Archive for October, 2013

“Đôi Đũa” is what Vietnamese call chopsticks, and learning to use chopstick is not an easy lesion for every foreign travellers when coming to Vietnam, China, Japan or many other Asian countries. Hopefully some below tips could make your chopstick experience much easier.

– Hold the chopsticks:

+ The upper chopstick: Similar to how you hold your pen. Hold it with the index finger, the middle finger and the thumb. The lower chopstick: is kept between the bottom of the thumbs and the tip of the ring finger.

+ Holding at 2/3 the way up of the chopsticks

– Make it open and close: The broad ends of the chopsticks should make the top shape. Then move your index finger and the middle finger up and down to open the chopsticks. Practice this moving for few times before trying with food.

Using Chopstic

– During meal:

+ Decide which food in the dish you want before putting your chopsticks in it. It is considered very distasteful to shift the food on the serving plate in search of a choice item, and even more so to return it to the plate as unacceptable.

+ Pick up food from a communal dish and place it in your bowl then enjoying it. Move food directly from the dish to your mouth is considered as less polite.

+ The morsels should be pick up quickly as much dexterity as you can manage (not easy if it is a greasy item that is sliding around)

+ If you drop your chopsticks on the ground, take a new pair

– Taboos:

+ While the Chinese avoid the X shape, sticking chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice is a symbol of bad thing in Vietnam.

+ Playing with the chopsticks during meals is also considered impolite

+ Transfer food from one’s chopsticks to another’s chopsticks

+ Point your chopsticks at other people during meal.

Practice for few times and I believe you will master it soon.  However, if all else fails, do not hesitate to ask for a fork and spoon.

Other than using in meal, Vietnamese bamboo chopsticks have been a famous souvenir with many beautiful decoration, color. A couple of chopsticks would be an ideal souvenir to bring back home. It can be found easily in every souvenir shop. (You can refer our post of shopping in Hanoi: )

colorful chopsticks

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Every summer, VNA launches summer promotion, sales up to 50% airfare for international and internal flight. Taking this chance, I booked a ticket to Malaysia and spent nearly a week to explore this beautiful country last July.

My impression about Malaysia is awesome. This is an amazing country with friendly local people, multi-culturalism, great food, well developed public transportation system and hundreds of shopping mall that matches any tourist’s budget.

I really enjoyed my vacation in Malaysia and after experience this beautiful country, I would like to give you some advices before you start your trip.

–          Taxi trap:

Beware of overpricing taxi drivers in Malaysia especially in Kualalumpur. It’s strange that most of taxi I met during my trip didn’t use the meters. When you ask them to take you to another place, they only give the price and as my experience, they always purposely charged you more than regular prices. I decided to take a taxi from the Berjaya to my hotel in China town and a taxi driver expected to charge me 50 Ringgit. After bargaining, I paid 12 Ringgit instead.  (In fact, I think it should be lower since the distance from Berjaya to the hotel is not too far. Just about 10 minute drive)

Taxi in Kuala Lumpur

Taxi in Kuala Lumpur

The lesson here is you need to learn the real value of their money. Also, remember to choose a China taxi driver who is always honest than an Indian taxi driver

–          Kl Hop on Hop off

KL Hop on and Hop off bus is popular to any travelers who wish to visit Malaysia but make sure that you could purchase the ticket at the right office. You may meet someone wearing the uniform of the Hop on Hop off (White T shirt with the logo of Hop on Hop off Bus on the right) and tell you they are the staff of this company but in reality, they don’t work for the Hop on Hop off. Normally you need to pay for them 45 Ringgit – a bit higher than the real rate.

Hop on Hop off bus - Make sure you find the right ticket office

Hop on Hop off bus – Make sure you find the right ticket office

You should buy the ticket at the official counter located at Jalan Bukit Bintang (main counter at stop number 6), Malaysian Tourism Centre at Jalan Ampang, at KL Sentral (arrival hall) and at Central Market.

–          Bag Snatching



Luckily this didn’t happen to me but I saw a girl being snatched on the street. You need to be careful when you walk on the street, carry everything on the other side of your body from the road and don’t stand too close to the road when waiting at lights.

–          7 Eleven at the Little India in KL

This may be my own feeling but I think the product sold at 7 Eleven in Little India is twice time higher than the others in the city so if you have a chance to visit Little India, don’t waste your money on buying anything here. I met the rain when I visited Little India and the seller charged me 20 Ringgit for a travel raincoat. I decided not to buy anything here and waited until the rain stopped.

–          Petronas Twin tower


Petronas Twin tower is one of the most famous sites in Malaysia with hundreds of shopping mall but you should think carefully before you buy anything here. The problem is not about the quality of products but about the price. I walked around the shopping centers in Kl and I realized that for the same products, the price for the product sold at Petronas tower is always higher than any other shopping malls in KL such as Pavillion.

–          Duty Free shop at the airport

There are 2 areas at the KLI airport: The lobby before you check in and the rest is after you check in. The sellers at the lobby before you check in may insist that they sell duty free products but I tried to wait until I checked in and I was able to buy some products at more reasonable price.

Above are some personal ideas that I collect after my trip. Hope you will have helpful information. Happy traveling!

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Hi Team! Please read this and share to all our guides who engaged this trip. What a good job all you guys have done! Thank you!

The Indochina Voyages Team ( http://www.indochinavoyages.com )


Tuan, what can I say?

We’ve just had the most fabulous time in Cambodia and Vietnam again, largely due to the efforts of Nam and the whole Indochina Voyages team. I know Helen has already passed on our appreciation of your efforts on facebook, but I’d just like you to know just how much I personally liked what you did for us as well.

You have a wonderful team of people working to ensure your customers are happy. Starting with Von (or Van? Could never work out which was his first name) in Cambodia who was just so wonderful and patient when Helen struggled due to knee surgery just before our trip. He was absolutely outstanding and nothing was too much trouble. He was a superb start to our Indochina Voyages trip, and while all your guides were excellent, this man was extra excellent.

We move on to Dalat, and although we only saw your guide for half a day (Hoan I think, although I’ve probably got the spelling wrong) he was polite, informative, and looked after us well.

On to Hoi An where we were re-acquainted with the marvelous How (probably miss-spelt too) who was funny, entertaining and provided some deep insights into the Vietnamese culture that made us realize just what a rich history your country has. We treasured our time with him.

And finally Hanoi, where we found our old friend Long looking after us yet again. And hasn’t he matured from the shy and serious young man with a wealth of knowledge that we first met two years back. In that time he has found a wonderful sense of humor, and is far more at ease among us foreigners than he was first time round. We loved our time with him.

Your hotel selections were fabulous, and I suspect that there were a few room upgrades along the way that we certainly appreciated. The choices of places to visit were well thought out and different from last trip, which was good. Finally, a very big thank you to you and your family for inviting us into your house. I feel both humbled and honored that you would do this, my friend, and it’s a memory I will treasure forever.

I will continue to support Indochina Voyages on these pages, just as I have done in the past: you have more than earned that. And anything more I can do, you only have to ask. If it’s in my power to help I will gladly do so. I promised to give Janet an update on our return, which I have just done. I trust that she is still booked with you for January. I now also have to let Anne know just how wonderful a time we had. Like her, I am falling more and more in love with Hanoi.

Please let us know when you expect to visit Australia. I know you said you are only going to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, but it’s possible we may be able to arrange a quick trip to one of these to catch up with you and share a drink or a meal.

And yes, we’ll definitely be returning to Vietnam: hopefully in not too long a time.

A big thanks

Gary (and Helen)

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