Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Viet Nam named among 20 most beautiful countries

Viet Nam has been voted one of the 20 most beautiful countries in the world by readers of Rough Guides, the renowned British travel site.

An article on the site at www.roughguides.com advises foreign tourists and those with a passion for traveling and adventure tours to drop by the Southeast Asian country, which has been ranked the world’s seventh-fastest growing travel destination by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

The site sings the praises of the astonishing rock formations in the UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay and the endless beauty of terraced rice fields in the mystical mountain town of Sa Pa. Travellers should not miss these priceless nature treasures, the site advises.


Organisers of the 2018 Australian Deaf Games are inviting registrations for the event.

The Games, which will be held in Albury and Wodonga in January, are made up of 15 different sporting events accompanied by an exciting social program.

The 2018 Australian Deaf Games is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Entries close on 30 September.

Monday, 25 September 2017


The Scenic Skyway at Blue Mountains Scenic World is getting a $3 million upgrade.

The new Scenic Skyway, which turns 60 next year, will increase visitor capacity by 30 per cent, and promises shorter queues and a more spacious visitor experience.

The Scenic Skyway will be closed from 9 October, re-opening in mid-November.

Scenic World’s other popular attractions will operate as usual with reduced ticket prices.

Literature on Hue royal architecture - Viet Nam’s unique world documentary heritage

Literature on Hue royal architecture was honored as a world documentary heritage, the third of the Nguyen dynasty which ruled Viet Nam between 1802 and 1945. The poems highlight the authors’ pride of Viet Nam’s traditions and beautiful scenery.

The beautiful verses in Chinese script were carved, enameled, or embossed on Hue Royal Court structures. They were the best written by Nguyen kings, their relatives, and mandarins about Viet Nam’s peace, independence, natural beauty, and agricultural promotion.

Nguyen Phuoc Hai Trung, Vice Director of the Hue Relics Preservation Centre, said: “Literature on Hue royal architecture of the Nguyen dynasty is unique. The poems are engraved on different positions of palaces. It’s estimated that nearly 3,000 compartments have verses. It can either be one or several compartments to make up a complete poem”.

The intact beautiful art and intellectual works were used as ornaments of the buildings. The scripts made up a handicraft product that required artisans to master calligraphy and ancient techniques. Trung further elaborated: “The scripts could be either placed in red lacquer trimmed with gold or enameled on bronze. They were carved in different calligraphic styles. The letters were written by the Nguyen Kings and mandarins who were good at calligraphy”.

UNESCO recognized literature on Hue royal architecture as a documentary heritage of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific in June, last year, for its variable content depending on where it was placed and for its usage as decorative items.

All literature of the Hue royal architecture has been digitalized by the Hue Relics Preservation Centre and will soon be available on the Internet.


Broken Hill’s mining history, its iconic Living Desert Sculptures, and national parks will soon be in reach of more visitors thanks to the opening of a new resort.

The new $5 million Broken Hill Outback Resort will open in March, and offers cabin, caravan and camping accommodation developed around the historic Mt Gipps Hotel.

The hotel, which was built in 1870 but has been closed since 1987, will be restored to include a bar, restaurant and reception.

The resort will overlook the beautiful Barrier Ranges and the Sturt Desert.

Broken Hill is Australia’s first Heritage-Listed city and is popular with visitors seeking the peace and open spaces unique to the NSW Outback.

Find out more about Broken Hill.

Sunday, 24 September 2017


NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall visited Parkes this week to launch the 2018 Parkes Elvis Festival program.

Held every January to mark Elvis’s birthday, the festival attracts more than 13,000 overnight visitors and generates more than $9 million in visitor spend for NSW.

The event, which is themed ’68 Comeback Special, has a packed line-up including a Concert Series, Elvis Gospel Service, Miss Priscilla Dinner and much more.

Elvis fans making the annual pilgrimage to Parkes will have more travel options in 2018, with the popular Elvis Express being joined by an extra train, the Blue Suede Express, and new coach services from Tamworth and Canberra.

Book your tickets to the festival and find out more about transport links.

International Famtrip delegation study Binh Thuan’s tourism products

Representatives from travel companies, buyers and journalists from India, the US, France, Mexico and Italy scoped out tourism products in the central province of Binh Thuan on September 9-10.

The Famtrip delegation visited a number of tourist attractions in the locality like white sand dunes in Mui Ne, While Lake (Bau Trang) in Hoa Thang commune (Bac Binh district) and Poshanu Cham Tower, and examined accommodation services in Ham Tien-Mui Ne and Phan Thiet city.

On this occasion, the delegation engaged in an exchange with leaders of the local tourism sector and travel companies in Binh Thuan, where they were briefed on potential and strength of the province.

According to the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Binh Thuan has more than 420 accommodation establishments with nearly 14,000 rooms, including three five-star and 29 four-star facilities.

Apart from beach resorts, water sports and exploring tours, Binh Thuan has joined hands with Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and southern central localities to develop tours of various types.

The number of visitors to Binh Thuan has risen by 10 percent each year since 2013, of which foreign holiday-makers increased by 12 percent.

In the first six months of 2017, the province welcomed 2.3 million tourists, of which 295,000 are foreigners.


Image credit: Ballina Tourism
A new travel video, presented by HotelsCombined Brand Ambassador, Lynette Bolton, and delivered in partnership with Destination NSW, will be aired to millions of potential travellers across Australia and New Zealand this month as part the NSW Government’s $300,000 North Coast Flood Recovery Support Program.

The five-minute clip will be shown on National Geographic’s television and online channels to highlight the North Coast’s stunning beaches, food, wine and accommodation.

Tweed and Ballina will also feature in future episodes of Sydney Weekender.

Social media influencer Lauren Bath also visited the Northern Rivers this week to capture images that will entice visitors to the region’s national parks, beaches and the charming communities of Tweed.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Everything You Need to Know For San Francisco's Fleet Week

Since 1981, San Francisco Fleet Week has grown into one of the most popular annual events in San Francisco, attracting more than one million attendees every year. Residents take great pride in the history that the United States Armed Forces have had in San Francisco, and Fleet Week is a prime example of precisely that. If you can fit Fleet Week into your schedule, we promise you won't be disappointed.

What Is Fleet Week?

Fleet Week is a celebration of the United States Armed Forces, specifically the United States Navy. The event itself is about a week long and consists of numerous events and activities that are appropriate for any age group. Perhaps the most exciting part of Fleet Week is the air show. This feat of aerial expertise involves some of the Navy's most skilled fighter pilots performing a number of aerial acrobatics and simulated dogfights that will have everyone's jaws dropping. The Parade of Ships is another popular event, involving some of the U.S. Navy's most impressive ships. Each of these ships move in formation under the Golden Gate Bridge, providing an excellent view for anyone lucky enough to be on the bridge during the event. Since this is San Francisco, there are also lots of musical events, as well as food and drink options for children and adults alike. Visitors can even buy a burger for a sailor -- just one way to show your gratitude for the hard work and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform!

