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Are you boring with touristic attraction around Hanoi and Old Quarter? Are you a real trekker? Do you want to find some new challenge during your time in Hanoi? If your answer is YES, you are reading the right post.On this post, I want to introduce a new places for both of local and foreign tourists – Ham Lon Moutain. As on my title, this is the highest places in Hanoi and is considered as the roof of Hanoi. It is located only 50 km from Hanoi’s Old Quarter towards North Thang Long – Noi Bai expressway. the way is very easy for motor-bikers to reach this places. It will just take you approximately one hour. Therefore, you can conquer this mountain on day or you can stay longer if you want to watch the sunset and sunrise on the mountain. Besides, on the foot this mountain, there is a large lake and is very suitable for you to camp over-night and have BBQ at night.

Camping area at the bottom of Ham Lon - the roof of Hanoi

Camping area at the bottom of Ham Lon – the roof of Hanoi

One more interesting information about this moutain is that there are many prosfessional trekker and young tourists who pracatice to conquer the Fansipan – the highest mountain in Indochina. That’s why it aslo has another nickname:” Fansipan inside Hanoi”. The highest point of this moutain is 462m.

To get more information, you can click: Indochina tours Vietnam

Every name has a meaning but after 3 times travelling to this places, I did not know why the local people call this moutain “Ham Lon”. In English, Ham Lon is “Pig Jaw” !??!! Most of local people just know that this name was considered as official name of this mountain for a long time and no one can understand why their grandparents call this moutain as “Pig Jaw”.

There two main path to touch the top this moutain. However, after 3 times conquer this moutain, I found that there are at least 6 paths to reach the top but for the first time, you should follow 02 main paths which there are many trekers choose. One path is very easy and suitable for biking. If you are professional biker, you can try. However, I have to remind that you are a real professional biker who try conquering high moutain before. With this path, you just start the foot of the mountain and make it all the way to the top through a fairly flat trail, of which the entire climb can take about two and a half hours. Visiting the Nui Bau Lake right at the start of the trail can give one a relaxing mood and get ready for the fight to the steep. Please to remind that you if you get lost, please to scream out and will someone will raise their voice to get back to you and you can follow their voice. However, this is the only way to find the support from other trekking groups because there is not any instruction board. If you feel unsafe with this trip, you can pay for some local people on the foot of moutain, then they will go with you for the whole day. It will cost you around 200,000 VND (around USD 10) for a whole day with local guide who can not speak English. One more note about this path is that it will covered by many bushes, so you should wear clothes covering all of part of your hand and knee. If you wear tank-top or short clothes, you will be hunted by bushes. On the first time, I wore short clothes and I had to pay for this with many scratches on my skin. The bushes on this moutain is not normal because I had tingle on my skin for a month. It seems be very dangerous for your skin. These below picture will show you how beautiful the easy path is

Easy

Most of tourists will choose the easy route to reach the top.

Yellow reeds along the easy route

Yellow reeds along the easy route- source: internet

Nice picture was taken on the easy route with full of yellow reeds along the path.

Nice picture was taken on the easy route with full of yellow reeds along the path – source: internet

The difficult route is a option for tourists who have greater taste for adventure and discovery. I love this path but you will need some trekking equipments. You will have to cross small streams or through the bushes, the biggest slippery stones ever. Besides, there are some deep chasm, so climbing gear will be very useful. You will have no standard route here, climbers who prefer to reach the top this way will have to create their own road. It will take you about four to five hours to reach the peak at 462m through this route. Please to note that you should not try this way if you do not have any trekking experiences before. On this route, you can hire a local guide without speaking English but the price can be higher around at 300,000-400,000 VND for a whole day. In my personal opinion, if you decide to choose thi route, you accept a challenge and will not have to be based on any guide. For me, this route give me a special survival experiences. After that time with this route, I decided to discover other routes when I travel to Ham Lon. As I mentioned, I think that now, I can go to the top with 6 routes. Now, if I have free time at the weekend, I will go with my best friend to relax and free stress with this moutain. One more fun fact that I got lost once time and it took me 6,5 hours to reach the top. I feel worried a little bit but it was really memorable experience for us because we went into old forest and need the assistance of army man to back to easy route.

