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A seafood restaurant in Hue lagoon that only opens during fair weather

I highly recommend that you plan a day for this unique experience when you visit Hue. Take the time to read this article … and do not hesitate to write to us for more information, especially how to find a good guide that will make your day! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

There is a restaurant in Chuon Lagoon in the central town of Hue that only opens for customers when the weather is sunny and dry.

Chuon Lagoon restaurant is a floating bamboo stilt house in the Chuon Lagoon in Phu An Commune, Phu Vang District, about 10 kilometers from Hue city center. This destination is recommended by many locals who enjoy fresh seafood dishes, since it has an amazing view for admiring the scenery and enjoying a peaceful space in the countryside of Hue.

Chuon Lagoon restaurant is a floating bamboo stilt house in the Chuon Lagoon in Phu An Commune, Phu Vang District, about 10 kilometers from Hue city center. This destination is recommended by many locals who enjoy fresh seafood dishes, since it has an amazing view for admiring the scenery and enjoying a peaceful space in the countryside of Hue.

You will need to travel by boat to reach the restaurant. A sign board will guide you to the pier at the Chuon Lagoon Market. On this free passenger boat you can enjoy wonderful views of the lagoon and watch the fishermen earning their livelihood. The boat takes about 10 minutes to reach the restaurant.

You will need to travel by boat to reach the restaurant. A sign board will guide you to the pier at the Chuon Lagoon Market. On this free passenger boat you can enjoy wonderful views of the lagoon and watch the fishermen earning their livelihood. The boat takes about 10 minutes to reach the restaurant.

Whether you are a solo diner or you are coming as a group of a few dozen people, you will all be welcomed by the warm and friendly staff. The restaurant is only open in the dry season, from January to August. From September to December, it rains a lot in Thua Thien Hue. Because the restaurant sits in the middle of the Chuon Lagoon, where there are strong and cold winds, it is closed during the wet months because most customers are afraid of the rough weather. Many local guests are used to this, so they will simply wait for good weather to come and enjoy fresh seafood.

Whether you are a solo diner or you are coming as a group of a few dozen people, you will all be welcomed by the warm and friendly staff. The restaurant is only open in the dry season, from January to August. From September to December, it rains a lot in Thua Thien Hue. Because the restaurant sits in the middle of the Chuon Lagoon, where there are strong and cold winds, it is closed during the wet months because most customers are afraid of the rough weather. Many local guests are used to this, so they will simply wait for good weather to come and enjoy fresh seafood.

The highlight of the restaurant is the diverse menu that includes fish, oysters, shrimp, crab, sentinel crab, and squid caught in the lagoon.

The highlight of the restaurant is the diverse menu that includes fish, oysters, shrimp, crab, sentinel crab, and squid caught in the lagoon.

A spotted scat fish is priced at VND750,000 ($31.98) per kilogram including preparation service. Each spotted scat fish weighs about 150 grams.Spotted scat fish, grouper, rabbit fish, and white-spotted rabbitfish are suggested fish dishes at the Chuon Lagoon Restaurant. Depending on the number of guests, the restaurant will prepare just enough dishes or according to the diners preference.

A spotted scat fish is priced at VND750,000 ($31.98) per kilogram including preparation service. Each spotted scat fish weighs about 150 grams.
Spotted scat fish, grouper, rabbit fish, and white-spotted rabbitfish are suggested fish dishes at the Chuon Lagoon Restaurant. Depending on the number of guests, the restaurant will prepare just enough dishes or according to the diners’ preference.

The dish you should not miss is banh khoai - Hue-styled pancake with rabbitfish or white-spotted rabbitfish. The pancake is already seasoned with alluring spices, and is lightly fragrant with the smell of scallions. In the center of the pancake is a rabbitfish or white-spotted rabbitfish. It is firm and has a naturally sweet flavor. To enjoy this cuisine, customers can eat it with fresh herbs and a dipping fish sauce.

The dish you should not miss is “banh khoai” – Hue-styled pancake with rabbitfish or white-spotted rabbitfish. The pancake is already seasoned with alluring spices, and is lightly fragrant with the smell of scallions. In the center of the pancake is a rabbitfish or white-spotted rabbitfish. It is firm and has a naturally sweet flavor. To enjoy this cuisine, customers can eat it with fresh herbs and a dipping fish sauce.

Spotted scat fish, which has a fatty skin and a soft layer of fat, is steamed with malabar spinach, which has a sweet flavor and is richly seasoned. In addition to steaming, this fish can also be cooked in a porridge.

Spotted scat fish, which has a fatty skin and a soft layer of fat, is steamed with malabar spinach, which has a sweet flavor and is richly seasoned. In addition to steaming, this fish can also be cooked in a porridge.

Diners at the Chuon Lagoon Restaurant sit on small cushions at a low bamboo table. Sitting in such a unique location while enjoying the food, guests can feel relaxed and admire the scenery of the lagoon.

Diners at the Chuon Lagoon Restaurant sit on small cushions at a low bamboo table. Sitting in such a unique location while enjoying the food, guests can feel relaxed and admire the scenery of the lagoon.

By Huynh Nhi for E.VnExpress.net

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How to make Vietnamese iced coffee at home: A step-by-step guide

Have you ever experimented in chemistry class? Are you ready to try an experiment? Nothing dangerous … just an olfactory and tasting experience … Read this article … how to prepare your Vietnamese coffee at home … Have a nice weekend! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

As long term expats in Vietnam (and coffee lovers), we have plenty of experience making a range of Vietnamese iced coffee beverages.

This blog is written by Mal James, Co-Founder of Art De Vivre Coffee.

In the heat of the morning and midday heat of Ho Chi Minh city, it’s how we get refreshed. Really, I don’t know what I would do without it!

Photo by frank mckenna / Unsplash

Luckily, you can do it too; making a delicious, chocolaty Vietnamese coffee is more accessible than most think. In fact, it is one of the simplest coffee drinks to make. You don’t need an expensive espresso machine or a professional pouring technique; just a few key ingredients and a simple Vietnamese coffee filter will do the trick.

While there is a range of Vietnamese iced coffee beverages like coconut coffee and Vietnamese white coffee, today, we will guide you on how to make the most popular one; Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk (aka Cà Phê Sữa Đá).

So, let’s go on with it! Check out the video below for a quick intro and step-by-step guide on making Vietnamese iced coffee.

What You Will Need

Below is what you will need to make one serving.

20 Grams of High-quality Robusta Coffee

Photo by Milo Miloezger / Unsplash

While you could use the more common arabica coffee for this recipe, it will not give you the true Vietnamese coffee taste you are probably looking for.

Robusta beans are more intense with notes of dark chocolate and pair exceptionally well with condensed milk. This is one of the key differences between ‘normal’ coffee and Vietnamese coffee. If you don’t already have some, you can pick up a bag at Art De Vivre Coffee’s store. We offer both ground and whole bean robusta beans. If you are just getting into Vietnamese coffee, we would recommend our starter kit which includes a bag of our Lantern Robusta, a bag of our Lotus Arabica, a Vietnamese coffee filter, and a Vietnamese coffee recipe book.

15 ml Condensed Milk

Unlike most western coffees that use fresh milk, the majority of Vietnamese coffee beverages rely on condensed milk. This is also essential. Condensed milk this thicker and sweeter than regular milk.

If you can find it, we’d recommend using Longevity Brand Condensed Milk but most sweetened condensed milk will do the trick.

A Vietnamese Coffee Filter (aka Phin Filter)

You can brew Vietnamese coffee without a Vietnamese coffee filter but it simply won’t be as good as it could be. For best results, we highly advise using a Vietnamese coffee filter.

It is an underrated brewing tool with so many reasons to use it, and they are not expensive. There’s really no reason not to have one. Of course, we include one in our Vietnamese Coffee Starter Kit.

Filtered Or Bottled Water

We always advise using filtered or bottled water when making any coffee. Home Brewers often overlook water quality but using good-tasting water is one of the easiest ways to make any coffee better.

Ice

It may be obvious but it’s easy to forget, make sure you have some ice on hand. We use about 200 grams per serving.

A Measuring Jug Or A Gram Scale

Photo by Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

Coffee is part of art and a lot of science. Measuring ingredients accurately will help you to make the best and most consistent beverages.

The most convenient way to do this is to use a gram scale. Mostly designed for coffee brewing, these are small, typically battery-powered scales. If you intend on taking coffee brewing seriously, we’d recommend picking one up. We use one similar to this one by Hario.

If you don’t have a gram scale, a simple measuring jug will suffice for today.

A Grinder (if you have whole-bean coffee)

If you have whole beans, you will need a grinder. We’re not going to go into details on grinders here but you will need a dedicated coffee grinder that is capable of grinding to a medium-fine texture. A blade grinder that you might use for spices will not work for this.

You get what you pay for with grinders and many are very expensive. If you don’t have one and are just getting started with homebrewing, we’d recommend using our ground coffee, which is already ground for use in a Vietnamese coffee filter.


The Procedure

Step 1: Grind Your Beans (skip this step if you have ground coffee)

To use a Vietnamese coffee filter, you will need to grind your coffee to a medium-fine texture (finer than sand but not powdery).

Step 2: Boil 200ml of Filtered or Bottled Water

You’ll need to boil 200ml of water for this recipe.

Step 3: Preheat Your Vietnamese Coffee Filter

With the filter placed on top of your serving glass, add around 100ml of boiled water to the brewing chamber and allow it to drip through to the glass below. Then, discard the water. Use a towel and be careful as the glass and filter will become hot.

Step 4: Add 15ml of Condensed Milk to a Serving Glass

Add 15 ml of condensed milk to a serving glass. It is easiest to use a gram scale but if you don’t have one, a measuring jug could also be used.

Step 5: Add Your Ground Coffee to the Filter

Next, add 20 grams(approximately 4 flat tablespoons) of ground coffee to your Vietnamese coffee filter. Then, give it a little shake to level off the coffee before dropping the filter weight onto the bed of coffee. There is no need to compress the coffee; this will cause the coffee to be over-extracted.

Step 6: Start Brewing Your Coffee

This is the fun part– Brew your coffee!

Make sure your coffee filter is placed on top of the glass containing the condensed milk. Slowly pour 20ml of boiled filtered water over the coffee bed. Then wait for 30 seconds. This allows the coffee to bloom.

After that, add another 80ml of water to the filter and allow the water to make its way through the coffee grounds. If you have followed the previous steps and your grind size is correct, it will take 5-6 minutes for the water to cease dripping.

Step 7: When the Dripping Has Finished, Stir the Mixture and Pour Over a Glass of Ice

Once the coffee has finished dripping into your glass, remove the filter. Use a towel for this as the filter will be hot.

After removing the filter, stir the mixture. It will turn a light brown color.

Step 8: Pour the Mixture Into a Glass of Ice

While it can be enjoyed hot, for the most refreshing experience, pour your mixture over a glass of ice.

Then enjoy!


Final Words

Photo by Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash


There you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to make a delicious Vietnamese iced coffee.

Once you have the right ingredients and you follow the above steps, you can be sure that you are making the best coffee possible.

We hope that you found this post useful and if you have been, it has brought you back to Vietnam. If so, you may also be interested in the other Vietnamese coffee recipes detailed in our free recipe book.

If you have any questions or experiences to share with fellow readers, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Until next time, happy brewing.

By Local-Insider.com

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Travel Guide in Vietnam : Ben Tre

During your next trip in HCMC plan two days in Ben Tre for outdoors activitiesyou will not regret ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Ben Tre is a desirable location for those who enjoy exploring the outdoors thanks to its pleasant weather throughout the year, abundance of tourist attractions, and mouthwatering specialties.

WHEN TO GO

Ben Tre is a province in the Mekong Delta, 85 kilometers south of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) to the west, bordering Tien Giang, Vinh Long, and Tra Vinh provinces, as well as the sea. 

With a warm and sunny climate all year round, visitors can visit Ben Tre in any season. The most ideal time to visit the province is in the summer months of June, July, and August. This is the time when you can admire colorful natural scenes and enjoy exotic fruit freshly picked right from the tree such as mangosteen, durian, rambutan and more.

Ben Tre is blessed with good weather all year round. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Van Hoan

WHAT TO EXPLORE

Con Quy – Tortoise Islet

Con Quy is a district in Chau Thanh that is known for its delicious fruits and fish.Con Quy is the smallest of the four islets named after the four sacred animals (long or dragon, ly or unicorn, quy or tortoise, and phung or phoenix,) of the Mekong Delta. Don ca tai tu, a Vietnamese southern folk music that embodies the identity of the southern river region, is another attraction for visitors to Con Quy.

Con Phung – Phoenix Islet 

Con Phung from above. Photo by KKday

Con Phung is located on a floating island in the middle of the Tien River in Tan Thach Commune, Chau Thanh District. Visitors can take a motorboat along the dunes to visit the coconut candy processing facilities and coconut souvenir shops, or get on a horse-drawn carriage to visit the orchards, and enjoy tropical fruits. Many travelers are drawn by fun experiences such as fishing for crocodiles and feeding carp using baby bottles.

con-phung-Ben-Tre-1-5881-16490-6438-6378
Tourists feed carps and crocodiles at Con Phung. Photos by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Orchards

There are several orchards for you to visit: Cai Mon Orchard in Cho Lach District and Tien Long, Tan Phu orchards in Chau Thanh District. You can take in the garden’s lush surroundings, savor the fresh fruits you picked yourself, and eat right there. A ticket includes a one-time entry to the garden, where you can enjoy any kind of fruit freely on the spot. If you plan to bring home some fruits as gifts, you will need to purchase them.

Coconut garden

Tourists and a guide (L) stop during a ride across a coconut garden in Ben Tre Province. Photo by Quach Duy Thinh

More than 200,000 families in Ben Tre grow coconuts, which accounts for about two-thirds of all the households in the province. You can try cycling around the coconut gardens, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere here. While cycling, visitors can stop to chat with locals to have a better understanding about life in the countryside.

Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary

Visitors can see more than 100 different species of birds at the Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary. A few birds living here are on the verge of extinction. An entry ticket to the sanctuary costs VND150,000 ($6.40).

Nguyen Dinh Chieu’s tomb

The tomb of Nguyen Dinh Chieu in An Duc Commune, Ba Tri District, is the resting place of the nation’s great poet and patriot, who is known for his nationalist and anti-colonial writings against the French colonization of southern Vietnam. Every year, on July 1, the residents of Ben Tre hold a festival to commemorate him. 

If you’re already here, you can go another 9 kilometers to Ngao Beach and Tiem Tom Port to see Ba Lai and Ham Luong Gates (the 3rd and 4th gates of the Mekong River connecting to the East Sea). These two gates are only a few kilometers apart.

Binh Dai Beach

Binh Dai beach is on the banks of Cua Dai River. The beach remains quite untouched by commercial tourism, making it less crowded compared to Vung Tau or Nha Trang. Aside from swimming and enjoying seafood, visitors can also go fishing or visit some tourist attractions such as the Long Phung Communal House and Van Phuoc Pagoda. 

Dong Khoi guerrilla village

Dong Khoi guerrilla village is in Dinh Thuy Commune, Mo Cay District. The exhibition hall, which is open to visitors, features the rudimentary weapons that the residents of Ben Tre once used to fend off the U.S. invaders in the 1960s.

My Long rice paper village

Rice paper is dried before being baked on a charcoal stove. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Thanh Hung

Visitors can observe the locals making rice paper in the My Long Rice Paper Village. The rice paper is always hot, crispy, and full of the flavor of coconut milk because it is dried before being baked on a charcoal stove.

Son Doc Banh Phong Village

Son Doc Banh Phong Village, which is more than 100 years old, is in Hung Nhuong Commune. Visitors can learn about the process of making banh phong, or rice paper crackers. A well-done cracker must be spongy, crispy, and twice as big after baking. The craft village sells many kinds of banh phong for customers to buy as gifts, such as egg crackers, crackers with jackfruit, and crackers with durian. 

Tourists eat rice paper crackers grilled on the spot in Ben Tre Province. Photo by Quach Duy Thinh

Weaving village

The weaving village in Phuoc Tuy Commune, Ba Tri District, is about 40 kilometers east of Ben Tre’s capital town. This craft village, where the locals make daily items out of bamboo, has existed for a long time. Visitors can experience the culture and learn how the locals make these products.

Many daily items are made of bamboo. Photo by Quach Duy Thinh

The river thrills

Visitors to Ben Tre should also take a river tour in a wooden dingy that offers the chance to sail through the numerous nipa trees that have sprouted along the canal.

One can also test their balance skills by walking on cau khi (monkey bridge), which is basically a couple bamboo poles tied together, a symbol of the rural Mekong Delta.

IMG-1848-1527159133-8636-1673852656.jpg
Tourists walk on a bamboo pole bridge (L) and ride a wooden dingy along nipa palm trees in Ben Tre Province. Photos by Quach Duy Thinh

WHERE TO STAY

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of homestays in Ben Tre. You can eat, stay, and visit with the host while enjoying some regional specialties and learning about their way of life. You can choose to stay at places such as Cocohut Homestay, Quoc Phuong Riverside Homestay, Nguyet Que Homestay & Tours, or Ba Danh Home. Prices range from VND400,000 to VND800,000 per night.

A homestay with a lotus pond in Ben Tre Province. Photo by Quach Duy Thinh

Additionally, there are a ton of motel and hotel options in the inner city for you to choose from, including Cong Doan Hotel, Ham Luong Hotel, Cuu Long Hotel, Thu Thu Guesthouse, and Que Huong Guesthouse. At night, you can go to the rooftops of these hotels for a late-night coffee and a view of the street along the river.

WHAT TO EAT

Coconut specialties 

Many Ben Tre specialties made of coconut will surprise visitors. Various types of cuisine can be made from coconut aside from coconut water, such as rice cooked with coconut, coconut porridge, stir-fried shrimp with coconut, coconut buds, coconut candy, and coconut cake.

Coconut candy is wrapped and packed at a store in Ben Tre. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Diep

Grilled banana

Bananas, flattened and then grilled over a charcoal fire, are served with coconut milk. The hot and crispy taste of the bananas and the rich flavor of coconut milk will delight you.

Grilled banana is served with coconut milk. Photo by Hoang Mai

Banh canh bot xat – Thick noodle soup

With banh canh bot xat, the noodle is made from rice flour and is handmade, unlike the ready-made noodles that are sold in the market. The thick broth is cooked with duck meat. A small cup of fish sauce and ginger is served along with the dish. This is a Mekong Delta’ specialty.

Che Buoi – Pomelo sweet soup

Che buoi is made from pomelo peel, with the green skin removed. After being soaked in salt water, the pomelo peel is then cooked. Durian is also added in che buoi, so it always has a unique taste.

Rat meat

This may not suit everyone’s taste, but rats that live on coconut trees are a favorite dish of the local people. The meat can be grilled, steamed or cooked in curry.

Banh xeo oc gao – Crispy crepes with snails 

In the Mekong Delta, Phu Da Dune in Lach Market has the best banh xeo oc gao. The snail season is only from fourth to seventh lunar months. Diners will be impressed by the crepe shell, which is made from flour mixed with fragrant coconut milk and served with a filling of oc gao – Assiminea lutea snails, bean sprouts, and chopped cassava roots.

Crayfish

Crayfish is another rustic specialty that is loved by diners. Whether grilled, boiled with coconut water, or stir-fried with salt and lime leaves, crayfish meat still retains its sweetness and firmness.

Fruit

You can enjoy many kinds of fresh fruit, such as durian, rambutan, longan, mangosteen, and especially macapuno, all with very cheap prices.

Termite mushrooms 

Termite mushrooms, which typically appear from April to July, grow on extruded termite mounds. This Ben Tre speciality, has a distinctive aroma and is sweet.

You can purchase fresh specialty fruits like mangosteen, Cai Mon durian, and pomelo. If you’re worried about keeping your gifts fresh, you can choose rice paper or rice crackers, coconut specialties such as jam, candies, and wine, as well as other lovely coconut-made crafts.

HOW TO GET THERE

Travelers can begin their trip at HCMC’s Mien Tay Bus Station, which has several bus lines making the two hour trip. Ticket prices range from VND85,000-VND140,000 ($3.63-$5.97). 

In addition, you can travel by motorbike or car, which will allow you to stop and admire the scenery along the way. It is recommended to depart early in the morning or after 9 a.m., due to rush hour from 6 to 8 a.m. Travelers can follow Highway 1A to My Tho City, cross the Rach Mieu Bridge, and then turn right which will bring you to the center of Ben Tre.

If you want to have a more convenient sightseeing experience, you can choose a tour arranged by one of the travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City.

A man sails a boat in Ben Tre. Photo by VnExpress

Story by Du Hy, Phuc Trinh for E.VnExpress Travel Guide

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The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

This morning I chose this article because it is that of a teacher who describes his vacation in Ninh Binh … the narration is that of a Vietnamese journalist. Good reading ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Dave, a British teacher who has been living in Vietnam for four years, took his family to Ninh Binh during the Tet break where they enjoyed boat tours and local specialties. 

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

Dave’s family came to Ninh Binh, around 90 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, on Monday, the second day of the Lunar New Year, where they visited tourist attractions like Thung Nham Cave, the UNESCO heritage site Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and Tam Coc-Bich Dong. 

Ninh Binh, home to the ancient capital of Hoa Lu during the reign of the Dinh Dynasty (968-980), was overlooked by foreign tourists for years until “Kong: Skull Island” was filmed there in 2016, giving it a global reputation.

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

Dave sits on a boat along Tam Coc-Bich Dong, part of the UNESCO heritage site Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex. 

“Local people are familiar with foreign visitors and many can speak English, making travel more convenient for foreigners like me,” Dave said, explaining why his family chose Ninh Binh as their first destination for the Lunar New Year. 

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

Boats carry tourists along the Ngo Dong River in the Tam Coc-Bich Dong area, around seven kilometers from Ninh Binh Town, the capital of Ninh Binh Province.

Dave said he could easily find restaurants serving both local specialities and Western food in Tam Coc-Bich Dong. 

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

Dave’s family enjoyed local dishes such as goat meat, a specialty in Ninh Binh. 

“The goat dishes are skillfully prepared by chefs in Ninh Binh, and it no longer has a bad taste, but is very delicate and soft,” Dave said. 

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

One thing Dave didn’t like in Tam Coc was local vendors clinging to foreign tourists to force them to use tourist services or buy local products at expensive prices. 

“Sometimes this can ruin a trip. I believe that besides the natural beauty and hospitality, attitude and interaction with local people are also very important,” he said. “For tourists, these things have a lot of impact on visitors’ feelings, deciding whether they want to return to that place or not.”

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

A two-hour boat tour winding down the Ngo Dong River past paddy fields and stunning caves costs VND150,000 ($6.39) and requires at least four passengers for a trip. 

The beauty of Ninh Binh through the lens of a British expat

The trip goes through three beautiful limestone caves, including Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba.

Ca is the largest cave in Tam Coc. It is 127 meters long and more than 20 meters wide, followed by Hai Cave, which is about 60 meters long. Ba Cave, about 50 meters long, is the smallest, but considered the most beautiful one in the area.

Written By Sang Sang Photos courtesy of Dave and published in E.VnExpress.net

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It started as a hobby: A cooking class for foreigners

Few of you know that I am Chef by proxy… out of love and passion. Being a chemist, my daily life is to experiment with dishes from my grandmothers concocted in my own way. I was attracted this morning by this article and this wonderful businesswoman who passes on her passion by giving Vietnamese cooking classes. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Vu Hong Thanh has been offering cooking classes to foreign tourists and expats living in Vietnam since 2015.

Thanh and her team of five people call themselves “Hanoi and around with Thanh.”

For eight years they’ve been gifting the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine to foreigners via fun and casual classes.

Thanh said she wants her attendees to enjoy themselves to the fullest so she limits enrollment in each class to two-four people for quality control. Her team hold about five courses per month.

It all started with a hobby when Thanh was in university.

She used her free time to guide foreign tourists around the town so she could improve her English.

But over time, she grew passionate about sharing Vietnamese culture with outsiders.

“I have a dream of becoming a tourism ambassador for Vietnam, someone who can share meaningful experiences that are directly connected to local culture with visitors,” said Thanh. “Moreover, I want to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism.”

“Hanoi and around with Thanh” participants accompany Thanh as she shops for ingredients at Vietnamese wet markets.

She even teaches them how to bargain, just like a local would do.

The team then presents a menu featuring four distinct cuisines to participants in a four-and-a-half-hour class.

Thanh said her customers’ favorite dishes are fried spring rolls, bun cha (rice vermicelli noodles with grilled pork) and pho noodle soup.

Participants learn to make spring rolls at Thanhs class. Photo courtesy of Hanoi and Around with Thanh

Participants learn to make spring rolls at Thanh’s class. Photo courtesy of “Hanoi and around with Thanh”

Thanh’s cooking classes take place in a Hanoi family kitchen. They’re taught by the family’s mother and her niece.

“I got to know the mother because she had previously assisted me in my Vietnamese paper mask workshop. Knowing that she can cook well, I invited her to become a cooking instructor,” said Thanh.

For the tourists and expats that take part in these courses, it’s difficult enough to learn new recipes using unfamiliar ingredients. But they also have to prepare the meals in a traditional Vietnamese home.

The kitchen is small and cramped compared to Western kitchens, which makes it challenging. When confronted with unfamiliar flavors like fish sauce, class members tend to hesitate, but they soon grow to love the fish sauce-based garlic and chili sauce.

Bob Chee, a participant in one of Thanh’s first cooking classes, said: “I didn’t know what to expect when I entered the host’s home. It was one of the few times I entered a home in Hanoi, so I was naturally curious.”

Chee’s favorite part of the meal was bun rieu, or crab noodle soup.

“I’ve never been able to eat such a tasty soup at a Vietnamese restaurant. I really enjoyed the meal,” he said.

Tourists find cooking Vietnamese food a fun and exciting experience. Photo courtesy of Hanoi and Around with Thanh

Tourists enjoy a meal cooked by them under the instructions of Thanh’s team. Photo courtesy of “Hanoi and around with Thanh”

Many people, according to Thanh, have come back for another session in order to learn how to prepare different foods. And they’ve recommended her classes to their friends and family.

These tourists learn not only the recipes for a variety of Vietnamese dishes, but also the cultural meanings behind some of them. For instance, they learn that foods like fried spring rolls, which symbolize prosperity and success, are typically prepared for special occasions like the Lunar New Year holidays and ancestor worship.

Jeane Cottenceau, who took a cooking class with her relatives and friends, said: “We all love cooking, and food is a key point of the Vietnamese experience… It is also a nice opportunity to spend quality time together.”

Preparing traditional Vietnamese cuisine under the guidance of a local host in a Vietnamese kitchen gave Jeane the opportunity to learn more about local culture, she added.

Bun cha, fried spring rolls and papaya salad made by the attendees of one of Thanh’s classes. Photo courtesy of Hanoi and Around with Thanh

Bun cha, fried spring rolls and papaya salad made by the attendees of one of Thanh’s classes. Photo courtesy of “Hanoi and around with Thanh”

At the moment, Thanh has about 20 students each month, the majority of whom are expats living in Hanoi. Many people sign up for the class because they’ve become interested in Vietnamese food after taking a food tour around town, or because they enjoy specific dishes like pho and bun cha.

The class costs VND450,000 ($19.17) per person for a group of four students.

Vietnamese food has become more well-known in recent years thanks to international food publications and celebrity chefs. At the 2022 World Culinary Awards, Vietnam was recently named “Asia’s best culinary destination” by industry experts and globetrotters for the very first time.

