Vietnamese Food  

Quickly growing in popularity all over the world, Vietnamese cuisine is packed full of flavour, and is a central part of the culture of the country. One of the greatest things about travel is immersing yourself in the local food scene and venturing as far away from the comforts of your own cuisine, and so here is a quick breakdown of some dishes that are worth trying during your trip to Vietnam.

Pho - perhaps the most well known and the most popular Vietnamese dish found abroad is the Pho. This found absolutely everywhere and anywhere in Vietnam, from the more established restaurants to makeshift Pho stands on the streets. It consists of a salty broth which contains rice noodles, meat (which is usually chicken or beef) and a generous serving of herbs. This dish is eaten by tourists and locals alike, and if you see a crowd of people seated on the street, you have most likely stumbled across a group of people enjoying it.
Bahn xeo - This is a very fine pancake, or crepe, like dish, which has been filled with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts as well as a garnish of herbs. The local way to eat this is to cut it into small pieces and to roll it in rice paper or lettuce before marinating or dipping it into the sauce that is served with it. Every chef has their preference on sauce and this will vary depending on region and the restaurant.
Bún Ch? - This is another popular dish all over Vietnam, particularly in Hanoi. This is grilled pork sausage dish served with bean sprouts, rice noodles, pickled vegetables and herbs, all brought together with nuóc châm sauce which should be used to cover the entire dish.
Bánh Mì - Much like Pho, this is another dish that has spread itself across international borders and can be found all over the world. This is actually a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine and originates from French Colonisation, when the French arrived with baguettes. The baguettes were filled with Vietnamese ingredients such as crispy pork belly, daikon radish, meatballs and picked carrots and usually a lot of chilli peppers, and they can be found all over Vietnam.
Bot Chien - This one is particularly popular in Saigon as street food, and is often consumed in the early hours of the morning during nights out, much like doner kebabs in England. It consists of crispy fried rice flour dough with egg, and is served with papaya, shallots, pickled chilli sauce, green onions and vinegar.
Canh - No trip to Vietnam is complete without trying Vietnamese soup. Soup is often the cheapest and most flavoursome option on the menu, and they make particularly good snacks if you're not feeling too hungry. The Canh soups are mostly found in the South and contain a mixture of seafood, vegetables and herbs served in a starfruit, tamarind, pineapple or tomato base. There are a lot of contrasting flavours and textures that will send your taste buds on an adventure.
Bahn Cam - This is a popular fried dessert, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, and speckled with sesame seeds. They are filled with a sweet bean paste and are a particular favourite amongst the locals.
Xoi - This is a savory rice which is very sticky in texture and, while it is served with chicken or pork or even eggs, often steals the show and becomes the centre of the entire dish. Whatever protein is served with the rice, you can expect dried shallots on the top.
While you will find burger and pizza restaurants if you look hard enough, isn't it better to ditch the comfort food and try something exciting and new? While you may eat something you absolutely hate, you may also go home with a new favourite food and a new found appreciation for Vietnamese cuisine.
Vietnam by motorbike  

One of the most popular ways to experience Vietnam, or indeed any of the countries in South East Asia, is by renting or buying a motorbike to travel between points of interest. This is particularly popular among the backpacking community, and is a unique and interesting way to experience the country.