Where to Watch

Getting a great view during Fleet Week will help ensure that you get the most out of your trip. These are a few of the best places to watch Fleet Week events.

Crissy Field
If you want to be right in the heart of Fleet Week action, Crissy Field is the place to be. Crissy Field used to be a U.S. Army airfield, but today it offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and easy access to all Fleet Week events. For most of the year, Crissy Field is a fairly quiet and laid-back public park. During Fleet Week, however, the area comes alive with attractions and activities.

Marina Green
Marina Green is a large grassy area located just east of Crissy Field. Close to the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Mason, Marina Green is a smaller space for Fleet Week viewing.

Where to Stay During Fleet Week

Fleet Week is one of the most popular times to visit San Francisco, which means you'll want to choose the neighborhood you stay in as early as possible. Fortunately, there are three neighborhoods which are best for proximity to Fleet Week activities while also having attractions of their own.

Fisherman's Wharf
If you want to have some distance between you and the Fleet Week action, Fisherman's Wharf is an excellent neighborhood to stay in. Fisherman's Wharf has plenty of attractions in its own right. Located in the northeast part of the city, Fisherman's Wharf is perhaps best known for PIER 39 and Ghirardelli Sqiare. Here, you'll find plenty of restaurants and shops to fill your time. If you want to stick with the theme of Fleet Week, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located nearby as well. You can learn about the history of the United States Navy and even get a look at the USS Pampanito, a submarine in service during World War II.

Fisherman's Wharf is also well-known for an abundance of excellent hotels. While there are plenty to choose from, two that stand out are the Best Western Tuscan Hotel and Pier 2620. The Tuscan Hotel is a European-style upscale hotel and is widely regarded as one of the best places to stay in San Francisco. Pier 2620 is a recently renovated, modern hotel with excellent views of the wharf. Find a hotel.

Nob Hill
One of the most exclusive neighborhoods in San Francisco, Nob Hill has some of the best hotels with an elevated view of Fleet Week activities, including the air show! Popular Nob Hill hotels include The Scarlet Huntington and Stanford Court. Find a hotel.

Pacific Heights
Pacific Heights offers close proximity to the activities while still putting a few blocks between you and the crowds. Both Hotel Drisco and The Laurel Inn are in Pacific Heights and are popular choices during Fleet Week.

If you're planning to visit San Francisco for Fleet Week, make sure to make the most of your trip by choosing the neighborhood that best suits you. Find a hotel.

Amadeus and MTCO Launch Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar

Free Mekong Trends Seminar on Aviation in the Greater Mekong Subregion, hosted by Amadeus in Bangkok on October 10th, 2017.

Amadeus and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is jointly organising the first Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar, which is scheduled to take place in Bangkok on the 10th of October.

The inaugural Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar will highlight the key insights of the recently published Mekong Trends Snapshot on Air Transport in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Both the report and the seminar intend to emphasise the importance of aviation in the development of the region’s tourism.

Nanda Pillai, Regional Director, South and South East Asia, Airlines, Amadeus Asia Pacific, said: “Together with MTCO we look forward to hosting a stimulating discussion with the GMS travel industry on the further evolution of aviation in the region, and the existing challenges as well as opportunities for airlines. Air transport brings regions, economies and people closer together, and we’re committed to working with our airline customers and industry partners like MTCO to ensure it can continue to grow and develop sustainably, for the greater good of all.”

According to the report, over the last 20 years, air transport in the GMS helped to open up many destinations in the region such as Siem Reap in Cambodia, Luang Prabang in Lao PDR, Danang in Vietnam, Mandalay in Myanmar and Guilin in Guangxi, the People’s Republic of China.

The trend accelerated with the emergence of budget airlines. New air routes today link destinations such as Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Khon Kaen in Thailand, and Pakse in Lao PDR, destinations which were barely noticed by travellers before.

Jens Thraenhart, MTCO Executive Director, said: “Therefore, it is fitting that our first Mekong Trends Snapshot covers GMS Aviation, providing a quick overview and some key insights on important developments and trends in the region’s aviation industry.”

Mekong Trends is a public-private partnership to deliver valuable industry intelligence on specific and relevant topics. Published for the industry on behalf of the MTCO and the National Tourism Organisations of the six member governments of the GMS, Mekong Trends is owned and operated by CEN International.

The first Mekong Trends Snapshot on Air Transport in the GMS was released in June this year during the Mekong Tourism Forum 2017, a platform for GMS travel industry collaboration supported by the Asian Development Bank. The report can be downloaded for free at www.MekongTrends.com.

Key insights of the report will be used to discuss the state of aviation and connectivity in the Mekong Region during the Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar hosted by Amadeus. The seminar will take place on 10 October, from 16:00-18:00, at the Amadeus Executive Briefing Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

Entry is free, but registration is required. For more information, please click here.
(Website: http://www.mekongtourism.org/events/mekong-trends-seminar-gms-aviation/)

Contact information
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
Executive Director
Jens Thraenhart (jens@mekongtourism.org)

Night sky magic in store for stargazers and astro-tourists

Stargazers and astro-tourists will be treated to three days of night sky magic at the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival.

The biennial festival runs from October 13-15 in Mt Cook Village and Tekapo and celebrates the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park as one of the best stargazing locations in the world.

Keynote speakers include NASA scientist Dr Natalie Batalha, who was named as one of the 100 most influential people on Earth by Time Magazine in 2017 for her contributions to the discovery of habitable exoplanets. Dr Batalha will discuss the possibility of finding potentially habitable environments in the not-so-distant future.Festival-goers will learn about the night sky, the effects of light pollution and gain an understanding of outer space through a mix of scientific, educational and cultural events, such as lectures, planetarium shows and a photography exhibition.

Another festival highlight includes a lecture and video presentation by award-winning photographer and time-lapse filmmaker Mark Gee, whose short film Full Moon Silhouettes gained international acclaim. Gee enjoys the challenge of combining New Zealand’s striking landscapes with the ethereal beauty of the night sky in new, creative ways.

“We’re extremely lucky to have the likes of Dr Natalie Batalha and Mark Gee on board for the festival, alongside several other exciting speakers,” says Professor John Hearnshaw of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. “We hope the varied programme will attract all sorts of people, from international visitors and academics to amateur astronomers and families with school-age children.”

The Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park region has some of the most beautiful scenery in New Zealand; from clear starry nights and crisp sunny days to turquoise blue lakes and snow-capped mountains. It is home to the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory in Tekapo and the southern hemisphere’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, which at 4,300 square kilometres is also the largest in the southern hemisphere.

The dark sky reserve is ‘gold-rated’ due to the quality of its almost light-pollution-free skies, devoid of urban light. On a clear night, a spectacular number of stars are visible to the naked eye.

