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Myanmar, stretching 2,500 kilometers from the eastern Himalayas in the north to palm-lined beaches of the Andaman Sea, Pagodas are encountered at every step. Not only Yangon’s 2500-year old Shwedagon Pagoda or ancient Bagan with more than 2,000 Buddhist monuments tower over green plains, but also beautiful Ngapali destination (pronounced Napally and said to be named after the Italian city of Naples).To get further information, you can click: Indochina tours Myanmar

With its pristine, palm-tree-fringed white sand, the clear waters of the Bay of Bengal, and a host of sophisticated accommodation, Ngapali is premier beach getaway

With its pristine, palm-tree-fringed white sand, the clear waters of the Bay of Bengal, and a host of sophisticated accommodation, Ngapali is premier beach getaway

Ngapali is located on the Bay of Bengal coast in Rakhine State, its main feature is an idyllic stretch of white sand and palm tree-lined coast, with a number of resorts spread out next to traditional fishing villages. The beach stretches about 3 km with soft white sand fringed by coconut palms. Unlike today’s beaches of Asia, it is free of noisy beachside bars, crowded people and hawkers persuading you to buy their things. There are only natural scenic beauty of the blue sea, white sand and the lovely sun. The sea is cobalt blue, without any dangerous marine animals and clean.

Do you like peace and tranquility, and visit places “far from the madding crowds?” As many of us now live in crowded cities with the stress and strain of over-population, we need periods of relaxation away from urban areas, and go back closer to nature. We just take a short 45-minutes flight from Yangon and 9 km (6 mile) drive by private transfer from Thandwe Airport to Mya Pyin Village. Renowned for its beauty, Ngapali Bay offers a warm tropical climate throughout the year. Escape to paradise on the soft white sands of our vast beach facing the bay of Bengal, with dark green forested hills as a patchwork backdrop of paddy fields. It serves as the best ground for sunbathing and recreation such as beach strolling, cycling and so on.

Ngapali is pronounced Napally and said to be named after the Italian city of Naples

Ngapali is pronounced Napally and said to be named after the Italian city of Naples

The best time to visit  

The best time to go to Ngapali beach is from October to May. From June to September (monsoon season): It is raining a lot, really a lot. During the monsoon season the weather can be very rough, the sea is not very quiet and the rain can be also 24hours. Most of hotels and small restaurants are closed during this period. Please be aware as well of the limited flight schedule between May and September.

How to Get to Ngapali Beach

By Air: Thandwe Airport is located about eight kilometers north of Ngapali Beach and is a 10 minute car journey away from most of the area’s resorts and hotels. Daily flights connect Ngapali and Yangon — the journey takes about 50 minutes.

Thandwe Airport is a domestic airport with no international flights. If you’re travelling from any other Southeast Asian country, you’ll need to travel to Yangon first before making your way to Ngapali Beach.

By Bus: Ngapali Beach is accessible by bus from Yangon. The journey takes about 14 hours and can be quite bumpy and comfortable due to Myanmar’s road network. Most travellers to Ngapali Beach travel from Yangon to Thandwe by air due to the far shorter travel time.

Ngapali Beach is in Rakhine State, Western Myanmar. This is flight from Yangon to Ngapali

Where to stay

Ngapali has the biggest number of luxury beachfront resorts. Room-renting services here are diverse. You can choose from a small hut on the beach to luxury villas. The number of mid-range or budget beach hotels is now shrinking as the new international tourism boom entices owners to redevelop older hotels to meet the more exacting standards of the international market – and thus collect the much higher room rates. Both room rates and standards in Ngapali are already well above other beaches in Myanmar and as this beach continues its up-market march, it is destined to remain the country’s premier beach destination for some years to come.

There are many hotels, resorts in Ngapali with prices ranging from luxurious to budget for your choice.

Here is the map of Ngapali beach so you can get an idea of where each hotel, resort is.

Activities

Ngapali is about relaxing and enjoying the sun, but other activities include taking trips on local fishing boats; kayaking; snorkeling or scuba diving amongst the brightly coloured fish; and cycling or motor biking down the beach and around some of the local villages. This place offers a wide range of activities and adventures, including private boat trips to Pearl Island, snorkeling, e-bicycle rentals for exploring nearby villages, excursions to Kin Pun Chone Village where the Elephant camp is located, visits to local art galleries and Thandwe Market.

