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Archive for May, 2017

In Vietnam, when the summer comes it’s time for companies to have holiday or company trip. Every year, companies have planned and searched for great locations/destinations for employees’ summer vacation.This is a great opportunity for whole team to know more each other and strengthen the bonds of friendship from different teams and departments, and also to charge energy, because happy workers can contribute more for the company.

The objectives for company annual trip are our executives can escape for a while from busy and stressful environment at the office. In this trip someone can relax their  body and mind and in the same time can spend a good quality time with their family. It’s also can strengthening a good relationship between executives and their family. Other benefit of this trip is our executive can work more focus and keep motivated to do they daily works. That mean happy worker can contribute more for the company.

Hai Hoa beach has white sand and blue water

This year, Indochina Voyages Team has planned an annual trip for our company in May. This trip involves the company executives with the spouse and children. We decided to visit Hai Hoa beach, is a well-known beach in the North of Vietnam. With the literal meaning of its name, Hai Hoa (means “Peaceful” ) beach in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa boasts the serenity that only beautiful natural scenery can provide (It is located  at Hai Hoa Commune, Tinh Gia District, Thanh Hoa Province, around 200 km from Hanoi). Its tiny white-capped summer waves attract thousands of local tourists in peak season.

Bai Dong

Bai Dong

The reason why we choose this destination because unlike other noisy and commercialized tourist hubs, visitors to Hai Hoa Beach enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of its stunning landscape and the fresh taste of its seafood. As it is quieter than some other beaches in the central region such as Sam Son beach, Hai Hoa is a boom for local people, the beach still possesses white sandy dunes and green, forested ranges near crystal clear blue waters.

On the first two days, we went to Bai Dong, a new beach in Thanh Hoa province, 30km from Hai Hoa. This place is not as crowded as other popular beaches. With peaceful scenery and  blue sea and white sand, the beach is still wild and naturally beautiful.

Hai Hoa beach in the morning

Hai Hoa beach in the morning

The second day was a fun-filled time for Hai Hoa beach. We swam, played football, and climbed up to the mountain. Apart from sunbathing or relaxing on the beach, drinking coconut juice, and chatting with friends over a glass of beer and savory snacks of seafood. Before dawn there is a flurry of activity that involves everyone, both young and old, after fishing boats return to their shores. Nets are gathered and washed as conversations continue, women weigh and sell fresh fish and children play cheerfully around.

Seafood market in the morning

Seafood market in the morning

Hai Hoa beach in the afternoon

Hai Hoa beach in the afternoon

At dawn, the beach is seemingly lit by a ball of fire that bounces off the ocean’s surface. Small fishing boats dock at the beach to sell fish, crab, and shrimp from their overnight catch. You can also surf the waves that surround the pristine island of Hon Me, not far away from the beach or  you can try to fish for cuttlefish at night.

In the summer morning, we did not miss the chance to catch the sunrise over the sea. Just at 5am, many people noisily call each other to wake up and run to the sea. The dawn is “dyed” a reddish purple in the horizon. It is a great feeling when you inhale the salty taste of sea and walking on the flat sand, seeing the fishing boats returning to the wharf in the early shimmering sunbeam.

Coming to Hai Hoa, you can also find Hon Me island offshore, and Soi mountain and Chay mountain in the South of the beach. Not far away from Hai Hoa, there are many other beaches, such as Hai Thuong beach, Nghi Son beach or Bai Dong beach…

blule water on Bai Da

We had great time together there. When leaving Hai Hoa, it is sure that we will eagerly wish for coming here again to return to the nature, and to immerse ourselves in the wild and poetic sea.

