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Archive for January, 2017

During Tet, the special tray filled up with snack to offer guests coming home on new days is a norm in all families. There are a variety of sweets, biscuits, jams, dried fruits, and roasted nuts is inevitable part in creating the cheerful and hospitable environment in which the family hosts and the guests enjoy nuts and chat together on the new year.

These nuts are eaten by seperating the edible part from the hull which may be time-consuming but a good way to lengthen the Tet altogether with relatives, friends and beloved. Certainly, a cup of tea would be more perfect and the communication will last forever. In addition, the nut itself has specific nutrition with diverse flavor which is regarded as healthy and tasty snack for every family member.

Below are top 5 most common roasted nuts and seeds in Vietnam during Tet.

Hạt dưa (Watermelon seeds)

Watermelon is an extremely popular fruit for its being sweet and refreshing flavor. Inside which there are numerous tiny black seeds that we often discard while eating. Those are exactly hạt dưa we are talking about. However, people only choose the biggest nuts to be dried under the heat and then be roasted in big pans to have the final product. Though there are 2 types of hạt dưa: red and black depending on the pigment outside but the more popular one is red.

Hạt dưa is a healthy nut which is rich in vitamin B like thiamine, niacin, folate and minerals like magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc, phosphorus and copper, etc. Especially, protid inside hạt dưa is an essential component for nervous system and the growing of muscles, blood and bones. Eating a handful of hạt dưa everyday may enhance memory and protect from coronary heart diseases.

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Hat Dua (Watermelon seeds)

Hat Dua (Watermelon seeds)

Hạt bí (Pumpkin seeds)

Pumpkin seeds – hạt bí are edible kernels of fruit pumpkin  which is among the most favorable nuts during Tet since it is easier to peel than hạt dưa but also contain many health-benefiting vitamins. The way of cooking hạt bí is exactly the same with hạt dưa, however, there is no pigment to color the nuts.

Both traditional and modern research studies proved that hạt bí has many substances which benefits human health such as protid, lipid, glucid, calcium, magnesium, fiber and L-tryptophan.  Enjoying hạt bí is a great way to boost immunity and help ensure good sleep.

Hat Bi (Pumpkin seeds)

Hat Bi (Pumpkin seeds)

Hạt hướng dương (Sunflower seeds)

The name of this nut is of course, from sunflowers. The yellow flowers produce small edible seeds which are gray or greenly colored and are found naturally in dark green or black shells called “husks”. Hạt hướng dương are a unique food rich in vitamin E, copper, B vitamin like thiamine, phosphorus, selenium and more.

This nut is a favorite food of the children and young people in Vietnam and can be eaten for a whole year, especially with ice-tea or lemon tea, not only the New Year atmosphere. Besides owning a similar amount of nutrition mentioned above like other nuts, sunflower seeds can be used to slow down the aging process and strengthen the process of creating international memory cell.

Hat Huong Duong (Sunflower seeds)

Hat Huong Duong (Sunflower seeds)

Hạt điều (Cashew nuts)

Hạt điều has its origin from Northern China and Mongolia is among the most luxury type of roasted nuts because its trees can only produce fruits one time per 4-5 years.  In Vietnam, hạt điều are grown mostly in southern province such as Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai and has been roasted with salt to become tasty dishes of the Tet holiday as a symbol of luck.

Hat Dieu (Cashew nuts)

Hat Dieu (Cashew nuts)

Hạt điều contains many healthy substances like vitamin B1, B2, B3, calcium, protein, phosphorous and cholesterol-free which are essential for metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates at the cellular level.  The monounsaturated-fatty acids in hạt điều are heart-friendly acids which will help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

Hạt dẻ cười (Pistachio)

Hạt dẻ cười are one of the oldest nuts that were commonly used in the world. Originating from Iran, this nut is often consumed on its own or used as tasty roasted and salted snacks. It is not certain that hạt dẻ cười is becoming more and more favorabled among Vietnamese people.

