March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

Travelling is not just for wealthy people, it is also suitable for individuals with meager incomes if they know how to spend money correctly. When choosing Hanoi, Vietnam for your holiday trip, it is a wise idea as this country has cheap living costs. If you are wondering how to enjoy your trip while using only a little money, check out our list of free things to do in Hanoi for more information.

1. Join A Free Walking Tour

Join in free walking tour
(@ooowenong)

A Hanoi free walking tour is something you may not be able to find in other cities in Vietnam. This kind of tourism benefits both the tourists and the service providers. Normally, the tour guides are local people who want to improve their English skills. Thus, besides saving a large amount of money, you can have a chance to discover the unique parts of the city thanks to that others may not know.

In Hanoi, there are numerous clubs and organizations providing free walking tours such as Hanoi-kids, Hanoi Free Private Tour Guide or Hanoi Free Tour Guide. You can search for their website on the Internet or just ask your hostel in advance.

2. Bike and Walk Around Hoan Kiem Lake and West Lake

If you have ever heard of Hanoi, Vietnam, you may have known about the two famous lakes named Hoan Kiem Lake and West Lake. They are such ideal places to have a stroll at any time of the day. 

In the morning, there are locals running, walking and exercising in the vicinity of the lakes. In the afternoon and evening, there are youngsters dancing, singing and doing so many different activities, which creates an energetic atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. 

Besides being a great hub for entertainment, the two lakes also have a lot of stunning attractions that worth a pay to visit such as The Huc Bridge, Pen Tower, and Tran Quoc Pagoda. You can explore what is inside these places and take some pictures if you want. 

3. Night Live Music on Hoan Kiem Lake Walking Street

Similarly to Ho Chi Minh city, Hanoi now has a street that does not allow any vehicles to go through during weekend evenings, its name is Dinh Tien Hoang Street. Thus, you will see this place very crowded with both locals and visitors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They come to enjoy the fresh air of the city, walk and chat with each other.

At this Hoan Kiem Lake’s Walking Street, there are also a lot of kinds of entertainment organized for everyone at different ages to join. The old will dance or exercise gently, the middle age will demonstrate some jazz/rock performances and the young will play Vietnamese traditional activities or cover K pop dancing.

4. Take Photos of Crazy Traffic on Vietnam’s Streets

Hanoi is among the craziest destinations in Southeast Asia when it comes to the traffic on the roads. There are a lot of visitors getting afraid of the number of Vietnamese reckless scooters along the streets. However, instead of getting impatient, you can find a pleasant place to become an active observer of Vietnam transportation.

It is such a good time for you to practice your photography skills as Hanoi has a lot of beautiful corners to be captured, especially when the sun is going to set. Nevertheless, remember to only take pictures of the view, not the other people who want to have private moments. 

5. Explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Twilight at Hanoi Old Quarter
(@wickfield.street)

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is full of colorful handicrafts as well as art pieces made by Vietnamese skillful artists. Your free things to do here will include contemplating carvings, paintings, patterns and ink drawings in several shops along the streets. The products sold here are so appreciative that you may not be able to find in other sites in Vietnam.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is also a famous place for unique coffee shops that serve a lot of different drinks with chic decor and soothing music. You can also discover more about Vietnamese coffee culture here.

6. Try Out The Thrill of Hanoi Train Street

Updated: has been closed in September 2019

Hanoi Train Street, which is located between Kham Thien and Le Duan Street, is a cool place to visit in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is a narrow alley with houses in various designs around. Every day, there will be a train going through at certain times. And people will stay indoors to avoid being hit.

Because of this unique feature, many coffee shops are opened to cater to a wide range of tourists. Then, from the balcony of the house, tourists can take some pictures to capture the moment of the train passing through.

7. Window Shopping at Hanoi Night Weekend Market

Hanoi boasts for so many active night markets selling a wide range of different items such as clothes, accessories, and fabrics. There will be illuminating lights, colorful stuff and lots of people selling and purchasing at Hanoi weekend night market. There will also be live performances about Vietnamese culture so you do not have to buy a ticket at Hanoi Opera House to enjoy this kind of tunes.

8. Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

This mausoleum keeps the body of Ho Chi Minh, the most beloved president of Vietnam. It is a 2-kilometer walk from West Lake and is surrounded by numerous green trees. When tourists come to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, they will see a lot of soldiers outside and inside the mausoleum. They wear the same uniform and always remain solemn looks.  

In the vicinity of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, there is a museum that exhibits the things Ho Chi Minh used in the past. Then, tourists will have a deeper insight into the Vietnam war. 

9. Admire Beautiful Vintage Architecture in French Quarter

You may wonder why Vietnam has a French Quarter. This is because, in the past, Vietnam was under French colonization for such a long time. During that time, the French government constructed so many buildings instead of temples and pagodas with an aim to manipulating Vietnamese people. 

Until now, this architecture still remains and are used as tourist attractions demonstrating how the life of Vietnamese people during the war. Some of the most well-known ones are Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi Opera House, and Vietnamese Women’s museum.

10. Visit Pagodas and Temples Around Hanoi

One Pillar Pagoda
(@xxuyeoni)

It is not hard to find temples or pagodas around Hanoi as it is known as a historical place in Vietnam. If you are keen on Vietnamese history and rituals, you can head to Bach Ma Temple, Ngoc Son Temple, and One Pillar Pagoda. They are open for tourists to visit all year round without having to pay fees. 

But the most famous pagoda in Hanoi is Perfume Pagoda which owns a massive entrance compared to the others. Inside the pagoda, there are statues, shrines, stalagmites, and stalactites that are made of greenstone. Normally, tourists coming here to pray for a lucky year with lots of good things to come. The best time to visit this pagoda is between January and April when the locals organize Huong Festival. 

11. Soak in Nature in Botanical Gardens

Being a busy city does not mean Hanoi does not have a place full of green trees and fresh air. If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the central city, you can go to visit some botanical gardens such as Bach Thao Park and Hanoi Botanic Garden. 

The former is located near Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It has existed for over 1 hundred years and is used as nature’s paradise for both local people and tourists from other places. The latter is on the northwest side of Hanoi and is known as the lungs of the whole city. The interesting thing about this park is that you can find some rare plants to conduct research for your study.

12. Practice Tai-Chi Free at Hoan Kiem Lake

Tai-Chi is a Chinese form of martial arts that is used for self-defense. However, Hanoian practices it every day as exercise. When jogging around Hoan Kiem Lake, you will see groups of people, especially the elderly, doing movements exactly like the ones at Kung Fu Hustle movie. Then, approaching them and ask whether you can join them or not. It’s pretty sure that you will be warmly welcomed and taught the simple tai-chi for free.

13. Get on Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien bridge
(@ceciliaenjoytravel)

Long Bien bridge was built to connect 2 districts in Hanoi. Going across the bridge, you will have an opportunity to see some of the best views of Hanoi such as the Red River and the banana fields in the middle of it. You can rent a scooter to drive or just walk across, stop in the middle to relax and grab some food and enjoy the fresh atmosphere on the bridge. 

14. Make Friends with Local

Making friends with the locals in a new country is one of the best ways to immortalize your visit to this place. The locals may not be good at English but you can still hear so many interesting stories about Hanoi from them. They can also take you to some less known areas that others may skip when coming to Vietnam. 

But remember when someone approaches you and tries to convince you to buy some goods such as souvenirs, fruits or pancakes, politely refuse them, only purchase things in case you really want them. 

15. Learn Basic Vietnamese Phrases

Learning some basic phrases in different languages is a staple for every visitor. A new friend from Vietnam can teach you some easy words such as “Hello”, “Good morning”, “Thank You” for free. Just walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and find someone who is enjoying their free time, ask them if they can teach you their language, and then, start your lesson. 

You should ask the students in Hanoi as they are better at English than the older and they are very friendly and willing to help any foreigners.

Source: Internet

March 17, 2020

Located in the Ngu Nhac Son Mountains, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province, it is a grandiose complex of Bich Dong pagoda and Tam Coc grotto which is one among the 21 crucial tourism destinations of Vietnam.

Tam Coc-Bich Dong is featured with a tropical climate, with 2 seasons. The cold and rainy season lasts from May to October, and the dry and hot season from November to April. Its annual average temperature is 23.5oC. As situated at the base side of the Red River Delta Triangle, it is a half-mountain half-plain area, with a coastline of 18 kilometers.

Historical Values of Tam Coc-Bich Dong

Historical values of Tam Coc Bich Dong

Bich Dong is a beautiful pagoda on the nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain dated to 1428 under the Le Dynasty, comprising three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order.