If you want to get more information about Hai Hoa beach, please view: Indochina tours Vietnam

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You may ask me why, and I can tell you a hundred of reasons why I love this city so much, especially its summer. To me, Hanoi in summer is like a teenager girl, independent, emotional, rebellious, energetic, adventurous and risk-taking. But she is also very girlish, romantic, cute, funny and sensitive. Therefore, I think it is reasonable and understandable if she is changing her mind often. It is quite exciting in deed. Let’s explore Hanoi with Indochina tours

However, it is also true that sometimes following her mind is exhausting job. Fortunately, I have a wonderful woman who is always by my side, my beautiful Mama. My mother has a habit to watch weather forecast in the morning news to inform all of my family members. When I was in high school, she even woke up early just to make sure that there was a raincoat in my bag so I would not get wet. Even until now, when I have become a grown up woman, having my own daughter; she still reminds me to bring an umbrella every morning in this season. As a result, whenever I think of the rain in May, I always have taken a walk down the memory lane, and it is so sweet. It is fabulous to know that there is someone there who loves you, cares for you; and…you love them.

 Sudden rains in summer

Sudden rains in summer- source: internet

To me, the early summer is also the season of high school. In Hanoi at this time, you can see the mixture of violet, red, yellow and green covering almost every corner of the city. This wonderful palette is made of 3 kinds of typical flowers in summer, Phuong, Bang Lang and Diep. Unfortunately, I do not know their English names but I will attach their photos in this article. I hope you will identify them.

Phượng flower

Phượng flower- source: internet

I remember on my last day at school, I and my friend biked all around West Lake, watched some Phuong petals falling, took many photos in Vietnamese traditional dress. It was bitter-sweet as it marked the milestone in our lives. I also remembered that day, under the early rain of summer, we laughed and cried, we sang from the bottom of our hearts, gave many wishes to each other and wrote some last lines on each other’ shirt. Since that day, it has been very hard to meet all of my friends at the same time. Nowadays, some stay permanently overseas, some have got married and move to other parts of the country, some still live in Hanoi but they are too busy to go to the united meeting. And now, after entering the hard life, I cherish more those times, when we were so young and innocent, when we were used to our best friends. Therefore, to me, early summer is my youth, which makes me smile whenever I think of.

Bằng lăng flower

Bằng lăng flower- source: internet

May and June are also very special to me, as it is the season of corn. Red River has blessed Hanoi amazingly wonderful soil, which is suitable to many kinds of crops. At the middle of the River, there is a land made of Red River alluviums. From Long Bien Bridge, you can take a close look at this land. The farmers there grow a lot of banana, corn and many kinds of vegetables. In this season, you can go there, discover the way Vietnamese people plant and look after their trees, pick the fruits and corns by yourself.

Green crops

Green field next to Long Bien brigde- source: internet

And maybe, you can enjoy a hot corn right after ward. I bet this experience is wonderful. If you are looking for someone who is reliable and friendly to take you there, you can contact my friend. I bet It will add some special tastes to your trip in Hanoi.

I love Vietnam

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Located in a remote and beautiful are dominated by Red Dao minority, Nam Cang village is part of the Nam Cang commune, Lao Cai Province. The Village is 35 km from Sapa Town and 60 km from the Lao Cai Station.There are about 267 households (1,578 persons) are living together in the region. Before the year 2000, nearly 80% of households were in hunger and poverty and over 70% of the population were illiterate, but due to a local development plan and investments in education and farming the population is now living under much better conditions. The Red Dao minority in Nam Cang nowadays living mainly on cultivation. The most famous plant of Nam Cang is the Amomum Tsaoko, one of many ingredients that made the special broth of Pho and it also used as a traditional Chinese medicine.

For more innformation about Nam Cang homestay, you can see: Indochina travel Vietnam

Lovely Homestay by the river

Lovely Homestay by the river

The drive on the way to Nam Cang is on mountain road running aside of the scenery Muong Hoa valley, with picturesque views of peaky mountains, endless rice terraces, waterfalls and Hill-tribes’ villages. Take a short walk up to the hill, the Nam Cang Riverside Homestay appears next to a fresh stream, with own suspended bridge and the jungle close by.