Festival organisers
The Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival is organised by the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve Board in partnership with the University of Canterbury through the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Festival location
The main festival venue is the iconic Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook Village, including the adjoining Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and Digital Dome Planetarium. Some events will be held nearby, including in Tekapo.

Tickets are on sale now and some events are free. For more information, visit



Balloon Safaris with Hunter Valley Ballooning
An exciting new ballooning event will light up the skies above the Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley on 30 September.

Hunter Valley Night Glow is a spectacular display of nine hot-air balloons that will light their burners in the dark, choreographed to music.

There will also be a food and wine night market (picnic blankets are encouraged), musical performances and pilots will be on hand to explain how the balloons are operated.

The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display.

The event is the latest addition to the Balloon Aloft Fiesta which runs from Friday, 29 September until Monday, 2 October. To find out more, visit Balloon Aloft.

Dive with a local Ama diver! (Mie, Japan)

Want to experience to diving with an actual Ama woman diver? Why not visit Ise-shima in Mie, Japan?

Ama are free-diving women who catch shellfish and seaweed by hands without any mechanical diving equipment from the rocky sea since 3000 years ago. 

Ama are always careful not to overfish the waters, using conventional tools to measure the growth of their catch, ensuring the protection of the ocean’s natural resources.

Between 1000 and 2000 Ama fish the waters across Japan from Tohoku to Kyushu, with approximately 750 residing in Ise-Shima alone. 

In 2017, the harvesting techniques of Ama were officially designated an important folk cultural property.

Experience it yourself: "Dive with a local Ama diver!"

For more details, please check out the links below.

Free walking tours to be offered to international visitors

Visitors walking in Hoi An Ancient Town
From the end of September 2017, international visitors to Viet Nam will have the chance to take free walking tours in Ho Chi Minh city, Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi, Hoi An and Ha Long.

The tours will be arranged every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with an itinerary visiting famous attractions with totally free guides.

The tourism product is designed by Vietravel Company to create a free pedestrian network, helping tourists to have more experiences. International visitors and overseas Vietnamese can register for the tours.

In Ha Noi, foreign tourists will experience the attraction of the product “When the old town lights up”, including the following destinations: Hanoi Opera House, Ly Thai To flower garden, Ngoc Son temple - The Huc bridge - Pen tower, Ba Kieu temple, and memorial house to President Ho Chi Minh.

While in Ho Chi Minh city, they will enjoy many products, including the highlighted tour “Pearl of the Far East” that will bring them to the famous spots such as Ben Thanh market, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Post Office.


The cool-climate wines and seasonal produce of Orange will soon be within reach of more visitors thanks to a tourism funding boost from the NSW Government.

Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said Ross Hill Wines had secured $150,000 from Destination NSW’s Regional Tourism Fund, which will go towards the development of a new cooking school and onsite function centre.

“Hatted chefs, Michael Manners and Simonn Hawke will lead the cooking school using some of region’s best local produce, while the function centre will conduct wine and spirit education courses, providing fantastic upskilling opportunities for the local hospitality and tourism industry,” Mr Colless said.

Visit Ross Hill Wines to find out more.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Sleeping in nature amid the world’s second largest dark sky reserve

SkyScape owners Bridget and Bevan Newlands are no strangers to staying in unique accommodation in interesting locations.

While travelling the world teaching for five years, they went out of their way to stay in quirky digs – from camping in a Kenyan game park and sleeping in a Scottish castle to experiencing a traditional hut in Norway and snuggling up in the Swedish IceHotel.

SkyScape, an architecturally designed, glass-roofed accommodation building on a 6000-acre high country station near Twizel, opened in April – and so far, so good.Now, after returning to New Zealand and making a shift to the Mackenzie region, the couple have realized a dream of running their own special retreat.

“We have received the most incredible feedback from guests – they love the expansive views, luxury cedar bath, attention to detail, remoteness and silence,” says Bevan.

“The closest house you can see is 10 kilometres away, you really feel like you are alone in the world.”

Bridget says they wanted to create a unique opportunity for people to “sleep in nature” while experiencing the Southern Hemisphere’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, which at 4300 square kilometres is also the world’s second largest.

Made almost entirely of glass, SkyScape was designed by Ian Perry of iDesign in Oamaru and has expansive views over the golden tussocks of the Mackenzie Basin to the Southern Alps, Two Thumbs Range and Mt John.

“Ian spent time looking at the formations of the mountains on the farm and designed a building that encapsulates the mountainous shapes of the Mackenzie district,” says Bevan.

It is designed to mitigate heat loss and stay cozy and warm amid the extreme conditions of the Mackenzie country, where temperatures can drop to -10 degrees Celsius.The accommodation unit is off-the-grid and powered by solar energy, with gas for the domestic hot water and central heating.

Bridget says the venture fits in well with the couple’s desire to bring up their two young boys on the family farm, which runs 1200 merino ewes and 150 beef cattle.

She and Bevan offer hour-long farm tours and a three-hour 4WD experience to the top of Omahau Hill Station, which reaches an elevation of 1350 metres.

“We see infinite possibilities with this venture and are thrilled to be able to open our private high country station up to visitors so they can see what we do every day.”

How to get to SkyScape
Guests check in at 47 Ben Ohau Rd – nine kilometres southwest of Twizel. From there, Bridget and Bevan take them on a 3km drive to their astral accommodation experience.

Other alternative accommodation
From luxury tree houses to grain silos, Canterbury offers some incredible unique accommodation options.
  • Rest up in a humble grain silo converted into innovative and stylish serviced apartments with SiloStay, located in the heart of Little River,
  • Stay in a luxury tree hut suite 30-feet above ground in the canopy of a native Manuka grove with Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses in Kaikoura.
  • Sleep in a glass pod surrounded by nature in Kaikoura, Banks Peninsula or Waipara with PurePods.
  • Go to jail for a night with The Jailhouse in Christchurch, which once served as a prison and was refurbished and opened as accommodation a decade ago.
  • Spend the evening staring at the stars from a ‘wooden tent’ with see-through roofing at Onuku Farm Hostel on Banks Peninsula.
  • Try your hand at glamping with Canopy Camping Escapes at Lavericks Bay in Banks Peninsula or Camp Kekerengu in Kaikoura.

Visit HIROSHIMA for natural hot springs !

Soaking in a hot spring is a great way to relax and truly experience Japanese culture. 

Miyajima Island has several natural hot springs, most of which are equipped within the ryokans and hotels of the island. 

This is the perfect destination for relaxing and soothing your mind and body after walking around Miyajima. 

Enjoy these natural hot springs! 

Nha Trang welcomes almost 1.2 million foreign visitors in 7 months

More than 1.13 million foreign visitors arrived in the south-central city of Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province in the first seven months of this year, according to the provincial Department of Tourism.

China and Russia have the highest number of visitors to NhaTrang (more than 671,000 visitors from China, up 244% and 263,000 others from Russia, up 220% against the same period last year).

According to the Khanh Hoa Relics Preservation Centre, two destinations in Nha Trang City Centre, Ponagar Tower Complex and Hon Chong welcome thousands of visitors every day.

