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Archive for November, 2017

Since late November, people in Hanoi starts to feel the weather changing. Sometimes there is a heavy rain and the temperature decrease 10 Degree Celcius in just a few hours. There are some special dishes that familiar with local people in the winter that we would like to introduce to you today. For those who would like to discover the new things, you might want to taste these dishes. They might be not the taste of everyone, but it’s worth to try if you want to experience like a real local people with Indochina tours

  1. Che Troi Nuoc ( stuffed sticky rice ball served with sweet syrup)

It’s not easy to exactly describe this dish. There’s also no official name for it in English, but it is a dessert that similar to the Tangyan of Chinese. The word ‘troi nuoc’ means floating on the water. In a small bowl, there are two balls with the same size of the egg, made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls, one stuffed with the green bean paste, another with black sesame. The balls are bathed in a sweet brown liquid made of water, sugar and grated ginger roots, garnished with peanut and coconut milk.  The liquid is always kept warm in low heat.

This dish is perfect for a light dessert or a snack in the mid-afternoon on a cold rainy day. You can find the famous food stall that serving this dishes in the Old Quarter at No. 1, Bat Dan Street.

8 món ăn vặt nóng hôi hổi giúp bạn chống chọi với đợt rét đậm đầu tiên của mùa đông - Ảnh 11.

2. Banh Duc

This dish is kind of weird with Westerners. In a large bowl, slow-cooked non – glutinous rice flour or corn flour is served with savory ingredients such as ground pork, grilled ground shrimp, mushroom, fried onions, fried tofu, Vietnamese coriander, sesame seeds, salt, peanuts, lime juice and soy sauce or fish.

Local people can eat this dish throughout the day – for breakfast, lunch or as a snack. It is the favorite dish special for the elder because of the soft texture and mild flavor. The best place to taste this dish is at a small stall in the alley of Le Ngoc Han Street.

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3. Grilled Corn and Sweet Potato

You can find these simple dish almost anywhere in Hanoi. Just simply the fresh corn or sweet potato, grilled on the hot charcoal but its good smells seduce local people in the cold and dizzy winter night. The sellers might have another job at the daytime and in the evening, they spend some hours on the street for extra income. They serve the people who have to work late or on the night shift. It’s only 30-50 cents for a corn or potato, but in the freezing day, people seem to be closer when sitting around the fire to enjoy the sticky, hot and sweet grill corn or sweet potato. What a healthy snack for a beautiful sleep in the winter night!

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Have you hear about this Wolrd Heritage in Vietnam? I guess that most of you did not hear about this Citadel. It appear some travel books but the information is limitted and not much writers mentioned about this one. Even in Vietnam, not much local people care about this places. On my post, I will show you some reason why it is forgotten and some useful information about this places. However, there are some historical and political reasons but I am not able to mention on my post. However, when you visit it, you will know why goverment forget this ancient Citadel.

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Etrance Gate made from stone of Ho Citadel

Citadel of Ho Dynasty, one of the most distinct architectural constructions from stones in Vietnam, situates in Vinh Loc District, Thanh Hoa province. It was built by Ho Quy Ly in the spring of 1397 and became the center for economy, politics and society in 7 years between 1400 and 1407. Being threatened by the enemy in the past, the citadel was erected for the war to come and was a prime example of of a new style of South-east Asia imperial city. The total area of this historical site is 5000 hectares including 3 areas: Inner Citadel, La Thanh War and the Nam Giao Alter. Its location was followed by feng shui principles, lying in the conjunction of Tuong Son and Don Son mountains in a plain between Ma River and Buoi River. The wall and its four gates were constructed from immense stone blocks 1,5 meters in length, some are 6 meters and 10 to 20 tons in weight; some stone blocks even weighs up to 26,7 tons. Over the past 600 years, the wall remains nearly intact without any type of adhesion which amazes modern researchers the most.