Children in Nam Cang Village

Children in Nam Cang Village

The Homestay is made by local ingredients: bamboo, wood, and leaves. Beds are set up nicely with high-quality linen. There are sharing bathrooms with hot water available. On the first floor is the dining station with some simple wooden tables. Meals are served by friendly staffs in Red Dao traditional dress. Foods are fresh and tasty.

Guests can go for a short trek to the village, visit some houses to see how the local people make the special papers by tree barks, a jewel workshop operated by an old man and his very simple tools. On the way, naive children are playing fun games and women wear colorful and diverse costumes are sewing or searing herbs. The Red Dao women are very skilled at the herbal bath, local medicine, and embroidery. And as far as you go, the locals always look with big eyes and followed by happy smiles. There are no hawker or vendor disturbing on the way.

Dinner made by fresh local food

Dinner made by fresh local food

Back to the homestay, guests can take a swim in the crystal stream. Local people said the stream is running through the Amomum forest, thus it has some special treatments and good for health. The homestay also offers herbal bathing service prepared meticulously of hundred types of different herbs mixing, which helps to discard stress, detox, eliminate a headache, backache, good for cold treatments, etc.

The Red bridge near Topas Ecolodge

The Red bridge near Topas Ecolodge

The whispering from the stream as a soft lullaby takes people into a beautiful sleep and waken up by the bird’s singing, enjoy a cup of coffee in the open lounge with breakfast and a book in the middle of the jungle, the homestay is an ideally place for nature lovers.

Some tips for Nam Cang

Traveling from Hanoi:

By night train from Hanoi Statin to Lao Cai. The night trains departure 21:00-22:00 from Hanoi train station to Lao Cai. Trains arrive at 5.30 at the Lao Cai train station. Guests then can drive to Nam Cang.

By private car: from Hanoi via the Hanoi- Lao Cai highway and reach to Nam Cang directly in about 6 hours.

There are some options for traveling to Nam Cang available: Day trip to Nam Cang, 2 days Sapa-Nam Cang trekking tour, 2 days Sapa- Nam Cang mountain bike tour or combine a stay in Topas Ecolodge & Nam Cang to experience both local and luxury services.

What to take along: backpack, good walking shoes, hat, sun cream, insect repellent, shorts & T-shirt for hot season and long trouser & light windbreaker jacket for the cold season. Giving money for children is not recommended but buying local souvenirs and giving sweets or chocolate are welcomed.

 

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KEP or SIHANOUKVILLE? Which is better? Which is more peaceful? Which is more dynamic and has various nightlife activities? Which would be more suitable for me? This seems to be a frequent question of many people when they arrange their beach vacation in Cambodia.I have also found that this is also a question that I have received from many clients when assisting them making their traveling plan to Cambodia recently. Hence, I decide to write this post to give you some ideas regarding both beaches. Hope you guys would have the best answer and the best decision for yourself.

Back in the 1960s, when Sihanoukville was just a fishing village, KEP, 25km from Kampot, was already an affluent seaside resort. Subsequent events were unkind to the town and Kep has been fallen to oblivion. Traces of the town’s sombre past remain. The region is dotted with the gutted shells of colonial villas – tragic evidence of the Khmer Rouge’s destruction. Until recently, most were smothered by prolific tropical vegetation and home to squatters; now some have been restored, with more likely to follow, although the difficulty of establishing ownership means this will be a slow process.

You can see more information at: Indochina tours Cambodia

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Sihanoukville also known as Kompong is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital city of Sihanoukville Province, located at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west at the Gulf of Thailand.

general-information-sihanoukville

In reality, the beach of Kep is quiet narrow and the sand is thin. Though the condition of the beach has been better recently when the local Government imports sand from nearby Kampot, which has the sand but no beach every two weeks and have somewhat changed all that, time and tide wait for no beach, so at the end of the fortnight the gritty black stuff makes a re-appearance.

Sihanoukville is totally different. With a surrounding coastline of white-sand beaches and sun-drenched islands would be Cambodia’s most happening sun-sloth destination for people.