Scenic view on Ngapali beach at sunset

• Relaxing: Indulge yourself by sitting back and unwinding with ice cold beer or a tropical cocktail while enjoying the sun. You also can take a traditional bullock cart ride along the beach.

• Kayaking; snorkeling or scuba diving: Explore many bays and mangroves, dance along with large schools of brightly colored fish.

• Bird watching around Nghet Pyaw Chaung Lake. There are 30 species of birds in this area.

• Playing golf: Ngapali has a beautiful 9-hole golf course located some kilometers North of the beach, between main beach resorts and the airport.

• Visiting fishing villages: There are two fishing villages here; one in the South of the hotels, and another further South into the next bay. You can delve into traditional local life in these villages. The first one can be reached by foot; you can explore the other by using a bicycle, motorbike or being in a fishing boat tour.

• Visiting Thandwe: If you like some time away from the beach, then visit Thandwe. Located 7 km from the beach, this little town has 3 interesting pagodas, a bustling market, a traditional longyi-weaving factory.

• Visiting a dead monk: Salone Monastery is the home to a late Buddhist monk who put himself in the meditative state of death over 10 years ago. Since then, his mummy has been kept under glass.

• Have hot air balloon ride: You can get on a hot air balloon for amazing views of Myanmar’s wildest and least-known reaches.

Fishing Village

Local women in fishing villages on Ngapali beach

Travellers called Ngapali Beach “a touch of paradise,” rating the stretch of sand for its relaxing atmosphere, gorgeous sunsets, and local village feel.

Come to see its charm where you will find serenity and peace of mind amidst beautiful scenery.

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A large, prosperous coastal city, Quy Nhon boasts a terrific beach-blessed shoreline and grand boulevards. Its seaside appeal and tidy, litter-free streets make it the kind of place that affluent Vietnamese couples choose to retire to, spending their final days ocean-gazing and promenade-walking

If you are looking for a beach and you willing to get off the beaten track will enjoy Quy Nhon, a lively and pleasant coastal city in Bình Định Province in central Vietnam, virtually half way between the popular cities of Nha Trang and Hoi An. The city is known for its beautiful surroundings, Cham temples, and nearby beaches.

Easily reached by plane, bus and train, it’s surprising that more people don’t choose to spend more than the absolute minimum in Qui Nhon. It has a noteworthy beach in its own right, without any of the hustle or crowds. Visitors will have opportunity of breathing the pure fresh air from the sea, mountains and forests, feeling the caress of sea breezes and hot embrace of tropical sun, watching the skilled  craftsmen hand making beautiful artifacts, and tasting the peculiar specialities. But first and foremost they will be pleased with the warm welcome from the local folks.

Quy Nhon is certainly a good spot to sample some fresh seafood, but for most foreign visitors the city’s attractions are less obvious

Vast sapphire skies and fresh ocean breezes draw visitors to Quy Nhon, where you can enjoy empty beaches and the area’s rugged natural beauty. The public beach is immaculate and so far, development directly on the beach has been limited to only a few hotels and resorts on the south end of the strip. Besides, tourists who explore Eo Gio, Ky Co beach, Trung Luong and near by fishing villages discover both serenity and excitement.

To get more experience about Quy Nhon beach, you can click: Indochina travel Vietnam

Ky Co beach is arguably the most impressive beach in the region. Located 25km from down town, Ky Co is special because it bends like a sickle. Backed by mountains on three sides, the beach faces the deep blue sea. Visitors can travel here by boat, admiring the rocky and picturesque coastal landscape on the way. Another option is to reach Eo Gio (Windy Straight) by motorbike and board a small boat to Ky Co beach. We come here to swim in the crystal water, relax on the beach and enjoy seafood. There are also some caves to explore. Pineapple Beach offers colourful coral. Eo Gio is also worth visiting, blessed with a harmonious landscape of rocks, sky, cloud and water.

Ky Co Beach is nestled snugly in Nhon Ly Commune, 25 kilometers northeast of Quy Nhon City

Ghenh Rang ( Rang Rapid) is one of the most spectacular natural gifts bestowed upon this city. Lying 3km south down town, Rang Rapid consists of a series of rocky walls set near the sea. Ghenh Rang is a work by Mother Nature with a cluster of stones running along the seaside and undulating rock mountains, forming caves, dales with white sand on one side and the emerald sea of rustling waves on the other. After dark the rocks appear even more mysterious. Set below high mountains, the rocks and sea shine silver in the light of the moon and stars twinkle in the clear dark sky. These all creates a pristine Ghenh Rang, a charming spectacular and romantic painting.

