Vietnamese language

Vietnamese language: Vietnamese is the official language. The Romanized Vietnamese alphabet was developed by Catholic missionaries in the 17th century. English is the dominant second language with some French still spoken. Some English is spoken in the tourist and central business districts of the main cities but in general, English is not spoken in government offices or outside the city. It is not necessary to become fluent in Vietnamese but we recommend at least some study of basic words and phrases.

Vietnamese-language

The Vietnamese alphabet contains twenty two Roman characters: a, b, c, d, e, g, h, i, k,
l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, x, y. Some diacritic marks are also used to indicate specific
sounds: ă, â, ê, ô, ư, ơ, đ, and the tones: `, ´, ~, .

The Vietnamese language has eleven nuclear monophthong vowels7 : /i/, /e/ (ê), /ε/
(e), /ω/ (ư), /ə:/ (ơ), /ə/ (â), /a:/ (a), /a/ (ă), /u/, /o/ (ô), /ɔ/ (o) and three nuclear
diphthongs: /ie/ (iê/ia), /ωə/ (ươ/ưa), /uo/ (uô/ua). According to the part of the tongue
that is raised, the monophthongs can be front: /i/, /e/, /ε/, mid: /ω/, /ə:/, /ə/, /a:/, /a/ and
back: /u/, /o/, /ɔ/). They can be high: /i/, /ω/, /u/, mid: /e/, /ə:/, /ə/, /o/ and low: /ε/,
/a:/, /a/, /ɔ/, depending on the extent to which the tongue rises in the direction of the
palate. The lips are rounding when producing the three rounded vowels /u/, /o/, /ɔ/ and
the diphthong /uo/. The nuclear vowels in Vietnamese are represented in the triangle
on the basis of the part of the tongue that is raised and the position of the tongue
toward the palate.

In Vietnamese there are six final consonants: /p/, /t/, /k/ (c/ch), /m/, /n/, /N/ (ng/nh)
and two final semivowels: /i/ (i/y), /u/ (o/u).

Biking in Vietnam

With most of the population getting around on two wheels, whether it be motorbike or bicycle, there is no better way of getting closer to the people than by joining them on the road at the back of a bike. With a range of classic routes available such as the Ho Chi Minh Trail or the Dong Van to Meo Vac road through the Tonkinese Alps (Hoang Lien Mountains) of the north, and a host of terrains catering to any level; ranging from the flat dirt roads of the Mekong Delta to the grand mountain roads of the north, biking is by far one of the best ways to get to know Vietnam and feel its contours. Moreover as every biker knows, unlike travelling by bus, train or plane, bikers have the freedom to get off the beaten track and uncover some of Vietnam’s best hidden gems that are overlooked by the masses.

biking

CYCLING Vietnam
Available for rent in most tourist centres bicycles can be a cheap way to experience Vietnam. Cycling allows the traveller to feel the freedom and see the beauty of Vietnam’s hidden charms at handlebar level. In cycling travellers can explore Vietnam actively and experience the most enriching and authentic features of its many destinations at your own pace. From its miles of sandy blue watered coastline, remote back roads, iconic villages, world heritage national parks, luscious subtropical rainforest and rugged wild mountainous terrain, cycling provides a cheap, healthy and intimate experience for any visitor to Vietnam and the perfect way to travel.
For the seasoned cyclist, the region around Sapa in the north, and in particular the Lai Chau and Fansipan valleys, provides perfect terrain for cycling, featuring spectacular mountain views, deep valleys and colouful minority villages. Less technically demanding is the region around Da Lat in south Vietnam, a land of lush rice fields, forests and rolling hills. Alternatively, the Mekong Delta region with its flat dirt roads takes cyclists through a landscape of verdant greenery, traditional fishing villages and floating markets. For a true odyssey, cyclists can traverse the country from north to south following the Ho Chi Minh Trail and see the complete gamut of its natural, cultural and historical heritage.

MOTORCYCLING Vietnam
Taking to the road by motorbike is a great way to experience the splendours of Vietnam and get a thrill at the same time. In order to obtain a temporary motorcycle licence visitors just need a 3 month tourist visa and current drivers licence. Of course, good insurance that covers the activity is also a must. With its winding coastal roads, vast rice fields, tropical forests, rocky mountain peaks and vibrant markets, towns and villages, Vietnam offers something for every motorcyclist.
With a week or two take on the Northern Highlands Trail, a classic loop from Ha Noi that takes in the very best sights of the north, or alternatively choose a section of the loop such as the remote mountain roads of Ha Giang, the frontier lands between Sapa and historic Dien Bien Phu, or the lush valleys of Mai Chau. Traverse the breadth of the country along the Ho Chi Minh Trail a supply line used to link North and South Vietnam during the American War, and meet people from the war and hear their stories. Or ride deep into the Mekong Delta and discover verdant farmland and experience rural life on the less travelled paths.

Vietnam’s Best National Parks

BA BE  –   (rGy3@h)

Located in the distant misty Northern Highlands about 250km North of Ha Noi lies Ba Be National Park. Centred around a fresh water lake which at 500ha is amongst the 20 largest natural freshwater lakes in the world, the park is home to such animals as the Snub-Nosed Monkey and the Panthera Pardus Leopard. With caves to be explored, traditional stilt house home-stays, boat tours, and hiking trails, the mountain paradise of Ba Be is well worth the journey north.

national-park

CAT BA – (3r@)
Like Ha Long bay, the landscape of Cat Ba National Park in Hai Phong City, Vietnam, is dominated by karst limestone islands rising abruptly from the sea. Complete with mountains, caves and grottoes accessible by hiking trails and beautiful sandy beaches perfect for swimming, there is much to keep visitors to Cat Ba island entertained or join in ecological tours in Cat Ba National Park. The park supports the only known population of Cat Ba Leaf Monkey in the world.

CUC PHUONG – (rRG)
In addition to being one of the best places for bird-watching in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong National Park, about 100km south of Ha Noi, is also home to a number of endemic species including the Delacour’s Langur and the Short-Tailed Scimitar-Babbler. Visitors to the park can explore its trails by foot or hiring a bike at the entrance to the park. The park is also home to an endangered species rescue centre, souvenir shop, restaurant and mini-hotel.

PHONG NHA – KE BANG – (rGy)
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is located in Quang Binh province about 500km south of Ha Noi. One of the finest examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia, the park is home to the Sooty Babbler, the Annamese Leaf Monkey, and the Black Leaf Monkey. The park is also famous for its extensive network of caves which includes the world’s largest cavern and passageway, and the world’s longest underground cavernous river. Hiking trails, cave and boat tours, and accommodation are available.

CAT TIEN – (rGy)
With the hiking, mountain biking and bird-watching arguably the best in Southern Vietnam, a visit to in Cat Tien National Park is a must for any nature-lover. Located about 160km North East of Ho Chi Minh City, Cat Tien is comprised of a mixture of wetlands, grasslands, forest and agricultural land. The park is one of the most important sites in Vietnam for the conservation of large mammals, and is home to golden-cheeked gibbon, two bear species, elephants and gaur, as well as many important bird species. Two animal rescue centres, luxury lodging and homestay options and boat tours are also available.

Symbols of key activities and facilities
3 = Canoeing / kayaking facilities. @ = Swimming areas. y = Boat tours. R = Restaurants / cafes. r = Hiking trails. G = Accommodation facilities. h = Waterfall

The Village Homestay Experience

To really understand a country and its people you must visit its countryside and immerse yourself in village life. For any visitor to Vietnam spending some time with a local family in a village is a must. With villages often spectacularly located amongst terraced rice fields, on the side of cliffs, in nature reserves or surrounded by lush rice fields, visiting a local village can be the highlight of a trip, and all the more rewarding if you stay in a homestay overnight. Booking a home-stay is best done through a tour operator or a tourist information centre.

homestay

WELCOMING HOMES
Living with a local family provides a peek into the daily lives of Vietnam’s hard working rural people, their charming traditions, and their simple yet honest way of life. With most still subsiding off the land, home-stay facilities are by virtue basic although most now afford a western-style bathroom with shower and flushing toilet. Most activities occur within the one room which is used for meals, for socialising during the day, and as a bedroom at night whereupon mattresses are arranged under mosquito nets.

AMAZING ENVIRONMENT
Home-stays in Vietnam are invariably located in traditional villages in the countryside. Here nature reigns supreme; the air is fresh, water cool and dear, forests pristine, and farmland lush and green. In the North, homestays can be set in spectacular mountain valleys or terraced mountains. In Central Vietnam homestays may be in set within verdant rice fields or beside beautiful meandering rivers. Whilst in the South home-stays are common in fishing villages within the Mekong Delta.

COLOURFUL PEOPLE
With the majority of homestays in Vietnam operated by ethnic minority people, visitors are able to gain an insight into their unique and colourful cultures and traditions. Ethnic minority communities that commonly provide homestays include the Dzao, Tay and Thai in the North; the Ba Na, E de, Co Ho, Ma, Xo Dang, Mo Nong, Cham and Gia Rai in Central and South Vietnam. Each ethnic minority group has its own customs and traditions which are reflected in their dress, food, religion, and even architecture. Visitors should try to plan their homestay trip to include traditional local market day and when most villages come to life.

FUN ACTIVITIES
Exploring forest trails to lookouts, waterfalls or popular river swimming spots, or taking a village tour are popular activities. Joining the villagers at the traditional market is a great way to get to know a place and its people. Simple activities can also be rewarding such as learning to make a handicraft, helping your host family prepare the evening meal, or trying your hand at ploughing a field with a buffalo. Not only are they great ways to have a little fun, you will be learn something new and lend your host family a hand. Of course sitting down with the family over a meal and some fiery rice wine is also a highlight and a great activity in itself!

Trekking in Vietnam

Whilst there is no doubt Vietnam is a highly populated country, its remote mountainous regions and host of protected areas mean many of the country’s ecological jewels are safeguarded and waiting to be explored by intrepid trekkers. Unlike many other countries, trekking in Vietnam is also linked with exploring the nation’s cultural heritage. Here, the many dozens of ethnic minority people live, and provide food, shelter, and fiery rice wine to weary trekkers in homestay accommodation. From the dizzying heights of the Northern Highlands to the contiguous plateaus of the Central Highlands and the watery world of the Mekong Delta, the trekking options in Vietnam are endless.