The first thing to consider, if you wish to travel this way, is to ensure that your licence covers you driving in Vietnam. Check with your national automobile association that you are legal and okay to ride, and if not make sure you make the correct amendments to avoid getting caught out by authorities. Before you travel to Vietnam you should also ensure that you have the correct visa for your travel, and also travel insurance, especially as motorcycle accidents can be very harmful and are actually quite common. With this in mind, it might be worth also considering buying some protection such as motorcycle gloves and even potentially a helmet from a trustworthy source in your home country for some added peace of mind. While a lot of people don't wear helmets, it is a very good idea to have a good one with you.
It is also a good idea to ensure you have satellite navigation of sorts. While it is possible to get around using maps and compasses, it might be hard to locate an english speaking local in rural areas in case you need help with this, and if you don't have time to learn basic Vietnamese, this is your best chance for easy navigation. If you intend to use your smartphone, check you that use this abroad before you embark on your motorcycle adventure.
You will most likely land in either Ha Noi or Saigon, and the best places to locate and buy a bike are in the District 1 of Saigon and the Old Quarter of Ha Noi. Here, many backpackers will display their bikes with “for sale” signs attached on the side of the street. You can also use Craigslist Vietnam to buy and sell motorcycles. You can usually find a bike for between $400 and $800USD, and if you are only owning it for a short time, it is worth not getting some too nice as this attracts thieves. Honda Cubs and Wins are popular choices that shouldn't break your budget. When you are buying your bike, make sure you ask as many questions as possible to check for safety and the history of the bike also. If you have any emergencies during your trip, there are plenty of workshops on the roadside that should be able to help you repair anything that you can't repair yourself, although a little mechanical knowledge will go a long way during your trip.
Travelling by bike is a fantastic way to see the country as it allows you complete freedom over where you travel, where you stop, and how long you spend at each location. Travelling by public bus is considerably cheaper, but you will bypass a lot of amazing photo opportunities at the side of the road, and you have to rely on the bus schedules and locations that they travel to. As it's such a popular option for travelling around the country, you are likely to meet other people following similar routes who may even want to travel with you for a while. There is a real sense of adventure and adrenaline which you would not experience if you were travelling using public transport, and overcoming mechanical problems add to a general sense of satisfaction when you arrive at your destination. As the old cliche goes; it's all about the journey, not the destination. And for any of those really long trips that you don't want to complete on the back of the bike, it is actually quite common to take your bike on the train with you.
Vietnam has thousands of kilometres of coastal highways, steep and winding mountain roads, and rainforests to explore. Riding by motorcycle is a really excellent way to connect with the landscapes around you and for a once in a lifetime experience. If you are planning a backpacking trip around Vietnam or South East Asia, it is worth considering travelling this way, and the stories you will be able to tell afterwards are bound to make all of your friends and family very jealous.


Exploring the largest cave – Son Doong  

Visitors to the beautiful landscapes of the Far Eastern jewel of Vietnam are often struck by the country's sheer diversity. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are as bustling and cosmopolitan as anywhere else in the Far East; or, in fact, the world. The Mekong Delta and the bays of Ha Long contain fabulous landscapes. The central Highlands are a wonderful contrast of cultivated land and secretive indigenous villages. But travelling underground often displays Vietnam at its most breathtaking.
For visitors who don't suffer from claustrophobia, exploring below the ground can offer glimpses of a fabulous subterranean world. One particular cave, Son Doong, lay undiscovered for centuries, until a local happened across it. Located near the border with Laos, in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province – lying in the portion of the country that was North Korea prior to unification – this cave is the world's largest. As well as being a vast subterranean lair, it also contains a large, fast flowing river.
Its discovery was attributed to a local, named Ho-Khanh, in 1991. This area was actually feared due to the strange whistling sound which persisted (which was eventually attributed to the underground river). Following his finding, researcher arrived from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert. They were surveying the cave in 2009, until their research was cut short by a calcite wall.
That Son Doong was actually discovered to be five times the size of Vietnam's previously largest cave gives some indication of the scale of the 1991 discovery. There are only two known entrances to a chamber estimated at being 9,000 metres in length, and 150 metres wide. Its main chamber is over 200 metres high. A cave exit was discovered in 2010, with the intrepid group who finally scaled the 200-metre high wall discovering pearls ‘the size of baseballs'.
Guided tourists first entered the cave last year, paying $3,000 each for the privilege. These explorers came from the UK, the US, Australia, Norway and Russia. They camped in the dripping cave environment for seven days and six nights. Now that the door to exploration has been opened, future tours will undoubtedly take place on a more regular basis.
The large amount of flowing water inside is something of a hazard for future cavers in Son Doong. Additionally, the entrance to the cave is narrow – it's hardly surprising that its existence wasn't common knowledge until fairly recently.
The new cave was described by the exploratory team's Howard Limbert as ‘a thing of overwhelming beauty and grandeur'. He added that within the cave system, each separate grotto possesses its own beauty, although he was particularly impressed by Ca Xai, a large cave with a lake at its base. This was measured with a 200-metre rope – which didn't reach the lake bed.
Son Doong will not be developed as a tourist destination, in a bid to preserve its natural beauty. However, the existence of fabulous cave systems such as this in Vietnam will only serve to whet the appetite for potholers, cavers and intrepid adventure tourists to seek advice about the whereabouts of Vietnamese caves which are open for business!