Ghenh Rang is one of the most attractive destinations in Quy Nhon, located 3km south east of the city

Another natural marvel is known as the Queen Beach – a rocky beach covered with large rocks in strange rounded shapes. Visitors like to walk barefoot on these rocks, which resemble giant eggs. The colors are striking-white, red, grey or patterned…This rocky beach has an otherworldly beauty.

Hungry from exploring Quy Nhon’s spectacular landscape, visitors will enjoy this region’s famed fresh seafood and local dishes. The town has lots of cafés where you can relax, watch the sea and recharge in preparation for your next adventure.

Trung Luong

Eo Gio

Eo Gio

Trung Luong

Trung Luong beach

Enjoy fresh coconut while visiting Trung Luong – Quy Nhon Beach

Eo Gio is the best place to take photos

Beach at down town of Quy Nhon city

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Are you boring with touristic attraction around Hanoi and Old Quarter? Are you a real trekker? Do you want to find some new challenge during your time in Hanoi? If your answer is YES, you are reading the right post.On this post, I want to introduce a new places for both of local and foreign tourists – Ham Lon Moutain. As on my title, this is the highest places in Hanoi and is considered as the roof of Hanoi. It is located only 50 km from Hanoi’s Old Quarter towards North Thang Long – Noi Bai expressway. the way is very easy for motor-bikers to reach this places. It will just take you approximately one hour. Therefore, you can conquer this mountain on day or you can stay longer if you want to watch the sunset and sunrise on the mountain. Besides, on the foot this mountain, there is a large lake and is very suitable for you to camp over-night and have BBQ at night.

Camping area at the bottom of Ham Lon - the roof of Hanoi

Camping area at the bottom of Ham Lon – the roof of Hanoi

One more interesting information about this moutain is that there are many prosfessional trekker and young tourists who pracatice to conquer the Fansipan – the highest mountain in Indochina. That’s why it aslo has another nickname:” Fansipan inside Hanoi”. The highest point of this moutain is 462m.

To get more information, you can click: Indochina tours Vietnam

Every name has a meaning but after 3 times travelling to this places, I did not know why the local people call this moutain “Ham Lon”. In English, Ham Lon is “Pig Jaw” !??!! Most of local people just know that this name was considered as official name of this mountain for a long time and no one can understand why their grandparents call this moutain as “Pig Jaw”.

There two main path to touch the top this moutain. However, after 3 times conquer this moutain, I found that there are at least 6 paths to reach the top but for the first time, you should follow 02 main paths which there are many trekers choose. One path is very easy and suitable for biking. If you are professional biker, you can try. However, I have to remind that you are a real professional biker who try conquering high moutain before. With this path, you just start the foot of the mountain and make it all the way to the top through a fairly flat trail, of which the entire climb can take about two and a half hours. Visiting the Nui Bau Lake right at the start of the trail can give one a relaxing mood and get ready for the fight to the steep. Please to remind that you if you get lost, please to scream out and will someone will raise their voice to get back to you and you can follow their voice. However, this is the only way to find the support from other trekking groups because there is not any instruction board. If you feel unsafe with this trip, you can pay for some local people on the foot of moutain, then they will go with you for the whole day. It will cost you around 200,000 VND (around USD 10) for a whole day with local guide who can not speak English. One more note about this path is that it will covered by many bushes, so you should wear clothes covering all of part of your hand and knee. If you wear tank-top or short clothes, you will be hunted by bushes. On the first time, I wore short clothes and I had to pay for this with many scratches on my skin. The bushes on this moutain is not normal because I had tingle on my skin for a month. It seems be very dangerous for your skin. These below picture will show you how beautiful the easy path is

Easy

Most of tourists will choose the easy route to reach the top.

Yellow reeds along the easy route

Yellow reeds along the easy route- source: internet

Nice picture was taken on the easy route with full of yellow reeds along the path.

