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SAPA

Located 38km from Lao Cai City, Sapa is a mountainous district of Lao Cai Province. Sapa District is very well-known with Sapa Townlet, a beautiful and romantic resort.

At the height of 1,600m above sea level, the average temperature of the area is 15-18oC. It is cool in summer and cold in winter.

Visitor to Sapa in summer can feel the climate of four seasons in one day. In the morning and afternoon, it is cool like the weather of spring and autumn. At noon, it is as sunny and cloudless as the weather of summer. And it is cold in the evening. With no advance warning of a thunderstorm short and heavy rains may come at noon on any summer day. Subsequently, a rainbow appears, transforming Sapa into a magic land, which for years has been a constant source of poetic inspiration, lights up the whole region.


The best time to witness the scenic beauty of Sapa is in April and May. Before that period, the weather might be cold and foggy; after that period is the rainy season. In April and May, Sapa is blooming with flowers and green pastures. The clouds that settle in the valley in early morning quickly disappear into thin air.

Sapa has many natural sites such as Ham Rong Mountain, Silver Waterfall, Rattan Bridge, Bamboo Forest and Ta Phin Cave.Sapa is also the starting point for many climbers and scientists who want to reach the top of Fansipan Mountain, the highest mountain in Vietnam at 3,143m. Hoang Lien Mountain Range is also called the Alps of the North Sea area since Fansipan Mountain is not only the highest peak in Vietnam, but also in the Indochina Peninsula. The pyramid-shaped mountain is covered with clouds all year round and temperatures often drop below zero, especially at high elevations.

The first thing you notice when approaching the resort town are some detached wooden mansions and villas perched on a hill top or hillside, behind thick pine forests and almost invisible on this foggy morning. Old and new villas with red roofs now appear and now disappear in the green rows of pomu trees, bringing the town the beauty of European towns.

Fresh and cool air in Sapa is an idea climate condition for growing temperate vegetables such as cabbage, chayote, precious medicinal herbs, and fruit trees such as plum, pear...

Sapa is home to various families of flowers of captivating colours, which can be found nowhere else in the country. When Tet, the Lunar New Year Festival, comes, the whole township of Sapa is filled with the pink colour of peach blossom brought from the vast forests of peach just outside the town. Sapa is regarded as the kingdom of orchids. Here, orchid lovers are even amazed by the choice, when trekking in the forest filled with several hundred kinds of orchids of brilliant colours and fantastic shapes, such as Orchid Princess, Orchid of My Fair Lady's Shoe. Some orchids are named after lovely singing birds such as the canary, salangane's nest, and more.

Sapa is most beautiful in spring. Apricot, plum and cherry flowers are splendidly beautiful. Markets are crowded and merry, and are especially attractive to visitors. Minority groups come here to exchange and trade goods and products. Market sessions are also a chance for locals to promenade and young men and women in colorful costumes to meet, date or seek sweethearts.

Visitors to Sapa will have opportunities to discover the unique customs of the local residents.

HANOI

Geography
Hanoi is located in the Red River Delta, in the center of North Vietnam. It is encompassed by Thai Nguyen to the north, Vinh Phuc and Ha Tay provinces to the west and south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen provinces to the east and south-east.

Hanoi means "the hinterland between the rivers" (Ha: river, Noi: interior). Hanoi's territory is washed by the Red River (the portion of the Red River embracing Hanoi is approximately 40km long) and its tributaries, but there are some other rivers flowing through the capital, including Duong, Cau, Ca Lo, Day, Nhue, Tich, To Lich and Kim Nguu.


Climate: Hanoi is situated in a tropical monsoon zone with two main seasons. During the dry season, which lasts from October to April, it is cold and there is very little rainfall, except from January to March, when the weather is still cold but there is some light rain. The wet season, from May to September, is hot with heavy rains and storms. The average annual temperature is 23.20C (73.70F) and the average annual rainfall is 1,800mm. The average temperature in winter is 17.20C (62.90F), but can go down to 80C (46.40F). The average temperature in summer is 29.20C (84.60F), but can reach up to 390C (102.20F).