Difficult route is suitable for adventure/ trekking lovers

Difficult route is suitable for adventure/ trekking lovers

When you reach the top of Ham Lon Moutain,  you will see a fairly flat area and you can camp here to over-night or have lunch with BBQ there.

View from the peak of Ham Lon

View from the peak of Ham Lon

Please to remember collect all of rubbish after your camping and bring all things from Ham Lon Moutain after your trip. There are many younger camp on this area and throw many rubbish. It is really a shame.

I suggest you to get top through difficult route and get down the foot of mountain with easy path. I hope that you will have special and memorable experiences as I did with the roof of Hanoi.

 

Cat Ba is surely the name that pops up on your searching computer screen while planning a beach break in North Vietnam. You may be surprised to know that this beautiful “pearl island” is the biggest island (200 km2) in famed Ha Long Bay area and only 25 km away from Halong City and it is also a great destination for beach & sun lovers.According to Lonely Planet: “Cat Ba Island is caves, jungles and waterfalls”. Cat Ba has a lot to offer: rugged limestone mountains, hot & cold springs, moist tropical forests, coral reefs and pristine beaches. Therefore, it was recognized as Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005.

If you are wishing for an escape from the city madness and hectic work schedules, Cat Ba is actually a stunning destination or you in a couple of days with a variety of activities to enjoy: Hiking/Trekking in the National Park, Kayaking, Cave Exploration, Cruise tour, Biking or Fishing and Cultural Discovery. For more detail information about activities, you can view: Indochina Tours Vietnam

Cat Ba trekking national park (Half day)

Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986 which is situated 15 km to the North West of Cat Ba Town with the expansion of 15,200 ha. This park not only contains 9,800 ha of forests, tourists coming here may be surprised at lots of fabulous caves.

The National Park was the first national park in Vietnam that includes both terrestrial and marine ecosystems that is also recognized for its biodiversity conservation.

Here is the recommended itinerary for short trek lasting for 4 hour in Cat Ba National Park:

Depart: 8am or 1pm

Return: 12am or 5pm

8.00 You are met up with our tour guide to start the trip from your hotel in Cat Ba town. Take a minibus or motorbike to the Cat Ba national park for about 20 minutes.  At first, we will take 2 or 3 hours trekking through the Kim Giao forest (which provides the wood for chopsticks used by kings in the past) to the view point on top of the mountain where you can see a breath taking view of valleys. Bird watching and if you are lucky, you will see some wild animals: Squirrels, snakes, frogs, thousands of butterflies and monkey earning food…

A short trek through Cat Ba  National Park is an amazing experience

A short trek through Cat Ba  National Park is an amazing experience

11.00 Come down, on the way come back to visit the Hospital Cave – a natural cave were used as a hospital in Vietnam War. Hospital Cave is served both as a secret, bomb-proof hospital during the Vietnam War and as a safe house for VC leaders. Built between 1963 and 1965, this incredibly well-constructed three-storey feat of engineering was in constant use until 1975. The cave is about 10km north of Cat Ba Town on the road to the national park entrance.Then we go to the beach for a swim. Trip ends at your hotel in Cat Ba.

Cat Ba Adventurous Rock Climbing Tour (Half day)

Cat Ba is an ideal place for those who love adventure sports as this island owns 367 islands of various and there are many beautiful cliffs in Lan Ha Bay that are not so challenging for beginners if you are newbie to this sport.

A popular mountain climbing site in Cat Ba: Butterfly Valley

A popular mountain climbing site in Cat Ba: Butterfly Valley

It also has been loved by many professional climbers for its amazing place to climb with countless beautiful limestone faces and incredible experience to slippery green cliff or steep ones. There are many wonderful routes but you must be careful as the bolts and rappell biners corrode within a few years due to the ocean air so a clear insight into current information on new routes, access, and closures, guidebook is a must to preserve your safety and be a good preparation for your climbing.