A taste of Vietnam  

Throughout the world, people have developed a taste for Asian food, principally the dishes emanating from China, Japan or India. However, by travelling beyond these locations it's possible to immerse yourself in a diverse world of mouth-watering national dishes. Vietnamese cuisine is no exception.
When you travel to Vietnam, one thing you are bound to realize straight away is that food is readily available at every turn. As with other locations throughout the Far East, sumptuous dishes are hawked from stalls at every street corner, and in marketplaces throughout the countryside. As far as the actual menus go in Vietnam, there are hundreds upon hundreds of possible dishes to choose from. In addition, the menus vary from region to region.
Vietnam's larger cities, such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, will also offer you a taste of cuisine from any corner of the globe, as well as bountiful examples of indigenous cooking.
The ubiquitous cornerstone of dining in Vietnam, as with other parts of Asia, are bowls of rice or noodles. Where Western visitors are used to these side dishes forming a somewhat uninspiring part of their meal, really serving as little more than a filling for the more interesting main dishes, in Vietnam rice or noodles are integral to the meal. They can be cooked with an array of delicious sauces or gravies, with additional spices, giving them an extra ‘zing'. It seems particularly unfair to dismiss them as mere side dishes!
The ubiquitous cornerstone of dining in Vietnam, as with other parts of Asia, are bowls of rice or noodles. Where Western visitors are used to these side dishes forming a somewhat uninspiring part of their meal, really serving as little more than a filling for the more interesting main dishes, in Vietnam rice or noodles are integral to the meal. They can be cooked with an array of delicious sauces or gravies, with additional spices, giving them an extra ‘zing'. It seems partiIf rice is their staple dish, it is the boiled variety that is particularly popular, and is consumed with all three main Vietnamese daily meals. Tam thom or nahg huong are fragrant varieties, while grilled rice favourite in the autumn, and is eaten with bananas, eggs and sapodillas. Sticky rice cakes are also widely appreciated – known as banh chung. These are formed by mashing together glutinous rice, green bean paste and pork shavings. The cakes are then wrapped in banana leaves or bamboo.cularly unfair to dismiss them as mere side dishes!
Main dishes
The main dishes that you will be presented with as your choices on a Vietnamese menu are many and varied. You can expect to select from shrimp, shredded chicken, sliced pork, spring rolls, and an incredible variety of fresh seafood. There are also a range of more exotic possibilities including local shark fin, all manner of spices, and various unusual but tasty examples of locally-cultivated fruits and vegetables.
One of the best treats to keep an eye out for is pho – a spicy, meat-based noodle soup. It is very cheap, and comes in either pho bo (beef) or pho bo tai (fish) varieties.
How much to spend
When it comes to getting value for money for your dining experience, many tourists like to head off to the market stalls. Because these street hawkers are primarily catering for the local populace, the prices they charge are generally low.
If you want to actually sit down in a restaurant, the government-run establishments are comfortable enough, but can be quite sterile looking. There is also likely to be a 10% service charge added to the bill. Tipping is not a widespread custom in Vietnam, although it has become quite common in those areas favoured by visitors.
Family holidays in Vietnam  
Last century, Vietnam only made the news for all the wrong reasons. However, the destructive conflict that afflicted the country for many years remains an aspect of its distant past. Vietnam's present couldn't be more radically different. In the intervening decades it has steadily emerged as one of the Far East's, indeed, the planet's, most desirable holiday locations.
One of the reasons for Vietnam's enduring popularity is the fact it is ideal for family holidays. There is just so much to do and see in this wonderful country. Whether you enjoy tranquil landscapes, or the hustle and bustle of city streets, there is something for every possible taste.
Halong Bay, to the north of the country, is world-renowned for its spectacular limestone seascapes. There is every likelihood you have seen images of these turquoise seas lapping cliffs and islands; to actually experience the scenery at first hand is simply breathtaking.
In complete contrast, the streets of Saigon echo with a million and one different sights and sounds. Although this is a bustling cosmopolitan city that is as technologically advanced as any other world metropolis, turning a corner can still bring you face to face with the unexpected. Indeed, much as Vietnam's countryside will give you a host of memorable images from your holiday, it is the colourful, aromatic, and noisy city experience that is bound to have a particularly long lasting effect.
For family holidays, one of the most recommended ways of getting around Vietnam is to forsake modern transport and resort to traditional methods of getting from A to B. Bicycles and kayaks are a very popular way of seeing the sights. As well as traversing the landscape at a slow enough rate to allow you to absorb as much as possible, you will also be keeping yourself fit at the same time! What's more, you will be doing your bit for the Vietnamese environment.
Hanoi is well known for its water puppet show, a historic form of theatre that goes back centuries. But if you and your family would truly like to get away from it all, using kayaks to gently explore Vietnam's countless rivers and bays might be more tempting. There is also the option of donning a mask and snorkel and immersing yourself in the cool waters of Nha Trang. If your preferred mode of aquatic transport is something less demanding, there are numerous boat trips to be embarked on. A cruise along the Mekong Delta will offer many startling images for your holiday snaps. The rivers are teeming with interesting wildlife, and the jungles that encroach as far as the banks reverberate with the cries of hundreds of exotic species of birds and mammals.
After all the daily activity, it is a great feeling to kick back and relax. This is when you get the chance to savour some of Vietnam's superb cuisine. A mouthwatering choice of indigenous dishes is available, enabling you to not only experience completely new tastes, but also develop your chopstick skills. Many different types of vegetables, meat and fish dishes are popular, and no doubt by the end of your holiday you will have developed a particular list of favourites. You might even have found yourself demanding seconds of fried scorpion!
Kids activities during Vietnam vacations  