History
Hanoi is a sacred land of Vietnam. In the 3rd century BC, Co Loa (actually belonging to Dong Anh District) was chosen as the capital of the Au Lac Nation of Thuc An Duong Vuong (the King Thuc). Hanoi later became the core of the resistance movements against the Northern invasions. Located in the middle of the Red River Delta, the town has gradually expanded to become a very populations and rich residential center. At different periods, Hanoi had been selected as the chief city of Vietnam under the Northern domination.In the autumn of Canh Tuat lunar years (1010), Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty, decided to transfer the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La, and so he rebaptized it Thang Long (Soaring Dragon). The year 1010 then became an historical date for Hanoi and for the whole country in general. For about a thousand years, the capital was called Thang Long, then changing to Dong Do, Dong Kinh, and finally to Hanoi, in 1831. This sacred piece of land thereafter continued to be the theatre of many fateful events.


Tourism
Throughout the thousand years of its eventful history, marked by destruction, wars and natural calamities, Hanoi still preserves many ancient architectural works including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda (built in 1049), the Temple of Literature (built in 1070), Hanoi Citadel, Hanoi Opera House, President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum...


Hanoi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake..., which are the lungs of the city, with their surrounding gardens and trees providing a vital source of energy.

Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Hanoi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Hanoi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as Bat Trang pottery village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk... 
Transportation
By road: Hanoi is 93km from Ninh Binh, 102km from Haiphong, 153km from Thanh Hoa, 151km from Halong, 474km from Dien Bien Phu, 658km from Hue, 763km from Danang, and 1,710km from Ho Chi Minh City.

By air: Noi Bai International Airport, over 35km from the city center, is one of the biggest airports of the country with various international and domestic routes. There are domestic flights from Hanoi to Danang, Dien Bien, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang and international flights to many countries in over the world.

By train: Hanoi Railway Station is Vietnam's main railway station. It is the starting point of five railway lines leading to almost every province in Vietnam. 

HA LONG CITY

Halong City, formerly the Hon Gai Town, is the cultural, economic and political centre of Quang Ninh Province. It borders Cam Pha to the east, the Yen Hung District to the west, the Hoanh Bo District to the north and Halong Bay to the south with the coastline of 20km.

 

The city is divided into two parts: East Halong and West Halong. The eastern part is an industrial zone where most of the province's official buildings are also concentrated. The western part, also called Bai Chay, is the animated tourism zone.

 
Halong's population are most having emigrated from other places to settle here. Halong Bay is famous internationally, and is recognized as a World Heritage by UNESCO for its thousands of natural islands. Also in the city, there are temples, pagodas and historical relics.In addition to the most active branch of tourism, there are other economic activities such as: trade, seaport, coal, marine products and the production of construction materials

 
HUE CITY

Hue is one of places which have many cultural heritage. Up to now, there is no place like Hue remaining a lot of originally historical vestiges as in this ancient Capital City.

On the northern bank of Perfume River has relics consisting of palaces, which were constructed as arc defensive ramparts with 11km length. This valuable construction includes more than 100 architectural works which were extremely reflected the life of Emperors and mandarins under reign of Nguyen. Situated in the middle of hills on the southern bank of Perfume Riverare very beautiful tombs of Kings Nguyen. Among these tombs are the four famous ones with the name and the arrangements of the tomb reflected each Emperor's points of view, personality and tastes. This is majestic Gia Long Tomb, imposing Minh Mang Tomb, poetic Tu Duc Tomb and magnificent Khai Dinh Tomb.

Hue is also an important center of Buddhism. In Hue and its surrounding still exist tens of pagodas constructed more 300 years ago, and a hundred of temples and pagodas built in the early century. Besides, Hue is a place where the royal music is originated, and a place with traditional famous dishes and sophisticated handicraft.