Trekking

NORTHERN HIGHLANDS
Vietnam’s foremost trekking region, the Northern Highlands is home to towering mountains, bamboo forests, swathes of golden rice terraces, and wild rivers. The relative remoteness of the Northern Highlands not only means that the environment is still in great condition, but beyond the main cities and towns, visitors will often have the places they visit to themselves. Here, walkers can see some of Vietnam’s most pristine landscapes before development sets in. For the trekker, the region is also attractive due to its amazing variety of ethnic minority people. Proudly retaining much of their traditional lifestyle and customs, trekkers have ample opportunities to observe local life, and if the timing is right, take in a colourful local market where villages best comes alive in a kaleidoscope of colours, sights, sounds and smells. With the region also being home to some of Vietnam’s biggest mountains including Mount Fansipan, which at a dizzying height of 3,143m is also Vietnam’s tallest, in the Northern Highlands trekkers have the perfect recipe for a great trekking holiday.
Top treks: Sapa region (Lao Cai), Mai Chau region (Hoa Binh), Cao Bang province, Dong Van / Meo Vac region (Ha Giang), Cuc Phuong National Park.

CENTRAL HIGHLANDS
The Central Highlands is situated along the Laos-Cambodia border and extends from Cat Tien National Park in the south to Quang Nam in the north. Whilst the mountains might not be as tall as the Northern Highlands, the region’s natural beauty and situation on a number of contiguous mountain plateaus up to 1000m in height surrounded by towering mountain ranges makes it a unique destination and ideal place for trekking. The Central Highlands is home to primitive forests and numerous national parks, including one of Vietnams most famous, Cat Tien National Park. In the Central Highlands trekkers also have the opportunity to encounter some of Vietnam’s most prominent wildlife and some of its most endangered, including Indochinese tiger, huge gaurs, wild Asian water buffalos, and Asian elephants. Home to a number of ethnic minority communities, trekkers also have the opportunity to witness unique customs and traditions barely affected by modern day life. Unlike the Northern Highlands, the close proximity of the Central Highland’s to major cities and towns like Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang make it a relatively easy detour for those with limited time.
Top treks: Da Lat region, Cat Tien National Park, Buon Ma Thuot, Yok Don National Park, Pleiku region, Kon Tum, Bach Ma National Park.

MEKONG DELTA
The lush greenery surrounding the watery world of the Mekong Delta provides a dramatic contrast to trekking in Vietnam’s mountainous regions. Here life revolves around the river which is both the life source of the region’s agriculture and the main transport artery of the region. Whilst trekking in the Mekong Delta is more suited to shorter day trips, the region contains many minority villages, and the flat land allows for more sedate hiking. Moreover, the region’s waterways and the people it supports also provide an interesting twist to most walks where floating markets, boat activity, lush mangrove forests and cultivated rice fields become the feature.
One the region’s most popular mountain treks is to the summit of Cam Mountain (1224m), the Delta’s highest peak. Along the way walkers pass whole communities, including huts, temples, and even a post office. At the summit walkers are confronted with the unexpected sight of an eight storey mountaintop pagoda, which during holidays, can be traversed for spectacular views over the Delta and its endless rivers and rice fields.
Top treks: That Son region, Cam Mountain.

Vietnam Golf Courses

Recently named the “Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year” by the International Association of Golf Travel Operators (IAGTO), Vietnam is home to more than 30 golf courses, of which many are world class, with a further 65 projects underway. Vietnam’s golf courses effectively incorporate the country’s natural beauty. Here you will find golf courses set amidst spectacular natural settings including lush woodlands, palm fringed fields, pristine beaches and rolling hills. With courses designed by such luminaries as Nick Faldo and Greg Norman, and Colin Montgomerie and winning a range of local and international awards, playing a round of golf in Vietnam is a great way to relax in the great outdoors and appreciate the diverse and dazzling natural beauty of Vietnam.

viet-nam-golf

NORTHERN VIETNAM
The golf courses of North Vietnam are situated in dose proximity to Hanoi, the historic and cultural capital of Vietnam. With most courses set within the cooler northern mountain regions, on many courses the experience is more reminiscent of North East America than Asia. The northern region of Vietnam is home to the country’s largest range of courses suitable to any grade of player. Notable courses include the 36-hole Kings Island Golf Resort and the Heron Lake Golf Course situated among wildlife areas with frequent sightings of native heron birds, and the IMG designed and built Tam Dao Golf Resort.
Courses: King’s Island Golf Course, Chi Linh Star Golf & Country Club, Heron lake golf course & resort, Tam Dao Golf Resort, Dai Lai Star Golf & Country Club, Phoenix Golf Resort, Hanoi Golf Club, Van Tri Golf Club, Royal Golf Club, Mong Cai International Golf Club, Do Son Seaside Golf Resort, Sky Lake Golf Club, Long Bien Golf Club, Song Gia Golf & Country Club.

CENTRAL VIETNAM
Vietnam’s spiritual home of golf Central Vietnam should be the main destination for any serious golfer visiting Vietnam. Located beside a sandy stretch of coastline and serviced by Da Nang and Nha Trang airport, the golf courses in Central Vietnam bring together the nation’s top new courses with its finest hotels and beaches. Notable courses include Montgomerie Links, voted Vietnam’s best new course when it opened in August 2009, and the Greg Norman designed Da Nang Golf Club set amongst the sand dunes. Laguna Lang Co Golf club was designed by six times majors’ winner, Sir Nick Faldo, golfing in Central Vietnam is fast gaining a reputation as one of the finest grouping of golf courses in South East Asia.
Courses: Cua Lo Golf Resort, Montgomerie Links Vietnam, Da Nang Golf Club – The Dunes Course, Diamond Bay Resort & Golf, Da Lat Palace Golf Club.

SOUTHERN VIETNAM
Encompassing Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh, the lush waterways, forests and agricultural land of the Mekong Delta, and beautiful mountain hinterlands, Southern Vietnam has some excellent world class courses to choose from. Notable courses include the Da Lat Palace Golf Club, ranked number 1 golf course in Vietnam in 2003 by Golf Digest (USA), the Ocean Dunes Golf club whose signature hole number 9 has been selected as one of the “Best 500 Holes in the World” by Golf Magazine (USA), and the Song Be Golf Course, Vietnam’s first international championship golf course and widely regarded as one of the most challenging layouts in the country.
Courses: Dong Nai Golf Resort, Long Thanh Golf Resort, Sea Links Golf & Country Club, Vung Tau Paradise Golf Club & Beach Resort, Song Be Golf Resort, Twin Doves Golf Club, Vietnam Golf & Country Club, Sai Gon South Golf & Club, Vinpearl Golf Club.

Experience Vietnam’s great outdoor

Drawing yourself away from the busy cities and towns and participating in many of the outdoor sports on offer can be the highlight of a visit to Vietnam. With a mix of challenging golf courses, winding country roads perfect for biking, remote mountain trails waiting for trekkers, spectacular National Parks, and ethnic minority villages complete with homestays, Vietnam’s outdoors has something to suit everyone.

outdoor

From ancient valleys and craggy peaks to gentle undulating hills and rice fields, Vietnam’s diverse landscape offers some of the best walking in the world. Take on multi-day guided trek in the rugged North, stopping at minority villages along the way, or alternatively take a shorter hike around of the many National Parks.
If speed is more your thing, exploring the country on two wheels – whether it be bicycle or motorbike, can be a fan way to get off the beaten track and see a side of Vietnam beyond the standard tourist trail. Classic road trips include following the Ho Chi Minh trail or the Dong Van to Meo Vac road in the North.
At a more leisurely pace, why not spend some time on one of Vietnam’s golf courses? With over 30 courses to choose from – of which many are world class, superb weather, and breathtaking scenery, Vietnam is the perfect destination for an unforgettable golfing holiday.
Finally, any trip to Vietnam is not complete without spending a night or two in a traditional village home-stay. With over fifty distinct groups each with its own language, lifestyle, and cultural heritage, spending some time in a village is the perfect way to see Vietnam up close.

HIGHLIGHTS:
• Conquering Mt Fansipan. At 3,143 metres Mt Fansipan is Vietnam’s highest mountain. Although only 9km from Sapa town, the trek takes at least three days to get to the peak and back.
• Motorbiking Dong Van – Meo Vac road. One of the most spectacular roads anywhere in South East Asia. The road passes jaw-dropping valleys, incredible limestone pinnacles, and dusty remote villages.
• Visiting Cat Tien National Park. One of the most important sites in Vietnam for the conservation of large mammals, and home to golden-cheeked gibbon, two bear species, elephants and gaur, as well as many important bird species.
• Hitting a round of golf in the Central Coast region. With three of South East Asia’s top golf courses, the area is a true golfing paradise.
• Spending a night in a homestay. Get to know the real Vietnam and its people by staying with a local family in a homestay in the Northern Highlands and immerse yourself in village life.

Vietnam Festivals & Events

FESTIVAL WITH A NAUTICAL TWIST
In today’s rapidly changing world ethnic and cultural groups strive to hold on to their unique identity and spirit. In Vietnam, one of the most popular ways of doing maintaining this identity is through the staging of a festival or event. Festivals and events allow people to unite and collectively celebrate who they are, the richness of their heritage, and the things most important to them. For visitors, attending a festival or event not only sheds light on who the Vietnamese people are, but will more often than not, also be a barrel of fun. Here are our picks of some of the best festivals and events with a maritime theme.

Festival

HOI AN LANTERN FESTIVAL
Day 15, monthly (Lunar)
Each month when the moon is full, the ancient streets of riverside Hoi An town are transformed into a riot of technicolour as a part of the Moon Lantern Festival. During the festival traditional lanterns of every shape and colour are hung around the streets and traditional music is played transforming the town into a magical fairytale of reminiscent of times gone by.

