|Phu My Hung Flower Street in 2014 - PHOTOS: TRAN THUY LIINH
In order to take a full-day tour around Saigon at Tet, you can take a look at several tours which many local travel companies are offering. The tour organized by Saigontourist is an example. With VND672,000 (US$31.5) per person, you can visit the city downtown, Tet Flowers Festival at Tao Dan Park in District 1, pagodas, take a cyclo ride around the Cholon area mostly inhabited by the Chinese Vietnamese community and enjoy the real Tet atmosphere by joining a Vietnamese family and making banh tet (traditional glutinous rice cake) with them.
You can also book a Tet tour around Saigon at Teraverde Travel, which will bring you to a meeting with some artists at their houses in Saigon, a traditional music show, and a traditional Tet meal with a Vietnamese family. Apart from familiar destinations in the city, you can visit the Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine (FiTo), the first private Traditional Medical Museum in Vietnam with 16 rooms displaying collections of ancient equipment to prepare medicine from the 16th century.
If you want to explore Saigon at your own pace, you will have various options. You should start the tour right after your breakfast. Enjoy the most beautiful spring sunshine and take stunning photos at the Notre Dame Cathedral and the April 30 Park in District 1 in the heart of the city. The right side of the cathedral across the city’s Post Office is where there are around 300 doves. The Post Office is also a nice place to visit, buy souvenirs and take photos. When you are here, do not forget the wonderful ceiling of the building, which was created from a mosaic of ancient bricks.
Ong Do (calligraphers) street on Pham Ngoc Thach Street is also where you should come when taking a walking tour around Saigon at Tet. Yellow apricot shining under the spring sunshine along with various activities there will help you learn about Vietnamese Tet.
Walking along Dong Khoi Street, you can embrace yourselves with the bustling Tet atmosphere while the Tet flower market at the September 23rd Park across New World Hotel Saigon is also a must-visit location.
In the afternoon, Saigon also has a lot of places worth dropping by. Visiting the Binh Dong Wharf in District 8, one of the oldest places of Saigon, you will not be disappointed. The wharf has remained almost intact. In the run up to Tet, boats carrying flowers from the Mekong Delta converge there to sell fresh and beautiful flowers for Saigon. You might have beautiful pictures there: flowers on board the boat, flowers on the sidewalk, flowers on the street and flowers on the motorbike.
Another tourist destination which is not less interesting is Ngoc Hoang Pagoda at 73 Mai Thi Luu Street in District 1. Built in 1892, the pagoda is home to 300 statues made from reinforced paper hundreds of years ago.
Coming to Binh Tay market in District 5, you can indulge yourselves in the true Tet atmosphere when walking along the streets which are decorated with imitation red firecrackers and yellow apricot flowers.
Those who want to enjoy a leisurely and relaxing Tet, Phu My Hung New Urban Area in District 7 would be a choice. Phu My Hung Flower Fair will give you a free trip to the countryside as it presents paddy fields in the harvest season and the specific scenes of the Vietnamese countryside with vegetables, fruits and thatched mud along the river.
At night, you can book a tour around the city by Vespa scooter by registering at vespaadventure.com or xotours.com. In around two and a half hours, you will see a completely different Saigon. The city will appear more sparking with a view from Thu Thiem Bridge or a panoramic view of the city from high-rise buildings.
Many interesting activities and attractive places are waiting for you in Saigon at Tet.
FTA Winter Dinner honors top hoteliers on Thursday
The Sofitel Saigon Plaza will host the 4th annual “FTA Winter Dinner in HCMC with Very Special Friends” to announce recipients of the 2015 FTA Hospitality Awards for Excellence at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The official presentations, along with a scholarship in each recipient’s name, will be made at the FTA Fall Dinners in Hong Kong on October 8 and New York City on November 10.
There are four recipients of this year’s award, including Paul Richardson, chief operating officer, Accor Greater China for the title of Operator – Asia Pacific; David Shackleton, chief operating officer, Dusit International of the title Lifetime Excellence; Mark Shuda, vice president of Food & Beverage, HEI Hotels & Resorts of the title Operator – North America and Michael McCall, director of The School of Hospitality Business, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University of the title Hospitality Educator.
The event in HCMC will see key hotel national account executives as well as press, educators and industry VIPs attending on an evening of Asia Pacific hospitality life.
The dinner menu is developed by the hotel’s Executive Chef, Sakal Phoeung; and the wines will be representative of the world market and paired by Harriet Lembeck, CWE, NYC.
Fred Tibbitts & Associates is a Bangkok, Thailand and Phnom Penh, Cambodia based global, social entrepreneurship, operated as an NGO, serving the global hospitality industry. They hold relationship-building, hospitality humanitarian dinners in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, HCMC, Singapore, Bangkok, New Delhi, Mumbai and New York City (spring and fall) to benefit the FTA Hospitality Schools Scholarship Fund as well as humanitarian activities in Thailand and Cambodia.
|Doves gather at the area near the Notre Dame Cathedral
|Binh Dong Wharf in HCMC’s District 8