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HCM City launches public bicycle rental service in city centre



HCM City locals rent bicycles from the new public bike rental service in District 1. —VNS Photo Việt Dũng

HCM CITY — HCM City has launched a public bicycle rental service in the District 1 to encourage an alternative, greener method of transportation in the southern metropolis.

The Trí Nam Group, investor in the project, has set up 43 bike rental spots in District 1 near areas of interest such as tourist sites, parks and bus stops. Around 400 bikes are available.

To rent a bike, locals download the TNGO mobile application and set up accounts. The app can be used to unlock a bike at any rental spot by scanning the QR code.

Locals can freely use the bikes to travel around the city, and lock and unlock them with the app. Bikes can also be returned at any rental spot in the district.

Rentals can be paid through bank transfer, credit card or direct deposit via the app.

Prices start at VNĐ5,000 for 30 minutes, with an hour costing VNĐ10,000 (US$0.44). Rides are free for the first 15 minutes.

The app, in addition to helping users find the nearest bike rental spot, also keeps track of data such as kilometres travelled, calories burned, and the amount of carbon emissions a user has cut down by not using other vehicles.

Many locals were excited to try out the city’s new public service recently. Lương Uyển Ân, a resident in District 11, told Việt Nam News that “the bike is great for exercising, and the app is easy to use”.

Lê Thị Mỹ Trang, a Thủ Đức City resident, is interested because it is a convenient way to get around and is eco-friendly.

“Air pollution is a big problem in large cities. I think this can act as a stepping stone for other regions to adopt this model.”

Many locals said they plan to use this service more in the future.

Bicycles can be rented by using the TNGO mobile app and scanning the QR code. — VNS Photo Việt Dũng

Prior to the launch, the project went through a three-day trial run, in which 941 new accounts were registered and around 320 trips were made, according to Đỗ Bá Dân, chairman of Trí Nam Group.

He told Việt Nam News that he hoped the service could be launched in all districts in HCM City.

“Our dream is to have cities around Việt Nam be more green and clean, and reduce pollution. We hope locals will gradually adopt this as a daily means of transport.”

The project was officially launched on December 16 and will be piloted for a year.

Trần Quang Lâm, director of the city’s Department of Transport, said that after the pilot ends the model would be evaluated and then expanded to other districts and new urban areas.

The city is also considering setting up bike-only lanes in HCM City.

“We aim towards a city centre with more locals travelling on bicycles and public transport. We want to limit private vehicles in the centre.”

HCM City has been making an effort to reduce traffic congestion and harmful carbon emissions, which mostly come from motorbikes, especially old models that are not eco-friendly. — VNS

A public bicycle rental site is one of 43 rental spots in District 1. — VNS Photo Xuân Đăng

To watch our video on the bike rental service, scan this QR code with your mobile device.


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Việt Nam’s 54 ethnic groups showcased on Google digital platform



Photos of more than 60 colourful traditional costumes of various ethnic groups across Việt Nam are being displayed on Google Art and Culture platform. Google screenshot

HÀ NỘI –  A collection of hundreds of high-quality photos depicting the culture and life of 54 ethnic minority groups across Việt Nam is being exhibited for the first time on the global digital platform, Google Arts & Culture.

The exhibition, titled “Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum” by French photographer Réhahn Croquevielle, includes vibrant photos showcasing over 60 colourful traditional costumes from various ethnic groups such as Dao, Bố Y, Ơ Đu, Phù Lá, La Hủ, Pu Péo, Pà Thẻn, and Si La.

It also features interesting stories and unique artefacts that the author collected during his journey throughout Việt Nam, discovering the beauty of the country and its people.

Information on each photo is provided in Vietnamese, English, and French. Images of 54 ethnic groups living in the regions of North, Central, and South Việt Nam, each with distinct characteristics, lifestyles, and customs, are vividly portrayed, enabling viewers to better appreciate the rich and diverse national cultural identity.

Smiling faces of the ethnic children in the northern mountain remote areas are reflected on Google Art and Culture by Réhahn, a French photographer. Google screenshot

In Réhahn’s eyes, the North of Việt Nam is an area of stunning beauty, having travelled to the most remote parts of the country to photograph the ethnic groups and learn their traditional songs.