HA LONG CARNIVAL
April 30 and May 1 (Calendar)
The carnival is a crucial focus in Ha Long’s successive promotional campaigns promotes of the image and of natural and cultural values of Quang Ninh province. Ha Long Tourist Festival includes non-stop parades featuring many colorfully clad actors, street performers, performance groups and gorgeously decorated flower carts and troupers to create itinerant performing groups. Flower carts are gorgeously decorated to introduce potentials and current advantages of Quang Ninh’s tourist sector…

CAU NGU WHALE FESTIVAL
Middle, month 3 (Lunar)
For centuries the whale festival has been the biggest water festival of the fishermen in Quang Nam – Da Nang province. During the 2 day festival all fishing boats and villagers return home to take part in the festivities. Centred around paying respects to the whale God, other activities include decoration of houses and boats, boat processions, and the playing of orchestral music.

DANANG FIREWORKS FESTIVAL
Day 30, April (Western)
Da Nang International Fireworks Competition takes place at the end of April, every two years with the participation of some international competitors and the host – Da Nang City. Part competition and part festival, the Fireworks Festival includes pyrotechnic displays, food and wine stalls, flower boat demonstrations, the sailing of flower lanterns, boat races, art exhibitions, and classical music and dance performances.

OC OM BOC FESTIVAL
Day 15, Dec (Lunar)
The Oc Om Boc festival is organised by the Kho Me people of Soc Trang province to thank the Moon God for bringing good crops and abundant fish for maintaining the health of the people. Festival activities include flying paper lanterns, sailing banana tree ferries attached with lights, and a traditional wooden Ngo Boat race.
The 30km Da Nang – Quang Nam Coast incorporates My Khe beach to the north (favourite with the locals), Non Nuoc beach in the centre (excellent 5-star resorts and golf courses), and laid-back Cua Dai beach to the south (great beach-side cafés and restaurants). Seasonal surf can be found here.

Vietnam Islands: Best Beaches

With half of the Vietnam territory covered by ocean it is not surprising that it is also endowed with many beautiful islands. Setting sail or flight to one of Vietnam’s islands provides the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Indeed, there is something about being on an island, being cut off from civilisation that allows one to reconnect with themselves, with each other, and with nature. From the far-flung exclusivity of the Con Dao archipelago, to the limestone cliffs and bays of Cat Ba island, or the laid back charm of Phu Quoc and the Cham islands, heading off into Vietnam’s wide open sea can be one of the best decisions one can make in Vietnam.

island

CAT BA ISLAND
This rugged island of limestone cliffs, deep valleys, mountain spires and lush jungle and has the feel of being straight out of Jurassic Park. Unlike many of the other islands in the bay, Cat Ba has a resident population contained in a few fishing villages and town, and numerous sandy beaches, with the most popular being the Cat Co. With almost half of the island classified as a National Park, there are lakes, waterfalls and grottoes in spectacular limestone hills to be found. A trek along a mountain trail also gives the visitor the opportunity to meet some of the Park’s curious mix of wildlife, including the endangered golden-headed langur, wild boar, deer, squirrels and hedgehog.

CHAM ISLANDS
Perched off the Hoi An coast and visible from land are the mountainous cu lao Cham, or Cham islands. The islands are famous locally for their prized swallow nests that make the popular delicacy bird’s nest soup, and for which diners have been known to pay up to US$2500 per kilo. Also a World Biosphere Reserve, the white sand encrusted islands are known as being a “kingdom of aquatic animals” and unsurprisingly popular with snorkellers and divers who come to witness the area’s coral and shoals of colourful fish. Half-day and overnight trips are easily arranged from Hoi An, with the option of a cultural home-stay or beach camping.

LY SON ISLAND
Ly Son island in Quang Ngai province, previously known as Re island, is 25km off the shore. Reaching Ly Son, visitors will catch sight of a little island with 5 high mountains rising above the vast sea which are lushly forested and encircled by vibrant houses at the foot. Ly Son island is reputed for its fields of spring onions and garlic, which are also a must-visit for all travelers here. Once traveling to Ly Son, you can learn about and visit some sacred religious sites such as Duc pagoda and Cave pagoda, join the locals in catching urchins or climbing on the lighthouse to admire the sunset… As dusk wanes, don’t miss out some delicacies of the island such as grilled black grouper, urchins with grease and onions and King crabs… Ly Son island is a heaven for adventure lovers.

CON DAO ARCHIPELAGO
Being the most isolated of all Vietnam’s islands lends the Con Dao archipelago an exclusivity few visitors or locals alike can claim to have experienced. Situated in the South of Vietnam about 50 kilometres off the south-eastern coast of Vietnam, Con Dao is a group of 16 mountainous sand-fringed islands and islets. Here diving is among the best in Vietnam with 1,300 species of sea life in the area, including rare dugongs and sea turtles as well as beautiful coral reefs. Other options for things to do include taking a rainforest walk on Con Son, hiring a boat and cruising the nearby islands, or renting a motorbike and finding your own piece of paradise.

PHU QUOC ISLAND
Surrounded by more than 40 kilometres of white sand beaches, warm tropical water in every shade of green, quaint fishing villages, and a kaleidoscope of off-shore coral, a visit to Phu Quoc is high on the agenda of anyone after that perfect Vietnam tropical island holiday, while Phu Quoc has a range of accommodation from backpacker hotels to upmarket hotels, development on the island is restricted by its national park which has helped to ensure the island retains much of its laid back charm. Here activities are plentiful; circumnavigate the island on a motorbike stopping at its picturesque bays and beaches, explore the coast by kayak or scuba dive its reefs. Or for those less actively inclined, simply fill your day relaxing on the beach with your favourite book, only getting up for a meal of sumptuous fresh seafood.

Vietnam Bay, Rivers & Lakes

Escaping the summer heat or the heave of a bustling city to the peace, tranquility, and fresh breezes of a bay, river or lake is a national pastime in Vietnam, and something every visitor must do. With a high quality mix destinations including World Heritage Ha Long bay, Asia’s mighty Mekong River, and the myriad of other lakes and rivers found throughout the country each with their own distinct natural beauty and charm, there is no excuse not to hit the water.

bay

BA BE LAKE
Hidden in the distant misty limestone mountains of northern Vietnam lies Ba Be lake, Vietnam’s largest natural lake. The fact that tourist facilities are mostly limited to homestays only enhances Ba Be’s natural charm. In place of large high-rise hotels, honking traffic and large crowds is a quiet green oasis of traditional stilt houses, gliding wooden canoes, and the songs of birds. With waterfalls, rivers, valleys and caves beckoning, Ba Be lake is unique in Vietnam and well worth the journey north.

HA LONG BAY
The uncontested maritime jewel of the north, World Heritage Ha Long Bay is a must-stop destination for any visitor to Vietnam or resident alike. The mystery and majesty of Ha Long bay with its 3,000 or more islands dotted with grottoes and beaches represents the beauty of nature in its wildest and most pure form. Board a traditional wooden “Junk” and cruise your way around the sculptural limestone cliffs and turquoise waters of the bay, or explore things your way from a kayak. Whether you want to see amazing floating villages, explore hollow karsts concealing spectacular glittering caves, or simply park yourself up on a beach all day, Ha Long bay is the place for you.

LANG CO BAY
A member of the World’s 29 Beautiful Bays, Lang Co bay is actually a complex of long white sandy beach, lagoons, rivers, mountains and tropical forest. For those travelling between Da Nang and Hue, Lang Co bay provides an excellent break in the journey. Here, visitors can try their hand at fishing the brackish lagoon, go windsurfing at Chan May cape and Can Duong beach, or head up to the nearby Hai Van pass for a spectacular view bird’s eye view of the bay.

MEKONG RIVER
Vietnam is the finish line; where the Mighty Mekong ends its fantastic pan-Asian journey through six different countries to the sea in a spectacular watery landscape of green rice fields and sleepy fishing villages crisscrossed by brown canals and rivulets. Often referred to as Vietnam’s “rice basket”, the Mekong Delta’s rich alluvial soils produce three rice harvests a year. Staying in one of the Delta’s many river boats provides visitors with the chance to take in the full majesty of nature and witness the unadorned village life it supports. For those who rise early there are the rewards of a spectacular sunrise and the chance to explore the colourful, lively Cai Be floating market.

Most Beautiful Beaches Vietnam

Spanning more than 3,000 kilometres, Vietnam’s coastline features infinite stretches of powdery sand, hidden coves, lovely lagoons, impossible boulder formations and tropical islands ringed with yet more beaches. With such an expansive coastline, the different parts of Vietnam’s coast possess distinctly different climates, assuring you of great beach weather somewhere in Vietnam virtually all year round.
Vietnam’s beaches also almost always combine with a range of other great experiences. From the boutique restaurants and trendy bars of Nha Trang, to the world class mega-resorts of Non Nuoc beach, and the dramatic red and white sand dunes of Mui Ne with its kite- and wind-surfing opportunities, heading to the beach in Vietnam offers something for everyone.

Beach

DA NANG – HOI AN
This 30km beach between Da Nang and Hoi An is comprised of fine white sand and palm trees. To the north lies My Khe; popular with the locals, the beach comes to life in the early morning with Tai Chi classes, and in the afternoon with city dwellers seeking relief from the heat of the day. In the centre is Non Nuoc, a new playground with 5-star resorts complete with azure swimming pools, fine dining restaurants and world class golf courses. Whilst to the south (east of Hoi An) is laid-back Cua Dai. Dotted with beach-side cafés and restaurants beneath swaying palms, Cua Dai is also a popular base with divers visiting the cu lao Cham Marine Park.

NHA TRANG
Bordered by mountains and set beside a beautiful stretching bay dotted with more than 20 islands, Nha Trang is one of Vietnam’s prettiest stretches of sand and rightfully one of its most popular destinations. Under its tropical sunshine visitors are offered an endless array of seaside recreational opportunities; from simply whittling away the day in a deck chair reading the latest best seller, to more adrenaline packed activities of jet-skiing, parasailing, and diving island reefs. In the evening Nha Trang town buzzes with life offering a range of stylish boutique restaurants, bars and clubs. For a quieter and relaxed experience visitors can jump on a boat cruise to any of the nearby islands or head to Doc Let beach, north of Nha Trang.

MUI NE
Just a few hours from Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne is known for its dramatic mix of red and white sand dunes spanning dozens of kilometres in length. Possessing a more laid back appeal than Nha Trang, Mui Ne is all about relaxing by the seaside, with consistent winds ideal for kite- and wind-surfing, and surf between August and December do offer other more adrenaline-packed activities. Just 22 kilometres west of Mui Ne lies the traditional fishing village of Phan Thiet complete with small fishing harbour brimming with boats and beach are also well-worth a visit.