As a unique city of Vietnam still remains its form of City under Middle Age and the constructions of monarchic, Hue has become a big and invaluable museum. Therefore, vestiges in Hue ancient capital have been classified by the government as a very precious property and on December 1993 Hue has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

ĐA NANG

Geography
Danang City is located in middle of Central Vietnam, between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, separated from Laos by the western Truong Son Mountains. It is surrounded by Thua Thien-Hue along the northern border and Quang Nam on the southern border. It is embraced by the East Sea with 150km of seacoast.

Topography is rather complex. The south is impressive Hai Van Pass with Mang Mountain 1,708m, Ba Na Mountain 1,487m. The east is Son Tra Peninsula, an ideal site of yellow sand beaches, historical remains, and rare bird and animal species. The south is Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountains). The seashore is Hoang Sa archipelago with a large fishery.


Climate:Danang is located in the zone of typical tropical monsoon, temperate and equable climate. The city's weather bears the combination of the north and the south climate characters with the inclination to the former. There are two seasons: the wet from August to December and the dry season from January to July, cold waves are occasional but they are of average and short lasting. Average humidity is 83.4%.

Average temperature is about 260C, the highest is 28-300C in June, July, August, the lowest is 18-230C in December, January, February. In Ba Na Mountain, the temperature is 200C. Average rainfall is 2,505mm per year that concentrates during October and November.Tourism
Danang is an ancient land, closely related with the Sa Huynh cultural traditions. Many imposing, palaces, towers, temples, citadels and ramparts, the vestiges from 1st to 13th are still to be seen in Cham Museum

Danang has other various interesting attractions as Ba Na Tourist Resort, Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountains) as well as the Linh Ung Pagoda, Han River, and My An, Non Nuoc beaches, stretching on dozens of kilometers...

Transportation 
Road: Danang is 108km from Hue, 130km from Quang Ngai, 763km from Hanoi, and 947km from Ho Chi Minh City.

Air: The Danang International Airport is 2.5km south-west of the city center. There are domestic flights to some cities. There are direct flight from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Siem Riep, Taipei and Singapore to Danang City by Vietnam Airlines, PB Air, Siem Riep Air way, Far Transportasion and Sil Airway.


Train:Thong Nhat Express train, which connects Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, stop in Danang.

Water: There are marine routes to international and domestic ports. Tien Sa and Han River ports are located in a very wonderful position.

NHA TRANG

The coastal city of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province, Central Vietnam, lies on the trans-Vietnam highway, 1,278km from Hanoi, and 448km from Ho Chi Minh City. Nha Trang is endowed by nature with deep, quiet and warm waters all the year round, surrounded by archipelagoes, islands, mountains and white sand beaches - a wonderful and attractive tourist resort.

To the north of Nha Trang stands the Chong mount which looks like a wide open hand over the sea. Far offshore, the Yen (Swallow) Island appears with lush green colours where salangane nests have been harvested for years to make the traditional "bird's nest" tonic and food.


The 7km white sand beach of Nha Trang is often called Vietnam's Mediterranean Area, considered one of the jewel along Vietnam's long stretching coast line. Nha Trang is sunny all year round, with an average temperature of 23?C due to northern winds.

The rainfall is less than anywhere else in the country and the area is not threatened by storms since it is protected by the Truong Son Mountains and Ca Pass. From Ca Pass, one can see Ro Bay (Vung Ro), Hon Do...

 Hon Tre Island is 36km? and belongs to a group of islands located southwest of Nha Trang. It takes two hours to reach Hon Tre Island by rowboat and only 20 minutes by ferry.

Nha Trang benefits from topographical advantages of the sea, islands, mountains, and deltas. West of Nha Trang, there are endless mountain ranges where a wide variety of animals and birds live.

Nha Trang has many specialties. Especially, bird's nest soup, or swallow's nest soup is very famous in Nha Trang and round Vietnam. The magnificent coral seabed in Nha Trang makes it ideal for scubadiving and snorkeling. 