The Department of Tourism reported that tourist arrivals from traditional markets like France, the UK, Germany, Australia, the US and Canada dropped by 8-30% compared to the same period last year.

The number of foreign arrivals, particularly Chinese, to Nha Trang in August slightly reduced compared to June and July.

To cope with the decrease, Tran Son Hai, vice chairman of Khanh Hoa People’s Committee, has directed the Department of Tourism and Tourism Association to take proper measures to recover these markets and attract more visitors from new markets.

The two agencies are completing necessary procedures to open direct flights from Cam Ranh Airport to cities in the Republic of Korea and Japan.


Image: Artist impression of new zoo.
Western Sydney will soon be home to a new private zoo, with planning approval to build a 16.5 hectare facility at Bungarabee Park in Western Sydney Parklands.

NSW Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres and NSW Minister for Environment Gabrielle Upton said Sydney Zoo will offer an unparalleled tourism experience with more than 30 large animal exhibits accessible through immersive, safari-like enclosures and elevated boardwalks.

“Set to be Australia’s most technologically advanced and innovative zoo, it will also feature an incredible integrated Aboriginal and natural heritage program, focusing on the local Darug people of Western Sydney,” Mr Ayres said.

Construction will start later this year, with the facility set to open before the 2018 Summer school holidays.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 2017 is Now Open

The nation’s premier Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights, is now open at Universal Orlando Resort – with more event nights and terrifying frights than ever before.

This year, Halloween Horror Nights presents the most unearthly and macabre collection of terrors called The Festival of the Deadliest. This ancient tradition has taken root inside Universal Studios Florida and is filled with hellish wonders that are hard to resist and impossible to escape. This ghastly collection of madmen and monsters from beyond the veil have joined together to revel in firelight and create the ultimate afterlife of fright. And this is just the beginning.

Unimaginable horrors come to life in nine disturbingly-real haunted houses based on some of the most horrifying legends in pop culture. Guests will:
  • Feel the wrath of the disturbing “Raspers” and infamous serial killer Bloody Face from Asylum, fearsome Salem witches and their bloody rivalry within Coven, and the ghosts of the blood moon in Roanoke from FX’s groundbreaking anthology “American Horror Story”
  • Succumb to the overwhelming “shine” and the murderous ghosts inhabiting the eerie Overlook Hotel from “Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining”
  • Fight to survive “Jigsaw’s” scariest game yet, featuring infamous traps from the legendary film series and the upcoming eighth installment JIGSAW, inside “SAW: The Games of Jigsaw”
  • Fend off demonic Deadites alongside Ash Williams and his trusty chainsaw from the STARZ Original Series “Ash vs Evil Dead”
  • Attempt to escape the clutches of the menacing demon Bughuul from the Sinister franchise; a gang of bloodthirsty home invaders from the inaugural installment of The Purge; and Insidious’ paralyzing Lipstick-Face Demon along with the hauntings from Dr. Rainier’s nightmarish childhood in “The Horrors of Blumhouse”
  • Step inside the twisted minds behind the nation’s premier Halloween event in four haunted houses based on spine-chilling original stories

And there’s even more horror lurking in the streets of Universal Studios Florida with five unique “scare zones,” two of which are based on two celebrated horror films –Trick ‘r Treat and The Purge – as well as three haunting original concepts.

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights will also feature two incredible live shows. This year, Academy of Villains returns for a second consecutive year with an all-new show, ACADEMY OF VILLAINS: AFTERLIFE – incorporating fearsome elements from this year’s Festival of the Deadliest “scare zone.” Plus, after 26 years of Excellent Halloween Adventures, Bill and Ted are bringing their Farewell Tour to Halloween Horror Nights to review this year’s most outrageous moments.

For a record-breaking 34 select nights through November 4, guests can experience theme park thrills by day and terrifying horror film chills by night at Halloween Horror Nights. For more information, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando.

Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 20 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando and Hollywood to become victims of their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing “scare-actors” lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on everything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.


There is no better place to celebrate the wonders of the fall season than along the Half Moon Bay Coastside. Fondly regarded as the pumpkin capital of the world, this beautiful coastal region, located approximately 35 minutes south of San Francisco, produces more than 3,000 tons of pumpkins every year. Visitors will delight in the area’s brilliant orange pick-your-own-pumpkins and scenic backdrop of rich fall colors. The local menus are brimming over with pumpkin-inspired delights such as pumpkin sandwiches, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin spice lattes, and even pumpkin beer on tap!

Below is a summary of pumpkin-related events, dining experiences, spa treatments, and more along the Half Moon Bay Coastside. To plan a trip, visit www.visithalfmoonbay.org and also download iCoastside to access information on the region’s cosy inns and luxury coastal resorts, renowned restaurants, farm visits, golfing, wine tasting, fishing, whale watching, surfing and much more.

Special Note: All locations are in Half Moon Bay unless otherwise noted.


15th Annual Bernese Mountain Dog Day (free!)

Oct. 1, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Join over 130 Bernese Mountain Dogs at Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm for the 15th Annual Mountain Dog Day! Berner friends will be accompanied by John’s Bernese, Clara Honey, along with her cousin Chloe who will welcome their old and new pals. Farmer John will be ready to give hayrides for his furry friends. 800 North Cabrillo Highway, 650) 726-4980, www.farmerjohnspumpkins.com.

10th Annual Hand-Blown Art Glass Pumpkin Patch

Oct. 7-8, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Half Moon Bay Art Glass will transform the grounds of La Nebbia Winery into a glistening glass pumpkin patch featuring the work of glass blower Douglass C. Brown. This artistic installation will feature hundreds of one-of-a-kind glass pumpkins available for purchase, each one personally handcrafted by Brown, who works year-round to create this spectacular display. For those who wish to create their own piece of art, HMB Art Glass offers several classes each day year-round. La Nebbia Winery will be open for guests to partake in wine tasting and to purchase bottles of wine, while bocce ball courts will offer fun for everyone. Classes start as low as $59 per person. Ask for the "NewClient40" special rate for up to 50% off website pricing. La Nebbia Winery, 12341 San Mateo Road on Hwy. 92, (650) 283-5626, www.hmbartglass.com.

44th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off (free!)

Oct. 9, 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Superstar Gourd Growing Greats and their hard-to-believe, titanic orange orbs gather for the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in the World Pumpkin Capital of Half Moon Bay. A special $30,000 bonus mega-prize will be awarded to any grower who breaks the world record at Half Moon Bay, considered the "Super Bowl of Weigh-Offs." A host of veteran growers contend for the coveted title, the $30,000 world record prize and thousands in additional prize money. In a pay-by-the-pound system, the winner will take home a hefty $7 per pound for the champion mega-pumpkin. Superstar grower Cindy Tobeck’s monster 1,910-pound weigh-off champion mega-gourd obliterated a formidable field of heavyweight contenders in winning the 2016 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. The grand champion gourd (along with the top five overall) will be on display at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival on October 14-15. IDES Grounds, 735 Main Street, (650) 726-9652, www.miramarevents.com.

