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Archive for the ‘Vietnam’ Category

Suoi Tien: Vietnam’s Fairy Park

March 4th, 2010 by

In Ho Chi Minh City lies a magnificent water-filled theme park that rivals Tokyo Disneyland yet remains mostly unknown to foreigners. Suoi Tien, which means “fairy stream”, is a Buddhist-themed amusement complex which showcases the history, folklore and religion of the country. Local legends such as Au Co, Lac Long Quan and the Battle of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh (The Mountain God and the River God) are impressively showcased in the surrounding art. For mascots, the Suoi Tien chose the dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix, and these sacred animals appear repeatedly throughout the motif. Even the staff gets in the act: dressed in golden monkey suits, they take pictures of visitors and create all sorts of mischief.

Here are some of the fascinating things you can experience in Suoi Tien:

Suoi Tien Theme Park

  • Tien Dong Beach – an artificial beach featuring an enormous waterfall, overseen by a giant head of an emperor.
  • Waterslide - an enormous swimming pool is found at the center of the park, fed by two hundred-meter long waterslides with the ends shaped like elaborate dragons.  12 Sage’s heads decorate the sides of the pool, while colorful flowering trees spray mist into the air.
  • A giant dragon head that contains a neon-lighted statue of Buddha.
  • Several tortoise and dragon-shaped pavilions in lakes dotted with swan boats.

Crocodile Farm

  • Crocodile Farm – Don’t expect to quietly feed ducks here. A thousand crocodiles reside here, and visitors are invited to dangle raw meat using bamboo poles to feed them.
  • Unicorn Palace – a pleasant-sounding section which unexpectedly descends into a freezing, scream-filled chamber, displaying the torments which await sinners in Buddhist hell. There are specific punishments for drug addicts, gamblers and adulterers.
  • 4D Cinema Complex – the first of it’s kind in Vietnam, this ride/theater will allow the audience to experience a new level of movie-viewing.
  • Open-Air Museum – a 3,000-square meter museum that displays artifacts from Vietnam’s history and culture. The museum recently displayed 30 pieces of Buddha relics and a jade Buddha statue from the Van Phat Quang Dai Tong Lam pagoda, for the benefit of the viewing public.

It will take visitors more than a day to experience the entirety of Suoi Tien, but for those with plenty of time, the rest of Ho Chi Minh City has plenty to offer for the family. Bink Quoi Tourist Village is one such destination, an activity center on the banks of the Saigon River. River cruises, boat rides, water puppet shows and cultural performances are just some of the things to do in this place. There is also the Golden Dragon Puppet Theater in Tao Dan Park, which features an unique performing art originally presented in the rural villages in the Red River Delta. The spectator chairs all face a shallow pool, where puppet shows are performed above the water surface while being accompanied by  live musical instrument renditions and singing. The wooden puppets are controlled by rods running under the water, which gives the illusion of free movement. The theme of these puppet plays center around village life, folklore and mythical creatures.

To get to Suoi Tien, take a 20-minute taxi ride from downtown Ho Chi Minh City to District 9. The best time to visit is during the dry season between December to April, when a dip in the pool is essential to take away the summer heat. If you can ignore the garbage dump next to it, and want to learn more about Vietnamese culture while being entertained, then this water slide park is a perfect place to bring your family.

9 Incredible Hotels in Ho Chi Minh

January 20th, 2010 by

The city of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam is one of the largest in the country. What was once the city of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is a fast paced city full of economical change and cultural attractions.

golden triangle vacation - ho chi minh city day 2, vietnam_20071228_051

You will, of course, need a great place to stay in between excursions into the city and we’re prepared to uncover some of the most popular hotels in Ho Chi Minh. Read the rest of this entry »

Shop till You Drop in Hoi An

July 10th, 2009 by

The town of Hoi An in Vietnam is known for three things: its beaches, its festivals, and its shopping opportunities. The beaches, to be honest, are very nice but they’re not necessarily as popular as they might be in a full-fledged resort town.

Hoi An Old Town

Image credit: jmhullot

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What To Do In Hue, Vietnam

April 20th, 2009 by

Hue, Vietnam was once the capital of Nguyen emperors and was modeled after Beijing’s own Forbidden City. Cut across by the Perfume River, the old within a citadel lies on one side while the more modern habitats and establishments are built on the other. Hue today is more of a university town due to the concentrated number of students lurking in the streets. The city itself is very friendly to tourists, with a lot of historical sites and natural wonders to explore, and many of which are accessible by foot or by motorbike.

The citadel of Hue

Here are some things you can do in Hue:

Climb up the Ho Quyen Tiger Fighting Arena – A relic of old-school animal cruelty, this arena once pitted tigers against elephants for the pleasure of the emperor and his more blood-thirsty subjects. Ho Quyen is built along the southern bank of the Perfume River, and consists of two circular walls, with a flight of stairs heading its way to the top. The arena is remarkably intact; even the tiger cages still have claw marks. The fights themselves, which have since been discontinued in the early 20th century, were fixed: the tigers were drugged and always lost to the elephants. As tigers symbolized rebellion and elephants represented the monarchy, it’s no surprise the emperor wanted a demonstration of his unshakeable supremacy along with fur-flying entertainment.