Hạt dẻ cười always appear on the New Year’s Day candy tray in Vietnam with the meaning of prosperity and cheerfulness for the guests to come as its name in Vietnamese is smiley nut. Eating hạt dẻ cười can combat obesity, overweight and reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, levels of HDL particles laugh-C, folate, and homocysteine C-reactive protein low, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Hat Re Cuoi (Pistachio)

Hat Re Cuoi (Pistachio)

I believe that by enjoying these five nuts on the new days will bring you all the amazing warmth and great health to welcome a fantastic new year. Wish you much fun and be happy on this New Year!

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Tet or Lunar New Year is a very special occasion to Vietnamese people just as Christmas and New Year combined to Westerners. Right when November hits, we say that it’s coming, very soon.

Even though the Lunar Calendar varies from years to years, Tet falls somewhere between late of January to the mid of February. However, the spirit of Tet traditions actually begin one or two weeks before Tet, when legend has it that the Kitchen God rides a carp up into the heavens and reports on the things that have been happening over the course of the year. He then returns back on the 30th of the last month of the Vietnamese calendar.

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People buy offerings to dedicate for the Kitchen God on 23rd of Dec in Lunar Calendar

Tet is actually a family festival to local people. This is when people travel back the place where they were born or come from. Most of the government agencies, restaurants, many little street stalls, markets close on this day for people gathering and celebrating Tet together. During Tet, most of things are shut down…

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Hanoi in Tet – every shops are closed

Sound like it would be not a good time for traveling, right? but if you have already booked your flight without noticing it would be Tet, here is some advice for you to have the best trip in Vietnam:

Transportation

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Book all service in advance with a reputable travel agent to have an unpressure trip

As mentioned above, Tet is when people returns to their family therefore, the transportation including car transfer, train, flight are nearly fully booked. Without doubt, it would be a big difficult for traveler to get the seat therefore, remember to book the tickets in advance. The closer to Tet, the higher price for every service you need to pay. If it is possible, you should book all needed service via a reputable travel agent to get a good price. Moreover, you can always be sure your service is already well prepared without any worried.

Accommodation

Unlike popular myths, hotels and hostels in Vietnam during Tet are abundant – there is no need to worry about overbooked hotel rooms. Tet holiday is a not a leisure travelling time for most domestic so you will have many choices with regard to accommodation.

Sightseeing

  • Before Tet (2 weeks before 29th of December in Lunar Calendar):

This is actually the best time for you to explore the tradition and the culture of local people. It’s great to see people are busy in cleaning and decorating their house to welcome the new coming year.

The markets sold various fresh food open later than usual for people to buy the food to be kept in their refrigerator during Tet therefore, don’t forget to visit the local markets before Tet.

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Flower Market in Hanoi

However, among them, my most personal favourite is the flower markets that operate for about two or three weeks before Tet (but then close on Tet Eve). The sight of trucks and cyclos carrying plants in full bloom all over town is something I look forward to every year. It’s something so special that you can only see before Tet.

  • During Tet (1st until 3rd of Jan in Lunar Calendar)

Bad news is most of things will be closed during Tet including museums, mausoleums, indoors exhibition place and art houses.

If you travel during Tet, you‘d better to arrange these time by a beach for relaxing. The good news is the beach will be empty as this is not an ideal time for traveling of domestic market. The beach of Hoi An or Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Con Dao would be the best choices for traveler.

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An Bang Beach of Hoi An

Hoi An is where you can find many lovely reasonable accommodation, next is Nha Trang then Phu Quoc and the last is Con Dao.

If you love the tranquility, cities will be vacant (on the actual date of Tet). This is the great time to enjoy this atmosphere of the city. Or, visit a pagoda and watching people burning the incense, praying for their luck, health, wealthy that would come to them during the whole year.

Food

Most of restaurant will be closed during Tet. Some are opened for specific time in a day but there is surely an extra charge applied at the restaurants.