47th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival (free!)

Oct. 14 & 15, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Half Moon Bay celebrates its bountiful fall harvest and autumn splendor with a special display of gigantically enormous heavyweight champion pumpkins, four stages of stellar live music, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a bone-chilling Haunted House, harvest-inspired crafts, home-style foods, expert pumpkin carver Peter Hazel sculpting a monster 10,000+ pound pumpkin, photos with the grand champion mega-gourd, pie-eating and costume contests, pumpkin carving for fun, and so much more! With so much to see and do, visitors can use iPumpkin, the official mobile application of the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, to navigate their way through the festival. Admission is free. Main Street, (650) 726-9652, www.miramarevents.com

Fourth Annual Coastside Brewfest

Oct. 21, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Enjoy some of the best breweries on the West Coast at the Fourth Annual Coastside Brew Fest, hosted by Mavericks Community Foundation. Held in the parking lot of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, guests can enjoy unlimited tastes of their favourite brews from vendors including Alpha Acid Brewing Company, Alvarado Street Brewery, Barebottle Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Drake’s Brewing Company, Fieldwork Brewing Company, Hop Dogma Brewing Company, Temescal Brewing, and many more. Local food trucks offer guests the chance to purchase a wide variety of delicious bites, and the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company restaurant will be open for dining. This year’s beneficiary is the Mavericks Coastside Foundation, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Coastside Hope. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door (includes souvenir glass); designated driver tickets are $10. Tickets are available at www.coastsidebrewfest.com. 390 Capistrano Road, (650) 728-2739, www.hmbbrewingco.com

Outdoor Fun With Presidio Picnic

Grab your blanket and meet at the Presidio on Sundays for a family picnic like no other. Presidio Picnic features international food and drink from the best of the Bay Area food scene, lawn games, music, yoga classes, nature-based arts and crafts for kids and a photo booth at the Presidio Adventure Zone tent, plus iconic views of San Francisco Bay. Presidio Picnic is sponsored by the Presidio Trust and Off the Grid Markets.

Presidio Picnic's food vendor lineup often includes Belgian Frites, El Sur Empanadas, Fine & Rare, Hookt Mini Doughnuts, Lady Falcon, Nopalito, Sam's Chowder House, The Whole Beast and much more. Weekly vendor lineup is subject to change.

Presidio Picnic is also a great starting point for exploring other parts of the Presidio. Nearby is the new Presidio Visitor Center, where you can find tips for extending your day in the park and for future visits. You'll also find sweatshirts, picnic blankets, reusable water bottles and more for sale. Visitors can also enjoy 24 miles of trails with eight scenic overlooks; outdoor sculptures, including Wood Line by Andy Goldsworthy; the The Walt Disney Family Museum; the Presidio Officer's Club museum and cultural center; and restaurants, including The Commissary and Arguello.

Presidio Picnic is held Sundays, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. through Oct. 8, 2017 and is easily accessible via the free PresidiGo Shuttle or San Francisco's Muni system. Bicyclists can take advantage of a free bike valet service.

For more information, including guidelines and FAQ's, please visit the Presidio online.

Built to last – an incredible new city

Fans of modern architecture will find plenty to see and photograph in Christchurch.​ Bold new structures are emerging amid treasured historic buildings following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Glass, concrete, cardboard, timber, adventurous angles and cutting-edge technology – you’ll find it all in the South Island’s largest city.

The Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu houses several exhibition areas and fabulous photo opportunities, including the bull on the piano in front of the gallery and the striking wavy glass façade depicting the koru and Avon River/Ōtākaro. The building was seismically strengthened after the quakes, which was no easy feat. Engineers had to cut off all the columns in the basement (as well as stairwells and lift shafts) to install base isolators – and suspend them from the floor above while the work was going on.

The Arts Centre
Home to one of the most significant collections of heritage buildings in New Zealand, The Arts Centre is a must visit for fans of beautiful architecture – particularly those with an interest in the distinctive Gothic Revival style. The Arts Centre suffered extensive damage in the Canterbury earthquakes and is the subject of a huge restoration effort. The Great Hall and Clock Tower, built in 1882 and 1877, were the first buildings to re-open and have both received awards for innovative engineering.

Cathedral Grammar Junior School
An Auckland-based designer and professor joined forces with a Japanese husband-and-wife architect team to design the innovative Cathedral Grammar Junior School building. The entire school was cut to finished shape in a factory off site before being assembled opposite Hagley Park on the corner of Hagley Ave and Kilmore St. The stunning timber structure features a rooftop playground with a Southern Alps-inspired frame to climb on and a slide down to a grassy courtyard below.

Isaac Theatre Royal
Standing outside the grand Isaac Theatre Royal, it is hard to believe it hasn’t looked that way for the past 100 years. The theatre was fully restored after the quakes, including its amazing façade and dome, with heritage features retained or replaced when necessary. The rebuild also provided an opportunity to intertwine enhancements to the foyer space and technical operations.

Christchurch Bus Interchange
The Christchurch Bus Interchange features a dramatic canopy-like, folding roof and attention-grabbing angles. Designed by Architectus, a New Zealand firm that has worked on many civic, community, educational and transport-oriented projects, it features natural ventilation and underfloor heating to keep commuters comfortable, as well as lockers, secure bike parks, retail areas and cafés.

The Cardboard Cathedral
Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who won the 2014 Pritzker Prize for his work pioneering the use of cardboard as a structural material, designed Christchurch’s Transitional Cathedral in the wake of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The building incorporates cardboard tubes with timber, steel and concrete and has a steeply-pitched asymmetrical roof. Its striking triangular window includes designs from the original cathedral.

Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building
The Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building stands proud on a corner in the central city, with vertical green and red glass panes. It houses an array of cafes, bars and offices, as well as Leighs Construction – a contractor on the building that liked it so much it decided to move in. Before the quakes, the triangular site the building is on was home to the Stranges Building – an iconic 1900s structure. Its replacement incorporates rustic timber, concrete textures and a low profile to pay homage to nearby Victorian buildings.

Deloitte’s office
Deloitte’s office is found on Cambridge Terrace, near the Avon River/Ōtākaro. The river strongly influenced the building's architectural design, which is evident in the rippling façade flowing along the northern and eastern elevations. Glazed sunshades even form ‘eddies’ across the surface of the building. Floor-to-ceiling glazing provides occupants with unrestricted views out to the river and its embankments.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre
The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is home to the gardens' striking visitor centre and ilex Café. Designed by architects Patterson Associates, the light-soaked, contemporary building was influenced by the glass and white steel structures within Kew Gardens in London. The building is home to a working nursery, which you can see while you’re sipping your latte.

