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Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

Cat Ba is surely the name that pops up on your searching computer screen while planning a beach break in North Vietnam. You may be surprised to know that this beautiful “pearl island” is the biggest island (200 km2) in famed Ha Long Bay area and only 25 km away from Halong City and it is also a great destination for beach & sun lovers.According to Lonely Planet: “Cat Ba Island is caves, jungles and waterfalls”. Cat Ba has a lot to offer: rugged limestone mountains, hot & cold springs, moist tropical forests, coral reefs and pristine beaches. Therefore, it was recognized as Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005.

If you are wishing for an escape from the city madness and hectic work schedules, Cat Ba is actually a stunning destination or you in a couple of days with a variety of activities to enjoy: Hiking/Trekking in the National Park, Kayaking, Cave Exploration, Cruise tour, Biking or Fishing and Cultural Discovery. For more detail information about activities, you can view: Indochina Tours Vietnam

Cat Ba trekking national park (Half day)

Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986 which is situated 15 km to the North West of Cat Ba Town with the expansion of 15,200 ha. This park not only contains 9,800 ha of forests, tourists coming here may be surprised at lots of fabulous caves.

The National Park was the first national park in Vietnam that includes both terrestrial and marine ecosystems that is also recognized for its biodiversity conservation.

Here is the recommended itinerary for short trek lasting for 4 hour in Cat Ba National Park:

Depart: 8am or 1pm

Return: 12am or 5pm

8.00 You are met up with our tour guide to start the trip from your hotel in Cat Ba town. Take a minibus or motorbike to the Cat Ba national park for about 20 minutes.  At first, we will take 2 or 3 hours trekking through the Kim Giao forest (which provides the wood for chopsticks used by kings in the past) to the view point on top of the mountain where you can see a breath taking view of valleys. Bird watching and if you are lucky, you will see some wild animals: Squirrels, snakes, frogs, thousands of butterflies and monkey earning food…

A short trek through Cat Ba  National Park is an amazing experience

A short trek through Cat Ba  National Park is an amazing experience

11.00 Come down, on the way come back to visit the Hospital Cave – a natural cave were used as a hospital in Vietnam War. Hospital Cave is served both as a secret, bomb-proof hospital during the Vietnam War and as a safe house for VC leaders. Built between 1963 and 1965, this incredibly well-constructed three-storey feat of engineering was in constant use until 1975. The cave is about 10km north of Cat Ba Town on the road to the national park entrance.Then we go to the beach for a swim. Trip ends at your hotel in Cat Ba.

Cat Ba Adventurous Rock Climbing Tour (Half day)

Cat Ba is an ideal place for those who love adventure sports as this island owns 367 islands of various and there are many beautiful cliffs in Lan Ha Bay that are not so challenging for beginners if you are newbie to this sport.

A popular mountain climbing site in Cat Ba: Butterfly Valley

A popular mountain climbing site in Cat Ba: Butterfly Valley

It also has been loved by many professional climbers for its amazing place to climb with countless beautiful limestone faces and incredible experience to slippery green cliff or steep ones. There are many wonderful routes but you must be careful as the bolts and rappell biners corrode within a few years due to the ocean air so a clear insight into current information on new routes, access, and closures, guidebook is a must to preserve your safety and be a good preparation for your climbing.

Daily tailor made sample trip of rock climbing in Lan Ha bay area will look like below:

8:30am – 9:00am: Coastline ride into the small farming village of Lien Minh

9:00am – 9:30am: Basic instruction and introduction to Rock Climbing

9:30am – 12:30pm: Guided Rock Climbing in Butterfly Valley

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Delicious lunch on a bee farm with fresh local foods

1:30pm – 2:00pm: Return to Cat Ba Town

Kết quả hình ảnh cho cat ba climbing tour rock

Another popular mountain climbing is Ben Beo Wall which overlooks the main fishing harbor on the island and this wall contains the highest concentration of hard climbs in the area; The Face where you can take in the wonder of northern Lan Ha Bay during your climbing.

Cat Ba – Lan Ha Bay – Monkey Island Cruising & Kayaking

Lan Ha Bay belongs to Cat Ba islands area, Hai Phong city and is located to the south of Ha Long Bay. As it also has hundreds of islands like Halong Bay so many people assume that this belongs to Ha Long Bay. However, Lan Ha bay is different with hundreds of islets with small sandy beaches. So this is paradise for tourists to go swimming, go kayaking, rock climbing or staying overnight in a bungalow. The other activities that you can pay a short visit are: Viet Hai Fishing village, Cai Beo Floating market or swimming at Ba Trai Dao Islet.

A day will not be fulfilled without a kayaking "contest"

A day will not be fulfilled without a kayaking “contest”

You may take a look at the itinerary as followings:

Depart: 9 am

Return: 12: 30 am

09h00 – 10h00: Depart from your hotel to visit Lan Ha Bay. Taking photos of the scenes with hundreds of small beautiful islets on the way. Visit one of floating fishing villages on the bay and explore how the local people live. There are a lot of fish-farming water houses with many different shapes but all have some common features of Vietnamese fishing village.