Nice picture was taken on the easy route with full of yellow reeds along the path – source: internet

The difficult route is a option for tourists who have greater taste for adventure and discovery. I love this path but you will need some trekking equipments. You will have to cross small streams or through the bushes, the biggest slippery stones ever. Besides, there are some deep chasm, so climbing gear will be very useful. You will have no standard route here, climbers who prefer to reach the top this way will have to create their own road. It will take you about four to five hours to reach the peak at 462m through this route. Please to note that you should not try this way if you do not have any trekking experiences before. On this route, you can hire a local guide without speaking English but the price can be higher around at 300,000-400,000 VND for a whole day. In my personal opinion, if you decide to choose thi route, you accept a challenge and will not have to be based on any guide. For me, this route give me a special survival experiences. After that time with this route, I decided to discover other routes when I travel to Ham Lon. As I mentioned, I think that now, I can go to the top with 6 routes. Now, if I have free time at the weekend, I will go with my best friend to relax and free stress with this moutain. One more fun fact that I got lost once time and it took me 6,5 hours to reach the top. I feel worried a little bit but it was really memorable experience for us because we went into old forest and need the assistance of army man to back to easy route.

Difficult route is suitable for adventure/ trekking lovers

Difficult route is suitable for adventure/ trekking lovers

When you reach the top of Ham Lon Moutain,  you will see a fairly flat area and you can camp here to over-night or have lunch with BBQ there.

View from the peak of Ham Lon

View from the peak of Ham Lon

Please to remember collect all of rubbish after your camping and bring all things from Ham Lon Moutain after your trip. There are many younger camp on this area and throw many rubbish. It is really a shame.

I suggest you to get top through difficult route and get down the foot of mountain with easy path. I hope that you will have special and memorable experiences as I did with the roof of Hanoi.

 

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Practices related to the Viet beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms! What should you do in the evening in Hanoi? Would you like to explore Folk culture? After a few days visiting Hanoi, visitors may like to see something different, something is unique just being held in Vietnam? Outside the usual scope of performances tourists attend – mostly water puppetry – exists the Viet Theater’s artistic interpretation of “Lên Đồng” or “Hầu Đồng”, a traditional ritual in which a medium is possessed by several deities. Tứ Phủ – The Four Palace show is one of the latest shows in Hanoi that has been nurtured, idealized and arranged for 4 years before officially presented in late February 2016 in Cong Nhan Theatre which is three-minute walk to Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam.

“The four palaces” or Tu Phu Performance was inspired by the ritual of the spiritual medium ship (Len Dong) of the Mother Religion believing in The Mother Goddess who brings about favorable weather, happiness and fullness to people.

What does Four Palaces mean?

Vietnam is already home to world intangible cultural heritages, including Nha Nhac (royal court music), the Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands, Quan Ho (love duets), Ca tru (ceremonial singing) and Hung King worshipping rituals. In 2016, Vietnam summited the dossier on “the belief of the Mother Goddess of Three Realms worship by Vietnamese” for UNESCO recognition.

Mother Goddess worship is a traditional practice in Vietnam with a long history, having stood the test of social changes. The belief in Mother Goddess worship reflects people’s desire for health, wealth and fortune. The practice rituals meet belief-related needs by people in their daily life and have been closely associated with historical and cultural figures, such as Lieu Hanh, Au Co, Vuong Mau (legendary Mother of Saint Giong).

The practitioners are comprised of temple guardians, ritual priests, spirit mediums, mediums’ assistants, musicians who perform the songs for the spirits, disciples and lay adherents who share the same beliefs in the spiritual power, supernatural strength and protection of the Mother Goddess spirit pantheon. All of these practitioners form groups who worship together, take part in traditional festivals and perform spirit possession rituals at temples and palaces dedicated to Mother Goddesses. The folk belief shows the respect of children towards their mothers while reflecting the UNESCO spirit of preserving cultural and religious diversity.

If you interest this post, please view: Indochina travel Vietnam to get more detail information

As a type of folk arts, Len Dong ritual is a spiritual performance

The reincarnatation of Goddess of Mountain & Forest Performance

The reincarnatation of General “Ong Muoi“ Performance

Four Palace Show

Four Palaces is created by Viet Theatre, is the 1st performance to bring Hau Dong ceremony of the Viet Belief on Mother Goddesses (Dao Mau) which is now recognized by UNESCO as the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage to the stage. Four Palaces show honors the magnificence, sophistication of the art in Dao Mau to introduce to the international audiences in Hanoi. The show is an exciting and spiritual journey that combines the effects of sound, light, and unique visuals during the 45-minute performance. The Four Palaces Show has three parts:

  • The Reincarnation of the Second Lady of the Highland
  • The Reincarnation of the Tenth Prince
  • The Reincarnation of the Little Princess of Highlands

Schedule: Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Duration: 45 minutes

Location: City centre – Cong Nhan Theatre (Add: 42 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi)

Enjoy the show.

