Monday, March 10, 2014

Ho Chi Minh City Airport Transfers

 Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam, as well as being the country's former capital. With everything from touristy, westernised bars and clubs, to buzzing street markets selling everything from souvenirs to delicious, freshly-made street food, Saigon really is an awesome city to visit. Along with Hanoi, the capital city, with its temples, museums and parks, there is a completely unique and eye-opening city break experience on offer in Vietnam.

However, if the bustling, crazy vibes of the city are a little too much, there is also the seaside resort of Na Trang, which not only offers superb Vietnamese beaches, but also a lively, urban atmosphere and some incredible scuba diving experiences. Then, there are the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hoi An to enjoy, just south of Da Nang. And if you're seeking deeply authentic Vietnamese culture and heritage, head to Hue, where the weather might not be up to much, but the fascinating historical sites and beautiful sights, will!

Tan Son Nhat International airport is Vietnam's largest international airport, both by area and number of passengers and is located in the city of Ho Chi Minh. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, then you are, no doubt, aware of the large amount of scams you will need to watch out for whilst on your travels. Many of the scams operating in Vietnam are associated with taxi cabs, with many bewildered tourists being robbed, overcharged or otherwise harmed simply in the process of getting from A to B.

Get your Vietnam trip off to a safe and reliable start by pre-booking an affordable, trustworthy airport taxi with HolidayTaxis.com. One of our friendly, professional drivers will be waiting at the airport to take you directly to your hotel with zero stress and zero worry. And, I'm sure you'll agree, that's what you'll be hoping for, after a long flight!

Phu Cat Airport Transfers:

The lively city of Quy Nhon is just a short transfer journey from Phu Cat airport, and, as a city largely undiscovered (as yet!) by western travellers, it retains the authentic beauty so sought after. With beautiful surroundings, Cham temples and gorgeous beaches, the cleanest and prettiest of which is at Bai Xep, 10km south of Quy Nhon. Because of its less well-known status amongst travellers, the people of Quy Nhon are likely to be much more welcoming and friendly, and the scent of tourism is barely to be whiffed. As such, it is one of the finest destinations in Vietnam, and a guaranteed way to have a unique and memorable visit, minus the stress associated with dodging scams in the bigger cities!

Situated 19 miles north west of Quy Nhon, Phu Cat airport is both a commercial airport and a base for the Vietnamese Air Force. One of our friendly and professional drivers will be ready and waiting to whisk you away to your destination, so you can start exploring Vietnam as soon as possible!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Putting your motorbike on the train in Lao Cai

My boyfriend and two friends recently spent nearly a week motorbiking in northwest Vietnam. Having reached Sapa they didn’t want to spend another couple of days driving back to Hanoi along a relatively boring road (compared to where they’d been) so they opted to put the bikes on the train from Lao Cai.

Given this wasn’t quite as straightforward as expected I thought I’d impart a few tips to make it as painless as possible. The process will be similar at most stations.

Firstly, not all trains transport motorbikes. They were booked onto the SP8  but had to put the bikes on the SP2, which left half an hour earlier. No big deal – the bikes were waiting for them when they got to Hanoi. As far as I can find out, there’s no definite pattern to which trains take bikes and which don’t, so you’ll just need to get to the station at 16:00 – see below – and find out.

On arrival at Lao Cai station, you will be accosted by people trying to persuade you that you need their help and advice. Paul was told they’d have to change their existing train tickets and travel on the same train as the bikes – this isn’t true and will end up costing ridiculous amounts. Don’t trust anyone – go straight to the booking office to buy bike tickets.

The booking office is to the right of the main ticket office/waiting room, just on the right of the tunnel through to the platform and facing the road. Do not go to the room which leads off the tunnel – it’s the staff break room and disturbing them there will not win you any brownie points. The office opens at 16:00.

As for price, it should cost around 250,000 VND per bike — much more than that and you should argue the case.

Once you’ve bought your bike ticket, take the bike onto the platform. A woman there will fill out a form with bike details such as license plate, make and engine size and will give you a receipt. Leave your bike there and it will be put on the train.

Finally, at Hanoi station, go and get your bike on the platform — if you get in before it you’ll be able to wheel it off the train yourself, if you get in later it’ll be waiting for you. Be warned, they will have drained the petrol from your bike before putting it on the train. Don’t expect to get any back. If you can, switch on the reserve when you leave it in Lao Cai and you might have enough to get back to your hotel, otherwise you’ll have to push it just outside the station and find a vendor.

Hanoi’s train station

Most visitors to Hanoi will have some occasion to use the train station, whether travelling north to Sapa or down the coast on the Reunification Express. So here’s a quick guide to where it is, how to buy tickets and what to expect when you get there.

The train station is split into station A and station B. Station A, the main one, is located on Le Duan Street, just under two kilometres from the centre of Old Quarter. It’s an imposing, grey concrete structure clearly marked as Ga Ha Noi.