A fishing village floating on the bay

A fishing village floating on the bay

10h00 – 11h00: Do kayaking in one of the most beautiful area on Lan Ha bay (1 hour)

11h00 – 11h45: Boat arrive Van Boi islet, it is time for relaxing, sunbathing on the deck, swimming in the fresh water

11h45 – 12h15: Getting back the boat and  on the way back, you visit Monkey Island, where there are lots of monkeys living freely.

Hope several of above day trip suggestions will satisfy your concern on what to do in Cat Ba.

Happy traveling!

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I believe most of people in this world know the meaning of our birthday.  It is the occasion when a person or an institution celebrates the anniversary of their birth. Birthdays are celebrated differently in numerous cultures and countries but commonly with gifts and parties. With this article, I would like to happily share with you some interesting truths about Vietnamese age and how we celebrate our birthday.

Birthday together

Birthday together

Years ago, the Vietnamese use lunar calendar for our daily lives, for work and for a lot of festivals and celebrations of our country. My grandparents said the dates which had been indicated in their ID were not their birthday even though it was exact, as it had to follow the lunar calendar. The farmers believe the lunar calendar is more useful in the way they calculate when to plant and harvest the crop. Tet Holiday, Han Thuc (Cold Food) Festival, Hung Kings Commemorations, or Full moon festival are all celebrated based on lunar calendar. However, nowadays, with the aim of becoming a developing country and to catch up with the international standard, Vietnam mostly uses the normal calendar as many other nations in the world.

The second fun fact is that we generally count age from Tet which means everyone gets one year older after Tet (lunar new year). No matter when our birth date is, the older people usually wish us health and a happy new age on this occasion. But it is just our tradition, it never works for any government agency, for example, you just can get the driver license if you are from fully 18 years old according to your ID.

Me in my third birthday in 1997

When I was a kid, there was a common thing among us is that I sent the invitations to all friends of mine to my house. My parents would prepare cakes, fruits, snacks and other sweet junk food for us. It was such as mess as there were friends from the neighbor and my classmates, not everyone knew each other.  Now as being an adult, those parties are not organized often as we gradually tend to gather with our family and very close friends. Instead of sweetening snacks, we enjoy a huge meal and cannot forget alcohol. Still, we give gifts to each other and remain the spirit “Cua it long nhieu” or in English, it means plenty of money does not count, the heart does.

A typical birthday party for kids 10 years ago

A typical birthday party for kids 10 years ago- source: internet

A few days ago, our general director – Mr. Tim Lee – decided to plan a trip for the whole company personnel in order to celebrate the 9th anniversary of Indochina Voyages travel.  He wanted to cheer us up after the long busy and stressful time in the office and to understand more on each staff during the time we travel, eat and sleep together. It was a memorable and fun outing trip to Da Bac – a district of Hoa Binh province, a newly discovered attraction for tourism that I would like to share with you later on another article. On the night of IV’s birthday, we spent time playing games, chatting and talking a lot about what we did in the last year and what we can do to make it better. And for me, it was one of the most open-minded conversations ever since I joined the team and it let me know how sometimes we need a special occasion to sit down together to celebrate and to listen.

Indochina Voyages outing

Indochina Voyages outing

Some of my clients travel in their birthday. Even when they did not mention about it, sales team in Indochina Voyages still noticed from the booking form and found some ways to surprise them. Sometimes it is just a birthday cake, a champagne bottle or a small Vietnam traditional party, our clients were very happy and appreciate it. If you are looking for a trip to Vietnam during your birthday or anniversary you can trust us, we are not the professional event planner but we do it with our heart.

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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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Whenever someone mentioned to Ninh Binh, most of people will think about Trang An Complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda – the largest Buddhism pagoda in Vietnam, Tam Coc, Hoa Lu – ancient capital. Even you had one full day trip to Ninh Binh before, I still believe that most of you never heard about Dancing Cave – Hang Mua.Dancing cave is located Khe Dau Ha Village (Ninh Xuan Commune, Hoa Lu District). Dancing cave name associated with the legend: the king of the Tran Thai Hoa Lu Am set Vi, King often come here to listen music from beauties, and Harem dance, so the cave was named dancing cave.