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As you know Vietnam is a long history country with diversity in culture, cuisine and religion. For religion, Vietnam will be influenced by China, Indochina region, and Europe, so there are many religion in Vietnam. But, there is a very strange thing that nowadays, 80% of Vietnamese is non-religious and they donot follow any religion totally. However,  Buddhism was the first religion in Vietnam and influenced strongly on what Vietnamese people believe and how they live until now. That’s why Buddhism is not our official religion and now, there is not much people following this religion totally but we still have many ancient Buddhist pagodas all around the country. I will list 8 Buddhist pagoda is considered as the most famous pagoda in Vietnam.

In the part one, I will introduce 4 pagoda in Northern Vietnam. the Northern Vietnam will cover a half od list because this part of Vietnam is influenced by Chinese culture and belief. Besides, in the past, the North is Buddhist center of the whole country.

1. The Mot Cot Pagoda – One Pillar Pagoda

The Mot Cot Pagoda (One Pillar pagoda), which is one of two symbols of Hanoi – capital of Vietnam in 1049, is also recognized as the most architecturally unique. This pagoda is known with another name – The Lotus  Pagoda

Onepilar

The Mot Cot Pagoda – One Pillar Pagoda

The temple was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. According to the court records, Ly Thai Tong was childless and dreamt that he met the Kuan Yin – Goddess of mercy handing him a boy while seating on a lotus flower. The Emperor then married a peasant girl and they had a son. In 1049, he decided to construct a temple in gratitude for this important event. He thought that Goddess of mercy gave his son to his life. At this age, based on Asian culture, a son was very important for all of family, especially for Emperor or Royal family. The pagoda was built in a style of a lotus emerging out of the water as Emperor Ly Thai Tong dreamed . The temple is built of wood on a single stone pillar 1.25 m in diameter, and it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, which is a Buddhist symbol of purity, since a lotus blossoms in a muddy pond. That is the reason why the nick-name of One Pillar Pagoda is the Lotus Pagoda.

During the Ly Dynasty, the temple was the site of an annual royal ceremony on the occasion of Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. A Buddha-bathing ceremony was held annually on April 8 in the Lunar Calendar by the monarch, and it attracted monks and laymen alike to the ceremony. The monarch would then free a bird, which was followed by the people.

However, you will never have chance to see the original version of this pagoda because it was destroyed by French Union force in 1954 during The First Indochina War. After this war, Vietnamese Government decided to re-build this iconic symbol with the same architecture and size.

The best time to visit: Whenever you want because this pagoda is located at the heart of Hanoi and you’ll have no trouble getting there. However, you should note the opening time: 08:00-11.30 daily and 14:00-16:00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday

2. Chua Huong (Perfume pagoda) – Hanoi

Perfume Pagoda is a very large complex of Buddhist temples which was built into a limestone Mountain – Huong Tich. It is located in Huong Son (Perfume Mountain), 75 km southwest of Hanoi. Because it is located in Perfume Mountain, so most of local people call this complex is Perfume Pagoda and after a long time, now everybody considers this is the real name of this complex. Most of travellers think that Perfume Pagoda is only a pagoda in the mountain but it is a very big complex of many small temples, and shrines. The center part of Perfume Pagoda Complex is “Huong Tich” temple. However the most important part of this central temple is Trong Temple (Inner Temple). It is built deep inside Huong Tich Cave, so local people call it with the simple name – Inner Temple. This is the main part of Perfume Pagoda Complex and there are many local tourists will visit during Lunar New Year to pray for health and luck. Besides, Perfume Pagoda Festival will start from 6 Jan to the end of March (Lunar calendar), so you should not visit Perfume Pagoda Complex during this time every year. Please to check the calendar and itinerary carefully if you do not want to have bad experiences on traffic jam, the expensive for every service there and especially you may be stuck between thousands of local people. Believe me! It will be a very horrible experience, despite I am real Vietnamese.  It look like pilgrimage with thousands Buddhists.