Nha Trang Bay is recognised as one of 29 most beautiful bays in the world.

DA LAT CITY

Dalat, capital of Lam Dong Province, is located approximately 308km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. At an elevation of 1,500m, Dalat bears the look of an Old French city. It was founded in 1897 when Doctor Alexandre Yersin recommended that the area be developed as a resort town. Dalat has many natural and artificial lakes such as Ho Xuan Huong, Than Tho, Da Thien, and Tuyen Lam bordered by lines of pine trees, which are a well-known feature of Dalat. A trip to Dalat is not complete until one goes to the Dalat Flower Gardens.

The temperate climate of Dalat is suitable for flowers such as orchids, roses, lilies, and camellias. Nowadays, tourists not only limit themselves to Dalat; they also visit the area of Langbian Highland and the ethnic minorities. Langbian Mountain's highest peak at 2,165m is very tempting for climbers. From Lom Bieng Klo peak, one can see endless green mountains reflecting the silver rays of the sun. Many tours are organized in the area, including parachuting and climbing.

HO CHI MINH CITY

Geography
In the core of the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is second the most important in Vietnam after Hanoi. It is not only a commercial center but also a scientific, technological, industrial and tourist center. The city is bathed by many rivers, arroyos and canals, the biggest river being the Saigon River. The Port of Saigon, established in 1862, is accessible to ships weighing up to 30,000 tons, a rare advantage for an inland river port.

Climate:The climate is generally hot and humid. There are two distinctive seasons: the rainy season, from May to November, and the dry season, from December to April. The annual average temperature is 270C. The hottest month is April and the lowest is December. It is warm all year.

History
Many centuries ago, Saigon was already a busy commercial center. Merchants from China, Japan and many European countries would sail upstream the Saigon River to reach the islet of Pho, a trading center. In the year of 1874, Cho Lon merged with Saigon, forming the largest city in the Indochina. It had been many times celebrated as the Pearl of the Far East. After the reunification of the country, the 6th National Assembly in its meeting of the 2nd of July, 1976, has officially rebaptized Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City. The history of city relates closely with the struggle for the independence and freedom of Vietnam.

Tourism
Today, Ho Chi Minh City is the big tourism center in Vietnam, attracting a large of visitors to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City has various attractions as Ho Chi Minh Museum, formerly known as Dragon House Wharf, Cu Chi Tunnels, system of museums, theatres, cultural houses... Recently, many tourist areas are invested such as Thanh Da, Binh Quoi Village, Dam Sen Park, Saigon Water Park, Suoi Tien, Ky Hoa..., which draw numerous tourists.

Despite its quite recent past, Ho Chi Minh City nevertheless possesses various beautiful buildings, displaying a characteristic combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and European cultures. These include Nha Rong (Dragon House Wharf), Quoc To Temple (National Ancestors Temple), Xa Tay (Municipal Office), Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre as well as many pagodas and churches (Vinh Nghiem, Giac Vien, Giac Lam, Phung Son pagodas...). After more than 300 years of development, Ho Chi Minh City presents many ancient architectural constructions, famous vestiges and renowned sights. It is remarkable for its harmonious blending of traditional national values with northern and western cultural features.

Transportation
Ho Chi Minh City is the main junction for trains, roads, water, and air transportation systems for domestic trips and for foreign destination.
Roads: Ho Chi Minh City is 1,730km from Hanoi, 99km from Tay Ninh, 30km from Bien Hoa (Dong Nai), 70km from My Tho, 125km from Vung Tau, 168km from Can Tho, 308km from Dalat, and 375km from Buon Ma Thuot. The City has National Highway 13 which connects Vietnam with the rest of Indochina.

Train: Thong Nhat express train connects Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, vie many provinces in Vietnam.

Air: Tan Son Nhat International Airport, 7km from center of city, is the biggest airport with many domestic and international routes. There are flights from Hanoi and Danang to Ho Chi Minh City and between the City to many regions as well a lot of countries on over the world.

