What makes many are passionate, fascinated people once set foot here? Let’s find out all about the Hanoi through the detailed handbook below to find yourself the answer!
What is the right time to travel to Hanoi?
The good time to visit Hanoi is in Fall, around August, September and October. Especially, you should go to Hanoi in September or October. Because at this time, the rainy season usually ended. The weather is dry, the sunlight is not too strong. The temperature is moderate, the air is cool. All of the above factors create the best conditions for travelers to book a great trip to Hanoi.
And for travelers who prefer the cold weather, the last months of the year like November and December will be a good suggestion. Coming to Hanoi around this time, besides visiting famous tourist destinations, visitors can also enjoy many delicious specialties in Hanoi.
How to apply for an E-visa to Vietnam
You may need an E-visa to visit Vietnam depending on your nationality. I’m a Philippine passport holder so I can visit Vietnam visa-free for up to 21 days, but I wanted to stay for a whole month. I applied for an e-visa online through iVisa.com which allowed me a stay of up to 30 days. I paid USD 45 and the approval process took about 2-3 days.
Requirements and fees may vary depending on what passport you carry, so you can visit vietnam-evisa.com.vn for more information and to apply. In my case, the process was quick and easy.
Assuming Hanoi is your port of entry into Vietnam, then you’ll probably be arriving at Noi Bai International Airport which is about 45 minutes from Hoan Kiem District. There are several ways to get to your hotel from the airport.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: You can contact your hotel to inquire about rates. If it’s more expensive, then you can book a private transfer through us
BY GRAB: Grab is efficient and relatively cheap in Vietnam. A Grab to go to the airport cost around VND 270,000 ~ less than USD 12.
BY TAXI: If you go in a group, you can choose a taxi. Although the price is quite high, it will help you get to any place you want safely and quickly. Taxi scams seem to be the one and only thing travelers complain about in Hanoi. To avoid being victimized by scams, arrange for a private transfer or use Grab instead. They’re cheaper and more reliable.
BY PRIVATE BUS: Jetstar, Vietnam Airlines, and VietJet run private minibuses that shuttle people from the airport to designated stops in Hanoi (and back). One-way VietJet transfer costs VND 40,000 (less than USD 2).
Also during your time in Hanoi, you can use this transportation vehicle below to experience the fascinating Hanoi.
MOTORBIKE: You can explore the city on your own by renting a motorbike or calling grab. The rent for motorbikes here ranges from 50k – 200k / day depending on the type of motorbike or scooter.
PUBLIC BUS: This type of public transport is extremely familiar to residents as well as visitors to Hanoi. Ticket price for each trip is quite cheap, only 7,000 – 9,000 VND, except Bus ticket to the Airport is 30,000.
CYCLO: You can go by cyclo to visit the old town. Most tourists come here to choose cyclo to tourist destinations in Hanoi. You can directly get one because there are many cyclo near Hoan Kiem Lake.
ELECTRICAL BUS: is a new green bus of Hanoi. You can choose this bus to go to attractions to fully experience a civilized, modern and ancient Hanoi.
Just a few steps fill in online form, you are confident to have Vietnam visa approval on your hand.
You’re 4 steps away from a Vietnam visa on arrival.
No documents to send off. No need to stand in line at the consulate.
Fill out the secure online application form
You are required to enter the exact personal information of the applicant(s)
Full name – The same as in passport
Date of birth
Date of arrival
Type of Visa
Confirm and pay for service fee
Please double check to ensure the information is correct, select to use extra services (Airport Fast Track/Car Pick-Up) if any.
You can make payment with your Credit/ Debit Card via OnePay/PayPal or pay via Western Union.
Get approval letter and prepare for getting visa stamped on arrival
After 1 working day (urgent service) or 2 working days (normal one), YOU WILL:
Get visa approval letter via email (attached with entry-and-exit form)
Print out the letter and the entry-and-exit form
Fill out the entry-and-exit form
Prepare 2 passport sized photos 4x6cm and an amount of USD for stamping fee ($25 for single entry; $50 for multiple entry visa)
Put all above mentioned things along with your passport in a package, then show them to Immigration officer at Vietnam arrival airports
Get your visa stamped upon arrival
Upon arrival to Vietnam International Airports (Hanoi, Da Nang or Hochiminh), you present all things in the prepared package (passport, visa approval letter, 2 passport sized photos 4x6cm, the entry-and-exit form and stamping fee) to the Immigration officer to get your visa stamped.
(To save your time at the airports, you are recommended to use our airport fast track service)
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a building to commemorate the merits of Ho Chi Minh Uncle – a great leader of Vietnam. Nowadays, this also becomes a must-to-see place for visitors coming to Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh President, also known as Uncle Ho (1890 – 1969), was a revolutionary and a founder of Communist Party of Vietnam. He was also one of Vietnamese leaders in the struggle for independence and freedom of the country. On September 02, 1945, he read the Vietnamese Declarations of Independence in front of thousands people in Ba Dinh Square announcing the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Being widely admired and revered by not only Vietnamese people, but also people around the world, Uncle Ho left profound grieves when he passed. Many monuments and historical relics were built to commemorate the merits of this President such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Ba Dinh Square, Presidential Palace Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House. These five monuments are located in a unified cluster of historic relics in Ba Dinh district, Hanoi capital.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Tourists queue to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is situated in Hung Vuong Street, Ba Dinh district. The Mausoleum was officially started building on September 2, 1973 and inaugurated on August 29, 1975. The architecture of the Mausoleum is the combination between Lenin Mausoleum’s architecture and distinct architectural elements of Vietnam. The building materials for construction were brought from different places in Vietnam including sands taken from Kim Boi stream (Hoa Binh province), boulders from streams in Son Duong, Chiem Hoa, Ngoi Thia, Tuyen Quang, stones from Thanh Hoa, Yen Bai, etc.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum consists of three layers with 21.6 meters high and 41.2 meter wide. The mausoleum’s portico has the words “Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh” (President Ho Chi Minh) made from dark red jade stone of Cao Bang province. The lobby was tiled by red marble, which is the background of the words “Không có gì quý hơn độc lập tự do” (Nothing is more precious than Independence and Freedom), and the signature of Ho Chi Minh president. In the middle of the Mausoleum, the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh is preserved in a glass coffin protected by four military honor guards.