Are you thinking about visiting Vietnam but are unsure if there will be sufficient facilities to keep young charges occupied? Well, rest assured, you have absolutely nothing to worry about on that score. There is a wealth of activities for children to enjoy during Vietnam holidays.
Boat trips
Vietnamese love children. Every city or town, right down to the smallest village, has something to offer visitors of all ages. There are boat cruises, cycle trips, zoos, elephant rides, go-karting, water sports, and other activities too numerous to mention. There are also miles and miles of stunning sun-kissed beaches on Vietnam's shores that are ideal playgrounds for kids to enjoy. If they aren't building sandcastles then they can dip their toes in the South China Sea!
If you are visiting the south of Vietnam, then boat excursions along the Mekong Delta are to be highly recommended. This landscape is formed by nine tributaries of the mighty Mekong River, together with canals and swamps which all interconnect to create a veritable maze of waterways and forests to be explored. In addition, there are rice paddies where you might be fortunate to catch sight of traditional Vietnamese farming methods, complete with sturdy water buffalo.
Elephant riding
When you're giving your children various options to keep them occupied, few of them will offer any resistance when you mention the possibility of going to see elephants! Even better, what about actually riding elephants? The pastime of elephant riding is very popular in this country, as well as a fairly common means for rural communities for getting around. The best location to experience the thrills of riding on the back of elephants is to head to Da Lat, by Tuyen Lake. Here you will come across a large range of these creatures, fully harnessed and ready to go. As well as claiming aboard these magnificent animals for an unforgettable cross-country jaunt, the backdrop is of uniformly lush landscapes, making for a perfect experience. The further good news about riding elephants is that it is very reasonably priced.
Water parks
Children just can't resist playing on water. Vietnam is able to offer an increasingly diverse choice of water parks to its visitors. These theme parks can now be found in cities such as Ho Chi Minh or Da Lat. Saigon Water Park in Ho Chi Minh City's Thu Duc neighbourhood was Vietnam's first, although there are a great many equally popular areas to indulge in some no-nonsense water sliding throughout the country.
Vietnam has an incredibly diverse ecosystem, with an incredible range of animals existing in several natural habitats, from the shoreline of Ha Long to the north-east, to the densely-forested interior, to the teeming mangrove swamps bordering the Gulf of Thailand to the south-west. Naturally, the best places to visit to see indigenous and imported wildlife are Vietnam's two main issues. Ho Chi Minh hosts the oldest, while there is also a well-stocked zoo in `Hanoi in the north. Have an excellent complement of animals, as well as many different exotic creatures from all over the world. Both these zoos have extensive grounds containing various attractions, such as temples and aquariums.