 

PHONG NHA - KE BANG NATIONAL PARK   (WORLD NATURAL HERITAGE)

Phong Nha, Ke Bang National Park lies in Quang Binh Province - the central Vietnam. Covering an area of about 200,000 hectares, Phong Nha  Ke Bang situated in Quang Ninh, Bo Trach, Tuyen Hoa and Minh Hoa districts, is 50km northwest of Dong Hoi City.

 

Phong Nha - Ke Bang can be compared to a huge geological museum thanks to its complicated geological structure with different categories of stone including sandstone, quartz, schist, siliceous limestone, granite, granodiorite, diorite, applet, pegmatite, etc. Phong Nha-Ke Bang is the oldest and largest tropical karst formed 400 million years during the main geological periods of the Earth, bearing the original topographic and geologic characteristics. Experiencing major tectonic phases, high mountain ranges and the depressed sedimentary basins were formed. These fluctuations have also contributed to the diversity of geology, topography, and geomorphology.

 

Phong Nha - Ke Bang karst mountains can provide a lot of valuable information about the Earth's prolonged geological process through various periods, from the Paleozoic (about 400 million year ago) to the Carboniferous and Permian (340-240 million years ago). It is also noteworthy to mention a geological characteristic  the system of underground rivers and grottos in limestone mountains.

 

In the non-karst geomorphologic area, there are many low mountains covered by a floristic carpet. The erosion has created a number of abrasion-accumulation terraces along the valleys of the Son and Chay rivers and at the margins of the central limestone massifs. The transition terrain consists of a diversity of rock intercalated by Limestone Mountains.

 

Besides the historical value of geology, topography, geomorphology, Phong Nha - Ke Bang is also favoured with the mysterious and majestic landscapes by nature. The Phong NhaKe Bang Natural Park still hides various myths of nature. It also has spectacular karst caves formed for hundreds of millions of years.

 

Locating in the area with a high average rainfall, however, few rivers and streams can be seen because water is absorbed to run inside Limestone Mountains. Therefore over tens of millions years, water has eroded rocks, creating numerous caves in the area. The Phong Nha grotto system has evaluated as the most value in the world by the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) which held several world cave records, as it has the longest underground river, highest and widest entrance, the most beautiful sand and rock banks, the most magnificent and fanciful stalactites and stalagmites.

 

Phong Nha-Ke Bang area is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves and grottos, divided into three main systems: Phong Nha Grottos, Vom Caves, and Ruc Mon Caves.

 

The Phong Nha grotto system is 40km long in total, rising from south of Ke Bang Limestone Mountain. The main entrances are Khe Ry and En Grottoes situated at a height of 300m above sea level. The grottoes of this tree-branch system run in the direction of northeast-southwest.

 

The system of Vom caves is over 30km long, rising from Ruc Ca Roong Cave located at a height of 360m above sea level and ending with Vom Cave. The system runs south and north. Ruc Ca Roong River sometimes hides in mountains, sometimes appears in narrow and deep valleys, and flows into the Chay River at the entrance of Vom Cave.

 

The system of Ruc Mon caves that lies in the district of Minh Hoa is also a large cave. However, the information about this system is not abundant because few surveys have been conducted in this area so far.

 

Next to the Phong Nha Grotto is Tien Son Cave - also known as Dry Grotto or Upper Phong Nha, a famous beautiful cave in Phong Nha Ke Bang area - where features spectacular stalactites and stalagmites shaped like several fairy-tales. In addition, the Thien Duong Cave remains untouched, with a very splendid beauty, longer and larger than Phong Nha or Tien Son Grottos. Especially, Son Dong Cave is one of the most newly-found caves in the national park that found by a British expedition in April 2009. It is regarded as the largest cave in the world. The biggest chamber of Son Dong is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide.