VUNG TAU
Although not as spectacular a beach as Mui Ne and Nha Trang, the old French seaside resort of Vung Tau is often overlooked by tourists and therefore for many, all the more alluring. Just 128 kilometres south east of Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau can be easily accessed by land or regular hydrofoil. A popular weekend destination for city- dwellers, and provides the perfect place to unwind.

Water Activities In Vietnam

With its rich diversity of rivers, bays, lakes, beaches and islands it is not surprising Vietnam also has an equally wide array of water based activities. Grab your surfboard and hit the waves on the central coast between November and March. Take in the tranquil beauty of the Ha Long bay limestone cliffs, caves and bays in a traditional junk boat.
Witness Mekong Delta river life with its floating markets, charming villages and bunches of smiling kids at your own face from the back of a kayak. Or dive the technicolour tropical waters of Whale Island Resort, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc or countless other destinations.
No matter what your preference, if there is water nearby then there is sure to be a way to get in or on it not far from hand.

water-sports

WATER SPORTS
One of the most popular water sports in Vietnam is kayaking. Highlights include paddling around the limestone cliffs, caves and lagoons of Ha Long bay. For a hit of adrenaline kite surfing is popular along the beautiful beaches of Mui Ne (October – April), or take on the rapids of the Central Highlands in a rafting tour from Nha Trang.

BOAT CRUISES
With its great array of rivers, bays and lakes there is no better way to take in Vietnam’s magnificent coastal landscape than from the quiet pace of an overnight boat cruise. Explore Ha Long bay in a traditional wooden junk many of which come complete with modem deluxe cabins, sun-decks, dining rooms and lounge bars. Or alternatively board a river boat and explore the Mekong’s lively world of waterways, floating markets, rice fields, villages, pagodas and temples.

SURFING
Whilst Vietnam may not have the largest waves in the Asia-Pacific, decent breaks can be found from Vung Tau to the central coast. Established surf spots can be found at Da Nang, and off Mui Ne in Phan Thiet. The best time for surf is between November and March when the winter monsoons blow in from the north.

DIVING &SNORKELING
Vietnam attracts a steady crowd of loyal divers who come to enjoy an affordable dive experience and take in the South Sea’s underwater diversity. Head to whale Island Resort for colourful fish, hard and soft coral and encounter with whale sharks and giant moray eels. Visit Nha Trang for accessible shallow dives and snorkelling around soft corals and nudibranchs. Or head to the cu lao Cham Marine Park of Hoi An to dive caves and swim-through over rocky reefs with hard and tropical corals swarming with small reef fish.

Vietnam Marine and Island

To the north, harbours and hidden bays filled with craggy limestone islands and dense green jungle interiors enchant, enthral and entrap outsiders who are drawn into their majestic labyrinth of misty passages and waterways.

marine

Along Vietnam’s central coast in between a handful of historic and ancient maritime cities such as Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang lies an almost continuous stretch of beautiful soft sand beaches with lapping turquoise water and unaffected villages.
To the south is the mighty Mekong, arguably Asia’s most famous river. With its origin in the icy Tibetan plateau, the Mekong snakes its way through some of the Orient s most captivating countries including China, Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia before making its way to the sea in Vietnam in a magnificent delta of canals, channels, silt islets and mangrove swamps.
Finally, a venture off into the blue horizon brings the traveller to a hidden paradise of picturesque islands with lovely beaches, coral reefs and scenic bays. Here Vietnam’s underwater world comes to life in a spectacular kaleidoscope of colourful coral and moving pictures of tropical fish.

HIGHLIGHTS:
• Overnight boat cruise on Ha Long bay – Nature Wonder of the World
• Watching the sunset on Phu Quoc over a glass of champagne
• Living it up like a movie star in a Hoi An beach resort
• Explore water world at Cham Island and Whale Island Resort (Nha Trang)

Typical cultural festivals in Vietnam

Traditional festivals are a great tradition and a fundamental cultural practice in the daily lives of Vietnamese people. Whilst there are hundreds of village festivals each year that relate to the attributes of the ethnic group or region where it is from, Vietnam’s national festivals hold special pride of place and can bring gatherings in the thousands, what follows is our pick of some of the best cultural festivals and events in Vietnam of interest to visitors.

cultural

TET: LUNAR NEW YEAR 01/01 (L)
In the lead up to the Tet New Year, businesses hang festive banners, city streets are festooned with colored lights, and stalls spring up all over town to sell candied fruits and jams, traditional cakes, and flowers. Whilst most Vietnamese spend this time with their families, some organised events usually still occur, in particular firework displays on New Year’s Eve.

LIM FESTIVAL 13/01 (L)
Held in Lim village 18km from Ha Noi, the Lim festival showcases the special folk songs of the quan ho. During the festival Vietnam’s most skilled quan ho singers take to the pagodas, hills and boats of the region to perform their musical dialogues. Weaving competitions and temple games also take place.

GIONG FESTIVAL Soc: 01 (L), Phu Dong: 04 (L)
Held to honour the god and saint, Thanh Giong, who defended Vietnam against foreign invaders, the festival includes re-enacting his feats through the orchestration of an elaborate flag dance in Phu Dong temple, and a ritual bathing of his statue and procession of bamboo flowers in Soc temple.

BUON DON ELEPHANT RACES 04-05 (W)
The people of Vietnam’s Buon Don district celebrate their heritage of skilled wild elephant tamers through this annual elephant race. Ridden by 2 jockeys, the elephants are raced over a mile-long track to the encouragement of the crowd yelling and beating gongs.

HUE FESTIVAL Varies*
One of Vietnam’s biggest cultural events, the Hue festival includes processions, the playing of nha nhac Royal court music, art displays, dance performance, and the production and sale of traditional handicrafts.
L = Lunar Calendar W = Western Calendar

The best museums in Vietnam

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF VIETNAMESE HISTORY

Located in Ha Noi in a beautiful French colonial building, the National Museum of Vietnamese History contains a repository of Vietnamese ancient and historical relics in large displays covering each period of Vietnam’s history, from prehistoric artefacts and carvings through to funerary jars, examples of Dong Son drums, and everyday items of early history.

ARMY MUSEUM
The Army Museum located in Ha Noi, presents the Vietnamese straggle against colonial powers, with particular reference to the French and American wars, of particular interest is the comprehensive display of war equipment, including aircraft, tanks, bombs, and guns.

VIETNAM NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ETHNOLOGY
Widely considered to be the finest modem museum in Vietnam, the Vietnam Ethnology Museum focuses on the 53 minorities that live in Vietnam. The history and customs of the different ethnic groups are presented through photos, videos and displays of clothing and daily implements. Examples of some ethnic minority village homes are also on display.

VIETNAM NATIONAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
Featuring Vietnamese art of the 20th Century the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts has a fine display of work that covers Vietnamese lacquer and silk painting, woodblock, folk art, and some more modern works. Prehistoric artefacts and Buddhist sculptures are also on display.

HUE MUSEUM OF ROYAL FINE ARTS
Located in a former Royal residence in downtown Hue, the Royal Fine Arts Museum collection includes pottery, porcelain and costumes from the Nguyen dynasty. Visitors can easily combine a visit here with the Tu Cung residence a couple of hundred meters away westward along the canal where Vietnam’s last two Queens lived at different times during the 20th century.

CHAM MUSEUM
Built in 1915 in Da Nang, the Cham Museum built in Cham architectural style houses the most extensive collection of Cham art worldwide with approximately 300 sculptures collected from Cham temples and towers throughout Central Vietnam on display.

WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM
Visitors to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city are provided with a detailed insight of the devastation of the Vietnam War, especially the American phase from 1961 to 1975. On display is military equipment, and photographs of the traumatizing consequences of the various weapons of war on the local people.

A heritage rich in culture

The culture of Vietnam, forged on the back of agriculture and the cultivation of wet rice, is one of the oldest in East Asia, dating back to the Bronze Age. Today, some of the very best of Vietnam’s cultural heritage can be found on the UNESCO intangible heritage list, of which its traditional songs, poetry, dance and instruments take pride of place and are highlighted below.

heritage

MUSIC FROM THE ROYAL COURT
Between the 15th – 20th century a form of music and dance rose to prominence in the Royal Court of Hue which was soon to become a permanent fixture at anniversaries, religious holidays, and special events across the Vietnam. This Royal Court music, or nha nhac, is noted for its grandiose, large-scale and elaborately dressed orchestras that feature prominent drum sections and the expansive use of percussion-, wind- and string instruments played to the accompaniments of song and dance. Whilst the fall of the monarchy and Vietnam’s decades of war have since deprived much of the original context, function and meaning of nha nhac, the art form lives on through popular rituals and religious ceremonies, and it continues to provide a source of inspiration for contemporary Vietnamese music today.

THE SPACE OF GONG CULTURE IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS
In the five provinces of Tay Nguyen a unique polyphonic musical instrument was formed that is said to enable its players to communicate with God. Made of bronze, the cong chieng is used in religious rituals to communicate the compassion, soul and the mind of the people in a communication to God. The most gifted artisans of the cong chieng are able to create different tones and melodies that reflect the many characteristics of human emotion, ranging from triumphant and exciting through to tender and sentimental.

SONGS THAT UNITE
In 13th Century northern Vietnam a form of traditional folk singing developed that was so powerful that the performers were able to unite the people of separate villages, and forge social bonds that brought peace and harmony to its people. The folk songs, called quan ho, hark to the people of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang province. Performed in a “call and response” format, the singing is undertaken between two women from one village and two men from another. The songs themselves cover a range of emotional states; from the longing and sadness of separation through to the happiness of lovers’ meeting. Performed at rituals, festivals, competitions and even informal gatherings, quan ho can be best observed during the spring festivals that follow the celebration of Tet (Vietnamese New Year) that normally occurs in January/February. Performances can also be arranged for visitors to Bac Ninh most times of the year.