He was especially taken with the Si La people in their costumes adorned with silver coins, which are believed to bring luck.

Réhahn also encountered the Dao, Pu Péo, Khơ Mú, and Mông Hoa peoples, discovering that each has its own language, skills, and traditional attire. He expressed that while the northern mountain region might be remote and challenging to traverse, its captivating landscapes, colours, and contrasts have drawn him back time and again.

The photographer’s journeys to the central and southern regions have been equally intriguing. He mentioned that in many areas, ethnic minorities live with scant opportunities to interact with foreigners, leading him to work there for many years.

Réhahn revealed that the most memorable encounter for him was likely with the Ơ Đu people, the smallest ethnic group in Việt Nam, numbering only 376 individuals.

Réhahn’s online photo exhibition on the Google Arts & Culture platform also allows viewers to appreciate and learn about the indigo dyeing technique of the Dao, Nùng, Mông, and La Chí.

The dyeing technique imparts the characteristic green colour of the indigo plant and offers a process to create a non-toxic dyeing substance. It also encompasses weaving methods that have been handed down through centuries, such as harvesting hemp and batik design – a traditional handmade fabric with beeswax motifs using natural dyes. These techniques form an integral part of the culture, heritage, and in some instances, the livelihoods of ethnic minorities.

Additionally, the exhibition, accessible at, showcases and introduces various traditional local occupations, including the coffee production process of the K’Ho people and organic honey farming by the Cơ Tu.

After his initial exploration of the northern region, he devoted five years to immerse himself in the diverse, intricate culture and the delicate preservation of the cultural heritage of the ethnic groups.

Born in Normandy, France, Réhahn travelled to over 35 countries before choosing to settle in the ancient town of Hội An, which he regards as his second home.

Drawn to capturing images of diverse cultures and collecting traditional costumes and invaluable artefacts, he chose to renovate an old house from the French colonial period in Hội An. He transformed this dwelling into an art museum, dedicated to narrating the stories of Việt Nam’s 54 ethnic groups.

He also made a profound impression on the hearts of the Vietnamese art-loving community through portraits in Việt Nam, Cuba, and India.

His career was accentuated with the release of a photo book titled “Mosaic of Contrasts” in 2014 in Việt Nam, followed by the exhibition “Ageless Beauty” at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.

His Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum houses the permanent display of Réhahn’s Precious Heritage Collection. While transporting viewers to the remotest parts of Việt Nam, the collection reveals the rich cultural mosaic of the ethnic tribes.

“Discover striking portraits, stories, and heirlooms that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Both a celebration and a call for preservation, this free museum, the only one of its kind, is a labour of love and respect. It stands as a testament to the connection, appreciation, and importance Réhahn feels for these remarkable tribes,” states Google Art and Culture.

“Five rooms, covering over 500 sq.m in a 19th-century French house, display hundreds of portraits, over 60 costumes, tribal songs, and a sense of wonder,” Google describes.

“As you explore each room, you can accompany Réhahn on his almost decade-long journey to document the 54 ethnic tribes and their subgroups remaining in the country.” VNS 


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Salt coffee, a Huế delicacy, conquers Hà Nội taste buds



Salt coffee at this shop gets shipped from Huế, where a coffee plantation grows on the former battlefield of A Lưới. VNS Photos Mỹ Hà

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

While many have commented on Việt Nam’s unique coffee culture amid a continent renowned for tea, recent innovations have enhanced its appeal.

Even in the heart of the coffee kingdom, the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk, one can discover smaller plantations contributing refined flavours to these globally celebrated beverages.

Hà Nội has recently introduced another speciality to its gourmet coffee repertoire: Salt coffee, a treat originating from Huế.

Just over a decade ago, a duo in Huế decided to experiment by infusing their condensed milk coffee with a trending matcha salty whipped cream topping. This inventive blend has since become iconic.

Salt coffee is now a hallmark of Huế, the city of Việt Nam’s last kings, and stands as a testament to its enduring and intricate culinary heritage. This culinary artistry persisted even after the last king abdicated in 1945, transitioning the nation to a republic.