With regard to landscapes surrounding the Mausoleum, there are two wildflowers in two sides of the front door. In the rear and the back of the Mausoleum, 79 cycas revoluta were grown symbolizing for 79 years in the life of Uncle Ho. In the south and the north of the Mausoleum, there are two ranges of bamboo, which are a symbol of Vietnam. In the front of the Mausoleum is Ba Dinh Square.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum opens in all mornings except from Monday and Friday, from 8.am to 11.am in cold season and from 7.30 am to 10.30 am in hot season. Sometimes (often in October and November), the Mausoleum will be closed for restoration and preservation. Currently, the Mausoleum does not require entrance fee, however, visitors must comply some requirements. Specifically, visitors have to keep silent and walk in two lines. Smoking, drinking, eating, taking photographs, and taping video are not permitted anywhere inside the Mausoleum. Legs must be covered (no shorts or miniskirts).
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a meaningful cultural work of Vietnam. For each Vietnamese citizen, visiting the Mausoleum is an emotional need to express the gratitude to the great leader of the country. As estimated, until 2007, there were over 33 million turns visiting the Mausoleum including both domestic and foreign visitors. According to Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one of Hanoi attractions cannot ignore of nearly 100% international tourists when setting foot in Hanoi. Besides, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum is also a place where tourists can visit, listen touching stories, and have an overview about Ho Chi Minh’s life and Vietnam Revolution.
Ho Chi Minh Museum is situated in Doi Can Street, Ba Dinh district. The Museum was launched on May 19, 1990 on the occasion of solemnly celebrating the 100th birthday of Uncle Ho. The monument aims to express the deep gratitude of Vietnamese people to the great contributions of their former President. Ho Chi Minh Museum is the largest museum in Vietnam. The Museum mainly focuses on displaying artifacts and documents about Ho Chi Minh’s life and career.
The Museum was designed by a Russia designer, Garon Ixacovich. It has three floors with nearly 20 meters high and 30 meters long. It has the shape of an ethereal white lotus flower, which are reminiscent of Sen Village (Lotus Village), Ho Chi Minh’s hometown. Next to the building, there is an artificial lake with a diameter of 18m making the scenes surrounding the Museum more vibrant.
There are three main contents displayed in Ho Chi Minh Museum. The opening part exhibits life and revolutionary career of Uncle Ho and implementation of Ho Chi Minh’s Testament by Vietnamese people. The second part is the introduction of lives, battle, and victory of Vietnamese people in wars. The last one is the introduction of some events in the world’s history that made a great impact on life and career of Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam revolution.
Ho Chi Minh Museum is a research center introducing about the life of a great man, who devoted all his life to the cause of national liberation and human liberation. Since its inauguration, the number of visitors has been growing significantly. Especially, on weekends and holidays, there are great deal of people visiting the Museum. In some days, the number reached 2,000 people per day. It shows the fact that the Museum is not only an architecture having the national stature but also the crystallization between the cultural traditions and the deep gratitude to Ho Chi Minh President. The Museum opens at 8.00 am in all morning apart from Monday and Friday.
Ba Dinh Square is the largest square in Vietnam located on Hung Vuong Street and in front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Therefore, tourists visiting Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum also can admire Ba Dinh Square as well. The Square is a place where many historical milestone of Vietnam happened. Especially, on September 02, 1945, in this place, Ho Chi Minh President read the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. After that day, Ba Dinh Square is widely recognized as the birthplace of a new Vietnam. Except from this event, the Square also witnessed other highlighted event of the country such as a solemn rally of the Central Committee of Vietnam Labour and Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam came back to Hanoi capital on January 1, 1955, a rally celebrating national reunification on September 2, 1975, parade celebrating Millennial Anniversary of Hanoi in 2010. Nowadays, the Square has the length of 320m and the width of 100m. In the middle of the Square, there is a flagpole with 25 meters high.
Presidential Palace Hanoi is a place where Ho Chi Minh President used to live and work from December 1954 to September 1969. This place is ranked in the list of 23 special national monument of the country. In Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh President met many delegations who are the representatives of political parties, workers, peasants, intellectuals, etc. After he passed away in 1969, the Palace became a historic relic. In this historic relic, besides visiting the Presidential Palace, tourists also have a chance to visit a fishpond, orchards, and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House. These places have become an important monument related to 15 years living and working of Ho Chi Minh.
With the virtues of simplicity and loving nature, Uncle Ho did not like living and working in the Presidential Palace. Presidential Palace is only used for the reception activities or diplomatic rituals. In May 1958, according to the inspiration of Uncle Ho, officers and soldiers built a Stilt House in the garden of Presidential Palace. The House was inaugurated on May 17, 1958 in order to celebrate the birthday of Uncle Ho. It is located next to the fishpond surrounded by orchards having many rare plants from different places in the country. The Stilt House has two floors. The upstairs has two rooms where Uncle Ho worked and lived. The downstairs was a reception desk. The Stilt House is surrounded by idyllically natural landscapes including a hibiscus hedge, a fishpond, and fruit trees and so on.