Enter through the main doors, under the sign, and the ticket office is on the left. Large white posters are pinned to the walls displaying train times and prices: the Lao Cai and Hai Phong posters are next to the main doors and the Reunification Express posters are round the corner. They’re a bit hard to navigate, and we’ve been told that prices are not always completely up to date, but at least they give you a starting point.

At the entrance to the ticket hall sits a small machine manned by a couple of staff. If it’s operating, take a ticket number and go through. Given the Vietnamese aversion to queuing, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get seen in exactly the right order, but having a ticket is better than the free for all that occurs when it’s out of action.

Ticket numbers are called out and appear on the screen over the booths, so keep an eye on that and head to the correct booth when called. Be assertive and push past anyone who tries to jump the queue or you really won’t ever get served. It is possible that once they realise you don’t speak Vietnamese — if you do, good on you — they will direct you to a different booth, where the operator is more likely to speak English, so the pushing may need to start again.

Our advice is to write down where you want to go, the time, the train number and the type of seat — in Vietnamese — and show that to the operator. If you don’t mind what train you’re on, or are flexible on dates, make a note of that too. Make sure you check the ticket when you receive it.

All that said, a lot of the tickets are sold on to agents well in advance, so chances are you won’t be able to get a ticket at the station. If you’re on a really tight budget and have the time, then it’s worth a go, but sometimes paying the extra few dollars to an agent is worth it.

Doors to the tracks run along the back wall as you enter and the waiting room is on the right of the main entrance. It can also be accessed directly from the car park outside. When the train is ready for boarding you will be directed through the correct door and have to show your ticket to an attendant. Platforms are reached by walking over the tracks. You may be approached by people trying to carry bags or ‘upgrade’ your ticket: avoid them and head straight to your carriage.

Station A has a few food and drink options outside: Lotteria, a fast food burger chain, is dominant, with smaller stalls near the waiting room. You will also find vendors on the platforms selling drinks and snacks. They tend to charge more than the minimarts and stores so buy in advance if you can.

Parking is available at 5,000 VND for a motorbike. Pay in advance and collect a ticket. Note that your bike is likely to be moved so don’t panic if you can’t see it straight away when you get back.

Station B, for trains to the north, is on the other side of the tracks and reached by an entrance on Tran Quy Cap. To get there, walk across the level crossing off Le Duan to the north of the station and follow the road round to the left. Tickets to Lao Cai can be purchased here. Ticket office opening hours are 04:00 to 06:00 and 16:00 to 22:00, though we have seen it open at other times as well, so it might be just luck of the draw.

When arriving for your train at Station B, if you’ve bought a ticket from an agent on one of the private carriages — which make up a large proportion of the train carriages nowadays — you will need to exchange it at the relevant desk. Don’t worry, it’s easily done. Desks are either just inside the waiting area — on the right of the ticket office — or in one of the huts at the back.

When your train is up on the board in the waiting area, walk through the gate for a ticket check and to reach the trains. The same rules apply regarding not giving anyone your ticket or bags.

Food options are more limited than for Station A — well, there’s no Lotteria — but plenty of snack food and pho sellers can be found both outside the gates, on Tran Quy Cap, and in the car park

Monday, December 9, 2013

How airport fast-track service runs?


Step 1: Please choose Airport Fast Track Service item once applying for visa on arrival with detailed information of your exact flight number, departure and arrival time (GMT+7) or apply for the service via email or phone with the mentioned information. If your flight is changed, please notify us 48 hours before your landing (except Saturday, Sunday and national holidays)

Step 2: When your flight lands off Vietnam, please find our staff with the welcoming board having your name on it. In case you cannot find our staff.

Step 3: Give our staff your visa approval letter, entry and exit form, passport, 2 photos and stamping fee ($ 25 USD/person for single entry, and $ 50 USD/person for multiple entry visa) so that we can carry out the entry procedure for you.

Step 4: Take your passport back with Vietnam Visa stamped from our staff.

Who should use airport fast-track service?

We highly suggest the following groups to airport fast-track service:

- Those who enters Vietnam for the first time
- Those who needs to speed up stamping process at Vietnam airport
- Those who enters Vietnam with their children
- Those who travels in a big group
- Pregnant women
- The disabled

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exploring Vung Tau province in Vietnam for Indians

Take the 130km excursion to the popular beachside gateway of Vung Tau during the week if possible, when it’s a whole lot quieter. The two beaches, Bai Truoc and Bai Sau, offer an array of hotels, bars and restaurants and unforgettable views can be found at the Big Mountain (Nui Lon), and the Vung Tau Lighthouse.