In 1773, Mr. Nguyen Nghiem (the father of the great writer Nguyen Du) visited this cave. He was much impressed by the whole magnificent scenery of mountains, waterways, fields, and sky covered in green mist. Thus he gave it a very beautiful and romantic name, Bich Dong, which literally means “Green Pearl Grotto”. 

This picturesque landscape is added by Tam Coc portion. It derives its name from its consisting of 3 caves (Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba); “Tam” means 3, “Coc” means cave. Tam Coc or “Three Caves” portion is of great enchanting charm and mystery, inviting tourists to come and explore!

What to See in Tam Coc Bich Dong

1. Tam Coc Wharf – Starting Point of Journeys

Tam Coc Wharf

To begin the journey, tourists have to queue at Tam Coc Wharf to take a boat to travel along rivers. The pier is crowded with tourists from morning till afternoon. People coming here share the same pleasant feeling about such a nice picture with the classical communal house, ancient banyan tree, moss grown well, marble rock, and friendly locals.

2. Tam Coc – A Mysterious Grotto

Tam Coc Bich Dong pagoda

Tam Coc Grotto, located approximately 2km from the pagoda, is the place that will make tourists feel like they had just disappeared from the real world to get lost in such a hidden fairy site. 

Tam Coc is 3 kilometers from Van Lam Wharf. Now, take a boat from Van Lam Wharf to reach the Tam Coc Grotto, which consists of the Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba caves. This might take you 3 hours on your small boat along the Ngo Dong river, beginning at the village of Van Lam and proceeding through a scenic landscape dominated by rice fields and karst towers. 

The largest of the grotto is 125m long with its ceiling about 2m high above the water. This grotto is adorned with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and colours that sparkle like gemstones. 

Now when drifting along the gentle Ngo Dong River under the Grotto, you can feel the deeply pure atmosphere with special smell of fresh river water and cool air from karst mountains when reaching each of the 3 caves in turns.

Among the three caves, Hang Ca is considered the most picturesque one since it is the longest and contains most fascinating natural arts deep inside. It is around 127m long, with a cave mouth of 20m wide. 

When leaving Hang Ca, just turn back to see it once again, you will feel that it was like a very old white-haired man sitting down for fishing. A Vietnamese legendary tells that this was a Heaven Land where that fishing man – a considered fairy one – lived, and flying above within the Heaven was a flock of fairies in graceful white dresses! You may be so much seduced by the beautiful fairy landscape that you do not even think of coming back at that time!

Hang Hai is nearly 1 kilometers far from Hang Ca. This is the second stop-over on your waterway journey, where can be found a series of colorful sparkling stalactites falling from the cave ceiling. This cave is about 60m long. The last but not least cave is Hang Ba, just nearby, is about 50m long, with a lower ceiling than the above two, looking like a platonic cupola.

Now getting out the whole grotto, looking out the vast landscape, you can see that a mighty mountainous and waterways are covering the limitless land. If moving further 4 kilometers, there comes “Fairy Stream”, a pure mirror-like stream where you can even see through to the stream-bed to contemplate flocks of fish swimming and looming in the moss layers. It is said in a fairy tale that fairies used to land here to swim, thus it was named “Fairy Stream”.

3. Bich Dong Grotto

Bich Dong grotto

Now turning in the opposite position, you will soon reach Bich Dong pagoda, which is situated at the grandiose Ngu Nhac Mountain. The Pagoda is divided into three levels: Ha Pagoda (lower pagoda), Trung Pagoda (middle pagoda), and Thuong Pagoda (upper pagoda). 

On the mountain peak stands the statue of a scholar Mandarin looking at the horizon with the hope of viewing the spectacular landscapes of Hoa Lu. When visiting Bich Dong grotto, tourists may have a great chance to turn back to the Post Le Dynasty’s legends.

From the upper pagoda, which has the most magnificent view of Bich Dong, is romantically charming in terms of architecture and history. The location for this pagoda was chosen in 1428 after two monks were charmed by the view of the river and the mountains. Later, King Le Canh Hung wrote a poem in honour of the beautiful pagoda and landscape.

Bich Dong means “Green Grotto” or “Pearl Grotto”, which reveals its magnificent natural beauties. Colors, shapes, and sounds of the shining stalactites converges in such a captivating miracle that no one could refuse to touch, knock and contemplate them in deed. Honorably, amongst the most fascinating caves in Vietnam, “Fairy Grotto”, part of Bich Dong, is regarded as an “Elysium on Earth”.

“Surrounding mountains full of water during 4 seasons,

Rattan boat lightly drifting,

Covered with mist and clouds, is Pagoda landscape”

These are beautiful lines of verse offered to Bich Dong pagoda grotto, a rare natural work of Art.

4. “Sun Valley” – Attractive Ecological Tourism

Here comes the final destination in your meaningful waterway journey – “Sun Valley” (Thung Nắng), an ideal ecological tourism spot for lovers of nature. Inside the valley, there is an ancient limestone temple with rock-style architecture shown in delicate carvings. Visiting this valley, you can relax in your small boat, with sun-bathing and sun playing in a quiet and pure atmosphere.

What to Eat in Tam Coc Bich Dong

Ninh Binh is not renowned for a spectacular scenery but also goat meat. Thus, once visiting Tam Coc-Bich Dong in Ninh Binh province, a must-food you should try is goat meat. The local people cook goat meat in so many attractive ways. 

For example, re-goats are served with herbs like lemon, chilly, seasoning powder and ginger. Grilled goat meat is integrated with sesame and rare-goat meat is mixed with basil, coriander and fig leaves. A menu with goat meat will definitely stay long in your memory. 

Moreover, Tam Coc-Bich Dong is also famous for its burned rice, eel vermicelli and wine drunk out of a jar through pipes. Almost every restaurant here serve all the aforementioned kinds of food. So you can have a chance to taste typical cuisines of this mountainous province right in one place.

Where to Stay in Tam Coc Bich Dong

Accommodation in Tam Coc-Bich Dong is widely available. Depending on your schedule, you can choose the one near the place you want to visit. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort

This hotel and resort is 0.4 miles from Tam Coc and is rated as the best value of nearly 150 hotels in Ninh Binh. It takes you just a few minutes to walk from here to Tam Coc Wharf, Bird Valley, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Phat Diem Cathedral, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital and so on. 

  • Thanh Dat Homestay

If you have a limited budget but still want to admire all of the incredible beauty in Tam Coc-Bich Dong, this homestay is truly an ideal option for you. It is 0.3 miles from Tam Coc and the price is nearly 400,000 VND. The homestay also serves 24/7 in order to make visitors more pleasant when staying here. 

  • Nan House

Another great choice for your stay is Nan House. It is an authentic homestay that lies in the heart of Tam Coc-Bich Dong, Ninh Binh. It is covered with a small garden with lots of flowers, a swimming pool and a playground for children’s activities. Its design is a combination of modern and traditional style with a view to pagodas, mountains and paddle field. Thus, it is such as great place for you to relax after a tiring day. 

How to Get to Tam Coc Bich Dong

From Hanoi, take a bus or train to go to Ninh Binh province in 2.5 hours. Then, drive about 5 km from the center of Ninh Binh to reach Tam Coc-Bich Dong. Here, if you want to enjoy other activities, you need to take on a boat tour along with the local people.

Best Time to Visit

Tam Coc Bich Dong remains its own beauty throughout the year. However, the best time for you to visit is in spring, when the sky is blue, the temperature is comfortable and the vast fields are green. It is also the time when Vietnamese people organize a lot of festivals for the Tet holiday so the vibe is really great.

Why are you still hesitating to go to Tam Coc Bich Dong? It is truly a legend of rivers and mountains, a pure and safe destination for every traveler.

Source: Internet

March 16, 2020

Many of you may have heard of Ninh Binh in passing, maybe it came up a few times in your searches for places to visit in Vietnam—but this place is worthy of your full attention. Do you enjoy peace and tranquility afforded by lush greenery?

Famed for its beautiful landscapes and incredible scenery, Ninh Binh is one of the top destinations you should add to your list if you love getting out into nature. From ancient temples to hidden caves and verdant rice paddies, this province in northern Vietnam has a bit of everything. But that’s not even the best part!

guide to ninh binh guide
Photo: Pixabay

Despite its natural beauty and the impressive countryside, Ninh Binh gets overlooked by many travelers. That means you, as a savvy visitor to Vietnam, have the chance to explore one of the country’s top destinations without having to face crowds you run into at sites like Halong Bay. Sound good? Then let’s learn more about Ninh Binh!

