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Jungle booked: wild forest treks teaching life-skills



By Công Thành

A group of children walk in the jungle section of a wild trek tour in Hòa Ninh Commune of Đà Nẵng. The tour offers life experience and skills for children and adults. Photo courtesy of Ngô Khải Hoàng 

Situated in the heart of the Bà Nà Mountains valley, 30km northwest of Đà Nẵng City, the primary forest in Hòa Ninh Commune is an ideal spot for people to explore the jungle and experience living in the wild. And a series of treks here are helping children and adults develop new skills and a better understanding of the stunning natural environment.

Local Ngô Khải Hoàng, 42, has used his experience growing up in the jungle to design wild trek tours allowing people to live closer to nature since 2018.

“The commune is close to Bà Nà Núi Chúa Nature Reserve and Bạch Mã National Park in Thừa Thiên Huế Province, and its terrain is not a challenge for family and child group tours for a week or a weekend trek, or jungle stay,” Hoàng says.

“I joined jungle trips with local farmers from a very early young age, so I was educated in the skills and experienced how to survive in the jungle alone. It helped me set up a tour and give natural education to others.” 

Hoàng says he quit the local administration office to build up his personal concept of the forest tour.

“Most people living in urban areas do not know anything about forests, and the tour will help them get closer to the beauty of the primary jungle that they have only learned of in textbooks at school,” he says.

The wild trek tour organiser says the adult trek route is much tougher with climbing sections and stream crossings.

“Only experienced local jungle men and women are employed to accompany adventurers on the jungle tour. One guide is assigned to caring for three tourists, and only participants with a qualified health check are allowed,” Hoàng says.

Kids learn how to cross streams safely in the forest. The wild trek tour educates school students on environment and life skills. Photo courtesy of Wild Trek Tour 

He says a group of seven is nice and easy for a two-day and one-night option, but tourists can follow for one week or even a 10-day trek living in the jungle.

“A six or seven-hour trek will be the first challenge for most tourists before setting out on a night stay by a lake or stream,” Nguyễn Quốc Việt, a tour guide says.

“Trek tourists are guided to forage for edible herbs or go fishing for outdoor cooking. Most tourists live in urban areas, so their living experience in the wild is almost zero. They also learn how to avoid snakes and poisonous insects.”

Kids’ adventure

The tour also includes jungle trips for children aged 8-10 and 10-14 on a smoother route, but it still offers challenges for children testing their skills and bravery.

During the tour, the children are trained to find their direction to avoid getting lost in the jungle or facing other dangers.

“Kids need time to learn life skills they rarely practise at school. They will soon know plenty of interesting things about the forest. They will learn how to care for nature and gently respond to flora and fauna,” says Ngô Thị Quỳnh Như.

Như, 24, is assigned to take care of women tourists.

“Kids find harmony with nature when they trek in the day. They are eager to cook and have skills in how to cross streams. But nighttime is tough for some kids as they get homesick and scared,” Như says.

The guides had to help them ease into the moment at night after a day of trekking and training their skills for search and rescue.

Kids write and paint everything they see in the jungle during the wild trek tour in the forest. It’s a positive experience for students. Photo courtesy of Wild Trek Tour

“We urge them on self-sufficiency in every action. They have to prepare themselves meals, do washing, set up personal logistics and plan for the next day’s trip,” the guide says.

Minh Khang, a 12-year-old boy, says he had an exciting trip in the forest in Hòa Ninh.

“The routes were mostly fair for us, but the streams challenged us a little. I needed support from the guides at the first crossing, but I quickly passed the next streams easily,” Khang says.

“We learnt how to catch frogs and fish and make a fire for cooking. It’s the first really dirty jobs that I have experienced, but the most fun too.”

The city boy says most of his friends found the tour difficult, but things gradually improved through the guides’ practical and educational sessions. For the next summer holiday, he hopes to go on a full 10-day tour.

Kim Oanh, the mother of a child tour member, says that she was nervous as her son left home without the care of his parents.

Children join a painting section in the jungle after passing a morning trekking in the forest of Hòa Ninh Commune. Photo courtesy of Ngô Khải Hoàng 

“My son has had several vacation trips, but this was the first jungle trip. I was so surprised with my ‘dirty’ boy when I took him back after the tour. His face and clothes were covered in mud, but he was excited by all the fun and curious discoveries he had made,” Oanh says.

“It’s a good experience and natural education course for kids. They know how to express love for the nature around them, the skills of teamwork and group trips, as well as cooking and homework.” 

Tour operator Hoàng says that children are active and have the ideal energy to join these jungle trips, but very few have the chance to get these real experiences.

He says it’s the first jungle tour in Đà Nẵng for children, and the service has been expanding its connections with travel agencies.

“We have hosted families from Hà Nội, HCM City and other provinces, and we hope the tour will host more kids and families at the weekends and in summer vacation. It’s not only a tour trip, but a worthy natural educational option for parents and children,” Hoàng says.

Three girls take a break in the afternoon in the jungle. Houses on stilts in the jungle help children experience a night’s stay in the forest. Photo courtesy of Ngô Khải Hoàng 

“Kids become brave and someday can survive natural disasters or dangers. It’s like a school in the jungle.” VNS



Vietnam becomes favourite destination for Cambodian tourists



The number of Cambodian tourists coming to Vietnam has increased significantly, Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper, citing statistics of travel agencies.

Vietnam becomes favourite destination for Cambodian tourists hinh anh 1Visitors arrive at Moc Bai border gate in Tay Ninh province. Illustrative image (Photo: 

Hanoi – The number of Cambodian tourists
coming to Vietnam has increased significantly, Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper, citing statistics of travel agencies. 