The Tannery

The Tannery is a boutique shopping emporium on the banks of the Heathcote River in Woolston. The beautifully-restored former industrial buildings were once home to Woolston Tanneries and now house 50 boutique shops specialising in clothing, art and designer homewares, we well as restaurants, bars and a deluxe cinema. Most of the buildings are constructed of brick, complemented by timber door and window frames.

New Regent Street

New Regent Street boasts distinctive pastel colours and beautiful Spanish Mission architecture dating back to 1932. Designed by Francis Willis, the 40 buildings on the street were one of the few large-scale building projects undertaken in the South Island during the Depression. New Regent Street is home to bars and eateries and is just around the corner from the amazing Isaac Theatre Royal.

Justice Precinct
The Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct houses all the justice sector agencies and the city’s civil defence and emergency management in one central location. It features a 36-metre long aluminium kākahu – or traditional Maori feather cloak – façade by contemporary artist Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Hāmoa). The amazing kākahu design is inspired by the endangered Kākapo parrot.

One of Japan's Three Great Hayashi

– Hanawa Bayashi 花輪ばやし of Akita Pref.

Hayashi(ばやし) is the musical accompaniment played on traditional Japanese instruments.
Kazuno city in Akita prefecture has long prospered as gold and copper production center in the old days.

In this town,there is a summer festival "Hanawa-bayashi" which is rated as a one of the best festival music in Japan which has a history of more than 1000 years. 

Ten gorgeous floats gathered and will compete against each other for two days.
The nice rhythm will let you experience the charm of summer’s Tohoku.

This year's "Hanawa Bayashi" has ended, but next time, please do come and experience the summer power of Tohoku!

Venue: Near the JR Kazuno Hanawa station
#dnjapan #dj_tohoku #akita #hanawabayashi

Vietnam Airlines four-star status reaffirmed

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has maintained a Skytrax four-star rating for two consecutive years.

Skytrax is the world’s leading airlines and airport rating organization.

“Over the past few years, Vietnam Airlines has made great efforts in developing an international and domestic flight network, keeping a convenient and punctual flight schedule and efficiently operating some of the most modern aircraft in the world,” Duong Tri Thanh, President and CEO of Vietnam Airlines, said.

The excellent achievement of being recognized as a four-star airline for two straight years by Skytrax is a great honour and we are proud to provide millions of passengers with outstanding service quality as well as promote the image of Vietnam around the world, he said.

In the first eight months of this year, the airline scored 90.2 percent on the on-time performance index (OTP), surpassing the international average.


With tickets selling like hot cakes for November’s inaugural Coates Hire Newcastle 500, Supercars Australia has announced an additional grandstand to meet public demand.

The new stand, near the Camp Shortland hairpin, provides 323 extra seats with a view of the race and a big screen.

Supercars Australia has also confirmed Australian performers The Veronicas will join Delta Goodrem, Spiderbait and Cold Chisel in the entertainment line-up.

Earlier this week, Supercars Australia also released their Noise Management Plan which outlines key noise mitigation strategies for residents and businesses in the area.

View the Noise Management Plan.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Margaret Mahy adaption The Changeover to premiere in Christchurch

The Changeover
The supernatural is alive and well in Christchurch with the world premiere of The Changeover just around the corner.

The young adult film is about a teenager who must ‘change over’ and become a witch in order to save her little brother from an evil spirit.

It was shot in Christchurch in 2016 using locations in the city centre such as the Dance-O-Mat and the cleared residential red zone.

The film is based on a wildly-popular young adult novel by New Zealand author Margaret Mahy.

The movie adaption, by husband-and-wife film directors Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie, will premiere at the Isaac Theatre Royal in central Christchurch on September 25.

McKenzie, who was born and bred in Christchurch, says the city is the “spiritual home” of The Changeover as it is where Margaret Mahy lived and did her work.

The story was updated to fit “a dynamic city in the midst of change” and filming was welcomed to the city by Ngai Tahu in a moving whakatau.

The Changeover stars young Maori actors Erana James and Benji Purchase, who play Laura and Jacko.

They feature alongside Harry Potter actor Timothy Spall and Nicholas Galitzine and other Kiwi stars Melanie Lynskey, Lucy Lawless and Dame Kate Harcourt.

Mahy, who died in 2012, is renowned internationally as the godmother of the young adult genre.

Her novel, The Changeover, was first published in 1984 in Britain and the United States and immediately won the Carnegie Medal.

The Guardian described it as “a seamless combination of supernatural thriller and entirely authentic teenage story”.

Eat Your Way Around the World, All in One City

San Francisco is known for its incredible diversity, and that extends to food. That’s why it should be no surprise that it’s one of the few cities in the world where you can taste the cuisine from dozens of countries without stepping foot outside of its 49 square miles. So if you’re looking for a unique global experience rather than just another meal, take a look at how you can enjoy the food of several countries without leaving San Francisco.

Mexican - Tacolicious (741 Valencia St.)
There are plenty of spots in the Mission to put on this list, and if you've gotten a Mission Burrito at one you might feel like you’ve been to all of them. But if you want to try something you can’t find just anywhere, such as shot-and-a-beer braised chicken or corn, summer squash and sweet peppers tacos, it’s time to visit Tacolicious. tacolicious.com

Spanish - Alegrias (2018 Lombard St.)
We get. After eating your way through San Francisco, you might be in search of something on the smaller side. Might we suggest tapas - or Spanish snacks - at Alegrias. The most popular dishes on the menu are empanadillas de carne, machego flambeado, patatas alioli and the much talked about flan. You'll feel like you've been instantly transported across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. www.alegriassf.com

Moroccan - Mourad (140 New Montgomery St.)
If you’ve never tried Moroccan food, your trip to San Francisco wouldn't be complete without a trip to Mourad, a recently Michelin Star awarded restaurant. Popular Moroccan dishes include tagine, couscous and b’stilla. If you don't want to splurge, check out Mourad between lunch and dinner service at the bar for a great, and more affordable, dining experience. mouradsf.com

French - La Folie (2316 Polk St.)
La Folie is a critically acclaimed yet intimate, family-run restaurant located in Russian Hill in San Francisco. Chef Roland Passot and his wife Jamie opened La Folie in 1988 and, for decades, have thrived in their original location Polk street. La Folie’s dining room offer exquisitely prepared meals in an elegant ambience with warm lighting, sophisticated wood and mirrored panels, and top notch service. lafolie.com

German - Schroeder's (240 Front St.)
When you get a sudden craving for bratwurst, strudel or any sort of schnitzel, you’ll be happy you're in San Francisco, where you can find Schroeder's billing itself as the West Coast's oldest German restaurant since 1893. The restaurant, which has been in the same spot since shortly after the 1906 earthquake, was remodeled a few years ago, ushering in a new era for the German eatery. www.schroederssf.com

Italian - Locanda Osteria & Bar (557 Valencia St.)
North Beach, the West Coast's Italian mecca, is a great destination for delicious Italian food like lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli and, of course, pizza. However, San Francisco is home to dozens and dozens of Italian restaurants and one of the top-rated Italian restaurants is actually in the Mission District called Locanda, which has a menu that includes rigatoni, prosciutto, roasted eggplant and the Jewish-style artichoke. Pair that with one of their signature cocktails and you have yourself an amazing night. www.locandasf.com

Greek - Souvla (517 Hayes St.)
If baklava, lamb, Greek fries or gyros sound good to you, it’s time to find a Greek restaurant. Fortunately, there's Souvla, a fast-casual, affordable option in Hayes Valley that is quickly becoming famous for their photogenic food and inexpensive prices.