Ninh Binh – A Bit of History

While it’s easily one of Vietnam’s most beautiful areas, Ninh Binh is also rich in history with sites of famous battles and temples commemorating ancient kings. Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le Dynasties of the first century, is a significant historical site as this is where King Dinh Tien Hoang united twelve warring tribes to form what was later to become Vietnam. During the French occupation, this area’s location by the river offered control of both military and trade ships going to Hanoi. That made it a strategic spot important to the French and later the resistance forces.

Best Time to Visit Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh can be great to visit at any time of year. From November to April you can enjoy rather cool, dry weather. During this time, you’ll need to bring a jacket and long pants, especially for the evenings and nights which can get cold. From May to October, the weather is hotter, more humid and the chance of getting caught in the rain is very high. While that might not sound like fun, the rainy season is when the area’s rice fields are a lush, vibrant green. This beautiful sight more than makes up for any downpours you might experience. In September, Ninh Binh has higher chances of getting hit by a typhoon so check weather forecasts carefully if you happen to be traveling there at this time.

tam coc ninh binh
Photo: Max Pixel

How to Get to Ninh Binh 

Getting to Ninh Binh is quite straightforward and there are several options to choose from

By Air

When coming from abroad or south Vietnam, fly into Cat Bi or Hanoi airport and take a bus or train from there. You can easily book your tickets online in advance and then simply get a taxi or motorbike to the train station or bus terminal.

By Train

When coming from Hanoi, you have several trains a day to pick from. The ride takes about two hours and you arrive right in the city center. From there it’s easy to get to your hotel or head out on your first excursion.

If you’re traveling north from Hue, there is also a train which stops in Ninh Binh. To save time during your trip, try getting the night train. That way you can skip a night at the hotel and get to your destination (more or less) rested.

trang an ninh binh reunification express
The Reunification Express

To check availabilities for trains, visit the Vietnam Railways System’s website. It’s in English and provides the most reliable, up-to-date information.

By Coach

Traveling by coach is another great option. Catch a bus from Hanoi’s southern bus terminal Giap Bat and you’ll reach Ninh Binh in about two hours. Busses come in different categories, from simple and inexpensive to luxurious and comfortable. Especially if you’re tall, it could be worth it to spend an extra dollar or two for the fancier coach since otherwise, the ride could become quite cramped and uncomfortable.

You can also catch a bus coming straight from Halong Bay which is great as it saves you the detour of going to Hanoi first.

Before getting your ticket, make sure you know exactly where the bus will let you off. There are several stops in and around Ninh Binh and you don’t want to get stranded outside the city and have to catch a motorbike into town when you could have just taken a bus directly to your final destination.

By Car

If you value the independence and comfort of traveling in your own car, you can get a private driver to take you to Ninh Binh. Travel agents or your hotel in Hanoi can help you book a reliable driver for the trip. This is a great option if you want to stop for a break along the way, take some photos or try one of the many roadside eateries you’ll pass.

Getting Around in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is the type of place where you need your own transportation. Sites are so far apart; some type of vehicle is necessary to get you around.

Bicycle

Once you’re in Ninh Binh, you can ask your hotel or hostel for help renting a bicycle. Most places will have one you can borrow, or they can recommend a place to get one. Going around town on a bicycle is great fun and gives you the chance to get out into the countryside to explore the surrounding villages and get to beautiful temples too far away to walk to. Since some amazing spots are quite far though, be ready to do at least 30 to 40 kilometers per day!

how to get to ninh binh from hanoi
Photo: Wikipedia

By Motorbike

A motorbike is probably the best way to get around Ninh Binh. Again, many hotels and hostels rent them out or can point you to a good place to get one. Rentals fees are around VND 100,000 (4 USD) per day plus gas. Getting a motorbike will make it easy for you to get to all those amazing places you read about without tiring yourself out completely before even reaching your destination.

When driving, you must wear a helmet. While roads in this area are not as busy as in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, it’s still imperative for your security and it’s the law. Also, many other drivers are very flexible when it comes to sticking to traffic rules, so be ready for some surprising maneuvers and unfamiliar driving styles… another good reason to wear a helmet.

Another safety note: try to avoid driving on unlit streets at night. Some rural areas have few or no streetlamps. The lack of light combined with bumpy, unfamiliar roads can make for a dangerous combination.

By Car

Getting around Ninh Binh by car is another option. Maybe the driver that took you down from Hanoi can stay with you while you’re in Ninh Binh? If not, you can always ask your hotel or a local travel agent to help you book a driver to take you around for a few days. This is a good option if you’re not comfortable riding a motorbike or are traveling with small kids. Your driver might also know some cool off-the-beaten-track spots, so be sure to ask him about that! There’s nothing like tips from a local expert.

Where to Stay in Ninh Binh

A great place to look for hotels or hostels is actually not in Ninh Binh city itself but in Tam Coc, a smaller town nearby. It’s closer to many of the top sights of the area such as temples and famous rice fields and offers a nice experience of a small countryside town.

where to stay in ninh binh
Photo: Flickr | titanevn

When planning your trip, allow for at least two full days in Ninh Binh. With so much to see and do here, it would be a shame to try to hurry through it all in just a day.

In and around Ninh Binh and Tam Coc, you will find countless amazing homestay and hostel options. Most accommodation here is rather simple but wonderfully close to nature, but there are some fancier resorts as well. Here are a few examples so you get an idea.

Homestays

Tam Coc Westlake Homestay

Set right on the shores of Tam Coc lake, this homestay offers great views of the water and an extensive garden to relax in after a long day of exploring. It’s also close to the town center so you’re only a short walk from restaurants and shops. Run by a local family, this is an excellent place to stay if you want to be close to Ninh Binh’s main attractions.

Tam Coc Horizon Bungalow

Just about a ten-minute walk from the city center, Tam Coc Horizon Bungalow is a great mix between a homestay and a hotel. While it’s on the pricier side of things for a homestay, the rooms are beautifully furnished, and the location is excellent.

The hosts are also known for their friendliness and willingness to help with everything from booking a taxi to helping guests plan their excursions. And to add a little extra touch, a complimentary footbath is offered every evening so rest and relax your tired feet.

Lotus Field Homestay

One of the best places to stay when on a budget, Lotus Field Homestay offers guests an unforgettable experience. Stay here if you want to wake up in a bungalow in the middle of a lotus pond, surrounded by the fragrant pink blossoms of Vietnam’s national flower.

This cozy homestay is ideal if you want to spend time with your hosts without breaking the bank. The hosts offer motorbikes for you to use to explore the area and of course they have great tips on things to see and places to visit.

Hotels and Resorts

Tam Coc Garden Resort

For an upscale experience, Tam Coc Garden Resort is a great option. The fancy rooms, elaborately decorated restaurants and breathtaking views of the countryside make this resort something truly unique. If you’re here for a special occasion, you might want to consider splurging on this place.

Set between the city and Thung Nham Bird Park, you’ll feel like you’re miles from civilization although the city center is only a few kilometers away. And if you don’t want to head back to the city after a long day of exploring, you can chill out by the pool and enjoy the peace and stillness around you.

Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh

While it’s a bit further away from most attractions than other hotels, the Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh is well worth the drive. This huge resort offers you large rooms, a beautiful restaurant and a spa complete with all kinds of relaxing treatments.

For a unique and luxurious experience in Ninh Binh, this upscale resort is the way to go. Choose from individual bungalows and rooms and enjoy local specialties in the comfort of your room if you’re too tired to go back out for dinner.

(By the way, you can click the names to be directed to the booking site!)

What to See and Do in Ninh Binh

Hoa Lu Ancient Town

Located right in the heart of Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu ancient town is a significant historical site of Vietnam that you do not want to miss. Its story dates back to the tenth century, when our emperors were making leading changes to ancient Vietnam’s history. Isn’t it amazing that you can combine traveling to picturesque scenes of mountains and rivers with some history lessons?

Skip Ninh Binh City

While it’s the capital of the province, it’s actually a rather uninspiring town you can easily skip. Instead, spend more time in Tam Coc, Trang An and explore the backstreets winding through the rice fields. Staying in Ninh Binh directly might be a bit cheaper and feel more convenient because it’s close to the train station, but you’ll have to drive more to get to all the other places.

Pro tip: if you’re heading to Ninh Binh province, stay in the countryside and get a real feel for rural life in Vietnam. You’ll have enough chances to spend time in big cities when you visit Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Trang An Grottoes

Tran An is easily one of the most beautiful spots in Ninh Binh. It’s known for its lake and the eerie grottoes you can explore by boat. About 11 kilometers from Tam Coc, this place is reachable by motorbike or bicycle. To get here on the first try, put ‘Khu du lich sinh thái Tràng An’ in Google Maps to find the spot where you can meet rowers who will take you out on the lake and into the famous caverns.

ninh binh trang an caves grottoes
Photo: Flicker | travel oriented

The rowers will charge you about 150,000 VND and they will take you through caves, to temples and around the grottoes for about an hour or two. Getting here early in the morning or late in the afternoon is the best way to avoid the crowds and have this unique spot almost to yourself.