POETRY INTO SONG
Often compared with the performances of the geishas of Japan, the beautiful and delicate sung poetry of ca tru was originally performed at ceremonies in Vietnam’s Royal Court, and later in tea houses as a form of entertainment for the rich, powerful, and educated classes. In its most popular form, a female singer uses breathing techniques and vibrato to create unique ornamental sounds to the accompaniments of a male lute player and a “spectator” who strikes a drum when in praise (or disapproval) of a singer’s performance. Although today ca tru is considered to be under threat of disappearing altogether, it is enjoying a minor resurgence in modern day Vietnamese movies and synthesized pop music. To catch a ca tru performance visit the ca tru singing house or the Bich Cau Dao Quan temple where members gather and perform on given Saturday evenings (both in Ha Noi).

GIONG FESTIVAL AT PHU DONG TEMPLE AND SOC TEMPLE (HA NOI)
Giong festival that takes place between Lunar April 7 and 9 at Phu Dong Temple (Phu Dong commune, Gia Lam district, Ha Noi) and between Lunar January 6 and 8 at Soc temple (Phu Linh commune, Soc Son district, Ha Noi) is a traditional event hosted on an annual basis to memorize and honor illustrious deeds of the fictional hero Saint Giong, one of the four Immortals of Vietnamese mythology who defeated Yin invaders under the reign of the sixth Hung King. Giong festival boasts both regional and national significance and is preserved as part of the national identity to pray for a more affluent life. On November 16, 2010, UNESCO recognized Giong festival at Phu Dong temple and Soc temple as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

XOAN SINGING
Xoan singing appeared more than 2,000 years ago. Xoan singing are traditional ceremonial folk songs that includes worship with multi-art forms (music, singing, dance), usually expressed in the spring in the land of Hung Vuong (Phu Tho). Traditionally, singers from Xoan guilds performed songs in sacred spaces such as temples, shrines and communal houses for the spring festivals.
There are three forms of Xoan singing: worship songs for the Hung kings and village guardian spirits; ritual singing for good crops, health and luck; and festival singing where villagers alternate male and female voices in a form of courtship.
Xoan singing is accompanied by dancing and musical instruments such as clappers and a variety of drums. The music has a basic structure with few ornamental notes and simple rhythms, and Xoan is characterized by a modulation between singers and instrumentalists at the perfect fourth interval.

CULTS OF HUNG KING
Cults of Hung Kings take their roots to the reign of Hung Kings with a belief that the whole Vietnamese nation shares the same origin as offspring of the Dragon and the Fairy, the same root and represent the gratitude of posterity, grand national solidarity and community strength. Previous feudal states paid huge attention to and encouraged people to preserve cults of Hung Kings. Preliminary Le, Tay Son and Nguyen dynasties constantly offered honorary ordinances to Hung Temple in Phu Tho, set up worshipping regulations, waived taxes and granted lands so that people could cultivate, earn their interests and took an eye on the temple. Nowadays, Vietnamese State also emphasizes the cults of Hung Kings through financial grants of cults, adopting Hung mythologies in textbooks to educate the young generation and determining a national holiday on Lunar March 10 for people to take part and host sacrifices dedicated to Hung Kings. There are up to 1,417 temples of Hung Kings nationwide. On December 6, 2014, cults of Hung Kings were registered by the UNESCO as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

SOUTHERN AMATEUR MUSIC
The Southern amateur music (known as amateur music) is a quintessential art genre of Vietnam, which was founded and evolved from the late 19th century. Amateur music is the art of musical instruments and singing composed by Southern peasantry to perform after their hours of grueling farm work. “Amateur” refers to musicians with exceptional talents in musical and vocal performances. It once included musical instruments only, and added vocal performances later, thus its name “don ca” (musical and vocal). On December 5, 2013, the art of don ca tai tu’s music and songs in southern Vietnam was officially recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

VI AND GIAM FOLK SONGS
Nghe Tinh vi and giam folk songs were recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in a meeting dated 27 November 2014 in France. Vi and giam songs are sung by a wide range of communities in Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces of north-central Vietnam. Specific songs are sung without instrumental accompaniment while people cultivate rice in the fields, row boats, make conical hats or lull children to sleep. Currently the two provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh have nearly 100 folk song clubs and 803 artisans.

Tangible cultural heritages Vietnam

Vietnam has one of the longest continuous histories in the world, with archaeological findings showing that people have been living there for more than half a million years. Today, Vietnam is a proud and independent nation that has risen from the shackles of outside control from the Chinese, Khmers, Chams, Mongols, and finally the West. Whilst war and natural disasters have cruelly taken away much of Vietnam’s historical heritage a great deal still remains and paints a vivid picture of Vietnam’s rich and diverse past. The following UNESCO World Heritage sites are amongst Vietnam’s best.

tangible

HUE ANCIENT CITY RELICS
Proclaimed by UNESCO as a “masterpiece of urban poetry”, the ancient city of Hue sits prettily on the banks of the Perfume River in central Vietnam. Here the Nguyen emperors ruled from within the stone walls of the Citadel and its “Forbidden City” which was only accessible to the emperors, their concubines, and the closest of acquaintances.
Although Hue sustained much damage from natural disasters and wars, significant amounts of the city and its architecture remain. Today, a complex of carefully restored and preserved UNESCO World Heritage monuments can be found including temples, several tombs, palaces and pagodas, with the Thien Mu pagoda being the largest and the symbol of the city. Also home to Vietnam’s famed Imperial cuisine featuring large degustation style menus; Hue holds a special place in the hearts of all Vietnamese people and is well worth a visit.

ANCIENT HOI AN TOWN
From the 16th to 18th century, the central Vietnam town of Hoi An was a flourishing trading port and frequented by trading vessels plying the seas around Asia and Europe. Today, that history is still alive and on display with the ancient town having been completely and diligently preserved. Aligned along narrow laneways, Hoi An’s tube-shaped wooden houses are in a traditional architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries combining traditional Vietnamese designs and techniques with those from other countries such as China and Japan. In addition, the lifestyle of the local people remains well preserved, with traditional religion, customs and cooking observed in many annual festivals. In modem day Hoi An, visitors are offered some of Vietnam’s best boutique hotels, international restaurants, and trendy bars. It is also arguably the place to get tailor-made clothes. And with its swath of museums, open houses, historic temples, pagodas, cooking classes, nearby beaches, and a full – moon lantern festival that transforms the town into a magical fairytale setting, Hoi An is a must-stop destination for anyone visiting Vietnam.

MY SON SANCTUARY
Set within the jungle in a small valley surrounded by high mountains in Quang Nam province, central Vietnam lies My Son, a complex of delicately carved stone temples and towers dating back to the 7th – 13th centuries. The religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence, My Son is an exceptional example of cultural interchange and the introduction of the Hindu architecture of the Indian sub-continent into South-East Asia. Here, Champa kings were crowned and buried, with successive kings endowing My Son with ever more temples to worship their gods. Ravaged by disrepair and the impacts of war, relics of My Son still stand proud with those remaining undergoing loving restoration. For anyone interested in Vietnamese history, visiting My Son provides the perfect complement to ancient Hoi An and imperial Hue.

THANG LONG IMPERIAL CITADEL
Thang Long Imperial Citadel is an archeological site associated with the history of the capital of Thang Long – Ha Noi. It was the most important section of Thang Long Citadel – the capital of the Grand Viet between the 11th and 18th centuries. In 2010, Thang Long Imperial Citadel was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Thang Long – Hanoi Imperial Citadel comprises the core of the heritage of 18.395ha (including the archeological site of the Hanoi Old Citadel and the archeological site at 18 Hoang Dieu) and a buffer area of 108ha. These two areas at the core form a consistent system of Thang Long Forbidden Palaces, which also serve as the heart of Thang Long Citadel. Throughout turbulent times and chaos, Thang Long Citadel underwent numerous changes, yet contemporaries are still able to observe its vestiges on and under the ground or its unique artifacts reflecting successive eras in the history… All make up an archeological heritage regarded as the most important of its kind among urban heritages of Vietnam.

HO CITADEL
Straddling two communes of Vinh Tien and Vinh Long of Vinh Loc district, Thanh Hoa, Ho citadel was the capital of Ho dynasty in the early 15th century (1400 – 1407). Throughout over 6 centuries of historical turbulences, Ho citadel is still a globally outstanding construction of Oriental defense architecture and also a one-of-a-kind military site in the history of Vietnam. In 2011, Ho citadel was registered by the UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. Ho citadel is a virtually square structure with two North – South walls stretching 883m and two East – West walls stretching over 870m. Average height is 7 to 8m and may even reach 10m. The entire surrounding walls and four main gates were built of marbles that were sophisticatedly chiseled and neatly piled upon one another with the total volume of marbles of up to 20,000m3 and 100,000m3 of soil dug up within just 3 months (January – March 1397).

ORDINANCES OF NGUYEN DYNASTY
Ordinances of Nguyen dynasty are the only main documents bequeathed by the last feudal state of Vietnamese history. These are records of special significance that bear kings’ scripts and were stored in royal warehouses and involved daily activities of the royal court. Ordinances of Nguyen dynasty serve as an extremely precious source of knowledge of the history, culture and all operations of the feudal state and Vietnamese society at large in the late 19th century and early half of the 20th century.

A world of natural wonders

Vietnam has a natural heritage of extraordinary biodiversity. Arguably one of the world’s ten most biologically diverse countries, Vietnam possesses about 10% of all the world’s species and contains everything from large mammals including tigers, monkeys and elephants, through to exotic birds and an astonishing variety of plants. Dedicated to preserving its vast natural resources, Vietnam has established 30 national parks, over 70 natural reserves and conservation areas, 6 Ramsar sites and 8 biosphere reserves. It is however its World Heritage sites that hold a special place in the hearts of all Vietnamese. Below is an examination of two of Vietnam’s most impressive: Ha Long bay and Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.

natural-wonders

HA LONG BAY
Looking down from above, Ha Long bay with its thousands of craggy limestone islands surrounded by sparkling, lapping waves paints a grand picture. With the limestone formations of the region 500 million years in the making, Ha Long bay is without doubt one of Mother Nature’s greatest masterpieces. On Ha Long bay’s many islands can be found lakes and marvelous cathedral like caves and grottoes that sit both above and below the sea level. Host to two ecosystems: a tropical, moist, evergreen rainforest ecosystem; and a marine and coastal ecosystem, Ha Long bay is home to an abundance of biodiversity including white-tabby and red-haired monkeys, deer, pheasants, eagles, wild boars, migrating birds and tortoises. The local people who live in Ha Long bay are a sea-faring folk who ply the shallow waters for its wide range of fish and mollusks. For the visitor there is much to do, from day trip and overnight cruises aboard, through to exploring the islands by kayak, or simply lazing the day away on a beach.