Perfume-Pagoda41

Chua Huong – Perfume Pagoda

I will give you a quick brief about history of this complex. On the first there is only one Temple name as Huong Son Thien Tru Pha which nowadays, we call Huong Tich temple , was built during the reign of Le Chinh Hoa (1680-1705). On his way to search for enlightenment, he met and followed a monk who help him build Huong Tich Temple after that. Other shrines and temples were later built in this area to take advantage of the local beautiful scenery.
Perfume pagoda has a long history in Vietnamese literature. This temple has been a theme of many songs, topic of poetry, used in literary works as well as backdrops for paintings.

Now, you can go up by cable cabin to reach the top and go down by trekking to watch the beautiful view of river and Perfume Mountain. In case you do not have enough energy, you can use cable cabin for both up and down ways.

3. Yen Tu Mountain – Halong City

In Halong city, you just hear about Halong bay or Bai Tu Long bay which there are many luxury cruises for tourists to visit these famous bays. Howver, in Halong, there are many other attractions and Yen Tu Pagoda is one of them.

It is located in Thuong Yen Cong Commune, about 40 kilometres far way from Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province. Yen Tu Moutain is one of the most  beautiful mountain in the Northern Vietnam with silky streams around bamboo forests; green pine forests, and towers and ancient temples were hidden dimly
Yen Tu region is well-known worldwide for its beautiful landscapes, historical relics and hundreds of ancient pagodas and towers, especially Bronze Pagoda, with its peak at 1,068 meters above sea level.

This pagoda is famous and more popular after King Tran Nhan Tong devoted his life as a Buddhist monk in Yen Tu after his abdication.

4.  Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex – Ninh Binh City

Bai Dinh Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain in Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province. This complex consists of the original old temple and a newly created larger temple. Nowadays, It is considered the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam and become more and more popular for Buddhist pilgrims from not only all over Vietnam but also from neighbor countries

Bai-Dinh-Pagoda-complex-travel

Bai Dinh Pagoda – the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam

This complex was rewarded many records in Vietnam and also in Asia likze bell in Vietnam, the longest corridor with 500 Arhat statues, and the largest number of Bodhi trees at a Buddhist pagoda complex

However, this pagoda is still a new pagoda in Vietnam. It is very young, built in 2003 and completed in 2010. Besides, biggest bronze, Trikava and 500 Arhat statues,this pagoda still have a very large structure, the Tam Thế Hall. It rises to 34 m at its roof ridge and measuring over 59 m in length. The construction materials are stone and timber from Ninh Binh, tiles from Bat Trang – Ceramic Village near Hanoi… However, it is  still a new pagoda, so the main part of this construction is still from reinforced concrete. In spite of this, the temple was built on traditional Vietnamese pagoda structure with its curve finials and corner eaves soaring up and down. They had the shape of the phoenix’s tail or dragon head – symbol of power and hope. All of decorations of pagoda inside tis complex were selected carefully from artisanals who are living at the famous local handicraft villages around  Ninh Binh Province

You can visit this pagoda in the afternoon after visit Trang An by local wooden boat. The total complex of this Bai Dinh is very large, so you can rent electric cars with around USD5 per person to visit all of must-see attractions inside.

 

 

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Located in Mekong River Delta of Southern Vietnam, approximately 135km from Saigon, Vinh Long province is now easily accessible by car via the National Road 1A and the My Thuan Bridge.Let’s join with us in one day tour in Vinh Long to see what this province offers.

After 2 hours driving from the center of Saigon, we reached to the pier and embarked on a cruise. Our tour guide was a very friendly woman in the traditional costume a – the “ba ba” shirt and the traditional hat.

Our cruise took us to visit the brick kilns. It was a small factory but without machinery. The local people was creating beautiful potteries from clay by their own hands. We were surprised at how manually way they were doing cause it’s the 21st century already!

Pottery making in Vinh Long

Pottery making in Vinh Long

This man is focusing on making the pottery We came back to the boat and continue the trip by visiting a local workshop, where many local products were producing every day. Seeing how the coconut candy is made and try doing the rice paper by ourself. At first, we thought it was very easy to make, but it is always easier to look than done. It requires lots of technique and experience to make perfect products and the woman who made these things are really artists.

Will try making the rice paper by yourself? It requires more technique than you thought

Will try making the rice paper by yourself? It requires more technique than you thought

We also had the chance to see how they make the pop rice and popcorn by a traditional way with a big hot pot and the special kind of sands. All were done beautifully and followed a smooth procedure.

