EXPERIENCE TO TRAVEL AROUND HANOI

Hanoi is famous by not only landscapes and the specialties but also the elegant and sophisticated beauty of the locals in each word and each gesture.

When is the best time to visit Hanoi?

truc-bach-lake-in-summer

Truc Back lake in a hot day in summer

There are 4 seasons in Hanoi but the most typical seasons are the summer with high heat, humidity and much rain; and the winter with dry and cold air. For those living in Hanoi for many years, each season in Hanoi will has its own beauty. However, for tourists, you should visit Hanoi in the autumn, starting from September to the late November as the weather is cool and convenient to move around the city.

How to move around Hanoi

To Hanoi, it is easy to move around the city because there are many choices in means of transport. You can take a bus, rent a motorbike, a rickshaw or an electric car to discover Hanoi.

Take a Hanoi cooking class to discover cuisine

food-served-in-home-cooking-course

Hanoi is well-known with a lot of food with diverse choices, from traditional dishes to western ones. But more than that, when join a personal cooking class, you get to make food and learn the recipe from the famous chef’s guidelines. Especially, the food in this class is specialties as below:

  • Vietnamese noodle soup: It is the most traditional dish in Hanoi, which any tourists should not miss. It is often said that missing Vietnamese noodle soup when visiting Hanoi means you never come to the city. Here we learn from the recipe to ingredients to cook this famous soup including beef noodle soup or chicken noodle soup
  • La Vong grilled fish (hanoi turmeric fish with dill) is the Hanoi style dish. It is served with vermicelli, pancake, roasted peanuts and herbs. In this course, we have a local market visit and we will buy a fresh river fish and some essential herbs to cook this Hanoi specialty.
  • Vietnamese vermicelli with grilled pork (Bun Cha): When coming to Hanoi, anyone surely will mention this food with the delicious grilled pieces of pork, vermicelli, herbs and green papaya sauce. Especially since Mr President Obama got to try this street food at the Old Quarter, this creates you a desire to taste this dish. No worries, with the knowledge and experience from the original Hanoian, the chef Ms Hang shows the original bun cha and guides you to make this food and of course, a dipping sauce is also a crucial role in this dish.
make-bun-cha-in-a-cooking-class
German boys practicing to make Bun Cha
  • Fresh and fried spring rolls: It is a variant version of traditional rice noodle. Fresh rice rolls are one of the delicious foods of Hanoi people with simple way recipe and fried spring rolls as well.

Where to visit in Hanoi

Temple-of-literature-Hanoi

  • Complex of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum includes famous places like Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi Flag Pole, President Palace, One Pillar Pagoda…
  • Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam, is now famous destination for many tourists, especially the international ones.
  • Old Quarter is typical feature of Hanoi with ancient house and streets with the ancient architecture of late 19th century. Besides, this area is famous with cheap but delicious foods.
  •  Sword Lake is considered as the “flower basket” in the center of Hanoi, attached with the historical story. It is an ideal place for many people with open and romantic space. Coming here, you will have chance to enjoy Trang Tien ice cream or Thuy Ta mint lemon ice cream.
  •  Also, you can go to the suburb to visit the traditional craft villages like Duong Lam ancient village, Bat Trang pottery village or Van Phuc Silk Village, the famous silk village of Hanoi to contemplate the genuine traditional silk-making industry or the traditional craft villages of Ha Thai lacquer.
  • In addition to the natural sites, you can visit Vietnam ethnological museum, Art museum, Military museum, Hoa Lo prison, watch the puppetry performances or sit on the rickshaw to discover the daily life of locals.

Discover the nature as well as the life of ethnic minority of Sapa

Some notices when visiting Hanoi

shopping-in-hanoi
Tourists shopping in Hanoi should bargain to get the best price
  • Summer in Hanoi is so hot and winter is dry so, if you visit in such these seasons, you should choose suitable clothes.
  • You should remember to wear polite clothes if you visit Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
  • If you visit Old Quarter, using a map or google map is very useful for you to avoid getting lost as there are many intersections and one way roads.
  • While going shopping in markets or at shops, you need to ask for price first and then bargain to buy the items. Otherwise, you will get what you like with bloody expensive price.