PHONG NHA – KE BANG NATIONAL PARK
Located in Quang Binh province in north-central Vietnam and about 500km south of Ha Noi, the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park protects one of the two largest karst regions in the world. Whilst only 20 of the park’s 300 caves and grottoes have been formally surveyed, the park already lays claim to a number of world cave records with Son Doong cave (Mountain River Cave) having the world’s largest cavern and passageway which, at a towering 200m in height, is 7 times as high as the vaulted ceiling of England’s York Cathedral, and about twice the high of the 2rd record holder. On the other hand, the spectacular Phong Nha cave is considered to have the world’s longest river, and with beautiful shimmering stalactite formations, is a must-visit. With the plateau on which the park is situated thought to be one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karsts landform in Southeast Asia, there is little wonder why Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is UNESCO World Heritage listed.

TRANG AN – BAI DINH RELIC SITE
Located 95km from Ha Noi – mainly in Hoa Lu District (Ninh Binh Province), can be found Trang An ecological tourist resort – “Ha Long bay on land”. It has a total area of 2.168ha and belongs to two main ecosystems, namely limestone mountains and submerged land. Surrounded by limestone mountain ranges, Trang An is a complex of 31 valleys, 48 trans-water caves and many lakes together with historic relic sites intercalated in forests and limestone mountains. On June 23rd, 2014, the natural complex of Trang An, Ninh Binh was registered by the UNESCO as a World Natural and Cultural Heritage.

Experience Vietnam’s world heritage treasures

The natural, cultural and historical heritage of Vietnam has developed as a result of two key factors; the impact of its geographic location and the forces of lengthy external occupations.

Running down the eastern side of the Indochinese peninsula, Vietnam’s natural heritage characterized by rich biodiversity and diversity of landscape is largely on account of its wide range of latitudes stretching more than 1,600km from north to south. With climates ranging from humid sub-tropical in the north to tropical savannah in the south and fertile soils fed by numerous rivers, such as Southeast Asia’s largest river, the Mekong River has fostered a society and culture that is intrinsically linked with agriculture, in particular the cultivation of wet rice.

heritage-treasure
Whilst on the other hand, Vietnam’s culture was impacted by Chinese, Khmers, Chains, Mongols and finally the West has left a historical and cultural heritage that rather than being a hotchpotch of disparate cultures, is more a celebration of the very best each has to offer.
The very best of the unique natural, cultural and historical heritage sites that exist in Vietnam today are acknowledged by UNESCO with World Heritage status, including a World Natural and Cultural Heritage, 2 World Natural Heritage Sites, 5 World Cultural Heritage and 10 other World Heritage. This brochure provides an insight into Vietnam’s amazing world of heritage.

HIGHLIGHTS:
• Taking an overnight cruise around the stunning limestone karst filled waterways of Ha Long bay in a traditional junk.
• Wandering around the tiny laneways of Hoi An ancient town on a balmy evening during the full moon lantern festival.
• Taking a day or two to explore the complex of carefully restored temples, tombs, palaces and pagodas of Hue and imagine how life would have been during imperial times.
• Exploring the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom and its jungle-engulfed complex of delicately carved temples and tombs dating back to the 7th – 13th century.
• Exploring Son Doong cave (Mountain River cave) with its stunning underground rivers, passageways and cavern, which a towering 200m in height, is 7 times as high as the vaulted ceiling of England’s York Cathedral.
• Catching a ca tru performance whose beautiful and delicate sung poetry is often compared with the performances of the geishas of Japan.
• Taking in a Royal Court music performance, which noted for its grandiose, large-scale and elaborately dressed orchestras, features prominent drum sections and the expansive use of percussion-, wind- and string instruments played to the accompaniment of song and dance.

what do the vietnamese drink?

DRINKS
With its mostly warm tropical climate the Vietnamese have developed a range of refreshing drinks that quench the thirst and revitalise the body. In Vietnam what a person drinks and how it is drunk is considered an indication of their demeanour and is thus often an integral part of building friendships or even brokering business deals. As a proud tea growing nation with a long history, Vietnamese teas are well worth sampling. In the north, the accompaniment of a meal with a few glasses of strong rice wine is a great way to ward off the cold, whilst in the towns a city there is no better way to wind down at the end of the day with the locals at a bia hoi.

vietnamese-drinking

TEA
With a history that dates back well over 2,000 years, it is no surprise that drinking tea in Vietnam is a national pastime. At any time of the day you will see groups of men and women sitting outside discussing the news of the day over a tiny cup of tea. For Northern students, meeting your friends at the most popular tea joint, playing cards, chatting and people watching whilst slowly cracking into a bowl of sunflower seeds is de rigueur. To the Vietnamese, tea is not just a drink – it is a refresher when working in the field, a welcome for house guests, an offering to ancestors, or protection from disease. The way to make and drink tea varies from region to region, as does its type and flavour.

RICE AND FRUIT WINE
It is the rosy red faces that give it away. Rice wine is the second go-to beverage after tea in Vietnam and is used as an offering, to cure ailments, and to celebrate or commiserate at special occasions. Particularly popular in Vietnam’s mountainous north; rice and fruit wines are consumed in large quantities. Ruou gao (rice wine) is made from rice, ruou nep is made from sticky rice and comes in different colours, purple and white, resulting from the different types of rice used to make it. In some ethnic minority cultures ruou nep is drunk communally from a ceramic jar with a straw. Fruit wines are made from just about all upland fruits including plum, strawberry, apple and, of course, grapes. Another type of rice wine, ruou ran (snake wine), is said to cure everything from night blindness to impotence. Fiery and warm, strong and, in cool weather the perfect winter blanket, sampling some rice wine in Vietnam is an experience not to be missed.

BEER
In addition to the many imported brands such as Tiger, Heiniken and Carlsburg, bars, cafes and restaurants normally also serve a range of local beers including 333, Ha Noi and Saigon beer. However, for anyone after a truly Vietnam drinking experience, spending an afternoon at a bia hoi is a must-do. Literally translated to air (draught) beer, bia hoi is both a type of drink and the actual activity of drinking the beer. Freshly made every night, bia hoi is light and free of preservatives. Usually poured out of a plastic jug or a keg at street corners around the towns and cities going out for a bia hoi is something beer lovers and non-beer lovers alike must experience at least once during their visit to Vietnam.
The tropical cuisine of the Southern Region is influenced from the food of the neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. Rich with fresh seafood, the food of the South is generously spiced with chilies, coconut milk and a variety of herbs and spices. With a climate conducive to a long growing season, tropical fruits and vegetables feature highly, and sugar from sugarcane is generously used – often being combined into savoury dishes. Culinary hotspots of the Southern Region include Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat. Signature dishes: canh chua, bun bo Nam Bo.

Vietnam’s street food guide

Across every city and town in Vietnam you will be confronted with a similar picture: crowds of locals sitting hunched, cheek-to-jowl, on small plastic chairs, roaring traffic just inches away, munching, slurping and gnawing over their meal of choice – and having the time of their lives! Street food in Vietnam comes fast and furious, with such high demand and turnover there is little time for pleasantries. As the meal progresses, ladies walk by, offering goodies from baskets hanging at the end of a bamboo poles skilfully balanced over their shoulder.
Yes, it is crowded, noisy, and the food service sometimes indifferent, but it is also one of the most fun and sociable culinary experiences you will have, and as any local knows, it’s not about the setting and all about the food!

street-food

DECIDING WHERE TO EAT
Most street food restaurants in Vietnam specialise in only one or two types of dish, so selecting where to eat requires you to first decide what to eat. With food choices in Vietnam numerous and varying from region to region, the help of a good guide book, suggestions from fellow travellers, or even a chat with your hotel front desk can be invaluable. With your dish chosen, your task is to then locate the best street food restaurant. In the large cities this decision is easy, with whole streets often dedicated to a particular cuisine, think; barbeque chicken street (chan ga nuong), grilled fish street (cha ca), or sea food. From here, the adage about eating where there are lots of locals is the best guide. But then again, half the fun of choosing where to eat can just as equally be by throwing caution to the wind and trying any random place you come across! Who know is what culinary delight you might discover?

KNOWING TIME FOR DISHES
Like food from other countries, specific dishes in Vietnam are often only eaten at particular times of the day, or even times of the year. For example, bun cha and mi Quang for lunch, banh xeo for winter. Feeling hungry after a night on the town? Sit down for pho bo, it’s the perfect fix after a big night out.

PLACING YOUR ORDER
With most street food vendors only serving one dish ordering is easy – all you need do is grab a seat and indicate with your fingers how many servings you’d like. If there is more than one dish or item, simply point to what someone else is having and indicate how many. Alternatively, check the walls – even the smallest stalls tend to have one or two food items tacked on the wall with prices.

KNOWING YOUR ETIQUETTE
When visiting Vietnam it will soon be dear the locals have a passion for food that goes well beyond satisfying the biological need for energy. Unrepentant about being loud eaters, the locals enjoy every morsel put before them. Eating open mouthed, slurping on noodles, crunching on vegetables, and gnawing on bones with hand is more a display of a love of the food before you than a sign of poor manners. The rules of “proper” street food dining are few, with the cleaning of bowls and chopsticks with napkins before the meal about the only ritual. After that, it’s all in with whatever tools suit you best. Street food dining is not for those uptight about hygiene, but it is part and parcel of the experience, so embrace it! With such great food on offer you are unlikely to regret it.

ADDING IT UP
Street food as a whole is extremely inexpensive. Most dishes will not cost more than a few dollars. Whilst hotpots and barbequed meals can cost a little more, with a few friends you will still not be paying much, when your meal is done, calculation and payment of the bill is normally done at the front on your way out. Look out for the obvious matriarch of the business, as they are often the ones who also handle the money, or alternatively giving your payment to your food server is also acceptable – if you can get their attention! In most cases however, don’t expect a written bill. If you are not sure about the cost of your meal, watching what the diners before you pay can provide a rough guide, or gesture for the cashier to show you the cost on a calculator.