Known as the most talented leader of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was chosen as one of 100 most influenced people in the world in the 20th by Times Magazine. The unified cluster of historic relics in Ba Dinh district is one of ideal attractions in Hanoi for tourists who love know more about Ho Chi Minh life and career in particular and Vietnam wars in general.
Great Vietnam moments come in many forms. They can be the messy delight of trying fruit in a floating market, or the eye-opening first taste of phở. They can happen in the frenetic streets of a city, or a whisper-soft morning in the mountains. Your best Vietnam memories will probably also have something in common: a smile from a local, a delicious aroma, or a slash of tropical sunlight. From the hardy North to the sandy South, here are 20 quintessential Vietnam experiences to seek out on your trips.
Cycling through the rice paddies
The earlier you can wake up for this the better. Don’t think too much, just start pedalling. Soon enough you’ll find yourself in a sea of waving green (or yellow, depending on the time of year.) In the early hours you’ll pass flocks of ducks, ponds heavy with lotus pads, and families of ponderous water buffalo along the way.
TIP: Love cycling? Hoi An, Hue and Mai Chau are ideal for two-wheeled excursions.
Icy cà phê đá on the sidewalk
You haven’t really seen Vietnam until you’ve sipped a coffee on the sidewalk. It doesn’t matter if you pick a random alley or a stool in sight of a cathedral: when you’re on the sidewalk, you’re part of the community. Order cà phê đá, a chocolate-y Vietnamese robusta over ice, then stir, sip, and see what happens.
TIP: For a deeper look into Vietnamese coffee culture, book a half-day visit to the K’ho Coffee Farm in Da Lat where you can enjoy the entire process and taste the country’s best arabica.
Sunrise at Can Tho’s floating market
The Cai Rang floating market is a riot of vivid colours, with boats of all sizes weighed down with Mekong Delta fruits, and enticing wafts of steam rising from the noodle sellers’ sampans. For something special, visit the smaller floating market that gathers for just an hour around sunrise, trading baby bananas, juicy mangoes, spiky pineapples, and tempting piles of produce.
Harvest season in the hills
Pretty Mai Chau, only three hours from Hanoi, is an idyllic spot at any time of year, but during the harvest season you’ll get to watch the fields transform, as they do only once or twice a year. The farmers work tirelessly in the sun to bring in the harvest. Plots that took months to plant and cultivate will be cut and cleared in just a few hours, making way for a new cycle to begin.
Lunch or dinner in family-run homestay
Save your appetite. Vietnam’s home cooks will blow you away with massive spreads of enticing food, plucked, picked and prepped the same day. Roll soft noodles and feathery herbs in rice paper, pick away at fried fish, and help yourself to bowl after bowl of rice and vegetables. Finish off with a fruit platter (and maybe a nap in the hammock.)
TIP: We recommend the homestays in the Mekong Delta for a true taste of Vietnamese hospitality, as well as the best fruit in the country.
Cyclo rides in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Beep beep. Did you just miss a bus? An old lady with a cart? Flower vendor on a bike? Close encounters are part of the fun on cyclo rides. Sit back and take in the sights of the atmospheric Old Quarter: long-time friends meeting for coffee, ancient streets named for traditional trades, ornate pagodas, spice houses, and goldsmiths. It’s a Hanoi moment you’ll always treasure.
TIP: Aside from the Old Quarter, the former capital of Hue, with its bridges and waterfront roads, is another place where cyclos are the perfect way to go.
Kayaking in Halong Bay
You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve heard the stories. But paddling out on your own in this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a memory you’ll want to make yourself. Shielded by thousands of prehistoric limestone karsts, Halong’s emerald waters are a calm, inviting green, punctuated by forested islets and floating villages. Glide into this extraordinary seascape your own pace.
TIP: Beyond Halong Bay, the areas around Cat Ba Island with thrill you with secret lagoons, dripping grottoes and empty beaches.
Noodle soup for breakfast
This may be the start of a passionate affair. Or just another breakfast. Either way, you must try eating the first meal of the day the way we Vietnamese do. Just pull up a stool at a busy stall serving phở gà, hủ tiếu or bún cá. When the bowl arrives, customise it with slices of chili, sprays of herbs, and a squeeze of lime. Mix everything together, and savour that first bite.
Motorbiking Hai Van Pass
Some 27 kilometres from the airport in Da Nang, Hai Van Pass is one of Vietnam’s most scenic coastal roads. The pass hugs the jungle-clad mountains separating Hue and Da Nang, twisting around rocky boulders to climb high above the sparkling East Sea. It’s a breezy, breathtaking ride, especially by motorbike, when you can feel each sea breeze and heart-pounding drop.
Chè on a hot afternoon
All around the country, we Vietnamese have a favourite way to cool down when the weather heats up: chè. This versatile combination of tropical goodies, shaved ice, coconut cream and fresh fruit will lift your spirits in seconds. Give it a good stir with a spoon, or taste each ingredient on its own. The best thing about chè is there are so many varieties to try!
A trip to the museum
Vietnam’s enigmatic culture can be hard to ‘crack’, especially on your first visit. A well-timed museum stop will give you a base of information to appreciate your travels even more. Some of Vietnam’s best museums are the Fine Arts Museum, Ethnology Museum and Women’s Museum in Hanoi, War Remnants in Ho Chi Minh City, and Cham Museum of Sculpture in Da Nang.
TIP: Apart from museums, culture seekers can gain more insight on Vietnam’s excellent tours, covering everything from culinary traditions to contemporary art.