Thung Nham Bird Garden

Only about 5 kilometers outside of Tam Coc, Thung Nham Bird Garden is a wonderful place to learn about local bird species. Come here early in the morning to see the trees full of all kinds of pretty exotic birds and enjoy their song as you explore the hiking trails. The best thing about this park is that not many people visit it, so you have a good chance of getting it all to yourself. If you really like it here, you can get a room in the nearby ecolodge, a simple yet modern place which offers complete relaxation in a unique environment.

Explore the Many Temples

Whether in the middle of a bunch of rice fields, tucked away on a mountainside or perched on top of a hill, Ninh Binh is full of temples to discover.

Hang Mua is probably the most impressive. After you climb around 500 steep steps to reach it, you are rewarded with some amazing views of Tam Coc, rice fields, forests, and mountains. On the way up, you’ll likely meet some of the many goats who make Ninh Binh their home. Have your camera ready to catch their stunts as they jump from cliff to cliff!

Hoa Lu Pagoda is also well worth a visit. As the ancient capital of Vietnam, it’s a historically important place. Even though a lot of it was destroyed, you can still see remnants of its grandeur and get an idea of the beginnings of what we now know as Vietnam.

Bich Dong Pagoda is a large complex of three temples carved into limestone at the foot of the mountain. It’s easier to get to than Hang Mua and is a nice spot to add to your itinerary as it doesn’t attract too many tourists.

bich dong pagoda
Photo: Wikipedia

Of course, these are by far not all the temples and pagodas you can visit in Ninh Binh! Just by driving around or having a chat with your host, you’ll find out about many more. And if you’re out and about on your motorbike, you can stop at as many as you want!

Bike around the Rice Fields

As mentioned, in Ninh Binh you need your own transportation. To make it easy to get to the main sights, rent a motorbike for a day to quickly cover the distance. On your second day, rent a bicycle to go around the small paths leading through rice fields of Tam Coc. This will give you the chance to enjoy their beauty and tranquility without the racket of a rattling engine.

Tam Coc Boat Ride

Set right on a small lake, Tam Coc is known for scenic boat tours which offer amazing views of the rice fields and nearby mountains as well as a tour of spectacular caves and grottoes. Since this place is very popular with tourists though, it has become the scene of many scams. To avoid issues, agree on a fee with the rower before setting out. Also, be sure to avoid hawkers trying to sell you food for the rower at the end of your tour. Usually, it’s overpriced, and they share the profits. If you don’t want to miss the amazing views but feel like skipping this boat tour, you can always hop on your bike and go around the lake. The scenery will be equally beautiful when seen from your motorbike.

Photo: Flickr | anhkhue115

Visit Van Long Nature Reserve

If you want to avoid being hassled by hawkers but still want to enjoy an amazing boat tour, Van Long Nature Reserve is for you. While it’s a bit of a ride (close to 30 kilometers) from Tam Coc, it’s the perfect stop for nature lovers and bird watchers. Since it’s a protected site, many endangered species have taken refuge here, far from poachers and other predators. Get on the 90-minute boat tour of Van Long and take in the unique birdsong, the sights and smells of this wetland reserve.

Cuc Phuong National Park

About 90 minutes from Tam Coc, Cuc Phuong National Park is well worth a visit if you want to get in some good hiking. It’s a bit of a trip but it’s well worth it. Set up in 1962, Cuc Phuong is Vietnam’s oldest national park and is home to many endangered species of birds and monkeys. Take your time to explore the botanical garden, find ancient trees on hidden trails and learn about local primates in the rescue center.

Visit Phat Diem Cathedral

If you enjoy driving around on your motorbike, go for a ride to Phat Diem Cathedral. Set close to the Gulf of Tonkin, it is known as the first place where Catholicism came to Vietnam. The cathedral was built over a span of 24 years and combines Western and Vietnamese elements. Here’s a fun fact about it: the entire building was constructed using only wood and stone!

Local Food to Try

While staying in Ninh Binh, you will find a few unusual dishes to try. The most famous one is ‘De Nui’, a meal made with mountain goat. Most local eateries will offer this or a variation of it, so keep a lookout for signs with ‘de’ (goat) if you want to try it. Crispy rice (com chay) is also popular in this region and should land on your plate at least once while you’re here.

ninh-binh-food
Goat meat is Ninh Binh’s specialty

Restaurants around Ninh Binh offer delicious simple fare, making this a perfect place to try some of northern Vietnam’s signature dishes. Most shops close down around 8 PM though, so get out for dinner early to avoid going to bed hungry.

If you’re at a homestay, it’s likely your host will prepare dinner for you. Having homecooked food is a great way to get to know local cuisine, so do take them up on this offer. Let them know beforehand if you have any allergies, don’t like something or if you don’t eat meat for example. That way you’ll be able to fully enjoy your dinner, avoid awkward moments of refusing food they prepared for you and have a great experience of sharing a meal with your hosts.

Ninh Binh is the ideal place to explore rural Vietnam, see famous historical and religious landmarks and spend quality time in nature. If you’re looking for a break from the big cities or want to ditch the crowds of tourists who seem to be waiting for you everywhere else, Ninh Binh is the perfect spot for you!

Source: Internet

March 16, 2020
March 16, 2020

Discover the beauty of Vietnam’s capital in less than 48 hours. From culinary highlights to architectural gems, historic sites to social enterprises, this two-day Hanoi itinerary will give you a well-rounded taste of Hanoi.

SATURDAY MORNING: EXPLORING OLD HANOI 

9 a.m.: When in Hanoi, do as the Hanoians do: greet the morning with a steaming bowl of phở. While the northern iteration of this noodle soup is known for its simplicity, Pho Thin stands out from the crowd. For over 40 years, owner Nguyen Trong Thin has been serving up bowls of phở with a special flair. Unlike other shops, Thin stir-fries his beef flanks in garlic before adding them to the broth. This innovation has made his version of phở one of the most popular in Hanoi.

where to eat pho in hanoi

Hanoi’s pho is undisputedly the best in the country.

10 a.m.: Burn off the calories on a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake. A 15th century legend says a giant turtle in the lake recovered the magical sword Emperor Ly Thai To used to defeat the Chinese. On the weekends, the roadways aroundlake are closed to vehicles, and on the northern side the picturesque Ngoc Son Temple sits on a small island.

11 a.m.: Give your feet a break and see the Old Quarter by way of cyclo, a type of pedal-powered rickshaw. If you’re keen to do a little shopping, you’ll find several enticing boutiques tucked away on Silk Street. An hour-long ride through the Old Quarter labyrinth will help you map out your nighttime affairs, as this neighbourhood is a prime spot for local libations.

what to see in hanoi old quarter

Cyclos move at the perfect pace for sightseeing.


SATURDAY AFTERNOON: IRRESISTIBLE HISTORY

1 p.m.: Make your way to the Sofitel Legend Metropole for a tantalizing Vietnamese buffet lunch at Spices Garden. The lunch will set you back VND780,000++, but the price is well worth the luxury and the chance to sample a wide variety of fantastic Vietnamese dishes. Afterwards check out the hotel’s beautiful interiors, which have seen the likes of novelist Graham Greene, actor Charlie Chaplin and actress Angelina Jolie, to name a few.

TIP: For a less pricey lunch option with just as many options, take your pick from the stalls at the buzzing garden restaurant Nha Hang Ngon. 

3 p.m.: You can’t come to Hanoi and not see the Temple of Literature. Built in honour of Confucius, this is also the site of Vietnam’s oldest university, established in 1076. Admire the traditional-style architecture, the pond dubbed “The Well of Heavenly Clarity” and a collection of ancient stone slabs inscribed with the names of exceptional scholars, all mounted on the backs of stone turtles. A pavilion, which houses a statue of Confucius and his four greatest disciples, lies in the furthest courtyard.

Temple of Literature Hanoi

Van Mieu has long been a symbol of academic excellence.


SATURDAY EVENING: LIKE A LOCAL

5 p.m.: Academic endeavours tend to work up an appetite. Fortunately, one of Hanoi’s best restaurants is right around the corner. KOTO, which stands for “Know One, Teach One,” is a social platform dedicated to transforming lives by providing vocational training to underprivileged youth. The wait staff are all trainees learning the ropes of the hospitality trade and all proceeds go directly to funding the charity.