Recommended Vietnam hotels - The Church Boutique  

Located in Hanoi's Old Quarter, the Church Boutique is a relatively small international hotel (31 rooms), but what it may lack in stature compared to some of the country's larger hotels, it makes up for in customer service. Its situation is a mere 45-minute journey from Hanoi Airport.
Building manages to combine contemporary Vietnamese architecture with the more striking aspects of French colonial design. The overall effect of this is to create a unique style that enables the Church Boutique to stand out. From the moment you arrive at the front glass door, to be greeted by smartly-uniformed staff, you will find yourself entering a fabulously-appointed hotel foyer. The fixtures and furnishings manage to combine the best of old-fashioned colonial grace, with indigenous Vietnamese designs and modern furniture and finishing. The rooms are bathed in light, with lots of strategically positioned flora to catch your eye.
Hanoi's Old Quarter is a ubiquitous draw for tourists from various corners of the world, and this hotel makes the perfect location for a base camp. Here you can explore the area's picturesque streets, as well as a the host of visitor attractions which are right on your doorstep. The hotel offers visitors the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the culture of this wonderful capital city. See reviews here.
Not only are you surrounded by historic buildings dating back to the French colonial occupation, you are fortunate enough to be right at the heart of the city's shopping district. In addition, the moment you step out of your hotel room you are faced with a gentle walk to the Dong Xuan night market, as well as the world-renowned water puppet theatre.
The hotel is particularly popular with couples, especially those celebrating their honeymoon win, as it offers a choice of scenic boat cruises, in addition to the cost of other activities.
The hotel's 31 rooms are all fully air-conditioned. They contain ensuite bathrooms with a separate shower. There is a flat screen television, complete with international channels, and full cable access. There is free Wi-Fi, a telephone, a hairdryer, a safety deposit box, a mini bar, and tea and coffee making facilities. The classic rooms each have a twin bed and will sleep maximum of two adults. The deluxe rooms have king-sized beds, while the suites have a king-sized bed with spacious living area. There is a separate bathroom with a bath. These will accommodate three adults or two adults and one child up to aged 11.
Other services on offer include room service, laundry, luggage storage and a valet service.
The hotel's La Petite Eglise Restaurant opens its doors all day, offering a choice of Vietnamese or international cuisine. It is particularly recommended that you try the local cuisine, if you are unfamiliar with indigenous Vietnamese dishes, because you will find that your taste buds are in for a treat.
The waiters are renowned for being particularly attentive, and if there are any items amongst the local or international dishes you are unsure of, a full exclamation will be given.


Recommended Vietnam hotels - Sheraton Saigon Hotel  

Located in the Dong Khoi neighbourhood of District 1, on the doorstep of Ho Chi Minh City Hall, the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica and Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Sheraton is a mere 25 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City airport. Its enviable city centre location means that this hotel is perfect for sightseers and business travellers alike. A well-appointed hotel, it is regarded as the perfect haven for relaxing, whether your day has involved meetings with commercial associates in Ho Chi Minh's business centres, or soaking in the city's numerous visitor attractions.
The Sheraton is renowned for its accommodation, with comfortable guest rooms and suites, and a wide range of contemporary facilities. In fact, there are so many amenities in the hotel itself you may well be tempted to spend a significant portion of your Vietnam holiday simply relaxing here!
What better way to take advantage of the Far Eastern climate than taking time out by the Sheraton's swimming pool? After a few lengths or a gentle splash around, why not take to the loungers on the sun terrace. In addition, the hotel also boasts a fully-equipped health centre with a wide range of gym equipment, and a sauna. When it comes to blissful relaxation, the Sheraton's aqua day spa is where visitors love to be pampered with some head-to-toe indulgence. A variety of beauty treatments are available, ranging from traditional therapies to the highly-recommended Thai massage.
The Sheraton's central location makes it the perfect starting point for a diverse range of city ventures. Whether you wish to indulge your love of oriental cuisine, or your taste for culture and history, there are many places worth visiting within a relatively short radius.
Are 470 rooms and suites hotel. These are divided between its main tower, and the luxurious 20 five-storey grand tower. All rooms are fully air-conditioned and contain 42-inch screen LCD TVs, DVD players, high-speed web access, a mini bar, a telephone, an electronic safe, and ironing facilities. In addition, executive suites feature BOSE surround-sound, a complimentary iPod complete with docking station and mobile phone rental.
The hotel also boasts some of the best recreational spots in the city, with an outdoor wine bar on its level 23 – a venue consistently voted as one of Ho Chi Minh's top ten facilities. This bar has an international-class wine menu, not to mention stunning views over the city. The hotel's Signature Restaurant offers a range of dishes, both local, Asian and world-wide, and makes the perfect location for celebrating any occasion. If you've just booked a table for a quiet, romantic dinner, don't be too put off if one of the other tables is hosting a birthday celebration. Experiencing Vietnamese festivities at first-hand will be a holiday memory for you to cherish.
Specialities on offer at the nearby Li Bai Chinese Restaurant include dim sum, as well as a range of mouth-watering Cantonese favourites.
Altogether eight restaurants and bars situated in the Sheraton. These range from restaurants to lighter snack facilities, such as Mojo, where you can enjoy pizzas and other light refreshments. Nightspot offers international bands on a daily basis.