Gordon Ramsay, a well-known British celebrity chef and television personality, recently identified Vietnam as one of the best culinary travel destinations, praising the country as an “extraordinary melting pot of great food.”

Written By Phuc Trinh for E.VnExpress.net

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Discover The National Bird of Vietnam

Vietnam is considered one of the most important areas of the endemic and migratory bird route network, with 63 globally important bird areas and seven of its own endemic birds. Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Lê Van Thành recently signed a directive on a series of urgent tasks and solutions to conserve wild and migratory birds in Vietnam. Read this interesting article from AZ Animal… you will cut out beautiful birds… #MustSeeInViewtnam Editor

Vietnam is a country in southeast Asia along the South China Sea. To the west is Cambodia and Laos and to the north is China. The country has a variety of diverse habitats including mountains, tropical forests, flat plains, the Mekong and Red River deltas and miles of coastline. These habitats support a wide range of wildlife including hundreds of species of birds. Is the national bird one of the colorful songbirds like the barbets or bee eaters? Maybe the great egret or regal sea eagle? The eastern sarus crane is an important figure in Vietnamese mythology, so is that the national bird? Does Vietnam even have an official national bird? Read on to discover about the national bird of Vietnam.

Is there a National Bird of Vietnam?

There is not an official national bird of Vietnam. There is however a rich history of culturally significant birds in the country. One of the symbols of Vietnam is a crane-like bird that was featured in Vietnamese folklore. Images of this bird were repeatedly used on the bronze drums of the Dong Sun culture. This bird was referred to as the Chim Lac, with Chim meaning “bird” and Lac meaning “lost”. Historians have yet to determine exactly what kind of bird it represented but many agree it is along the lines of a cranestork or heron. Some believe it is a made-up bird similar to a phoenix or a griffin.

What Is the Story of the Eastern Sarus Crane?

Largest Crane - Sarus Crane
The majestic sarus crane can reach six feet tall and in Vietnam they are found in the Mekong river basin.©vanchai/Shutterstock.com


In Vietnamese mythology the story of the eastern sarus crane is that they are sent down from heaven when someone dies to escort them back to heaven to enjoy eternal life. Eastern sarus cranes look similar to red-crowned cranes. Their heads and upper neck are all red with a greenish crown. Sarus crane’s bodies are mostly gray with black tipped wings. Their legs match their head in slightly lighter red color. Eastern sarus cranes can get up to six feet tall! In Vietnam the eastern sarus crane can be found in the Mekong river basin. Vietnam also has common cranes and black-necked cranes.

What Kind of Storks Live in Vietnam?

Some of the storks that live in Vietnam are the milky stork, black stork, black-necked stork and painted stork. The Bang Lang Stork Sanctuary is located in southern Vietnam and has more than 20 different stork species. Milky storks are white with black underwings and long red legs. They are a little smaller than painted storks standing around three feet tall (35 to 38 inches). Black storks are about the same size as milky storks but their plumage is all black except for the white chest and underwings. Black-necked storks are quite a bit taller, reaching nearly five feet (51 to 59 inches). They have a blueish-black head, neck and wings but their bodies are white. The painted stork has a white body and black/white wings but they get their name from the colorful pink flight feathers and long orange beak.

What Kind of Herons Live in Vietnam?

Grey heron in flight
Grey herons are just one of several species of herons found in Vietnam.©Adrian Eugen Ciobaniuc/Shutterstock.com

Herons can be found in many provinces in Vietnam but there is a higher concentration in the Tram Chim National Park. Some of the herons in Vietnam include:

  • Grey heron: dark grey feathers with a lighter neck and orangish bill, 40 to 44 inches tall.
  • Purple heron: grayish-purple feathers with a dark stripe along the side of its neck, 31 to 35 inches tall.
  • Chinese pond heron: dark brown head, blackish back, white underside, black-tipped yellow bill, 18 to 20 inches tall
  • Javan pond heron: light brown head, darker brown back, white underside, black-tipped yellow bill, 18 to 20 inches tall
  • Black-crowned night heron: contrasting white body with black wings and black crown, 22 to 24 inches tall

Are There Any Birds Featured on the Money of Vietnam?

No. The money of Vietnam, the dong, features the famous Vietnamese Prime Minister/President of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. He served as Prime Minister from 1945 to 1955 and then as President until his death in 1969. The design on the back of the banknotes has had several different series but birds have not been included. The first series did have one animal, the elephant on the back of the 10 dong and a fishery was featured on the back of the five dong.

Is There a National Animal of Vietnam?

Wild Water Buffalo in Yala West National Park, Sri Lanka
The water buffalo is the national animal of Vietnam where they are often used for farm work.©Hugh Lansdown/Shutterstock.com

Yes. The national animal of Vietnam is the water buffalo. Water buffalo are massive animals and can be five to 6.2 feet at the shoulder and eight to 10 feet long. The males have huge horns that jut out the side of their heads and curve backward with some having a span of five feet. Although they sound dangerous the water buffalo has been domesticated for 5,000 years and are actually quite gentle. They have been used by the Vietnamese and other cultures on farms to help plow the fields and as transportation to move crops and people. There is also some symbolism with the national animal of Vietnam, if you own a water buffalo that has even symmetrical hair then you and your family will experience good luck.

Written by Cindy Rasmussen for https://a-z-animals.com/

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Braised pork and stuffed bitter melon soup at Tet: The meaning behind them

What is admirable in Vietnam is, among other things, how the Vietnamese pass on traditions from generation to generation… here is one about a dish from the south… Happy reading #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Braised pork with duck eggs and stuffed bitter melon soup have long been associated with regional characteristics and spiritual elements of southern Vietnamese life.

A meal served in families in the south during Tet. Photo by Kho Qua Deo

A meal served in families in the south during Tet. Photo by Kho Qua Deo

Every morning and evening from the 1st to the 3rd day of the Lunar New Year (in some places until the 4th), southerners often cook rice with other dishes to offer to their ancestors. But braised pork with duck eggs and stuffed bitter melon soup are two must-have dishes on these days.

According to cultural researcher Nguyen Thanh Loi, no one knows exactly when braised pork with duck eggs and stuffed bitter melon soup first appeared on the Lunar New Year’s days in southerner Vietnam. However, each of these dishes has a significant meaning during Tet meals.

“About 50 to 70 years ago in the south, not every family could afford to display braised pork with duck eggs and stuffed bitter melon soup on a tray to offer during the Tet holiday. Poor families consider these luxurious dishes,” said Loi. “They have to save up for the whole year until the Lunar New Year to purchase new clothes and eat dishes made from pork with the hope that they will be prosperous.”

Braised pork with duck eggs. Photo by VnExpress/Le Huu Tuong

Braised pork with duck eggs. Photo by VnExpress/Le Huu Tuong

The researcher added that in a pot of braised pork with duck eggs, the square pieces of meat and round eggs are symbols of balanced yin and yang. “The representation of a round egg is a symbol of fertility, wishing for a happy new year, and a family with many more children,” he added.

“The name kho qua – stuffed bitter melon – explains the wish for all kho, sorrows and misfortunes of the old year, to qua – pass, to receive good news in the new year.”

Braised pork is a high-energy, fatty dish, if eaten in large quantities and regularly during Tet, it will not be good for one’s health, especially for overweight people, or people with disorders of dyslipidemia, heart disease, or high blood pressure. However, stuffed bitter melon has cooling characteristics, has low calories and carbs, is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, which is good for the liver, is a laxative and aids digestion. On Tet days, the weather in the south is often hot, and so eating a lot of food that is rich in protein like meat and fish can make you easily feel hot. A bowl of stuffed bitter melon soup has cooling effects.

Stuffed bitter melon soup. Photo by VnExpress/Le Huu Tuong

Stuffed bitter melon soup. Photo by VnExpress/Le Huu Tuong

Southern people also cook braised pork with duck eggs and stuffed bitter melon soup on special occasions such as the day of worshiping at communal houses and death anniversaries. In addition to the concept of yin and yang, the two dishes also complement each other’s flavors.

“The way southern people celebrate Tet is different from time to time,” Loi said. “But what seems right will be maintained, which is why braised pork with duck eggs and stuffed bitter melon soup have been two indispensable dishes in the Tet tray of southerners for generations.”

Written By Henry Duong for E.VnExpress.net

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Vietnam Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

Vietnamese cherish the Lunar New Year holiday and for the 2nd consecutive year enjoys a long holiday… well here are the favorite places for many of us … #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Streets were heavily congested and visitors had to wait for three hours to take a cable car ride as popular tourist destinations were overrun by a sea of people during the seven-day Tet break. 

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

Crowds flood the 3-kilometer-long Bai Sau, a popular beach in Vung Tau near Ho Chi Minh City, on January 24, the third day of new lunar year. 

Some 174,000 visitors flocked to Vung Tau during the first four days of the Lunar New Year and many streets leading to beaches were gridlocked with long lines of vehicles.

Lying 100 km from HCMC, Vung Tau in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province is a favorite destination of people in the city and the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

Photo by Dang Khoa

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

Tourists watch a street art performance by foreign artists at the Sun World Phu Quoc tourist complex on the southern island of Phu Quoc during the Tet holiday. 

Phu Quoc is expected to welcome 175,000 visitors, including 11,000 foreigners, during the Tet break, around 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

Photo courtesy of Sun World Phu Quoc

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

A street leading to the popular Ba Chua Xu Lady Temple at the foot of Sam Mountain in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang was heavily congested on Wednesday. 

Vietnamese, especially Buddhists, have a long tradition of visiting pagodas and temples in the new year to pray for peace and luck during the new year. 

Photo by Thanh Tung

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

A large crowd waits for a few hours to take a cable car to Ba Den Mountain, dubbed the roof of southern Vietnam, in Tay Ninh Province that borders HCMC on Wednesday. 

The seven-day Tet break ends on Thursday. 

Photo by Thai Ha

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

On the second day of the Lunar New Year, Hanoians flocked to the Temple of Literature to light incense and pray for good luck while some taking university entrance exams at mid-year came to seek blessings.

Photo by Giang Huy

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

Tam Chuc Pagoda in northern Ha Nam Province saw a sea of pilgrims on Wednesday.

The pagoda lies on the banks of a 600-hectare lake described as a mini version of the UNESCO heritage site Ha Long Bay with numerous small islets.

Photo by Anh Phu

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

In Sa Pa, tourists wait for nearly three hours to take a cable car ride to Mount Fansipan, the Roof of Indochina, on Wednesday. 

Sa Pa received 58,000 visitors since the beginning of the Tet break, equivalent to last year’s number. 

The hotel occupancy rate in Sa Pa during the Tet holiday reached 80% while some downtown streets were jam-packed, forcing traffic police to direct traffic to reduce congestion. 

Photo by Phan Dau

Tourist hotspots, spiritual sites overrun by Tet holiday crowds

Yen Tu Mountain in the northern Quang Ninh Province, home to many pagodas and temples and thus a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims, received nearly 2,700 visitors on the first day of the Lunar New Year on Sunday, and 5,800 on the second day.

Managers of Yen Tu relic site said the number of visitors during the holidays has been 50% higher than on normal days.

Text by various reporters & Photo by Tung Lam Yen Tu for E.VnExpress.net

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40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

Huong Pagoda Festival is among the greatest Buddhist festival in northern part of Vietnam. Huong Pagoda Festival plays an important role in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people in general and Vietnamese Buddhists in particular. If I remember correctly, this festival brings to mind a Vietnamese legend that I describe below… Have a nice weekend! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

According to folklore, once upon a time, there was a beautiful and kind-hearted princess named Dieu Thien—the third daughter of King Dieu Trang, Huong Lam Kingdom. However, at the age of getting married, the prince rejected all proposals from other countries and insisted on leading a religious life. The King got very angry and locked her into the backyard of his palace. As the princess’s decision was unchanged, King Dieu Trang sent her to Bach Tuoc pagoda where she went through a wide range of arduous works; still, she completed them all. Getting more and more displeased, the King even set Bach Tuoc Pagoda on fire and jailed the princess into the forbidden palace. However, Princess Dieu Thien was so determined that she overcame all of the above challenges and difficulties. At the end, the King decided to execute his stubborn daughter. Right when Dieu Thien was escorted to the scaffold, Huong Tich Mountain God came in the form of a tiger and saved her.

The princess wake up in the forest and saw a handsome young man approaching her. The man eagerly sent Dieu Thien chatty pick up lines; however, she kept on turning him down. Surprisingly, the guy turned out to be Buddha. He told the princess to practice Buddhist in Huong Tich Cave. After 9 years of ascetic Buddhist practice, the princess got enlightened. She saved the country from the war, protected her parents and sisters from devils. From then on, she was canonized as Goddess of Mercy (Quan Am) and was widely worshipped throughout the country.

Thousands of people flocked to the Huong Pagoda in Hanoi for its annual festival, which began on Friday and will go on for three months. 

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

The Yen Stream near Tro Port was full of boats taking pilgrims to the pagoda in My Duc District.

Around 5,000 boats were arranged for pilgrims. The management of the Huong Son Site, of which the pagoda is a part, said the site is open for tourists from Saturday last week and around 150,000 have arrived since.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

Nguyen Ba Hien, head of the management, said: “Electronic tickets are the new feature at this year’s festival. 10 gates have been installed for the electronic tickets. The system scanned the tickets’ QR codes, and it worked smoothly on the first day. There were no sign of fake tickets.”

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

At 9 a.m., the opening ceremony was held. The festival, Vietnam’s biggest spring festival, would last until April 23.

In 2021 and 2022, due to impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no opening ceremony.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

Crowds at the festival.

Tickets to visit the Huong Pagoda, including insurance, cost VND80,000 ($3.41) for adults, and VND40,000 for children. The boat ride to and from costs VND35,000-50,000.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

People line up to board a cable car. A return trip on the telpherage costs VND220,000.

On Friday the Huong Son Site received around 40,000 people, according to the festival organizers.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

Most pilgrims to the Huong Son Site visit the Huong Tich cave.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

People climb a steep stone stair to reach the cave.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

The Huong Tich cave is packed with people. Police officers and militia are stationed to maintain order during the festival.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

People carry offerings and put them on altars in the cave.

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

Buddhists pray inside the cave.

Nguyen Van Lam from Bac Ninh Province said: “Before the pandemic came my family would come for the opening day of the Huong Pagoda Festival every year. We come to sightsee and pray for luck.”

40,000 pilgrims arrive for opening day of Huong Pagoda Festival

People collect water dripping off stalactites for luck.

The Huong Pagoda Festival attracts millions of visitors every year. The pagoda is situated around 60 km from downtown Hanoi.

An article written By Ngoc Thanh for E.VnExpress.net

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15 travel ideas to explore Vietnam’s hidden gems


Vietnam is now part of the list of top Travel magazines. Here is a good example this Saturday morning … #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Happy readingAustralia’s Lonely Planet Magazine has recommended 15 top travel experiences to discover the culture, cuisine and the hidden gems of Vietnam.

Taste Hues imperial cuisine 

Banh ram it is topped with shrimp powder and stir-fried onion. Photo by Shutterstock/Jimmy Tran

Once the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal family that ruled the country from 1802 until 1945, Hue is famous for its complex of royal tombs with distinctive architecture. The ancient citadel is known for its diverse culinary scene with over 1,700 dishes, many of them originating from the imperial kitchen in the royal palace. 

In addition to its signature bun bo Hue (Hue-style beef noodle soup) that can be found on every street corner in Hue, banh beo (steamed rice cake), banh ram it(fried dumpling) and banh bot loc (tapioca dumpling) are must-try specialties in Hue. 

Che (sweet soup) used to be an indispensable dessert for kings and royal families during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty, much liked for its freshness and nutritional value. 

It’s not difficult to find sweet soup stalls in Hue where you can enjoy a variety of this dessert, such as che hat sen (lotus seed), che nhan boc hat sen (longan stuffed lotus seed), and che khoai mon (taro sweet soup). These specialties are bound to satiate you sweet tooth.

Watch rare monkeys on Son Tra Peninsula

A red-shanked douc langur jumps between trees like a circus acrobat on Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang. Photo by Duong Duc Khanh

Son Tra Peninsula, around 10 km from downtown Da Nang, spreads over more than 4,400 hectares (10,880 acres), with long stretches of beautiful beaches and primeval forests. 

A natural shield for the beach city, the peninsula is home to red-shanked douc langur with a population of 300-400 that are under strict protection.

The red-shanked douc is a rare and endemic species in Vietnam. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has placed the primate on the list of animals in need of unconditional protection.

Over the last few years, the peninsula has become known as a place where visitors can enjoy watching and taking beautiful photographs of the langurs.

However, tourists are advised to refrain from feeding the monkeys to avoid disrupting their eating habits and the population’s health.

Explore a UNESCO-protected Hindu temple complex 

My Son sanctuary near Hoi An ancient town. Photo by Tuan Dao

“Many visit the UNESCO-protected ancient town of Hoi An, but fewer venture inland to another UNESCO delight – My Son sanctuary, a cluster of Hindu temple ruins surrounded by jungle and a ring of mountains protecting the sacred Thu Bon River,” Lonely Planet said.

The My Son Sanctuary is a complex of abandoned and partly ruined Hindu temple towers constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries when the Champa Kingdom reigned.

Last year, local authorities launched a new tourism product, the Cham dance performance program with lighting effects, in an effort to attract foreign tourists.

Visit the Cao Dai Temple 

The Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh Province is seen from above. Photo by Quynh Tran 

The Cao Dai Holy See in the southern province of Tay Ninh, around 70 kilometers to the east of HCMC, was founded in 1926 and houses a temple, residences for officials and followers, and a herbal medicine hospital that attracts many patients, especially from the south.

From a distance, the structure looks like a European-style church fronted by two bell towers.

The main icon of Caodaism is an eye that casts a glow representing the Supreme Deity. Caodaism also worships other deities such as Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, and Guanyin. Their images can be seen at many places in the Holy See.

Worshippers gather for prayers at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. every day at the Holy See. Visitors are allowed to observe them.

Jump on a motorbike 

A panoramic view of Ta Pa field in Tri Ton District with paddy fields stretching out in vast swathes of brilliant green and yellow. Photo by Huynh Van Thai

“A motorbike offers total freedom to explore the country,” says Lonely Planet, recommending tourists try a motorbike tour from HCMC to explore the S-shaped country through green paddies in the Mekong Delta, stunning beaches along central Vietnam coastline or mountain ranges in the north.

Riding from Saigon to Hanoi by motorbike is probably the most popular road trip in Vietnam, and unquestionably one of the best ways to experience the country. 

The road traverses heavily forested limestone mountains, runs along rivers, and cuts through rice paddy fields, allowing travelers to explore popular destinations like Binh Thuan, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hue and Quang Binh.

International driving permits are becoming increasingly necessary, so make sure that you have a valid motorcycle license.

Conquer Ban Gioc Waterfall 

A raft carries tourists to visit Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang. Photo by Tran Bao Hoa

Ban Gioc Waterfall, which straddles the China border 30 kilometers from the central market of Cao Bang’s Trung Khanh District, is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and the world’s fourth largest along a national border after Iguazu, Victoria and Niagara.

The waterfall is 53 meters high and 300 meters wide and has three levels of smaller waterfalls.

A small sloping path leads to the waterfall. Buses with a seating capacity of 25 or less can travel down the path while bigger ones drop their passengers off at a parking lot at the Vietnam border station. Travelers can walk down to the falls from there.

The Tay ethnic minority community often brings horses here to provide photos ops for VND20,000 (85 cents) a pop.

Breathe the fresh air in Da Lat

Du Sinh Hill near Da Lat Town is shrouded in mist. Photo by Le Hoang Men

Da Lat is dubbed “Little Paris,” due to its history as a summer escape for French colonial officials who built villas in the hills to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands.

The Australian magazine urges tourists to explore the town’s French-influenced heritage via the array of old villas where the French lived 100 years ago, or visit the Hang Nga Crazy House, famous for its extraordinary exterior which resembles a monstrous banyan tree.

The highlands town is cool all year round, its dense pine forests make it one of the freshest destinations in Vietnam.

Visit Dak Lak’s coffee plantations

A coffee field in Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of Dak Lak. Photo by Minh Tu

Dak Lak is Vietnam’s biggest coffee-growing province, accounting for one-third of the country’s coffee production, with 476,200 tons harvested in the 2019-2020 crop, according to official data.

The best time to visit Dak Lak is from September to the end of December, which coincides with the harvest season, giving tourists an opportunity to see farmers harvesting different kinds of coffee such as arabica, robusta and liberica.

The area is known for many coffee brands, which are not only famous at home, but also exported to more than 80 countries and territories throughout the world.

Discover Vietnams Maldives

Ky Co beach with turquoise waters is seen from above. Photo by Nguyen Tien Trinh

Quy Nhon has emerged on the global tourism map in recent years after international media called it “a perfect getaway” with long, sandy beaches and crystal-clear water.

“Its long, fine white beaches backed by mountains have earned Quy Nhon the name ‘Maldives of Vietnam’,” Lonely Planet described. 

Ky Co is the most popular beach in Quy Nhon thanks to its two colored water with distinct shades of green and blue, making for an arresting sight.

Renting a motorbike is the most convenient way to travel to Ky Co. The service is available online or at hotels. Some people also choose to book a Ky Co tour which normally includes a boat service to take you to the island, a meal, and diving, all priced at about VND350,000-VND400,000 per person.

Brave Son Doong, the world’s largest cave

A sinkhole inside Son Doong Cave is seen from a campsite. Photo by Ngo Tran Hai An

Son Doong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh has hogged the international spotlight since it opened to tourists in 2013.

four-day-three-night expedition to the cave costs VND69.8 million (US$3,000) and tourists need to have good physical and mental preparation to conquer the world’s largest cave due to its complex terrain. 

Trekkers accompanied by a specialist go through unique underground rainforests, kayak in rivers both above and below ground and climb a 90-meter-high wall dubbed “The Great Wall of Vietnam” with ropes and ladders.

Learn about Vietnam’s war history

US tanks are on display at Saigon’s War Remnants Museum in HCMC. Photo by Phong Vinh

For many Westerners, Saigon’s War Remnants Museum on Vo Van Tan Street in HCMC’s District 3 triggers their curiosity as it has more than 20,000 artifacts, images and documentaries that relive the atrocities of the war, including war crimes perpetrated by imperial and colonial forces. Millions of Vietnamese continue to suffer the consequences of the war to this day.

The museum, just about a five-minute drive from Ben Thanh Market, was built in 1975.

“The War Remnants Museum pulls no punches in detailing war atrocities, napalm burns, unexploded ordnance and a perfectly conserved U.S. tank,” Lonely Planetsaid. 

Cruise along bays

Bai Tu Long Bay in northern Vietnam. Photo by Khanh Tran

Cruise tour is the best way to explore the world heritage site Ha Long Bay, which is dotted with karst limestone mountains rising out of emerald waters. 

For those who want a luxurious overnight stay to watch the sun come up on Ha Long Bay, Heritage Cruises, Indochine Cruise, Paradise Cruise and Stellar of the Seas are worth considering.

All five-star cruise ships in Ha Long are equipped with luxury cabins and modern amenities like bars, swimming pools, a golf club, a gym and spas.

They also offer outdoor adventures like kayaking, cave exploring, onboard cooking classes, squid fishing at night and excursions to floating villages.

If Ha Long is crowded, its sister Bai Tu Long Bay is an alternative choice where there are still few tourists. 

Explore floating market in the Mekong Delta

Foreign tourists sit on boats to explore Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho. Photo by Le Dang

For centuries, the Mekong Delta has been Vietnam’s rice basket. Today it is famous for its unique floating markets where local specialties are sold from boats.

Lonely Planet advised tourists to explore Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho, the biggest of its kind in the Mekong Delta. 

A 40-minute boat ride is the best way to explore life along the waterways as it passes houses built on stilts over the water and boats in a bewildering variety of sizes, shapes and colors docked along the shore.

Lost in golden rice harvest season 

Terraced rice fields during the harvet season in Mu Cang Chai in northern Vietnam. Photo by Shutterstock 

Mu Cang Chai, a rural district in northern Yen Bai Province where most population mainly depend on farming for a living, is famous for its terraced rice fields that are dyed a golden yellow during the rice harvest season between September and October. 

Mu Cang Chai is around a seven hour drive northwest of Hanoi. It sits at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level at the foot of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range.

Thanks to its rising popularity, ethnic minority groups here have started to turn their homes into friendly homestays to accommodate tourists.

Ride the Ha Giang Loop 

Ha Giang Loop is notorious for its twisting, narrow roads and dangerous mountain passes. Photo by Ngan Duong

The 350-meter-long Ha Giang Loop in the northern mountainous region is always a favorite with foreign backpackers as they want to conquer one of Vietnam’s toughest trails. 

The journey takes from three to five days depending on weather conditions but is not easy to conquer for amateur travelers due to its twisting, narrow roads and dangerous mountain passes.

Winding their way through Ha Giang Loop, travelers will have a chance to explore the cultural identities of at least 10 ethnic minorities groups, including Hmong, Tay and Thai.

As part of the journey, tourists will run through Ma Pi Leng, one of the country’s most dangerous mountainous passes, where there is a river below called Nho Que with emerald waters that is popular for boat tours. 

Ha Giang’s recent tourism boom has seen many motorbike rental services spring up in the province. Foreigners only need to leave their passports and pay around VND150,000 per day to rent a motorbike. 

Story by Nguyen Quy for E.VnExpress.net

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Vung Tau, South of Vietnam, draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday !

I wrote in a previous article that I preferred to stay in Saigon … for the unusual tranquility because the majority of Saigon people visit their families or take vacations during Tet. Your comments please 😉 #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Tens of thousands of visitors from HCMC and nearby localities flocked to Vung Tau beaches on the third day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Bai Sau, a popular Vung Tau beach running five kilometers long, is full of beachgoers on Tuesday afternoon, despite big waves, strong winds and high tides.

Lying 100 km from HCMC, Vung Tau Town in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province is a favorite destination of people in the city and its neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Tourists return to their hotels from the beach.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Crowded traffic on a street in Vung Tau Town.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Another section of Bai Sau is filled up with beachgoers.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

On Tuesday, Vung Tau Beach recorded strong winds and waves nearly 3 meters high, causing water to splash repeatedly on the embankment.

According to the Southern Hydrometeorological Station, Vietnam’s southern coast was hit by northeastern winds of 40-70 kph on the third and fourth day of the lunar new year, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Le Thanh Tam, a tourist from HCMC, enjoys the experience of being splashed by strong waves.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Wearing sunglasses, Mai Hoa from Dong Nai Province said she and her family chose Vung Tau for a Tet holiday because the town is now enjoying cool temperatures and is close to their home.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

Tuan and Minh from Binh Duong Province toss a ball on the beach.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

A family plays in the sand.

Vung Tau draws crowds of tourists during Tet holiday

A life guard brought a flag to an area to warn people to stay away from whirlpools.

Pham Khac To, director of the Vung Tau Tourism Area Management Board, said whirlpools and rip currents usually appear in Vung Tau beaches around this time of the year along with high tides and large waves. Therefore, life guards must be on duty at all times to prevent possible accidents.

In the past two days, Vung Tau beach received more than 100,000 tourists. 

“The number of visitors is higher compared to the same period of previous years before the pandemic and is expected to be even more crowded on Wednesday,” he said.

Vietnamese people are enjoying a seven-day Tet break from January 20 to 26.