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Travel Safety Tips: Vietnam

March 25th, 2009 by

They say that when you are in Rome you should do as the Romans do. This advice really applies just about anywhere you go, including Vietnam. Taking a few hours to learn about the history and culture of a country before you visit will only ensure your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

General Vietnam Do’s and Don’ts

Vietnam
Image credit: Lucas Jans

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Don’t Miss Saigon!

March 1st, 2009 by

Reunification PalaceSaigon is the name some locals and tourists prefer to call Ho Chi Minh City, but whatever you call it, this world-famous city has made an  impact in modern history and culture. Located by the banks of the Saigon River, this former capital of Vietnam is the largest city in the country, as well as its financial center. This makes HCMC the most westernized city, and skyscrapers and modern amenities mix in with Indochinese sensibilities and French Colonial heritage sites to create a very unique experience.

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Tet: The Vietnamese Lunar New Year

January 5th, 2009 by

Red envelopesMost people associate the word Tet with the military offensive of the communist North Vietnamese against US and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War in the 1960’s. Tet, in fact, is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, and is short for Tet Nguyen Dan, and is held between late January and early February. Also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important of the Vietnamese holidays, which the Vietnamese celebrate like it was Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and New Year all rolled in one event. Indeed, as the time between harvest and sowing, it is one of the few rest periods that many families can enjoy, and so they take every advantage to rejoice with relatives and friends.

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The Crazy House: A Tree House in Vietnam

December 31st, 2008 by

A trip through Vietnam promises culture and adventure, but a stop in Da Lat will bring surprises like you never imagined. If you should be lucky enough to venture to Da Lat, make sure you make a reservation in Hang Nga’s Tree House, one of the most unique hotels in the area, if not the world.

The Building of The Crazy House

Hang Nga’s Tree House is owned by the daughter of the ex-president of Vietnam. Because of her status at the time it was built, the government allowed the owner to build her hotel with very few restrictions. In short, she had free reign in what is a traditionally communist country with strict rules and regulations. The local government essentially turned its back while Hang Nga built her hotel, which turned into more of a novelty tree house than an actual hotel.

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How Asian Cities Celebrate The Christmas Season

November 15th, 2008 by

A Christmas TreeFor a Christian holiday, Christmas gets surprising attention in a continent dominated by Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. For some countries, it is an after-effect of centuries of Western colonialism and Christian missionary work. For others, the commercial aspects of gift-giving and festivities encourage department stores and markets to dress up for the holidays. Still others see it as a romantic season, a time for couples and lovers to share intimate moments together.

Whatever the reason, Christmas is still celebrated the world over, and nowhere is this fact more proven than in the following major Asian cities.

Tokyo, Japan - less than 1% of Japan’s population are Christians, and December 25 is not a national holiday here. Christmas is seen more as a commercial season, a time for romance between couples and for corporations to deck their offices in lights. December is also a time for oseibo (end-of-the-year gift exchanges between companies) and boukenkai (“forget the year”) parties, and Christmas-themed parties tend to get mixed in with the celebrations.

Seoul, South Korea – South Korea recognizes Christmas as a public holiday, with 30% of the population being Christians. Even non-Christian Koreans engage in gift-giving, card-sending, and plastic tree-decorating at this time of year, and engaging lights beautify the City Hall area for people to enjoy. What’s surprising is the locals treat the season to be a romantic affair, much like Valentine’s Day.

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Delicious Asian Street Foods

October 27th, 2008 by

Newton Circus Hawker CentreNothing comes close to an affordable, exotic, and authentic Asian experience as sampling the region’s street food. Whether they are baked, grilled, fried, or steamed, these commoner’s culinary creations may be remade into expensive and pretentious entrees at elite restaurants, but we all know the best-tasting of these simple dishes come from the humble street hawkers of appreciative Asian cities.

Here are a few samples of Asian street food for you to savor.

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  • Polls

    Top 5 Romantic Spots in Asia

    • Palawan, Philippines (39%, 182 Votes)
    • Boracay, Philippines (36%, 168 Votes)
    • Bali, Indonesia (31%, 143 Votes)
    • Agra, India (18%, 84 Votes)
    • Batangas, Philippines (17%, 79 Votes)
    • Male, Maldives (16%, 77 Votes)
    • Jeju Island, South Korea (16%, 75 Votes)
    • Sentosa Island, Singapore (15%, 72 Votes)
    • Krabi, Thailand (13%, 60 Votes)
    • Macau, China (10%, 49 Votes)
    • Halong Bay, Vietnam (7%, 34 Votes)

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