Daily tailor made sample trip of rock climbing in Lan Ha bay area will look like below:

8:30am – 9:00am: Coastline ride into the small farming village of Lien Minh

9:00am – 9:30am: Basic instruction and introduction to Rock Climbing

9:30am – 12:30pm: Guided Rock Climbing in Butterfly Valley

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Delicious lunch on a bee farm with fresh local foods

1:30pm – 2:00pm: Return to Cat Ba Town

Kết quả hình ảnh cho cat ba climbing tour rock

Another popular mountain climbing is Ben Beo Wall which overlooks the main fishing harbor on the island and this wall contains the highest concentration of hard climbs in the area; The Face where you can take in the wonder of northern Lan Ha Bay during your climbing.

Cat Ba – Lan Ha Bay – Monkey Island Cruising & Kayaking

Lan Ha Bay belongs to Cat Ba islands area, Hai Phong city and is located to the south of Ha Long Bay. As it also has hundreds of islands like Halong Bay so many people assume that this belongs to Ha Long Bay. However, Lan Ha bay is different with hundreds of islets with small sandy beaches. So this is paradise for tourists to go swimming, go kayaking, rock climbing or staying overnight in a bungalow. The other activities that you can pay a short visit are: Viet Hai Fishing village, Cai Beo Floating market or swimming at Ba Trai Dao Islet.

A day will not be fulfilled without a kayaking "contest"

A day will not be fulfilled without a kayaking “contest”

You may take a look at the itinerary as followings:

Depart: 9 am

Return: 12: 30 am

09h00 – 10h00: Depart from your hotel to visit Lan Ha Bay. Taking photos of the scenes with hundreds of small beautiful islets on the way. Visit one of floating fishing villages on the bay and explore how the local people live. There are a lot of fish-farming water houses with many different shapes but all have some common features of Vietnamese fishing village.

A fishing village floating on the bay

A fishing village floating on the bay

10h00 – 11h00: Do kayaking in one of the most beautiful area on Lan Ha bay (1 hour)

11h00 – 11h45: Boat arrive Van Boi islet, it is time for relaxing, sunbathing on the deck, swimming in the fresh water

11h45 – 12h15: Getting back the boat and  on the way back, you visit Monkey Island, where there are lots of monkeys living freely.

Hope several of above day trip suggestions will satisfy your concern on what to do in Cat Ba.

Happy traveling!

Birthdays in Vietnam

I believe most of people in this world know the meaning of our birthday.  It is the occasion when a person or an institution celebrates the anniversary of their birth. Birthdays are celebrated differently in numerous cultures and countries but commonly with gifts and parties. With this article, I would like to happily share with you some interesting truths about Vietnamese age and how we celebrate our birthday.

Birthday together

Birthday together

Years ago, the Vietnamese use lunar calendar for our daily lives, for work and for a lot of festivals and celebrations of our country. My grandparents said the dates which had been indicated in their ID were not their birthday even though it was exact, as it had to follow the lunar calendar. The farmers believe the lunar calendar is more useful in the way they calculate when to plant and harvest the crop. Tet Holiday, Han Thuc (Cold Food) Festival, Hung Kings Commemorations, or Full moon festival are all celebrated based on lunar calendar. However, nowadays, with the aim of becoming a developing country and to catch up with the international standard, Vietnam mostly uses the normal calendar as many other nations in the world.

The second fun fact is that we generally count age from Tet which means everyone gets one year older after Tet (lunar new year). No matter when our birth date is, the older people usually wish us health and a happy new age on this occasion. But it is just our tradition, it never works for any government agency, for example, you just can get the driver license if you are from fully 18 years old according to your ID.

Me in my third birthday in 1997

When I was a kid, there was a common thing among us is that I sent the invitations to all friends of mine to my house. My parents would prepare cakes, fruits, snacks and other sweet junk food for us. It was such as mess as there were friends from the neighbor and my classmates, not everyone knew each other.  Now as being an adult, those parties are not organized often as we gradually tend to gather with our family and very close friends. Instead of sweetening snacks, we enjoy a huge meal and cannot forget alcohol. Still, we give gifts to each other and remain the spirit “Cua it long nhieu” or in English, it means plenty of money does not count, the heart does.