Written By Truong Ha for E.VnExpress.net

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No herbs, no hoisin sauce: A true Hanoi style pho in Saigon

That’s the beauty of Vietnam… having a multitude of meals at very affordable and healthy prices… it’s worth the detour to taste one of the best Pho in Hanoi @ Pho tai lan#MustSeeInVietnam Editor

A pho restaurant in Saigon has continued to serve food in the traditional northern style for more than 20 years, setting it apart from other restaurants in the area.

In Saigon, you can come across many different versions of pho, or Vietnamese noodle soup, originating from localities across the country. To suit the tastes of southern diners, many of them have been modified by adding bean sprouts and hoisin sauce. However, there are still many restaurants that insist on keeping the traditional flavor of northern pho. A typical example is the Phu Gia restaurant on Ly Chinh Thang Street in District 3.

Although there are many tables set up inside the restaurant, the eight tables in the front are constantly occupied by diners. All customers are drawn in by the aroma of the boiling broth in the cooking area. Coming to the restaurant early in the morning, you can see a big wok set up at the front. The aroma of stir-fried beef with garlic cooking on a wok over a flaming fire can attract anyone passing by.

Meat and ingredients are neatly arranged at the front of the eatery. Photo by VnExpress/ Huynh Nhi

Meat and ingredients are neatly arranged at the front of the eatery. Photo by VnExpress/ Huynh Nhi

Nguyen Xuan Chinh, the owner of the eatery, said the shop has been open for more than 20 years, since his parents’ time, but now he has taken over. The shop sells different parts of beef, from well-done flanks to tendon, at VND70,000 ($2.99) per bowl.

Pho tai lan is the restaurant’s most famous dish, with prices ranging from VND75,000 to VND90,000 per bowl.

“The main ingredients of pho tai lan are stir-fried beef and rice noodles, with a rich broth. It is very popular with diners,” Chinh said.

Pho with stir-fried beef is popular among diners at Phu Gia restaurant. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi

Pho with stir-fried beef is popular among diners at Phu Gia restaurant. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi

A bowl of pho is not served with herbs as in other places. The only seasoning is pickled garlic, chili, lime, chili sauce, and you can order a plate of fried dough sticks to eat with the pho. Customers can ask for bean sprouts if they order a bowl of pho with well-done flank.

At Phu Gia, a bowl of pho is quite big. The flat noodles are soft, white, and have a smooth texture. The bowl is topped with stir-fried beef with chopped scallions, onions and cilantro. The broth retains a layer of tasty fat from the stir-fried oil.

You can taste a rich and very lightly sweet flavor from the broth. Its aroma comes mostly from the beef broth and stir-fried beef with garlic. Compared to the pho with well-done flank or pho with tendon, the pho tai lan has a stronger broth flavor due to its seasoned stir-fried beef. Pho tai lan will taste best if you add some lime juice to the broth, or eat it with the fried dough sticks. Additionally, the stir-fried beef is tender and not chewy, and the green onions are sweet and odorless.

A bowl of pho tai lan costs VND75,000. Photo by VnExpress/ Huynh Nhi

A bowl of pho tai lan costs VND75,000. Photo by VnExpress/ Huynh Nhi

Thanh Binh, a regular customer, said the price is high but it’s worth it.

“There are no herbs, so I can taste the broth, noodles, and beef better,” he said.

The restaurant has many fans, but because of the small space and how hot the food is, it can occasionally feel stuffy inside.

Some people who come to eat at Phu Gia restaurant are unhappy paying an additional VND4,000 for motorbike parking. The restaurant is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and reopens at 5 p.m. until late at night. Because people come here to eat breakfast before going to work, it is crowded in the morning.

By Huynh Nhi for E.VnExpress.net

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Rubber forests in Vietnam southern region take on spring hues

Did you know that Vietnam has overtaken Malaysia and India to become the world’s third largest producer of natural rubber, according to the latest data from the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC). Did you also know that the young leaves of this tree turn red before falling to give way to the green leaves that we know well? So nothing to envy to the maple leaves of Canada in the fall. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

As spring comes rubber trees in southern provinces start changing color as their leaves turn into a dazzling array of reds and yellows. 

Rubber forests in southern region take on spring hues

A rubber plantation in Binh Long Town in Binh Phuoc Province, 200 kilometers from HCMC, whose changing colors dye the surrounding area in red and yellow.

Every year leaves on rubber trees in provinces like Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh and Dong Nai start changing color in late November, becoming a big draw for photographers and tourists. 

Rubber forests in southern region take on spring hues

A school girl rides through a rubber plantation in Duong Minh Chau District in Tay Ninh Province, 70 kilometers east of HCMC District.

Most plantations are in thinly populated areas, and so visitors are advised to take their own food and drinks.

Rubber forests in southern region take on spring hues

An asphalt road leads to a rubber plantation in Long Khanh Town in HCMC’s neighboring province of Dong Nai, which has more than 35,000 hectares of rubber, mainly in Long Khanh, Cam My, Long Thanh and Dinh Quan districts.

A rubber tree can be tapped for latex once it reaches around six years of age. Rubber is made from latex.

The latex harvest takes place from May to February.

Rubber forests in southern region take on spring hues

A group of runners go through a rubber forest in Dong Nai. 

Rubber forests in southern region take on spring hues

Girls take photos in ao dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) in a rubber forest in Cam My District in Dong Nai. 

According to photographers, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. are the ideal times to shoot in rubber forests. 

Rubber forests in southern region take on spring hues

A worker irrigates young rubber leaves. 

After the leaves turn red and fall, young leaves sprout in their place.

Written by By Phuoc Tuan Photos by Huynh Dong, Lo Van Hop, Huynh Truong for E.VnExpress.net

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Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

Have you ever traveled by train in Vietnam? I tell you right away that it is an experience to live. Far from the TGV, if you don’t speak Vietnamese, it will be for you an immersion in another world… friendly and… I must say a little rustic. Imagine going from Hanoi to HCMC in about 40 hours!!! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Hanoi’s last train of 2022 left Saturday evening carrying 94 passengers for Ho Chi Minh City, which it will reach Monday morning. 

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

At 7.20 p.m. the crew of SE1 was getting it ready for the last cross-country ride of the lunar year, which ended Saturday.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

It took 20 minutes to replace a rail car due to a technical difficulty.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

Some foreigners showed up at the last minute to buy tickets, and the counter clerks speeded up things so that they could board.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

Kitchen crew decorate the dining area where passengers later counted down the new year.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

“15 minutes before midnight the staff will invite passengers to the dining area to celebrate the new year,” crew member Nguyen Xuan Khanh said.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

A group of nearly 30 foreign passengers get on board. They were traveling to Thua Thien Hue Province.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

“This will be the first time my family celebrate the New Year on a train,” Tran Trung Kien of Nghe An Province said. “I hope we can still see fireworks at midnight.”

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

Train conductor Pham Van Thuc, 51, said he has celebrated the New Year 10 times on the train. 

“I am sad I have to work while most people are spending time with their family. The staff will celebrate the New Year together.” 

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

A Ministry of Transport official came on board to give customers and staff li xi (red envelope), a traditional gift of cash to wish good luck to the recipient.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

At 10.15 p.m. the train departed.

Hanoi train rides into Lunar New Year

Passengers, mostly traveling short distances or tourists wanting to experience Tet, wave goodbye to station staff as the train leaves.

Across the country, hundreds of staff have been deployed at grade crossings through the holiday to ensure safety.

By Ngoc Thanh for E.VnExpress.net

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Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Respecting tradition during the New Year festivities means that Vietnamese people find themselves with family and this for many of us means that we have to return (travel) to our home town. The effect is quite incredible because the cities of HANOI & HCMC empty out and become incredibly calm! Yes amazing… and I love it! Read this article and you will understand that this moment is unique to live and I chose to live it in town! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Few vehicles could be seen in Vietnam’s largest cities on New Year’s Day as most people stayed at home during the biggest annual holiday.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

However, some dressed up to take photos at popular places. At 7 a.m. on Ta Hien Street in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District, people could be seen in colorful ao dai posing for photos on a street that is usually packed with both locals and tourists.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

“We take a walk on the first day of every Lunar New Year,” said Ha Linh (in white), standing next to a friend on Hang Ma Street. “This morning we brought rice to feed the birds to bring joy into the new year.” 

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Runners also dressed in ao dai to run on the first day of the year.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Many runners’ and bikers’ groups took photos in front of the iconic Dong Xuan Market, one of the oldest in the capital.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

A family of four takes photos on the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

As Vietnam celebrates the Year of the Cat, many young people showed up at a large painting of a cat put up on Trang Tien Street to take photos.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

People visit Ngoc Son Temple near Hoan Kiem Lake to pray for a propitious year.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Few people could be seen on Ngo Quyen Street in the downtown area.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Kim Lien Tunnel, a key travel route that is packed on normal days, was deserted.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

In Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1, only a few motorbikes could be seen on Le Duan Road, one of the busiest streets in Vietnam’s largest city.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

A bus station on Ham Nghi Road is virtually deserted. 

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Ladies in ao dai take photos in front of Ben Thanh Market.

“I hope everything will go the way I want this year,” said Phuong while posing for a photo.

Hanoi, HCMC enjoy quiet New Year morning

Ba Son Bridge, one of the newest in the city, is also deserted.

The Tet holidays began last Friday and end Thursday.

By y, Dinh Van for E.VnExpress.net

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World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Our pleasure in Vietnam … is to celebrate the New Year twice! Happy New Year of the Cat! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Vietnamese are celebrating the YEAR OF THE CAT !

Communities across the globe, from Yangon to California, have been celebrating the Lunar New Year Festival, with streets and malls full of decorations.

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Children pose for photos with decorations for the Chinese Lunar New Year at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 18, 2023. Photo by Zhu Wei/Xinhua via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

A young woman dressed in traditional Hanfu costume takes part in a cruise parade during the 13th water flower market, a unique tradition during China’s Spring Festival in Liwan District of Guangzhou City, south China’s Guangdong Province, January 18, 2023. Photo by Chen Chuhong/cnsphoto/Imaginechina via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Iranian students display Chinese Lunar New Year decorations at a park in Tehran, Iran, on January 18, 2023. The Confucius Institute of Tehran University held the event on Wednesday to help students learn about Chinese culture and festival traditions to welcome the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival. Photo by Gao Wencheng /Xinhua via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Indonesian ethnic Chinese students wear traditional clothes during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at a school in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, on January 19, 2023. This year, the festival begins on January 22. Photo by Agoes Rudianto/Anadolu Agency via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Thai and Chinese people pray for good at a Chinese temple during celebrations for the Lunar New Year in Bangkok, Thailand, January 20, 2023. Photo by Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Members of a lion dance group rehearse for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year performance in Yangon, Myanmar, January 19, 2023. Photo by Myo Kyaw Soe/Xinhua via AFP

A women wearing a face mask looks at flowers at the flowers market in Victoria Park on January 16, 2023 in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via AFP)

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

A worker carries a roast pig as a pickup truck transporting roast ducks arrives at a market in preparation for the Lunar New Year celebrations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on January 21, 2023. Photo by AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

People check ornaments for sale at a shop in Chinatown district of Manila, Philippines, on January 20, 2023, ahead of the Lunar New Year. Photo by AFP/Ted Aljibe

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Bunny chocolates marking the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rabbit at a chocolate store in Toronto, Canada, January 18, 2023. Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Rabbit-themed decorations are seen in South Coast Plaza, Orange County, California, the United States, on January 19, 2023. Located in Costa Mesa in Southern California, the largest shopping mall on the West Coast of the United States has created a stunning display of Chinese tradition and culture to embrace the Lunar New Year, featuring lion dances, exhibits, craft activities and special foods designed to honor Chinese and other Asian traditions. Photo by Zeng Hui/Xinhua via AFP

World celebrates Lunar New Year 2023

Photography enthusiasts take photos of the crowd shopping at Chinatown ahead of the Lunar New Year in Singapore, January 18, 2023. Photo by Reuters/Edgar Su

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Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

Different Provinces, different cities… different cultures and different ways of preparing to celebrate the New Year… #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Three days before Tet, Quang Ba flower market in Hanoi has become busier than ever with merchants and shoppers staying awake through the night. 

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

The city’s largest market on Au Co Street in Tay Ho District is bustling at 11 p.m. on Thursday as people flock to buy fresh flowers for Tet decoration. 

Normally, the market is open from 3 a.m. to noon, but during Tet it operates day and night. 

CNN called the market one of the best places in the world to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

Quang Ba is said to sell the best stuff in the city, getting it from well-known flower growing areas around Hanoi such as Tay Tuu, Dong, Gia Lam, and Phuc Yen.

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

Vividly colored Dahlia and gladiolus flowers, which symbolize good luck, cost VND500,000-700,000 ($21-29) a bunch, and are among the best-selling items. 

Shoppers buy wax flowers, a symbol of wealth and longevity, at VND100,000 a bunch. 

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

At around midnight the market is still crowded with shoppers though the temperature is 16 degrees Celsius. 

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

In addition to familiar items such as peach blossom, rose, lily, and chrysanthemum, there are also imported flowers such as boronia pinnata and yellow peach blossom.

The Year of the Cat begins on Sunday and Vietnamese usually finish decorating their home for Tet by noon on Lunar New Year’s Eve. 

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

A bunch of chrysanthemum flowers cost VND400,000.

Le Thi Huong said during the lead-up to Tet she had to stay up all night to import flowers to meet the high demand.

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

Gladiolus flowers from Bac Giang Province are sold at VND600,000 for a bunch of 50.

Sleepless in Hanoi’s largest flower market before Tet

Police officers help a man whose motorbike is loaded with yellow chrysanthemum flowers.

By Giang Huy for E.VnExpress.net

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Binh Dinh’s fermented pork specialty: coming soon for Tet!

Here is what I love about my Vietnam… you will find exotic dishes prepared with love by people who respect their family tradition. Aren’t the best holiday meals the meals prepared by our mothers and grandmothers? #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Binh Dinh's fermented pork specialty: coming soon for Tet!

The fermented pork meat is mixed with other ingredients and spices. Photo by Khanh ThienIf you’re an adventurous eater, then try tre tron – Binh Dinh Province’s traditional mixture of fermented shredded pork meat, kumquat juice, beef and garlic.

The dish is most commonly seen on holidays and is one of Binh Dinh natives’ favorite Lunar New Year (Tet) dishes. The main ingredient is tre, or fermented pork meat. The dish is an incredible blend of tastes: from its sour fermented pork rolls and kumquat juice, to its savory beef and pork rolls, to extreme pungency from the extra garlic on top. Dig in, and the different kinds of flavors never stop coming.

The fermented shredded pork meat is mixed with all kinds of salty, sweet, sour and spicyflavors. Photo by Khanh Thien

The fermented shredded pork meat is mixed with all kinds of salty, sweet, sour and spicy flavors. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

According to Ba, a vendor on Nguyen Thuong Hien Street (District 3, Ho Chi Minh City), in Binh Dinh tre is made from boiled pork meat, ears and skin, cooked for just long enough to keep its crispiness. One way to give the meat a brighter color and more fragrant taste is to add vinegar to the water boiling the meat. After cooking, the meat is soaked in cold water to make it firm and help the fermentation process succeed. This step also makes sure the tre not become sticky.

Another crucial ingredient that also plays an important part in the dish is fried pork belly. All the ingredients will be chopped and mixed with spices such as pepper, sliced galangal root, roasted sesame, salt, powdered grilled rice, garlic, and sugar. The ingredients will be left to absorb all the seasoning for about one to two hours of marination.

In Binh Dinh, people use old guava leaves to wrap the fermented pork meat. Ba said that wrapping the tre is a process that requires ingenuity to make the dish more fragrant and reduce the fatty taste of meat. The fermented pork meat wrapped in guava leaves is wrapped again in a plastic cover, and it is tightly bundled with dry straw on the outside. After three days of fermenting, the tre can finally be enjoyed.

Ba added that there are many ways to enjoy tre. The people of Binh Dinh normally mix it with more ingredients and spices to create its famous out-of-this-world flavor. After removing the plastic cover and the guava leaves, the tre is placed in a small bowl. The cook then use chopsticks to break up the fermented pork meat into small pieces, and then adds previously cooked savory sliced pork and beef rolls.

Fermented pork ears and pork rolls help elevate the taste of tré trộn from the north-centralprovince of Binh Dinh. Photo by Khanh Thien

Fermented pork ears and pork rolls help elevate the taste of tre mix from the south-central province of Binh Dinh. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

In order to create the special flavor for the dish, mangoes, ambarella, cucumbers, garlic and fresh chili, salt and pepper, kumquat, and Vietnamese coriander are chopped into small pieces and mixed with the tre. The dish is served with fried shrimp crackers.

Having a bite of a shrimp cracker topped with tre and other ingredients, you can taste all the sour, spicy, salty, sweet flavors of the universe. With the crunchy texture of the pork ears, this unusual combination of flavors produces such a fantastic taste!

In Ho Chi Minh City, on both sides of Nguyen Thuong Hien Street, District 3, there are numerous vendors selling the Binh Dinh original mixed fermented pork meat dish. Each order costs about VND50,000 (US$2.13).

By Khanh Thien for E.VnExpress.net

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Unusual Vietnamese dishes that give weird vibes

You will not be surprised to read this article and I let you guess which of these three dishes is my favorite … Cheers ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Vietnamese food is known for its variety of ingredients, some of which are so diverse that they sound pretty unusual to foreigners.

Fertilized egg embryo, raw blood pudding, and ragworm fritters, are some of the dishes that may scare off foreign tourists the first time they hear these names. However, once they give it a try, they’ll quickly realize why these foods are favorites among the Vietnamese.

These dishes are “scary at first glance, but you must try them when coming to Vietnam,” said South African food and travel writer Nikhita Rathod on Atlys.

Hot vit lon, a fertilized egg embryo that is boiled or steamed, is also a popular dish in the Philippines where it is called balut.

‘The duck eggs are collected while they are still being hatched. To prepare it, the cook will bring eggs to a boil. Another way to eat balut is to put them in the hot pot, which will enhance the rich and sweet flavors of the broth, as well as provide extra nutrition. Balut is eaten with salt, pepper, and coriander. Once you try it, you might like it,” Rathod said.

Balut is frequently included on lists of the worlds most bizarre foods. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Lam

Boiled balut (L) and balut with tamarine sauce are served at an eatery in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Lam

The next item on her list is frog legs stir-fried in garlic butter. “You cannot go out for a drink without having a plate of garlic butter stir-fried frog legs,” said Rathod. “The local residents say that frog legs taste just like chicken, or fish. You can only find out about this when you try it.”

Rathod also thinks this dish tastes best when you’re drinking beer. She suggests travelers try out other frog dishes such as curry frog, braised frog, frog soup, and frog hotpot.

Not everyone has the courage to try duong dua, also known as coconut worm. Photo by VnExpress

Not everyone has the courage to try duong dua, also known as coconut worm. Photo by VnExpress

Speaking of duong dua, coconut worm, the South African writer said: “Putting a wriggling coconut worm in your mouth is really not for everyone. But this is a delicious specialty of Tra Vinh Province (in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta).”

The writer then goes on to recommend tiet canh, a pudding made from raw animal blood, which is served with coriander, and mint leaves. Another item on Rathod’s list is cha ruoi, ragworm fritters. She explains that “ragworms are mixed with eggs and meat before being deep-fried.”

Cha ruoi is a beloved Hanoi specialty. Photo by VnExpress

Cha ruoi is a beloved Hanoi specialty. Photo by VnExpress

In addition to providing a list of strange Vietnamese dishes, Rathod also made some comments about the local eating habits. “In Vietnam, you don’t rush to finish your meal. Eating is truly an experience,” she said. “The people eat and drink while enjoying conversations with their friends.”

Rathod discovered that meals with local friends are like parties, and they won’t stop until they’re drunk. The best place to experience this is at street vendors rather than in restaurants, she said.

By Anh Minh for E.VnExpress.net

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The YEAR of the CAT in Vietnam : Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

While the world will celebrate January 22 as the Year of the Rabbit, Vietnam will make it different by celebrating The Year of the Cat! Read the article and the beauty of the city center of Saigon all in flowers and Cats …. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Two days before opening, the Nguyen Hue Flower Street, a top tourist attraction during the Tet holiday, is dotted with colorful floral arrangements and 70 statues of cats in different sizes. 

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

Nguyen Hue Flower Street in District 1, one of the biggest annual draws in Vietnam’s southern metropolis during the Lunar New Year holiday, is nearly ready after half a month of hard work.

This year, the 600-meter-long street is scheduled to open to the public from 7 p.m. Thursday. 

The Year of the Cat starts this Sunday, but Vietnamese start enjoying their seven-day Tet break from Friday. 

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

A mother cat and her kittens are surrounded by a patch of colorful flowers at the section near the HCMC People’s Committee headquarters. 

Unlike in previous years, the mascot is no longer the family reunion image at the entrance of the flower street.

Instead, a five-meter-tall mother cat model sits there upright, its tail is wrapped around it’s back as if it is protecting its cubs. 

The mascots are made of foam and are painted in different colors. 

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

A cat couple, 4.5 m and 5.5 m tall, are covered with tarpaulins to fight the dust as workers are in a rush to complete the decorations in time.

The model reproduces the typical Vietnamese calico cat, a domestic cat with a tri-color coat.

Cats with calico coloration are believed to bring good luck in the folklore of many cultures.

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

Throughout the flower street, there are 70 cat mascots of various shapes and sizes made from different materials such as foam, iron, terracotta and fresh flowers. 

In the picture is a three-meter-tall cat model, created by a combination of iron, foam and green sawdust.

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

A Chibi-style cat with distinctive big eyes. 

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

A model of three cats watching a school of fish. 

As in previous years, the flower street uses environmentally friendly and reusable materials such as metal, foam, rattan, bamboo, brick and fabric. 

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the flower street, which went on to become one of the city’s tourist symbols during the Tet holiday. 

There will be a scene this year featuring statues of mascots that have appeared on the flower street over the past 20 years. 

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

One of the highlights of this year’s flower street is a 30-meter-long wooden bridge crossing a flower bed.

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

More than 100 workers are busy arranging flowers in different scenes, connecting the electrical system and cleaning up toilet facilities.

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

“This is the 13th year I have joined in decorating the Nguyen Hue Flower Street, mainly pruning trees and watering flowers,” said Tran Ngan Tuan, 50, while watering flowers.

Giant cat statues take center stage on Nguyen Hue Flower Street

The Flower Street will be open until next Thursday, the fifth day of the first lunar month.

By Quynh Tran for E.VnExpress.net

The Year of the Cat !

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Flavours of Vietnam were well CURRY-ed!

My attention this morning stopped on this article from slurrp.com and the two chefs who prepared read specialties during a recent trip… I won’t tell you more if you like spicy, I recommend you read… #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Chef Quoc and Chef Ho Tin have mindfully crafted the menu for this festival, keeping the cuisine’s philosophy at the epicentre of their creations. “We had heard that Indians love flavourful food and enjoy a spicy affair

Flavours of Vietnam were well CUR8-ed!

Image credits: Chef Quoc 

It is true that good food takes you to places that you’ve never been before, and a real foodie travels to many such places in a lifetime. Having always been an enthusiast who is hungry for such culinary experiences, I indulged in the “Flavours of Vietnam.” It is an ongoing Vietnamese food festival happening at the Four Seasons Hotel that celebrates a fusion of tastes and cultures here in Bengaluru. 

I walked into CUR8, a restaurant that is well lit and has a pleasant ambience with many seating tables suitable for families. I saw that they offer a wide range of carefully selected dishes from around the world. Right from the Mediterranean salads and dips to regional Indian specialities, Chinese, the popular Italian pastas and pizzas, and other popular cuisines of the European regions, they were all up for grabs. 

However, the sound of sizzling meats, the aroma of lemongrass, galangal and turmeric drove me almost immediately towards the colourful array of Vietnamese delicacies placed in woks that were each covered with a black cloche and took the centre stage in the restaurant. Behind the counter was Chef Quoc preparing the meats and the fish for the parrillada grill to serve them up fresh to the guests. 

Chef Quoc and Chef Ho Tin have mindfully crafted the menu for this festival, keeping the cuisine’s philosophy at the epicentre of their creations. “We had heard that Indians love flavourful food and enjoy a spicy affair. I have eaten Indian food myself, and I knew that was true. Keeping the people in mind, we curated a menu weeks ago to give a Vietnamese dining experience that they won’t forget,” says chef Quoc. I was expecting everything Vietnamese apart from the usual pho (noodle soup), banh mi (sandwich), and goi cuon (rice paper spring rolls). Guess what! I got much more than what I expected! 

The fine balance of sweet, salty, sour, bitterness, and spice in the Vietnamese preparations is something that I had partially experienced at some restaurants in the city. But I was curious to know more and eager to indulge. A helping of wok-fried morning glory and bok choy was ideal to kick off the winter meal. The deep green colour of Morning glory was intimidating, and I expected it to be bitter. I could taste the salt and garlic flavours with a hint of bitterness. As I expected it to go overboard with bitterness and braced myself, I was surprised by the sweetness and crunch from the tender sprigs of morning glory and bok choy that were stir-fried just right with a rounded taste of the oyster sauce and red chilli flakes. 

I was intrigued and wanted to try more immediately. So, I dug into a mouthful of caramelised pork belly. The smoky bits had rendered themselves beautifully to the caramelised onions, seasoning of spices, sugar, and oyster sauce. The garnish of finely chopped spring onion and sesame seeds added a peppery and nutty flavour to the dish. 

Moving on, I paired the chicken cooked with bamboo shoots with sticky rice. The aroma of turmeric and citric lemon grass took over my palate. And the succulent pieces of perfectly cooked chicken with chopped bamboo shoots were blended skillfully with red chilies for heat and scallions for sweetness. Talk about balance! That is what it was. 

I took a break in the middle of my Vietnamese culinary tour to notice the pleasant live music performance that was harmoniously adding pep to the lively ambience. It was surprising to see how the traditional Vietnamese dishes seamlessly blended with international cuisine in a multicuisine buffet spread! 

I got chatty with the busy chef, who was now juggling between banh xeo chay (vegetable pancake) on the hot plate and a fresh salad at the counter. Chef Quoc explained how they follow the true principles of Central Vietnamese cuisine from the Quang Nam province and cook with fish sauce a lot. “We used our luggage space on the flight to bring many ingredients specifically for the food festival because the spice mix, celtuce, and other ingredients are difficult to find here,” says chef Quoc. At this point, I moved Vietnam to the top of my long-pending travel bucket list. 

For me, he made a fresh salad with prawns and rau tiến vua. The crunch was like that of asparagus, and my full attention was drawn to the pickled celtuce. It was the first time that I tried rau tiến vua or celtuce, which belongs to the lettuce family and is dehydrated to store. The chefs brought it all the way from Vietnam, rehydrated it, and pickled it themselves with vinegar and sugar here. Normally, I would eat the prawns and leave the salad alone, but this time I finished the plate of salad because of the asparagus-tasting rau tiến vua. And then came a plate of freshly deboned and grilled chicken wings with a marinade that had flavours of turmeric, lemongrass, oyster sauce, galangal, and garlic. The smoky char on the meat complemented the marinade beautifully. 