If you interest, please click: THE PU LUONG RETREAT  to get more information

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The stone walls still remain nearly intact without any type of adhesion

Moreover, Ho Citadel was built in three months, this demonstrates the talent as well as excellent creations of the old artists. Additionally, the sophisticated traits are demonstrated by cravings of dragons, a symbol of Ho dynasty’s power. However, the dragon’s head was stolen a long time ago for some mysterious reasons. It is rumored that the head was cut down by the enemy in order to illustrate the perdition of the Ho dynasty or it was demolished by someone who disagreed with the Ho dynasty. Citadel of Ho dynasty was listed as one of the World Heritage by UNESCO in 2011 and the site is attracting more and more tourists every year.

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Many rumours about this dragon with stolen head but till now, the real reason and story is a mystery

Although there was an increase in the number of tourists to the site, this was not considerable compared to the historical and cultural value of the Citadel. Regardless of the world recognition, Ho Citadel has not received proper concern from tourism organizations. What is more, roads to the site need upgrading so that it is more accessible for both domestic and international visitors. One more reason that might hinder the tourism development of the site is the incompatibility with other surrounding highlights of Vietnam. Besides, it is located in the North Center of Vietnam, a new tourism area, which is not so famous and not many attractive sites for foreign tourists

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Nice over-view picture of a large area inside Ho Citadel

Visiting the citadel, you can walk, drive or cycle through the arches into the citadel. Within the complex, the quiet scenery of the country side also makes you feel peaceful since you can enjoy the fresh atmosphere of rice fields, lotus ponds, farmers and buffalos working on the fields.

Chùm ?nh: Thành nhà H? - Di s?n van hoá th? gi?i

I believe that this ancient and historic Citadel will be attractive more and more tourists in the future but it will be still far. I have a route for you if you want to visit this site. You wil visit Ninh Binh, staying over-night there. In the moring, you wil start a trip to Pu Puong – a hidden gem of Vietnam, then atfter 65km from Ninh Binh you will stop to visit Ho Citadel on the way heading to Pu Luong.

 

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Perfume Pagoda or Huong Pagoda has long been regarded as the most famous pilgrimage site when you travel Vietnam tours and it also attracts non-religious tourists because of its beautiful scenery called: “Supreme cave under the southern sky”.

Located nearly 70 km southwest of Hanoi, in My Duc District where is the junction of the Red River Delta ends abrubtly with the steep-sided limestone hills rising from the green paddy fields, Perfume Pagoda is an ideal day trip for anyone to enjoy fresh and peaceful atmosphere out of the busy city.

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The panorama of Yen Stream leading to the Huong Tich Cave during festive season of March

Unlike any other religious sites, Huong Pagoda is a complex of pagoda, temples, associated with mountains and forests that brings the harmony of natural and artificial beauty. The center of the complex stays inside the Huong Tich Cave where the Inner Pagoda locates. From the 1st to the 3rd lunar month or from early February to early April is when the Huong Pagoda festival takes place, there is a huge number of pilgrims flow to this site to pray for their happiness and prosperity for the new year. Also, gathering in this spring festival, young people have a lot more chance to join in traditional activities and to find their partners because the legend tells that this magical site is an ideal place to begin a romance. It can be said that Perfume pagoda is a must see place not only because of the religious site but also a stunning place for sight-seeing and photo-capturing lovers.

As Huong Pagoda is a large complex of pagodas and temples along the Yen Stream, tourists can choose to spend 1 day, 2 days or up to a week to discover this natural wonder depending on your time. Normally, there are four possible routes for visiting Huong Pagoda:

  • Huong Tich Route: Trinh Temple, Thien Tru Pagoda, Tien Son Cave, Giai Oan Pagoda, Huong Tich Cave, Hinh Bong Pagoda
  • Thanh Son Route: Thanh Son Pagoda & Huong Doai Cave
  • Long Van Route: Long Van Pagoda – Long Van Cave – Sung Sam Cave
  • Tuyet Son Route: Bao Dai Pagoda – Chua Ca Cave – Tuyet Son Cave

From my real experiences to Huong Pagoda twice, if you only have one day for sight-seeing, you are highly recommended to visit Huong Tich Route to two sites: Thien Tru Pagoda and Huong Tich Cave.

Now let’s start the pilgrimage to this fascinating nature drawing with the most highlights of Huong Tich Route:

Duc Pier

The very first starting point of Huong Tich Route is Ben Duc (Duc Pier). During the annual festival months, Ben Duc is packed of thousands of row boats used for shuttling visitors from the Pier to the base of Perfume mountain where people can start climbing to the cave.  This one-hour boat ride on the Yen Vi Stream from Pier Duc is actually the most romantic and scenic moments in the trip to Perfume Pagoda.