About the restaurant, there are only some small restaurants opposite to the beach of Kep.  The most famous food of Kep is the crab – particularly the offerings at the crab market which attracts Cambodians a lot but I’m sure this is not a really attractive thing to travelers.

In the evening, if you have already stayed in Kep and you would look for more dinner options, you should travel back to Kampot – a small town which is 25kms away from Kep to have more choice.

Things are better when you are in Sihanoukville because there are wide range choices for your meals.

For the best place to stay and best things to do in Sihanoukville, if you are young traveler and you love parties, The Serendipity Beach area would be the perfect place for you.

If you love quiet place, further away from the hustle, in the far south of town, is relaxed Otres Beach, where cheap bungalow joints and bohemian-flavoured guesthouses are now neighbours with rather swish boutique resorts.

Otres-05

Otres Beach

If you are type of the adventurous can find sandy strips rimmed by casuarina trees and coconut palms to have all to themselves at Beyond Otres.

Sihanoukville is also the jumping-off point to Cambodia’s southern islands, where castaway-cool beckons.

Back to Kep, there is not much adventurous activities in this area. You can choose to visit some pepper plantation in Kampot, check out the crab market, hanging out at the beach or pay a short visit to Rabbit island – known as Koh Tonsay – a lovely little island about 25 minutes away from Kep. It is also one of the least-developed island, with no motor vehicles, no mains electricity and few residents, making it an ideal getaway from the grind.

rabbit island

Rabbit Island

You can also head out to Koh Svay (Mango Island) or Koh Pos (Snake Islan) to escape the crowds on Koh Tonsay. They are, like many Cambodian beaches, quite litter-strewn however. You can hire snorkelling gear on Koh Tonsay to bring along.

To compare about the two beaches, the beach of Kep itself is not that much but quainter and (usually) much less crowded than Sihanoukville. If you’re looking for lazy days of sunbathing or night time bar hopping, Sihanoukville should be ticked in your box.

In general, if you would look for a real beach escape, my recommendation would be: Just go ahead to Sihanoukville.

If you would look for a quiet place for yourself to chill in a short of time(may be a day or 2), then Kep would be for you.

Happy traveling!

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traditional costume of Khmer

traditional costume of Khmer

I am pretty sure that travelers to Cambodia have a dozen of reasons to explain why they immediately fell in love with this country. Apart from spectacular Angkor temples, amazing beaches, lush jungles or crazy nightlife out of the sleepy towns, what will you do to relax for half a leisure day? If you have no plans yet for this question, taking a traditional Cambodian photo shoot will be not a bad idea.

traditional costume of Khmer

traditional costume of Khmer

Why the traditional Khmer photo shoot is the traditional one in Cambodia?

Normally, the traditional Khmer photo shoots taking is a serious pre-wedding part for bride and groom as they will display these beautiful Khmer portraits at their special ceremony. Cambodians also take these shots for children in small-sized costumes of Khmer people. For foreigners, this is the best souvenir anyone can get from Cambodia after visiting this memorable country. Recently, this activity become widely known for expats in their honeymoon to save the joyful memory together.

A lovely couple photo prewedding

A lovely couple photo prewedding

How can I do my lovely Khmer photos?

Anywhere in big cities like  Phnom Penh & Siem Reap and also in many of the smaller town, you can easily find a studio for Khmer photos shoot. The way to recognize them is to see the huge prints advertised outside with the images of Khmer couples in their sparkly costumes and historical sites as the theme.

Upon entering the studio, you may find it a bit challenging to choose from many types of costumes and postures in the sample book. But do not worry, the friendly staff may be very supportive in choosing the best costume for you. After this, do not forget to negotiate about the price to avoid the surprise after finishing your shoot. It can cost about 15 – 25 USD for a set of printed photos of at least 4-5 photos depending on number of people join and includes rental fee for clothes, hair & make-up for women and usually sets of fake eyelashes to transform you to a real Khmer women. As men will not have make up and hair, they will pay less.