7 p.m.: As night decends, head back to the intersection of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen in the Old Quarter to experience the revelry of bia hơi. No need for signage as you’ll immediately recognise “Bia Hoi Corner,” a chaotic sight where pubs spill out onto the street in true Vietnamese fashion, clogging up the intersection. Park yourself on a little stool and order a glass of freshly brewed beer (15,000 VND) served straight from the barrels. 

top attractions in hanoi

A day of sightseeing in the Old Quarter.


SUNDAY MORNING: HANOIAN TRADITIONS

8 a.m.: Kickstart day two with a brew unique to Hanoi, cà phê trứng, aka egg coffee. There’s only one location to indulge in this frothy concoction: Giảng Cafe. The founding father of this establishment is none other than the creator of the recipe himself, Nguyen Giang. Invented purely out of necessity, Giang’s substitution of fresh milk with whisked eggs during French War food shortages birthed this famous hybrid. The recipe remains top secret.

9:30 a.m.: Quickly make your way to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing marble stronghold situated in centre of the grandiose Ba Dinh Square. If you want a chance to see the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s revered communist political leader, dress modestly and be early: the last entry is slated at 10:15 a.m. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the spectacular display of the changing of the guard outside the mausoleum. Photography is strictly forbidden.

TIP: The mausoleum shuts down annually between September 4 to November 4, when the body is sent to Russia for upkeep. Plan accordingly.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Outside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

11:30 a.m.: You can’t come to Hanoi and not try bún chảBún chả became an overnight sensation after Anthony Bourdain and President Barack Obama lunched at Bun Cha Huong Lien on the show No Reservations. The “Obama Combo” includes bún chả, a side of nem rán (fried spring rolls) and an ice cold bottle of beer. Dump the cold rice vermicelli and the fresh herbs in the bowl of sweetened fish sauce. 


SUNDAY AFTERNOON: CULTURAL SNAPSHOT

1:30 p.m.: Time for some ethnographic inquiry. On the outskirts of the city lies the Museum of Ethnology, about a 20-minute taxi drive from the city centre. A first class museum-going experience, the 40,000 VND ($2 USD) ticket covers all areas on this  three-part complex. The museum is dedicated to the traditions of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups, and includes a garden with full-scale replicas, some relocated originals, and a museum devoted to Southeast Asia.

TIP: Don’t miss the Water Puppet theatre performance at 2 p.m.

Bun Cha Hanoi Street Food

Bun cha for lunch, served on the sidewalk.

4:30 p.m.: On your way back to town, stop by at the enormous Tay Ho Lake, also known as West Lake. The 17-km shoreline makes for a fantastic cycling route. The Hanoi Bicycle Collective is your one-stop for bike rentals (60,000 VND for up to six hours.) The circumference of the lake is lined with hip cafes, ancient pagodas and picturesque gardens. 

View of West Lake Hanoi

Hanoi’s largest lake is busy with locals admiring the view with some ice cream.


SUNDAY EVENING: A NEW PERSPECTIVE

7 p.m.: Conclude your Hanoian adventure at Highway 4. With four locations, quirky decor and an even quirkier menu, you won’t be disappointed. Indulge in the local tipple, a Vietnamese spirit called rượu, made from sticky rice laced with herbs and spices. Hopefully, the liquor motivates you to try the adventurous items on the menu: chicken hearts, locusts, eel, buffalo and frog. 

9 p.m.: Make your last view of Hanoi one from the top. A number of fantastic rooftop bars are sprinkled around the city, but for classy cocktails and a mesmerizing view, look no further than the cushy chairs at The Summit, on the top of Pan Pacific Hotel. Cheers! 

Source: Vietnam Tourism

March 16, 2020

As a brand new entertainment complex located in Tho Quan alley, Kham Thien (Hanoi) with all kinds of entertainment services, but 60s – Sixty Square scored in the hearts of young people by the classic style and their little old and peaceful.

In addition to the familiar locations like X98, Vietgangz Brotherhood, The 60s complex (Sixty Square), located at 60 Tho Quan,Kham Thien, Hanoi impresses those who come here for the first time by its ancient, quiet, very vintage features.

60s is built to target audiences who love the classic style. Therefore, from the design, the booths or utility services of the 60s are synchronized to keep the same inspiration.


The 60s complex has been repaired and redesigned right from the space of an old French mansion located in the middle of Hanoi. With two buildings connected by a long corridor combined with typical French architecture with golden walls now imprinted with time, 60s gives people a sense of old, nostalgic but still very peaceful.

As a complex for young people, 60s still have all the necessary entertainment services, from cafes, dining, photography studios to clothing shops, tattoos, accessories, camera repair … Each room, each store is decorated with special items as well as vintage patterns. It could be an octagonal window frame in the area of ​​film production, a piece of wood grain at the entrance of the cafe with the strange name “Quan Cam” on the 2nd floor, a Dong Ho painting “Mouse Wedding”, the large displacement bikes at the accessory store …

March 16, 2020
March 16, 2020
Mai Chau ricefields, Vietnam
Andrea Pistolesi / Getty Images 

Three hours out from the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, as you cross into the mountainous Hoa Binh province to the west, the landscape transforms from congested row houses to wide-open rice fields, karst mountains, and quaint wood-and-bamboo villages.

Welcome to Mai Chau: a rural valley whose towering cliffs, unique culture and laid-back atmosphere attract visitors keen to experience the land and lifestyle of Vietnam’s northwest.

Spend a couple of days here, and you’ll forget what century you’re in. Spend the daylight hours exploring the local Tai Dam and Tai Kao villages and biking around the brilliant-green rice fields, then fill your evenings drinking the local beer and enjoying traditional Tai dances. Check off the activities listed below, and you can boast you’ve made the most of your Mai Chau getaway!  

Explore the Countryside on Foot or by Bike

Biking around Mai Chau in Vietnam
Andrew Bain / Getty Images

The great outdoors are Mai Chau’s most potent draw: the rice fields, locals and mountainous backdrop drive the beauty of Vietnam’s northwest home to the traveler.

As you bike or trek along Mai Chau’s dirt roads, the scenery changes, their little details giving you something to capture on camera: wildflowers in season; rice paddies, either green with rice plants or mirror-like, depending on the time of year; and locals driving livestock from place to place.

Guides can suggest trekking or biking trails as long or as easy as your legs and lungs can take you.

Your local hotel or home stay can either recommend a bike provider or lend you a bike themselves, for a small fee. The cost of Trekking packages depends on the number of activities the trek takes on. 

Sleep in an Authentic Tai home stay

Traditional Tai performance at Mai Chau homestay
Peter Stuckings / Getty Images

Over fifty ethnic minorities inhabit Vietnam alongside the majority Kinh (Viet) people; Mai Chau’s Tai Dam and Tai Kao (“White Thai” and “Black Thai”) inhabit Mai Chau, infusing the local travel experience with their traditions and culture.

Travelers can pick a home stay at one of the two biggest villages in Mai Chau, Poom Coongand Lac, where the Tais’ unique stilt houses serve as the area’s rustic yet gracious accommodations.

While both villages provide homestays, travelers gravitate to Poom Coong for the sleep, and to Lac for the food. (More on the food further down.)

Life is simple in a Tai homestay: you wake up to the sound of roosters crowing and farmers going to work in the dark, you sleep on a mattress laid out on the creaky bamboo floor, and you spend your evenings drinking the local wine and watching a Tai cultural show.

Tai houses are usually built on stilts, rising about four to five feet off the ground. Stilt houses are better ventilated and better protected from pests and intruders: thus, despite the introduction of more modern materials like corrugated iron sheets (replacing the thatch roofs in a number of Tai houses), the basic house design has changed little over the centuries.

Take in a View From Above at Thung Khe Pass

Food stalls at Thung Khe Pass, Mai Chau, Vietnam
Andrew Bain / Getty Images

As your bus negotiates Highway 6 from Hanoi to Mai Chau, you’ll stop at Thung Khe Pass, a rest stop with smoky food shacks and a gorgeous view of the white cliffs nearby and the valley below.

While admiring the view, you can sit down at one of the stalls to eat the local fare sold by the area’s Muong tribes people. Take your pick from newly boiled or grilled corn and sugarcane, or the sticky-rice dish called com lam: all cheap but filling stuff, offering none of the sophistication of the food you’ll find in Hanoi but bracingly warm against to the area’s frigid winds.

The highland cold brings its own unique hazards: a thick pea-soup fog that increases the danger of driving through the mountain roads. Negotiating Thung Khe Pass can be quite terrifying during the winter months, as the driver can see only a few feet ahead of them, their headlights making little headway against the fog.