Early morning walk in Marble Mountain
Beat the crowds and the heat by visiting Marble Mountain around seven in the morning. You’ll be glad you did. Apart from a few early-rising monks, you’ll have this marvelous attraction all to yourself. Take in the lovely stone pathways and stairs, the carved gateways and spacious caverns, and the elaborate pagodas throughout the site in total tranquility.
Seafood dinner by the water
Hair back? Sleeves back? Dig in. Vietnam’s long coastline means a seaside meal of tamarind prawns, steamed clams with lemongrass, and whole grilled fish is never far away. Be sure to save an evening on your trip to indulge in Vietnam’s fresh seafood. The seafood restaurants in Phu Quoc, Hoi An, Nha Trang and Mui Ne are reliable places to start.
Guided tour of the Hue tombs
The tombs of the Nguyen kings are easily some of the most compelling historical attractions in Vietnam. Vietnam’s last dynasty ruled from the central city of Hue between 1802 and 1945. The Nguyen kings inspired fame by designing their own tombs in lavish style. You’ll find these incredible, complex tombs tucked in the Hue countryside, each more intriguing than the last.
TIP: The farthest of the tombs is that of Emperor Gia Long, the first Nguyen ruler who united the country and established Hue as its capital. The hour-long ride to his tomb is well worth it.
Magical sunsets in Phu Quoc
This one’s a bit of a secret, but we’re willing to share it with you. When in Phu Quoc, take a car to Nam Nghi Resort for a two-minute boat ride to Rock Island. The island faces the sunset, with an outrageously photogenic bar, private beach for swimming, and romantic seating out on the rocks. If you can’t leave land, catch the day’s last rays at a bar on Ông Lang Beach.
Hiking in a national park
Beautiful waterfalls, rich wildlife, and near-empty trails are a few of the promises Vietnam’s national parks make to travellers. Depending on how you like to go, you may opt to camp in the park, do a multi-day cave expedition, or book a homestay with an ethnic minority. Short on time? Try a single-day hike to reach panoramic peaks and bubbling rock pools.
Motorbike street food tour
Vietnamese street food is some of the best in the world, and an integral part of the pleasure of travelling Vietnam. We recommend signing up for a back-of-the-bike street food tour soon after you arrive, to see what the fuss is all about. Let yourself be whisked by a local foodie to secret stalls, special eateries and sidewalk joints, for a delicious introduction to Vietnam.
Blissful boat rides in Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is quietly making a name for itself as a surreal destination, with a treasure trove of natural and historical attractions. Among them, you’ll find the Trang An and Tam Coc waterways, a riverine system that threads between enormous rock karsts, to create an otherworldly place that feels trapped in time. Get up close with this unreal setting on a two-hour paddleboat ride.
Photo opp on Da Nang’s iconic bridges
Da Nang, Vietnam’s modern coastal hub, seems to have a thing for bridges. The canary-yellow Dragon Bridge can’t help but stand out as a symbol of Vietnamese ambition and progress. Up in the hills, the Golden Hands Bridge emerges straight out of an Instagrammer’s dream. There’s no easier way to say ‘I’m in Vietnam now’ than with a selfie at these singular landmarks.
A O Show from Lune Production
Lune Production’s striking, contemporary shows centre around Vietnamese culture, old and new. Live traditional music enhances the world-class lighting, costumes, acrobatics and dances on stage, to create a riveting spectacle. You’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout these hour-long shows. A O Show and The Mist are two of the best in the Lune repertoire.
Rolling rice paddies as far as the eye can see. The sound of chickens clucking. Stilt houses surrounded by forest-covered mountains. Simple and fresh plates of food. These are the impressions Mai Châu will give you. Situated in easy reach from Hanoi, Mai Châu is a breath of fresh air, and a great option if you’re looking for a calm destination rich in nature and culture. Here are seven top things to do in Mai Châu.
Wake up in nature
Mornings are ideal for peaceful walks through Mai Châu. With small hamlets dotting the valley, winding paths and quiet gardens, it’s easy to explore on your own. Keep an eye out for a drink stall where you can savour a cà phê phin (Vietnamese coffee) looking out onto the rice fields as butterflies drift by.
Learn about ethnic textiles
When in Mai Châu, don’t miss the chance to shop beautiful fabrics woven by the White Thai people. Local shops will even have looms out front, where you can watch the locals weaving, or give it a try yourself. For an ethical splurge, check out Hoa Ban+ shop in Lac village, a social enterprise that gives vocational training to women from the White Thai minority.
Pedal through the valley
One of the best ways to experience Mai Châu is by cycling. You can set off on your own or hire a guide to help you explore the many trails through the valley. A guide can also introduce you to a White Thai household. Take a seat in their long stilt houses, where you can sip tea, nibble on lychees and find out more about rural life.
TIP: Your hotel can help you book a cycling tour, or you can find qualified guides at Mai Châu Lodge. If you’re unable to cycle, you can still explore the valley with electric carts.
Taste farm-fresh dishes
Mai Châu’s cuisine is as fresh as it comes. Start your meal with cơm lam (bamboo-tube grilled rice). Peel off the bamboo cover and dip the rice in minced peanuts for a delicious treat. Gà đồi (grilled native chicken), thịt lợn xiên nướng (pork skewers) and stir-fried greens are some favourite Mai Châu dishes. If you’re feeling adventurous, try ve sầu chiên, a local delicacy of stuffed and fried cicadas.
Enjoy ethnic dance and music
Traditional performances are a special part of every visit to Mai Châu. The White Thai musicians are skilled at using natural materials to craft instruments that create mesmerizing rhythms. After dinner, relax and settle in to watch a White Thai performance. These shows feature live folk music and dancers in full ethnic dress.