When you and the studio both agree about everything, you will be ready to the next step: hair & make-up. Within only 15 minutes, the makeup artists will change you into a masterpiece of stripper eyelid and fake lash. Followed with the work of hairdresser to apply a lot of hairspray to stablize  your carefully combed and twisted hair.

Based on your own interest in colors or styles, you then will get dressed in Cambodian traditional outfits named Khmer Boran.  After around 90 mintues, this process finishes then you may find you a totally new person and will be very eager to start your Khmer photos.

While taking your photos, if you can not find the best position, the photographer may help to look exactly like Khmer people do. Most of the photos will be for your free style and in the end you will have chance to choose the themes that you love then you are done.

The next day or so you can come back the studio and see how you look in a Khmer manner.

Are there any tips for the best Khmer photos?

The answer is surely YES. In this part, I think it is mainly useful for women as they need to be applied too much for a readiness.

Ladies should wear your own makeup if you do not want your sensitive skin to be affected by cheap communal makeup. Moreover, the color intension is suitable for Khmer-colored skin, you may look quite funny in the bold and heavy make up if you are paler than that or just get used to having a light and natural makeup.

One more thing, most of women hate the fake eyelashes as it seem to cover all the sun light and the thick and dark eye shadow that may make your eyes huge and a little frightening.

Be prepared for any shoots as the camera man will give you only 90 seconds in front of the camera. All you should do is to choose your favorite posture before getting dressed and remember the loveliest ones then have a smile always.

If you do not like anything, do not need to follow their requirement as this activity is actually so much fun.

Now do you think this Khmer culture is actually a unique experience while traveling to Cambodia?

Do you like your Khmer portrait?

Do you like your Khmer portrait? 

Happy portraiture and share with me your stunning shoots.

 

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One of my favorite quotes is that FAMILY  stands for Father And Mother, I Love You. Our parents, especially mother have raised us, taken care of us and been worried for us since the day we were born. There are thousand songs, films, poems and art works which have been written to show the respect and admiration for our beloved parents. And in this month, the fifth month of the year, we are going to celebrate the special day for the special woman, our mama. Have you had any plans for the most important and beautiful woman in your life?

Family

Family- source: internet

When I was a kid, I did not know about this day. Mother’s Day has just come to Vietnam for few years, but it has become very popular. It seems to me that everyone wants to express their love to their mothers. However, the way each person chooses is different. Some think they have to buy for their moms beautiful and expensive gifts; while some, including me, think that spending quality time with them is the most wonderful present we can give.  Doing something together, making something together or even just lying on the sand together and talking about nothing can all become sweet memories, which go with you forever. If you have not found the suitable activities to do with your mums, the list below may help.

  1. Travelling together
Recreate sweet childhood memory with mum

Recreate sweet childhood memory with mum – source: internet

If possible, why don’t you travel with your mum? It will be a lot of fun, as you and your mother will have a plenty of time staying together. Travelling to somewhere also provides a new environment, so creates a new atmosphere between you guys. Then maybe, while lying on the beach under some palm trees, you can have enough courage to tell her how sorry you were when you made a mistake few years ago and how appreciated you have been when you know you have her by your side. And maybe, under the moonlight in a strange city, your mother will be comfortable, and even brave enough to tell you that she was also very sorry to accidently hurt your feeling when you were in high school. She could tell you that she has always been proud of you; even though she might speak some harsh words. Maybe…Just give each other a chance and God knows what wonderful things might happen.

Take photo with your mum

Take photo with your mum- source: internet

  1. Inviting your mother to where you live

This choice is similar to the previous one, but it provides the more insightful view of point. This option also brings advantages to someone who has a tight working schedule and cannot have a week break to travel somewhere else.  By inviting your mother to visit you, she can have a taste of your current life. She can know the other side of you. Suddenly, she might recognize that her little Johnny has become a grownup man, who has a promising career, many wonderful friends and a healthy life style. This time, instead of your mother, who had planned and prepared for your trip, now is your time to show her how much capable and thoughtful you are.

