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Archive for January, 2016

Each year, after the New Year Year about 2 weeks, everybody in Vietnam is getting excited and looking forward to our biggest holiday – Tet.

We need to work harder than normal days, concentrate to finish all the undone jobs and also arrange some future works after the holiday to have a long holiday without worrying about anything at work.

However, we are “lucky” to have our office not in the Old Quarter like others, but right next to a big kumquat garden. During January, they are always busy for customers who comes to check and buy a nice and fortunate kumquat to bring home for Tet.

Kumquat is an unique mascots in Tet in the North of Vietnam with Peach Blossom, while Apricot Blossom is represented for the South.

During a years, for 12 months, this garden has witnessed many changes, after each months. From the worst to the most beautiful that not many offices in Hanoi can have.

This was what happened after Tet in 2015. Trees had been bought and the garden looked like a mess!

Then the farmers start fixing it with new soil, using calcium carbonate to prevent worms, gathering left trees to arrange them in line.

New trees are arrived for the coming season. The thing is after Tet, these tree didn’t die. You can choose to throw it away or sell it back to the farmer or hire them to take care of your tree for the next Tet if you really like it’s posture.

These trees have to be green for the whole year and not have fruits until one month before Tet. This is a special technique of the farmers and they spend about 11 months to take care their garden while having a second job like others people.

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Finally, when we are about one week to reach Tet at the moment, these trees are ready to bring home and getting decorated to stand out in the living room.

We could be distracted by this lovely view but our team are proud to have it outside our window! Happy a New Year of Monkey! Wish you are always full of energy and happiness like him!

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Before traveling, everyone may consider how much money should they bring along the trip? Which currency you should prepare? Should you exchange some local currency in advance before you come or should you bring the dollar along with you? This post will give you some tips for preparing money for your Vietnam trip.

Firstly you need to know about the official currency in Vietnam – it is Dong – a non-convertible currency and currently trades at approximately 22.500 to USD. The exchange rate is always listed on the website of Vietcombank – the largest bank of Vietnam at the current at vietcombank.com.vn

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Vietnam Commercial Bank – the Largest Local Bank in Vietnam at the current

In Vietnam, both Dong or US dollar are widely accepted among major shops and restaurants so you can easily use these two of currencies. However, even the US dollar is preferably at many shops or restaurants, you should exchange for some Dong at home before you travel and if you can, you should use Vietnamdong for daily expense including purchasing/ eating/ drinking more than the US dollar because the sellers may convert it from Dong at their chosen exchange rate which may or not to be close to the official exchange rate, making it more expensive than the cost in Dong.

Normally the cost of traveling is very reasonable in Vietnam. If you don’t intend to buy any expensive things such as luxury jewelry, pictures, high-end products … you should exchange maximum of 300USD for Vietnamdong – equivalent to 6.500.000 VND in advance and bring another 300USD along the trip (or more) depending on your purpose.

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500.000 VND – the largest denomination note

300USD (or 6.500.000 VND) could be enough for daily expense within a week of traveling for 2 people. You should not change too much money (more than 300USD) at one time as you will end up with a large wad of notes. The largest denomination is currently 500,000 dong (approx. USD 24).

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20.000 VND which is quiet similar to 500.000 VND

Other paper notes are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000; 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000 Dong. Most are clearly identifiable by color but you may get confused when the color of 500.000 is quiet similar to 20.000 therefore a tip for you is keep your 500.000 separately from the other notes. When receiving the changes back from the sellers, you also you need to be careful that the Vietnamese notes you get are not torn, this is because many shops and restaurants will not accept them.

If you use all the VND, you can exchange the rest of 300USD for more Vietnamdong at any local banks around the tourist area. Just to ensure the USD notes that you bring along are clean and undamaged, to be issued no later than 2003 as banks and other exchanges will not accept any notes which are old, torn, excessively crumpled or have writing on them.

If you need to buy any valuable things at a large amount, you should consider to use credit card instead of paying in cash. Visa and Master card are becoming more accepted in many hotels and restaurants, especially in the larger cities with usually a surcharge of 3% – 3.5%/ transaction.

In case you use all of the money that you bring along, you can withdraw money at the ATM with 24hour cash withdrawal facilities around the tourist area such as Hanoi, Da nang, Hoi An or Ho Chi Minh City.

Most ATMs enables you to get cash from VISA, MASTER CARD, Cirrus, Maestro, Plus and JCB network. Under Vietnamese law, ATM may only dispense cash in Vietnamese Dong. Current amounts that can be withdrawn at any one time is usually pretty low at 2,000,000 Dong (~ 95 USD) with an additional usage charge variable from 30.000d up (around 15USD).

The best choice may still be (November 2015) Commonwealth Bank (Australia) with a 40,000d fee and a max limit of more than 10.000.000d but the ATMs of CBA bank are only available in Ho Chi Minh City (commbank.com.vn/atms-location.html).