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Duc Pier where boats gather to welcome tourists

Yen Stream

While traveling along Yen Stream, the boat men will sail tourists pass by stunning landscape of blazing green rice paddles with jagged limestone mounts to the base of Huong Mountain. Your “local guide” that is the boat men may tell you about many legends and stories relating to the mountains at the two sides of Yen Stream and with your own imagination, you can easily see on your left the image of Phoenix Mountain, Cat and Turtle Hill and Elephant Mountain. Before boarding Tro Wharf, do not miss to take photos of stunning landscape of the blue sky and green water in the peaceful atmosphere where you can only hear the sound of water sailing.

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Relaxing on the boat trip along Yen Stream during autumn

Thien Tru Pagoda

After leaving the boat to step inland, you may not ignore a visit to Thien Tru Pagoda (chuà Ngoài – Outer Pagoda), which was under King Le Thanh Tong dynasty since 18th century. “Thien Tru” literally means a heaven kitchen, derived from the imagination of the locals in this region, of which the rock formations in this area look like chefs busily working in the kitchen.

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Thien Tru Pagoda

Huong Tich Cave – Inner Pagoda

To the right of Thien Tru Pagoda, there is a small path leads to the steep uphill for 4 kilometers to the main Perfume Pagoda that dedicated to Quan Am (Woman Budha). For this route, depending on your physical health and interest, you can choose either walk up the mountain for 1 hour or get in the cable car for just a few minutes.

In fact, the hike is hard going and hot due to the high and steep steps and can be highly treacherous for the way down during wet weather and when you are already tired after climbing up. However, the chance to challenge yourself and to enjoy the sceneries along the route especially when on the top, it is actually rewarding.

Otherwise, while getting out of the Thien Tru Pagoda, you will find at your right side the cable car station that runs all year round even when in the low season and the panorama from your seat is rather spectacular.

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The way down to Huong Tich Cave – the most sacred part of Perfume Pagoda

After climbing up hundreds of stone steps, and then down 120 stone steps to Huong Tich Grotto whose name literally means “traces of fragrance”, you will be cooled down by the winds and the moisture in dim light along the path to Huong Tich. For any first-time tourists when reaching the grotto, a big “Wow” by magnificently luxuriant landscapes will not be stopped. Behind the natural huge grotto looking like the Budha, the little wet path may take you to discover numerous stunning stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave such as Dun Gao (Rice) rock, gold and silver trees, Nui Co (Girl) and Nui Cau (Boy) Mountains (in the shapes of a girl and a boy) and the most scared place of the whole complex with the statue of Quan Am and Lord Budha.

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We could not hide our surprise to see the stunning grottoes

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The wonderful view from inside the cave

As the festival season falls for the spring time from February to early April, my advice is to avoid this time of the year, instead, you can visit in low season for the autumn and the winter to enjoy pleasant weather and peaceful atmosphere. Especially during October and November, you can easily see lovely water lilies booming up with bright color floating on the Yen stream while on the boat.

To enjoy your trip the most, whether you are not planning to walk but do the cable car for driving up, do not forget good walking shoes, a hat and plenty of water, especially in the hot summer months. If you do not have time to prepare them on your own, you can buy mineral water, food and fresh fruits along  the way to Huong Tich cave.  A good camera is always a must!

I hope my sharing will be useful now for your getting started. Let’s enjoy and share with us your great moments.

 

 

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Our team had a very interesting experience exploring on our trip to Lao Cai province in October 2017 and would like to share some pictures to you.Our train starts from Hanoi station at 10.pm on Friday and arrives Lao Cai Station at about 6am on Saturday morning. The weather in the early morning is still warm with a bit misty. Our group is welcomed by our drivers and tour guide at the station. We had light breakfast with Chicken soup at a small rest stop near by and then head up to Simacai District.