As expected, seafood here is top class and centered on fish, crab and lobster. Enjoy it with jazz music at the open air Binh An Village Restaurant (1 Tran Phu) or amid fruit trees and orchids in the Lan Rung resort (2 Tran Hung Dao). Fancy a round golf? Play 27 holes on the challenging ocean view Paradise Golf course. It is luxuriously quiet so even if your swing is wayward you probably won’t need to shout “Fore”.

Vung Tau has long been a popular tourist destination. With cool climate, long beach and harmonious temperatures, Vung Tau is an ideal holiday resort. Annually, the Vung Tau city has average of three million visitors for both local and international travelers alike.

Along with being one of the Vietnam popular beach vocations, Vung Tau is also a centre of services for the exploitation of gas and oil with oil rigs just 70 kilometers off shore.

During the American war, the peninsula at Vung Tau was populated by American soldiers on leave on duty. After, it was the prime spot for ‘boat people’ to flee Viet Nam and set sail in search of a new life oversea.

For Vietnam visa inquiry, please email to info@visatovietnam.in

Phnom Penh City

The capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, is located at the confluence of three rivers - the Mekong, the Bassac and Tonle Sap. The city is divided into three sections - the north, an attractive residential area; the south or the French part of the city with its ministries, banks and colonial houses; and the centre or the heart with its narrow lanes, markets, foods stalls and shops.

Over the past four years, the city has undergone tremendous changes - businesses are springing up constantly and tourism is once again booming. Cambodia has one of the most liberal investment laws to further boost managed to retain its charm and character - cyclos that weave through traffic with ease, broad boulevards, old colonial buildings, parks and green spaces that reminds one of the country's French heritage, and above all its people who always have a smile for you.

A stone's throw away from the Tonle Sap is the royal Palace built on the site of the Banteay Kev, a citadel built in 1813. The Palace grounds contain several buildings: the Throne Room of Prasat Tevea Vinichhay which is used for the coronation of kings, official receptions and traditional ceremonies; the Chan Chhaya Pavilion which is a venue for dance performances; the king's official residence called the Khemarin; the Napoleon Pavilion and the spectacular Silver Pagoda. This pagoda is worth exploring. It owes its name to the 5,000 silver tiles weighing 1kg each which cover the entire floor.

The emerald Buddha sits on a pedestal high atop the dias. In front of the dias stands a life-size Buddha made of solid gold and weighs 75kg. It is decked with precious gems including diamonds, the largest of which is 25 carats. Also on display at the sides are the coronation apparel and numerous miniature Buddha in gold and silver.

The walls surrounding the compound which is the oldest part of the palace, are covered with frescos depicting scenes from the Khmer version of the Ramayana.

INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT

The monument was built in 1958 to symbolise the independence that Cambodia gained from France in 1953. The French fully abandonned their interests in Indochina following defeat by the Vietnamese at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. Independence is marked in Cambodia o­n the 9th November. The monument has a unique and peculiar style and doubles as a memorial to Cambodian patriots who died for their country.

NATIONAL MUSEUM
The NATIONAL MUSEUM of Cambodia is housed in a graceful terracotta structure of traditional design (built 1917-20) just north of the Royal Palace. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 to 11 am and from 2 to 5 pm; entry is $3. Photography is prohibited inside. The School of Fine Arts (École des Beaux-arts) has its headquarters in a structure behind the main building.

WAT PHNOM
You may also want to check out WAT PHNOM which sits on a tree covered hill about 30m high in the northeast of the city. It is said that the first pagoda was built in 1373 to house four statues of the Buddha deposited here by the Mekong river. It was discovered by a woman named Penh. Thus, the name Phnom Penh, the hill of Penh. The people believe that this temple is powerful in that anyone who makes a wish will have it granted. It is not surprising to see many people coming here to pray for protection or healing. Many bring lotus flowers as offerings for prayers answered.

TUOL SLENG MUSEUM
In 1975,Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security force and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21) It soon became the largest such centre of detention and torture in the country. Over 17,000 people held at S-21 were taken to the extermination camp at Choeung Ek to be executed; detainees who die during torture were buried in mass graves in the prison grounds.

CHEUNG EK KILLING FIELD
Between 1975 and 1978,aabout 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners), detained and tortured at S-21 prison (now Tuol Sleng Museum), were transported to the extermination to death to avoid wasting precious bullets.

NEW CENTRAL MARKET
A visit to the markets and market halls is a must as they give an opportunity to be acquainted with the country's local produce and also to buy textiles, antiques, gold and silver jewellery.

The four wings of the yellow coloured Central Market are teeming with numerous stalls selling gold and silver jewellery, antique coins, clothing, clocks, flowers, food, fabrics, shoes and luggage.

TUOL TOM PONG MARKET

For some good paintings or if you prefer antiques, head from the Tuol Tom Poong Market also known as the Russian Market. A word of caution though: you need to sharpen your bargaining skills as the prices here can be outrageously high.