 

With its characteristics of topography, climate, soil and hydrography, Phong Nha - Ke Bang boasts a rich, diversified and unique flora. Investigations show that Phong Nha - Ke Bang has a large tropical forest floor. It covers 96.2 percent of the natural area, of which nearly 90 percent is covered by primeval forests. The diversity of rare and precious species of animals and plants in Phong Nha - Ke Bang is corollary of its natural conditions, and is a feature of the forest ecosystem.

 

Statistics show that the flora of Phong Nha - Ke Bang belongs to 152 families, 511 branches, and 876 species, including 38 listed in Vietnams Red Book, 25 in IUCNs Red Book (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and 13 endemic species.

 

A very important discovery in this national park is three rare and precious species Sao la, Mang lon and Mang Truong Son - were founded in this area. Especially, Sao la and Mang lon are new species discovered in the world. Of the 81 recorded reptile and amphibian species, 18 are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and 6 in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. In addition, there are 259 butterfly species, 72 fish species including 4 endemic ones in Quang Binh only and one first found in Vietnam; 302 bird species including 15 species listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and 19 in IUCN Red Book. Particularly, black-comb blue pheasants (ga loi lam mau den), white-tail blue pheasants (ga loi lam duoi trang) and peacocks are the global-level endangered species. Phong Nha - Ke Bang is considered a huge biological museum in Vietnam.

 

With its vivid evidences of the Earth's formation, geological, topographic and geomorphologic history, mysterious landscapes and the bio-diversity of the national park as well as its unique historical and cultural values, Phong Nha Ke Bang has been declared a world natural heritage by UNESCO at the 27th meeting in Paris in July 2003.

 

HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN, A WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE SITE   (WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE)

Hoi An is an old town down the Thu Bon River, on the coastal plain of Quang Nam Province, about 30 km south of Danang City. Hoi An used to be known on the international market with many different names such as Lam Ap, Faifo, Hoai Pho and Hoi An.

 

What is so special about Hoi An is that this little port town is in an incredible state of preservation. It offers some of the most densely-concentrated sights in Vietnam with its old streets bordered with ancient houses and assembly halls, its pagodas, temples, ancient wells and tombs. In total, more than a thousand places of interest. The architecture of Hoi An is characterized by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences. After many centuries, Hoi An is still respectful of its traditions, folk festivals, beliefs and of its sophisticated culinary art. Set in a quiet environment, Hoi An is surrounded by peaceful villages that have crafts such as carpentry, bronze making, ceramic...

Researchers said most of the buildings in Hoi An underwent restoration at the beginning of the 19th century, even if they might be constructed long time ago. The ancient architecture shown most clearly in the Ancient Town that located in Minh An Ward. It covers about 2 square kilometers and almost of all famous relics in Hoi An are gathered here. The streets are very short and narrow, having a winding, crossing as the chessboard style. The topography of the ancient town tilt gradually from north to south. The buildings in the old town are built mostly with traditional materials such as: brick, wood and no more than two floors. The traces of time are able to find not only on the architectural design of each building but also everywhere like: on the yin-yang roof tiles covered with moss and plants; the old gray mold walls; the pictures carved on a strange animal, or describing a old story.Having inherited a multi-cultural architecture so varied and sophisticated, Hoi An must have attracted numerous and talented workers in carpentry, ceramics, and woodcarving from China, Japan and other regions of Vietnam.

For centuries, Hoi An had developed into a melting pot of various nationalities who came to the area, bringing along their own cultures. Accordingly, Hoi An features the co-existence of indigenous customs and habits and those imported by foreign settlers.

There are animist cults, of the Genie-Whale and worship of deities of natural phenomena (such as rain, wind, thunder), but also the worship of Holy Protectors like Thien Hau, Quan Cong, Bao Sinh Dai De, Avalokitesvara, especially among the Chinese community. They hold regular festivals or cultural and religious activities on the occasion of Tet Nguyen Tieu (the 16th day of the 1st lunar month), Thanh Minh (3rd lunar month), Doan Ngo (the 5th day of the 5th lunar month), Trung Thu (the 15th day of the 8th lunar month), Trung Cuu (the 9th day of the 9th lunar month), and Ha Nguyen (the 15th day of the 10th lunar month).