It takes about 2 hours to transfer from Lao Cai Station to the place where the market is situated. The road sometimes so craggy cause we have to cross over some landslide area from the flood few days ago. Arriving the market at about 8.30 am, the time when the market is most crowded, we jumped out of our car and be impressed by many sounds and smells that can only be found at a fair in the northern Vietnam.

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The market can be divided into 3 main areas: selling foods, cows and buffalo, clothes and other housewares. Spread in front of our eyes are a living, interesting, unique activities. In this corner, a woman selling some vegetables is talking with another woman carrying a baby on her back by their own language and laugh out loud. Whilst another man is trying to lead his buffalo. It seems like the buffalo is not so happy, it keeps shaking its head, so the bamboo bell on his neck makes some noise. Under some wooden roofs, some people are cooking special dishes made from organs of pigs, cows or buffalo. In another corner, some men is making BBQ with beef and vegetables. An old woman is cooking a big pan full of a white mixture that they call tofu. Some people are selling special wine made from tao meo – a special type of fruit in the jungle. Some children is gathering by the pannier full of hot colorful sticky rice. The color is made from 100% natural ingredients. Some teenage girls are trying the handmade dresses. In a lower land, cows and buffalo is gatherings and their owners are trading. All things creates a vivid pictures.

The words can not describe enough, so you would better come and experience by yourself. The market is not fit with all people, but it is a great choice for someone who really like to see local things. Just a tip is the Can Cau Market will be finished at about noon, thus you better arrange your time well, so not to miss the most interesting part of the market. Also, don’t forget to check the weather and bring your warm coat cause at that night the weather changed dramatically, temperature cool down to just about 12-13 Degree.

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wine selling area

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Colorful sticky rice

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Chatting in ethnic language

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H’Mong women in their costume

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Noodles for breakfast, who’s willing to try?

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“Tofu”

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People trading buffalo

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Hanoi is full of iconic foods, and of all the wide range of street side dishes, Banh Mi is still the tastiest and a must-not-miss one.  Choosing the best Banh Mi to try while you are in Hanoi can be overwhelming, scrolling through all those recommendations and mouthwatering pictures would take years. And seriously, you are passing by as a visitor, the best experience is what you are looking for. You can always enjoy this dish when doing a full day trip around Hanoi city with Indochina tour our tour guides are the local resident and they know best where to go and the following are some examples.

  1. Banh Mi Dinh Ngang

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(The perfect mix of Dinh Ngang bread and ice tea. Source: internet)

Situated at the corner of small Dinh Ngang and Cua Nam street, the bread shop looks simple but has been around for more than 20 years.  Its specialty is Banh Mi Thap Cam (mixed bread), with a bunch of ingredients stuffed inside: a slice of pâté, a fried egg, Vietnamese ham and pork skin sausage, and cucumber all slathered with the store’s signature sauce.

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(Want to try a bite? Source: internet)

Having all the ingredients handmade is exactly the way that makes Banh Mi Dinh Ngang unique.

  1. Banh Mi Pho Hue

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(The legendary Banh Mi reported on BBC. Source: BBC)

Geoffrey Deetz – a chef and Vietnamese food expert who’s been living in the country for nearly 15 years – is the owner of this baguette shop. The article “Is the banh mi the world’s best sandwich?” by David Farley on BBC described this loaf of bread as follows: “The banh mi sandwiches in Hanoi are much more one dimensional than other parts of the country […] But so many things in here have a function: the pork floss soaks up the sauce, the pate adds moisture and the fact that the baguette is lightly toasted keeps it from getting soggy in this immense humidity”. David also commented the “banh mi” has always been the one kind of food he liked better outside its home turf.

  1. Banh Mi Ba Dan (Ms. Dan)

Established in 1979, Banh Mi Ba Dan is one of the oldest bread stores in Hanoi. Ms Dan’s son – Mr Binh – is now the owner of the store, and he has managed to maintain its reputation among locals as well as travelers. According to him, back to the old time when Ms. Dan still operated the store, it was a norm that a thousand of bread sold out each day. Nowadays, with the rise of bread stores all over Hanoi, thought the sale went down, still the true Hanoian enjoy its original taste of Ms. Dan’s bread.

Ms.Dan2(The ingredients. Source: internet)

Beside the traditional paté, the uniqueness of Banh Mi Ba Dan is also the freshness of the baguette. New loaves arrive from the bakery every three hours, this means the baguettes in the store are always crunchy and fresh.