Historically, Huế’s grassroots chefs had a penchant for incorporating salt in their creations. Salt rice, for instance, has been a centrepiece of royal feasts, where an elaborate ten-course meal offers an unforgettable experience for lucky attendees.

Salt rice feast 

Cultural experts agree that sampling the Salt Rice Tray in Huế is akin to experiencing a centuries-old culinary heritage. Chefs have turned the most ordinary dishes of common people into a treasure trove. 

Tôn nữ thị Hà, a distinguished home chef in Huế, meticulously preserves 36 salt-based recipes in her personal cookbook.

“Huế’s salt marinated dishes may sound simple, yet they represent our philosophy reflecting our ancestors’ new land reclaiming process, their survival in harsh natural circumstances. Many dishes of ordinary people have come into the royal menu as our ancestors grew up on these dishes.”  

Salt dishes in Huế are typically grouped into three categories: salted vegetables and nuts, which include the likes of salted sesame, peanuts, apricots, and lemons; salted seafood, featuring items such as salted fish, shrimp, and various rice-field fish; and lastly, salted meats encompassing pork and beef.

Traditionally, salt was used either as a marinade or an ingredient, enhancing the flavour of vegetables and nuts, and encouraging moderate consumption. As royal feasts became less frequent over the years, the practice of enjoying these salt dishes, limited to a few ingredients, became confined to individual households.

In the present day, one can pre-book a grand salt feast at certain restaurants, but it’s typically reserved for special events. A group of Huế’s signature chefs is currently collating documentation, aiming to submit it to UNESCO for recognition and protection as a cultural heritage.

Given this deeply ingrained salt culinary tradition in the daily lives of Huế’s inhabitants, the introduction of salt to their coffee culture might have come later, but it seems it was always destined to be.

From simple coffee joints to well decorated shops, salt coffee makes a lasting impression.

Salt coffee conquers Hà Nội

Salt Coffee was first made by the owners of Cafe Muối, at 10 Nguyễn Lương Bằng in Huế, a city with a population just shy of half a million.

Following this innovation, many other coffee establishments in Huế began crafting their own versions of the beverage, leading to a bustling market for such a novel creation.

Salt coffee is distinctively prepared using hand-filtered coffee through either a metal or ceramic filter, combined with condensed milk. It is then garnished with salty whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder.

A decade ago, inspired by the emerging trend of salt coffee in Huế, a husband-wife duo established a business which championed province specialities. Nguyễn thị Như Mai, the wife, is the proprietor of Phinholic, a series of ‘coffee-holic’ establishments, alongside The Hut, renowned for its paper straws, The Aroma, a centre dedicated to mixology, and ‘How to Make’, an application guiding users in coffee preparation.

On the other hand, Mai Khắc Khôi, the husband, spearheads the Green Field Coffee company, which specialises in roasting coffee beans and supplying them to various coffee shops across Huế. He also sources coffee grown in the A Lưới District of Thừa Thiên – Huế province.


They opened their first Phinholic cafe in Hà Nội last year.

Cao Huy Miên Nhã, co-owner of the Phinholic shop on Nguyễn Khuyến Street tells Việt Nam News: “We sell between 30-40 cups a day.”

In a city like Hà Nội, home to 8 million residents and a myriad of coffee shops, the numbers might seem insignificant. Yet, when considering that their coffee beans are sourced exclusively from A Lưới district in Huế, and that the caffeine content is calibrated to ensure it’s safe for consumers, this unique offering is bound to carve out its niche audience.

Detractors might argue that the Vietnamese already incorporate a substantial amount of salt in their daily diets. Health experts suggest a reduction in daily salt intake. Such warnings can be beneficial for those keen on maintaining their caffeine habits.

Phinholic makers already had that in mind, “Each portion comprises 160ml of coffee,” Miên Nhã told Việt Nam News adding, “Our coffee brewers have taken a certificate that runs out every two years.” If they do not retake the test again, they shall not be able to maintain the activities of the brewing centre.

An ice cup of milk coffee with salty whipped cream on top gets all your senses up and running for the day.