Phu Yen-Out of the blue

Want to get off the well-worn tourist track? Vietnam’s South-Central province of Phu Yen offers pristine beaches, stunning views and solitude

Cacti grow on rocky slopes, their spines poking up against a cloudless sky. In Vũng Rô Bay, the sea stretches to the horizon. I can make out a few small islands where fishermen go to collect firewood.

While life in Phú Yên is simple, the area has a wild, lavish beauty. Sandwiched between Bình Định, home to Vietnam’s traditional martial arts, and the proud province of Khánh Hoà, Phú Yên is like the youngest sister in a big family, the one who has been ignored and neglected.

Phu-Yenin-sunset

With its beauty, Khánh Hoà, the land of sandalwood, has attracted great numbers of tourists. So far, most visitors have overlooked Phú Yen’s arid and rocky coastline.

Yet, at the end of the day, something miraculous has happened. Visitors are drawn to Phú Yên precisely because of its untouched simplicity. Over the past decade, eco-tourism has become trendy. The South-Central Vietnamese province of Phú Yên is an ideal destination for travelers who want peace and quiet.

Phú Yên offers a sense of solitude. I loved bathing in the clear water of Vũng Rô and hiking up to Tháp Nhạn Tower. I was amazed by the strange rock formations at Đá Đĩa. And I enjoyed visiting the Trân Dynasty stele that stands on the top of Đá Bia Mountain.

Nhan-mountain

While Phú Yên is making efforts to attract investors, its sense of isolation remains. For those who value nature, this is invaluable. You won’t find beaches lined with all sorts of resorts like those found in Hội An or Phú Quốc. But you will find a long stretch of white sand and two new five-star resorts, the Thuận Thảo and the Sao Việt.

In 2017, Phú Yên hosted a successful nation-wide music contest called Sao Mai Điểm Hẹn (Morning Star-Rendezvous) organized by Viet Nam Television. This event drew investors to the province, and some new tourism developments are underway.

Vietnam’s Central highlands

On the surface, Phú Yên looks simple. But it has a lot to offer. Đá Đĩa is an amazing natural rock structure consisting of millions of stone slabs arranged in hexagonal and circular patterns. Brightly colored cactus flowers blaze between the rocks. It is beautiful.

At the moment, this tourist site stands alone. There are no buildings where visitors can escape the scorching sun, let alone restaurants, spas or massage parlors. There is just the sun, the wind, and the sea spray crashing against the rocks.

Vũng Rô Bay also feels desolate. Gazing out at the Đại Lãnh Lighthouse, I thought of the stories about people who, during the American War, had anchored boats laden with ammunition in this bay. These unknown fighters later sacrificed themselves and exploded their boats in strategic enemy locations.

Today, passing fishermen still salute those unsung heroes. Without headstones or monuments, their stories are carried by the wind and by flowers floating on the blue ocean.

I love Phu Yen’s simplicity and its surprising beauty. I love the rocks and the cacti, whose spines seem to challenge the sunny sky. I love the sound of human feet running towards the ocean in the early mornings. Day in and day out, life’s simple rhythms play out in the fresh sea breeze.

Experience for trekking and visiting villages in Sapa

When taking Sapa tour, tourists cannot miss the activity of trekking to villages, the forests or mountains to discover the nature as well as the life of local people, the majestic beauty of the terraced fields, mountains or waterfalls. Journey is often combined with the overnight program (Homestay). If this is the first time you join the journey, certainly you will be confused. Therefore, we would like to share some information and experiences for trekking and visit to the villages and how to get there as following:

travel-sapa-motorbike

Prepare baggage:

  1. Knowledge: Trekking is a kind of experience and discovery of unique culture space of ethnic minorities living in Sapa so to have fun and impressive trekking trip, you should search for information about the customs, things to do and not to do when visiting the villages.
  2. Itinerary: Besides, you have to study cadastral maps and terrain area to make the proper plan for the trip, calculate the distance to move and avoid unexpected dangerous situations. Preview weather forecasts to prepare the backup plan. Prepare reference if you go trekking in the border areas or conservation areas under the management of specialized agencies.
  3. Clothes: Because you mainly walk during the trip, you need to prepare the neat, sweat-able and cool clothes. (One suggestion: Clothes should have many pockets).
  4. Walking shoes: You should prepare 1 pair of flat shoes or sneakers, this is the essential tool deciding the success possibility of the trip (do not use: high heels or new shoes for the trekking because it is very unpleasant). Additionally, the shoe materials are cool, dry, waterproof and fast drying.
  5. Backpack: You will have to carry your luggage yourself during the Sapa trekking tour so it is important to choose the suitable backpack with your ability. The backpack with belt will be preferred so that you can tighten it. The backpack straps with pads will make your shoulders comfortable during the whole trip.
  6. Food – Drink: For trekking, you will consume much energy and sweat a lot, so you need to prepare enough food – drink to complement the body when needed. Some foods that should be carried are: bread, canned meat, sausages, snacks, confectionery. Also you should bring some packs of candy to give to the children in the villages you will visit.
  7. Medications: The medications for colds, fever, diarrhea, antipyretic, antibiotics, bandages, red medicine, vitamins, supplements, and Snicker candy (a candy provides very high energy) are indispensable. Using lips anti-chapped Vaseline is also essential.
  8. Transport: you can take a night train and remember get a soft sleeping bed, you can book online at the site dsvc.vn or for those who are backpackers, the ideal way to enjoy yourself is to get a manual motorbike to drive your own pace, recommend James Hanoi Motorbike for having one reliable motorbike. Here they have a wide range of motorbikes, you can pick one and get planning advice from the expert.

Taboos when visiting villages in Sapa:

sapa-villages

  1. When visiting villages in Sapa such as Lao Chai – Ta Van, Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho, Ta Phin … inhabited by Black H’mong, Dzao, you absolutely cannot sit in the middle of the house or middle compartment. While visiting their homes, you must visit as direction of the owner. The front desk is a chair for parents (in case of parents’ death, the seat will be for nobody). Listen to interesting stories from other villages of the northern countryside.
  2. If you see the Black H’mong or Red Dzao doing the ritual or exorcism during the visit to Lao Chai – Ta Van, Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho, Ta Phin, you must not attend because they do not want any strangers to participate (the signs to notice when the ceremony is being held are in front of the village gate is a beam of green leaves usually hung on the high pole placed in the solemn area where everyone can see to avoid)
  3. When seeing the kids, you are not allowed to touch the head or kiss on their heads as it is believed that such action would make children frightened and vulnerable to illness.
  4. While seeing a nice clean place, please do not give your legs the break in hurry and eat there because that is probably the common worship which is very sacred for the whole village. Whistling during the sightseeing is a taboo. It is said that whistling is the sound calling the devil to the village.
  5. Villagers’ houses are often divided into many different compartments, of which the nave is always a place of worship and house guests are not allowed to sit there. The house usually has the highest and largest pillar where ghosts reside so travelers should not hang clothes or lean on.
  6. When talking with the villagers and being invited to drink water or alcohol, you should cleverly refuse if you do not want. Putting the bowl upside down is prohibited because only the shaman can do to expel the evil.
  7. Moreover you should not use fingers pointing forward while talking as Mong said that such behavior is to express the scorn. Lasly, you should not wear the undyed white linen clothes since it is the color of the funerals.

Some trekking routes reference in Sapa:

– Cat Cat – Y Linh Ho (ethnic groups: Hmong)
– Lao Chai – Ta Van (ethnic groups: Hmong – Dzay)
– Ta Phin – Ma Tra (Red Dao ethnic minority)
– Fansipan Climbing (natural grandeur)