The best authentic local dishes in Vietnam

THE BEST AUTHENTIC LOCAL DISHES IN VIETNAM

NORTHERN REGION

Bun cha
By about 11am the sidewalks and streets of the many cities and towns in the North are filled with wafts of smoke from mini fan-powered barbeques grilling the pork slices and meat balls required for diners. Bun cha served with rice noodles, a basket of fresh lettuce and herbs, and a bowl of dipping sauce that all gets mixed together, this simple street food with all its savoury goodness, fresh flavours, and contrasting textures, is quite simply Vietnam on a plate.

authentic-food

Pho bo
If there were just one dish that could be picked to represent Vietnam then this dish, adored by the locals, would likely be voted number one. The best pho bo begins its life at midnight, when a large pot of water is brought to the boil with beef bones and pork bones. With the adding of fish sauce, ginger, grilled onions, and star anise, the broth is allowed to simmer for about five hours whereupon it is ready to be served with rice noodles, chopped onions, basil and pepper to the throngs of salivating customers any time of the day and often beyond. Chicken is also available instead of beef.

Banh cuon
Its light, delicate yet flavourful characteristics make banh cuon a popular dish for breakfast or a late night snack. Banh cuon are Vietnamese crêpes stuffed with ground pork and wood ear mushrooms served cut-up and dipped into a tasty nuoc mam (fish sauce). The dish is often completed with the adding of crispy fried garlic and coriander, sliced cucumber, cha lua (mortadella), beansprouts, deep-fried shallots and chopped mint.

Cha ca
The popularity of cha ca, a fish dish originally conceived at the cha ca La Vong restaurant in Ha Noi, is so great that it has spawned many copycats, and the street where it is served has been renamed from Paint Street to Cha Ca street. The dish itself is composed of a delicate whitefish that is fried at high heat in peanut oil with dill, turmeric, rice noodles, and peanuts. A do-it-yourself dish cooked at the table in a Japanese style charcoal hibachi, this is a fun dish to have with friends and perfect for the cooler months.

Nem cuon
These light and healthy fresh spring rolls are a wholesome choice and what many people know best about Vietnam cuisine. The translucent parcels are first packed with salad greens, a slither of meat or seafood and a layer of coriander, before being neatly rolled and dunked in Vietnam’s favorite condiment – fish sauce. Nem cuon are great as an appetiser and may be found on the menu of any good Vietnamese restaurant.

CENTRAL REGION

Cao lau
Urban legend has it that the signature thick, sticky rice noodles of cao lau can only be made from the water taken from a specific Ba Le village well. Whether or not this is actually the case is irrelevant as there is no denying that there is something unique about this dish only found in Hoi An town, Central Vietnam. Topped with shrimp and pork and garnished with mint, basil, bean sprouts and lettuce, and served in a light soy sauce broth, cao lau is a dish well worth hunting down.

Bun bo Hue
The name itself gives the origins of this dish away, bun bo Hue hails from the royal city of Hue in Central Vietnam. This meal-in-a-bowl noodle soup requires both spoon and chopsticks to enjoy its many components. Contained in this bowl of liquid heaven are pork slivers, rare beef, chopped spring onions, various kinds of pre-cooked luncheon meat and thick fresh noodles (bun). The distinct sweet flavour of the soup is derived from a broth composed primarily from beef bones; fermented shrimp paste, lemongrass, and dried chilies.

Mi Quang
Not quite a soup, not a stew, mi Quang is to some an oddity of the soup world, being more like salad with a splash of soup. Originating from Quang Nam province and Da Nang city, the dish is one of the most popular in the region. This popular lunch meal is composed of a combination of wide white rice noodles and yellow egg noodles, and served with seasoned pork chop or chicken, hard-boiled egg, sautéed shrimp, peanuts, cha (pork sausage), chili pepper, a plethora of fresh vegetables, and pieces of crispy banh trang (rice paper). With mi Quang only enough broth is added to moisten the noodles.

SOUTHERN REGION

Canh chua
Related to the popular Thai/Cambodian tom yum soup, canh chua Vietnam is a light, refreshing sour soup harking from Southern Vietnam typically made with fish from the Mekong River Delta. Cooked in a broth of pineapple, tomatoes, and bean sprouts, the dish obtains its sour taste from the addition of tamarind. The soup is garnished with the lemony-scented herb ngo om, caramelized garlic, and chopped scallions, and other herbs. Canh chua may be served alone, with white rice, or with rice vermicelli.

Bun bo Nam Bo
This bowl of noodles comes sans broth, keeping the ingredients from becoming sodden and the various textures intact. The tender slices of beef mingle with crunchy peanuts and bean sprouts, and are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots, and a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper. Textures of contrasting flavours, temperatures and flavours with each passing bite makes for a wonderful simple dining experience.

Authentic Vietnamese Cooking: The family table

THE FAMILY TABLE

The Vietnamese family’s meal presents a sense of community and helps foster a close cohesion amongst family members. Not only important for providing families with time to be together, the family meal is also the principal component of Vietnamese celebrations and festivals. The women of the house are generally responsible for the preparing the family meal, although men will lend a hand if the wife or daughter is unable. So important is the family meal that within Vietnamese culture the quality of a woman’s cooking is considered a reflection of her character and upbringing.

authentic-cooking

DINING SETTING AND ETIQUETTE
Vietnamese family meals are a slow, friendly affair. Guests are either seated at a table or in a circle on the floor at the centre of which the dishes are placed. With the exception of individual bowls of rice, all dishes are communal and shared. In Vietnamese cuisine there are no distinct courses and dishes are presented together and consumed in any order. According to tradition, the younger people at the table should ask the elders to eat first, and women will normally sit beside the rice pot in order to help serve rice for other people. Using chopsticks and in consideration of good manners, guests take bite-sized portions of food from the communal dishes, one at a time, placing it into their own rice bowl before bringing it to the mouth. In a show of care and respect, family members may also pick up food for each other.

COMPONENTS OF A TYPICAL FAMILY DINNER
Dinner is considered by Vietnamese to be the most important meal of the day and is usually consumed at home. The core components of a typical family meal include a large bowl of steamed white rice, a fish or meat dish (grilled, boiled, steamed, or stewed), a stir-fry dish, a vegetable dish, and a clear broth soup. Accompanying the dishes are a range of condiments and dips that often include seasoned fish sauce, minced garlic, fresh chili, soy sauce, muoi tieu chanh (salt and pepper with lime juice) or muoi ot (chilli and salt). In place of desserts or sweats, a plate of fresh fruit is normally presented at the end of the meal.

A COOKING PHILOSOPHY
A yin-yang approach is commonly adopted when composing a Vietnamese meal such that a balance is created that is believed to be beneficial to the body. In this approach contrasting textures and flavours are important, as are an understanding of the “heating” and “cooling” properties of ingredients with examples including serving duck meat (“cool”) in summer with a ginger and fish sauce (“warm”), or serving chicken (“warm”) and pork (“hot”) in winter. In addition to the yin-yang approach, Vietnamese cuisine is influenced by the Asian principle of the five elements. As such, many Vietnamese dishes will include five spices (ngu vi) that correspond to five organs, five types of nutrients, and where possible, five colours. In its completion, the meal should appeal to the five senses, through the food arrangement (sight), crispy ingredients (sound), spices (taste), aromatic herbs (smell), and contrasting texture and consistency (touch).

The Vietnam’s food experience

The Vietnam’s food experience

Vietnamese cuisine, like its people, is pure, direct and honest. Celebrated around the world for its subtle, simple flavours and emphasis on freshness, Vietnamese cuisine is delicate and healthy and one the highlights of any trip to Vietnam.
The food of Vietnam reflects the history, climate and geography of the country as well as the spirit of its people. Northern Vietnamese cuisine is noted for its simple but sophisticated use of seasonings. In central Vietnam the influence of the old royal capital is pronounced, with smaller delicate portions served at meal time with a larger array of dishes which are more chili-spicy than in the north. Whilst in the warm tropical south, fruit and vegetables abound, and from the fertile Mekong Delta, seafood and rice feature strongly.
Vietnamese cooking is more about steaming, stewing, and grilling than frying. Carefully considered, Vietnamese dishes are composed and combined according to a set of principles that dictate aspects of flavour, aroma, texture, colour, contrast, balance, and even the sound a food makes when eaten.
Now well on the culinary map of one of the best food destinations in the world, Vietnam offers an added “culinary dimension” to a visitors’ travels where the simple act of sitting down for a meal can become the highlight of and one of the most memorable experiences of an entire journey.

food-experience

HIGHLIGHTS:
• Take a cooking class on a Junk cruising the spectacular limestone karsts of Ha Long bay
• Join the locals for a bowl of barbequed pork in hot noodle broth at any one of the nation’s many street food stalls
• Join a family for a traditional dinner in a village homestay
• Pull up a stool with the locals and replenish your thirst with a cool freshly brewed draught beer at the local bia hoi
• Take a market tour and jostle with the local women in the early morning to snag the best fruit and vegetables of the day
• Enjoy a meal of freshly caught and barbequed chili crayfish at dusk on the Nha Trang beachfront.

CULINARY REGIONS
Looked at as a whole, the Vietnamese table is a conglomerate of Vietnam’s three regional cuisines. Vietnam is separated geographically into three distinct areas: the North, the Central region and the South, with Ha Noi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City being both each regions respective major city, as well as its culinary capital. On the other hand, Central Vietnam’s more temperate weather, as well as significant coastlines, yields a variety of lush crops. Whilst South Vietnam, with more coastline and the Mekong River system, provides more seafood and an array of tropical delights.

NORTHERN REGION
The food of the Northern Region is both a product of its cool mountain climate here fewer herbs are grown, as well as regional influences. In the North you will find soups, stews, stir-fried dishes and a plethora of noodles. During the Northern winter families enjoy nothing more than gathering around a big bowl of seasoned broth and cooking vegetables and meat for sustenance and warmth. Culinary hotspots of the Northern Region include Ha Noi and Sapa. Signature dishes: bun cha, pho bo, cha ca.