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(The new loaves. Source: internet)

In Vietnam, Banh Mi is actually an everyday ordinary dish, banh mi stalls and carts are everywhere on the streets, providing simple and delicious energy for breakfast and midday meal. From the familiar food for Vietnamese people, it is now, proudly, an obsession for foreign travelers and appear in almost street food tour in Hanoi.

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To the major foreign tourists coming to Vietnam scenery, people and culture are not the sole charms; food, or in particular, street food is another aspect that makes the country stand out. Perhaps street food is simple as it looks but no one can deny its attractive flavors. Sweet-roll or Bo Bia Ngot is one of those and it is especially well-known among young students. When it comes to Bo Bia, it reminds Vietnamese people of their childhood every time school finished, the hungry stomachs would rush out to the school gate looking for the old men or women selling this special gift on their bicycles. As time passes by, Bo Bia becomes a popular street food that is not only sold for students but it appears in many other places as well.

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One of very unique street-food in Vietnam. With fresh and simple ingredients, you can have a delicious roll. Sweet-roll is just made by sellers right after you order. Very unique, fresh and delicious

Sweet roll has its root in Fujian and Teochew (Guangdong) China. Nowadays, this food can be seen in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia and Vietnam. In Guangdong, it was originally eaten in Grave Visiting Festival in spring. However, hardly anyone knows exactly when the food was brought into Vietnam. The South part is the very first place for Sweet Roll, especially Ho Chi Minh City. It is told that around more than ten years ago, there was a man from Vinh Phuc Province (a province near Hanoi capital) came to Ho Chi Minh city to earn a living, somehow he could learn how to make the roll. Then, he moved back to Hanoi and started selling this type of food and spread the recipe to many other people.

Main ingredients of Bo Bia Ngot are very easy to find anywhere including rice paper, shredded coconut, pulled sugar and black sesame seeds. The rice paper or crepe wrapper in Bo Bia is made from wheat flour and a little sugar but it is different from one in normal Fresh Spring roll. The crepe must be absolutely thin and a little tough at the same time so that it can wrap all the things inside. As for pulled sugar, it is candy bar made from malt and is really crispy. Coconut must be shaved from mature coconuts so that it can be crispy as well and more buttery. Just a small sweet roll with few ingredients inside is a perfect combination: sweetness and crumbliness from candy bars, buttery taste from coconut and black sesame seeds. It takes less than one minute to make a small lovely sweet roll but when eating, we should have one bite at a time in order to feel every flavor. Normally, Bo bia ngot sellers can customize according to buyers’ preference. For me, I am always keen on putting more coconut and black sesame seeds. If you are a sweet tooth, you should have more of candy bars.

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Find sellers on bicycle or motor-bike with white box, you can order a sweet-roll (source: Internet)

Until now, Bo Bia is still one of the most favorite street foods for every younger or students, for that reason, we can find plenty of Bo Bia sellers in primary or secondary schools or even near some universities. Moreover, in big cities like in Hanoi, Bo Bia can be found around Hoan Kiem lake area or Thanh Nien Steet near West Lake. A special thing about Sweet Roll is that you cannot look for them in a proper shops or restaurants with tables and chairs but on the streets outside. Sweet Roll sellers usually ride their bicycles with hand-made white cupboards writing Bo Bia Ngot on these. For only 10.000vnd, you already have one big or 2 small pieces of Swett Roll.

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Look inside a small sweet-roll. You just have to spend VND 5.000 (20 cent) for this small piece.

Every day after school or work, on the way back home, stopping by a Bo Bia Ngot vendor is such a peaceful feeling. For the foreign tourists, trying Bo bia ngot on a beautiful day walking around the city will certainly make the journey less tiring. If you ever come to Vietnam, try this cheap yet wonderful street food, and you will not regret.

If you interest this post, please click: Indochina tour to get more information

 

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I decided to book air tickets to return Hoian for the 3rd time on a day of mid-October. However, this is the first time of mine to visit the enchanting town during its rainy season and especially when reading the weather forecast news warning that if central Vietnam would be anyone’s travel plans over the next few days, they may want to consider delaying the travel — or, at least, keep updated to the latest information pertaining to the weather due to the effects from Typhoon Khanun.” (Boarding Area).