Some food stalls are still opened but the cost of food would be higher than usual too. Normally in the North, the sellers at the food stalls only sell snail noodle on Tet due to its sour and plain flavor that helps beating the fat and high calories traditional food which people often have during Tet. They are the traditional food that is not available elsewhere or else-when such as Banh Chung, Boiled Chicken, Pickled Onions.

If you are invited to a Vietnamese family, that would be the ideal case for you to experience the culture of Vietnam.

Shopping

Like restaurants, many shops will be closed for the first few days of the lunar new year. Some market will still be open, with much fewer vendors than you normally see, even in major trading points like Dong Xuan market or Ben Thanh. To your surprise, many products will be sold at a very reasonable price because most sellers want to start a smooth sales year. Try not to haggle or if you do, do so politely or else it will be considered to bring about bad luck for the whole new year.

Should you have interest in  please follow: Tours in Vietnam

Happy traveling!

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The Legend of Bagan

The Legend of Bagan

I cannot say that I was born to travel,  but I often feel compelled to wander. Every year I make plan to travel as many destinations as possible. Some of these places, I visited just to know what they were like, and some of them I cannot wait to revisit. When I was asked where I want to revisit the most, my answer was Bagan, Myanmar without any question.

If you interest, please follow our relevant topic at: Indochina tours Myanmar

This ancient city is over a millennium old and home to tens of thousands of temples, pagoda, stupas and Buddhist ruins of the ancient Burmese kingdom. Time, historical events, conflicts, wars and people have made these massive heritages fade into oblivion, leaving only about 2,000 structures across this 42,000 kilometer area. More than enough to attract travellers though, no?

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There are thousands of attractions in this city, but one cannot miss exploring the unique architecture, the ancient Buddha statues and time-worn Buddhist painting at Thatbyinnyu: the tallest pagoda, Ananda – the holiest pagoda, the famous temple Shwezigon, or daydream in the silvery sunset on top of the Shwesandaw pagoda. There are countless other pagodas you can only reach by horse carriage, through the winding peaceful dirt roads under the shades of ancient trees.

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But Bagan is so much more than its temples. The Buddhists here are kind, honest, gentle and hospitable and provide travellers with comfort even though the temperature in Bagan can sometimes reach 40 degrees Celsius. Do not forget to pamper yourself during the pure morning hours by the gentle Ayeyarwardy River, or simply lie on the grass and listen to the birds chirping by the river flowing past the Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary resort.

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Now, after four years, I still cannot explain why I was so impressed and fell in love with Bagan. Perhaps because it was easy to find empathy and see into your own soul in this quiet, spiritual and tranquil space. I will come back next year to visit Bagan!

When to go

Bagan is hot most of the year. The best time to visit is between November and February, when temperatures hit 30C (86F). Avoid March to May, when temperatures can reach 43C (110F). Rainfall is highest in June and October. In my experience, the photos are better from late Nov-early Feb, with the haze in the air getting in the way in mid Feb.  This is also the only time of the year that the famous Bagan hot air balloons launch.

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What to do in Bagan

Bagan is known for its landscape of Pagodas. While you descent you will already see hundreds and thousands of Pagodas as far as the eye can see. Obviously, that is also why you are going there and so far this is also the only thing you can do: Watch Temples, Payas and Pagodas.

The easiest way to go and check them out is by bike or car. Two days are good to see the biggest temples and some of the small ones and see the sunset. If you have a lot of time in Myanmar and don’t want to rush things stay for two-three days. If you decide to rent a bike and bike around the country I’d recommend to bike from one part of town to the next and do a whole round: New Bagan – Old Bagan – Nyaung Oo – New Bagan.

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Where to stay in Bagan

In short, you will find the most budget places in and around Nyaung U, the midrange places in New Bagan, and the priciest resorts around Old Bagan. Independent travelers will want to stay around Nyaung U, which offers the most restaurants and more of the bustling local life and markets.  New Bagan is pretty blah, and Old Bagan is filled with fancy resorts.

