Archive for July, 2012

Millet is thought to have originated in Ethiopia, North Africa.  The millets are a group of higlhly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for both human food and fodder.  In Vietnam, we have this sweet treat “ Bánh đa Kê” from Millet.

Bánh đa Kê vendor

Selling by the vendor on bicycles along the crowded streets in Hanoi, Bánh đa Kê was a simple & cheap dessert on a summer day. Millet is cooked into thick paste, then with a piece of crunchy crackers (this you will see at any bia hoi – draught beer place in Hanoi), the seller will spread a thick layer of millet on, another layer of ground mung bean, and top with a thin layer of sugar.

It depends on people’s taste, some like less mung bean and more sugar. The seller then will make a crack in between and fold the crackers and put it on each other like a sandwich. Millet may not smell but the smell of mung bean and the crackers may will invite you for a bite now.

Bánh đa Kê

The taste of crunchy crackers, with the sweetness of sugar and mung bean somewhat makes a perfect yet strange taste. If you ever pass by a lady with a basket on a bicycle and a small cardboard at the back “ Bánh đa kê” then that is what I am talking about.

A small “Bánh đa kê” cost 5,000vnd (~25 cent USD).


Read Full Post »

 I know what boat category I would go for, but there are still many choices!

Congratulations you have stepped into the well of information for Halong Bay Junks. But at least, you know the general information, and now it’s time to digg in and get out the character of each boat and make sure it matchs your need.

To the time this post is written, most of the cruises are still cruising on the same route. This area is allowed for tourism. If you want to rent the boat and just sail anywhere in the bay, so far – it is impossible, unless you are under NAT Geo for a special project. When I mentioned “most of the cruises” – mean there are boats – running on a different route away from the crowded tourist area. So if you want to do something different. This is when you make your choice.

Below is the route map of 2 or 3 days you will take. Not exactly all the boats are the same, but they are very similar.

Halong Bay Cruise Route Map

All luxury boats will nest in the more private parts of the bay so you wont be bothered by a serie of floating boats surrounding you to look at a starry night. Most people said a 2 day trip is enough, but I will say it depends on the season you are going. On the freezing & grey days in the winter, I dont see a point of spending 3 days in the bay. And on great sunny summer days, 2 days is not enough – in theory, you will only be on boat for 24 hour (check in at 12:00 today and check out at 12:00 the next day). Of course, it also depends on how many days in total you have in Vietnam to decide the length of the trip. But most people I have talked to will say they wish they had more time…

My advice is to check those as following components too before you decide on which one:

–          Boat size: Big or smaller boat? Smaller boat  can give you more privacy and more tentative service just for a small crowd of people. Bigger boat can offer more facilities like a bigger sundeck, chance to mingle with other people.

–          The Cabins: Check out the boat photos, see the inside cabin picture and pick the one you like. New boats now have a huge window – even a private balcony for you to enjoy the cruise more than ever. All cabins have en-suite bathrooms.

–          Cruise route map, if there is anything special about the trip than other boats?

–          Customer’s reviews: you can go up to travel forums to ask and read more about the boat before you decide to put the money down.

Hope it will help to direct you to the right boat and have the best experiences ever with Halong Bay!

Read Full Post »

Halong Bay


An overnight Cruise in Halong Bay? It sounds like an easy task, but wait until you start to sit down, Google the information of Halong Bay or Halong Bay Overnight Cruises. Google will give you as much information as you need, actually more than you ever need. Over 6 millions results to the word Halong Bay itself and 3,8 million results to the word “ Halong Bay Cruises”. Exciting right?


Go for a further step, you may want to get reliable Halong Bay tour reviews like on TripAdvisor, Fodors and other forums, that’s when the confusion starts. There are over hundreds of choices for you, million of international travel agencies, local agencies, with hundreds of online booking sites are waiting to serve you, more than that, if you ever put a question up on travel forums, the travellers – who were there, may give you very different experiences they had. And maybe you will doubt yourself if you should trust these halong bay tour reviews anymore.


So, you will create your own criteria for your Halong Bay overnight cruise. Will you go for the cruise PRICE? QUALITY? SIZE of the boat? Of course you want them all. “I want an excellent Halong Bay overnight cruise with good price” is the common request from our customers. Since the unfortunate junk sinking happened in Feb 2011, the number of 11 casualty shocked the international news – people started to care about the quality and safety of the boat they will be on, the boats themselves started to do annual check-ups and put more safety standards in. The government started to get the action together. And no, you never want to be on one of those sinking boats, never!


But how can you choose the right Halong Bay overnight cruise for you? Let’s divide them all into 4 category: Luxury, Deluxe, Superior and Standard (prices & quality-wise). And we will give you some practical hints on each category as following:


– Luxury : The name says it all, you pay the most and you get the best services in Halong Bay. But still, don’t hold your expectation too high, cause Vietnam is still working hard on the definition of customer service. We are getting there. So let’s translate the word LUXURY means the most beautiful cruisess on Halong bay, equipped with fancy amenities. If you are looking for a young crowd, this is not the boat you should go on. Mid-age to Seniors couples are the main stream of customers on these cruises.


Cruise names for references: Violet, Ginger, Jasmine, Au Co, Paradise, Indochina Sails.


Price range: >200USD/person for a 2 days 1 night cruise


– Deluxe: The mid-range junks with a more relaxed style, or some of them are very family-oriented in the way they serve, the quality of the boat, food and staffs are all good. In general, it’s worth the money you are paying for.


Cruise names for references: Bhaya, Dragon Pearl, Prince, Red Dragon, Emeraude.


Price range: 120-180 USD/person for a 2 days 1 night cruise


– Superior: a valued choice for travellers, there is a vague line between the Deluxe and Superior range, in general, we will judge by the awareness of customers of the staffs on boat.


Cruise names for references: Calypso, Oriental Sails, Phoenix Cruiser, Bai Tho, Huong Hai & Emotion.


Price range: 80-120USD/person for a 2 days 1 night cruise


– Standard: These are the dirt-cheap Halong tours you may find online a lot and also at the travel desk in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. We just want to give you a head up that the quality or the services on boat will be different with what they advertise or what you see on the photos. Not to mention these boats are selling too cheap so imagine, how can the get enough money to do annual check-ups? We do not recommend these boats cause we cant guarantee the services they deliver. You can also find a lot of complaints on Halong Bay tour reviews about these cruises. So please, save your trip because Halong Bay is beautiful!


Price range: <60USD/person for a 2 days 1 night cruise.


That should give you a brief picture of what is going on in Halong Bay, we appreciate if you have any value information to make our self-judge to be more accurate and perfect.


Just our two cents!


If you still have any question: email us at info@indochinavoyages.com. Or have a look at our Halong Junks Retail website: wwww.halongjunkcruise.com  


Next Post: I know what boat category I would go for, but there are still many choices!

Read Full Post »