Miss Vietnam 2012 was launched by Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper at a ceremony in the capital that included beauties from 18-27 years old on May 16 in Hanoi.

Central Da Nang City will host the pageant final from August 12-25 gathering the best-looking women from around the country.

So far, contestants scheduled to take part include Miss Kinh Bac ( Bac Ninh Province ), Miss Ha Long ( Quang Ninh Province ), Miss Mekong Delta (Can Tho), Miss Countryside ( Soc Trang Province ) and Miss Coconut ( Ben Tre Province ).

Other provinces will also hold beauty contests to select participants for the 2012 event, said Le Xuan Son, head of the organisation board, at the launch in the Nikko Hotel.

Vietnamese women who are unmarried, from 1.62m in height and high-school graduates can register to compete. Surgical beauties will not be accepted.

Contestants will take part in four categories including evening wear, an ao dai (traditional long dress) performance, swimsuits and a Q&A.

Sideline activities will name Miss Talent, Miss Beach , Miss Ao Dai, Best Face and the best contestant as voted for by the audience. Each title-holder will be awarded 30 million VND (1,500 USD).

Miss Vietnam 2012 will be crowned by 2010 winner Ngoc Han and receive 300 million VND(15,000 USD) while the first and second-runners up get 150 million VND and 100 million VND, respectively.

Two regional final rounds will be held in Hanoi and HCM City in August. During the two-week final in Da Nang , contestants will attend many social and charity activities.

The ultimate final will be held at the Tien Son Sport Palace , Da Nang City, covered by VTV1 and VTV4 who will broadcast the event live.

"Kicked off by Tien Phong newspaper, Miss Vietnam has been warmly received and responded to by the youth and became an official beauty contest after the country's unification," Son said.

He expressed his hope that winners from the 2012 Pageant would have the chance to appear at international beauty contests.

Organised biennially since 1988, the contest has helped put Vietnam on the map of world beauty.

Miss Vietnam 2004 Nguyen Thi Huyen brought the highest title home when she finished in the top 15 at Miss World 2004.

Earlier, Miss Vietnam 2002 Pham Thi Mai Phuong was the first local to reach the semi-finals of the Miss World event.

Since Mai Phuong Thuy made it to the top 17 at Miss World in 2006, no other Vietnamese beauty has managed a higher position.-VNA