Sleep in a stilt house
If you’ve never tried sleeping in a stilt house, you can in Mai Châu. Wooden stilt house homestays can easily be found in Lac Village and Poom Coọng village. These houses usually have clean and simple accommodation, with shared bathrooms and open-air sleeping quarters. Mai Châu also boasts four-star hotels as well as beautiful lodges with views of the rice fields.
TIP: Expect to pay around 200,000VND for a rustic homestay, 600,000VND for a boutique farm stay, and 1,500,000VND for a four-star hotel.
Explore the outdoors
The countryside surrounding Mai Châu is perfect for nature lovers. You might like to sign up for a morning of kayaking on the Hòa Bình Reservoir, or take a full-day trekking tour in neighbouring Pù Luông Nature Reserve. Many hotels and homestays in Mai Châu offer tours to caves and waterfalls nearby. You can also book package deals for outdoor activities in advance with tour operators in Hanoi.
Getting to Mai Châu
The journey to Mai Châu from Hanoi takes about three hours. You can arrange a private transfer by car, hop on a shuttle van, take a bus from My Dinh bus station, or drive there by motorbike. The morning is the best time to travel, so you can enjoy stunning views at Thung Khe Mountain Pass and cliff-side panoramas of the Mai Châu Valley.
TIP: The best time to visit Mai Châu is from March to May or during the harvest season from September to November.
If you want to get out of all the hustle and bustle of life and immerse yourself in nature, Ba Be Lake would be the most wonderful choice for your journey. Nowadays, Ba Be Lake is getting more attention from both domestic and international visitors for its beautiful nature with a variety of flora and fauna. Spending a few days during your Vietnam vacation visiting Ba Be Lake and other nearby destinations will not let you down.
Highlights of Ba Be Lake & Ba Be National Park
Driving about 230 kilometers away from Hanoi, tourists can reach Ba Be Lake, which is located in Nam Mau commune, Ba Be district, Bac Kan province. Local people call this lake Slam Pe, which means “Three lakes” as it is the convergent point of three river branches Pe Lam, Pe Lu, and Pe Leng.
Ba Be Lake is the biggest natural lake in Vietnam, which belongs to Ba Be National Park. The lake is at about 145 meters high to the sea level. The total area of the water surface is over 650 hectares, surrounded by many ranges of limestone mountains, caves, and underground rivers. The average depth of the lake is 20-25 meters, falling to 5-10 meters during the dry season. Ba Be Lake holds it priceless value of diversity as it is home of 417 trees species including orchids and medicine plants, 319 species of animals naming gibbon and red algae. In 1995, Ba Be Lake is recognized as one of twenty freshwater lakes over the world that needs to be preserved.
How to Get to Ba Be Lake & Ba Be National Park?
From Hanoi, you can catch a bus or drive a motorbike to Bac Kan, continue to Cho Ra Town and hire a motor-taxi to Ba Be Lake. The cost of bus may range from 100,000 to 130,000 VND. If you go by motorbike, you will have more freedom to visit Ba Ba Lake and the surrounding areas. However, checking carefully the motor safety, paying attention to the speed and avoiding driving at night are recommended.
Best Things to Do & See in Ba Be Lake & Ba Be National Park
Ba Be Lake and Ba Be National Park: This is a must-visit destination. The area is always green with the surroundings of the mountains.
Puong Cave: The Cave is at 300 meters long and 30 meters high. The cave is home of sparkling stalactite and thousands of living bats.
Hua Ma Cave: 6 kilometers from Ba Be Lake is Hua Ma Cave. In order to get there, you have to go up for nearly 3oo meters on the stairs. Inside the cave, you would be overwhelmed by mysterious, shining and twinkle stalactite.
Fairy Pond: 100 meters away from Ba Be Lake, the pond is full of water all around the year. It is believed to be the place for the fairies to have a bath.
Pac Ngoi Village: It is a cultural destination as it is the living area of Tay ethnic minority. The village hosts more than 400 people, most of who are doing agriculture such as raising domestic animals and growing rice.
Best Foods to Try: Pac Ngoi grilled fish, grilled pork, hill running chicken, sticky rice, boiled bamboo shoots with meat, vegetables and spring fish are delicious and worth a try.
Travel Tips to Visit Ba Be Lake & Ba Be National Park
Enjoy the fresh cool air in the early morning and late afternoon. Therefore, you should remember to bring a coat along with you to keep warm.
Full-length clothes and anti-mosquito cream should be carried with to avoid malaria.
It is hard to find a grocery store in the region, so you should bring water and snacks with you in case of getting hungry.
There are lots of amazingly beautiful spots in the area, so a trip to Ba Be Lake may take you 2-3 days. A good Ba Be tour is recommended if you want to enjoy your day-offs to the fullest.
In Vietnam, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An or Sai Gon are common destinations for travelers, but this small country has far more amazing places to explore. Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang Province is an evidence of a naturally unspoiled beauty spot for local and international visitors during their Vietnam vacation. Traveling a bit far from Hanoi for about 370 kilometers, Ban Gioc waterfall will be worth the distance and not make you disappointed.
Location and Geographic Characteristics of Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall or Detian Falls is a combination of two waterfalls on the Guichun River, which flows between Vietnam and China. To be more specific, the waterfall is located between Trung Khanh District of Vietnam and Daxin County of China.