Please click indochina tours Vietnam to get more information

Having been kept updated by the local weather forecast channel about the weak influence of this storm and believing that the daily rain will not dilute the beauty of this region, I still started my trip as planned and was so lucky to enjoy Hoian without rain or storm but with a pleasantly sunny and cool weather throughout my chilling days.

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After strolling around the old streets of Hoi An, I thought of doing something else near the town for more fun experiences. My great day was to rent a bike and ride around on two wheels to visit Thanh Ha Pottery Village, Bay Mau Palm Forest and relax by An Bang Beach.

  1. Thanh Ha Pottery Village

Finishing a nice breakfast with Mi Quang (Quang Noodle with shrimp and pork), I headed 3 kilometers out of Hoian town to Thanh Ha Terracotta Park and Pottery Village to see the historical village and made a pottery on my own as a souvernir.

The Thanh Ha village was famous for its pottery, bricks and tiles. You will be amazed to know the unique Yin – Yang tiles which can still be seen on many roofs in the old city of Hoi An were made from this old village. Coming to the terracotta museum, you will have a chance to see the whole building of red bricks and clay in the region.

I must admit that I was lost in the World Square garden of miniature of iconic monuments from all over the world. This was really a great way to learn new places and to check my memory. Besides world famousTaj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, Sydney Opera House, Pyramids, the Whitehouse, the Angkor Wat, I figured out the little  replica of Hoi An Old Town with lovely old houses which were all made by clay and by the artisans in village.

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Though the indoor exhibition was quite attractive with objects and images about the long history development of 500 year history at Thanh Ha, I could not stand going down to the outdoor area where I can see the nice hand-made pottery products and made one by myself. Needless to say, this is an ideal site for both adults and children where you can create any masterpieces of your imagination.

Having made the pottery without previous knowledge and experience but thanks to the great help of the nice artisan, the vase/pot came out surprisingly nice and it cost only 30,000 VND for this worth.

  1. Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest:

Leaving the Thanh Ha village, I continued my day trip to Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest where is regarded as the Little Mekong inside Hoian.

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Located 5 km from Hoian and surrounded by water of 3 major rivers in Hoian: Thu Bon River, Truong Giang River and De Vong River, the hidden coconut forest is really a wonderful destination for tourists to sit in the basket boat and go through the natural coconut waterway. In the past, the forest was an important historical where the guerrilla force relied on coconut forests to cause more damage to the enemy in wars and became a place of shelter, refuge to many officials. Nowadays, it is really nice place for people to explore the tranquil coconut palm while seeing the sunset at Thu Bon River.

Welcomed me on boat, the friendly boat lady gave me an amazing gift made of the coconut leave, that is the ring with shape of a grasshopper! The rowing boat went through the forest and along the river for around 30 minutes. At the end of the ride, I was astonished again by the unique performance of a boat man right in his basket boat while enjoying a great round by my boat’s old lady that was a little dizzy but so much fun.

  1. Relax at An Bang Beach

The end of my day trip today was An Bang Beach, a lovely beach that is only 3 kilometers from the town and it is where you will find less vendors, more peace with clean water, smooth sand, gentel waves and pure atmosphere.

While the Hoian ancient town is peaceful, the beach is somehow vibrant by the pace of life showing on a huge number of bamboo basket boats along the beach. Like in Bay Mau forest, these boats are still used as a mafor means of fishing for daily life.

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As the ideal time for swimming at Hoian beach is from April to September during the summer of Central, I just stopped at An Bang Beach to have a big fresh seafood dinner that definitely satisfied a hungry soul like me.

Though the trip was taken during the rainy season, I enjoyed myself very much in a great weather. So my best advice for anyone who is planning to Hoian these days would be to get updates from local weather channels, book accommodation through any channels that allows for late cancellations or for last-minute delay until the weather is better and take advice from locals where living right at place. It is certain that you can even still had good days while during rainy time. Therefore, I believe you may also have a lot of fun experience to Hoian and do not hesitate to share with me your great time there!

Happy traveling!

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