ANZ and HSBC ATMs can be found in Hanoi, Da nang have a 10.000.000d and 4,800,000d but with high fees. Citibank ATM at HCM Airport permits withdrawals of 8,500,000 Dong. Donga can go up to 5.000.000 Dong but it only accepts card from the Visa circuit, no MasterCard.

If there are any Vietnamdong left before you leave the country, you should exchange it back into USD or your local currency at the bank booth at the airport because outside Vietnam, the Dong is normally not accepted (excluding Laos and Cambodia)

Hope you have helpful ideas for preparing for your trip. Happy traveling!

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9. Monkey (1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016…)

People born in the year of the monkey are the erratic geniuses of the cycle. Being clever, skillful, and flexible, they are remarkably inventive and original and can solve the most difficult problems with ease. As an animal closet to human, monkey is appreciated for its smartness and his desire for new things in life. A stay-the-same life could kill a monkey zodiac person and a cheerfully lively one on the other hand rouses him/her to the bone. How much can he achieve in life? Indochina tours Vietnam

Actually, ones born with monkey sign can do well in many fields, but no matter how successful they can be, they are satisfied with what they get and rarely complaint about their life or compare themselves with the more wealthy one. That is the core reason makes this zodiac sign a fully happy person.

10. Rooster (1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017…)

Rooster is an indispensable poultry, which gives human the most protein-dense nourishment. To Vietnamese, rooster is also a perfect alarm clock. Naturally, cock coos every two hours in the night, reminding people when to sleep and when to wake up for work. Vietnamese do not only put rooster among the important animals that govern human life but put it at a religious place as well. It is one of the indispensable offering at festivals, funeral repast or any occasion of worshiping.

All rooster men are believed to be cheeky, which may cause a lot of troubles for their lives. If a rooster is provoked by some one, he may not control himself anymore and bad things may happen. The rooster that can repair this weakness is expected to become extremely successful since naturally, he is good at many fields. Being stylish is one of the top concerns of roosters. You love a man of rooster sign, do not waste time complaining about his lavish time spent on standing in front of mirror. It’s his nature.

11. Dog (1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018…)

The same to cat, dog is a close friend to Vietnamese and they respect dog for its faithfulness. People with dog sign are secretive and you can feel free telling them your secrets that you mind not feel comfortable telling someone else.

However, the dog zodiac often worry without reason and this make her/him often nervous, peevish. If you are dating a dog girl or boy, don’t rush yourself. She or he needs time to get used to with your presence and believe in you. Trust is of utmost importance to a dog sign holder and they need much time and effort to consolidate the trust. Vietnamese witness many dog zodiacs having troubles in relationship and marriage so they believe that dog zodiac groom should meet and bring the bride home twice to avoid marriage breaking in the future.

12. Pig (1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 20075, 2019…)

Pig, after the buffalo, stands second in importance among Vietnam’s animal in everyday life. The economic value it brings about is great and until now pork is the the most common meat types in Vietnamese’s diets from mountain to delta region. Great pig role in Vietnam life makes an amazing zodiac that is always optimistic in any situation.

Pig person do not worry about things. Life is a lovely pink color and food attracts them the most. Pig person is known as a very unselfish one. You do something wrong to her or him, just come and tell them that you are sorry and things can get fixed quickly. With his natural honesty and sometime being over-optimistic, pig is believed not to be as successful as the other zodiacs. However, it does not matter much since pig sign holders often live in a pink world anyway.

(Source: online)

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Stressed city dwellers, it’s time to relax. We have rounded up our favourite places for a few hours of tranquility, whether you’re on a budget or seeking more deluxe treatment.

Whether you find yourself arguing with a xe om driver or the rooster outside your window won’t stop crowing, a spa day offers a rare chance for relaxation in the hectic Vietnamese capital. Elisabeth Rosen finds the best places for a few hours of tranquility: four spas, four different budgets, many different treatments. Indochina holidays

  1. The Budget: Huong Sen Healthcare Center (basic package 60 minutes, VND250,000)

This deceptively no-frills joint is where locals head for an afternoon of pampering. Founded in the 1990s by traditional medicine doctor Tai Thu, it’s now a mini-empire boasting three locations

in the capital. With regulars scrambling for spots in wooden barrels and masseurs who chat on their cell phones while pummelling your stomach, it’s hardly an oasis of calm. But the price can’t be beat, nor can the authentic vibe. Soak in a barrel of warm water infused with traditional Red Dao herbs, then drag yourself out to sip ginger tea in a Jacuzzi, followed by a session in a steam room perfumed with lemongrass, pomelo and lime leaves. After a vigorous Vietnamese massage, you’re nudged out the door with a light meal of chao, fruit and nuoc rau ma, a bracing, grassy drink brewed from an herb grown in nearby Thanh Hoa Province.