Located in an area of long-established karst, throughout millions of years, the waterfalls finally have it unique beauty today. Ban Gioc Waterfall includes two parts which are the main waterfall and the subordinate ones. Dropping from the height of 70 meters, the waterfall then divides into three smaller falls by rocks and trees. The waterfall is considered the biggest natural waterfall in Southeast Asia and one of the four biggest border waterfalls together with three famous waterfalls (Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls).
Things to Do and See at Ban Gioc Waterfall
Tourists used to have a special permission in order to visit the area because the waterfall is located on the border of Vietnam and China. However, since 2015, you just need to show up and buy a ticket which costs around $1 at the kiosk and there is no need to have any identification papers. The sceneries in the region are unbelievably magnificent. You can take many good photos of yellow rice paddy fields, some wooden bridges gurgling creeks and green grassy bank on the foot of the waterfall. Here you can see local farmers harvesting the crops, most of which is done by hand. You can also behold a big water wheel made of bamboo along the river supplying water for the local life and crops.
Downstream the river by a bamboo raft is much enjoyable and fascinating as well. You just need to hire one, which may cost $2.50 to have a closer look at the view. The ride may take around 10 minutes. Pay attention to warning signs as the nearby area maybe have the height level of water or sharp stones.
In Ban Gioc, you can visit not only Ban Gioc waterfall, but also nearby attractive places such as Nguom Ngao cave, Pac Bo cave – Lenin Stream, or Thang Hen Lake.
The Best Time to Visit Ban Gioc waterfall
In fact, you do not have to worry about which time of the year to enjoy Ban Gioc Waterfall’s beauty to the fullest. Ban Gioc waterfall in each season brings in a typical beauty. During the dry season (from October to May), Ban Gioc waterfall is beautiful, gentle, elegant as a fairy, who is still afraid of the life scene. Cool water in the summer of Ban Gioc waterfall will make you want to drop yourself and blend into it.
Between June to September is the period when the beauty of Ban Gioc waterfall is completely opposite to the summer and at its most majestic charm. The water is not flowing so smoothly that it starts to flow faster and faster, the foam splashes like clouds. In the rainy season, your trip may be a bit more difficult than summer, but the beauty of the waterfall can be enjoyed at any time. However, the most ideal time for visiting Ban Gioc Waterfall is between September and November when there is less rain and the harvest is in its full swing.
How to Get to Ban Gioc Waterfall
From Hanoi to Ban Gioc Waterfall
To get to Ban Gioc Waterfall, you can rent motorbikes or cars to drive from Hanoi because Hanoi and Ban Gioc Waterfall are only about 370km apart and each means of transportation will give you their own advantages. If you travel by motorbike, you can be flexible in time and stop at the beautiful roads before reaching Ban Gioc waterfall. You can also go by coach, a good thing when you take the coach is traveling time will be faster, within about 9 hours. The price of a coach ticket from My Dinh bus station or Luong Yen bus station to Ban Gioc waterfall ranges from VND 190,000 – 210,000.
From Cao Bang City to Ban Gioc Waterfall
A national highway called QL3 is the easiest and quickest way to reach Ban Gioc Waterfall from Cao Bang Province. Motorbike will give you the best experience of spectacular views along the route, which is available in most of the hotels and guest houses for nearly $10 per day. Besides, bus and motortaxi are available in the city center with a reasonable price for a movement to the waterfall. Some tourists go hiking to enjoy the pristine nature in Cao Bang.
Ban Gioc Waterfall Accommodation
There are a number of hotels and homestays for your accommodation in Trung Khanh town, Cao Bang Province, which may rate from $20 per night. Sunny Hotel, Thanh Loan Hotel, Bang Giang Hotel or Saigon Ban Gioc Resort are common accommodations for tourists.
Specialties in Ban Gioc Waterfall
Coming to Ban Gioc waterfall without trying Cao Bang cuisine will be a big mistake. Seven-flavored Cao Bang roasted duck will be a dish that when someone has ever tried will have a good compliment. Unlike other roasted duck, to have a delicious famous dish of Cao Bang roasted duck, the picking duck to processing and the marinated duck meat with 7 characteristic flavors should be done meticulously.
You can also try the delicious taste of Trung Khanh chestnuts. Whether you prepare boiled, roasted, dried or preserved with leg pork, chicken, the chestnut flavor still remains. Eating Trung Khanh chestnuts will make you feel like enjoying the natural of Cao Bang in the heart. In addition, Ban Gioc also has many amazing dishes such as canarium sticky rice, specialty rice cake Khau Sli, ant eggs cake, Khao cake, sour Pho or bee larvae porridge. When you have the opportunity to enjoy these dishes, you will feel extremely strange delicious taste thanks to the mountainous flavor here.
You might have heard of Halong Bay before touching down in Vietnam as it’s one of the most famous and majestic tourist attractions in Northern Vietnam. Halong Bay boasts thousands of gorgeous islands, a system of spectacular caves and a number of modern entertainment centers. What is highly recommended here is spending one night on the cruise, enjoying a romantic dinner and contemplating the first sunlight emerging from the horizon. It would sound perfect only without Halong cruise scams. This article will point out the most common unwanted situations you hope to stay away.
1. Low Quality Services
How it is:
It happens the most for travelers who book online or through an agency. The advantages of booking online are undeniable because even you are far away, with only a few clicks, you can easily compare among cruises based on your demands of the type, cabin size, service included, visiting points and of course, costs.
However convenient it is, seeking for a reliable intermediary or cruise service supplier on the Internet is never that easy. There are hundreds of agencies or cruises extolling beautiful pictures and advertising about their services. A large number of them do not post the real photos, some even not have a business registration certificate.