Have you been to Bagan or do you plan to visit it when in Myanmar? Let us know.

Photos credit by Tam Bui Photographer

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Phu Quoc has widely known as a romantic pearl island, an ideal destination for honeymoon trips and place to visit for those who are looking for a place to enjoy some relaxing days by the beach. This teardrop shaped island also attracts travellers who keen on discovering local fishermen lives by old fishing village called Ham Ninh – where for many generations the locals have been living off fisheries.

ham-ninh

Ham Ninh

Ham Ninh fishing village is a quiet, peaceful and almost pensive place, being surrounded by natural mountains, forests and ocean. You will hardly see large ships docking at the harbor, instead, small fishing boats of local people come and go while their wives sell fresh seafood by the wharf. After an early morning spent traversing the sea waves, some fishermen with sun kissed skin shake out their nets while other mend their boats – what a hard, yet also soulful life. Halong bay VSpirit Junk cruise

Ham-Ninh-in-the-morning

Ham Ninh in the morning

Ham Ninh fishing village is situated on the eastern coast of Phu Quoc island, which has just recently open for visits. Inhabitants of the village are settled down between the  ocean and a lush primeval forest and that make the wharf there is covered and protected from numerous of storms every year. It stretches around 600m long and runs toward the blue sea, this calm setting has long been the best port for fishermen on the island with boats full of fish and other shellfish. Fresh fish there is now being sold far and wide.

a-basket-of-crabs-in-Ham-Ninh

a basket of crabs in Ham Ninh

Travellers often come to Ham Ninh when they want to experience an authentic and typical fishing village. By the way, visiting the village, you will also have chance to enjoy a cool sea-beeze and admire the stunning view of the deep, blue ocean which has not yet ruined by mass tourism. Variety kinds of seafood such as oysters, crabs and sea cucumbers are caught by net. For me, there is nothing more enjoyable than having a freshly caught crab served with a dipping sauce of lemon, pepper, chili and salt.

If it is possible, you are highly recommended to extend more time there to see the place at dawn and even under the moonlight when the views are amazing.  At dawn, the vastness of the sea glistening in the sunlight impress everyone while during night is a great time to see the moon light reflecting off the bobbing waves.

Ham-Ninh-in-the-afternoon

Ham Ninh in the afternoon

There are recently opened some small shops which selling souvenirs for tourists, yet the traditional look of Ham Ninh fishing village still remains unchanged considerably. House roofs are made from leaves of palm and coconut trees and most of the boats are painted basically. All in all, Ham Ninh fishing village is a nice place to get away from busy and crowded life, to find peace for your soul.

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How to have a beautiful Ao Dai after traveling to Vietnam?

Many foreigners come to Vietnam and interested in the charming of Ao Dai and would like to have one in their wardrobe. Today I’ll show you how to have a perfect Ao Dai after visiting Vietnam.

Choose the material carefully

The first things you should notice is to pick up the suitable fabric for your costume. People usually use chiffon, silk or lace to make Ao Dai because of its light and feminity. However, for cold weather or elder people, velvet fabric is a good choice.

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Better choose the material carefully

Colours is also an important element. Due to your skin tone and your body shape, you should choose the color that fit. White skin tone can fit with any colors, while darker skin tone should go with yellow, brown, Bordeaux, etc. If you have an overweight body, should choose dark colors with light fabric to make a feeling of a slimmer shape.

Decorations for Ao Dai is also important. If you choose lace, better don’t have many decorations because it decorated itself. Floral print is also a good choice and the price is more reasonable. Else, for more sophistication, hand embroidered is an upgrade level.

Image result for lace ao dai

Lace – the feminine material

If you find it’s hard to choose, just tell the tailor and they will give you great advice.