Huong Sen is at 78 Yen Phu, Long Bien,

Tel: (04) 3927 1330; 49 Thai Thinh, Dong Da,

Tel: (04) 3853 3798; and 68 An Duong, Tay

Ho, Tel: (04) 3717 1999, huongsenmassage.vn. Reservations not necessary

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  1. The Essential: SF Spa Hanoi Lakeview ( massage 60 minutes, VND450,000)

In the frenetic and hectic city of Hanoi a haven of peace and quiet awaits you. Located in the heart of the Old Quarter, it is near popular other attractions. SF Spa will introduce you to a different side of Vietnam and we assure you that you will not be disappointed. As a professional spa in Hanoi, we have a wide range of massages and spa body treatments each as enjoyable as the next. Indulge in an aromatherapy massage, a foot massage or other thorough treatments done by our highly trained Vietnamese therapists. You will be given a warm welcome by our smiling and helpful staff.

Get closer to the traditional Vietnamese culture while enjoying a traditional massage made in accordance with the Vietnamese savoir-faire and style. For your own well-being, we only use delightfully scented natural products. Let yourself be overwhelmed by a feeling of well-being and be lulled by the calming atmosphere and the relaxing music. SF Spa may be the solution to a stressful everyday life. Take some time off and let yourself be pampered in a cosy environment.

SF Spa Hanoi Lakeview 7 Cau Go Lane, Cau Go Str., Hoan Kiem Dist., Ha Noi.

Tel: (+84-4) 3926 2323 – 3926 2727 | Fax: (+84-4) 3747 6108

Office: (+84-4) 3747 5637

Email: sfintercare@gmail.com| Web: http://sfcompany.net/. Reservations recommended.

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  1. The Luxurious: Hanoi La Siesta Spa (90 minutes, VND950,000)

Hanoi La Siesta Spa has become one of the most recognized and trusted address for you to relax yourself and regain the energy. We are proud of ourselves to have another establishment in our newest property – Hanoi La Siesta hotel & Spa. With this brand-new, we continue leading the spa industry in the area by embracing the latest advancements in skin care and wellness, provided our experienced staff with continuous in-house training. We believe that real beauty emerges from healthy, well-nourished skin and will continue expanding our nutrition-related services and products in the coming years. At Hanoi La Siesta Spa, our focus is on your overall well-being. Enjoy many touches of luxury designed to help you fully unwind. Relax the body, soothe the soul and lift the spirits…

Add: 94 Ma May St., Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam.

Tel: +84 4 3926 3641/42/43/44 – Fax: +84 4 3926 3645

Email: info@hanoilasiestahotel.com | Reservations required.

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  1. The All-Natural: Zen Spa’s Five Elements (Earth package 180 minutes, VND2,650,000)

At this West Lake spa, founder Lan Huong Nguyen draws on the herbal remedies she grew up using to help city dwellers de-stress from modern life. Organic plants from her garden just outside Hanoi provide ingredients for treatments like Metal, Wood and Earth, which kicks off with an exfoliating scrub made from freshly-ground Vietnamese coffee beans: the scent alone is enough to jolt you awake. Spend the next few hours sinking back into relaxation with a mud and honey treatment, a herbal flower bath and an Imperial Jade hot stone massage, which is supposed to improve circulation and melt away stress. Maybe it’s the stones, maybe it’s the bowl of pho ga that you get afterwards, but you’re likely to emerge filled with newfound content.

ZEN Spa in West Lake – 17C Tu Hoa, Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi.

Tel: (04) 3719 9889, zenspa.com.vn. Reservations required.

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Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho city is one of the 3 biggest one in Southern Vietnam. It is the home to cultures and customs, where you can learn most about the destination and get the authentic traveling experience.
Cai rang marketYou may choose to stay one night on a boat, a hotel or the homestay in Can Tho city from the previous day – As the market is opened very early, from sunrise to about 9AM. Getting waken up by the morning sounds of the sampans, boats’ engine and the locals… that are getting prepared for a new trading day; then you will also get ready for a new wonderful trip. Mekong river cruise

There is an interesting story about Cai Rang floating market: It is said that there was a big crocodile coming to this land from the old time. Its teeth were plugged into the river’s bank, thus, the area was called Cai Rang – “a tooth”(“Cai”: “a” and “Rang”:“tooth”). It’s nowadays a famous floating market in Mekong area.

Reaching the market, you find a maze of hundreds of boats full-packed with the farm products and seasonal fruits from neighboring areas: fruits, flowers, and vegetable…. People hang samples of their products on the top of a long pole of the boats. Therefore, the sellers don’t need to cry out and the buyers can find the products from a distance… Here you learn how locals make the trading. It is surely that you also want to experience yourself, buy some delicious fruits at that abundant market. Specially, don’t you worry about being pushed or ripped off as Cai Rang floating market is wholesales, nobody insists you on buying and being very friendly…

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One more interesting things when visiting Cai Rang floating market is having breakfast like a local. Everything is also loaded on a boat: The kitchens, a restaurant… There are many options of popular noodles: noodle soup, noodle with toasted meat, rice soup, Hu Tieu… That’s absolutely an unforgettable traveling experience: You enjoy a bowl of noodles on boat, while watching the sunrise and the market.

Last but not least, let’s see an interesting story of Mr.Gordon Ramsay (The Chef and Creator of MasterChef US) and Hu Tieu noodles (a very famous food) in Cai Rang market.

 

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