Once you book, this might lead to a deep disappointment when you get on the cruise. Let alone the super cheap ones, even the comparatively expensive ones are not reaching your expectations. Boats are nothing like shown in the pictures, staff are aggressive and you may be moved to another boat or asked to share rooms with others. Complaints are useless, there are thousands of excuses. If you have already paid a deposit beforehand, it’s hard to take back and if you accept the service, it may possibly ruin your whole holiday.
How to avoid and deal with it:
If you have no choice but booking online, make sure you choose the reliable agencies or cruises. You can ask for suggestions from acquaintances or anybody who has used the service before. Read some reviews from Tripadvisor, Traveloka and reputable cruise-booking platforms, especially when a deposit is requested advance.
If the price is unbelievably cheap compared to what you will get, it is either a low-quality or unsafe cruise or miscellaneous additional charges that has not been explicitly publicized. Price always goes with quality.
2. Extra Charges
How it is:
Seeing is believing. It’s understandable that many of us never believe what people boast and promote on their website. Unlike online booking, you see the cruise onsite, witness some others in the same place at a specific time, then decide. Comparing takes time and effort, it helps but does not make sure 100 percent you will get the expected services because its outside appearance sometimes presents hardly anything inside. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Presumably, while you are standing in the port and wondering which one you would choose, a tout is likely to turn up and introduce to you about their offers. It always starts by “You don’t need to choose us, I just want to help you out with some piece of useful information, because I’m a local” . Then, you are given a picture of a dream cruise. They have sizeable nicely- decorated rooms, scrumptious fresh seafood, professional staff serving you enthusiastically and perfectly-designed itinerary including magnificent caves, discovering fishing villages and kayaking. The guy with smiley face and attractive presentation announces those cost only $35, because of discounts or promotions. It is irresistible, isn’t it? The moment you pay $35 is when you are the victims of a prevalent swindle circumstance!
Unlike the first situation when it’s nothing like you imagine, you experience all services described and enjoy yourselves so much. At the end of the journey, the cruise owner asks you to pay $400. A 35- dollar trip turns into a 400-dollar luxurious trip in a few seconds, which might bewilder you and break all your plan. It is impossible to argue with the cruise owner as you have used all of their services, and a tout who introduced you about the cruise trip seems to have vanished into the air.
How to avoid and deal with it:
Based on factors such as the routine of the cruise, what food you eat and the amenities, you can guess the range of price. If it is too cheap for all the plush services, be cautious or you will fall into a Halong cruise scam.
Secondly, if you book a cruise on arrival, make sure that you have a deal directly with the cruise owner or staff in the office. Ask carefully about what extent the costs cover and who you can come to in case of problems, discrepancy, compensations and complaints.Don’t believe a random guy who talks to you for a while and then disappears after leading you to the cruise.
3. Cruise Cancellation
How it is:
Please note that apart from the case of cancelling Halong Bay Cruise by yourself, there are tons of situations in which your planned a trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is canceled by the service suppliers. The most common ones consist of bad weather, security issues, technical problems and unexpected events. These objective reasons are out of control and will be announced by the Administration of Halong Bay. You might be informed in the last minute.
How to avoid and deal with it:
They are not subjective, so it cannot be avoided. But before getting on a cruise, you should definitely understand well about the cancellation policy of the cruise or agency and be sure you do not get the terms wrong. The policies will be clearly published on the website of reliable agencies or cruises but you still should ask them about the cancellation policy in advance to make sure you will receive a refund for it.
According to the policy in general, you can get a 100% refund for any unwanted cancelation upon setting off. If the trip is cancelled in the middle, you will be charged for only what service you have used and refunded the part you did not use, including meals, sightseeing places and services. If the seller says that you are fully charged because the trip already started or any other reason, you might need to have something to rely on, such as regulations , contracts, pictures of policy or recordings of their commitment.
You should be noted that having one-night cruise trip on Halong Bay is absolutely worth giving a try. However, it would not be a memorable experience unless you made wise choices in terms of reliable cruise agencies. The more coherent contact information they provide and the higher rates they have from previous service users, the more you can trust. In the worst circumstances, if something goes wrong and cannot be tackled, just keep on and assuage it by enjoying the rest of your trip more pleasantly and wisely. Should you have any related experience, feel free to share with others below so that they can avoid these horrible Halong cruise scams.
One glance at the Pu Luong Nature Reserve and you’ll see why the ethnic Thai people made this enchanting valley their home long ago. The slow pace in Pu Luong is a striking contrast to life in the capital just a few hours away. Endless mountains, fertile valleys and pristine jungle are just a few good reasons to visit. Here are seven ways to make the most of your time in this beautiful destination.
Take a swim in Thác Hiêu Waterfall
From the top of Hieu village, it’s only a short hike through the rice fields before you’re presented with a series of dreamy waterfalls cascading down the hillside. Climb down and follow along to where the two streams meet and the pools become larger. This is the perfect spot to cool down with a quick dip, relax in nature, and explore different sections of the falls.
TIP: Your best bet for finding Hieu Waterfall is to hire a local guide who can lead you to the top swimming spots.
Pay a visit to an ethnic Thai Village
Pu Luong is dotted with quaint hamlets and villages throughout the park, each with its own unique history. Most of the communities in the reserve are Thai people, an ethnic group with two local branches, White Thai and Black Thai. The Thai people are highly skilled at wet rice cultivation and their homes are built in a raised stilt style. Staying at one of these homestays is a fantastic way to experience local customs and see what life is like for this Vietnamese minority.