Recommended Vietnam hotels - The Grand Hotel, Saig  

The Grand is one of the country's oldest and most respected hotels, having kept its customers satisfied for over a century and a half. Opening in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1930s, it provides modern travellers with an oasis of colonial-era elegance, slap bang in the middle of bustling modern streets.
Amongst the many traits responsible for this hotel's continuing popularity is its sheer accessibility. It lies within convenient walking distance of the city's riverside area, as well as its major entertainment and commercial centres. The Grand's reputation for superb hospitality means that, as well as welcoming new arrivals, there are many guests who continue to return here.
The hotel's upper floors are renowned for their plush accommodation. There is a luxury wing here, containing deluxe rooms. These fabulously appointed rooms offer superb views of the courts below. They also boast marble bathrooms, king-size or twin beds, and free Wi-Fi. There is also an outdoor pool and spa. When it comes to pampering, the Grand offers signature treatments. If you do happen to book into the Grand, then one of the highlights of your Vietnam holiday will undoubtedly be soaking up the city's unique ambience while dining at the Grand Café Rooftop Restaurant.
Getting there
Upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh City airport, transfer time from checkout to hotel is just under half an hour. You will find to the hotel makes a convenient location, given its central proximity to so much of what the city has to offer. What are your reasons for visiting Vietnam are purely for pleasure, or for business meetings, you won't have to spend much time getting to your respective destinations once you depart the beautiful colonial building each day.
The rooms in the Grand occupy one building that is built on two wings, and 16 floors. Each of these rooms possesses a marble bathroom, complete with a bath and separate shower. The rooms are fully air-conditioned and come with a TV containing a full complement of satellite channels. Other facilities on offer include free Wi-Fi, a telephone, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a desk with stationery, and tea and coffee making facilities. The deluxe rooms that are situated on the hotel's upper floor include 32 m² of living space and a view of the inner court below. Here the sleeping facilities include either one king size bed or twin beds that will sleep maximum of two adults or one adult and one child up to the age 11. There are senior deluxe rooms which offer even more living space, as well as executive deluxe rooms located on the first to third of the ‘Ancient Wing' offering 40 m² of space.
As well as a pool and spa, there is a jacuzzi and a hair salon.
The rooftop restaurant and bar is open daily. from 7:30 am until 11 pm. There is a special recipe barbecue and grill cuisine on offer, with live music providing the background ambience. The Chez-Nous is open from 6 am until 10 pm. This serves a breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner. Bar Des Ami opens from 7am until 10pm, with a poolside bar. D'Palm Club, open 10 am until 2 am, is a luxury casino and bar.

