in Hoa Binh Province Vietnam are using the Internet to lure
tourists and spread the word about their goods.
In searching for a vacation destination, Korean tourist Kim
Min-seung turned to the same source he may have for movie
times or news: the internet, and found himself in Vietnam.
said his group of ten discovered the country's virgin
landscape, (particularly the hand-made brocade of Mai Chau
District in Hoa Binh Province, about 120km north-west from
Hanoi) through the internet first before deciding to travel
and see the beauty of the region first-hand.
"We enjoyed a homestay at Mai Chau District's Lac and
Poong Coong villages with the countless colourful stalls of
brocade lining the roadside and almost every house in stilt
was a sale outlet.
"We also joined local people in weaving brocade. The
process is so attractive and interesting. Each of us took
home several sorts of brocade products as gifts for our
family and friends," Kim told Viet Nam News.
Nguyen Huu Hung, who owns a textile weaving enterprise in
Lac Village, owes his gratitude to the internet, which
brings local and foreign travellers and business to the
"Our enterprise is thriving as a result of our efforts
to expand the market. We're using IT to advertise our
hand-made items to customers and get their feedback to
update designs to meet their demands. We also sell our items
"Through the internet we can exchange views with our
partners abroad on how to make traditional brocade desirable
to western people and we often ask them how to improve our
items' quality, using local materials along with the
latest models and designs.
"Apart from working at the workshop, my main job is to
check emails, to answer customers' orders or negotiate
with my partners in Japan, Sweden and South Korea to export
our items to them. Almost all my 100 workers have access to
the Internet," says Hung.
Without access to the internet, Hung was faced with many
hardships including higher costs, particularly when working
with foreign partners and customers.
"When sending a model to my partner to be approved I
had to wait for a week or longer and pay for postage, but
now it takes just five to seven minutes to get their
"Although initial investment for installing the
Internet and a website was a bit expensive, it's given
profitable and long-term results. I hope the internet will
be further developed in the mountain region, creating
favourable conditions for ethnic groups to boost production
and cultural exchange with the rest of the world," said
Since the internet came to these two villages in 2004, local
living standards have improved remarkably thanks to tourism
development, said one district official.
He said many households in his district have access to the
internet and use it to promote tourism in the area and
advertise their traditional products.
"The Hoa Binh Provincial Post offers ethnic groups an
internet compulsory programme in 50 out of 190 communes. The
remainder are expected to join the programme this
year," he said.
Mai Chau is now widely known among domestic and foreign
travellers for its traditional lunch served by a host
The simple life
Giving their ears a respite from the incessant noise of city
life, tourists can sit back amid the beauty of the natural
landscape and soak up the gentle rhythm of rural life; the
dull clatter of pots and pans being readied for the mid-day
meal or the sound of an old woman murmuring softly to her
This simple lifestyle is one of the area's main
attractions and the best way to get the most of it is the
most straightforward - going for a walk. If you come with
an organised tour from Hanoi you can also trek throng the
mountains or if you feel like going a bit faster, hire a
bicycle from one of the locals. Once you're ready to put
your feet up, there are nightly dance performances at the
Perhaps the best testament to Mai Chau's charms are the
lengths that people will take to get there and the public
bus ride from the capital city to Hoa Binh station on
Highway 6 is certainly a character-building journey. The
road, winding over the most spectacular mountain scenery
outside the far north, provides a hair-raising roller
coaster ride punctuated by the sound of people retching into
The bus pauses at a 'fast food' stop high in the
mountains so passengers can refuel with some delicious
roasted maize sold at the roadside and fill their lungs with
some fresh air in preparation for the rest of the journey.
For those with more sensitive stomachs, you can always find
your way by motorbike. If you want to take your time along
the road, this is really the best option.
One of Kim's Korean friends agrees: "We kept wanting
to stop to take photos along the road to Mai Chau before
arriving at Lac Village. The scenery become more and more
amazing with every corner of the road."
Sitting between the fierce Da and Ma rivers, Mai Chau is the
gateway to Vietnam's vast north-western mountain region,
home to various ethnic groups including the Thai, Muong,
Dao, Mong and Hoa.
It has been a popular destination for bold tourists since
the early 1990s. Small groups of travellers would head to
the area - about 40km north-west of Hoa Binh Province -
and take off not knowing what they would find, deputy
chairman in charge of culture and tourism from the district
People's Committee Le Quang My says.Visitors would stumble
across the villages of Lac and Poong Coong, nestled in a
mountain valley. Along with the beauty of the natural
surroundings, tourists would be warmly treated by the local
people and get a glimpse of a traditional lifestyle that has
changed little over the centuries.
The growing number of visitors prompted local authorities to
develop ethnic community-based tourism as a major
money-maker for the district, My says.
"Since 2003, the number of visitors to the area has
increased tenfold. The district earned some VND2bil from
tourism last year."
The district is now looking to expand the area from a quiet
getaway spot to a more exciting destination where tourists
will be tempted to stay for longer periods, he says.
The Viet Nam Administration of Tourism has already pumped
some VND10bil into making this plan a reality.
(Source: Viet Nam News)