Buy Silk Brocade From the Source

Hand-woven weaving of indigenous Tai-Tai
supawat bursuk / Getty Images

It’s not a real Mai Chau Tai home without a loom. Traditional gender roles dictate that women dedicate their time to weaving, learning it at a young age and working from their youth to provide a trousseau for their future marriage.

Tais specialize in weaving traditional brocadesilk fabrics with rich colors and raised patterns. Their daily wear makes heavy use of brocades, as evidenced in the Tai women’s snug waistbands, worn even when performing manual labor.

Mai Chau locals make their silk brocades from scratch: starting with harvesting silkworm cocoons, reeling the silk from the cocoons, dyeing the threads using natural colors, and ending with selling the brightly-colored end product in Mai Chau’s villages and markets.

All this is hard labor, reeling, dyeing, and weaving takes expert hands with long experience, so bargain accordingly when you haggle for their bags, scarves, and skirts. The prices are that way for a reason!

Explore Mai Chau’s Caves

Natural beauty inside Mo Luong grotto
quangpraha / Getyy Images

The shape of Mai Chau’s sinuously curvy mountains comes from karst limestone bedrock, the same kind of geological formations that created the dragons’ back islands of Halong Bay, to the east. (The islands of El Nido and the Chocolate Hills of Bohil, both in the Philippines, look the same way because of the same karst foundations.)

Where there’s karst, you’ll find caves, and Mai Chau is no exception. The local trekking trails tend to stop at two of the biggest caves in Mai Chau, Mo Luong (“Soldier”) Cave and Chieu (“1,000 Steps”) Cave.

Mo Luong Cavestretches about 1,600 feet into the interior of Mount Phu Ka. Accessible by two separate entrances, the cave expands into a large cathedral interior that then branches out to four different caverns. Mo Luong was used as an armaments storage house during the Vietnam War.

Chieu Cavecan only be reached by a 1,200-step staircase, thus its numeric nickname. The interior extends about 500 feet into the mountain, branching out to two chambers.

Drink and Dine as the Locals Do

Traditional Vietnamese food
Phung Huynh Vu Qui / Getty Images

The Mai Chau homestay experience generally includes food, and plenty of it, oftentimes accompanied by a Tai Kao dance performance by a local troupe.

Traditional Tai cuisine draws heavily from the land: steamed sticky rice, or xoi nep thuong, serves as the base of a Mai Chau feast that includes grilled meat, bitter bamboo shoots, and the favorite local tipple, sticky-rice wine (ruou can) sipped by a group through straws from a single clay jar.

Food in Mai Chau is locally grown: crops like corn, sugarcane, and rice figure heavily in the food served during dinnertime, as do herbs like coriander.

Travel Tips

Long straight road in Mai Chau
Vanessa Gouveia-Law / Getty Images

Before planning your trip to Mai Chau, take note of the following considerations regarding your transportation and the best time to visit.

When to visitMai Chau’s location in Vietnam’s north creates some interesting temperature extremes: dry, cold winters from January to February with a temperature range of 60 to 62-degrees, and wet, hot summers from June to September with a temperature range of 80.6 to 84.2-degrees.

The best times to visit Mai Chau fall between these highs and lows. The spring months from the latter half of February to the end of May brings pleasantly warm weather, with the flowers all a-blossom during this time. The autumn months from October to November bring a tolerable chill but still allow for pleasant hiking throughout the valley.

Always remember to pack accordingly for the weather!

Transportation to Mai Chau:The most direct route to Mai Chau begins at My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi, where buses to Mai Chau depart four times a day for the four-hour trek west to the valley.

A less direct route stops at Hoa Binh City (sharing the name with the province), from which you can take another bus to Mai Chau.

March 16, 2020

Vietnam, a beautiful country in Southeast Asia, offers some of the region’s most stunning natural wonders.  While many of these places have become hot tourist attractions, they still retain their natural beauty, providing places to enjoy the tranquility and magnificence of mother earth.

Here are Vietnam’s 8 most beautiful natural wonders to explore:

1. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Credit: phongnhakebang.vn

Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, the park is considered to be a cave explorer’s paradise: with hundreds of cave systems, and being home to Asia’s oldest karst mountains formed around 400 million years ago. Epic caves with underground rivers, enchanting stone formations, and large areas to explore, the park is truly a sight to behold, even if you’re not a cave enthusiast.

Fast becoming a tourist destination, the park’s nearest village, which is the main center, is Son Trach village, home to a population of about 3000 people, with growing tourist infrastructure such as a rising number of eating options, accommodation, ATM, and transport links.

2. Sa Pa

Credit: pixabay.com/phongnguyenhuy

The Sa Pa region of Vietnam is surrounded by the country’s highest mountains, and its landscapes are breathtaking. Trekking or hiking its hills and mountains are the perfect way to enjoy the region, with its picturesque rice paddies that change color by the season. During the rainy season, the paddies are green and lush, while at harvest time around September, the fields turn a bright gold.

3. Ninh Binh

Credit: pixabay.com/phongnguyenhuy

Ninh Binh is a city in northern Vietnam that has become a popular tourist destination with many attractions. Its most famous nickname is “Halong Bay on Land,” due to the hundreds of limestone karsts that resemble those at the legendary Halong Bay, only these karsts sprout across the city’s countryside.

One of its natural attractions and things to do is a boat ride through Trang An. A small rowing boat takes tourists around the water systems: through underground rivers, caves, and lakes – encompassing a 2-hour tranquil journey around the rural part of the province.

4. Fansipan

Credit: pixabay.com/hikulli

Considered to be “The Roof of Indochina,” Fansipan is Vietnam’s highest peak, as well as that of Laos and Cambodia (comprising Indochina). The mountain is situated on the border of Vietnam and China and can be reached from Hanoi on an overnight train.

Trekking the stunning mountain takes about two to three days, but a cable car can bring tourists to the summit in 15 to 20 minutes, where a complex of food shops awaits.

Best enjoyed on a trek, you will encounter hill-tribe villages on your first day on the path, while forests, wildlife, and mountain vistas are yours to enjoy on your second day as you near the peak.

5. Giang Dien Waterfall

Credit: crossingtravel.com

One of the best places to cool down in nature from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam’s city life, the Giang Dien Waterfall tourist area has plenty to offer for young travelers, as well as those who are traveling as families. You can swim in the gorgeous twin waterfalls, which you can reach via a suspension bridge, and a camping area is available if you want to spend the night at the park.

Other things to enjoy include fishing, having a picnic in the park, as well as exploring the abundant flora and fauna that grow and live in the area.

6. Halong Bay

Credit: pixabay.com/ryan961

Probably the the most visited and the most popular tourist attraction in all of Vietnam, the Halong Bay is a spectacular bay with thousands of limestone karsts that sprout from the blue-green bay like massive pillars. Boat tours can range from day trips to overnight trips where you get to sleep on the boat over water and witness spectacular sunrises and sunsets aboard. A trip to Vietnam is never complete without a visit to Halong Bay – it merely is a must to experience.

7. Hoan Kiem Lake

Credit: pixabay.com/nguyenkhactuhd23

The lake itself is not that majestic, but the fact that it’s found in the center of busy Hanoi is spectacular in itself. Along the banks of the lake are some of the city’s most beautiful shopping centers, as well as picture-perfect temples and pagodas. The most popular of all is the Turtle Tower, which was built in the 18th hundreds to commemorate Le Loi, a famed warrior, and the magical turtle that legend says lived in the lake and meant to protect the warrior’s sword.

8. Phu Quoc

Credit: pixabay.com/quangle

Vietnam is not exactly famous for its beaches, well, not as well-known as Phuket in Thailand or Bali in Indonesia, that is, but the country does have some impressive islands and beaches found on the southern coast. Phu Quoc island is one example – it has some of the countries’ best beach destination, with its white sand and tropical rain forests which are virtually untapped.

Aside from the beautiful culture, delicious cuisine, and undoubtedly stunning art that define Vietnam, its natural wonders are more than worthy to be explored, treasured, and relished – these 8 natural wonders are a certain must in your Vietnam itinerary.

Source: Internet

March 16, 2020

Hanoi will simultaneously surprise, charm and chew you up. Founded along the Red River, Hanoi was named Thang Long (soaring dragon) by Emperor Ly Thai To in 1010. Over a thousand years of war, natural disasters and new administrations, the city grew from swamplands into the charismatic capital it is today. Take in details of the ancient architecture, battle the barrage of millennials on motorbikes and drink fresh bia hơi in the Old Quarter. Here are 11 must-see stops in Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Soldiers stand guard the entrance of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.