Must be tailor made

Like other formal costumes, Ao Dai must be tailor made to be perfect. Don’t ever buy the Ao Dai in the shop just because you like it, even if you’re a model. Remember that it is made to fit with your shape and highlight your body curves, so if you would like to have a true beauty Ao Dai, please spend your time to go to a tailor shop.

Where and how long?

The best place to have a perfect Ao Dai is Hue – the charming old city in central of Vietnam. My Dad said to me that woman in this city had 22 Ao Dai in their wardrobe. Maybe he blew it up a bit, but I’m sure that now they have average 4-5 Ao Dai to wear in each special celebration. The price for tailoring in this city is also cheapest. However, there are also some good tailor shop in Hoi An, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city for you if you don’t have enough time to go to Hue. The shops can make your Ao Dai in from 24 hours up to 2-3 days or more (due to the decorations you choose) and they have shipping service all over Vietnam.

Here are some addresses that may help you to have a perfect Ao Dai:

Hue City:

Tham Tailor – 42 Tran Nguyen Han St., Hue city
Tel: (84-54) 3516286 – 0914.006.890

Hoi An:

A Dong Silk – 62 Tran Hung Dao, Son Phong, Hoi An

Website: adongsilk.com/

Thu Thuy Silk

60 Le Loi, Hoi An – (+84) 510 3861 699

23 Tran Hung Dao, Hội An –    Tel: (+84) 510 3911 321

Hanoi:

Ao Dai Hanoi -33 Tran Phu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Tel: (+84) 43 736 5551 – (+84) 0904802698

Ao Dai Phan Hai – 43 Le Van Huu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

Website: aodaiphanhai.com

Tailor shops in Luong Van Can Str. Old Quarter

Ho Chi Minh City:
Ao Dai Lien Huong – 111 Pasteur Str, Dist. 3, HCMC

Vo Viet Chung Designer (tailor made for Miss Vietnam for several years)

205 Ly Tu Trong , Ben Thanh Dist, HCMC

Tel:  08 39142008
Website : vovietchung.com

 

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Christmas is knocking on the door, and in Indochina Voyages we’re eager to celebrate a wonderful Christmas ever!

Although Christmas is not an official holiday in Vietnam, in big cities like Hanoi and especially Ho Chi Minh city, it becomes a day for everybody to hanging, and giving presents and love. Indochina travel Vietnam

This year, to prepare for a surprising day and to tight the friendship between our colleagues, we did a sortie game. We gathered together and each person will take a piece of paper written a name of a person in our team. The giver would buy a present and put it under the Christmas tree with a small name sticker of the receiver, but the name of the giver is a secret and it only revealed on day Dec 23rd.

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Handmade decorations by ourselves- source: Nam Lucas

One week before Christmas, the office decoration started. We built the plastic pine tree from last year, shaped it properly and put the ornaments on. We also received some Christmas cards from our partners and they’re so lovely to put on the tree!

Lovely-cards-from-partners

Lovely cards from partners- source: Nam Lucas

Boxes are wrapped nicely with colorful wrapping papers and ribbons. Whitewall is also put on a new look with Santa Clause and other funny handmade cutting. It took us an afternoon to finish but we had a lot of fun together!

On the day, a small party had been set up with flowers, cake and fresh fruit. We gathered together, enjoy the food in the joyful melody of Christmas songs. We were curious about the givers and presents!

The moment finally came. Each of us found the gift and opened it with excitement. There were useful, funny, beautiful gifts and we were all happy. Giving a present and receiving so much emotion, we got a memorable day with our team.

We-wish-you-have-a-Merry-Christmas!

We wish you have a Merry Christmas!- source: Nam Lucas

See our funny Christmas video here: https://www.facebook.com/indochina.voyages/?fref=ts

How did you enjoy your Christmas? We wish you all a merry Christmas, a blessed holiday season. Wish for an  upcoming year fulfilled with joy, love and happiness!

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