It said previously, Cambodians
visited Vietnam mainly for medical services, but over several recent years, the inflow of middle-class visitors from the neighbouring country to Vietnam for tourism purpose has been rising, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic was put under control.

The central beach city of Da Nang, the ancient town of Hoi
An, Da Lat – the city of thousand flowers in the Central Highlands region, Nha
Trang, Vung Tau and the “Paradise Pearl Island” of Phu Quoc are some of top
favourite destinations among Cambodian tourists.

Tran Quoc Thinh, director of Tay Ninh province’s Tourism Promotion
Centre said Cambodia is a traditional tourism market of Tay Ninh, which shares a 240-km border with Cambodia’s Svay Rieng, Prey Vieng and Tboung Khmum provinces. 

Cambodians regularly cross the border to Tay Ninh for sightseeing, shopping or visiting pagodas, especially on weekends or holidays, according to Thinh.  

The province has introduced many new, unique and interesting tourism products such as caravan and cross-border road tours in order to lure more Cambodian tourists. Local tourist accommodation establishments and restaurants are also improving
service quality to serve big tourist groups with longer stay.

Statistics of Tay Ninh’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism showed around 2.1 million Cambodians have visited the province for tourism purpose since 2018. Although the number dropped in 2020-2022 due to COVID-19 travel restriction, a rising trend was seen in the first quarter of 2023.

Truong Duc Hai, director of Indochina Pearl Travel, noted that while more middle-class Cambodians are choosing beach resorts in Vietnam for their holiday, demand for medical tours remains high but there are limited products designed specifically for this segment. Such tours are mainly organised by Cambodian people
living in Ho Chi Minh, he said, adding that it is necessary to introduce more professional and
comprehensive medical tour products to serve this group of tourists.

At a tourism promotion event held by Tay Ninh in mid-2022, businesses of the two countries had pledged to join
hands to boost tourism promotion activities and build new routes and tours to stimulate tourism demand./.


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Ha Giang effectively develops community-based tourism



With its advantages in terms of natural landscapes, rich cultural identities, customs and preserved traditional festivals, the northernmost province of Ha Giang has attracted attention from a large number of travel companies and tourists, and several potential community-based tourist sites have been formed.

Ha Giang effectively develops community-based tourism hinh anh 1A community-based tourism and cultural village in Ha Giang’s Meo Vac district. (Photo: VNA)

Ha Giang – With its advantages in terms of natural landscapes, rich cultural
identities, customs and preserved traditional festivals, the northernmost province
of Ha Giang has attracted attention from a large number of travel companies and
tourists, and several potential community-based tourist sites have been formed.

Ha Giang province is home to 19 ethnic groups which have their own
cultural traditions and identities.

The effective preservation and promotion of cultural values
has helped the province in general and the ethnic groups in particular have a special
attraction for travelers and those who want to learn about traditional ethnic

According to Deputy Director of the provincial Department of
Culture, Sports and Tourism Trieu Thi Tinh, over the past years, the province
has selected outstanding cultural products to develop to create more highlights
for tourism development. It has also paid attention to community cultural and tourism activities,
and carried out projects on improving the quality
of services and activities of community-based tourism and cultural villages.

Currently, the province has 40 identified community-based tourism
and cultural villages, and 16 cultural villages recognised by the provincial
People’s Committee as meeting standards to serve tourists.

The provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism
assessed that these villages have operated well and attracted a large number of
tourists, contributing to increasing locals’ income and promoting the value of tourism
resources and cultural identities.

In addition to the achieved results, the community-based tourism
in Ha Giang is facing many difficulties and challenges in terms of transport
infrastructure and product quality that hinder it from developing sustainably
and gaining high economic efficiency.

Therefore, in the coming time, the province will continue
paying attention to improving the quality of services, training human
resources for community-based tourism sites, and stepping up the communication work to
raise locals’ awareness of maintaining and developing their cultural
identities, said Tinh./.


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Som Tum (Thai-style green papaya salad)



Som Tum

Sous chef Burin Pongchang from Feast restaurant under Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers Bangkok presents Som Tum, a signature Thai cuisine during the special Asian food event titled Straight Outta Bangkok held at Sheraton Saigon Hotel.

Som Tum (Thai-style green papaya salad)  

With his impeccable cooking credentials and over 30 years of experience, chef Burin is a regular guest chef of international Thai promotions in China, Malaysia and beyond.

Sous chef Burin Pongchang

Som Tum is a favourite Thai street food. The dish is an explosion of Thai-style flavours – deeply complex, not very spicy, with a perfect balance of sweetness and savoury.

If you are a lover of Thai salad, try making Burin’s favourite dish to impress family members and loved ones.


  • Papaya green, slice    150g (cut julienne)
  • Carrot slice                  50g  (cut julienne)
  • French long bean        150g (cut 2cm)
  • Cherry tomato             300g (cut 1/2)
  • Dried shrimp               10g
  • Thai bird chili              1pc
  • Garlic                          1pc             
  • Toasted peanut           10g         
  • Lime juice                   10g         
  • Palm sugar                  10g
  • Fish sauce                   10g


  • Cut papaya and carrot. Peel them. Julienne them with a knife or use a Thai julienne slicers. Put the shredded papaya and carrot in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes and drain, set aside for later.
  • Put the garlic and chilies into a mortar, and pound them until they form a really coarse paste. Now, add palm sugar with lime juice and keep pounding to get the sugar to fully dissolve. Add the fish sauce and taste.
  • Add the dried shrimp and long beans and beat them up a bit. You want them to break a bit.
  • Add the papaya and carrot. Toss to combine the papaya with the dressing.
  • Gently bruise the papaya and carrot. Add the tomatoes and give them a bit of a toss. Add the peanuts. Toss to combine everything together. Use your hands.
  • Arrange the salad and enjoy with savory juice and vegetables. VNS


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