On a weekday, the restaurant was packed with families celebrating special moments at some tables. I returned to fill up my plate and met a friend who pointed at the banh xeo chay and asked me to try it. So, that’s just what I did. I got a helping of that, some sweet corn tofu, and clay-baked seabass. The pancakes with bean sprout filling were indulgent; the tofu was a tad bit sweet for my preference; and the clay-baked fish was cooked well with a marinade of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sliced onions, garlic, and Vietnamese red lady chilies At this point, I realised I had eaten to my heart’s content and decided to skip dessert in order to savour the aftertaste of what I had just experienced. 

“With people travelling places and trying different cuisines, the guests know what they want, and the response has been great,” says Aporve Baranwal, Director of Restaurants and Bars at the Four Seasons hotel. “It has been a big learning experience for my team, and we are drawing inspiration from our Vietnamese guest chefs for a few live counter recipes for our lunches, brunches, and dinner menu,” says Dirham Haque, Executive Chef of the Four Seasons hotel in Bengaluru.

By Slurrp.com – virtual encyclopaedia of food, compiled by a team of editors.

Must See In Vietnam is looking for stories from the Vietnam Expat Community. We would be delighted to publish your Experiences in Vietnam. Write to us at MustSeeInVietnam@Gmail.com

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Vietnam Travel Guide : Bac Ninh

For the two thousand years in existence, Bac Ninh is vivid in Vietnamese mind as a land of the talents: there were times that the province contributed as much as 25% of people with doctorate degree in Vietnam. The talent is not only shown academically but also artistically. Bac Ninh is where, without doubt, concentrates the highest density of handicraft villages in Vietnam. Bac Ninh … #MustSeeInVietnam. Your Editor

The northern province of Bac Ninh is known as being the keeper of many of Vietnam’s most fascinating – but often fading – historical and cultural traditions. 

WHEN TO GO

The Lim Festival, the Dau Pagoda Festival and the Do Temple Festival all take place in the cooler months from January to March. But the best time to visit Bac Ninh’s natural wonders and craft villages is in the summer and autumn. And then the Duong River’s fields of canola flowers bloom brightly at the end of the year, so photographers usually love to come in December.

WHAT TO EXPLORE

Lim Festival

The Lim Festival takes place every year from the 13th to 15th days of the first lunar month. Along with a solemn opening ceremony, the festival attracts tourists by hosting numerous traditional games such as wrestling, pot breaking, tug of war and a human chess competition. The main attraction of the festival is quan ho(Vietnamese folk music) singing competitions, where local singers perform traditional folk duets.

In September 2009, UNESCO designated Quan Ho Bac Ninh as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The singing originated in 49 quan ho villages in and around Bac Ninh centuries ago. Some localities in nieghboring Bac Giang Province are also known for the unique art form – a blend of poetry, song and a kind of lyrical call and response performance that takes place with couples singing duets to each other from different boats on a lake. This form of singing is frequently performed at new year festivals, but can also be seen and heard at any other special occasion, or even just when groups of friends and/or families gather for smaller get-togethers.

Bac Ninh, which hosts 500 large and small festivals annually, in addition to the Lim Festival, is known as the capital of traditional Vietnamese festivals.

Artisans perform quan ho. Photo by Vietnam National Administration of Tourism

Do Temple

The Do Temple Festival is held in the third lunar month, but travelers from around the world are welcome to come at any time of year. The temple was the residence of eight kings of the Ly dynasty.

The festival in Dinh Bang village honors King Ly Cong Uan (Ly Thai To), founder of the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225). The festival’s purpose is to express gratitude and pay homage to those who have helped the country, especially the Ly kings, while also praying for peace and happiness.

The festival includes procession ceremonies in honor of Queen Dowager Pham Thi, mother of King Ly Thai To, and eight other Ly Kings. The dragon dance, which expresses wishes for the prosperity of the local population, is also performed at the festival. Wrestling, human chess, and cockfighting are just some of the traditional sports locals participate at the event, which also includes rice cooking competitions, calligraphy, and quan ho singing.

Dinh Bang Communal House

The Dinh Bang Communal House, built entirely of wood, is a stunning piece of ancient architecture, Here, local Vietnamese have for hundreds of years worshiped the Mountain Spirit Cao Son Dai Vuong and the Water Spirit Thuy Ba Dai Vuong, who brought the land prosperity and peace. But Ming invaders destroyed the historic communal house in the 1400’s. However, 5 locals quickly rebuilt it once the Ming were expelled from Vietnam and now these craftsmen and artisans are worshiped alongside the two gods. 

Dinh Bang is located in the same captivating historical complex as Do Temple. Walking around here, you’ll feel you’ve been transported to another time hundreds of years ago.

Dinh Bang Communal House from the outside. Photo by Phan Duong

Tieu Pagoda

Tieu pagoda was a significant Buddhist center during the Ly Dynasty. The buildings are used to worship the Three Jewels of Buddhism, the Buddha (the exemplar), the dharma (the teachings), and the sangha (the community of practitioners). The pagoda also contains an ancestral house dedicated to worshiping the ancestors.

Zen Buddhist Monk Van Hanh, who raised King Ly Thai To, once chaired the pagoda.

In spite of numerous restorations, the pagoda has managed to preserve a number of its original architectural features from the Ly Dynasty, as well as the later Le Dynasty (1740–1786) and Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945).

Many rare artifacts and records chronicling the history of Vietnamese Buddhism are kept here, including ancient documents pertaining to the life and rule of King Ly Thai To, one of the founders of modern Vietnam. 

Curious visitors can also admire the mysterious and precious statue of Zen Master Nhu Tri, who collected the Buddhist sutras and popularized them throughout Vietnam. In addition, this is a rare pagoda in the north without a merit box, which is commonly placed in temples and pagodas so that visitors can donate money for temple repairs, daily operations, monks’ salaries, and charitable donations.

The ancient Tieu Pagoda stands out in the middle of the mountain. Photo by VnExpress

Dau Pagoda

Dau Pagoda was first built in 187 and completed in 226 near the Luy Lau citadel. The pagoda attracts visitors not only to pray for world peace but also to view its distinctive architecture, which includes the Hoa Phong tower in the center. In 1313, during the reign of King Tran Anh Tong, Confucian scholar Mac Dinh Chi restored the pagoda and built the tower. Inside the tower, there is a set of bronze bells cast respectively in 1793 and 1817.

Views of Dau Pagoda from the outside. Photos by VnExpress

chua-dau-bac-ninh-vnexpress-2-7178-9655-

Phat Tich Temple

Phat Tich Temple is an ancient gem on Lan Kha Mountain. Ten unique kneeling animal statues from the 11th century guard the temple, thanks to artists who created them during the powerful Ly Dynasty.

These are all original, one-of-a-kind sandstone artifacts. Standing watch at the Three Jewels Gate are stone spirit beasts, including lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinoceroses, and horses, which are arranged in pairs.

The elephant artifact in Phat Tich Temple. Photo by VnExpress.

Cung Temple – Ngoc Well

Cung Temple is located in Bac Ninh City’s Diem village and is famous for it’s local legend about defending Vietnam from foreign invaders: the imperial army came here to pray while engaged in combat with the enemy along the Cau River, and the battle was won.

In the middle of the courtyard of Cung Temple is Ngoc Well. Visitors frequently get water from the well to drink on hot days after visiting and entering the temple to make offerings. To get water, visitors have to leave their shoes and sandals on the shore and walk barefoot down. Water from the well can be drunk directly without filtering or boiling, it will have a cool, natural sweetness.

At the beginning of the year, thousands of tourists go to Cung Temple (Viem Xa village, Bac Ninh) to drink water from the Ngoc well, hoping for good health, youth, and beauty. Photo by Tien Dat

Dong Ho Painting Village

Dong Ho village, on the Duong River’s bank in the Thuan Thanh District, is well known for its paintings depicting national identities. The paintings of Dong Ho village are not painted but printed with printing molds. A painter with strong drawing skills is necessary to achieve a sophisticated level of painting on the molds. The paper used to print pictures is called “diep paper,” and it is made from “do paper,” which is made from the do tree’s inner bark and then mixed with powdered scallop shells. The colors and images will have a natural harmony once printed as pictures.

Artists use the image of a mouse in many works. Photo by VnExpress

Phu Lang Pottery Village

Phu Lang Pottery Village, Que Vo District, was recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016. it is easy to see images of ceramic products lining the streets of Phu Lang. In addition to household products such as pots and jars, Phu Lang pottery is also used for interior and exterior decoration.

Here, ceramics here have brown, black, and light yellow colors. Each finished product goes through many stages from shaping, cutting mold, drying, firing, etc. The use of carving-based embossment techniques is the highlight of Phu Lang pottery. This method allows the product to have a natural, durable and unique appearance. The pottery’s rough but sturdy shape exemplifies the beauty of earth and fire.

Visitors can try creating the patterns on ceramic products. Photo by Pham Trac Vu

Le Chi Vien Relic Area

The relic is located in Dai Lai village, Dai Lai Commune, Gia Binh District. This is the place to worship the national hero Nguyen Trai, who fought alongside Le Loi, a Vietnamese rebel leader who founded the Later Le dynasty against the Ming invaders and made great contributions to the nation’s glorious victories. 

He was also the author of 110 poems and Binh Ngo Dai Cao (Great Proclamation upon the Pacification of the Wu), one of the nation’s first declarations of independence. Nguyen Trai’s concubine Nguyen Thi Lo is also worshipped here. The Le Chi Vien relic area is also associated with King Le Thai Tong’s death, who died at Nguyen Trai’s house. 

Nguyen Trai was accused of killing the king and together with members of his family was executed in 1442. In 1464, King Le Thanh Tong cleared his name and made his surviving son an officer of the royal court.

In 2010, this area was named a Provincial Historical and Cultural Relic by the Bac Ninh Provincial People’s Committee.

WHERE TO STAY

In Bac Ninh, you can easily find a variety of homestays, hotels, and motels at various price points.

Homestays like My Retreat – Hien Van, Jungle House Bac Ninh, and Zen Villa are excellent options if you’re traveling in a large group with friends or family. For a group of four to eight people, the cost per night is between VND2,000,000 and 3,000,000 (US$84.98 and 127.50).

My Retreat – Hien Van. Photo courtesy of the homestay

Hotels like Le Indochina Hotel, Muong Thanh Luxury Bac Ninh, and Mandala Hotel & Spa can be booked for between VND1,000,000 and 1,600,000 ($42.54-68.07) per night if you prefer a more private and plush experience.

The Muong Thanh Luxury Bac Ninh commands the Bac Ninh skyline. Photo courtesy of the hotel

You can also find less expensive options like the Hana Apartment & Hotel, Asia Apartment Hotel Bac Ninh, and Xuan Hoa Motel. The prices at these quaint locations range from VND300,000 to 450,000 (US$12,74 – 19,12) per night. 

WHAT TO EAT

Dinh Bang’s Phu The Cake – Dinh Bang’s conjugal cake

Dinh Bang Phu The cake (conjugal cake) is a specialty of Bac Ninh. The cake is boiled after being wrapped in the dong leaves (that are used to wrap the Tet square cakes banh chung). Under the transparent yellow crust, the cake appears inviting. The cook also adds white sugar, copra, lotus seeds, and five spices to the steamed, and mashed green beans. Cake flour is made from glutinous rice, milled then filtered to extract the essence, squeezed and then dried. The elastic texture of sticky rice, the crunchiness of papaya, the rich taste of green beans, copra and lotus seeds, the sweetness of sugar…, all blend together creating such a flavorful combination.

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Phu The Cake has an appealing appearance. Photo by Le Bich.

Banh Te – Rice Cake

Banh te – rice cake is a specialty of Cho village in Yen Phong District. Plain rice with a pleasant aroma and average softness is frequently chosen by the residents of Cho village as the primary ingredient to produce the cake. 

The filling includes pork rump or shoulder meat, wood ear mushroom, fried shallots, seasoning, fish sauce, and pepper. The cake tastes best when eaten hot. The fragrant aroma of the cake combined with the aroma of dong leaves will draw in diners. The cake has a soft and chewy texture. 

Banh te is wrapped in dong leaves. Photo by Phung Dung

Nem Bui – Fermented Pork 

When visiting Bac Ninh, travelers should not skip nem bui – fermented pork, one of the famous dishes here. The residents also call this dish nem thinh, as thinh – ground roasted rice is a crucial ingredient in this cuisine. Depending on each person’s preference, the fermented pork can be wrapped with fig leaves and dipped in chili sauce or fish sauce.

You will feel the sharp taste of the fig leaves, the sweetness of the meat and the aroma of the roasted rice powder. The dish originated in Bui village, Ninh Xa Commune, Thuan Thanh District. In the past few years, this cuisine has become more popular and is known of as a delicious and cheap dish.

Nem bui is an affordable treat among the residents of Bac Ninh. Photo by Phong Vinh

Diem Village’s Banh Khuc – Sticky Rice Balls

Banh khuc – sticky rice balls are made on Tet holidays, summer festivals, full moon or the first day of the lunar month to invite relatives and guests. To make the rice balls, the residents of Diem village pick cudweed leaves that grow along vacant lots, alluvial land along rivers, and fields.

The residents of Diem village start preparing banh khuc whenever a visitor arrives because it doesn’t take long to make. The sticky rice ball is a unique flavor impossible to find elsewhere. Diners can easily eat 4 to 5 balls and still crave more.

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Cudweed leaves (R) are a key ingredient in banh khuc. Photos by Vy An

Van Village’s Wine

An essential souvenir for visitors to Bac Ninh is Van village’s wine. The wine is made with glutinous rice, heirloom yeast, and 35 rare medicinal herbs that give it a smooth, rich flavor.

HOW TO GET THERE

Bac Ninh is about 40 kilometers from Hanoi, and it takes an hour to get there. This is a suitable destination for cultural tourism activities on the weekend. Transportation from Hanoi is quite convenient, as you can choose to travel by motorbike, private car, taxi or bus.

Traveling by bus is time consuming, but is the cheapest option among other transportations. A bus ticket from Hanoi to Bac Ninh costs about VND10,000 (43 cents). 

The urban center of Bac Ninh province. Photo by Ba Do

Story by Du Hy, Phuc Trinh For Travel Guide of E.VnExpress.net

Must See In Vietnam is looking for stories from the Vietnam Expat Community. We would be delighted to publish your Experiences in Vietnam. Write to us at MustSeeInVietnam@Gmail.com

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6 foods worth trying while staying in Vung Tau

Seeing is simply seeing without knowing about what is being seen. To have fun while eating, the perception of the five senses (taste, smell, sight, touch and hearing) is very important. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Travelers coming to the southern coastal town Vung Tau can enjoy many local specialties, such as fried mini pancakes, salted egg sponge cake, stingray hotpot, and snail dishes.

Vung Tau, 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, is not just a warm and sunny destination with pleasant temps that are perfect for beach activities, it also offers a wide range of delicious dishes. If you’re planning to visit Vung Tau, but still don’t know what to eat, here are some of the dishes that you should not miss when there.

Lau ca duoi – stingray hotpot

This hotpot is one of the most favored dishes among travelers. Only the adult stingrays have bones, but they are soft and crunchy, and thus the stingray meat is firm. A hotpot set includes marinated stingray cut into pieces and a sour and spicy broth made of various ingredients. A side of sour bamboo, water morning glory, elephant ear taro, herbs, fresh vermicelli plus chili fish sauce are served along with the hotpot. Diners can enjoy stingray hotpot all year round since stingrays are always available in Vung Tau.

Soft stingray meat cooked in a rich, sweet and sour broth. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien.

Soft stingray meat cooked in a rich, sweet and sour broth. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien.

Suggested venues: 18 Hung Vuong Street, 15 Nguyen Truong To Street, 68 Nguyen Truong To Street, 1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, 44 Truong Cong Dinh Street.

Banh khot – savory mini pancakes

Banh khot – fried mini pancakes – are made of rice flour and are topped with shrimp before being cooked on an aluminum or stainless steel platter with a series of slots. When frying the cake, the chef will fill the platter with oil, then add the flour and shrimp, and cook until the pancakes become golden. When placing the cake on the plate, the cook will add shredded shrimp and scallion oil.

The mini pancakes are served hot and have a crispy crust. They are filled with rich coconut milk. A set of banh khot is served with shredded papaya, mustard greens, lettuce, herbs, and sweet and sour fish sauce.

The crispy savory mini pancakes are served with sweet and sour fish sauce. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi.

The crispy savory mini pancakes are served with sweet and sour fish sauce. Photo by VnExpress/Huynh Nhi

Suggested venues: 3 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, 42 Tran Dong Street, 14 Nguyen Truong To Street, 1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, 59 Ba Trieu Street, 19 Hoang Hoa Tham Street.

Banh bong lan trung muoi – salted egg sponge cake

The salted egg sponge cake is soft and full of butter flavor, with a taste of rich salted egg.

The cake can be a great choice of gift for friends and relatives if you’re looking for something to bring back from your trip to Vung Tau.

A box of salted egg sponge cakes is a great souvenir. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien.

Baskets offering salted egg sponge cakes at a shop in Vung Tau. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien

Suggested venues: 17B Nguyen Truong To Street, 6 Do Chieu Street, 14B Nguyen Truong To Street, 129 Le Lai Street, 11 Nguyen Kim Street, 36 Ba Trieu Street

Snail dishes

Tourists should not miss seafood while in Vung Tau, as this is a city by the sea. Vung Tau has a diverse variety of seafood for you to try.

There are many types of fresh snails in Vung Tau. You can choose different cooking methods such as grilled, steamed, or sautéed. Try the stir-fried snails with tamarind sauce, stir-fried snails with coconut milk, stir-fried snails with garlic butter, grilled oysters with cheese, steamed snails with lemongrass, or grilled scallops with scallion oil. Dipping sauces such as lime and chili salt, lime and pepper salt, and sweet and sour fish sauce are served with these dishes.

Stir-fried snails with tamarind sauce are one of the favorite dishes among diners. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien.

Stir-fried snails with tamarind sauce are one of the favorite dishes among diners in Vung Tau. Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Thien.

Suggested venues: 3 Tran Phu Street, 121 Ly Tu Trong Street, 23 Pham Ngoc Thach Street, 32 Le Quy Don Street, 37 Nguyen Truong To Street, 89 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, 2 Hoang Dieu Street

Banh canh ghe – sentinel crab noodle soup

Another seafood dish that is a must try while staying in Vung Tau is sentinel crab noodle soup. The thick noodles have a milky white color, are firm and chewy, and are eaten with shredded sentinel crab meat (or a whole sentinel crab in some places), crab cake, pork blood pudding, quail eggs and greens. The rich and thick broth with a strong seafood aroma is the soul of this dish.

Suggested venues: 62 Tu Xuong Street, 73 Le Lai Street, 125 Vo Thi Sau Street, 109 Vo Thi Sau Street, 88 Le Lai Street, 33A Hoang Hoa Tham Street

Hu tieu muc – squid noodle soup

This noodle soup attracts diners thanks to the special taste that emanates from the white noodles combined with fatty egg yolks, eaten with lean meatballs, chives, fresh squid, and a rich broth simmered from bones. Sauces such as green chili salt and soy sauce are recommended when enjoying a bowl of squid noodle soup.

Fresh squid added to the bowl creates a unique flavor. Photo by VnExpress/ Di Vy

Fresh squid added to the bowl creates a unique flavor. Photo by VnExpress/ Di Vy

Suggested venues: 1 Vo Van Kiet Street, 19 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, 32 Dong Khoi Street, 73 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, 3 Le Hong Phong Street

By Khanh Thien for E.VnExpress.net

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Hai Phong Eatery’s Success Story – A Must See in Vietnam

I am very happy to present to you this morning this little Eatery in Hải Phong which has been serving more than 500 of this delicious meal for 30 years. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Nguyen Thi Chuyen has sold banh duc Tau, a type of steamed rice cake, in Hai Phong’s Le Chan District since 1989.

More than 10 people are seated on the sidewalk in front of a home at 159 Hai Ba Trung Street on a chilly evening enjoying the delicious food.

Smooth and soft jelly rice cake is included in a bowl of steamed rice cake together with shrimp, pork, and papaya. Before serving, a kind of spicy, sweet, and vinegary sauce will be drizzled on top.

Banh duc Tau, a beloved street food of Hai Phong. Photo by VnExpress/ Le Tan

Banh duc Tau, a beloved street food of Hai Phong. Photo by VnExpress/ Le Tan

Chuyen, 61, explained that banh duc Tau has Chinese origins.

She learned how to make this dish from her aunt Hoa, who married into a Chinese family in Hai Phong. “Hoa was one of the first people to sell this dish in Hai Phong,” said Chuyen. “She had been selling it for 30 years when I started working with her in 1985.”

After her aunt taught her how to make the dish in 1989, Chuyen decided to sell this dish by herself in front of 189 Cat Dai Alley. In 2021, she moved to the current location. According to the vendor, the cake is made from flour, and it is white, smooth, dry, and tougher than the traditional Vietnamese steamed rice cake due to the wooden tray used to steam it.

In order to prepare the rice for soaking, Chuyen and her husband must get up at 4 a.m. She says that to prevent the cake from getting ruined, only good grade plain rice is used–not glutinous rice.

Chuyen has been selling steamed rice cakes since 1989. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

Chuyen has been selling steamed rice cakes since 1989. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

The rice is then mixed with a little salt and then ground into a mixture. While grinding the flour, her husband puts a pot of water on to boil to steam the cake. When the water has boiled, the flour is poured into different layers one centimeter thick on a tray measuring 60 x 15 centimeters for steaming. “If the cake is made at 6 in the morning, it will be sold immediately at 7 that morning, Chuyen explained. “I will make a new batch in the afternoon instead of using old cakes stored in the fridge.”

Green papaya is peeled, washed, diced into small pieces, boiled in water and then mixed with a little cashew powder. Bite-sized pieces of pork belly and shrimp with their antennae removed are stir-fried together. The toppings are kept separate until there is an order, then they are put on top of the cake to make it more appealing.

Depending on the number of toppings, a bowl of steamed rice cake can cost anywhere from VND12,000 to VND20,000 (50 to 85 cents).

“Some customers like to eat a lot of cakes, others like to have more papaya or shrimp, and children can’t eat spicy food,” she said. “So I will make the orders based on the customers’ preferences,” said Chuyen while making an order.

Chuyens stall is always crowded with customers. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

Chuyen’s stall is always crowded with customers. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tan

The eatery is located on the sidewalk, so the layout is very simple. Chuyen sits behind a platter of cakes, surrounded by bowls, spoons, and condiments such as fish sauce and vinegar. Since there are no tables, guests who come to eat sit together on small chairs. “It’s a simple set up, but this vendor has existed for more than 30 years, selling 500 bowls a day,” said Chuyen.

Luu Kim Duong, a 44-year-old resident of Hai Phong’s Hai An District, said that the dish combines the rich taste of pork belly with the sweetness of shrimp, the crunchiness of papaya and the softness of cake. Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Minh Hoa, a 55-year-old tourist from Hanoi, said that there were other places in Hai Phong selling this dish, such as the vendors at Co Dao Market, Luong Van Can Market, and May Da Market. But she believes Chuyen is the best one.

In 2022, Chuyen’s steamed rice cake was put on the food map by the Hai Phong City Tourism Department.

Written by Le Tan for E.VnExpress.net

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4 Private Kitchens in Hanoi

Private Kitchen is a popular trend in Hong Kong, among others, and it’s a great way to discover local cuisine in a private atmosphere, in a small group. Check out these four restaurants in HanoiYou will simply Love it ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

These inviting eateries offer dishes that taste just like a traditional northern Vietnamese family meal.

Xoi Com

Xoi Com offers a rotating menu of various homestyle northern dishes. Photo by VnExpress/ Phuong Anh.

Xoi Com offers a rotating menu of various homestyle northern dishes. Photo by VnExpress/ Phuong Anh

Here diners are given a pair of extra long wooden chopsticks, like the ones used in the subsidy period, with which to xoi com (scoop their rice). The room is furnished with wooden tables and chairs in a simple, country style.

Diners can order classic family dishes like braised pork, braised fish, and malabar spinach soup with crab. The menu is altered daily and is never boring. The shop’s location in an alley makes it a little challenging to find. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll need to pay to park outside the Vinaconex building.

Address: 107 Alley, 36 Lang Ha Street

Price: VND15,000–150,000 (64 cents–$6.40) per dish.

Tam Vi

All dishes are cooked Northern Vietnam homestyle. Photo courtesy by Tam Vi.

A typical meal with fried, braised, stir-fried dishes and soup at Tam Vi. Photo courtesy of Tam Vi

All of the dishes at Tam Vi, according to the restaurant, are made with fresh ingredients from morning markets. Tam Vi has a rustic appearance, and the bowls, chopsticks, tables, and chairs have all been chosen with care. The atmosphere of the restaurant may remind diners of an old northern home.

Tam Vi’s menu is all based on seasonal ingredients and thus is sometimes quite small. “We would like to introduce you to our memories of a family meal,” says the restaurant’s menu.

Address: 4B Yen The Street

Price: VND55,000 – 400,000 ($2.35 – 17.06) per dish

Au O Vietnam kitchen

The spacious dining area of Au O. Photo courtesy by Au O.

The spacious dining area of Au O. Photo courtesy by Au O.

The name of the restaurant comes from two words “au o” like a Vietnamese mother’s lullaby, recalling old memories.

With plenty of room and natural light, Au O Vietnam Kitchen is a great place to enjoy a meal with friends or gather as a family. They serve more than 200 dishes from all three regions of Vietnam here. Compared to the previous two restaurants, this one has a slightly higher price. It’s often busy, so the fresh food that’s made to order can take a while to arrive.

Address: 15 Ly Thuong Kiet Street

Price: from VND15,000 to more than 1,000,000 (64 cents to $42.64) per dish

Cua Hang Mau Dich So 37 – State Department Store Number 37

The restaurant is decorated in the style of the subsidy period. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Trung.

Cua Hang Mau Dich restaurant is decorated in the style of the subsidy period. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Trung.

This restaurant’s design is inspired by the subsidy period. Here, diners can relive the old Hanoi years. If it feels realistic, that’s because it is: the owner decorated the establishment with real antiques from his collection, many of which are 50 years old or more. Not just the space, but the menu of Cua Hang Mau Dich So 37 is also strongly influenced by the old days. Items such as scorched rice, mixed rice, steamed rice cake, and pickles, are all served on enameled iron bowls and plates. The space, though, is somewhat constrained and is best suited for little groups.

Address: 158 Tran Vu Street/22 Nam Trang Street

Price: VND40,000 – 150,000 (USD 1.71 – 6.40) per dish

By Phuong Anh for E.VnExpress.net

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Coca-Cola Vietnam set record the world’s largest Vietnamese Tet meal table.

I take my hat off to Coca Cola Vietnam, which is socially involved in helping the poorest and promoting Vietnam around the world! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Coca-Cola Vietnam set a world record for the largest Vietnamese Tet meal table with the participation of 1,000 multi-generation families in Ho Chi Minh City on January 8.

The meal was recognized as a record-setting event by the World Records Union (Worldkings). This record honors the tradition of family reunions over Tet meals and conveys the message that Tet may change, but the magic remains.

A total of 436 tables were arranged into the shape of two Coca-Cola bottles at Hoa Lu Stadium. More than 3,000 people from 1,000 Vietnamese families were seated around the tables to enjoy a Tet party with a variety of traditional dishes and share memories of past family reunions.

After two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Coca-Cola’s Tet event has returned, highlighting the meaning of family reunion that Coca-Cola wishes to bring to Vietnamese consumers.

