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Archive for the ‘Packing Tips’ Category

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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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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Sapa is famous for its unique beauty and climate all year round so anytime can be considered the best time to visit this magic land. If your travel period is within the summer of Vietnam from May to September, heading to Sapa is a brilliant relief to avoid the scorching hot weather and burning sunshine then feel the rush of cool air filled in your breath. Let’s explore Sapa in summer with: Indochina holidays

  1. Weather in summer

Located at the North West mountainous area of Vietnam, at a high altitude of 1600 meters comparing to the sea level and 380 kilometers away from Hanoi, this is an ideal location for summer retreat with pleasant climate and fresh atmosphere.

Terraced-Rice-Fields-In-Sapa-1

The average of temperature in Sapa town is only approximately 15 degree Celcius in which there are two warmest months: July & August when the temperature can reach up to 29.4 degree Celcius for day time. While the winter in Sapa is getting colder with fog and drizzle all day even some years with heavy snow falls at the highest peak, the summer in Sapa witnesses sunny days and cool nights at a very relatively stable temperature. Therefore, it is certain that summer is the perfect time for photos hunters and trekking lovers. However, summer is also the rainy season so sometimes of the day so this unfavorable condition of hot, humid and wet may hinder your enjoying fresh air and strolling around this lovely town. The only way to continue with your trip is to be well prepared for these sudden and infrequent showers.

  1. Breath-taking scenery

Thanks to its nature, the growth of diversified sauna & fauna make Sapa a distinctive and breathtaking beauty. This period can be divided in to 2 different parts: The first part is from May to end of July when it is time for the ethnic to grow rice terrace along the hills. You will be surprised by the whole valleys covered with lush and green color of rice. The vivid and lively pictures can’t be completed without the image of hard-working buffalos pulling plough across the terraces under the instruction of the tribal people. The second part is the August until early October when the terraced fields change seasonally to gold color when being ready to be harvested  under the sunshine and this is the most satisfying scenery that any tourists traveling to Sapa must see at least once in their lifetime.

On this occasion, tourists may also be awed by beauty of blooming colorful flowers along the slopes and down the valleys. Summer is the season of pensées flowers, the flowers of love and nostalgia. The cherry, pear, peach and plum also go into harvest time with juicy fruits. These can be a little sour but fresh taste and soft fragrant can relieve any tourists during hot days of summer.

The must see sites during your visit this period of time are: Ta Van village, Muong Hoa Valley, Ta Phin village and Ham Rong Mountain where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery and lovely surrounding countryside and tribal villages.

  1. Getting ready for travel

To have the most comfy and joyful trip to Sapa during summer, these tips are hopefully very helpful for you:

As the summer is quite cool, you can totally wear shorts, T-shirts and thin clothes but do not forget to bring a light jacket when hanging out at night or climbing up to the summit of mountain, Fanxipan for instance. A raincoat, umbrella is needed in case weather change. And it is great to have a scarf with you regardless of warm weather or cold weather because it can be multi-functional than you know.

If you love trekking, a pair of proper walking or trekking shoes is a must not miss so that you can feel free to wander around the town for the whole day or go uphill and downhill into the tribal village.

Image result for sapa summer trekking clothes

The chance of photos during summer is unlimited so this will be an excellent time for your passion of photo taking. Rechargeable battery is also an evitable stuff to bring along so that you will never feel regret of not having enough power for keeping all of stunning moments.

Due to the long walking outdoor, a few of snacks, milk or candies will be great to “charge” yourself while doing trekking or finding a resting place for food and drink. If you meet the lovely children on the route, these candies can be nice gifts for them but these can be easily bought in Sapa so there is no need to bring from Hanoi.

I believe that after reading this article, there will be no doubt for heading to Sapa this summer and wish you an enjoyable and memorable vacation in North Vietnam.

Happy traveling!

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History of Apsara Dance

Who’ve ever been to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom must be overwhelmed by the enormous scales and the extraordinary architect, along with the sophisticated sculpture on the stone wall. Thousands of stories are being told by the skillful hands of people in centuries in the past. And it’s not too hard to recognize the picture of the people with special posture, wearing unique costume and accessories. They’re dancing on the wall, called Apsara.

Apsara dance’s existence is known since 6th-7th centuries. The Javayarman VII King (most famous Khmer King of the Angkorian period), supposed to have thousands of dancers in his courts.

If you want to get more information about Apsara Dance, please view: Indochina tours Cambodia

During the Khmer Rouge regime (aka the Pol Pot’s genocide, a dark past in the Cambodia’s history, many artists had to leave the country or being arrested, tortured and killed. After the fall of the regime in 1979, the country wanted to revive the traditional arts, although at the same time people had to deal with many other challenges, thanks to a few surviving dancers who passed on their knowledge to young generations.

Apsara dance was traditionally performed only for the King, but now it is performed public for everyone and become a famous show attract tourists.  Though, the most important facet of traditional classical dance is still performed as a part of certain sacred ceremonies and award presentations in modern Apsara.