To get more information about Ninh Binh, please click: Indochina travel Vietnam

Dancing-cave-looks-like-small-sized-Great-Wall-in-China

Dancing cave looks like small-sized Great Wall in China

Dancing cave is located at the foot of the mountain. Shape of this moutain looks like a bell, is about 800 Square Meters. The path to trek up to the yop of this mountain was built modeled on the architecture of the Great Wall of China but the number of steps is much less with around 486 stone steps.

steps-to-top-of-mua-cave-ninh-binh

486 stone steps to reach the top of Dancing Cave

There are two way to entre the cave. You can visit Tam Coc by boat and pay a extra fee to require the sampan man to sail to this cave. I will not highly recommend this way to any tourists who never visit Indochina area before because the Sampan man can charge foreign tourist unbelievable fee to visit this cave. Besides, they will not wait for your for a long time to visit all parts of Dancing cave. Another way is drive to the main entrance of Dancing cave and buy a ticket (VND 100.000 per person). Then, you will have more time to discover all at this place.

You will feel so wasteful if you pay VND 100.000 and just visit a normal cave. I want to remind that Dancing cave is not different so much with other cave in Tam Coc and Trang An or Halong bay. Besides, with someone, they feel it uninteresting and the price is so much high until they start trekking to the top of the mountain and complete nearly 500 steps.  Then, they realize that the view over the countryside from the  temple which is on the top of moutain is stunning. It will be an unforgettable memory of your trip in Ninh Binh if you touch the top of moutain at around 5:00pm.

a-picture-of-Sunset-from-Dancing-Cave

a picture of Sunset from Dancing Cave at around 5:30pm

On the final part, I will share to you how I will arrange my full travelling day in Ninh Binh. This will be based on my first trip to Ninh Binh 02 years ago. I think that I am a Vietnamese people but my first time will be same with yours. On the first time, I was wondering if I should visit Tam Coc or Trang An because both of them are so beautiful, especially in the paddy season in Tam Coc. After a few days discussing with my companion, I will decide to see both of them and Hoa Lu Temple only on day. In the early morning, we drive to Trang An Complex from Hanoi. choose a private boat for two of us (we are big boys and do not want to share our boat, so we buy 4 tickets for two of us to enjoy Trang An). Remember that if you have much time and will not back to hanoi for flight or anything else, please remind staffs at port that you want to visit all caves and all pagodas in Trang An. The total time for this place is more than 3 hours. We also choose visit Trang An in the morning and end before 11:00am. You can avoid strong sunshine at noon.

After that, we drive to a local restaurant near Trang An and enjoy burned rice and goat meat (specialties of Ninh Binh province). Take a rest at restaurant before driving to Hoa Lu – Ancient Capital. From Trang An boat station, Hoa Lu is only a few kilometres further on. After one hours visiting Hoa Lu and learning its history, we drive to Dancing Cave. Normally, you will have to back to Trang An boat station to get to Dancing cave easily by passing Trang An Street. However, we decided to drive to 38B route and this way will be 3km farther than driving back to Trang An Boat station and follow Trang An street. However, I did not want to drive again on one route so many times, so we choose the longest way with 38B route. Besides, the scene on this way is very authentic and peaceful. You will also across Sao Khe river before arriving in Dancing cave.

As most of other tourists, we was not impressed so much by the cave but we knew that the most intersting part is waiting for us with completing nearly 500 steps to touch the small temple on the top and enjoy the sunset. We thought that 500 steps would not be a big problems but it was. We start trekking at 3:00pm in summer time (the temperature is 33-36°C) and we had just prepared only 500ml water bottle for two of us when we visited Dancing Cave. I want to suggest that you should bring more water if you want to reach the top because it will be fairly tired. There are some tourists gave up and just stayed at the middle way to take some picture. For us, we never want to waste our money and time for this, so we try to our best to reach the top. The final result is really amazing and can not describe on my words.

over-view-of-Tam-Coc-from-the-top-of-Dancing-Cave

over-view of Tam Coc from the top of Dancing Cave in June

May and June are hot summer month in Vietnam but they are the best time to see the yellow rice fields in Tam Coc. In conclude, the cave in Tam Coc and Trang An are not different so much, so you should choose one of them to pay for boat to visit caves. In my opinion, you should choose Trang An because it has much caves and they are more beautiful. However, the surrounding view with rice field of Tam Coc is more amazing in paddy/harvest season (from May to June, the view will be the most beautiful). You will not want to pay more for boat, or spend much time on boat to visit boring caves after Trang An but still want to look over-view about Tam Coc’s rice field, right? The Dancing cave will be the best good option. This will be suitable for tourists who love trekking, challenge a little bit, less tourist places and taking amazing photos. I just want to give you small note that you should start trekking before 4:00pm and get down before 6:00pm (may be earlier in the winter) because the way will be very dangerous in the dark and the sky will get dark very quickly after sunset

I hope that my experience and sharing will be helpful and make you a wonderful trip in Ninh Binh with Dancing Cave in your plan.

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

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

Hai Hoa beach has white sand and blue water

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

Bai Dong

Bai Dong

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

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

Hai Hoa beach in the morning

Hai Hoa beach in the morning

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

Seafood market in the morning

Seafood market in the morning

Hai Hoa beach in the afternoon

Hai Hoa beach in the afternoon

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

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

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

blule water on Bai Da

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

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

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