Coca-Cola and the Vietnam Red Cross held 0 VND Tet Market to supports households and underprivileged people. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

Coca-Cola Vietnam wins a world record for the world’s largest Vietnamese Tet meal table. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

Leonardo Garcia, General Director of Coca-Cola Vietnam and Cambodia, said: “Coca-Cola has been part of millions of Vietnamese family dinners for almost 30 years. We know how important the Tet reunion meal is for Vietnamese. This year, with the Timeless Magic Table event, we bring back the memories of old Tet family meals with an ice-cold Coke, because we know those meals can connect family members of all generations, something that never changes.”

1,000 multi-generational families gather at Hoa Lu Stadium to set  record of Vietnamese Tet table. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

1,000 multi-generation families gather at Hoa Lu Stadium to set a world record of the largest Vietnamese Tet table. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

Also in this event, Coca-Cola together with partner Al’s Fresco set the record for “The organization that gives away 1,000 pizzas to serve the most families in the same event in Vietnam.”

The record was officially recognized by the World Records Union (Worldkings).

Proud to be part of the Tet meals of millions of Vietnamese families, Coca-Cola is also striving to preserve and promote the values of friendship and community every Tet season.

This year, Coca-Cola Vietnam has supported more than 5,400 underprivileged people across Vietnam with a total value of VND5.3 billion to help them celebrate Tet. This was achieved thanks also to the contribution of the community, the companion of associations, unions, strategic partners of the company as well as local authorities.

Leonardo Garcia, General Director of Coca-Cola Vietnam and Cambodia. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

Leonardo Garcia, General Director of Coca-Cola Vietnam and Cambodia. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

Early on, Coca-Cola launched a campaign to contribute VND15,000 to the Vietnam Red Cross Tet Fund each time consumers interacted with the brand on its website. Coca-Cola and Vietnam Red Cross have supported 3,000 underprivileged people across the country through “0 VND Tet Market.”

Under the campaign, more than 4,000 chung and tet cakes will also be sent to students, homeless, and self-employed people in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, who cannot return to their hometown to celebrate Tet.

In addition to the partnership with Vietnam Red Cross, this year, Coca-Cola has continued its tradition of handing out Tet gifts to families and disadvantaged people in the neighborhood of its factories. The program is supported and accompanied by the local People’s Committee, Women’s Unions and Departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs to present 2,400 Tet gifts to underprivileged people and families in 13 provinces and cities.

Coca-Cola Vietnam set the world’s largest Vietnamese Tet meal table. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

Coca-Cola and the Vietnam Red Cross hand gift packages at the “0 VND Tet Market” to supports underprivileged people. Photo by Coca-Cola Vietnam

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Tet Holiday – Vietnam Traditional Lunar New Year

The Cat is the fourth of all zodiac animals. Legend has it the Cat was proud—arrogant even—of its speed. He was neighbors with Ox and always made fun of how slow Ox was. The New Year celebrations have already begun…the Vietnamese love the occasions to feast. End-of-year parties (offices, associations, etc…) the Lunar New Year begins on January 21 and the festivities should continue until … umm … the end of the month? in the meantime I prepare myself by listening to the song of Cat Stevens … The Year of the Cat! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Tet Holiday – an occasion to enjoy life after a full hard-working year. So how do we celebrate Tet Holiday in Vietnam? Follow us in this blog!

Tet Holiday – Tet Nguyen Dan, more commonly known by its shortened name Tet. It is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam. It is the Vietnamese New Year marking the arrival of spring based on the Lunar calendar. The name Tet Nguyen Dan is Sino-Vietnamese for Feast of the First Morning. Tet Holiday is coming so let’s take a look at some traditions and customs of this special holiday in Vietnam.

Tet Holiday 2023 calendar – Year of the cat

The dates of the Lunar New Year differ every year but it generally takes place around late January or February. This year, under the plan from the government, officials, civil servants, and workers of public agencies will begin their 2023 Tet holiday from January 20 (the 29th day of the 12th lunar month) to January 26 (the fifth day of the first lunar month). In this time period, companies (including ABROADER) in the country will not be working to celebrate the great holiday of the year.

Tet Holiday 2023 calendar

Tet is different from Chinese New Year

While Tet shares many similarities with Chinese New Year such as Lunar Calendar system, there is more to differentiate. For instance, the zodiac animal of 2023 is Cat while in other countries, the spiritual animal is Lyn. Vietnamese people consider Tet Holiday the best occasion for family members to return home and get together. During Tet, Vietnamese spend time shopping for the New Year and going to Pagodas and Temples. The items of shopping range from food to clothing to decorations for the house. The Vietnamese believe that Tet Holiday is an occasion to enjoy life after a full hard-working year. Thus people forget their struggles and focus on making the celebration as festive as possible. With high regard, Tet is unique, with distinctive colors and flavors of truly celebrate the new year.

Family meal on Tet holiday – Cre: elLotte

Food

Banh chung (Sticky square cake)

Banh Chung is a food that they make from glutinous rice, mung bean, and pork, added with many other ingredients. It is covered by green leaves and symbolizes the Earth, invented by prince Lang Lieu from the Hung King dynasty. Banh Chung is the main food for the Tet holiday because it can last for long days in Vietnamese weather. And families usually store Banh Chung at room temperature for nearly 1 month.

Gio, cha (Vietnamese sausage)

Vietnamese ham/sausage – Gio/Cha is another traditional food on Tết holiday. We usually serve it with Xoi (sticky rice) and Banh Chung. Gio is different from Cha since Gio is boiled and Cha is deep-fried. Cha is also made of lean pork and ingredients. However, they do not wrap Cha in leaves and boiled but deep-fried in oil.

Thit kho hot vit (Braised Pork Belly with Duck Egg)

This dish is more popular in the South than in the North. However, no one can deny the irresistible aroma, flavor, and great compatibility of this dish. People cook Pork Belly and Egg with coconut juice and fish sauce until it becomes tender and absorb all those unique flavors. The dish is so universal and easy to make that it has become one of the most popular dishes served during the Tet Holiday.

Xoi (Sticky rice)

Xoi is also a very important part of the Tet holiday in Vietnam, along with Banh Chung, Xoi is the main staple food for the Tết holiday. It has many forms: Xoi Lac (sticky rice with peanuts), Xoi Đo Xanh (sticky rice with mung bean), Xoi Gac (sticky rice with special “gac” fruit). Among these types, xôi gấc is the favorite the most people because of its special red color – which symbolizes luck and new achievement for the New Year.

Mut (Sugar-coated fruit)

Mut Tet (Tet Sugar-coated fruit) is not a food to serve in a meal during the Tet holiday, but more like a snack to welcome guests in this special period. This once-in-year mix of snacks is very large in variety, with so many tastes: ginger, carrot, coconut, pineapple, pumpkin, lotus seed, star fruit, etc.

And there is also a lot more unique food in Vietnam, awaiting you to try. Find out more right here.

Traditional customs

Even though many Vietnamese traditions are based on old cultural beliefs that may strike some as a little superstitious, families believe that their activities during Tet must involve happiness, joy, and good luck. Below are some of the popular, long-standing Tet traditional customs that have stood the test of time from generation to generation.

Giving Li xi (lucky money)

The first day of the Tet holiday is for the nuclear family. Children receive a red envelope containing money from their elders. This tradition is called “mung tuoi” (happy new age) in the north and lì xì in the south. Usually, children wear their new clothes and give their elders the traditional Tết greetings before receiving the money.

Xông nhà

Since the Vietnamese believe that the first visitor a family receives in the year determines their fortune for the entire year, people never enter any house on the first day without being invited first. People call the act of being the first person to enter the home on Tet Holiday “xong dat, xong nha or dap dat”, which is one of the most important rituals during Tết. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things come to the family on the first day of the lunar New Year, the following year will also be full of blessings. Usually, a person of good temper, morality, and success will be a lucky sign for the host family.
During subsequent days, people visit relatives and friends. Traditionally but not strictly, the second and even painting their home in anticipation of spring, settle old debts and disputes, and pledge to behave nicely and work hard in the new year.

Decorations

Traditionally, each family displays “Cay neu”, an artificial New Year Tree consisting of a bamboo pole 5 to 6 m long. The top end is usually decorated with many objects, depending on the locality, including good luck charms, origami fish, cactus branches, etc.
At Tet, we decorate every house with “hoa mai” – Ochna integerrima (in the central and southern parts of Vietnam) or “hoa đao” – cherry blossom (in the northern part of Vietnam) or “hoa ban” (in mountain areas). In the north or central, the kumquat tree is a popular decoration for the living room during Tet. Its bright orange-colored fruits represent the fertility and fruitfulness that the family hopes for in the coming year. And how to decorate the house, you can reference this article.

House decoration. Cre: Arture Design

The New Year is coming around the corner. Chuc mung name moi and may you have a year of exploring starting with a journey to Vietnam!

Famous people born in the Year Of The Cat:


Lionel Messi, Brad Pitt, Tunku Abdul Rahman, David Beckham, Mohamad Ridzuan, Tina Turner, Tan Boon Heong, Alex Rodriguez, Frank Sinatra, Angelina Jolie, Gilbert Bécaud, Anthony Quinn, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Whitney Houston, Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Benjamin Bratt, Bodie Olmos, Johnny Depp, Cesar Chavez, Charlize Theron, Whitney Houston, Gina Lollobrigida, Gin Lee, Chris Cooper, Confucius, Drew Barrymore, Einstein, Enrique Iglesias, Michael Jordan, Eva Longoria, Fernando Lamas, Francis Ford Coppola, Freddy Rodríguez, Germaine Greer, Geoffrey Rush, Jane Seymour, Kate Winslet, Michael Jordan, Michael Keaton, Nanette Newman, Neil Sedaka, Nicolas Cage, Olga San Juan, Orson Welles, Rudolph Nureyev, Steven Segal, Tina Turner.

This is an article published by https://abroader.org/

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Vietnam Architecture – House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

Since 1970, several more traditional appearing buildings have been constructed, but the modern movement, as well as the technology of this and earlier movements have become more powerful. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are home to many modern buildings, constructed from concrete, glass and other modern materials. Here is a very inspiring and luxurious model. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

The skylight of a home in central Thanh Hoa Province, inspired by the bodice worn by northern women in the past, provides architectural softness and shields sunlight from above. 

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

The three-story, 260-square-meter house is situated in urban section of the province’s Thanh Hoa Town. Architects are only allowed to restore the inside of the structure as they are not permitted to modify the façade of the property, which would impact the surrounding landscape.

The architects chose an Indochinese style of architecture which combines French neoclassical architecture and traditional Asian materials to mix contemporary and local cultural aspects as the owners desire a warm living environment for family members.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

The skylight in the form of a silk ribbon is the focal point of the house. It also welcomes the first morning rays into the house. The silk ribbon is created in the atrium area and spans one story from the third to the second floor. The silk-shaped skylight not only softens the area, but also screens direct sunlight from above, making the light entering the home softer and glare-free.

The silk ribbon, according to the architect, is comprised of a thin concrete mesh-steel frame with just two very tiny touch points on the second floor. As a result, it was a challenge to give this concrete block a soft appearance while maintaining the structure’s solidity.

“The silk ribbon is reminiscent of the swinging bodice worn by northern ladies in the spring,” said one of the architects. “I want to incorporate such lyrical beauty into the architecture of contemporary structures.”

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

A glass roof system atop the “silk ribbon” with white painted iron motifs and a curving timber lattice system evokes the roofs of typical northern houses while also giving protection from the direct sunlight above.

This design generates elegance and decreases the amount of direct light entering the home.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

Everything must be ordered and have principles in the Indochinese style, yet the architects reduce the living area to show off the house’s contemporary design.

The predominant color of the house is white, which contrasts with the rich brown of the inside – both of which are characteristic of the Indochinese style. The majority of the wood utilized in the home is oak.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

The Indochinese style is particularly visible in the living and dining rooms, which include bamboo and rattan furniture as well as traditional ornamental themes.

The shoe cabinet links to the first-floor toilet and extends across the kitchen to create a continuous room. This design practically conceals the bathroom without detracting from the overall attractiveness.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

Floral tiles are often utilized for flooring in Indochinese interior design.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

The second-floor lobby area around the atrium is intended to be a reading space. With this style, everyone in the home feels comfortable and calm, and they can easily engage with one another.

The atrium from the first floor to the top aids in air circulation and natural lighting throughout the structure. Through glass walls, light from this section readily enters private areas.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

The hallway leading to the dressing room is decorated with classic flower tiles that include both traditional and contemporary elements.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

The home reliefs are oil paintings on canvas with a wooden frame structure.

The whole substance of the paintings is based on the architects’ thoughts and recommendations to complement the overall design of the home.

House dons silk ribbon-inspired skylight

Traditional flower tiles are also used to pave the toilet area. Because standard bathtubs are unsuitable for the residence, the homeowners ordered a bespoke bathtub.

The house was constructed in 15 months during the Covid-19 pandemic at an undisclosed cost.

Written by Trang Vỹ & Photos by WuyHoang Studio for E.VnExpress.net

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A list of Must Try dishes in Hai Phong

For each region there are specialties with their own recipe. This is also the case of Hai Phong, a port city located about one hundred kilometers from Hanoi. Yet the street food in Hai Phong is far from identical to that of Hanoi, Saigon or other areas. Together, let’s discover what makes it so special by citing its most famous dishes. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

In the northern city of Hai Phong, from the early morning to late at night, visitors can enjoy a variety of food and drinks.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

In recent years, food tours have played a major role in Hai Phong tourism. The Hai Phong Department of Tourism has released a Hai Phong food tour map, so that tourists and residents can easily find and enjoy local food. In the photo is Cat Bi market, one of the destinations on the Hai Phong food tour map.

Duy Tung, 28, born and raised in Hai Phong, is passionate about the cuisine in this port city. Tung often explores famous eateries in the city to introduce them to other people.

“Coming to Hai Phong, even in a small alley or a roadside market, visitors can still find small vendors selling foods and drinks. Besides the three main meals, the locals have the habit of having snacks,” Tung said.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

According to Tung, when you start a food tour in the morning, you can choose a true Hai Phong-style breakfast with a bowl of crab noodle soup. They are sold all over the city, at the beginning of any alley, or in restaurants such as Bao Yen restaurant at 29/31 Nguyen Binh Khiem street, or Lach Tray Crab Noodle Soup at 48 Lach Tray street, lane 195 Cau Dat.

Tung said that the crab noodle soup sold at the beginning of the small alley had the most Hai Phong characteristics, as they were sold for locals. The red rice noodles are cooked in sweet crab broth, served with shrimp, thin slices of meat, pork rolls in wild betel leaves, and crispy fried pork fat. Restaurants usually cater to more tourists. “Even if you are a tourist, you should try a bowl of crab noodle soup sold in small alleys. It has the traditional taste with a cheap price, only about VND25,000 to 30,000 (US$1.06-1.27),” Tung said.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

If you don’t like soup, you can have bread sticks with fatty pate filled with chi chuong – a special kind of Hai Phong chili sauce, and a cup of coconut coffee to cool your mouth down after eating the spicy bread sticks. 

Places where you can enjoy such bread sticks include Old Lady at 57A Le Loi street or Spicy Bread and Thai Tea at 37 Dinh Tien Hoang street. However, visitors need to queue and buy before 8 in the morning because these shops are quite famous, and only sell a limited amount of bread per day. “If you want to buy a huge number of bread sticks as a gift, you have to order 1 to 2 hours in advance because the bread is only made per order,” Tung noted.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

Other dishes sold in the afternoon are usually considered snacks, so people can still have dinner afterwards. You can choose a plate of banh beo – steamed rice cakes – with minced meat mixed with pepper, onions and sweet and sour fish sauce.

Visitors can go to Cat Bi market, Dong Quoc Binh market or Luong Van Can market to enjoy these dishes. These are the famous markets of Hai Phong. They’re known for offering a variety of cuisines and reasonable prices. These markets have separate areas for diners, allowing visitors to enjoy many dishes without having to move much. Even when you wander in off the street, you can still find and enjoy these snacks.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

Sui din is a dish suitable for cold weather. This is a glutinous rice dumpling filled with green bean or black sesame, eaten with hot ginger water, and a pinch of shredded coconut sprinkled on top. Famous shops that sell this dish are Co Ut at 163 Cau Dat street, shop at 49 Dinh Tien Hoang street, and shop at 34 Ky Dong street. “Even though they are only street food vendors, they are always full of customers, especially on cold days,” Tung said.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

In the evening, there are many delicious dishes, the most outstanding of which are snail dishes. This is a great choice for travelers who’d like to take their time enjoying their food. There are many types of snails in Hai Phong, such as sea snail, nail snail or wool snail. They are cooked similarly with Saigonese style, but less sweet to suit the northern taste.

Some famous snail restaurants are Tuyet snail in the alley next to 27 Le Loi Street, Online Snail at 52 Dan Lap Street, and Huong snail at 274 Hang Kenh Street. “These snail restaurants are always my group’s favorite place to gather on the weekend because there are all kinds of fresh snails that are cooked into many dishes with strong seasoning and spices, just like the character of Hai Phong people,” Tung commented.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

There are other cuisines that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, such as chrysanthemum tea. The tea has a bit of a bitter taste on the tip of the tongue, but then soon will become sweet when coming down to the throat, due to the mixture of licorice and fresh kumquat. Chrysanthemum tea vendors are concentrated on Phan Boi Chau and Minh Khai streets.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

This is stir-fried gia be – a species of mollusk, which is cooked with vinegar, fish sauce, turmeric powder and arrowroot powder. Gia be has a flattened oval shape with two thin shells. The meat in the middle is similar to clams and mussels. 

“Enjoying this dish requires patience. If you want to eat the meat part, you need to separate the shell of each one. You can eat the meat part along with the separate leg part. This is just a fun snack dish, you won’t be full eating this,” Tung said. 

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

Coconut milk coffee is made from coffee powder mixed with coconut milk and condensed milk, then whisked to form a paste. Depending on the preferences of the customer, a variety of toppings can be added such as glass jelly, tapioca pearls, fresh shredded coconut, and dried coconut chips.

As Tung said, this drink has a slightly bitter taste of coffee combined with the sweetness of coconut milk and the aroma of condensed milk, which makes it easy to drink as it is not bitter nor too sweet. In Hai Phong, the most famous coffee shops that sell this drink is Co Hanh Coconut Coffee at 148 Luong Khanh Thien street, Ms Hang at 124a Lam Son street, Le Chan district, and many other coffee shops across the city.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

The fermented pork roll sold at the Ba Cu vendor is firm and crunchy. Each bowl usually has two spring rolls and is eaten with vinegar fish sauce. A special feature of the dish is a large basket of fresh herbs. You can find this cuisine at the intersection of Ton That Thuyet and Phan Boi Chau Streets.

Hai Phong food tour: A list of must try dishes

Banh duc tau, or steamed rice cake, is a dish originating from China, and is now a popular snack in Hai Phong. The steamed rice cake is cut into small pieces, adding toppings such as papaya or kohlrabi, shrimp and pork belly.

Sharing more about Hai Phong cuisine, Tung said: “Hai Phong cuisine is so diverse that it is rare to find somewhere else with a similar cuisine culture. Hai Phong has strong ethnic dishes. Also, the city is adjacent to the sea, so there is an abundant source of seafood. Thanks to Hai Phong port, the locals have the opportunity to try many new dishes from other places, and through the process of changing and renovating the flavors to suit its local tastes, the food has become a specialty of Hai Phong.”

By Sang Sang, Duy Tung for E.VnExpress.net

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Hidden Treasures of Hanoi : Pham Thi Noi’s steamed rice cake eatery – Savory steamed rice cake sold for more than 30 years

30 years… it’s almost half the life of this passionate entrepreneur concocting for us this delicious dish which over the years with other chefs have built the gastronomic reputation of HANOI. Just a word before you keep having a Good Sunday: Pham Thi Noi Steamed Rice Cake Restaurant is a must when visiting Hanoi. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Every afternoon, it is common to see Hanoians wandering into small alleys in search of snacks.

Many of these snacks have become the capital’s must-try street food, such as nem chua ran – deep fried pork rolls, oc nong – steamed snails, banh duc nong – savory steamed rice cake, and many others. Among the savory rice flour pudding eateries in Hanoi, it is impossible not to mention Noi’s on Le Ngoc Han Street.

The small eatery is located deep inside an alley, where customers can sit inside or outside the house. Visitors can always see Pham Thi Noi, owner of the restaurant, quickly scooping up steamed rice cakes, pouring hot fish sauce into a bowl, and then carefully sprinkling some chopped scallions and herbs on top of the dish.

Photo by Xuan Phuong

A sign for Pham Thi Noi’s steamed rice cake eatery at the entrance of an alley at No. 8 Le Ngoc Han Street. Photo by Xuan Phuong

“I have been selling this dish for more than 30 years,” she said. “I used to sell it on the sidewalk, but later I moved into this alley. I can’t count how many servings I sell every day.”

Banh duc, or rice cake, was originally a dish of the poor. People would just eat it on its own, or dip it in fish sauce. Later on, the locals modified the dish, adding many other ingredients to turn the simple rice cake into a favorite snack of Hanoi. Noi said that the savory steamed rice cake recipe was passed down to her by her family. The main ingredient of the cake is rice flour, which is cooked until it becomes thick and viscous.

The topping is made from ground pork and stir-fried wood ear mushroom. While the regular glutinous rice cake can be enjoyed simply by dipping it in tuong ban, a fermented soybean dipping paste, the savory steamed rice cake is eaten with many more toppings.

Photo by Xuan Phuong

A bowl of steamed rice cake with toppings including cilantro, fried tofu and minced pork. Photo by Xuan Phuong

When the customers order, Noi will put ingredients into the bowl, the steamed rice cake at the bottom, then wood ear mushroom, ground pork, hot fish sauce, and fried shallots and green onions on top. The sauce is cooked from bones and fish sauce, creating a sweet and subtle flavor. In each bowl, there are a few pieces of deep-fried tofu as well. The steamed rice cake has a soft and gooey texture, mixed with the savory taste of the meat and wood ear mushroom, plus the aroma of green onions, creating a harmonious flavor.

Despite being hidden deep inside an alley, Noi’s place is always filled with customers. This cuisine is just a fun late afternoon snack, ideal for those moments of wandering around the street.

For more than 30 years, Noi’s savory steamed rice cake has become a flavor associated with many people’s childhood. Many diners have frequented Noi’s place for the past few decades.

Nguyen Khanh, who now frequents the shop with his wife, said that he has been eating here since he was a child. To date, savory steamed rice cake is still his first choice whenever he thinks of an afternoon snack.

In the years since Noi first began making steamed rice cake, a few changes have been made to the recipe, such as adding more meat, spices and fried tofu. However, the dish still retains its traditional taste.

Photo by Xuan Phuong

Pham Thi Noi by two pots of rice cake and sauce. Photo by Xuan Phuong

Each bowl of savory steamed rice cake costs VND20,000 (US$0.84). The affordable price is also the reason why this place attracts many diners. Noi said that the customers coming to the shop are quite diverse, from local regulars who have been eating here for several decades to domestic and foreign tourists.

Noi no longer just has savory steamed rice cakes on her menu. She now offers a variety of other dishes, including snail noodle soup, mixed red rice noodle with crab paste, and crab noodle soup.

The place is open from 8 a.m.in the morning to midnight, and is located at 8 Le Ngoc Han street.

By Xuan Phuong for E.VnExpress.net

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How to explore the floating wonderland of Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam, by Charlotte Wigram-Evans

Good Saturday morning! I am doing something different this morning by suggesting that you read an article published in National Geographic about one of our magnificent territories. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

In Vietnam’s far north, Lan Ha Bay appears like a lost world — home to floating villages, sea eagles skimming the waves and hundreds of limestone karsts rising from the water.

Leaning over the rails of the Dora Cruise boat, I find myself drinking in the scene before me. Shimmering through the haze, row upon row, are giant-like mythical creatures torn straight from the pages of a fairytale. Slowly, it’s clear, these are the towering karsts of Lan Ha Bay coming into focus, Mother Nature adding brush strokes to her canvas. Plants cascade down from the rock face, greens mixing with the greys and silvers of the limestone beneath, while butterflies flap lazily among little white flowers just visible through the foliage. Passengers and crew are dumbstruck, but, as my gaze roves around the rest of the bay, I notice something else: there’s not another ship in sight.

In comparison with the booming tourist trade in neighbouring Ha Long Bay, where dozens of ships ply the waters daily and where travellers are surrounded by so many boats that the megaliths somehow lose their magic, Lan Ha Bay is the area’s quieter alternative. Very few cruise companies have permission to sail here, so for most of the journey, I’m sharing the water with a handful of fishing boats, dwarfed in size as they sail past the stone giants.

“Families live on board for many weeks at a time,” the ship’s guide, Dien, reveals, waving to a rickety boat that bobs past, crab baskets hanging precariously from the back. “They won’t return to their village until all their nets are full.” A family of three returns his greeting, a little girl no older than six grinning up at us, her eyes twinkling mischievously.

Unlike Ha Long Bay, much of which is protected as a UNESCO-designated site and where fishing is strictly forbidden, Lan Ha Bay is home to hundreds of people, most of whom live in floating villages and depend on the sea for survival. “The goddess of the ocean is the most important deity to this community,” Dien tells me. “They depend on her for safe passage, for a good catch and to protect their families. Every boat you see will have a tiny shrine inside, dedicated solely to her.” 

The fishing boat in front of us — painted in red, blue and green, with the Vietnam flag fluttering in the breeze — slowly disappears behind another limestone mountain. Life must be hard on board the tiny vessel, I think, constantly at the mercy of the elements, waiting for the sea goddess to grant a catch so bountiful one can finally return home. 

Each island in the biodiverse bay is covered in dense forest, ripe for exploration.

Each island in the biodiverse bay is covered in dense forest, ripe for exploration. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES

Paddling between giants

The family of fishermen come to mind again as we sit down to a lunch of fluffy rice, papaya salad and grouper so fresh it must have been caught that morning. Each course is served by waiters in dinner jackets who are all so polite that I nearly find myself bowing back to them. After eating far more than is comfortable, Dien drags me down to the bottom deck to take kayaks out into the bay.

On the water, the perspective shifts and soon I’m among the karsts themselves, so close I can run my fingers across the rock. There are a thousand colours in the stone, including yellows and greens and whites and silvers. When the sun appears from behind a cloud, they shine the colour of molten steel.

“You can’t believe that nature can make this, eh?” says Dien, who seems just as enthralled despite having sailed here countless times. “It’s like big people are playing games.” And indeed, deep, vertical grooves in the rock face do look like giants have drawn their fingers down fresh clay. “There are 366 islands in this area — just imagine them bursting from the ground around 20 million years ago.”

We paddle beneath stone arches and past empty bays, pausing to watch a woman collect clams with a bucket and chisel, before heaving our kayaks onto a deserted beach. “Do you see the man in the top hat?” asks Dien, pointing at a karst to our left, “and what about that one, what shape is that?” I look at the perfectly phallus-shaped rock and pause awkwardly, wondering if that’s really what he’s getting at. “A thumb, of course!”

Back on board and wrapped in a fluffy dressing gown, I head to my room. The Dora boat is one of the newest ships in the bay, and everything sparkles. The super-king-size bed is a paradise of plump pillows and silky sheets, while my private deck stretches right to the bow of the boat, complete with sun loungers and a swinging sofa big enough for four. The bathroom is better still — it’s enormous with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Outside, the sun is setting, staining the sky a dusky pink and casting long shadows across the water. An eagle swoops past my window, skimming the waves for eels, and another lone fishing boat putters slowly past. As usual, the bay is almost completely empty of ships, and in the soupy light, the stone mountains emit a soft, golden glow — as magical as ever.