This commanding construction was built from 1973 to 1975 to house the embalmed body of Vietnam’s greatest political leader, Hồ Chí Minh. Visitors and Vietnamese queue for hours every morning to pay their respects to the cadaver, dressed in a khaki wardrobe and encased in a glass sarcophagus.

Admission: 35,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 11am, Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun (December to September) last entry at 10:15am
Address: So 1, Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh


One Pillar Pagoda

This Buddhist wooden pagoda was built in the middle of a lotus pond on a single stone pillar by the Emperor Ly Thai To in 1049. Archives suggest it was built in honor of the Goddess of Mercy, who answered the Emperor’s prayers for a male heir. The structure is designed to resemble a lotus flower blossoming from muddy waters, a symbol of purity in Buddhist philosophy.  

Admission: 25,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 11:30am everyday, and 2pm – 4pm, Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun
Address: Chua Mot Cot, Doi Can, Ba Dinh


The Old Quarter

The Old Quarter

At the top of Hoan Kiem Lake, Dinh Tien Hoang ’roundabout’ is a great starting point for exploring the alleys of the Old Quarter. 

Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter is a single square kilometre comprised of 36 streets. Since the 15th century, each street has been home to artisans and craftsmen who traded in the specific merchandise for which their street was named. Today, the charm of these streets still remains. Prepare to marvel as you wander from silver street to bamboo street, silk street to decoration street, all within a stone’s throw of each other.

TIP: At night, head down to bia hơi corner (the intersection between Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen) to sample sensational street food and bargain brews.

Admission: Free
Hours: 7am to midnight  
Address: North of Hoan Kiem Lake


Hanoi Opera House

Opera House Hanoi

The Opera House is at the edge of Hanoi’s French Quarter, where a few colonial buildings have been well preserved.

Constructed at the turn of the 20th century, this beautiful colonial building is the largest theater in Vietnam. After nearly 100 years of operation, the Opera House was carefully refurbished in 1997 and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Today the venue attracts renowned performers, productions and musicians. 

TIP: Culture lovers should book tickets to see ‘My Village’ at the Opera House. This impressive showcase combines acrobatics, traditional dance and music.

Admission: 300,000 VND
Hours: Check the website for performances
Address: So 01, Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem


Vietnamese Women’s Museum

Vietnamese Women's Museum

This museum boasts a floor on textiles of ethnic groups, women’s crucial role in wartimes and even their practices as mediums of the ‘Mother Goddess’ worship.

The Vietnamese Women’s Museum is one of the most modern museums in Vietnam. Housing a series of excellent exhibitions presenting artefacts, costumes, crafts, memoirs,and photographs from the past 100 years, the museum reveals the pivotal role of Vietnamese women in their country’s history and society. 

Admission: 30,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 5pm, Tue-Sun
Address: 36 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hang Bai Ward, Hoan Kiem


The Water Puppet Theatre

Water Puppet Theatre Hanoi

Live music is always performed alongside the puppeteering with traditional instruments and delicate vocals. 

Dating back to the 11th century, water puppet performances are ideal for light entertainment and insight into Vietnamese folklore. Wading around in waist-deep water holding bamboo poles, puppeteers operate the lacquered wooden characters from behind a screen, reenacting scenes from rural village life. 

Admission: 100,000 VND
Hours: 3:30pm, 5pm, 6:30pm, 8pm, 9:15pm every day, and an additional performance on Sundays at 9:30pm
Address: 57b Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem


Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi

Turtle Tower rests at the centre of ‘the Lake of the Restored Sword.’

Legend says Emperor Ly Thai To was gifted a magical sword by a giant golden turtle who lived in the lake in order to defeat the Ming dynasty. Once victorious, Ly Thai To gave the sword back to the turtle who dove down to return the sword to the gods. Hoan Kiem Lake is admired for its beauty as well as insight into the daily life of Hanoians. Watch locals practicing their daily exercise and Tai Chi routines in the gardens by the water’s edge.  

Admission: Free to the general public
Hours: Open all day


Ngoc Son Temple

The Ngoc Son Temple, or The Temple of the Jade Mountain, is situated on a small tree-sheltered island on the north side of Hoan Kiem Lake. Connected by a stunning scarlet bridge, this classic Vietnamese structure was built in honour of the intellectual scholar Saint Van Xuong, and national hero General Tran Hung Dao. In 1884, the Confucian scholar made a series of renovations to the site, including adding parallel sentences (câu đối) or word puzzles to the walls.

Admission: 20,000 VND
Hours: 7:30am – 5:30pm, every day
Address: Hoan Kiem Lake


Temple of Literature 

Temple of Literature Vietnam Tourism

The main gate of the nation’s oldest university, be sure to visit during lunch time to avoid crowds. 

Built by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong during the Ly dynasty, the Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu in Vietnamese) was erected in honour of the philosopher Confucius and his disciples in 1070. In 1076, it became home to Hanoi’s first university, Quốc Tử Giám. The site is one of the oldest in Hanoi and a national symbol of Vietnamese education and architecture. Today, the temple houses five court yards, records of Vietnamese scholars, and statues of turtles which are said to bring students good luck in their exams.

Admission: 30,000 VND
Hours: 8am – 5pm, from November until March; 7:30am – 6pm for the rest of the year, Tue-Sun
Address: 58 Quoc Tu Giam, Dong Da


Museum of Ethnology 

The Museum of Ethnology Hanoi

The gardens feature traditional structures, including the communal houses of the Bahnar or Giarai ethnic groups which can reach up to 30 metres high. 

This amazing museum examines the everyday life of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Designed by ethnic Tay architect Ha Duc Linh and French architect Veronique Dolfus, the museum hosts three main exhibition areas. Exhibitions display cultural costumes, handicrafts, videos and artefacts; while the outdoor space showcases impressive life-size replicas of ethnic architecture.

Admission: 40,000 VND
Hours: 8:30am – 5:30pm, Tue-Sun
Address: Nguyen Van Huyen, Nghia Do, Cau Giay


Saint Joseph’s Cathedral 

St. Joseph's Cathedral

The cafes by the Cathedral are a perfect spot to watch the bustle of Hanoi.

Saint Joseph’s Cathedral (also known as Hanoi Cathedral), was built on the site of the  Bao Thien Tower, which was the most famous landmark in the capital during the Ly Dynasty. The architect was inspired by the Neo-Gothic style of the Notre Dame de Paris. When visiting, expect to see a multicultural crowd of worshippers and plenty of Vietnamese newlyweds having romantic photo shoots.

Admission: Free
Hours: 8am – noon, 2pm – 6pm, every day
Address: 40 Nha Chung, Hoan Kiem

Soure: Vietnam Tourism

March 14, 2020

There’s a lot to love about travelling in Vietnam, which stretches from the soaring mountains and fascinating ethnic groups of the north to the endless rice paddies and vibrant waterways of the Mekong Delta in the South, with more than 3000 km of glorious coastline in between.

A traditional boat sails on the waters of Halong Bay, with limestone pillars protruding from the water surrounding it
Halong Bay is a World Heritage Sight and a highlight for many visitors to Vietnam © César Asensio / 500px

Throw in a good transport infrastructure of buses, trains and flights and an abundance of cheap but excellent street food and it’s no surprise Vietnam graces countless bucket lists. But, like any country, it has its challenges, and some visitors come home with tales of scams, hectic roads and pushy vendors. Following these top tips will help you avoid the major pitfalls, and ensure you come away from your first visit to Vietnam with happy memories, as well as your souvenir conical hat.

Two women pose with baskets of street food in Hanoi. Both women are wearing conical hats, which are common in the country.
A few words of Vietnamese can go a long way, whether you’re ordering street food in the city or hiking in the highlands © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

Be open

Vietnam’s long exposure to foreigners means that many local residents aren’t as overtly curious about visitors as some of their counterparts in Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. Also, because most Vietnamese are not confident with spoken English despite learning it in school, people tend to ignore lost-looking foreigners unless you actually ask for help. But be assured that the Vietnamese really are friendly people. If you ask someone a question with a smile and in slow, clear English, you’ll almost certainly have it answered and the smile returned. Simple phrases such as xin chào (‘hello’, pronounced ‘seen chow’) and cám ơn (‘thank you’, pronounced ‘kaam uhn’) go a long way.

Get connected

While most hotels, cafes and restaurants have wi-fi, you can easily buy a SIM card and get connected to the internet for as little as US$3. Vietnamese street names are notoriously long (most are named after people), so digital maps trump paper ones for many travelers. You’ll also find having a local phone number handy for meeting up with tour guides and making last-minute bookings on the road. SIM cards are widely sold in corner shops and are easy to top up. Once you have a card, the process to register for internet can be tricky, so ask the shopkeeper or your hotel to do it for you.