The Apsara sculpture in Angkor Wat

The Apsara sculpture in Angkor Wat

In 2003, the UNESCO recognized the Apsara dance as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Costume

The dancers’ costume is recognized for its ornate costumes and headpieces. The costume is made of many of the silk drapings, which is called sampot sarabap in the Khmer language, in different colors. The headpiece of the lead dancer’s always be made in a brighter shade to highlight her with the others. There are some accessories the dancers usually wear like a choker, red or golden collar necklace, decorated with designs and copper adornments, are worn in addition to long earrings modeled after the krorsang flower.

As the Apsara dance focus very detail in each movement of the dancer’s body part, especially the gesture of hands, fingers, and feet, the dancers wear very big bracelets around their wrists and ankles. They will slide elegantly and clink together during the performance when the dancers move. The sangvarwhich can either be worn as a belt or carried on its own, is made of lightweight copper and decorated with golden and red floral designs.

One scene of the dance - the monkey and princess

One scene of the dance – the monkey and princess

The Beauty of Art in motion

Every single movement of the fingers has a particular meaning, worship the spirits of nature by depicting a blossoming flower or refer to the hundreds of legends of Buddhism or Hinduism. The dance is display for the different religions which Cambodia had been built upon ( Animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism).

The stories are told via the Apsara dance often depicted in the carvings of Angkor Wat with four primary roles: the male, the female, the giant and the monkey (usually played by a male dancer). Although traditionally, male dancers do play certain roles in Apsara dance, today the art is practiced and performed mostly by women.

The movement of the dance is extremely complex, thus the children (particularly girls) must be trained since they’re very young, so they can get enough skills and flexibility to execute intricate movements and bend their fingers like a flower.

Taking photos with the dancers after the show

Taking photos with the dancers after the show

Where is the show in Siem Reap?

If you are in Cambodia, Apsara dance is an experience not to be missed.   These are some places you can enjoy the show:

The Crystal Angkor Restaurant

Address: 30 NR6, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: +855 12 786 786

Apsara Terrace

Address: Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor
Tel: +855 (0) 63 963 561

Apsara Theatre
Address: Off Wat Bo Road, opposite Angkor Village Hotel
Tel: +855 (0)63 963 561

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I believe that travellers will read a lot (both positive things and negative things) before travelling to Vietnam. Your research beforehand will help you identify the common scams and things to take note.

Part 1: Taxi Scam

Taxi scams are prevalent in Vietnam, especially in big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. It’s easy to find the stories about tourists being overcharged or extorted for sky-high fares all over the internet. In Vietnam, illegal taxi drivers have so many tricks up their sleeve, especially when it comes to foreigners being the customers. The easiest way is to use a modified meter, which runs faster than normal ones; thus allows unscrupulous taxi drivers to rapidly increase the fare. The longer the trip is, the more money they can rip off travelers. In addition, they usually take longer paths, which they call “shortcuts” but in fact are circling around to maximize the fare. Sometimes, taxi drivers can offer tourists some good places to go, just to later on ask for tips. However most of this information can easily be found through post office, maps or from the internet.

Here are the ways of sophisticated scams which taxi driver often use:

– Get money by cheating charge per kilometer

– Use the cheating tricks to increase the counted number on the taxi meter

– Do not use the taxi meter

– Driving around on the multiple routes which are not right with roadmap to increase the distance between staring point and your destination.

– Demanding more your gratuities.

In order to avoid all the troubles with the taxi scams, I would like to provide you some advice:

1/ You should get a cab of trustworthy brands, like Mai Linh (the Green Taxi), Taxi Group, or Vinasun. They are usually in a good number and the price is reasonable which based on the kilometer clock.

2/ Ask a receptionist at your hotel to help. This is highly recommended! especially you use airport taxi without from the package tour with travel agency. Transportation is also an important part of the tour company, so you do not have to worry about the quality of car, driver and over-charge.

3/ If you use one of the local taxis, get agreement on the rate before you get in by pointing at the rates sign and getting a confirming nod. If the driver tries to charge you more upon arrival, do not pay. Also, so not pay any extras for the tolls/parking – that is all included.

4/ Please make sure you have the exact name and address of the hotel you are heading for, ideally written down in Vietnamese, and make it clear all share an address. If the driver takes you somewhere else you have two options: (1) get out and walk (2) refuse to pay until they take you where you want to go.

5/ Please make sure you have enough change on you. It’s a common trick for drivers to claim they don’t have any change. If they do this, pay less rather than more (if you have it) – no change, their problem, not yours.

When you finish your trip: Tipping for taxis is not expected in Vietnam. If a driver demands a tip, do not feel obliged to give him more money unless you feel that you want to reward him for his work. If you do give the driver a tip, 5-10% of the total bill is more than enough. Some instances have been reported where the taxi driver has withheld the customer’s luggage until receiving extra payment. It may be good practice to make sure the driver opens the trunk as soon as you arrive at your destination. Or if you travel in a group, let one person remove the luggage while other pays.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are victim of a scam, there are a few things you can do:

1/ The first is try to negotiate as much as you can – whatever their demand is, start with half and be as steadfast as you can.

2/ You can also try taking a photo of the taxi driver, car number or taxi number – that tends to intimidate them.

3/ In the event that you feel physically threatened, try to bluff and say you are calling the police or pay an amount that will also you to leave the situation. However, tourism is very important to the Vietnamese economy, Vietnamese people so it is highly unlike that drivers will hurt tourists.

Have a safe trip!

 

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