HCM CITY — Viet Nam and Thailand share several cultural similarities and both have many places of great beauty as well as historical interest, but the Thai government and people promote them more effectively.
|Cultural exchange: Thai tour guide Prawit Chankasem (left) speaks about his country's culture and history to Vietnamese students at the Bang Pa-in Palace.—VNS Photo Van Dat
"I think we should learn from them, because Viet Nam has as many beautiful sites as any other country," said Pham Cong Danh, a third-year student of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities majoring in Thai culture and language.
Danh was one of 20 Vietnamese youth, students and journalists, who went on a sponsored week-long trip by road to Thailand.
The trip, the first of its kind, traversed more than a thousand kilometres through Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand, giving students of the Thai language in Viet Nam an opportunity to see and experience first-hand the country they are learning about.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, was Danh's favourite site during the trip. He said it was a fantastic embodiment of Buddhist and Hindu cultural traditions with its architecture, frescoes and sculptures.
In Ayutthaya, the ruins of temples and palaces spoke of bygone times of great prosperity and cultural richness of bygone days, he said.
The Vietnamese group was able to learn about the Thai dynasty that ruled Thailand from tour guide Prawit Chankasem who told his stories with a touch of engaging humour.
Panpimon Suwannapongse, consul general of Thailand in HCM City, whose office organised the tour, said it was a "very interesting route" for Vietnamese youth to take to Thailand.
Students of Thai culture and language should make similar trips to understand well the area they are studying, she said, adding that the programme will be expanded in the coming years to include more students.
Danh said he saw several cultural similarities between Viet Nam and Thailand. These were "easily found" in Buddhism and agricultural festivals, he said.
Truong Hoai Thien, 19, a first-year student at the same college as Danh, said that on his first ever trip to Thailand, he was able to gather valuable information about Thai culture, a subject he is currently studying.
Thien said he greatly admired the architecture of the temples, pagodas and palaces built by the Thai people. There was sophistication and ingenuity at every historical site, he said.
His favourite site was Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand, about 70km to the north of Bangkok.
The first trip under the newly launched Getting to Know Thailand programme succeeded in creating several opportunities for Vietnamese youth and local media to learn about the neighbouring kingdom's diverse culture and history.
Before arriving in Thailand to see Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Pattaya, the participants visited Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Thien said the trip had convinced him that there was much more to see and learn in Cambodia and Thailand.
"I will be back there again soon, for sure." — VNS