Vietnamese Papaya delight salad: Sliced papaya, dried beef, herb and spice mixed salad, popular street food in Saigon, Vietnam
Street food is one of Vietnam’s great joys – and you’ll need cash to pay for it © Dory F / Shutterstock

Know your dong from your dollar

The Vietnamese dong is the currency of Vietnam and comes in denominations ranging from 1,000 to 500,000 (about US$22 at the time of writing). While it’s thrilling to become a Vietnamese millionaire, dealing with that many zeros can become frustrating, especially since some of the currency is very similar in color. For example, the 10,000d note and the 200,000d note are both tan while the 20,000d and 500,000d notes are both blue. It’s very easy to hand over the wrong bill to a taxi driver while in a rush. Spend a minute in your room before going out to sort your bills to avoid overpaying. Even if you do end up overpaying a small amount for certain things, take it in stride. In the grand scheme of things, it’ll likely not be worth the aggravation.

While international credit and debit cards are accepted at most larger hotels, restaurants and travel agencies (sometimes with an added fee), cash is still king in Vietnam for day-to-day transactions. ATMs are widely available, and currency can be exchanged at banks (and some gold shops, although this practice is frowned upon by the government).

Note that the official system of separate prices for Vietnamese and foreigners – which applied to everything from train tickets to entrance fees – is a thing of the past.

Be wary of taxi scams

For many, motorcycle taxis are the best way see the thronging streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. However, scams can happen, and your best protection is a decent knowledge of where you are going and points along the way. Always agree on a price beforehand and be prepared to be quoted a higher price than the locals. For regular taxis, stick to the two major companies of Mai Linh and Vinasun (both have apps). Smaller, independent taxis are known for fast meters and aggressive drivers. If you’re in one of the larger cities, ride-sharing apps like Grab are good, offering both car and motorcycle taxis. Sometimes the driver will call to confirm, so having a Vietnamese-speaking friend nearby will come in handy.

The sweeping rice terraces beneath Fansipan in Lao Cai province, Vietnam. Beyond the green rice terraces a number of mountains are visible.
Hopping between rural delights and big city sights is easy in Vietnam, thanks to the network of buses, flights and trains © Sarawut Intarob/500px

Know your transport options

Overnight buses are a good way to cover long distances and save on accommodation costs. However, the lay back seats don’t offer much legroom, so tallish passengers (anyone over 1.6 m) will find it impossible to stretch out fully. While the top bunk offers slightly more privacy, they can be right at the height of street lights. Sleep masks, ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones (especially if the bus is playing music or movies) are recommended.

That said, sometimes you can pay a few more dollars and fly – the more convenient but less sustainable option. Vietnam has several budget airlines, which offer cheap fares but are notorious for being late and strictly enforcing carry-on limits. The national carrier, Vietnam Airlines, has better service and comparable pricing if booked in advance.

More comfortable than buses and cheaper than flights, train travel is another option for getting around Vietnam. A railway line spans the length of the country, following the coastline from Ho Chi Minh city all the way to Hanoi and beyond. It’s a must for rail enthusiasts, with the ride considered amongst the most amazing train journeys in the world.

Be aware of your surroundings

Violent crime is extremely rare in Vietnam, and firearms are heavily regulated. But snatch-and-grabs and, to a lesser extent, pick pocketing, do happen. It pays to be vigilant. Use your phone and other electronics sparingly when outside (even while sitting at a sidewalk cafe or on the back of a motorbike). Leave your passport at the hotel; there’s rarely a reason to have the original on you.

Also, while Vietnam has some of the cheapest beer in the world, be careful about overdoing it. Inebriated tourists wandering back to their hotel in the morning hours when there is little traffic around can be seen as easy targets. If you come home late at night, go with a friend and splurge the extra dollar or two on an automobile taxi instead of a motorcycle taxi.

Aerial view of a selection of mopeds driving down a concrete street in Hanoi
Scooters and other traffic can make crossing city streets in Vietnam an intimidating experience at first © Matt Munro / Lonely Planet

Be safe on the roads

Traffic in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can seem terrifying at first glance. Just walking across the street during rush hour can feel like an impossible task! But there is method to the madness and, like a school of fish, the traffic will inevitably glide around you as long as you keep moving at a slow and steady pace. If unsure, do as the locals do and raise one hand high to be seen above the sea of helmets.

If you’re looking to drive a motorbike yourself, it’s best to save it for one of the quieter destinations like Hoi An, Da Lat or Phu Quoc. Always wear a helmet, and be aware of the exhaust pipe, which has caused many a leg burn. As motorbikes tend to drive closely to each other, keep your feet pointed inwards and think of wearing closed shoes which offer extra protection for your feet.

Source: Internet

March 14, 2020
March 14, 2020

Founded over 1000 years ago, Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history, with the streets of its rambling Old Quarter dating back to the 14th century. Wandering these tree-lined lanes past crumbling colonial facades will transport you back in time. However, today’s Hanoi is about much more than the past. The ancient city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world-class restaurants, and cool art galleries. When the sun goes down, you have your pick of watering holes, from sophisticated rooftop bars to buzzing bia hoi.

Sample the street food

A wander around a morning market provides a tantalising hint of what you can expect to hit your table in Hanoi. For an authentic taste of Hanoi, look no further than the street kitchens of the Old QuarterPhở noodle soup is king of cuisines here, with steaming pots of its star anise-infused broth simmering on every corner; while every day, the irresistible scent of bún chả fills the air as barbecued pork sizzles over hot coals. In recent years a growing band of superb international dining rooms have emerged, serving everything from contemporary tapas to fusion fare.

Stroll the Old Quarter

Hanoi’s Old Quarter serves up a sensory overload for the eyes, ears and nose. Wisps of incense drift out onto streets from ancient temples painted a riot of reds and oranges, while in a far-flung corner the clang of a blacksmith’s hammer mingles with a mobile fruit seller’s call. To fully immerse yourself, grab a map to explore. Or jump in a cyclo and take a tour of this intoxicating maze of markets, street kitchens, shop houses, and more.

Explore Hanoi’s cafe culture

It is by taking a seat and waiting as your coffee slowly filters that the Vietnamese capital can best be understood. Fast-paced on the surface, the true rhythm of city life is far from hurried. Alongside the thousands of coffee houses selling traditional Vietnamese coffee, an ever-growing band of unique coffee shops serve espressos and macchiatos in surroundings rivaling the world’s coolest caffeine dens.

Check out the art scene

Hanoi has long had a reputation as Vietnam’s art capital, with the elegant Fine Arts Museum housing the country’s foremost collection, including ancient Cham artifacts and impressionist pieces. For something more contemporary, head for Manzi–an art space-cum-cafe–or the Vietnam Art Gallery. Both are top places to take the pulse of the city’s art scene. Smaller gallery spaces include Nha San Collective at the up-and-coming Hanoi Creative City urban project.

Join the locals at Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem lake rests at the heart of Hanoi and embodies the soul of the city. Every morning it comes alive with walkers, aerobics classes, badminton, ballroom dancers, and even a laughing yoga group. It bursts back into life at sunset, and after dark, is again thronged with locals out to take the evening air. A little further north the lesser-visited Truc Bach and West Lake shouldn’t be missed–their calm temples and lakeside cafes provide peaceful enclaves away from the buzz of downtown.

Ha Noi Itineraries

24 hours in Hanoi

Begin your day early with a wander around Hoan Kiem and soak up the invigorating rhythm of life, with everything from open air aerobics to laughing yoga ringing across the waters. After a breakfast phở, wander the streets of the Old Quarter before sampling the capital’s staple lunch dish, bún chả. Visit the Women’s Museum in the afternoon, then head to Summit Lounge for the best sunset views in town before crowning the day with dinner at Chim Sao.

48 hours in Hanoi

Plan an early morning visit to Cong Vien Thong Nhat, then head to the Museum of Fine Arts before refreshing with a drink at Manzi, for a rewarding morning of artistic exploration. In the afternoon go temple-hopping around West Lake, stopping at some of the many coffee and juice bars that surround it. For a Vietnamese dinner, dine at Quan An Ngon. Round out your 48 hours with a nightcap at Hanoi’s coolest bar, Tadioto.

Ha Noi Weather

The climate is inviting from April to June, but Hanoi is particularly beautiful in May when its many trees come into bloom – orange, white, purple and red flowers elevate the already beguiling street scenes to another level. October and November are also excellent months to visit when temperatures are cooler.

Transport to Ha Noi

Hanoi is served by Noi Bai international airport as well as trains. A bus network links all major destinations within the country and international buses also link the capital with Laos.

Source: Vietnam Tourism

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