A typical birthday party for kids 10 years ago

A typical birthday party for kids 10 years ago- source: internet

A few days ago, our general director – Mr. Tim Lee – decided to plan a trip for the whole company personnel in order to celebrate the 9th anniversary of Indochina Voyages travel.  He wanted to cheer us up after the long busy and stressful time in the office and to understand more on each staff during the time we travel, eat and sleep together. It was a memorable and fun outing trip to Da Bac – a district of Hoa Binh province, a newly discovered attraction for tourism that I would like to share with you later on another article. On the night of IV’s birthday, we spent time playing games, chatting and talking a lot about what we did in the last year and what we can do to make it better. And for me, it was one of the most open-minded conversations ever since I joined the team and it let me know how sometimes we need a special occasion to sit down together to celebrate and to listen.

Indochina Voyages outing

Indochina Voyages outing

Some of my clients travel in their birthday. Even when they did not mention about it, sales team in Indochina Voyages still noticed from the booking form and found some ways to surprise them. Sometimes it is just a birthday cake, a champagne bottle or a small Vietnam traditional party, our clients were very happy and appreciate it. If you are looking for a trip to Vietnam during your birthday or anniversary you can trust us, we are not the professional event planner but we do it with our heart.

Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms! What should you do in the evening in Hanoi? Would you like to explore Folk culture? After a few days visiting Hanoi, visitors may like to see something different, something is unique just being held in Vietnam? Outside the usual scope of performances tourists attend – mostly water puppetry – exists the Viet Theater’s artistic interpretation of “Lên Đồng” or “Hầu Đồng”, a traditional ritual in which a medium is possessed by several deities. Tứ Phủ – The Four Palace show is one of the latest shows in Hanoi that has been nurtured, idealized and arranged for 4 years before officially presented in late February 2016 in Cong Nhan Theatre which is three-minute walk to Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.

“The four palaces” or Tu Phu Performance was inspired by the ritual of the spiritual medium ship (Len Dong) of the Mother Religion believing in The Mother Goddess who brings about favorable weather, happiness and fullness to people.

What does Four Palaces mean?

Vietnam is already home to world intangible cultural heritages, including Nha Nhac (royal court music), the Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands, Quan Ho (love duets), Ca tru (ceremonial singing) and Hung King worshipping rituals. In 2016, Vietnam summited the dossier on “the belief of the Mother Goddess of Three Realms worship by Vietnamese” for UNESCO recognition.

Mother Goddess worship is a traditional practice in Vietnam with a long history, having stood the test of social changes. The belief in Mother Goddess worship reflects people’s desire for health, wealth and fortune. The practice rituals meet belief-related needs by people in their daily life and have been closely associated with historical and cultural figures, such as Lieu Hanh, Au Co, Vuong Mau (legendary Mother of Saint Giong).

The practitioners are comprised of temple guardians, ritual priests, spirit mediums, mediums’ assistants, musicians who perform the songs for the spirits, disciples and lay adherents who share the same beliefs in the spiritual power, supernatural strength and protection of the Mother Goddess spirit pantheon. All of these practitioners form groups who worship together, take part in traditional festivals and perform spirit possession rituals at temples and palaces dedicated to Mother Goddesses. The folk belief shows the respect of children towards their mothers while reflecting the UNESCO spirit of preserving cultural and religious diversity.