Ethiopian - New Eritrea (907 Irving St.)
Typical Ethiopian cuisine includes injera, wat and kitfo. If none of these terms sound familiar, it’s time to try out some Ethiopian food, preferably at one of the top-rated eateries here, such as New Eritrea Restaurant and Bar in the foggy, but delicious Sunset District.

Russian - Red Tavern (2229 Clement St.)
Considering the extreme diversity of food in San Francisco, it should come as no surprise that you can get some incredible Russian food here without traveling to St. Petersburg and back. When you want beef stroganoff, pelmeni or kotlety, the Red Tavern has just what you need.

Indian - Amber India (25 Yerba Buena Ln.)
Indian cuisine is known for combining practically every spice in the pantry to result in a flavorful, unique dish that’s unforgettable. So if you’re craving curry, tandoori chicken or some soft naan or any other North Indian specialties, Amber India Restaurant in SOMA has you covered. www.amber-india.com

Chinese - Crystal Jade (Four Embarcadero Center)
When you’re in the mood for authentic Chinese food, it makes sense to expect a city with its own Chinatown to satisfy you, but there are options outside of the famous neighborhood. Whether you want Hong Kong, Chinese or Cantonese style cuisine, Crystal Jade, which overlooks the Embarcadero, has what you desire, from dumplings and dim sum to crispy pork belly and Peking duck. crystaljade.com

Thai - Thai Spice (1730 Polk St.)
Some of the most popular foods from Thailand include moo nam tok, green curry, som tam, pad Thai and Thai fried rice. If you have a hankering for any of these delicious dishes, Thai Spice Restaurant can satisfy your craving. To our astonishment, they serve 80 more unique Thai dishes. After all, the "San Francisco Chronicle" named it one of the top five Thai restaurants in this city. thaispiceonpolkstreet.com

Korean - Han Il Kwan (1802 Balboa St.)
Kimchi, guksu or bokkeum might sound good to you right now. Then it’s essential that you find an amazing Korean restaurant while you’re in San Francisco. Han II Kwan consistently gets great reviews and is known for both delicious food and excellent customer service.

Japanese - Ozumo (161 Steuert St.)
If you’re craving Japanese food during your trip to San Francisco, conventional wisdom would tell you to go to the historic Japantown, but you’ll be glad to know that Ozumo Restaurant near the Embarcadero likely has what you need. Its menu includes traditional Japanese dishes like miso and edamame to start, followed by main dishes like shabu-shabu, tempura, sashimi and sushi. The extensive menu is complemented by a sake lounge and amazing views of the bay. www.ozumo.com

American - The Dorian (2001 Chestnut St.)
Sometimes you just need a burger, ribs or tender steak with a side of baked beans and tater tots, followed by apple pie. Good 'ole hearty American Fare at its finest. Fortunately, you can get all that plus more American food at the Dorian, which serves everything from burgers and steaks to chicken sliders and oysters in the Marina. doriansf.com

California - Foreign Cinema (2543 Mission St.)
The final stop on the world tour is right back where you started, California and Californian cuisine, which tends to mix different cooking styles. In other words, don’t show up expecting to get a simple pasta dish or house salad that you could get anywhere else. Instead, excite your palate with interesting options like sea bass ceviche or Pacific ahi seared rare, which you can find at Foreign Cinema. www.foreigncinema.com

Are you hungry yet? Then choose the cuisine you want to try tonight to kick off the global experience you can only find in San Francisco.

Tourism EXPO Japan 2017

The Tourism EXPO Japan is the world’s largest event to promote the many charms of Japan and its prefectures to both international and Japanese tourists. Not only the travel industry is widely represented, but all kinds of businesses and organisations focusing on “tourism” gather to promote and revitalise regions throughout Japan.

The exhibition space is especially exciting, as regions and places both from all around the world and all around Japan are showcased, allowing you to discover their many unique attractions. It really feels like a tiny trip around the world! Look forward to various performances and savouring local cuisines as well. (Ticket: 1,300 yen)

September 23rd (Sat) and 24th (Sun)
※21st and 22nd are trade and press days.

Ninh Thuan’s orchards opened for visitors

The central province of Ninh Thuan is developing eco-tourism activities by opening up farmers’ fruit orchards to visitors, according to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Visitors enjoy rambutan they picked at a fruit orchard in Ninh Son District’s Lam Son commune in Ninh Thuan Province (Photo: nhandan.com.vn)

About 800 hectares of many kinds of fruits, including mangosteen, durian, and rambutan, are grown in Lam Son Commune in the province’s Ninh Son District.

Visitors can pick the fruits for a low price of 10,000 (0.45 USD) per kilo for rambutan, 35,000 VND (1.5 USD) per kilo for mangosteen and 40,000 VND (1.8 USD) per kg for durian.

About eight years ago, the orchard owners began inviting friends during the harvest season to introduce them to fruits grown in the provinces of the Mekong Delta.

Since the fruits cultivated in Ninh Thuan Province have a much higher quality than others planted in the Mekong Delta, and a higher productivity rate, farmers now earn about three times more than they made from rice or corn.

Phan Huu Thanh, a farmer from Lam Son Commune in Ninh Son District, said he started a fruit orchard in 1990 and now has about 2.3ha with 370 plants of various kinds of fruits, including durian, mangosteen, green grapefruit and rambutan. He earns about 150 million VND (7,000 USD) per year.

Most orchard owners collect an average of 40,000 VND (1.8 USD) per visitor, he said, adding that most visitors book a day or week before the harvest season. There is no need to buy a ticket, but visitors must pay for the fruits they pick.

To protect the orchard from damage, Thanh receives no more than 50 visitors a day.

Nguyen Thi Hoa, from Da Lat, said her family visits Thanh’s fruit orchard every harvest season to pick fruits and enjoy chicken dishes made with fruits.

Lam Son commune has about 210 households cultivating fruit on a total of 236ha that once was used to grow rice or corn.

Truong Thanh Quyen, chairman of the commune’s People’s Committee, said the fruit orchards had improved the lives of local farmers, who have been encouraged to expand their orchards.

Besides fruit orchards, the province is developing the cultivation of vineyard grapes for winemaking.

About 400 households cultivate grapes on a total area of 180ha in Ninh Hai District, according to Luu Xuan Hai, vice chairman of Ninh Hai District’s Vinh Hai Commune.