Nowadays in Hà Nội, you can stumble upon salt coffee in nearly every pavement cafe, sitting alongside other beloved beverages from various parts of Việt Nam. Alongside the fresh coconut juice from Bến Tre Province or the delightful lemon/kumquat tea, always remember that salt coffee traces its origins back to Huế. VNS


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Vietnamese-American chef Christine Ha spreads message of self-love, positivity



Vietnamese-American chef Christine Ha met with her fans in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday at an event where she shared her real-life experiences and how she overcame her tumultuous journey.

The event, held by the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in collaboration with the Center for Disability and Development, aimed to direct positive energy from Ha’s story to those who need it.

She was born in 1979 to Vietnamese parents in California. 

In 2004, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and gradually started losing her vision.

Ha is the first blind contestant of the American competitive cooking reality television series MasterChef and became the winner of its third season in 2012.

She published her cookbook Recipes from My Home Kitchen with Vietnamese food recipes one year later.

Ha is currently running three restaurants in the U.S..

At the event on Monday at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1, Ha not only encouraged people with her positive messages about life, but also touched the hearts of the listeners with her spirit of self-love and acceptance of hard circumstances, thereby turning it into motivation.

Christine Ha is seen at an event at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1 on September 25, 2023. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Christine Ha is seen at an event at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1 on September 25, 2023. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

“When I started losing my vision, people always asked me if I was angry or how long I stayed sad,” Ha recalled her own experience when an audience member asked her about the self-victimization feeling of people with disabilities. 

“I was definitely sad, it was not easy. I don’t feel like I was ever angry or questioning why it was happening to me or that it was unfair. 

“It’s really about how you play the hand that you’re dealt. So I think for me, I chose not to victimize myself, I just figured vision loss was something that just happened to happen to me. 

“I could either give up on life, but I realized that the earth keeps rotating, the sun still rises, the sun still sets. So I could either give up or I could figure out, okay, how I can still change my life or the way I view life to make my life still feel purposeful in spite of the vision loss. 

“And that’s the decision I chose to make.”

Christine Ha poses for a photo with her audiences at an event at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1 on September 25, 2023. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Christine Ha poses for a photo with her audience at an event at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1, September 25, 2023. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

The achievements Ha has made, she said, result from a journey of small steps and her appreciating each of them.

“Look back at your small achievements and what you’ve been able to accomplish day by day, hour by hour even, and you’ll realize that you are achieving small goals slowly,” Ha told her audience.

“It’s okay because the small goals that you reach will lead to bigger things, and to more self-confidence.

“And then the more confidence you have, I think the less fear you have to take greater risks in life.

“Always the biggest rewards in life come from the greatest risks.”

When asked about self-limiting beliefs, Ha answered that limitations are not always bad.

“I think limitations are something we try to always view as negative,” she said.

“But I think limitations are sometimes a way for the world to tell us it’s not time or we’re not ready or this is not the right path for you to take and I think that’s okay. 

“You should listen to the limitations as well.

“I was always taught to deliver more and more and be an overachiever, and a perfectionist, and that leads to a lot of pressure on myself. 

“But I think sometimes you have to limit yourself to preserve your mental health and your emotional health, and I think it’s okay to say no to things.

“I think in some ways it’s okay to limit yourself if you don’t feel emotionally or mentally or physically ready for a challenge, that’s perfectly okay.”

According to the restaurateur, it is really about ‘a balance’ and people should listen to their intuition to say what they really want to do, whether they are ready for something or not. 

An audience uses sign language to ask Christine Ha in the Q&A session at an event at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1 on September 25, 2023. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

An audience member uses sign language to ask Christine Ha via a translator in the Q&A session of an event at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City in District 1, September 25, 2023. Photo: Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

Ha also told her audience the story behind one of her most significant core life values.

“It is turning better today than you were yesterday,” she shared.

“How I came up with that core value was actually during the time I was competing on MasterChef.

“Every day I would go into the kitchen or the studio to film, and I wouldn’t know what challenge we had that day for cooking. 

“And of course being visually impaired, I never knew how anyone else was also doing at their station or what ingredients my co-contestants decided to use. 

“So I realized after a while that I felt like I really wasn’t competing with anyone else. 

“I was really just competing against myself or the version of myself the day before. So I felt like the only way I could succeed was I went into that kitchen every day and became a better cook or a better person than the day I was before. 

“That core value has stuck with me throughout the last 10 plus years.”

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