If you interest this post, please view: Indochina travel Vietnam to get more detail information

As a type of folk arts, Len Dong ritual is a spiritual performance

The reincarnatation of Goddess of Mountain & Forest Performance

The reincarnatation of General “Ong Muoi“ Performance

Four Palace Show

Four Palaces is created by Viet Theatre, is the 1st performance to bring Hau Dong ceremony of the Viet Belief on Mother Goddesses (Dao Mau) which is now recognized by UNESCO as the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage to the stage. Four Palaces show honors the magnificence, sophistication of the art in Dao Mau to introduce to the international audiences in Hanoi. The show is an exciting and spiritual journey that combines the effects of sound, light, and unique visuals during the 45-minute performance. The Four Palaces Show has three parts:

  • The Reincarnation of the Second Lady of the Highland
  • The Reincarnation of the Tenth Prince
  • The Reincarnation of the Little Princess of Highlands

Schedule: Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Duration: 45 minutes

Location: City centre – Cong Nhan Theatre (Add: 42 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi)

Enjoy the show.

Whenever someone mentioned to Ninh Binh, most of people will think about Trang An Complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda – the largest Buddhism pagoda in Vietnam, Tam Coc, Hoa Lu – ancient capital. Even you had one full day trip to Ninh Binh before, I still believe that most of you never heard about Dancing Cave – Hang Mua.Dancing cave is located Khe Dau Ha Village (Ninh Xuan Commune, Hoa Lu District). Dancing cave name associated with the legend: the king of the Tran Thai Hoa Lu Am set Vi, King often come here to listen music from beauties, and Harem dance, so the cave was named dancing cave.

To get more information about Ninh Binh, please click: Indochina travel Vietnam

Dancing-cave-looks-like-small-sized-Great-Wall-in-China

Dancing cave looks like small-sized Great Wall in China

Dancing cave is located at the foot of the mountain. Shape of this moutain looks like a bell, is about 800 Square Meters. The path to trek up to the yop of this mountain was built modeled on the architecture of the Great Wall of China but the number of steps is much less with around 486 stone steps.

steps-to-top-of-mua-cave-ninh-binh

486 stone steps to reach the top of Dancing Cave

There are two way to entre the cave. You can visit Tam Coc by boat and pay a extra fee to require the sampan man to sail to this cave. I will not highly recommend this way to any tourists who never visit Indochina area before because the Sampan man can charge foreign tourist unbelievable fee to visit this cave. Besides, they will not wait for your for a long time to visit all parts of Dancing cave. Another way is drive to the main entrance of Dancing cave and buy a ticket (VND 100.000 per person). Then, you will have more time to discover all at this place.

You will feel so wasteful if you pay VND 100.000 and just visit a normal cave. I want to remind that Dancing cave is not different so much with other cave in Tam Coc and Trang An or Halong bay. Besides, with someone, they feel it uninteresting and the price is so much high until they start trekking to the top of the mountain and complete nearly 500 steps.  Then, they realize that the view over the countryside from the  temple which is on the top of moutain is stunning. It will be an unforgettable memory of your trip in Ninh Binh if you touch the top of moutain at around 5:00pm.

a-picture-of-Sunset-from-Dancing-Cave

a picture of Sunset from Dancing Cave at around 5:30pm

On the final part, I will share to you how I will arrange my full travelling day in Ninh Binh. This will be based on my first trip to Ninh Binh 02 years ago. I think that I am a Vietnamese people but my first time will be same with yours. On the first time, I was wondering if I should visit Tam Coc or Trang An because both of them are so beautiful, especially in the paddy season in Tam Coc. After a few days discussing with my companion, I will decide to see both of them and Hoa Lu Temple only on day. In the early morning, we drive to Trang An Complex from Hanoi. choose a private boat for two of us (we are big boys and do not want to share our boat, so we buy 4 tickets for two of us to enjoy Trang An). Remember that if you have much time and will not back to hanoi for flight or anything else, please remind staffs at port that you want to visit all caves and all pagodas in Trang An. The total time for this place is more than 3 hours. We also choose visit Trang An in the morning and end before 11:00am. You can avoid strong sunshine at noon.

