Travel firms start Tet tours for foreigners

Published:  00:00 Tuesday - January 11, 2011

 Travel firms start Tet tours for foreigners

The organizer of the annual Nguyen Hue Flower Street program has entered the final phase with Nguyen Hue Boulevard closed on January 21 to begin installing 120,000 flowerpots.

The flower street will be opened to visitors on January 31, or the 28th day of the final lunar month, and closed on February 6, or the fourth day of the new lunar year.

Chiem Thanh Long, deputy head of the organizing committee of the Nguyen Hue Flower Street, told the Daily last weekend that the organizer had placed orders for flowers with farmers in HCMC, the Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands city of Dalat.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see around 90 species of flowers along the main street in the city’s commercial district as they ring in the Lunar New Year.

Also shown along the street will be models of traditional items for the country’s largest festive event, such as Banh Tet (sticky rice cake) and watermelons.The organizer will turn Le Loi Boulevard into a pedestrian-only street, near Nguyen Hue, and make it a venue for music performances, folk dances and games at night on February 6.

As part of the Tet Festival 2011, the city will again organize a contest to make Banh Tet, decorate the main streets with color lighting systems, display fireworks, and stage music and light shows.

The street lighting decoration program will kick off first, with main streets Nguyen Hue, Dong Khoi, Le Loi and Le Duan to be brightly lit from January 26 to February 13. Such lighting was done during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

In the Banh Tet cooking contest, set for January 26 to 31, the best cake will be used as a token offering to the Hung Kings and 10,000 smaller Banh Tet cakes for poor people to enjoy Tet.

Organizer Saigontourist has taken contributions from many other companies to hold the Tet festival.

While Nguyen Hue Flower Street is on, some vehicles will be banned from this road from late this month to early February. Cars are not allowed on Nguyen Hue from Le Loi to Ton Duc Thang streets from January 21 to February 7. All vehicles are disallowed from January 31 to February 6 on Nguyen Hue Street and at night on February 6 on Le Loi Street, from Quach Thi Trang roundabout to the HCMC Opera House.

* Some local tour operators in HCMC have launched special tours for foreigners who want to experience the atmosphere of the upcoming Lunar New Year, or Tet, and explore how local people celebrate the biggest traditional holiday.

Among the first companies that have launched the Tet tours for foreign guests are Saigontourist Travel Service Co. and Ben Thanh Tourist.

Saigontourist has put on a tour named Celebrate Tet with Saigonese for five hours. The tour will take in China Town by pedicab to see the Chinese community prepare for Tet, the flower market and other tourist destinations.

Foreign guests can also join with local people to make Banh Tet, a special sticky rice cake for Tet, and have a local family meal.

Guests can book the tour any time between January 26 and February 2. The tour in HCMC costs US$30 per person, and that in My Tho US$45 per person.

“We have received some online bookings from foreigners since we started offering the tour in the past two days,” Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing manager of Saigontourist, said on the weekend.

She said the tour operator was combining with families in HCMC and My Tho to let foreign travelers explore Tet with Vietnamese and learn about Vietnamese traditions and customs.

Ben Thanh Tourist has launched the tour to the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long. The one day tour will take in Vinh Sang Tourist Park and some families in Vinh Long Province to take a look at rural life and Tet celebrations by local residents.

The tour costs US$45 per tourist for groups of ten.

Source: The Saigon Times
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