Vietnam's jet set

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A new generation of the country's top celebrities are traveling the globe like never before, and doing it in style

They work hard but they also know how to relax and rejuvenate. Despite their hectic schedules, Vietnam's top actors, models and singers say they still find time to travel with their friends and families, and often to glamorous destinations. Thanh Nien recently spoke with some of the country's biggest celebrities about their most memorable trips abroad.

Dam Luu Ly, who was crowned Miss Ao Dai (Vietnam's traditional tunic) in 1995, has traveled to more than 40 countries. Ly, who has also worked as an airline hostess for more than 13 years, says she is "addicted" to traveling. Whenever she has time, Ly and her friends set off to exotic locations. The beauty queen has toured extensively through Europe and the US, but her favorite place is Australia, she says.

"I want to go somewhere peaceful with fresh air and good food during my holidays. And Australia has always been my favorite," Ly says. She has also traveled through many of Vietnam's most beautiful areas.

"Different places in Vietnam each have their own appeal. I choose the places depending on my mood and the time of year," says Ly. "If I want some cool air, I go to Da Lat [in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong]; if I want a day by the sea, I go to Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province."

This summer, the jet set pageant winner says she'll travel to Hawaii and Canada to purchase furniture for her new home.

Besides shopping overseas, model Xuan Lan says she loves visiting Disneyland in the US. When she first discovered the fantasy theme park, Lan spent days on end soaking up the sights and entertainment. She insists she will definitely visit Disneyland on her next trip to the US.

Lan is also a self-described shutterbug. "I want to capture every place I've been to," she says. "I like European countries, especially France, the UK and the Netherlands. The relaxed pace of life and romantic scenery there makes me feel really comfortable."

Despite one unforgettable trip to the UK where Lan lost her purse containing credit cards, identity papers, her driver's license and more than US$4,000 in cash, she says she is still enamored with the area and will return again this summer.

Thanh Hang, one of the country's leading models and the star of the 2007 blockbuster Nu hon than chet (Hot Kiss), says she usually doesn't plan her vacations too far in advance. "I usually travel on a whim when I'm in the mood," she says. "However, it also depends on my working schedule. If I have time, I'm always ready to set off."

She often travels throughout the country and abroad during public holidays and over Tet (Lunar New Year). She decided to stay home during the recent April 30 Liberation Day, however, to avoid the crowds at local tourist sites.

Hang spent the most recent Tet holiday in Thailand with her best friends. "We went to Bangkok and Pattaya. I really liked the entertainment which was similar to Broadway shows in the US and was put on by Thais on a huge stage, which reportedly cost more than $40 million," she says.

"We were amazed at what Thai artists could do. We gasped at the blooming flowers and swinging performers beside a babbling brook onstage," Hang recalls, adding that she hopes such stages will one day be built in Vietnam.

Actress Tang Thanh Ha, who stars in the hit TV series Bong dung muon khoc (Suddenly I wanna cry), says her plans for the recent April 30 Liberation Day fell through when she and her friends were unable to find hotel accommodation in Vietnam's beach resort town of Mui Ne.

"We hadn't planned to go, but my friends changed their minds at the last minute. We phoned many hotels, but they had all run out of rooms," Ha says. "So we stayed home, cooked and hung around coffee shops in the city."

Busy with her acting job while also completing a college degree, Ha makes the most of her free time by traveling with her close friends whenever possible. They often fly to central Vietnam's Nha Trang or Phan Thiet.

"Getting together with friends helps me relax and forget about work and my studies," says Ha. "We play when we meet one another."

Model-turned-actress Anh Thu has little time to travel with her husband and son, so she opts to combine work with pleasure.

Just before Tet this year, Thu traveled to Japan for a cultural festival with her husband, model Thanh Long. He also has his hands full running the PL Modeling Agency, one of Vietnam's largest modeling companies, but took time out to accompany Thu to Osaka and Tokyo.

"We were really happy, feeling as if we were back to the time before our wedding," says Thu.

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