After that, we drive to a local restaurant near Trang An and enjoy burned rice and goat meat (specialties of Ninh Binh province). Take a rest at restaurant before driving to Hoa Lu – Ancient Capital. From Trang An boat station, Hoa Lu is only a few kilometres further on. After one hours visiting Hoa Lu and learning its history, we drive to Dancing Cave. Normally, you will have to back to Trang An boat station to get to Dancing cave easily by passing Trang An Street. However, we decided to drive to 38B route and this way will be 3km farther than driving back to Trang An Boat station and follow Trang An street. However, I did not want to drive again on one route so many times, so we choose the longest way with 38B route. Besides, the scene on this way is very authentic and peaceful. You will also across Sao Khe river before arriving in Dancing cave.

As most of other tourists, we was not impressed so much by the cave but we knew that the most intersting part is waiting for us with completing nearly 500 steps to touch the small temple on the top and enjoy the sunset. We thought that 500 steps would not be a big problems but it was. We start trekking at 3:00pm in summer time (the temperature is 33-36°C) and we had just prepared only 500ml water bottle for two of us when we visited Dancing Cave. I want to suggest that you should bring more water if you want to reach the top because it will be fairly tired. There are some tourists gave up and just stayed at the middle way to take some picture. For us, we never want to waste our money and time for this, so we try to our best to reach the top. The final result is really amazing and can not describe on my words.

over-view-of-Tam-Coc-from-the-top-of-Dancing-Cave

over-view of Tam Coc from the top of Dancing Cave in June

May and June are hot summer month in Vietnam but they are the best time to see the yellow rice fields in Tam Coc. In conclude, the cave in Tam Coc and Trang An are not different so much, so you should choose one of them to pay for boat to visit caves. In my opinion, you should choose Trang An because it has much caves and they are more beautiful. However, the surrounding view with rice field of Tam Coc is more amazing in paddy/harvest season (from May to June, the view will be the most beautiful). You will not want to pay more for boat, or spend much time on boat to visit boring caves after Trang An but still want to look over-view about Tam Coc’s rice field, right? The Dancing cave will be the best good option. This will be suitable for tourists who love trekking, challenge a little bit, less tourist places and taking amazing photos. I just want to give you small note that you should start trekking before 4:00pm and get down before 6:00pm (may be earlier in the winter) because the way will be very dangerous in the dark and the sky will get dark very quickly after sunset

I hope that my experience and sharing will be helpful and make you a wonderful trip in Ninh Binh with Dancing Cave in your plan.

As you know Vietnam is a long history country with diversity in culture, cuisine and religion. For religion, Vietnam will be influenced by China, Indochina region, and Europe, so there are many religion in Vietnam. But, there is a very strange thing that nowadays, 80% of Vietnamese is non-religious and they donot follow any religion totally. However,  Buddhism was the first religion in Vietnam and influenced strongly on what Vietnamese people believe and how they live until now. That’s why Buddhism is not our official religion and now, there is not much people following this religion totally but we still have many ancient Buddhist pagodas all around the country. I will list 8 Buddhist pagoda is considered as the most famous pagoda in Vietnam.

In the part one, I will introduce 4 pagoda in Northern Vietnam. the Northern Vietnam will cover a half od list because this part of Vietnam is influenced by Chinese culture and belief. Besides, in the past, the North is Buddhist center of the whole country.

1. The Mot Cot Pagoda – One Pillar Pagoda

The Mot Cot Pagoda (One Pillar pagoda), which is one of two symbols of Hanoi – capital of Vietnam in 1049, is also recognized as the most architecturally unique. This pagoda is known with another name – The Lotus  Pagoda

Onepilar

The Mot Cot Pagoda – One Pillar Pagoda

The temple was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. According to the court records, Ly Thai Tong was childless and dreamt that he met the Kuan Yin – Goddess of mercy handing him a boy while seating on a lotus flower. The Emperor then married a peasant girl and they had a son. In 1049, he decided to construct a temple in gratitude for this important event. He thought that Goddess of mercy gave his son to his life. At this age, based on Asian culture, a son was very important for all of family, especially for Emperor or Royal family. The pagoda was built in a style of a lotus emerging out of the water as Emperor Ly Thai Tong dreamed . The temple is built of wood on a single stone pillar 1.25 m in diameter, and it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of purity, since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond. That is the reason why the nick-name of One Pillar Pagoda is the Lotus Pagoda.