This is the way how pop rice candy made

This is the way how pop rice candy made – source: internet

We enjoyed some kinds of candies and a cup of hot tea prepared by the friendly local people.

The boat took us to visit the orchard and traditional house of Ut Trinh family. We had a tasty lunch made with fresh local ingredients. After that, we enjoyed some kinds of fresh seasonal fruits when listening to the traditional music of local people. We then walked around the orchard to see the varieties of tropical fruits such as the jackfruit, durian, rambutan, mango, etc.

In the afternoon, we passed on a small rowing boat – as known as the sampan to go deeper into the countryside on smaller canals and enjoy a peaceful time. It was so interesting to see traditional houses made of wood or palm tree leaves and see some activities of the local farmers, see how they picked up fruits by ancestral ways in Mekong Delta.

Happy biking time!

Happy biking time!

The last activity of the trip is biking! We biked on the small roads around the orchard, yellow flowers were blooming on the way and there were some fruits hanging right above our heads! What a peaceful time! On the way, we passed a school and saw the children were playing at their break time playing some traditional games. It seemed like this place hasn’t been affected by the technology, the smartphones and social network.

Children are helping their parents to do some handcrafting. The products are made from water hyacinth

Children are helping their parents to do some handcrafting. The products are made from water hyacinth

We back to the cruise and headed to Vinh Long city, where our car was waiting to take us back to Saigon. What an interesting day with many new things to see and do in Vinh Long!

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Nowadays, local people in Hanoi do not use bicycle as one of the main transportation means. With the fast pace of life, streets are full of motorbikes, cars and buses, the capital city has become a little more hustle and bustle beside its authenticity.  Only students – mostly from Secondary schools – ride their bikes every morning going to nearby school, others live far in distance will choose electric-bike. These days, I miss a lot the times when having a bike for going to school is such a pride among us – high school students. We were wearing uniform which is white shirt or Ao Dai (for girls), having a funny bike racing in the school yard, or hanging out with friends in the weekends. Even now when I’m an officer and already got my driver license, I still love taking my old bike out and getting a short trip around my lovely city – why not?  Let’s explore the beauty of Hanoi by bike with: Indochina travel Vietnam

  1. West Lake

West Lake is the biggest lake – the air conditioner of Hanoi with cool and windy weather. With the diameter of approximately 17km, this is the most favorite place of coureur from professionals to amateurs or to anyone who loves the idea of biking along the peaceful lake.

Biking around West Lake

Biking around West Lake- source: internet

In the early morning or late afternoon, this lake becomes more crowded as people here, especially couples, are keen on seeing sunrise/sunset. As the lake is really wide, you will have a totally panorama view of the scene where the sun is nearly going up/down.

Sunrise in West Lake

Sunrise in West Lake – source: internet

Besides, the extreme highlight of this route is the lotus season.  Located near to the West Lake water-park is a 5 ha lotus field which blossom every June – July. The fresh scent of lotus and lotus tea will make your day more energetic. Lotus tea – one of the most elegant and sophisticated teas in Vietnam – is a specialty only served in the west lake where nowhere could ever compare. The tea is made by allowing the green tea to absorb the flower’s natural fragrance. This is done through several methods, but the most knowingly is stuffing green tea leaves into a flower and leaving them overnight.

Lotus field in West Lake

Lotus field in West Lake – source: internet

  1. The Old Quarter and the Sword Lake

The Sword lake is the symbol of Hanoi which makes it the must-not-miss site. Normally, this place is always full of people who are walking or joining in cyclo, but how special it is to ride a bike and combine both the sword lake with the 36 old streets. In the early morning, a lot of local elder people come here to practice, do some light physical exercises and walking around this lake for 2-3 rounds. This is a very local experience beside Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge or the Turtle tower and lots of green old tree.

resting next to Ho Guom

resting next to Ho Guom- source: internet

For the Old quarter, if you can visit here early in the morning when not so many stores and stalls are opened, you will feel the tranquility, see the old architectural houses with yellow outer walls, green wooden windows, or surprisingly Ta Hien street with no one which is totally different with the night Ta Hien street –  very noisy with tons of people.

Ta Hien Street in the early morning

Ta Hien Street in the early morning- source: internet

Living in Hanoi for more than 20 years, I myself have to admit that there are a lot of places here I have not reached to but I know, Hanoi is always there waiting for me to feel it by my own way, special way.

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