The social and cultural diversity adds up to the uniqueness of Hoi An’s inhabitants.

Rich in traditions and early exposed to the outside world, the Hoi An people feature a unique cultural identity, which has been well preserved from generation to generation. Lives of people who stay here incline to be interior with subtle quiet. In the mind of the natives of Hoi An, this town constitutes a large ancient home that shelters a big family of many descendants including hospitable dwellers, friendly hosts and hostesses, kind-hearted women, obedient children and so on. They together form a harmonious community who has lived peacefully side by side through successive generations.

Upon reaching Hoi An, visitors will immediately feel the hospitality and friendship the locals extend to them. One thing that has withstood the test of time, one thing that the Hoi An people today can be proud of and therefore, make every efforts to preserve is their popular ho (chants) and age-old cultural festivals. Among them, the "Nights of Hoi An" is held on the 14th night of every lunar month. Visitors can immerse themselves in a festive atmosphere imbued with the traditional identities of Hoi An.

The architectural significance of Hoi An has been recognized by UNESCO, during the 23rd Congress which took place in Marrakech (Morocco) from the 29th of November to the 4th of December 2009, since the town was officially listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

NHA NHAC, VIETNAMESE COURT MUSIC   (MASTERPIECES OF THE ORAL AND INTANGIBLE)

In its ordinary meaning, Court Music is understood as music genres, including music for dance and opera, used in worshiping ceremonies, national court organized festivities, and occasions of entertainment for Kings and Royal families. But the term Nha Nhac (imported from China) was used by Vietnamese feudal dynasties from the Ho Dynasty with different meanings, for example sometimes indicating general court music, sometimes court ritual music in particular, sometimes indicating music department, even a concrete orchestra.

 

The initial foundation of Nha Nhac the Vietnamese Court Music began conceiving since the 17th century but it only reached the peak at the Hue Court under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The Court Music was officially formed along with the rise of Nguyen Dynasty in the early 19th century. In about 1947, 1948, Madame Tu Cung (mother of King Bao Dai, wife of King Khai Dinh) gathered once again some court music artists, helping to maintain some genres of Hue Court Music and dance. In the 1980s, it began to attract attention of the Ministry of Culture and local authorities. In the 1990s, Hue Court Music enjoyed renaissance. Thereafter Hue Court Music has been introduced much abroad.

The different genres of the Hue Court Music include worshiping ritual music, court ritual music, court dances, chamber music and opera (royal classical opera - tuong).

 

In the former times, Hue Court Music consisted of various genres: Giao Nhac used in the sacrifice ceremony to the Heaven and the Earth. Mieu Nhac used in worshipping ceremonies at the temples of meritorious ancestors of the Nguyen clan, Confucius, Nguyen Dynasty's literature doctors, national heroes; Ngu Tu Nhac used in Than Nong, Thanh Hoang, Xa Tac worshiping ceremonies; Dai Trieu Nhac used in great ceremonies or receptions of foreign ambassadors; Thuong Trieu Nhacused in ordinary court ceremonies; Yen Nhac used in great royal banquets; Cung Nhac (or Cung Trung Nhac) used inside the royal palaces.

 

Former Hue court dances were rich and performed on many occasions. The 11 court dances remained until now are composed of Bat Dat (used in Giao, Mieu, Xa Tac, historical kings and Confucius worshipping ceremonies); Luc cung, Tam tinh, Bat tienDau Chien thang Phat, Tu Linh, Tam quoc Tay Du (used in van tho – King’s birthday, thanh tho - birthday of King’s mother, tien tho - birthday of Hoang Thai Phi (the imperial concubine of King’s late father) and the Mu (a Fairy or Guardian angel) worshipping ceremonies); and thien xuan (birthday of the prince ‘the successor to the throne); Trinh tuong tap khanh (used in tu, ngu tuan dai khanh ceremonies for wealthy people and powerful country; Nu tuong xuat quan(used on the Days of Victory, Nguyen Dynasty Enthroning Day, lunar - calendar May 2nd, at great night banquets and receptions of foreign ambassadors); Vu phien (devoted to the King's Mother, wife, ladies-in-waiting, princesses at weddings);Luc triet hoa ma dang (on Nguyen Dynasty Enthroning Day for the watching of the people masses in the front of Phu Van Lau).