During the Ly Dynasty, the temple was the site of an annual royal ceremony on the occasion of Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. A Buddha-bathing ceremony was held annually on April 8 in the Lunar Calendar by the monarch, and it attracted monks and laymen alike to the ceremony. The monarch would then free a bird, which was followed by the people.

However, you will never have chance to see the original version of this pagoda because it was destroyed by French Union force in 1954 during The First Indochina War. After this war, Vietnamese Government decided to re-build this iconic symbol with the same architecture and size.

The best time to visit: Whenever you want because this pagoda is located at the heart of Hanoi and you’ll have no trouble getting there. However, you should note the opening time: 08:00-11.30 daily and 14:00-16:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday

2. Chua Huong (Perfume pagoda) – Hanoi

Perfume Pagoda is a very large complex of Buddhist temples which was built into a limestone Mountain – Huong Tich. It is located in Huong Son (Perfume Mountain), 75 km southwest of Hanoi. Because it is located in Perfume Mountain, so most of local people call this complex is Perfume Pagoda and after a long time, now everybody considers this is the real name of this complex. Most of travellers think that Perfume Pagoda is only a pagoda in the mountain but it is a very big complex of many small temples, and shrines. The center part of Perfume Pagoda Complex is “Huong Tich” temple. However the most important part of this central temple is Trong Temple (Inner Temple). It is built deep inside Huong Tich Cave, so local people call it with the simple name – Inner Temple. This is the main part of Perfume Pagoda Complex and there are many local tourists will visit during Lunar New Year to pray for health and luck. Besides, Perfume Pagoda Festival will start from 6 Jan to the end of March (Lunar calendar), so you should not visit Perfume Pagoda Complex during this time every year. Please to check the calendar and itinerary carefully if you do not want to have bad experiences on traffic jam, the expensive for every service there and especially you may be stuck between thousands of local people. Believe me! It will be a very horrible experience, despite I am real Vietnamese.  It look like pilgrimage with thousands Buddhists.

Perfume-Pagoda41

Chua Huong – Perfume Pagoda

I will give you a quick brief about history of this complex. On the first there is only one Temple name as Huong Son Thien Tru Pha which nowadays, we call Huong Tich temple , was built during the reign of Le Chinh Hoa (1680-1705). On his way to search for enlightenment, he met and followed a monk who help him build Huong Tich Temple after that. Other shrines and temples were later built in this area to take advantage of the local beautiful scenery.
Perfume pagoda has a long history in Vietnamese literature. This temple has been a theme of many songs, topic of poetry, used in literary works as well as backdrops for paintings.

Now, you can go up by cable cabin to reach the top and go down by trekking to watch the beautiful view of river and Perfume Mountain. In case you do not have enough energy, you can use cable cabin for both up and down ways.

3. Yen Tu Mountain – Halong City

In Halong city, you just hear about Halong bay or Bai Tu Long bay which there are many luxury cruises for tourists to visit these famous bays. Howver, in Halong, there are many other attractions and Yen Tu Pagoda is one of them.

It is located in Thuong Yen Cong Commune, about 40 kilometres far way from Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province. Yen Tu Moutain is one of the most  beautiful mountain in the Northern Vietnam with silky streams around bamboo forests; green pine forests, and towers and ancient temples were hidden dimly
Yen Tu region is well-known worldwide for its beautiful landscapes, historical relics and hundreds of ancient pagodas and towers, especially Bronze Pagoda, with its peak at 1,068 meters above sea level.

This pagoda is famous and more popular after King Tran Nhan Tong devoted his life as a Buddhist monk in Yen Tu after his abdication.