Watch fishermen navigate their daily haul from the deck of a Lan Ha cruise.

Watch fishermen navigate their daily haul from the deck of a Lan Ha cruise. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY GLYN THOMAS PHOTOGRAPHY / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Getting there

Vietnam Airlines offers direct flights from Heathrow to Hanoi three times a week and indirect options daily, with an average flight time of 12hrs. From Hanoi, there’s a regular bus service to Ha Long Bay; from there, it’s a short ferry ride to Lan Ha Bay.

When to go

Hanoi and Lan Ha Bay are generally dry and cool (around 20C) from November to April, but summer sees highs of more than 30C, often with heavy rainfall. 

How to do it

InsideAsia Tours offers a 13-night Vietnam’s Greatest Hits trip from £1,889 per person, which includes accommodation, breakfast, a stay in Hanoi, a cruise in Lan Ha Bay, transport across Vietnam and a range of cultural experiences. International flights excluded.

Three more: alternative boat trips in Vietnam
 

Mekong River

The Mekong snakes for more than 3,500 miles, through some of Asia’s most spectacular scenery before reaching the South China Sea at the southern tip of Vietnam. To cruise its lower stretch is to witness rice paddies and remote villages, where floating markets are part of daily life. Heritage Line offers a seven-night cruise from Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia.

Con Dao Islands

Sprinkled across the South China Sea, this archipelago of 16 islands is home to palm-fringed beaches, clear waters and pristine coral reefs. Asia Tours offers three-day trips, or, for a two-week odyssey, Ponant leaves Ho Chi Minh City to cruise South East Asia’s islands, stopping at Con Dao before continuing onwards to Singapore and Indonesia.  

Ninh Binh

Often referred to as Ha Long Bay on land, Ninh Binh is dominated by limestone mountains. Winding between these are canals flanked by rice paddies and frequented by birdlife. Hop in a wooden paddleboat and keep an eye out for storks picking their way through the shallows and goats wandering the shores. Indochina Junk offers a three-day cruise beginning in Bai Tu Long Bay and continuing on to Ninh Binh.

BY CHARLOTTE WIGRAM-EVANS & Published in the Cruise 2023 guide, distributed with the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk

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National Geographic – 9 photos that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

Vietnam Lensmen show us the natural beauties of Vietnam as they feel them when taking their pictures and transmit their emotions to us. I admire these artists and thank them for creating in me a sense of wonder about what they make me discover about my Vietnam. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Lensman Tran Tuan Viet continued to boost his global profile by having a number of his photographs published by U.S. magazine National Geographic in 2022. 

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

Featured on National Geographic’s Instagram account with 6.5 million followers on January 15, this photo shows people standing on top of Ta Xua, the 10th highest peak in Vietnam at 2,865 meters and situated between Yen Bai and Son La provinces.

By late November the temperatures here fall to 14-19 degrees Celsius during day and 9-10 degrees at night. 

The best time to see clouds there is between December and March.

“In the early mornings from October to April a sea of clouds appears in this mountainous region, creating a magical beauty,” Viet said.

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

Featured by NatGeo’s photo editors on January 19, this photo captures the beauty of tea hills shrouded in thick fog in Long Coc Commune in Phu Tho Province, around 112 kilometers from Hanoi.

Long Coc has in recent years become a popular destination for photographers thanks to tea hills that resemble upturned bowls placed next to each other. 

Tea farming is one of the main sources of income in Phu Tho, a place sacred for Vietnamese as the birthplace of the nation’s mythical founders, the Hung Kings. 

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

This photo in NatGeo in January shows a tourist standing inside Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, as the sun shines down.

“To take this photo, I woke up at 5 a.m., went through the usual trekking route that usually takes around 1.5 days in some four hours and waited for the first rays of sunlight to penetrate deep into the cave,” Viet said.

A four-day-three-night expedition of Son Doong Cave costs VND69.8 million (around US$3,000) but numbers are strictly limited every year. 

During the expedition, tourists can explore the cave together with an expert, see unique underground rainforests and scale the 90-meter “Great Wall of Vietnam” at the end of the cave with ropes and ladders.

They get three freshly cooked meals every day and sleep in some of the world’s greatest campsites.

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

This photo, featured in May, shows a farmer cycling by a lone tree on the outskirts of Hanoi. 

Viet, who started his photography career in 2007, has won a number of top prizes in prestigious photo contests and is the only Vietnamese photographer to collaborate with National Geographic.

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

A street vendor walks on Hanoi’s Ceramic Road.

The murals on the Red River dike are made from ceramic tesserae from Bat Trang village, famed for its centuries-old traditional pottery.

The photo was published on NatGeo in July. 

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

Featured in August, this photo captures an aerial view of Ma Pi Leng, one of the most dangerous passes in Vietnam’s northern highlands. 

Soaring above the pass is a mountain 2,000 meters high along whose side is the Hanh Phuc (Happiness) Road connecting Ha Giang Town, Dong Van District and Meo Vac District in Ha Giang Province, around 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Hanoi and close to the China border.

Below the pass is the Nho Que River with its turquoise waters, popular for kayaking and boat tours. 

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

The shot, chosen by NatGeo editors in August, shows young men lifting a teammate who hugs a wooden ball at a ball wrestling festival in Van village in the northern province of Bac Giang’s Viet Yen District.

Held from the 12th to the 14th of the fourth lunar month every four years, the festival features ancient rituals and spiritual beliefs of a wet rice civilization, with local farmers praying for bumper crops and good weather for the rice season.

In 2018 NatGeo magazine listed the festival as one of the world’s most extraordinary traditions. 

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

This photo featured on NatGeo in October has a fisherman rowing his coracle to harvest seaweed called sargassum, which usually thrives in coral reefs and underwater rocks and emerges from the water surface once fully grown, during the dry season between May and July.

Viet took the photo in Hon Kho Islet during his trip to beach resort town Quy Nhonin central Vietnam. 

The seaweed is used as medicine for goiter and as fertilizer.

9 photos in NatGeo that showcased Vietnam’s natural beauty

The photo featured in December captures a flock of seagulls flying around two whales just off Vung Boi-De Gi beach near Quy Nhon.

The beach is famous for its clear, blue waters.

“Mother and daughter Bryde’s whales on the coast of De Gi in Binh Dinh Province,” Viet wrote in his caption. 

Text by Hoang Phong for E.VnExpress.net

Tran Tuan Viet

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Vietnam Foodies : Pork Chả Lụa Sausage Has 19th Century Roots

Whether it is referred to as chả lụa in the central and southern parts of the country, or as giò lụa in the northern regions, this famous pork delicacy is one of the most common meat products in Vietnam. It is defiantly a Must Eat during your visit in Vietnam ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor


Every cuisine has its staples — like tortillas in Mexico, potatoes in Russia, or sambal in Malaysia. While now ubiquitous, these foods haven’t always been an essential component of their region. Created through the Columbian exchange or other cultural intermingling, cuisine is an ever-evolving concept. In Vietnam, it’s the relics of French colonialism that fused into modern-day gastronomy. From the baguette in a banh mi to the carrots, potatoes, and asparagus vegetables consumed in the country, the influences are extensive, notes Culture Trip.

Such a French influence also intertwines with chả lụa sausage, a lean pork ham popular across the entire country. Made with only a few ingredients, the food is accessible yet takes special attention to craft. Found on Tết, or Vietnamese New Year’s dining tables in all regions, this sausage is both celebrated and eaten as an everyday staple, explains Vietnam.com. So let’s dive into chả lụa sausage — this ordinary meat is something extraordinary.

What is chả lụa?


Chả, alternatively known as giò in Northern provinces, is Vietnamese for sausage. The most popular type is chả lụa, a rendition of tubed meat with pork. Flavored with fish sauce and garlic, the sausage’s soft texture is held together with starch. To start, lean pork is pounded until in a dense paste, which is then wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. The result, esteemed for its protein content, is topped onto noodles, and soups, and is an especially popular ingredient in banh mi, explains Vietnamenu.

Owing its origins to French colonization during the 19th century, the dish combines European-influenced sausage-making methods with Vietnamese ingredients. The texture of the meat is especially important, with the wrong pulverization method resulting in an unpalatable sausage. Additionally, the paste must be tightly sealed when steamed. Vietnamese immigrants to the U.S. replace hard-to-find banana leaves with aluminum foil to ensure a proper texture, notes Lion Brand.

How to make chả lụa


In Vietnam, the sausage is rarely made at home — instead purchased from vendors. The meat is traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle by hand for several hours, although food processors are now substituted instead. For a taste most faithful to how it’s done in Vietnam, marinate thinly sliced pork in fish sauce, then freeze for two hours. Combine the result in a food processor with more fish sauce, then add tapioca starch before rolling it out into banana leaves, notes Cuisine of Vietnam.

For a quick at-home version, opt for lean pork for textural ease. Add the meat to a stand mixer, and start the machine to soften the pork. Combine flavorings, like fish sauce, white pepper, garlic, sesame oil, and starch to thicken. Add the ingredients to the mixer, and beat until strands appear. After separating the pork into two long rolls, wrap them in a banana leaf, and tie them with twine. Boil for 45 minutes or steam for an hour, explains Sift and Simmer.

How to store and use chả lụa


Homemade chả lụa will last for around a week at room temperature, but it’s better to store it in the fridge. Premade rolls will last longer, especially if unopened — up to three or four weeks in the freezer. Well-known brands can be found in Asian groceries, particularly those with a Vietnamese specialization. Seek out rolls wrapped in banana leaves for the best flavor, and don’t forget to check the label for ingredients — some are spicy, or contain undesired additives, notes Cooking with Lane.

After procuring chả lụa, slice the ham and easily integrate it as a topping. In addition to the popular banh mi, the sausage goes well with rice rolls, banh cuon, sticky rice cakes banh day, and bun bon hue, a meaty soup similar to pho. It can even make a meal on its own when fried, and served with rice and a chili dipping sauce, notes The Ravenous Couple. The sausage’s versatility and taste highlight why chả lụa became a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. Dependable and nutritious, it makes for an easily-integrated delight.

Written by NIKITA EPHANOV For Tastingtable.com

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Vietnam 2023 – Travel Guide – Phu Quy Island

Dao Phu Quy, which means “island of riches”. This Vietnam up and coming destination is also been referred to as “the little Bali” or “Maldives” of Vietnam.) Let’s visit by reading this article …#MustSeeInVietnam Editor

As the island is quite far out, situated about 120km from Phan Thiet city in the East Sea, it has that remote, wild allure. At the moment, it’s mostly young Vietnamese travelers ‘in the know’ who visit. So this is an up-and-coming destination that’s worth visiting while it remains rather undiscovered.

Phu Quy is a small island that is big on beautiful scenery and landscapes. Blessed with beautiful beaches, coral reefs and other wonders of nature, this little slice of paradise of just 18 square kilometers is also home to many historical and cultural sites that showcase the heart of Vietnam.

When to visit

Phu Quy, also known as Thu Island or Khoai Xu Island, is about 120 kilometers southeast of the central coast city of Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan province. The island’s climate is cool all year round. 

A corner of Phu Quy Island. 

The best time to explore Phu Quy is from December to June, as the storm season usually falls from September to November. During the spring and summer seasons, the sea is calm and winds are light, so visitors can easily travel to the small island. However, travelers are always advised to check the weather forecast in advance in case of rough seas.

What to explore

Trieu Duong Bay

Trieu Duong Bay can be found off the major road that circles the island. This is a small beach with clear blue water kissing a long wide stretch of soft white sand. Locals come here in the afternoons to swim.

Clear water and smooth sand at Trieu Duong Bay.

Bai Nho Beach

Bai Nho Beach is a crescent-shaped beach, charmed by its mountain backdrop. Visitors just need to park their motorbikes on the road and follow a trail down the hill to the beach. Some of Phu Quy’s other attractive beaches include Doi Dua in Ngu Phung Commune and the beach near the district committee park.

Ganh Hang Cliff

About 650 meters from Bai Nho Beach, Ganh Hang is a large cliff above the sea. As waves crashing against the rocks have created “Khe Sung Suong” – a sea inlet, which also contains a natural “infinity pool” popular with tourists. 

Visitors should bring a sturdy pair of climbing shoes to ensure safety. When taking pictures, visitors should not go near the edge of the “infinity pool” to avoid being pulled into the sea by the waves. 

The infinity pool at Ganh Hang Cliff. Photo by Dang Doan Sang

Cao Cat Mountain

Cao Cat Mountain is on the north side of Phu Quy Island. It is one of the highest mountains on the island, 106 meters above sea level. Cao Cat features cliffs weathered with horizontal cliffs like the Grand Canyon, the U.S. On the way to Cao Cat mountain, you can visit Linh Son pagoda.

The cliffs have unique shapes due to weathering at the top of Cao Cat mountain. Photo by Pham Quoc Cuong

Van An Thanh Temple

In 1941, local people discovered and solemnly buried a whale carcass washed up on Phu Quy island. It is said that the whale was more than 20 kilometers long when it was alive. Visitors can visit the whale skeleton at Van An Thanh. Locals believe that whales protect boats during storms. 

The whale skeleton at Van An Thanh Temple. Photo by Viet Du Travel

Phu Quy Lighthouse

The lighthouse is located on Cam Mountain, 100 meters above sea level. This is one of the best locations to view the entire poetic landscape of Phu Quy. 

Phu Quy Lighthouse. Photo by Khi Pun

At the end of the road to Linh Buu Pagoda, visitors can find the road to the lighthouse. The facility is open to the public and free to enter, but visitors can donate a small amount to support the housekeeping and cleaning team. 

Temple of Princess Ban Tranh

The Temple of Princess Ban Tranh was built by the Cham people at the end of the 15th century. Legend has it that the Champa princess refused to be forced to marry, so the king exiled her to sea on a boat. The boat drifted to Phu Quy island, where she decided to stay and help the locals fight off foreign invaders. When she died, a shrine was established where an annual ceremony is still held to mark the anniversary of her death. She was then called Ba Chua Xu or Ba Chua Dao, the princess of the island.

Tomb of Master Sai Nai 

This tomb is dedicated to a Chinese doctor who dedicated his life to helping people on the island, back when it was first being settled in the modern era. He is worshiped as the island’s guardian deity. According to folklore, Master Sai Nai was a Chinese merchant who was knowledgeable about medicines. During a business trip to Vietnam, his boat was pushed to Phu Quy island by a storm. He was attracted to stay thanks to the beauty of the island. He then lived the rest of his life on Phu Quy. 

After his death in 1665, he was placed in this tomb which islanders often visit to pray for luck and a good harvest. Every year, a ceremony in the name of Sai Nai is held on the 4th day of the 4th lunar month. 

The majestic seaside Tomb of Master Sai Nai.

Wind power plant

Phu Quy is home to one of the three wind-power farms in Binh Thuan Province. Phu Quy Wind Power Plant’s turbine towers are 60 meters tall with 37-meter blades.

One of several towers at Phu Quy wind power plant. Photo by Tam Linh

Long Hai fish market

In the morning, the bustling atmosphere of the Long Hai fish market is buoyed by a constant flow of fishing boats docking. There are countless varieties of rare and prized seafood, such as heavy snails that are bigger than your hand. Prices are inexpensive and the quality is unbeatable.

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Lang Duong fish pond

The Lang Duong fish pond was built by Phu Quy locals for fishing purposes. But it’s since been abandoned and has instead become an attraction for tourists, who stop by to relax, dunk their feet in the cool and calm water or to take some unique photos.

A man pose for a photo at Lang Duong fish pond. Photo by Pham Quoc Cuong

The islets

It takes only 10 minutes by canoe from Phu Quy to visit the local islets of Hon Den, Hon Trung, Hon Giua, Hon Do and Hon Tranh, where life and sceneries are even more pristine. 

Hon Hai Islet. Photo by Duc Chinh

Hon Tranh and Hon Den islets are beautiful and safe. Canoes are available as are tours in which you can fish, do coral sightseeing, take photos, and/or have lunch at the raft house. The fish you catch can then be transferred into raw fish dishes. Tour prices cost around VND250,000 VND (US$10.60) per person, excluding lunch. Travelers can ask the hotel to contact local tour guides for more information.

And at Hon Hai islet you can learn about the origins of the famous shark fishing boats of Phu Quy island.

Diving and coral sightseeing

A woman dives near coral reefs in the waters of Phu Quy Island. 

If visitors are into underwater activities, they can rent a snorkeling boat for coral sightseeing. Beneath the clear blue water are colorful coral reefs along with all kinds of amazing fish.

What to eat

Phu Quy is known for its fast array of seafood. May is the peak season for seafood on the island. “Visitors can easily buy shrimp, crab, fish and snails at bargain prices with high quality,” said Sang, a tourism officer in Phu Quy. 

If you’re a seafood lover, you can dine on rafts via floating restaurants such as Dai Nam, Anh Sang, Hai Thien, Hai Phat and Ba Sinh. 

Phu Quy lobster is also abundant here. It has a slightly red shell color when it is alive, so the locals call it red lobster, to distinguish it from blue lobster. The easiest way to enjoy this food is to steam it, as the shell changes into a beautiful darker red after steaming. 

King crab and moon crab are two of Phu Quy’s seafood specialities. King crabs have a somewhat intimidating appearance for first-timers. However, the taste quickly transforms shy eaters into crab lovers.

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King crab (L) and moon crab on Phu Quy Island. Photos by Tam Linh

Moon crabs have dark red circles on the shell and live in crevices of coral rocks. The sweet and fragrant crab meat has a distinctive flavor that makes diners fall in love right after their first bite.

Another specialty of Phu Quy is hot beef. The “hot” is used to describe how fast the organic beef is served and sold within the day. You can find this unique dish at places such as Hoa Thuong, Ngoc Tinh, Thanh Binh, and Thu Vien restaurants.

Where to stay

Tourism on Phu Quy island is still quite new; there are no luxury resorts here. But there are plenty of comfortable accommodations. Hotels La Min, Hai Long, Hoang Phu, Phuong Quyen, An Binh and Huong Duong are all nice places, as are motels such as Nam An and An Phu.

Additionally, lovely homestays are available such as Phu Lien, Co Sang, Villa Blue Sea, LyTi Sea, and La Isla Bonita. Average prices range from VND300,000 – 500,000 (US$12.71 – 21.18) per night for two people.

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La Isla Bonita homestay looks over the sea in Phu Quy. Photos courtesy of La Isla Bonita

How to get there

As the most remote island district of Binh Thuan Province, Phu Quy Island has a wild allure and remains quite untouched by commercial tourism. The only means of getting to the island is by boat from Phan Thiet Town, which is about 110 kilometers from Phu Quy. 

From Ho Chi Minh City, you can buy a bus ticket to Phan Thiet, with a price ranging from VND150,000 to 250,000 ($6.36 – 10.60) per person for a one way ticket.

Once you arrive in Phan Thiet, you can purchase a one way boat ticket to Phu Quy, which costs VND250,000 for one person. Travelling by high-speed ship will take 2.5 hours and cost VND350,000 per person. There will be seats and beds, fan rooms and air-conditioned rooms provided in these ships. 

The ship services going to Phu Quy include Superdong and Phu Quy Express. The ships usually depart from Phan Thiet at about 6:30 to 7:30 in the morning. Depending on the day, there can be an earlier trip at 5:30 in the morning or a latest trip at 3 in the afternoon.

It is noted that visitors should book in advance because tickets sell out very quickly. You can track more ship schedules at the information page of Binh Thuan Department of Transport in the announcement section. 

Visitors with a history of motion sickness should take medicine and prepare plastic bags because traveling at sea is quite tough. 

There are no taxis on the island, but you can rent a motorbike at your own hotel. Renting a motorbike on the island costs around VND100,000 – 120,000 ($4.24 – 5.08) per day. 

Sunset on Phu Quy Island.

Written by Linh Sea for E.VnExpress.net – Photos by Linh Sea, Tinh Phu Quy

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2023 Vietnam Landscape Series : Northern Vietnam tea hills mist over as winter begins

Mother Nature favored Vietnam. Let’s start the year by visiting a northern region that stands out with its beauty that passes through the seasons. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Tea hills in the northern provinces of Phu Tho, Mai Chau and Sa Pa are at their best at this time of the year under a blanket of mist. 

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

Farmers wearing non la (Vietnamese conical hats) pick tea leaves at Long Coc in Phu Tho Province, around 112 kilometers from Hanoi.

Tea farming is an important occupation in Phu Tho and the main source of income for many locals. A typical tea plantation in the hills of Long Coc measures around a hectare. 

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

In early winter the tea hills are shrouded in thick fog in the mornings, and the sight attracts both amateur and professional photographers. 

Long Coc teems with green tea hills that are compared with the islets in Ha Long Bay, the UNESCO world heritage site in northern Vietnam, where limestone islets and pillars jut out of a bay.

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

Long Coc at night when the sky is full of stars.

As the Long Coc tea hills start rising on the tourism map, so do local accommodation services. The mainly Tay ethnic local population offers homestays for tourists seeking to stay overnight. 

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

Situated at an altitude of 1,054 meters above sea level, Moc Chau in the northern Son La Province has a temperate climate with temperatures ranging between 15 and 26 degrees Celsius through the year.

It has around 1,800 ha of tea estates, which make it the country’s largest tea producer.

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

The tea harvest season lasts from April to December.

Every day farmers gather at the tea factory at around 7 a.m. and then flock to the hills to pick tea buds.

In recent years local authorities have started turning the tea hills in Moc Chau into eco-tourism sites.

Bikes and motorbikes are available on rent for visitors to explore the tea hills and traditional stilt houses of the ethnic minority communities.

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

Tea hills in Moc Chau shrouded in mist. 

Moc Chau, which is around 200 kilometers from Hanoi, can be reached easily by car or bus.

Its rising popularity as a tourist destination has seen the rapid development of homestays.

Some budget places are MAMA’s House, Le Chalet du Lac, Fairy House Moc Chau, House By Lake, The Nordic Village, and Moc Chau Retreat, and they cost VND300,000 to 1 million ($12-40.20) a night.

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

A lonely house in the middle of tea hills in Moc Chau blanketed by mist. 

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

O Long tea hill, situated 8 km from Sa Pa Town and nearly 400 km from Hanoi, spreads over an area of 200 hectares. 

It is a tourist magnet at this time of the year when its cherry trees are in full bloom.

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

Visitors are requested not to litter, damage the tea trees or pick the flowers.

Northern tea hills mist over as winter begins

Pink cherry blossoms dazzle as the sun shines on the tea hills along National Highway 4D leading to O Quy Ho Mountain Pass, around 15 kilometers from Sa Pa.

Sa Pa is also well-known for many other attractions like Mount Fansipan, nicknamed “roof of Indochina,” terraced rice fields, Muong Hoa Valley, and a Gothic stone church at its center.

Written By Huynh Phuong, Tran Linh


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Vietnam and the World ring in 2023 !

I think we were all very excited to start 2023! Happy New Year from the whole team of Must See In Vietnam … …and carry on the tradition of the first kiss for the new year! Your Editor

People from all around the globe launched fireworks and other events to celebrate the end of 2022 and the herald of 2023.

The big crowd on Nguyen Hue Street in Saigon. Photo by Giang Anh
People stand in front of a stage for the countdown party in HCMC’s Nguyen Hue walking street. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung
New Year Firework in Saigon

Travelers stop on Thu Thiem Bridge in HCMC minutes before the midnight fireworks explode. Photo by Gia Minh

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

The ‘family fireworks’, which take place three hours before midnight every year ahead of the main show at midnight, fill the sky over the Opera House in Sydney, Australia on New Year’s Eve. Photo by AFP/David Gray

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

People gather at the sea promenade, lit up during sunset on New Year’s Eve in Mumbai, India. Photo by AFP/Punit Paranjpe

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

People release balloons as they take part in new year celebrations in Tokyo, Japan.Photo by Reuters/Issei Kato

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

People gather to take part in New Year celebrations at a public park in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by AFP/Sai Aung Main

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

New Year’s eve celebrations in central Seoul, South Korea. Photo by Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

The sun sets behind Wat Arun or the temple of dawn on New Year’s Eve in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

World celebrates New Year's Eve as 2023 begins

People hold balloons as they gather to celebrate NewYear’s Eve, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Photo by Reuters/Tingshu Wang

Must See In Vietnam Team … in 2023 !


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10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam for ending well 2022

Time doesn’t stand still…sometimes we wish it did – luckily it’s out of our control! 2022 has been another year filled with emotions! Another sporting year during which thrill seekers were well served! Right here in Saigon we are in countdown mode and in preparation mode to end 2022 well and start like Lions 2023! Today’s article is on point because celebrating is eating and drinking well with families and friends ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Check out this list of 10 Vietnamese bars and restaurants – mostly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – that received rave reviews from international travel magazines this year. 

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

In July, Rice Market Restaurant at Regent Phu Quoc Resort on the southern island Phu Quoc was voted among the best new Vietnamese establishments by U.S. magazine Travel + Leisure.

The restaurant serves iconic Vietnamese dishes like pho (pictured) and rice paper rolls, alongside Chinese classics like dim sum, char siu fried pork rice and Beijing-style roasted duck.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

The fine dining Vietage restaurant, which serves train passengers along the Da Nang-Quy Nhon line was also praised by Travel + Leisure.

The restaurant offers foie gras with local farm-to-table onions from Ly Son Island off the Da Nang coast. The dining car’s freshly cracked black pepper comes from Phu Quoc and the eatery’s signature seafood salad and fish sauce are both made with ingredients sourced fresh from the local waters off the picturesque beaches of Quy Nhon.

Launched by Anantara Hotels in 2020, the luxurious six-hour train route carries no more than 12 passengers and runs through popular tourist hotspots in Da Nang, Hoi An, Quang Ngai and Quy Nhon.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

The gourmet Chinese restaurant Kabin in HCMC was the only Vietnamese gastronomic experience on TripAdvisor’s list of Asia’s 25 Best Fine Dining Restaurants released in September this year. 

Located on the second floor of the Renaissance Riverside Hotel in downtown HCMC, the restaurant ranked 24th on the 2022 annual Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards, which are decided by an algorithm that analyzes millions of reviews and ratings collected annually from travelers around the world.

Its signature dishes include steamed fresh prawn dumplings, deep fried prawns with salted egg yolk, and Peking duck (pictured).

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

In November, American magazine Condé Nast Traveler lauded A Ban Mountain Dew on Tran Phu Street in Ba Dinh District as among the four best new restaurants in Hanoi. 

The owner is a native of Lang Son Province, and thus the restaurant specializes in dishes from the northern mountainous hinterlands of Vietnam. 

The interior décor takes its inspiration from ethnic minority cultures in Vietnam’s northern highlands, including images of rice terraces, village streams and clouds embracing mountain peaks.

The restaurant’s menu includes xoi ngu sac (five-color sticky rice), grilled meat, com lam (sticky rice cooked in a bamboo tube), hotpots, as well as new fusions such as pizza topped with bamboo worms.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

Condé Nast Traveler readers also voted Chapter Dining & Grill Hanoi as one of the best fine dining restaurants in the capital.

The restaurant opened earlier this year on Chan Cam Street in Hoan Kiem District and specializes in rare delicacies such as raw prawns, Wagyu beef tartare, raw oysters and unique mushroom dishes.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

In May, Stir Bar in Ho Chi Minh City was the only Vietnamese representative on the William Reed Business Media 2022 Asia’s 50 Best Bar List.