ASEAN Foundation and SAP  

The ASEAN Foundation and SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced a strategic partnership to create positive social impact in South East Asia, including social enterprises in Vietnam. This joint effort will focus on areas of Education, Volunteerism and Entrepreneurship. Through this partnership, the ASEAN Foundation and SAP aim to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in building a cohesive regional community and deliver inclusively-shared economic benefits by encouraging strategic and innovative participation of youths and social entrepreneurs.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations is a part of SAP's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy to equip youths with the skills they need to tackle society's problems and thrive in the digital economy; build the capacity of innovative social enterprises that put young people on the path to successful careers and build a skilled workforce for the IT sector with training and workforce development programmes. Key initiatives that will be executed under this agreement will focus on driving digital literacy to support sustainable growth for the communities that the programmes aim to benefit.
"A sustainable ASEAN community lies in the hands of ASEAN's youth. I believe that our joint initiatives with SAP will increase the involvement of ASEAN youths in national and regional activities to give them an opportunity to actively contribute to the ASEAN community," says Elaine Tan, the Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation.
Youth empowerment has been a salient topic in ASEAN since the Declaration of Principles to Strengthen ASEAN Collaboration on Youth that was presented in Bangkok in 1983. "The three initiatives under the ASEAN Foundation and SAP partnership have touched upon five priority focus of the most recent ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020 which include youth entrepreneurship, youth employment, youth awareness, youth volunteerism and leadership, as well as youth resilience," Elaine added.
"ASEAN represents not just one economic community; it also represents one social community. As ASEAN celebrates 50 years of deepening unity and rising prosperity this year, we are excited with the opportunities that are in store in this Growth Frontier region. With almost half of the region's population being under 30 years of age by 2020, there is a growing pool of talent that we can invest in and work with for a better future. Through our joint initiatives with ASEAN Foundation, we aim to help prepare young people for the digital economy and support ASEAN drive sustainable socio-economic growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution," said Mr. Scott Russell, President and Managing Director, SAP South East Asia.
He added, "SAP's vision is to help the world run better and improve people's lives. This is our enduring cause. In service to this higher purpose, we are investing efforts in our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme to equip youths with the skills they need to tackle society's problems and thrive in the digital economy. I believe that this partnership will help scale our CSR efforts to create greater reach and positively impact lives in this region".
Under this agreement, the ASEAN Foundation and SAP will roll out three initiatives in 2017 to address the ASEAN's economic, environmental, and societal issues, through three focus areas of education, volunteerism and entrepreneurship.
Targeting tertiary students across all 10 ASEAN member states from any discipline, this data analytics competition -- "ASEAN Data Science Explorers" aims to enhance awareness and appreciation of the ASEAN community amongst young people through digital literacy intervention. By learning and using the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud tool, the initiative encourages participants to deliver data-driven insights for ASEAN across six United Nation (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, namely (1) good health and well-being, (2) quality education, (3) gender equality, (4) clean water and sanitation, (5) decent work and economic growth, and (6) sustainable cities and communities. The competition will be organized across all ASEAN member states with a regional final taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia in November this year.
In collaboration with United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Foundation and SAP along with other partners have launched the Youth Volunteering Innovation Challenge (YVIC) in ASEAN. Under the theme "Impact ASEAN", the initiative supports young volunteers throughout the ASEAN countries in their journey to catalyze youth-led innovation for social impact and sustainable development. YVIC will provide entrepreneurship knowledge and skills through national workshops. The national workshop winners will be awarded micro-grants to prototype their ideas and later participate in the regional mentorship orientation in Bangkok, Thailand. In addition, employees from SAP will be volunteering their time to provide guidance and support to refine and scale up the youth's Impact Projects.
Through structured capacity building and mentoring initiatives planned through local and overseas missions, high performing employees from SAP will support social impact intermediaries through mentoring and pro-bono consulting. The programme in association with several partners will impact close to 20 social enterprises across Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in 2017.
About ASEAN Foundation
Three decades after ASEAN was established, ASEAN leaders recognised that: there remained inadequate shared prosperity, ASEAN awareness and contact among people of ASEAN. It was of this concern that ASEAN leaders established ASEAN Foundation during ASEAN's 30th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on 15 December 1997. ASEAN Foundation is an organisation from and for the people of ASEAN. The Foundation exists because of one vision: to build a cohesive and prosperous ASEAN Community. As an ASEAN's body, the Foundation is tasked to support ASEAN mainly in promoting awareness, identity, interaction and development of the people of ASEAN. For more info about the ASEAN Foundation, visit:
About SAP
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device -- SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 350,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit


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