CENTRAL REGION
In the temperate climate of the Central Region, the food is more chili-spicy. Here, the remnants of Imperial cuisine can be found. To sample a dish fit for a King, try roasted young pork, stewed chicken with herbs, or bird’s nest soup. Culinary hotspots of the Central Region include Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang. Signature dishes: banh cuon, cao lau, bun bo Hue, mi Quang.
To sample a dish fit for an Imperial King, try roasted young pork or stewed chicken with herbs. Alternatively tuck into a meal of bird’s nest soup, but be warned, you may also need to pay with a King’s earnings! Other popular dishes of the region include banh khoai, a rice starch and coconut milk crepe, and bun bo hue, a noodle soup redolent of citronella.

SOUTHERN REGION
Rich with fresh seafood, Southern food also shows generously spiced with chillies, coconut milk and a variety of herbs and spices. The more previous period of French occupation also left lingering aspects of French culinary influence as baguettes, sandwiches, filtered coffee, crème caramel (although made with coconut milk) and orange (or pineapple) duck.
With a climate conducive to a long growing season there is a greater availability of tropical fruits and vegetables. Here, sugar from sugarcane is generously used – often being combined into savoury dishes. The custom of wrapping food in a lettuce leaf with herbs and dipping it into fish sauce is a tradition that has its origins in the South. Some other popular dishes from the South include cha tom – shrimp wrapped in sugarcane, and banh xeo – rice pancake folded with shrimp, meat and soya bean sprouts.

Means, transport when staying in Hanoi

Airplane: Presently, many airline firms have flights on Saigon – Hanoi line. You can refer to ticket price of cheap airline firms such as Jetstar Pacific and Air Vietjet in the range from VND 0 / way to VND 0 / way. Vietnam Airlines is VND 0 / way to VND 0 / way. To move from Noi Bai International Airport to Hanoi city center, you can take a taxi at prices ranging from VND 0 to VND 0. You can also take bus transit of two domestic airline firms such as Jetstar and VietJet Air with price of VND 40,000 to VND 50,000 / turn

means-transport

Train: Ticket price of North-South Reunification Train is from 1,166,000 VND/way to 1,246,000 VND/way. From Hanoi Station on Le Duan Road to the city center, it takes about 10-15 minutes by taxi.

In Hanoi:  One of the unique features of Hanoi is the Ancient Quarter pedicab.  A lot of tourists to Hanoi chose this medium to visit and discover the quaint beauties on every street among busy and bustling Hanoi. If pedicab brings the ancient feature, then the electric car is a means of modern and new, “green tourism” of Hanoi tourism. You will discover civilized and polite Hanoi with modern life.

Cuisines, nosh, special products of Hanoi

Hanoi food always attracts with special cuisines.
Some impassable cuisines when residing in Hanoi:

1. Phở (Noodle soup):
The noodle soup is the impassable cuisine when tour to Hanoi. Hang Trong carrying noodle soup is the small carrying on the sidewalk, there is no dining tables for customers except small chairs, a delicious noodle soup bowl for each person. Especially, this carrying only sells in afternoons, for long time but its price has been not changed with VND 15,000. The famous delicious beef noodle soup is Pho Ly Quoc Su. And if you want to eat chicken noodle soup, you should go to the chicken noodle restaurant located on Quan Thanh street. It is a strange taste with sour & sweet mixed noodle soup at Pho Hanh on Lan Ong Street or the noodle soup located on Luong Van Can Street. Sauté noodle is on Bat Dan Street. If you come to Hanoi but not enjoy the noodle soup, it means you never set your feet in here.

2. Chả cá Lã Vọng : Fish is fried on a small oil pan, each table shall have a small charcoal stove with fish pan on top. Fish is eaten with grilled rice pancake, rice vermicelli, roasted peanuts, cilantro, Lang basil, cumin, fresh chopped onions dotted with shrimp sauce. Shrimp paste should be prepared by squeezing fresh lemon, plus chili, stirring and then adding belostomatid essential oil, a few drops of white wine, a little fat and sugar water. The cuisine is sweet, fleshy, fat taste.

3. Bún chả (Vermicelli and grilled chopped meat): Chopped meats are slightly burnt grilled with fragrant soaked spices, served with sweet and sour sauce with vinegar, garlic, chili, pepper mixed with sliced green papaya. Accompanied by vermicelli and various vegetable, especially perilla.

4. Bún thang (Hanoi Chicken Vermicelli Soup): is the cuisine containing the quintessential definition of Hanoi City food. Bun thang covers a lot of materials such as shredded chicken, fried eggs, lean pork paste cut into small fibers… Its broth should be one to be stewed from pork bones and prawn, a delicious broth pot of water should be pure and aromatic gently, with a little flavor spice of shrimp sauce

5. Bánh cốm (Green Rice Flake Cake): The famous cake is sold at Nguyen Ninh cake shop, No. 11 Hang Than. So far, Nguyen Ninh cake shop has still sold cakes made by the ancient craft method. The fresh green rice flake cakes with thin cover, even you can see yellowish green peas nucleus layer inside. Fragrant smell mixing with the scent of coconut and green peas makes you fascinated.

6. Bánh cuốn (Steamed rolled rice pancake): Hanoian people prefer dainty food, less fat, thus the pancake is the delicious typical cuisine of Hanoi land. Rice for spreading cake should be selected carefully, and then ground into powder and mixed with water; this liquid shall be spread on the stove into thin layers of cake. Caterer quickly grasps the hot layers to place on plates, and then covers roasted pork with mushrooms, finally rolled and covers a shrimp layer on the top. Accompanied with fish sauce and belostomatid and roasted cinnamon pork.

7. Bún đậu mắm tôm (Vermicelli with bean curd and shrimp sauce): It seems to have become a dish that any foreign visitors to Hanoi also want to taste once. The vermicelli with bean curd and shrimp sauce is suitable to eat in any season, for anyone.  Hot fried bean curds are cut into fat white pieces with soybean flavor. The most important taste is the shrimp sauce, the delicious shrimp sauce should be frothy when squeezed down kumquat and poured with a little hot fat and drops with bean curds and fiber vermicelli.

Hanoi’s highlights: history & culture

Hoan Kiem Lake: The special characteristic of geography of Hanoi is that there are many lakes within the city and the city is surrounded by huge rivers. Hoan Kiem Lake is located in the central of the city with the ancient Turtle Tower in the small peninsula in the middle. Next to Hoan Kiem Lake lying impressive architectures which are priceless inheritances of the city: Thap But (Pen Tower), Dai Nghien (Ink-slab), The Huc Bridge leading to Dac Nguyet Pavilion or Tran Ba, etc. on the way to Ngoc Son Temple.

hanoi-highlights

One Pillar Pagoda: Being a centre of Buddhism and Daoism of Vietnam, Hanoi has many famous pagodas and temples with hundreds of years old. The most famous one is One Pillar Pagoda with the lotus flower design, which seems to be the unique pagoda in Vietnam. It is a place must to visit in Hanoi. In addition, Tran Quoc Pagoda is also an ancient pagoda, which was built in the reign of King Ly Nam De (6th century).

Temple of Literature: is a temple of Confucius, a place where doctor names was listed on a tombstone and is one of the first national university of Vietnam. Nowadays, Temple of Literature has become the most popular place to visit in Hanoi and a place to award merits for excellent students. When many important examinations take place, students usually come to try their luck.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi: is a typical architecture of Hanoi. With an airy and comfortable landscape, it is an attractive place for the Youth as well as tourists in Hanoi. In the morning, you can drink coffee at ease on pavement to enjoy the almost cold weather in Hanoi. In the evening, it is a famous place where you can meet friends to chat and drink lemon tea.

Hanoi Old Quarter: is an attractive place to visit in Hanoi. 36 old streets in Hanoi own ancient houses and the streets remains much of their original trait from the 19th century. You can wander along the old streets all day to discover peaceful and simple places in Hanoi. Only at this place, you can experience the beauty of Hanoi people, close and friendly.

Hanoi Opera House: is a small version of Opéra Garnier in Paris, located at No. 1 Trang Tien – a central street of the city. Hanoi Opera House is the place where many national significant events take place.

Ba Dinh Square – Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: when visiting Hanoi, it is impossible to forget the central politics of Vietnam with National Assembly Building, Presidential Palace, and historical Ba Dinh Square where Uncle Ho read the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Uncle’s Mausoleum or Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the place where the body of Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh is located and persevered. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is opened 5 days/week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Visitors must be correctly dressed and silent, no photography and video recording is permitted.

West Lake: not far from the center of Hanoi, West Lake is the largest lake in Hanoi. You can hire water bikes or take a boat trip around the West Lake. The most appropriate time for you to come here is the duck to watch the sunset. The West Lake is next to Nghi Tam historic village, where elegant hobby of ancient Hanoian such as ornamental plants, bonsai growing hobby has been retained. Nghi Tam village is also known as flower village, it shall be inundated in colors of fresh flowers in every spring for the Lunar New Year. Near the West Lake area, there are Ngu Xa village as the traditional bronze casting village, Yen Phu village as career incense craft, as the places to visit when traveling to Hanoi tourism area.

If it is the first time you come to Hanoi, you should try once to live among ancient Hanoi with ancient roofs nestled inside the modern condominiums, buildings. Wandering in the Ancient Quarter of Hanoi, or stop at cafés along the Lake of the Returned Sword will give you the feeling of ancient, meditative features not easily to find anywhere else.

Bat Trang Pottery Village: 20km far from the center of Hanoi, along the left bank of Red River, you can get there by motorbike or bus. For many years, Bat Trang is the famous pottery production village all over the country. You can go about the village to visit many pottery workshops and to explore coal drying on the wall or simple ancient house. Going here, you can walk along the river and drive a unique means of transport called “buffalo car” to discover Bat Trang. In small pottery workshops, you can make your favorite products made from pottery by yourself or drawing on glass and souvenir to give your friends and relatives. Price of one available pottery product is about VND 10,000 to 30,000

Duong Lam ancient Village: is the ancient village of Vietnam retaining most of material and non-material value of life style of the ancients. Tourist can enjoy popular and traditional lunch in yard of an ancient house here, or listening a story, visiting moss-covered wall. It is very interesting to hire a bicycle to go around the village. This is a place to give birth to many beautiful photo sets.