Immerse yourself in nature
Pu Luong’s mountains are covered with tropical rainforest, while the valley is a series of cultivated rice terraces. Take a walk along the valley floor or in the foothills to get up close with the area’s flora and fauna. Listen to the waterwheels and forest sounds, wave at farmers and grazing water buffalo, and snap pictures of the greenery and wildlife. Simply being in Pu Luong Nature Reserve is a breath of fresh air.
Join a craft workshop
Long-established ways of living have been passed down for generations in Pu Luong. The Thai people have kept the habits of their ancestors as an important part of their culture and community. Weaving, embroidery, basket making and bamboo furniture are all key skills for the Thai people. Take the opportunity to learn about any these traditions with a craft workshop during your stay. You’ll not only learn something new but also support local enterprise and help preserve these timeless traditions.
TIP: Your hotel or homestay can help you find available workshops and classes nearby.
Dine on farm-to-table home cooking
There’s nothing more delightful than food made from ingredients grown right in the area. Pu Luong is home to an amazing array of vegetables such as baby pumpkin leaf, green beans and bamboo shoots. With so many freshly harvested options, you’re likely to find a few new favourites on the table. For a real Pu Luong lunch or dinner, try the locally raised pork and grilled mountain snails dipped in fish sauce.
Trek to the top of Mt. Pu Luong
Trekking is the best way to soak up the natural splendour of Pu Luong. Access to maps and marked trails are limited throughout the park, so hiring a local guide will save you time and help you plot the perfect route. You may like to hike to the summit of Mt. Pu Luong, or do a multi-day trek through the entire reserve. Either way, you’re in a for an exhilarating experience.
Enjoy an authentic homestay
Homestays make up the majority of accommodation options in Pu Luong. The good news is, each one is secluded and tranquil and you can take your pick from mountainside huts to stilted homes in the rice terraces. While there are also a handful of retreats, lodges and even treehouses on offer, homestays will give you a memorable experience deep in the serenity of the reserve.
TIP: Even rural Vietnam can get full up at times, so plan and book ahead whenever you can.
Transport to Pu Luong
Pu Luong is about 150 kilometres from Hanoi, and takes approximately four and half hours to reach by car. Travellers can also hire private shuttles from Hanoi, with a stop in Mai Chau along the way. There is no direct public buses from Hanoi but there are buses to Mai Chau from My Dinh bus station, where you can take a taxi for the remaining 90-minute drive to Pu Luong.
The Mai Châu valley’s proximity to the capital makes it an ideal overnight escape. Here, small, homestay-filled ethnic minority villages sit in among a patchwork of paddy fields surrounded by soaring mountain peaks
Sleep in a homestay
The Mai Châu Valley is home to two of the most successful homestay tourism villages in Vietnam: Lac and Poom Coong. In both villages, White Thai families offer simple accommodation in stilt houses right on the edge of vibrant rice fields. The best homestays are clustered around Hiệu village, with a setting so idyllic that it’s almost unreal, surrounded by verdant jungle, limestone outcrops, and tall mountain tops. If the idea of a homestay doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll also find lodges in Mai Châu, offering more comfort and beautiful bungalows with pools and private terraces.
Cycle around the valley
Both hotels and homestays offer bicycle rentals for travellers. Exploring the many quiet ribbons of paths that connect clusters of stilt houses might be the greatest pleasure you’ll have in Mai Châu. It doesn’t take long to get away from the crowds and feel like you’ve found your own quiet corner of the valley, riding past humble villages and rice paddies.
Shop for local crafts
Mai Châu has no shortage of local handicrafts and intricate fabrics woven by skilled weavers on ancient looms. A little gentle bargaining is expected and even welcomed. On Sunday, head into Mai Châu town where the morning market attracts people from different ethnic minorities who come dressed in their finest traditional clothing.
Eat with the locals
Known for their warm hospitality, the White Thai are also fantastic cooks and serve up excellent home-cooked feasts for dinner—ideal to replenish your energy reserves after a day of bicycle adventuring. The meals you’re served at the homestays in Mai Châu might be some of the best on your Vietnam trip.
Plan a day trek
There are countless treks you can take from Mai Châu, and your hotel should be able to set you up with a guide if you need one. For a full daytrip, add a kayaking excursion on nearby Hòa Bình Lake. This is a beautiful body of water surrounded by jungled hills. For more remote and adventurous options, venture a little further to the Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
Visit Pu Luong Nature Reserve
It is easy to spend a few days doing little else than admiring the nature around Mai Châu, but a wander through the forests is richly rewarded. Scores of cool, fresh streams run among the trees, feeding waterfalls and aquarmarine pools ideal for bathing in the afternoon heat. For the best experience hire a guide and head deeper into the area.
Mai Chau Itineraries
24 hours in Mai Châu
Hire a bicycle to get the most out of one day in Mai Châu and head off to explore. You’ll find pretty villages connected by narrow paths weaving between paddy fields. Stock up on souvenirs at markets in town before enjoying a home-cooked feast in one of the many stilt house homestays in the area.
48 hours in Mai Châu
On your second day in Mai Châu, head a little further afield on a guided trek or consider a kayak tour on the Hòa Bình Reservoir. Cap your stay with drinks and a killer view at the Sunset Bar.
Mai Chau Weather
March to May and September to November are the best times to visit Mai Châu. October is perhaps the most ideal month because harvest takes place and the rice takes on a glorious golden hue.
Transport to Mai Chau
Mai Châu is around 140km from Hanoi. Local buses from the capital run direct into Mai Châu town just a short walk from Lác and Poom Coọng villages. Coming from Sơn La or Điện Biên province, you will need to ask the driver to stop at the Mai Châu turn off. In Hanoi, it is possible to hire a motorbike or a car with driver for the journey.