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Quang Ninh kicks off tourism promotion activities



A programme spotlighting Quang Ninh’s Ha Long Bay, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is scheduled for October 31 to mark a decade since the bay obtained such title and the northern province’s return to the ‘new normal’ condition.

Quang Ninh kicks off tourism promotion activities hinh anh 1Ha Long Bay (Soure:

Quang Ninh – A programme spotlighting Quang Ninh’s Ha Long Bay, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is scheduled for October 31 to mark a decade since the bay obtained such title and the northern province’s return to the ‘new normal’ condition.

Taking place at the Tuan Chau international tourism site in Ha Long city, the outdoor event will last for 70 minutes, featuring art performances and a fashion show of ‘ao dai’ (Vietnamese traditional costume) staged by local women.

After reopening its doors to tourists in November, Quang Ninh expects to welcome between 1.5 and 2 million visitors in the fourth quarter of this year.

Quang Ninh kicks off tourism promotion activities hinh anh 2Kayaking in Ha Long Bay (Source: VNA)

In 2011, Ha Long Bay, literally “descending dragon bay”,  surpassed more than 400 destinations from over 200 countries and territories to be named as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World by the organisation New Open World.

The bay was recognised twice by the UNESCO as World Natural Heritage for its landscape and geographical value. It has a 120-km coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometres in size, with 1969 isles. The limestone in the bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments./.



Exploring Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary: a journey into ancient mysteries



By Lê Việt Dũng

Within the elevated mountain-surrounded basin of Duy Xuyên District in the south-central province of Quảng Nam lies a site that was once the centre for spirituality and worship of the Champa Kingdom and a burial place for its royal and national heroes for centuries.

Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary, so be its name, encompasses a series of red-brick temples and sandstone shrines adorned with bas-reliefs of Hinduism divinities and their epic battles against the devils. All were brought to life through the skilled hands of ancient Champa artisans.

“When it comes to building things with bricks, Champa people have a special skill that no one else in Southeast Asia can beat,” said a local tour guide when he unravelled layers of history hidden in the ancient ruins.

And he didn’t exaggerate at all. The most recently built temple in the sanctuary boasts an age of at least eight centuries yet stands well against the test of time.

Temple C1, believed to be the earliest-built temple on the site. It was rebuilt in the 10th and 11th centuries to be dedicated to the human statue of the god Shiva. — VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

Stepping inside, visitors would be immediately struck by the resemblance its rock-cut pillars bear to those of Rome. The architectural similarity was a reflection of how Roman aesthetics were carried through India and found their way to Southeast Asia.

In close proximity to the temple is a series of steles engraved with ancient Champa inscriptions, which traced its origin to Sanskrit – a sacred form of writing reserved exclusively for academics and rituals.

Centuries of atmospheric erosion have worn down the less resistant surface of the steles but not enough to turn their carvings into illegibility.  

Yet the inscriptions remain largely unintelligible for current scholars as their writing system has vanished along with the social class that used it, the Champa priests.   

A stele engraved with ancient Champa inscriptions that remain legible after eight centuries.  — VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

Not far to the east of the steles is a solemn hall that was dedicated to offering preparation but has now been revamped as a place for the exhibition of cultural heritage.

What truly captivates visitors’ eyes within this transformed haven is a stone bas-relief depicting the divine deity Shiva performing the vigorous cosmic dance of creation, preservation, and destruction, or tandava in Sanskrit. 

Though the bas-relief was badly damaged by bombings during the Vietnam War, its artistic value remains intact and bears witness to the extraordinary carving skills of ancient Champa artisans.

The war-torn bas-relief depicting Shiva performing ‘tandava’, a dance that triggers the cosmic cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. — VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

A bas-relief of similar size but in better condition could be found in another exhibition room adjacent to the first, depicting Shiva dancing on the back of the mythical sea creature Makara. In Hinduism mythology, Makara always strongly opposes Shiva, but the act of “standing on its back” reflects the deity’s ability to subdue the crocodile-like monster.   

Another bas-relief depicting dancing Shiva on the back of the sea-serpent Makara. — VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

Scattered throughout the hall are many other ancient relics of archaeological significance. Although few were left untouched by wartime destruction, they continue to beckon visitors to delve into the Champa narrative that spans centuries.

A stone statue of a Champa noblewoman with its upper part badly damaged by war.  VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

Bas-relief depicting Gajasimha, a mythical hybrid animal appearing as a lion with the head or trunk of an elephant.  — VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

Borbala Banya, a visitor from Hungary, has dreamed for nearly six years to visit Việt Nam, and Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary is one of her favourite sites for its unique architecture that is far different from that of the ancient Hungarian kingdom.

“I have a teacher who is an anthropologist and has lived in an ethnic minority community in Việt Nam for one and a half years. He really inspired me to dig deeper and now I have a really colourful view of the country,” said the visitor.

The limitations of physical travel have propelled the historical destination to take a leap into the metaverse to offer visitors a virtual experience of its rich past. With a smartphone, users worldwide can traverse its intricately carved temples from the comfort of their own homes while an AI bot provides them with the historical context, architectural insights, and the cultural significance of each structure.