Located on Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1, the bar stays open till 2 a.m. and has small and cozy nooks for couples.

The bar offers a wide range of classic cocktails prepared by famed award-winning mixologists. Stir bartenders won big awards in 2019, including the “World Class Vietnam 2019 Mixology Champion” prize and the “World Cocktail Battle 2019 Champion” award.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

In November, Kuusi by Tung on Quang Trung Street in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District was also named one of the bets new bars by American readers of Condé Nast Traveler.

This exclusive venue offers just 12 seats. 

Guests are treated with a two-hour cocktail experience of five drinks paired with a series of gastronomic snacks created by Chef Tung and his team.

The first floor has six seats with snuggly-placed highchairs while the mezzanine area offers a sofa for four people.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

Condé Nast Traveler readers also selected The Haflington on Hang Ma Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter as one of the best new bars in Vietnam.

Designed as a private museum with typical European architecture, the bar showcases rows of glass vitrines and a whiskey tasting counter with an adjoining club-style smoking lounge.

The two-story bar’s main floor offers a comfortable space for guests to sit and hang out together while the basement is designated for those seeking privacy.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

Trieu Institute on Mac Thi Buoi Street in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 was another watering hole voted by Condé Nast Traveler readers one of the best in Vietnam’s major southern metropolis.

The bar’s design takes its inspiration from its eponymous heroine Ba Trieu, a third-century warrior that repelled invaders from the China’s Eastern Wu Dynasty.

Trieu’s balcony allows guests to watch the bustling Saigon nightlife below.

In addition to serving cocktails, the bar also offers cuisine such as grilled octopus and Black Angus steak.

Critics’ 10 favorite bars & restaurants in Vietnam

Phantom of The Opera on Ho Chi Minh City’s Hai Ba Trung Street was another American reader favorite in 2022.

It’s central location adjacent to Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Boulevard just behind the Saigon Opera House used to be the city’s largest opium factory.

The interior is decorated with rows of dressing room lights and shimmering glass cupboards of alcohols and elixirs.

The bar is open from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Written by Hoang Phong Photos courtesy of the bars and restaurants


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10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

What could be better than posting a list of 10 places that earned international honors on this last Friday of 2022. This article might just tip Vietnam for your next trip! Good reading ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

After Vietnam reopened international tourism, Vietnamese tourist hotspots continued to garner praise from the international media, with some winning global recognition for the first time.

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In January, the New York Times included the Red River Delta in its annual list of the 52 best places to travel in 2022.

The Red River Delta, spanning some 15,000 square kilometers, consists of eight provinces and two centrally-managed cities Hanoi and Hai Phong, with a population of over 23 million.

The delta is the cradle of quan ho folk singing, recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2010, and home to the Tam Chuc Pagoda complex (pictured) said to be the world’s biggest pagoda. 

“Since ancient times, villagers along the Cau River in northern Vietnam have sung Quan ho, a call-and-response folk music style performed by alternating all-female and all-male duets from neighboring villages that was recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage practice in 2009,” New York Times added. Photo by Giang Huy

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In February, the ancient town of Hoi An made it on to a list of 10 most welcoming cities on Earth, endorsed by readers of the online travel booking agency Booking.com. 

The ranking is based on analysis of more than 232 million verified traveler reviews made on the Dutch-based travel booking website. These are the destinations that have an above-average number of properties with exceptional reviews for friendly hospitality.

Lying along Thu Bon River, Hoi An boasts a unique architectural style that features traditional structures with yellow walls and red-tile roofs.

The town has pedestrian-friendly streets as motorbikes and cars are banned from the town center for large parts of the day – from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Photo by Dac Thanh

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In March, the resort town of Da Lat in the Central Highlands was named by Booking.com one of the world’s 10 best places to view flowers.

Situated on a plateau around 1,500 meters above sea level, Da Lat enjoys year-round cool weather that stands in contrast to Vietnam’s tropical climate.

The highlands town is one of Vietnam’s biggest flower-growing regions, producing around three billion flowers every year, 10% of which are exported to markets including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and mainland China.

Its annual flower festival is considered the largest in the Central Highlands region. Photo by Nguyen Hieu

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In May, the 632-meter-long glass bridge in Moc Chau in the northern province of Son La was recognized by Guinness as the world’s longest glass bridge.

With this official recognition, the bridge has unseated the 530-meter-long glass bridge in China’s Guangdong Province, which was recognized by Guinness as the world’s longest in 2020.

Inaugurated on April 30 this year, the Moc Chau glass bridge is suspended some 150 meters above a lush green jungle valley. Photo by Ngoc Thanh

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In July, New York-based travel magazine Thrillist listed Lan Ha Bay in the northern city of Hai Phong among the “most beautiful places” to visit in Southeast Asia.

Located to the east of Cat Ba Island, around two hours from Hanoi, the 7,000-hectare bay boasts around 400 islands, all of them covered with trees and other vegetation.

One of the biggest highlights in Lan Ha Bay is Cai Beo fishing village, believed to be the oldest of its kind in Vietnam and considered a living museum of Vietnamese fishing culture.

The floating village, with around 300 households, features dozens of houses that float on green clear waters. Photo by Pham Huy Trung

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In August, CNN selected the capital city Hanoi in its list of 12 best places in the world to travel to in the fall. 

The American news channel suggested tourists try a motorbike tour through the Old Quarter that is dotted with ancient houses, French colonial buildings, cafes and food stalls.

Hanoi has long been a favorite autumn escape among foreign tourists who love riding bicycles along the narrow streets covered with fallen yellow leaves, or taking photos of women wearing ao dai, Vietnam’s beautiful national costume. Photo by Tung Dinh

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In November, Tam Dao, a popular retreat built by the French in the northern province of Vinh Phuc, was voted the world’s leading tourist town for the first time in the 2022 World Travel Awards.

Around 90 kilometers northeast of Hanoi, Tam Dao, or “three islands” in Vietnamese, used to be a favored summer retreat of French officials in the late 19th century thanks to its year-round cool climate and foggy landscape.

Dotted with French-built villas and decades-old hotels, Tam Dao has become a popular weekend escape for Hanoians in recent years. Photo by Viet Dinh

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

Phu Quocwhich lays off the southern province of Kien Giang, was named the world’s leading nature island destination for the first time at this year’s World Travel Awards. 

Covering an area of 567 square kilometers and home to 180,000 people, Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam and the nation’s first island city.

Well known for its long, sandy beaches with turquoise waters and dense forests, Phu Quoc has become a popular holiday destination for both domestic and international tourists.

The island is also home to a marine sanctuary and a national park famous for trekking. Photo by Huu Khoa

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In November British magazine Time Out listed Ninh Binh, where Hollywood movie “Kong: Skull Island” was shot in 2016, as one of five underrated travel destinations in Southeast Asia.

Situated some two hours to the east of Hanoi, Ninh Binh was home to the ancient capital of Hoa Lu during the reign of the Dinh Dynasty (968-980), but has not been on tourists’ radar for years.

It is home to UNESCO-listed Trang An Landscape Complex (pictured), Van Long Nature Reserve and Tam Coc, famous for boat tours through golden yellow rice paddies. Photo by Shutterstock

10 Vietnam tourist attractions earn global spotlight in 2022

In November, Canadian travel magazine The Travel listed Sa Pa in Vietnam’s northern highlands as one of 10 most ideal places in Asia to see snow this winter. 

Located at an altitude of over 1,500 meters above sea level in Vietnam’s northwest mountains, Sa Pa is one of the rarest places in Vietnam where visitors can see white snow during the winter.

The winter season in Sa Pa lasts from December to February, when temperatures can plunge below zero, the landscape takes on a completely different look and there is the chance of seeing snow and ice on mountain peaks. Photo by Nguyen Van Thi

Written by Huang Vu for E.VnExpress.net


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Famous British Chef Gordon Ramsay ‘in love’ with humble Vietnamese dishes

We have reason to be proud when a Chef of the caliber of Gordon Ramsey mentions that Vietnam is his top Food Destination ! This article is full of Vietnamese flavours ! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has praised Vietnam as one of the world’s top food destinations. Here’s a list of the 5 dishes he’s been most impressed with on his trips to the Southeast Asia nation. 

Gordon Ramsay ‘in love’ with humble Vietnamese dishes

Hu tieu

Hu tieu, a southern Vietnamese noodle soup, was featured on the American competitive cooking reality television series MasterChef in 2013. As the show’s judge that year, Ramsay tasked his five contestants with preparing bowls of Vietnamese hu tieu.

During a previous trip to the Mekong Delta urban hub of Can Tho, Ramsay gobbled a bowl of hu tieu prepared by a woman on a small boat at the Cai Rang floating market. 

“This bowl of hu tieu, a stunning, delicious slow-cooked Vietnamese pork noodle soup, is the greatest dish I’ve ever had,” Ramsay said. 

Hu tieu (also called kuy teav or Phnom Penh noodle soup) is a Cambodian-Chinese dish that Saigonese borrowed and changed to suit their palate. 

There are about 20 different versions of the noodle soup, which is most popular in southern Vietnam but can also be found on the streets of Hanoi.

The dish’s most popular staples include pork, pork ribs, pork innards, shrimp, squid, wonton dumplings, fried garlic, fried shallots and scallions. Photo by Nguyen Thy

Gordon Ramsay ‘in love’ with humble Vietnamese dishes

Bun rieu

During a trip to the Mekong Delta in 2012 to shoot the second season of the travel documentary series Gordon’s Great Escape, Ramsay had the opportunity to try bun rieu prepared by the now-famous Ms. Hai.

“It’s delicious,” said Ramsay after just a spoonful. “I Love it!”

Chef Gordon Ramsey ExploreVietnam Cuisine

Bun rieu (tomato and crab noodle soup) is a vermicelli noodle soup with a tomato-based broth made by slowly simmering pork or chicken bones. Unlike pho or bun bo Hue (Hue beef noodle soup), to which meat slices are added, the key protein component of this soup is a crab meat patty mixture made of freshwater mini crabs, pork and egg. It’s almost like a soft, dark crab cake floating in your soup. 

Other popular bun rieu toppings include fried tofu, prawns, crab meat, pig blood pudding, bean sprouts and fresh Vietnamese herbs like perilla and cilantro. 

In the Mekong Delta, the dish is served with bean sprouts and shredded water spinach stems. Photo by Phong Vinh

Gordon Ramsay ‘in love’ with humble Vietnamese dishes

Steamed rice rolls

Ramsay once drove a motorbike from Hanoi to the idyllic mountain commune of Mai Chau, around three hours from the capital. Mai Chau is famous for its small ethnic minority villages, and Ramsay traveled there to learn how to prepare banh cuon (Vietnamese steamed rice roll) in their traditional styles. 

“Thank God I wasn’t born in Vietnam, I’m just a bad cook here,” said Ramsay while trying inadeptly to make the Vietnamese steamed rice rolls. 

“Thank you for teaching me to make thin-paper rice cakes, but I’m too hungry to apply a delicate touch,” he told locals. 

Steamed rice rolls, or banh cuon, is a traditional Vietnamese dish that easily overlooked by tourists because it’s often overshadowed by the omnipresent banh mi and pho.

For this dish, a thin noodle sheet is steamed on a thin layer of fabric over a pot of boiling water. It is often served with minced pork rolled up in the middle of the soft and chewy “rice tortilla” like a burrito (or a spring roll), with a lightly sweetened dipping sauce on the side. Photo by Nguyen Thanh Hai

Gordon Ramsay ‘in love’ with humble Vietnamese dishes

Barbecued duck

Ramsay visited Khoa Ngan Restaurant at 77 Hai Ba Trung Street in Hanoi where he learned to prepare barbecued duck with sweet and sour sauce as part of the 2011 season of “Gordon’s Great Escape.”

The restaurant has a long 30-year history of specializing in marinated barbecued duck grilled over charcoal and open flames. 

During this visit to Vietnam, Ramsay was surprised with the marinade the chef used to flavor her duck. He tried to slyly ask for the sweet and sour sauce recipe several times only to receive a silent and gentle shake of the head.

“I was having fun and I was about to learn how to make sweet and sour sauce, but all of a sudden she become tight-lipped,” Ramsay said. 

But that’s how this special duck recipe has remained the restaurant’s unique signature for years, without competition from copy cats. Photo courtesy of Khoa Ngan Restaurant 

Gordon Ramsay ‘in love’ with humble Vietnamese dishes

Summer rolls

Ramsay also learned to make goi cuon (Vietnamese fresh summer rolls) on another Great Escape trip to Vietnam.

Rice paper is wrapped around pork, shrimp, herbs, and rice vermicelli, and its best eaten dunked in sweet and sour fish sauce or a thick peanut dip.

Goi cuon has become a popular snack in the southern regions of Vietnam. 

Having experienced Vietnam’s fresh summer rolls first hand, Ramsay showed everyone his recipe for fragrant and delicate prawns summer rolls in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

In 2019, CNN hailed Vietnam’s fresh summer rolls on its list of the world’s 50 best dishes.

Gordon Ramsay, arguably the most famous working chef in the world following the death of Anthony Bourdain, is known to U.S. television audiences for his acerbic comments on “Master Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” He was also named the top chef in the United Kingdom at the 2000 Catey Awards.

During an interview with South Korean Youtuber Cho Seung-yeon published earlier this month, Ramsay named Laos, then Vietnam and Madrid, as his most favorite foodie destinations

“Vietnam [is an] extraordinary melting pot of great food,” he said. “I fell in love. There’s just such a humble approach to eating incredible food.” Photo by Hoang Thien

Watch Chef Gordon Ramsay in action preparing Vietnamese dishes

Written By Hoang Phong for E.VnExpress.net


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Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds on his lands in Vietnam

I present to you this morning a beautiful love story… that of a couple and nature… Read how their patience, passion turned into a beautiful exemplary story to protect nature. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Farmer Nguyen Manh Cuong gave a flock of wild birds a chunk of his land to protect the animals from hunters. 

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

Cuong, a 52-year-old duck farmer, has worked his field in the central province of Ha Tinh since 2015.

It’s part of a humble 2.8-hectare parcel of land that includes a house, a fish pond and space for Cuong’s mallards and a patch of bamboo. He also has small orchard and a few stalls where he raises chickens and pigs on the side.

When he first rented the Dau Lieu Ward land in the town of Hong Linh seven years ago, the area was barren. Cuong and his wife spent months building bamboo shelters they hoped would attract ducks. They built and built and waited for rain.

After a year, their bamboo trees had grown large enough to provide shade in the middle of Cuong’s seemingly-deserted field. The shelter soon attracted many species of birds. At the beginning of 2016, a few hundred birds were visiting regularly. The number has multiplied every year since then. 

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

Over the years, Cuong’s farm has become a refuge for thousands of wild birds of all kinds.

Cuong said that at first, he thought the birds would stay for only a few days and then leave. He did not expect them to love his place so much. About three years ago, after authorities banned the hunting of wild birds, the number of birds sheltering at the farm increased. It is estimated that there are now 6,000-7,000 birds regularly seeking refuge in Cuong’s small bamboo forest.

“I reduced the number of mallards I raise here to leave space for wild birds to live,” says Cuong.

“Besides developing a family economic model, I’m also now a hired worker for the birds.”

It seems he’s pleased with his new role, and maybe even a bit proud: “I’ve taken it as my responsibility to protect them [the wild birds] in order to preserve the environment and natural landscape, so that the beauty of my homeland will always stand the test of time.”

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

Every day, Cuong wakes up at 6 a.m. After checking the sheds where his pigs and chickens live, he enters his bamboo groves, which are now home to a large stork population, to check if anything interesting happened overnight.

Bird droppings virtually cover Cuong’s bamboo from canopy to root. He says that years ago, the trees around here were green, but after the birds came, many became so heavily covered in bird waste that photosynthesis was impossible, and they died.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

Every few meters, Cuong stoops down to pick up feathers and check which bird species were hanging out there the night before. Most of them are storks, but there are also herons and some other wild birds he has yet to identify.

Besides studying bird feathers, Cuong also observes the bird droppings on the leaves. He said feces can reveal whether a bird is healthy or not, as well as whether or not they had enough food that day.

“I study the habits of livestock online so I can use the best methods to raise them,” Cuong says. “Ever since the birds came to the farm, I’ve studied their behaviors to better understand them.”

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

Cuong bought a blue net hundreds of meters long to create a fence protecting the area where the birds live. Every morning, when the birds go out looking for food, he raises the net so livestock can enter. At 4 p.m. when the birds came back, he lowers the net and brings the livestock back to the barn.

The net prevents animals from entering the bird park while the wild birds are there. Pigs, chickens, ducks that get lost in the garden scare the birds away.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

In addition to being hunted, many birds foraging in the field are killed by mousetraps. Every month, Cuong saves dozens of birds caught in traps.

“Sometimes birds are injured. I find them, take care of them and then release them back to their nests in the garden. Many survive, but some are too weak to make it. Watching them die makes me really sad. Before the birds arrived, I didn’t feel much for them, but after living with them for 6 years, I fell in love,” he said.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

After about an hour or so in the morning tending to the wild birds’ habitat, Cuong gets back to his regular farm work: feeding livestock and delivering goods to customers.

In the middle of the afternoon, when the birds begin returning, Cuong and his wife often stop whatever they are doing and look up at the sky to see their “children.”

“Watching birds go eat in the morning and seeing them fly back in the evening makes me feel very relaxed,” says Cuong. “When only a few birds return at the end of the day, I feel uneasy, as if something is missing.”

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

Between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. is when most birds return to the farm. They darken the sky, chirp and perch on the branches of trees. Cuong often uses binoculars to watch the flocks and look for injured birds.

He said he knows a bird’s conditions just by observing it fly. If a bird spreads its wings wide and its legs are straight, it’s fine. But if the wings are slightly tilted and their legs are bent, it’s likely they’ve been injured by traps or rounds from hunters’ rifles.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

When the sun is almost down and darkness starts to fall, Cuong rows his boat around the farm again to check if any birds are caught in traps, shot or unable to return to their nests for any reason.

The farm is large enough that livestock and even intruders can enter the bird’s protected area without Cuong knowing. Therefore, he says his sunset rounds are also to ward off intruders and keep the farm’s peace and quiet for the birds.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

After finishing his work, Cuong puts away his boat for dinner with his wife, 46-year-old Nguyen Thi Cam Ly.

Cuong and his wife have two sons. The eldest works in Hanoi while the youngest is studying law at university. The family is doing good financially, having accumulated savings after many years of working the farm. Although they have a house near the center of town, the couple still chooses to live on the farm.

Cuong plans to upgrade and develop more farms in the near future so that wild birds have more long-term places to stay. He’s currently developing proposals and plans and seeking investment and financial assistance from local governments and authorities.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

After dinner, Cuong takes a lamp out to check on the bird garden one more time before bed.

Ever since the birds started coming to the farm in droves, local hunters began preying on them. Sometimes between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., Cuong is woken by sounds of the birds screaming. That’s when he has to get up and chase away predators.

“Some days it’s very dangerous, the hunters even fight back. I have to call the police and local authorities for help. You can’t always eat or sleep in peace because of these birds,” Cuong says with a gentle smile on his face.

Guardian: Man spends 6 years protecting wild birds

To help protect the birds and prevent strangers from getting in, Cuong often hangs a flashlight and other equipment next to his bed so he can rush out anytime he hears a noise.

Thai Luong, chairman of the People’s Committee of Dau Lieu Ward, says Cuong’s work is meaningful and contributes to the protection of the local natural environment. “Authorities always support and send people to assist homeowners in dealing with intruders who illegally hunt wild birds at the farm,” Luong said.

By Duc Hung for E.VnExpress.net


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Christmas celebrations around the world

This morning I have a thought for the poorest and all the refugees. These Christmas photos taken by AFP photographers bear witness to our differences and our beliefs that unite us. #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

The world welcomed Christmas 2022 with traditional colorful decorations and church gatherings after a year of turbulence. 

This is hardly surprising given the relatively low population of Christians in Vietnam compared to the population as a whole, and while the West drives itself slightly insane with Christmas shopping frenzies and Christmas pudding cooking, Vietnam tends to be no crazier than it is all year round.
But this doesn’t mean that Christmas isn’t celebrated at all. The Vietnamese are always ready to have fun, and Christmas is a great chance to get outside and celebrate! Saigon lights up at Christmas time with thousands of string lights and Christmas decorations, and the city fills with hundreds of people who are reveling in the chance to be festive.
#MustSeeInVietnam Editor
Christmas celebrations around the world

A Christmas tree is seen as people gather around it ahead of the Christmas day, in Guangzhou, China on December 24, 2022.

Christmas celebrations around the world

Syrians gather in a Christmas market at al-Hatab square in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo on December 24, 2022.

Christmas celebrations around the world

Indian people light candles on the Eve of Christmas at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi, India, on December 24, 2022.

Christmas celebrations around the world

People look at the St Andrew church illuminated by the world-famous Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter before Christmas in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 23, 2022.

Christmas celebrations around the world

Military chaplain Father Oleksandr blesses a serviceman of the National Guard of Ukraine on their position in the north of Kharkiv region on December 24, 2022.

Christmas celebrations around the world

Pope Francis presides over Christmas Eve Mass, at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday December 24, 2022.

Christmas celebrations around the world

A child is seen in a tunnel lit up by thousands of lights at the Trustees’ Winter lights event in Massachusetts.

Christmas celebrations around the world

People gather around a Christmas tree in the Lebanon’s capital Beirut’s Martyr square.

Christmas celebrations around the world

A priest holds a statue of baby Jesus during a Christmas Eve mass in the Saint Antuan church, the largest Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul.

Christmas celebrations around the world

Hundreds of people stand on the Römerberg during the “Great City Bell of Frankfurt.”

Christmas Mass: the Pope invites us to “let ourselves be enveloped by the tenderness of Jesus”
Pope Francis presided over Christmas Eve Mass on Tuesday evening at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Published by E.VnExpress.net & Photos by AFP


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Christmas in Vietnam

In Vietnam, Christmas Eve is often more important than Christmas Day. I invite you to visit the small alleys near the churches in the Catholic neighborhoods of Vietnam. If you are at HCMC take a few hours in the evening to wander around these little neighborhoods. The people are super friendly there and you will see that the Christian spirit is very present! Happy Christmas in Vietnamese is Chúc mừng Giáng Sinh #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Chúc mừng Giáng Sinh

Christmas isn’t an official public holiday and many people think it’s only a holiday for Christians.

In Ho Chi Minh city (which is the largest city in Vietnam and used to be called Saigon) people (especially young people) like to go into the city center, where there is a Catholic Cathedral. The streets are crowded with people on Christmas Eve and in the city center cars are not allowed for the night.

People celebrate by throwing confetti, taking pictures and enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of big hotels and department stores. Lots of cafes and restaurants are open for people to enjoy a snack!

Not many people in Vietnam are Christians, but some people like to go to Midnight Mass services to watch the Nativity plays and hear Christmas music.

Vietnam used to be part of the French Empire and there are still French influences in the Christmas traditions.

All churches, and some Christian homes, will have a nativity crib scene or ‘creche’. Many Catholic churches have a big scene with nearly life size statues of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and animals.

In some areas of Ho Chi Minh city, usually in Catholic parishes, people have big crib scenes in front of their houses and decorate the whole street, turning it into a Christmas area! These are popular for people to visit and look at the scenes.

Happy Christmas in Vietnamese is Chúc mừng Giáng Sinh.

Also like in France, the special Christmas Eve meal is called ‘reveillon’ and has a ‘bûche de Noël’ (a chocolate cake in the shape of a log) for dessert. Vietnamese people like to give presents of food and at Christmas a bûche de Noël is a popular gift. Other Christmas presents aren’t very common, although some young people like to exchange Christmas cards.

It’s very hot for Santa in Vietnam and it can’t be very comfortable wearing all that velvet in a hot country! Santa is called ‘Ông già Noel’ (it means Christmas old man).


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Saigon Flea market brings home the past

On Christmas Eve, I have a little nostalgia, even a certain excitement, having many thoughts in mind for my ancestors, Christmas masses, family meals. I don’t know why this article struck me, this flea market is a collection of souvenirs and a place where traders are friendly and love to talk about their past. Well here it is … this market is a café and is located in Saigon … good reading and happy New Year’s Eve … #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Since 2013, a Saigon flea market cafe has been more than just a market for used and vintage goods. 

Flea market brings home the past

Situated in a cafe on No Trang Long Street in Binh Thanh District, the market opens at 6 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and continues until around 2 p.m.

Here, the antique-laden stalls are also the backdrop against which merchants and shoppers reminisce about the past.

It costs VND40,000 ($1.69) to enter, but that money can be exchanged for a snack or drink.

Flea market brings home the past

Saigon residents who appreciate vintage decor and furnishings frequent this place on a weekly basis. Some come to buy and sell, but many more come to browse while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Flea market brings home the past

Nguyen Thi Nga, a 61-year-old from District 3, is a regular at the market. She’s been coming here on the weekends after she finishes her house chores for nearly 10 years.

“The antique market cafe is bustling but not too overcrowded,” she says. “When I come here, I feel like I am walking down memory lanes filled with resonant mementos that bring back fond memories.” Some of Nga’s prized finds at the market include an heirloom copper incense burner, vintage lamp stands, and an antique pepper grinder.

Flea market brings home the past

Nguyen Thanh Danh, 54, who runs a stall at the market selling vintage bicycle parts, says the market is not only a great place to show off a collection, it’s also the perfect setting in which to meet others who share an interest in antiques.

“I like the ambiance here because I get to sell things I like and listen to music, which makes me feel young again,” he says.

Flea market brings home the past

Even though he’s 80 years old, Uncle Ba (blue shirt) comes here every weekend to browse the antiques.

“I never plan to buy anything when I come here; I just like to look around and only buy things I find unique and interesting,” he says. “It’s nice to see that there’s a weekly gathering spot like this in the middle of Saigon.”

Flea market brings home the past

Thanh An and her friend had never been to the antique market cafe before, and they were impressed by the sheer number of stalls selling vintage goods.

“I found an old bronze clothing iron shaped like a chicken and it really moved me,” says the 28-year-old. “It reminds me of one my family had decades ago, but which is now only a fond memory. I thought I would never see one again, so seeing it here today was a complete surprise.”

Flea market brings home the past

The market also attracts curious foreign tourists who often ask questions about Vietnamese history and culture as they browse with interest.

Flea market brings home the past

French citizen Jon Allsop has been living in Vietnam for the past seven years with his Vietnamese wife. They own a shop where they sell antiques they brought with them from France.

Flea market brings home the past

Vintage Zippo lighters are maybe the most popular items at the cafe. Without official figures, most people at the flea market say Zippos are far and away the gathering’s best-selling items.

Flea market brings home the past

Old banknotes are also highly sought after by many, especially young people who’ve begun their own small collections and/or simply like to keep them as souvenirs. Like Zippos, they also make good gifts.

Flea market brings home the past

Thanh, who has operated a booth selling vintage coins and Zippo lighters for nine years, says that vendors can set up shop here for free as long as they arrive early and pick a good spot.

Antiques here mainly come from the families of late collectors, overseas Vietnamese or professional traders, he says.

“Products must be clearly labeled with prices and notes about their origins,” he says. “If a vendor ‘makes a mistake on purpose,’ they won’t be allowed to come back here and sell in the future.”

By Minh Tam for E.VnExpress.net


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7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

I know that many of us are counting the days… How many are left before Christmas? For me it’s 4 including today! For you who are looking for places in Saigon to celebrate New Year’s Eve… this article will give you ideas… Happy reading … #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

For those who have not yet made plans for the Christmas holiday, here are a few restaurants and bars in Ho Chi Minh City which are worth a try.

