (Lunar New Year Festival with 5K anti-coronavirus rules), aims to discover and support young writers. It will offer offer prizes in the categories of essay and short stories. 

The organiser seeks works with themes about people’s daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly living safely in the “new normal” state with the anti-coronavirus rules 5Ks, which in Vietnamese stands for: Khẩu trang (facemask), Khử khuẩn (disinfection), Khoảng cách (distance), Không tụ tập (no gathering), and Khai báo y tế (health declaration). 

The stories, challenges and sacrifices that doctors, nurses and other health workers have faced in quarantine zones are encouraged. Themes on love, solidarity, mercy, energy and belief are also included.

Entries should be no less than 800 words and no longer than 1,500 words, and postmarked by January 1, 2022. They should be sent to the organiser’s email at tap[email protected]

Famous authors, poets and translators will be part of the jury. 

“We hope our contest will give students a chance to improve their writing and develop their talent,” veteran poet Trần Hoàng Nhân of Áo Trắng magazine, a member of the contest’s organising board, said.


Áo Trắng magazine was one of many popular magazines for secondary school students, including Tuổi Ngọc (Teen Age) and Hoa Học Trò (Flowers of Students), in the 1980s-90s in HCM City. Photo courtesy of the organiser

 Áo Trắng magazine was one of many popular magazines for secondary school students, including Tuổi Ngọc (Teen Age) and Hoa Học Trò (Flowers of Students), in the 1980s-90s in HCM City. 

The magazine worked with dozens of famous writers, such as Nguyễn Thị Minh Ngọc, Lê Minh Quốc and Tôn Nữ Thu Dung, to release books on teen loves, hopes and dreams. It released many works by students and young writers. 

The magazine was printed for the last time in October, 2021. It is scheduled to be availavle online in early 2022.

“The dearth of age-appropriate material leaves teenagers with very few choices for their needs. Writers and publishers should work together to increase the number of magazines and books for teenagers on the market,” said veteran author Từ Kế Tường, who worked for Áo Trắng in the 1980s.  

Tường began his career in 1969 in Sài Gòn (now Hồ Chí Minh City). He was popular in the 1970s and 80s. He has released more than 50 books, mostly novels and short stories for teenagers.

The best works of the contest Tết 5k will be published on the fanpage of Áo Trắng. The prize winners will be announced on January 16.










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