Chau Thanh Hai, Director of the province’s Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said the department was working with other districts and cities in the province to expand the fruit orchard model.


Creations from the world’s most iconic menswear designers will be coming to NSW as part of an exhibition from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Secured by the NSW Government through Destination NSW, Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall and Minister for the Arts Don Harwin, announced Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715 – 2017, will open exclusively in Australia at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum in May.

The exhibition will feature over 130 garments, from extravagant silks worn by 18th-century aristocrats to contemporary clothes created by designers including Tom Ford, Gucci, Armani, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Giorgio Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent.

Mr Harwin said, “Securing this exhibition exclusively for Sydney showcases the city as a dynamic and leading global fashion destination.”

Reigning Men is estimated to generate more than $1.3 million in overnight visitor expenditure for NSW and will be presented at the Powerhouse Museum from 12 May to 14 October 2018.

To find out more, visit the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Discover Sonoma County, just an hour north of San Francisco, with world-class wines, delicious craft beers, tempting farm-to-fork food, charming small towns, urban amenities, stunning scenery and beautiful, wide-open spaces. It's the perfect addition to your trip to San Francisco.

Driving from one side of Sonoma County to the other only takes an hour or so, but exploring the beauties and abundance of that same territory can take several days. Here’s a quick blueprint for your Sonoma County getaway. If you only have one day, choose the areas that interest you the most. But if you have several, that’s wonderful, because Sonoma County offers so many enticing options.

Petaluma: Gateway to Sonoma County

Driving up Highway 101 from the Golden Gate Bridge, the first Sonoma County outpost you’ll reach is Petaluma, a foodie haven also known for its wines and world-class beer and ales. Nestled along the Petaluma River and built on secure bedrock, Petaluma was one of the few Bay Area communities not seriously damaged in the 1906 earthquake. Its downtown includes well-preserved historic buildings that now house boutiques, antique shops, specialty stores and restaurants. Explore some of the possibilities in 5 Fun Things to do in Petaluma and What Petaluma is Famous For.

The Sonoma Valley

Making your way east from Petaluma on two-lane roads brings you to the Sonoma Valley, nestled between two mountain ranges along Sonoma County’s eastern edge. Known as the birthplace of wine in California, this 17-mile long valley includes an amazing variety of landscapes and microclimates, five of Sonoma County’s 17 distinct American Viticultural Areas (known as AVAs or appellations), and the welcoming communities of Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Kenwood. For more details, read the Guide to the Sonoma Valley.

The Pacific Coast

Heading west from Petaluma on scenic back roads takes you through the farming communities of Two Rock Valley and Valley Ford, to the inland town of Bodega and the coastal community of Bodega Bay, a picturesque fishing village on the Sonoma Coast. Play on the sandy beach at Doran Regional Park, go whale watching at Bodega Head, take a deep sea fishing charter, and enjoy fresh local seafood in restaurants along the Sonoma Coast.

From Bodega Bay, famed Highway 1 winds its way north, hugging the cliffs and revealing stunning views of the rugged, dynamic and scenic coastline. Every inch of this highway beckons you to stop, get out of the car, relax and soak in the sublime.

Explore the 17 miles of beaches and rocky bluffs that make up the Sonoma Coast State Park. It stretches from Bodega Head to four miles north of the town of Jenner, which offers spectacular bluff-top views where the Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Head farther north on Highway 1 and you’ll discover a former Russian colony at Fort Ross State Historic Park, six gorgeous coastal access trails at The Sea Ranch, and white sandy dunes and riverside campsites nestled under redwood trees at Gualala Point Regional Park.

For details about don’t-miss coastal adventures, read Best Beaches on the Sonoma Coast and Pacific Coast 3-Day Roadtrip Itinerary.

Central Sonoma County

Driving north from Petaluma on Highway 101, you’ll reach Cotati, a modern community with strong historic roots. The heart of Cotati is La Plaza Park, a California Historic Landmark that hosts seasonal farmers markets, an array of community events and festivals, and the annual Cotati Accordion Festival.

Immediately to the north is Rohnert Park, home to Sonoma State University and its acclaimed Green Music Center, and a variety of family-friendly activities, like miniature golf, an electric cart raceway, batting cages, and hiking, biking and horseback riding at the 128-acre Crane Creek Regional Park.

North of Rohnert Park you’ll find Santa Rosa, the county’s capital city. Its thriving downtown boasts three shopping districts, five historic residential neighborhoods, arts and cultural events, great restaurants with famous chefs, wine tasting rooms, brew pubs and more.

And just north of Santa Rosa, the town of Windsor is designed to be family-friendly, with a pedestrian-friendly town green that hosts concerts, movies and a farmers market each summer.

Learn more in 4 Fun Things to do in Cotati, 5 Fun Things to do in Rohnert Park, 5 Fun Things to do in Santa Rosa, and Getaway to Windsor.

Russian River Resorts

Both north and west of Santa Rosa, the Russian River winds its way to the Pacific Ocean, creating a special corridor of gently moving water, riverside greenery and unique towns large and small. It’s a diverse area of vineyards, towering redwood trees and rolling hills.

Going north on Highway 101 from Windsor, trendy riverside Healdsburg mixes small-town charm with wine and culinary delights for a hip, eclectic mix centered around a charming downtown plaza. About two dozen art galleries are within walking distance of the plaza, along with acclaimed restaurants, wine tasting rooms and diverse specialty shops.

A little further north on the 101 corridor, the Wild West storefronts and wooden boardwalks in tiny Geyserville reflect its founding in the mid-1800s. The town is surrounded by picturesque vineyards, wineries and hills, and the area is a magnet for bicyclists, artists and photographers.

On Sonoma County’s northern border, Cloverdale offers a compact downtown filled with rambling Victorian homes, a burgeoning arts community and a family-friendly atmosphere. It was recently named one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns.”

To follow the meandering Russian River west to the coast, take two-lane roadways from Santa Rosa (River Road exit off Highway 101) or Healdsburg (Eastside Road). Along the riverbanks and under towering redwoods, you’ll find quirky riverside communities like Rio Nido, Forestville, Guerneville, Monte Rio, and Duncans Mills. To learn more, read Guide to the Russian River Resort Area.

Western Sonoma County

From Monte Rio, the two-lane Bohemian Highway winds its way for 10 highly scenic miles south through Occidental to the tiny community of Freestone. A bit to the east of Freestone are tiny Graton and the larger town of Sebastopol. Diverse landscapes overlap here: around one bend you’ll find a majestic redwood grove, around the next rolling pastureland, neat rows of grapevines, or a fruit orchard. To learn more, read Highlights of the Rivers & Redwoods: West County Tour Itinerary.
Planning Ahead

The best way to experience Sonoma County is to stay awhile and explore. Search our listings of Sonoma County Hotels & Lodgings and Restaurants, and check our special Sonoma County deals for money-saving offers in Sonoma Wine Country.