 

The repertoire for court music genres mentioned above consisted of a variety musical pieces. Yet, in the declining stages, many of them were lost; only the words have been remained. The pieces still preserved are Muoi ban ngu ( or lien bo thap chuong - suite composed of 10 pieces including: Pham tuyet, Nguyen tieu, Ho quang, Lien hoan, Binh ban, Tay mai, Kim tien, Xuan phong, Long ho, Tau ma), Long dang, Long ngam, Phu luc, Te?u khuc, Tam luan cuu chuyen - ritual music asking for good rains, Dang dan cung, Dang dan don, Dang dan kep, Thai binh co nhac, Bong, Ma vu, Man and some other pieces of chamber music such as Nam Binh and Nam Ai, etc.

 

Nguyen Dynasty court orchestras were divers in type and number of instruments, depending on the kind of royal rituals and entertainment. There were many kinds of orchestra for example Nha nhac, Huyen nhac, Ti truc te nhac, Tieu nhac, Dai nhac, Co xuy dai nhac, Nhac Thieu, Bat am, Ty chung, Ty khanh, Ty co, etc.

 

Hue Court Music succeeded and enhanced the achievements of Thang Long Court Music formed many centuries ago - to a new height. This succession and enhancement are shown in: Maintaining some court orchestras of the previous dynasties (the most distinctive of which are Tran Dynasty's Tieu nhac and Dai nhac) and creating rich variations based on Le Dynasty’s orchestras; The continuing use of many common musical instruments of Thang Long Royal Music; Maintaining and diversifying some previous court dances, at the same time creating many new dances; Creating a new type of chamber music (don ca Hue) and enhancing Vietnamese instrumental music to a new height both in performance techniques and forms of ensemble; Succeeding the Dang ngoai "tuong" and bringing it to flourish simultaneously forming a new specific kind of tuong: the "tuong Kinh" (tuong of the capital city) in the style of "tuong van"; Succeeding the system of tone regulations of the Hong Duc time under Le Dynasty in the second half of the 15th century and developing music language and theory; Continuing the traditions of learning, adopting and Vietnamising foreign music elements that were shaped in Vietnamese music in general and in Thang Long Court Music in particular

 

The special traits of Hue Court Music is the process of integrating, adopting and modifying Chinese, Champa cultures and Buddhist, Confucian impacts. Court Music is closely connected with "tuong" (hat boi) art. Hue Court Music synthetizes itself the abundance and diversity in many aspects including the art-type aspect, the genre aspect, types of instrument and timbre, in repertoires, in kinds of orchestra organization and ensemble forms, the performance environment and melody So Hue Court Music could satisfy both the spectators audition and vision by its abundance "dishes of different tastes".

 

The Hue Court Music has large scale and highly professional: As the official music of the state, it consists of many large scale orchestras, many music and dance items were performed by a big staff of instrumentalists, singers and dancers. Moreover, this is the music genre that has high degree of improvisation and variation of the melodious scheme.

 

Hue Court Music is the last vestige of Vietnamese Court Music. It contains all quintessence of Vietnamese Court Music trend that has been established and developed over 1,000 years, therefore Hue Court Music is identical with Vietnamese Court Music.

 

At the official meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Paris, Nha nhac, Vietnamese Court Music, that Hue has preserved so long, was officially listed by UNESCO among masterpieces of the Oral and intangible heritage of humanity on 7th November 2003. This is the first intangible heritage of Vietnam ever listed in this list, recognized the achievements of 10-year process of striving, tireless preparation of the central, local governments and the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre

 

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