If you are unable to take her to some tourists attractions in your city, you can book some tours for your mother, let her explore by herself. Please do not worry that you have left by her own, let’s think it different way. Why don’t you see it as an opportunity for your mother be young again, come back the time she was 20s, and enthusiastic to discover new land and make more friends. And by registering a short tour, maybe day tour, she might tell you many wonderful stories when you and you mother have dinner together. What’s a fantastic idea!

If you are currently staying and working in Indochina, which consists of  Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia ; and you are looking for some reliable travel agencies to plan some wonderful tours for your mum or both of you, maybe you can try to contact my friends. They are professional and friendly; and maybe, they can design and provide you just what you need, or maybe more than what you need. Please try by Travel Indochina Vietnam and tell me what you think!

Travel to Sapa, Vietnam

Travel to Sapa, Vietnam -source: internet

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When talking about beach paradise, where will you think of? It may be Bali, Maldives, Koh Rong Saloem… These are definitely beautiful. But you may not know that in Vietnam we also have an enchanting island named Mong Tay which is not less graceful than any other islands. In this March, without calculating or planning in advance, I got a very good flight ticket deal to Phu Quoc. So BOOM! I have been there and enjoyed my exciting trip with the most unique experiences – exploring Mong Tay Island.
For more information, you can click: Indochina travel Vietnam

Mong Tay islands is also called “Fingernail Island” or “Nail Island” is a small island located just off the Vung Bau beach – near to Phu Quoc island town, Kieng Giang province and is an eco-tourism destination famous for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing and kayaking. It has two zones: the south zone is where you will find most island flora with a few sea bird nests and the northern zone lying the small beach with coarse white sand. Today, we are going to discover the south part aka Robinson Island.

The beautiful Mong Tay island

The beautiful Mong Tay island- source: internet

The legend of its name comes from a true story about a real “Robinson” ­– Mr An, the king of the island, the “blind knight”. 13 years ago, he himself swam from the mainland to this island, brought along food and drink, forecasted the storms, and turned it into an alive island. Nowadays, the island, beach and coastal waters are protected and are belonged to the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve.

To come to this beautiful island, the only way is getting on boat/cano from An Thoi port.

The locations of two Fingernail Island in the North and South side

The locations of two Fingernail Island in the North and South side- source: internet

WHAT TO DO?

  • Swim and relax on the beach: The sea here is calm in the dry season and there are rarely underwater currents which make this an ideal destination for friends, couples and even your entire family. The beach is really stunning and picturesque where you feel like living in a true heaven – the sand is white and powdery, the water’s color in in blue and green and so clear that you can totally see any of the creatures living beneath.
Relaxing with sun, sea and sand

Relaxing with sun, sea and sand- source: internet

Swimming in bluish green water

Swimming in bluish green water-source: internet

  • Snorkeling: The green reef around the south Mong Tay island is shallow which makes it perfect for snorkeling. Coral ecosystem in here is very diversified with 17 different types including sea anemone. There are a few hard coral species and seaweed and many scattered rocks. Also, you may be able to see small school of barracudas, giant clam, puffer fish as well as Technicolor fish.
Beautiful green reef under clear water

Beautiful green reef under clear water- source: intenret

  • Fishing and have BBQ on the beach: For setting up the BBQ party, you can possibly buy seafood from the An Thoi port before your departure or go fishing to catch your own fish, that would be a very memorable meal.
Handmade seafood BBQ

Handmade seafood BBQ- source: internet

After this trip, I am thinking of postponing my excursion to Maldives for at least 3-5 years because I still enjoy and miss the Robinson Island. So if you are looking for a sun-sea-sand vacation to where is less touristy than Maldives, Mong Tay Island – Phu Quoc Island – Vietnam always welcome you!

 

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