A 3D view of Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary in the metaverse world Bizverse. VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng

Today, efforts to preserve and restore the heritage site continue, ensuring that its stories endure for generations yet to come. — VNS


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Hanoi renews tourism products to increase attractiveness



Since the beginning of 2023, Hanoi’s tourism industry has achieved impressive growth. However, experts recommended the capital city to continue renewing its tourism products to attract more domestic and foreign visitors.

Hanoi renews tourism products to increase attractiveness hinh anh 1Temple of Literature – an attractive destination for foreign tourists. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi – Since the beginning of 2023, Hanoi’s tourism industry has achieved impressive growth. However, experts recommended the capital city to continue renewing its tourism products to attract more domestic and foreign visitors.

Director of the municipal Tourism Department Dang Huong Giang said that since the reopening of its door to tourists on March 15, 2022, Hanoi has carried out concerted measures, with 172 activities, including major cultural and tourism events, held to increase the attractiveness of the city’s tourism.

According to Giang, the goal of serving 22 million tourists, including 3 million foreigners, this year is reachable. However, in order to quickly match the pre-pandemic level (in 2019, Hanoi welcomed nearly 29 million visitors, including 7 million foreigners), the city still has much work to do.

At a seminar on main solutions to accelerate recovery and effective and sustainable tourism development recently held by the municipal Department of Tourism, participants advised the city to develop more products that meet tourists’ needs.

Some proposed building those related to autumn such as Fototour to capture the beauty of the more than 1,000-year-old city in this season.

Many assessed that Hanoi only has “evening” tourism, not “night-time” tourism. General Director of Hanoi Tourism Investment JSC Nhu Thi Ngan said that most of night activities in Hanoi are ended before 12:00am. Only at weekends, bars and restaurants in downtown Hoan Kiem district are allowed to open until 2:00am.

Therefore, Ngan recommended the city to have a more “open” approach and have its own policy on this issue./.


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Drawing tourists with songs from stone instruments



by Hiền Nguyễn

The melodious rhythms of lithophones at popular tourist destinations in the central province of Phú Yên – such as Gành Đá Dĩa in Tuy An District and Tháp Nhạn (Nhạn Tower, an ethnic Chăm tower in Tuy Hoà City) – have lured many visitors.

The performances of the ancient musical instruments have been a new tourism product at these destinations.

Nguyễn Minh Nghiệp, a local resident, and some colleagues were the initiators of the show.

“From my passion for stone slabs that can produce echoed melodious sounds, since 2013, I have collected stone slabs in the high mountainous area of Tuy An District to make a set of lithophone with all musical notes,” he said.

After gathering suitable stone pieces, he carved them further to enable them to create clear sounds.

Nguyễn Minh Nghiệp carves on stone slabs to make musical instruments. Photo

At the beginning of 2017, he had the initiative to bring the lithophone set to perform at famous destinations for tourists.

Then, he trained younger musicians to perform this particular kind of instrument.

At present, when visiting the Gành Đá Dĩa National Special Heritage Site, tourists can enjoy lithophone performances featuring various Vietnamese songs such as Cô Gái Vót Chông, Tiếng Đàn Ta Lư and Sông Đăkrông Mùa Xuân Về.

The performers also offer other modern pieces of music.

Lê Thị Mỹ Bình, a visitor from Bình Định Province, cannot hide her excitement.

“My family was impressed very much with the show,” she said. “Each piece of stone in Phú Yên can create such magical melodious sounds.”

Visitors like the show. VNS Photo Quỳnh Mai

Bình said she thought lithophones should be performed at more landmarks to entertain visitors.

The same performances are available at Nhạn Tower in Tuy Hòa City.

The show includes songs about Phú Yên and songs from the movie Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh (Yellow Flowers on Green Grass) shot in Phú Yên.

“Clear melodious sounds echoing in a space of ancient architecture bring a fresh experience to me even though I have been here several times,” said tourist Dương Khánh Lâm from HCM City.

Nghiệp so far has made 20 sets of lithophone. Each set has 19-42 stone slabs of various sizes. Two sets among the 20 sets were totally intact natural stones without being carved or further retouched.

Visitors pose for a photo with the musical stone instrument set. VNS Photo Quỳnh Mai

Explaining the appearance of Phú Yên lithophones, Nguyễn Thị Hồng Thái, director of Phú Yên Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, said in 1990-1991, locals discovered an ancient set of stone musical instruments while farming at the foot of Một Mountain, in Trung Lương Village, An Nghiệp Commune, Tuy An District.

In 1992, they donated the set to Phú Yên Provincial Museum.

Archaeologists then determined the set was made around the 5th century BC.

The department then submitted a dossier to the culture ministry to seek its recognition of the stone instruments as a national treasure.

“The Tuy An lithophone set is an important part of lithophone collections found throughout Việt Nam,” Thái said.

The Tuy An lithophone set has all musical notes, the most complete of its kind in the country.

“In fact, the lithophone can be used to perform various folk music pieces of some ethnic minority groups in the country,” she said. “It can combine with other instruments to perform modern melodies as well.” VNS

An exhibition space at Gành Đá Dĩa site to display metal gong instruments. VNS Photo Quỳnh Mai 


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