4.  Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex – Ninh Binh City

Bai Dinh Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain in Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province. This complex consists of the original old temple and a newly created larger temple. Nowadays, It is considered the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam and become more and more popular for Buddhist pilgrims from not only all over Vietnam but also from neighbor countries

Bai-Dinh-Pagoda-complex-travel

Bai Dinh Pagoda – the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam

This complex was rewarded many records in Vietnam and also in Asia likze bell in Vietnam, the longest corridor with 500 Arhat statues, and the largest number of Bodhi trees at a Buddhist pagoda complex

However, this pagoda is still a new pagoda in Vietnam. It is very young, built in 2003 and completed in 2010. Besides, biggest bronze, Trikava and 500 Arhat statues,this pagoda still have a very large structure, the Tam Thế Hall. It rises to 34 m at its roof ridge and measuring over 59 m in length. The construction materials are stone and timber from Ninh Binh, tiles from Bat Trang – Ceramic Village near Hanoi… However, it is  still a new pagoda, so the main part of this construction is still from reinforced concrete. In spite of this, the temple was built on traditional Vietnamese pagoda structure with its curve finials and corner eaves soaring up and down. They had the shape of the phoenix’s tail or dragon head – symbol of power and hope. All of decorations of pagoda inside tis complex were selected carefully from artisanals who are living at the famous local handicraft villages around  Ninh Binh Province

You can visit this pagoda in the afternoon after visit Trang An by local wooden boat. The total complex of this Bai Dinh is very large, so you can rent electric cars with around USD5 per person to visit all of must-see attractions inside.

 

 

Located in Mekong River Delta of Southern Vietnam, approximately 135km from Saigon, Vinh Long province is now easily accessible by car via the National Road 1A and the My Thuan Bridge.Let’s join with us in one day tour in Vinh Long to see what this province offers.

After 2 hours driving from the center of Saigon, we reached to the pier and embarked on a cruise. Our tour guide was a very friendly woman in the traditional costume a – the “ba ba” shirt and the traditional hat.

Our cruise took us to visit the brick kilns. It was a small factory but without machinery. The local people was creating beautiful potteries from clay by their own hands. We were surprised at how manually way they were doing cause it’s the 21st century already!

Pottery making in Vinh Long

Pottery making in Vinh Long

This man is focusing on making the pottery We came back to the boat and continue the trip by visiting a local workshop, where many local products were producing every day. Seeing how the coconut candy is made and try doing the rice paper by ourself. At first, we thought it was very easy to make, but it is always easier to look than done. It requires lots of technique and experience to make perfect products and the woman who made these things are really artists.

Will try making the rice paper by yourself? It requires more technique than you thought

Will try making the rice paper by yourself? It requires more technique than you thought

We also had the chance to see how they make the pop rice and popcorn by a traditional way with a big hot pot and the special kind of sands. All were done beautifully and followed a smooth procedure.

This is the way how pop rice candy made

This is the way how pop rice candy made – source: internet

We enjoyed some kinds of candies and a cup of hot tea prepared by the friendly local people.

The boat took us to visit the orchard and traditional house of Ut Trinh family. We had a tasty lunch made with fresh local ingredients. After that, we enjoyed some kinds of fresh seasonal fruits when listening to the traditional music of local people. We then walked around the orchard to see the varieties of tropical fruits such as the jackfruit, durian, rambutan, mango, etc.

In the afternoon, we passed on a small rowing boat – as known as the sampan to go deeper into the countryside on smaller canals and enjoy a peaceful time. It was so interesting to see traditional houses made of wood or palm tree leaves and see some activities of the local farmers, see how they picked up fruits by ancestral ways in Mekong Delta.

Happy biking time!

Happy biking time!

The last activity of the trip is biking! We biked on the small roads around the orchard, yellow flowers were blooming on the way and there were some fruits hanging right above our heads! What a peaceful time! On the way, we passed a school and saw the children were playing at their break time playing some traditional games. It seemed like this place hasn’t been affected by the technology, the smartphones and social network.

Children are helping their parents to do some handcrafting. The products are made from water hyacinth

Children are helping their parents to do some handcrafting. The products are made from water hyacinth

We back to the cruise and headed to Vinh Long city, where our car was waiting to take us back to Saigon. What an interesting day with many new things to see and do in Vinh Long!