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

Located in a white villa in the Thao Dien area, the city’s busiest expat hub, La Villa Restaurant is one of the most famous French restaurants in the city.

Designed in the style of a French manor, the restaurant, which opened in 2011, is surrounded by greenery and has outdoor space near a swimming pool where guests can enjoy their meal.

The interior has a touch of French design, with white walls, grey curtains, chandeliers and art.

For the Christmas festive season, the restaurant has a special menu priced at VND3.69 million ($157) per adult and VND2.79 million per child, excluding drinks. Guests can sample signature dishes prepared by chef-owner Thierry Mounon, such as Hokkaido scallops with warm sashimi, French duck and red port foie gras terrine. 

The restaurant is located at 14 Ngo Quang Huy Street opposite the An Phu Market in the Thao Dien area, Thu Duc City. 

The seven venues were recommended by readers on VnExpress International’s Facebook page. The most liked recommendations were selected.

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

The East West Brewing Co. opened in January 2016 and is one of Vietnam’s first microbreweries serving fresh handcrafted beer along with a wide range of Asian and Western food. 

With transparent glass windows, guests can enjoy beer and food while watching the bustling scene outside along one of the city’s busiest shopping streets. 

In addition to craft beers made onsite, the restaurant also offers a wide selection of Asian and Western dishes such as goat cheese salad, smoked goat ribs, spicy garlic shrimp and baked cheese. 

The restaurant is located at 181 Ly Tu Trong Street in District 1.

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

Clay Saigon Restaurant stands along the Saigon River.

Its interior design mainly uses eco-friendly materials such as ceramics, wood and rattan. The restaurant is surrounded by coconut trees and its perch beside the river offers diners fresh air and a cool atmosphere.

The menu created by executive chef Benoit Leloup features dishes such as Salmon tataki, French oysters, black cod marinated in XO sauce as well as octopus marinated in a Korean BBQ sauce, topped off with chorizo and Sriracha kaffir lime sauce.

The restaurant is at 18 No. 6 Street in Thao Dien.

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

Nestled on a quiet street in the Thao Dien area, 86 Proof Whiskey Bar is no longer a strange name for expats in HCMC. 

Occupying the ground floor of a two-story house, the bar is designed like a small pub with bartenders ensconced inside a small bar. And it has an outdoor space where guests can dine al fresco with friends. 

The restaurant is located at 109 Xuan Thuy Street in the Thao Dien area. It’s open from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. 

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

The Mechanic Eatery & Bar, on the second floor of a building on Le Lai Street in District 1 near the iconic Ben Thanh Market, takes inspiration from industrial sites with its grey walls, wooden floors, and exposed pipes.

The small balcony and window offer views of the bustling downtown street. 

In addition to cocktails and wine, the bar also features caffeinated drinks like beetroot latte and cold brew coffee with a salty caramel sauce. Drink prices range from VND55,000-180,000. 

The snail burger is the highlight of the bar, in addition to poke bowls and pasta

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

Just a 15-minute drive from the downtown area, Equis Mixology occupies a small space and is not easy for first-comers to find. 

It has an open bar lounge where guests can watch bartenders meticulously prepare drinks. 

The bar is at 85/6D Pham Viet Chanh Street, Binh Thanh District.

7 restaurants, bars in HCMC for Christmas celebration

Chanh Bistro Rooftop Saigon offers one of the best vantage points for enjoying the city’s urban nightlife. 

With lots of trees and plants on the rooftop, the bar offers an open and cool space that stands out from other bars in the heart of the city. 

The venue mainly serves Western cuisine with dishes like tender and juicy lamb shank, pan-fried foie gras, linguine scampi and chocolate fondant.

The bar is at 215 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Thanh Ward. 

By Hoang Phong & Photos courtesy of the bars, restaurants for E.VnExpress.net


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Vietnam Architecture & Design : Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

Good Morning … how do you feel with 5 days to go before Christmas ? Today I choose to show you a unique house in my Hometown Da Nang … Can you believe the Architect has made a rice field in the roof top ? Good Reading … #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

From above, the roof of this 250-m2 house in Da Nang looks like a mini terraced rice field found in the northwest. 

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The two-story house facing the Han River belongs to a young couple with two kids. The first floor has common space for the family with large glass doors to try and connect with the outdoors. The second floor is for bedrooms and offers privacy.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The architect has tried to provide as much green space as possible by placing plants around the house. 

To limit heat radiation and the urban effect inside, the architect came up with three solutions. One was using greenery to create mini gardens on the wall and roof. The second was to use louvers to block sunshine. The third was to catch breezes by building windows and doors in the east and the south of the house. All were meant to limit the effects of the weather and reduce energy consumption.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

But the highlight of the house is the roof. The architect has turned the roof into a garden that takes inspiration from the terraced rice fields in the northwest.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The architect installed an automatic watering and rainfall harvesting system thatcollects water and stores it in an underground tank for use.

Growing plants on the roof help the house’s structural integrity by reducing heat radiation, which keeps the concrete at a stable temperature and prevents cracking, the architect said.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The living room, kitchen and dining room on the first floor are open. All the rooms lead to a garden through sliding glass doors. The glass allows in natural light and saves power. 

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The house is designed in a modern style and focuses on the natural elements. The interior has neutral colors since natural light is the main priority.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The winding stair that leads to the second floor is a great touch to the interior space. It also help save space.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

A round glass frame stretches between the floor and ceiling on the second floor, continuing the theme of spaciousness and connectedness.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The second floor has two bedrooms and a room for an altar, and all lead to a garden through big glass doors. The architect also added a louver to keep out sunshine if needed but ensure the flow of air.

Da Nang house has terraced rice field for a roof

The front outdoor space is important in reducing the heat of the sun and rainwater splashing in. It is also a place for the owners to relax. A pond also helps cool the air.

Written by Trang Vỹ for E.VnExpress.net


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Must See In Vietnam is with David Enterline LLM, USA IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY

Nothing better than starting a weekend in good company!!! And not just any company!!! That of the Unique David Enterline, an imminent lawyer, expert in American immigration law and a humble and generous man! David posed for prosperity after tasting the famous dishes of MiKi Chef (alias your humble Editor). Take a good look at these photos.., David is from an advertising star and thank you for letting you play by proudly wearing our Must See in Vietnam Cap and the ‘Nhau Witch’ CHẠO ỐC HỘI AN / HỘI AN SNAILS 🐌… Thank you David ❤️ 🍻 Cheers!

David 👍 “ Nhau Witch famous appetizer “ CHẠO ỐC HỘI AN / HỘI AN SNAILS 🐌
David Enterline (David A. Enterline, LL.M.) Michel Verdy (CEO VGlobal Partners Vietnam) and your humble Editor wearing proudly the MUST SEE IN VIETNAM CAP
I caught them talking about EB1C, E2 and EB5 … They are talking about something BIG Vietnamese Investors will Love !


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Unique experiences in Hanoi you should not miss out

Visiting Hanoi is like traveling through a time tunnel: ancient temples and multi-story pagodas coexist with congested roads flanked by modern skyscrapers. Do you know about unique experiences in Hanoi? Enjoy this article … #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Hanoi’s exotic, filthy, and hip Vietnamese capital is a full-fledged assault on the senses. Despite its political and historical significance and the constant noise generated by a large population, Hanoi has a more intimate, urbane appeal than Ho Chi Minh City. Its crumbly, lemon-hued colonial architecture is a visual feast; swarms of buzzing motorbikes invade the ear; and the delicate scents and tastes of delicious street food can be found all over a city that, unlike so many of its regional contemporaries, manages to modernize with grace.

Moreover, stubbornly traditional and forward-thinking, bustling Hanoi has primarily resisted the rapid advancements sweeping the rest of the country, and the city frequently confounds first-time visitors. This list of the top unique experiences in Hanoi can help you get started and make the most of what Vietnam’s most historical city has to offer.

Dive into the Old Quarter

What to do in Hanoi? You could spend several hours in Hanoi’s commercial heart, the Old Quarter. The best way to explore the enticing maze of streets is to wander around. Pull up a plastic stool whenever you need to rest and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee or beer while seeing the world go by.

Discover Hanoi’s Old Quarter at its best on a street food tour. Photo by lonelyplanet

Hanoi’s Old Quarter, located in the Ba Dinh district near the business district, is the city’s busiest attraction and an unmissable assault on the senses. Along streets lined with French colonial buildings, buzzing motorbikes weave around people wearing large conical straw hats and pushing carts laden with goods. Come just after sunrise, when the light casts ethereal hues over the century-old facades, and you’ll find only the most hardworking locals busy preparing for the day. A walking food tour led by a local is another excellent way to learn about the 36 streets of the quarter and the best dishes that represent them.

If Anthony Bourdain, the late celebrity chef, chose to treat Barack Obama to a taste of this iconic bowl of grilled pork, herbs, and noodles, Hanoi’s bun cha must be pretty unique. Lotte Center Hanoi in Ba Dinh and Bun Cha Ba Duc in Quan Ba Dinh are good places to start. The unassuming restaurant where the two dined in 2016 has become legendary, but the fun scours the city for worthy competitors.

Learn to cross the road

Crossing through Hanoi traffic is a true cultural adventure and a great way to tune with the city’s rhythms. The constant flow of cars and endless lines of motorbikes in Hanoi may appear to the untrained eye to be an impenetrable wall of deadly chaos, but the trick is to be slow, steady, and predictable.

Crossing the street in Hanoi is an art form. Photo by bestprice

Drivers are accustomed to dodging approaching pedestrians, and honking is simply a polite way of signaling when someone is nearby. The most challenging part is summoning the courage to leave the sidewalk and begin walking…, especially for the first time.

Drink the world’s cheapest beer

Bia hoi, also known as “the world’s cheapest beer,” is sold in Hanoi for between 5000VND and 7000VND per glass ($0.22 to 0.31). Bia hoi, made from fermented maize, is served and consumed by the roadside, with patrons sitting and conversing casually on low plastic stools.

Hanoi is home to bia hoi. Photo by matadornetwork

The Beer Corner — the intersection of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen in the Old Quarter — is Hanoi’s busiest drinking spot; an entire street was congested with red plastic chairs, locals, travelers, and the echo of their boasts.

Try ostrich meat in Son Tay.

Believe it or not, Ostrich farming has become one of the most profitable businesses in North Vietnam. Near Son Tay are the Ba Vi mountains, a popular weekend getaway for Hanoi residents and a popular place to try African bird meat while in Asia. It’s typically served fried, as a meatloaf, or boiled in a hot pot with vegetables. If exotic meat isn’t your thing, try Ba Vi’s homegrown hill chickens fried with fresh peppers.

Enjoy the music and art scene.

Hanoi Rock City has been hosting live bands, electronic and experimental music, art events, and a regular open mic night on Wednesdays since 2010. Hanoi’s nightlife features a few well-established kinds of music and arts venues, from jazz and alternative rock bands to DJ nights. Savage in Tay Ho District opened its doors in 2016 and quickly became the city’s go-to electronic music club, attracting local and international DJs to spin the best house and techno beats.

Binh Minh Jazz Club, in the best places in Hanoi at the Old Quarter, has real strings, shiny brasses on most nights, and a selection of good whiskey pairs to live local jazz ensembles. In addition to being a popular all-day meeting spot for socializing over coffee and beers, the Hanoi Social Club in Hoan Kiem hosts regular art events.

Visit Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. Photo by guidevietnam

This museum, which opened in 1997, honors Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. It’s beneficial for those short on time but interested in anthropology: the massive collection of 15,000 artifacts and 42,000 photographs on display provides a quick and comprehensive ethnographic tour of this vast country. The gardens feature a life-sized outdoor pool of traditional houses from Vietnam’s most prominent ethnic groups.

Perfume Pagoda Hanoi

The Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong) complex’s cave shrine is one of the country’s most sacred sites. From the paddy fields to the southwest of Hanoi, steep-sided limestone hills rise. The Perfume Pagoda, named after the spring blossoms that scent the air, is located on the most easterly of these forested spurs, known as Nui Huong Tich (the “Mountain of the Perfumed Traces”). The perfume pagoda is accessible by boat, making it an excellent day trip.

Perfume Pagoda is a complex of temples, pagodas, and shrines on Huong Son mountain. Photo by vtr

The Red River Delta ends sixty kilometers southwest of Hanoi, where paddy fields give way to steep-sided limestone hills. The most easterly of these forested spurs shelters the Perfume Pagoda, Chua Huong, which is hidden in the folds of Ha Tay Province’s Mountain of the Perfumed Traces and is said to have been named after the scent of spring blossoms in the air.

The journey begins with an hour-long rowboat ride up a silent, flooded valley nestled among karst hills, where fishermen and farmers toil in flooded fields. The Perfume Pagoda is one of over thirty pagodas that dot these hills. It is housed in a spectacular cave over 50 meters high. A path paved with stones and shaded by gnarled frangipani trees leads you to the seventeenth-century Chua Thien Chu, where the boat drops you.

Exploring around Hanoi

After you’ve seen the highlights of Hanoi, there are plenty of other places to visit in the surrounding area. There are dozens of other historic structures, the most atmospheric of which are the Thay Pagoda and Tay Phuong Pagoda, which are buried deep in the delta and contain fine examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. You could also spend months discovering the delta villages, mainly the craft villages, which have managed to keep their traditions despite the constant influx of tourists.

A worthwhile stop is the Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum, which is southwest of the center and is particularly interesting if you’re leaving town on Highway 6—for example, to Mai Chau. Finally, just north of the Red River is the ancient citadel of Co Loa, which is worth a quick stop, mainly for historical reasons, as little remains of its former grandeur.

Ngan Nguyen for Local-Insider.com

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Baker turns heads with her hyper-realistic cakes

Absolutely amazing! What a talent this passionate young woman has for making our mouths water with these custom-made desserts! WOW! #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

Nguyen Hong Dao, who hated her former job as an accountant, discovered her true calling while working part-time in a bakery. 

Dao recalled that the bakery owner taught her how to write letters on cakes and how to correct minor faults before delivering them to clients. After that, she spent her free time researching recipes online and practicing making them so that she could bake delicious cakes for her loved ones. 

“I feel more at home with butter and sugar than working an office job,” she said.

She became an apprentice baker two years ago so she could stay at home and take care of her family after learning she was expecting a child. The essential skills she learned were covered in the 1.5-month-long baking and decorating course that she took. The experience made her realize that if she wanted to take her baking to the next level, she would need to do additional independent research.

“Compared to more conventional cakes, my cakes are a bit pricier,” said Dao, who lives in Bac Lieu Province. 

“I’m from a relatively remote province, where the visual appeal of baked goods is just as important as their flavor in terms of driving sales.”

Dao didn’t have any customers at first, but she baked every day nevertheless. She snapped some photos of her creations and shared them online, soliciting comments from friends and family. She got her first order after friends and relatives posted photos of her delicious cakes online. One mother ordered a castle cake with an image of Princess Elsa to surprise her daughter on her birthday. 

It took Dao several days to master the art of cake decoration. In contrast to a citadel made of cream, she used fondant and gum paste to help her cakes retain their shapes longer at room temperature.

“Back then, I wasn’t thinking about making money,” said Dao. 

“Customers asked me to bake and decorate cakes for them, and I did it because it was my passion. But I was glad to hear that the mother thought my cake looked great.”

Dao’s orders have progressively gotten more complex since her first client. A friend asked her to make a cake that resembled a wedding venue as a birthday cake for another friend who works as a wedding planner. 

She initially declined because she doubted she would be able to pull it off. However, she changed her mind after her friend reassured her: “I’m confident you can do it.” 

This replica of a wedding venue is made up of many separate sections. Since the cake’s foundation was soft, Dao was worried about constructing a stable venue. She had her husband construct a fake stage out of bamboo skewers, and she sewed her own pulp curtains for the wedding. 

“Wow!” Everyone at the party was taken aback by how lifelike and stunning it looked,” she said.

Behind every cake is the story of the person who bought it. The daughter of a woman who owns a flower shop got her mother a cake for her birthday. Dao asked for a photograph of the flower shop and drew it on the cake.

Baker turns heads with her hyper-realistic cakes

Another woman ordered a cake that looked like a bowl of shrimp for her husband, who liked noodles with intestines and chives. 

“I too wasn’t sure at first if I could do it,” she recalls. “Luckily, I did it right the first time.”

This birthday cake in the shape of an athletic shoe was requested by a wife for her husband. Dao hadn’t learned how to shape this cake yet, but he still wanted to give herself a challenge, and so she worked on it for 7 hours. Because the cake had a buttercream center, it cost more than a cake made with normal ingredients.

Dao also made a cake shaped like a book that had been soaked in water and had stains on its pages. Dao baked this cake for a student to celebrate the birthday of a history teacher. She used edible rice paper to attach each layer of paper to the outside of the cake.

“To make the pages look like the real thing, I shaped it and then sprayed it with water, before letting it dry,” she said. “After that, I stretched the cake with a rolling pin to the thickness of my liking.”

Each cake costs between VND700,000 ($29.79) and several million dong, depending on how hard it is to make the cake, how big it is, and what it’s made of.

Dao now has a respectable reputation and a comfortable income. Her husband quit his job to stay at home with his wife and help her bake cakes. 

“Even now, I’m still stressed out if I get a difficult cake order to the point that I can’t eat and sleep well,” she said. “I worry that I won’t be able to do a good enough job of making the cake look realistic and that my customers will be disappointed.” 

At the moment, the baker is working hard to come up with ideas to make a cake for her own son’s upcoming second birthday. Last year, she made and decorated cakes inspired by the children’s songs “Johny Johny Yes Papa” and “Wheels On The Bus.”

“I hope that every year as my child grows older, he will have a one-of-a-kind cake baked with his mother’s love and enthusiasm to commemorate his new age,” she added.

Written By Phan Duong & Photos courtesy of Tran Hong Dao for E.VnExpress.net

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Vietnam Architecture & Design : New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

I receive very good comments regarding our posts on the subject ‘Vietnam Architecture and Design’… do not hesitate to post your comments on our blog and on our Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/mustseeinvietnam. and show us your discoveries by writing to us at MustSeeInVietnam@Gmail.com Happy Reading #MustSeeInVietnam Editor

In the middle of Hung Yen Province’s 300-year-old Nom Village, this cosmopolitan villa exudes modernity but underneath the shiny surface are the foundational elements of robust northern Vietnamese architectural styles.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The two-story, 280-square-meter house in the northern province’s Van Lam District, belongs to a septuagenarian couple.

Every weekend, the owners’ children and grandchildren who live and work in Hanoi return to the village for family gatherings. The owners wanted to have a plush living space in harmony with the picturesque remote village’s natural surroundings.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

A team of architects took the client’s requests into account and designed a northern-style living space. The home’s greenery blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, helping its inhabitants connect with nature.

The building is split into two blocks. Lai Chau black stone tiles, chosen for their understated beauty and sense of antiquity, cover the roof, as though part of a forest canopy. This natural stone is also resistant to heat and cold, and it does not crack or chip in bad weather.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The front entryway is designed to let visitors explore the entire property’s landscape. This path leads to a large main hall space with a long veranda, recreating the most traditional of northern house designs.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The steep slope of the roof is typical of northern architecture and serves to drain rainwater and prevent it from leaking into the house.

The roof is also moved away from the base of the wall. This provides shade and keeps rain from getting on the wooden poles and walls that make up the enclosure. This layout not only increases the amount of usable space, but it also offers a porch that is shielded from the sun.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The architect used many canopies to make natural sunshades that look like green curtains. This keeps the house cool and cuts down on glare from the light-colored walls around the house. 

Wooden window systems not only block the harmful effects of direct sunlight, but they also let air in, keeping the house cool at all times.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The main functional space is divided into two distinct blocks: the shared living area and the private sleeping quarters. 

A courtyard, connected by halls and lengthy verandas, separates these two areas. The use of this as a design element is common in northern homes.
Before each functional space, buffers are set up to create a smooth transition between spaces and give people the privacy they need.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The living room’s raised ceiling serves to both promote airflow and as a conduit to the upstairs child bedroom (representing a bird’s nest). Meanwhile, a glass wall brings inhabitants closer to the outdoor space.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The garden separates the master bedroom block from the rest of the house and lets light and breezes into the building. Large glass walls are used in the garden’s design at strategic points to continue blurring the inside-outside boundaries even further.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The living area and kitchen share an open space, letting in natural light and cool air from the garden.

Using a variety of rural materials like Lai Chau black stone tiles, wood, and other natural elements provides the property with a laid-back and rustic vibe.

New villa in old village fuses contemporary and traditional

The area that connects the two main blocks is a wonderful spot for the whole family to unwind and take it easy. Homeowners can cast their gaze forward to a vast lake surrounded by calming green vegetation. In this area, people can look and see a large lake surrounded by plants that are eye-catching shades of green.

The house took 1.5 years to design and construct. The cost was not disclosed by the owners.

Written By Trang & Photos by Trieu Chien for E.VnExpress.net

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Vietnam Travel Guide : Bao Lộc

It is one of our obligations to introduce you to beautiful regions to visit in Vietnam. This morning we offer you Bao Lộc … Must See In Vietnam Editor

The pleasant little mountain town of Bao Loc has yet to be overrun by vacation crowds and provides a far quieter alternative to its neighbor Da Lat.

WHEN TO GO

To enjoy trekking, kayaking and the other best activities Bao Loc has to offer – all of which take place in the great outdoors – the dry season between December and April is the ideal time to visit.

The ideal time to go “cloud hunting” is between April and June, when droves of photographers and painters flock to capture the thick clouds and fog enveloping mountaintops and valleys.

At a comfortable altitude of 900 meters above sea level, high temperatures in Bao Loc only reach 27.4 degrees Celsius while lows dip to 16.6. 

WHAT TO EXPLORE

Lam Dong Province is famous for many of Vietnam’s most scenic waterfalls, and Bao Loc’s 90-meter Dambri Falls is the tallest around.

Dambri Waterfall in a hidden gem in Bao Loc. Photo by Duc Hung

Surrounded by a seemlingly endless tropical forest with gargantuan trees and lush bushes, the waterfall is home to a tourist park with outdoor adventure activities, a restaurant, and an elevator beside the waterfall that provides stunning views while you descend from above the falls.

To summit Dambri, you can either hike 138 concrete stairs or take the elevator. 

And to return to the lowlands you can enjoy the thrill of a 1,650-meter-long alpine roller coaster.

Visitors experience 1,650-meter-long alpine roller coaster in Bao Loc, the longest in Southeast Asia. Photo by Duc Hung

Dambri’s coaster is the longest in Southeast Asia and is also definitely a must-try. Admiring those views with the wind blowing through your hair is an experience second to none.

Local life

At the foot of Dambri Falls lies Chau Ma village where ethnic minority tribes have been living for generations. Visitors can join locals for a barrel of tube wine (ruou can), a libation unique to Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Villagers also put on gong dances and other unforgettable performances. 

Another rare experience you won’t want to miss out on is staying overnight in a treehouse in the middle of the forest. That’s right: a real treehouse. These houses are made entirely of wood which are environmentally friendly. The houses are nestled into strong old trees near the edge of the waterfall. 

Treehouses in Dambri. Photo courtesy of Dambri Waterfall Tourist Area

A night’s stay costs VND800,000 for a couple, including breakfast, coffee, and drinking water. 

Pagoda among the white clouds

Spiritually minded Bao Loc visitors can travel 25km north of downtown to the top of Mount Dai Binh for visit at the beautiful Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda. 

This gorgeous hilltop temple became famous after being featured in a music video by Vpop singer Son Tung MTP in 2016.

Linh Quy Phap An overlooks a sea of white clouds on top of Dai Binh Mountain in Bao Loc Town. Photo courtesy of Gotadi Tour

The pagoda’s design is a mix of traditional Vietnamese and Japanese architectures, with Japanese wooden gates erected to guard the holy site. 

It also features a Japanese-style rock garden where monks gather for dharma talks and discussions on the Buddha’s teaching.

The pagoda consists of three major structures: a contemplation hall, a library and a sanctuary. Separated from busy residential areas, the atmosphere here is quiet and enveloped by green forests and tea gardens.

However, the road to the pagoda is narrow and steep. Some locals offer tourists motorbike rides to the site, but this is risky and dangerous. 

The best way to get there is to climb a few hundred steps from a parking lot below the pagoda. To reach the parking lot, just walk about 100m up the slope leading to the pagoda and turn right.

Cloud hunting at Loc Thanh Pass at an altitude of nearly 1,000 meters is also not to be missed. Here you need an experienced veteran driver to transport you because the road is perpetually shrouded in thick fog and the steep sliding slopes are slicked with mud. 

The top of Loc Thanh pass in Bao Loc Town is surrounded by green mountains. Photo by Kim Nhan

According to locals, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. is the best time to view the clouds atop Loc Thanh.

Roughing it

Camping at the Madagui eco-tourism area should also be part of your itinerary. Situated about 22 kilometers east of Cat Tien National Park, Madagui is surrounded by dense green jungles and is home to a cave system ideal for trekking and teambuilding. 

The most popular activity here is to hike the cave system, which comprises four main caves, each dedicating to worshiping a different ancient god.

In addition, boat rides, ziplines, cycling, fishing and swimming are also available at Dambri. 

Bicycle-Gems-28-6792-1670556048.jpg
Visitors experience cyclying, boating and hiking in Madagui eco-tourism area. Photos courtesy of Madagui 

Entry tickets to the Dambri tourism park cost VND20,000 per person, while hotel room rates range from VND250,000 to 1.2 million a night.

Intrepid travelers can instead opt to rent a tent or dorm room for VND80,000-120,000 per person. But bring your bug spray!

Tea time

The Tam Chau tea plantation in Bao Loc has been overlooked by tourists since it opened in 2001. 

Every day farmers gather at the tea factory around 7 a.m. and then walk into the hills to pick tea buds. Visitors can mingle for photos on the hilly slopes covered in tea plants and also learn about the tea growing, picking and making processes. 

Bao Loc is famous for tea hills, earning its nickname ‘tea capital of Vietnam’s Central Highlands.’ Photo by Gia Thinh

Bike and motorbike rental services allow visitors to explore the tea hills and factories to see how Vietnam’s famous tea is produced.

Located 120 kilometers from Da Lat, Tam Chau is not easily found by first-timers so you should hire a guide or ask directions from locals because the road is a challenging mix of red dirt and mud.

Old church

Another interesting Bao Loc site is the old Bao Loc Church, the town’s biggest worship area. Its large campus can accommodate 3,000 parishioners per service.

This is the largest church in Bao Loc. Photo courtesy of Bao Loc Church

Work on the church started in 1994 and it officially opened in 1999. The church’s architecture is a blend of traditional Vietnamese and Western styles.

The church is supported by 12 pillars representing the 12 apostles of the Catholic Church.

WHERE TO STAY

Unlike the tourism hub of Da Lat, there are not many high-end accommodations in Bao Loc, as this destination remains off the beaten track. 

Some high-end resorts worth considering are The Eco Tropicana Garden and DoiDep Tea Resort, both surrounded by nature and offering rooms from VND1.5-2 million a night. 

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The Eco Tropicana Garden and DoiDep Tea Resort. Photos courtesy of the resorts

For budget tourists, try smaller hotels such as the Sen Villa Boutique, Minh Nhung Hotel and An Ngoc Linh Hotel, all of which generally offer prices below VND1 million.