Blog posts of '2017' 'January'

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square is one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes).

Ho Chi Minh MausoleumHo Chi Minh Mausoleum

For visitors, a trip to Uncle Ho’s final resting place can be an extraordinary experience as it is not just an average attraction; it’s a part of a unique history.

Started in 1973, the construction of the mausoleum was modeled on Lenin's mausoleum in Russia and was first open to the public in 1975. The granite building meant a great deal for many locals as it ensures that their beloved leader ‘lives on forever’.

Inside the building’s marble entrance hall Ho Chi Minh’s most quoted maxim greets you: “nothing is more important than independence and freedom”. Then it’s up the stairs and into a cold, dark room where this charismatic hero lies under glass, a small, pale figure glowing in the dim light, his thin hands resting on black covers. Despite the rather macabre overtones, it’s hard not to be affected by the solemn atmosphere, though in actual fact Ho’s last wish was to be cremated and his ashes divided between the north, centre and south of the country, with each site marked only by a simple shelter. The grandiose building where he now lies seems sadly at odds with this unassuming, egalitarian man.

Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple

Hanoi tourists and locals alike head to Hoan Kiem Lake when seeking a place to get away from the noise of the city. Peaceful and quiet, the lake surrounds Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island.

Hoan Kiem Lake or Ho Guom (Sword Lake) is considered as "a flower basket" in the center of Hanoi. It's history relates to many legends, of which one is about how King Le Thai To returned the magic sword to the Tortoise Genie.

 hoan kiem lake in hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem lake means “lake of the returned sword”. This name is related to the famous historical legend of King Le Thai To. And before this legend, Hoan Kiem Lake used to be called Luc Thuy Lake (or Green Water Lake) since the water was green all the year round. In 15th century, it was named Hoan Kiem Lake after the legend of Emperor Le Thai To, which is somehow similar to the story of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake's.

This legend is really interesting. Close your eyes and turn back time to the Le Dynasty 6 centuries ago to witness the legendary story. During the war against the Minh aggressors, King Le Thai To was given a precious fairy Sword by the Golden Turtle God. After 10 years of continuous struggling, the King finally defeated the Chinese and reclaimed the nation’s independence. After that, on a nice day, while boating on lake Luc Thuy, a large turtle came towards him.

It immediately grabbed the sword with its mouth and submerged. The king mourned the lost of such a valuable sword, yet could not find either the turtle or the sword. He realized that the God must have lent him the sword to drive back the enemy, but then that his nation was free, the sword must be returned. Hence, King Le Thai To named the lake Ho Hoan Kiem or Lake of the Restore Sword after this episode.

Located at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son ("Jade Mountain") Temple is one of the most famous temples in Hanoi. Tourists in Vietnam Tourism who travel to Hoan Kiem Lake should not ignore this special temple.

Ngoc Son Temple in hanoiNgoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple was built in the 18th century on Jade Island in the centre of the ‘Lake of the Returned Sword’ or Hoan Kiem Lake. Legend describes how an emperor was once given a magical sword which helped him defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty and in doing so saw the return of the Golden Turtle God to the lake. Today ‘Turtle Tower’ stands close to the lake in memory of this legend.

There are also endangered large soft-shell turtles swimming in the lake, and to see one of these gentle giants is considered very auspicious. The name of the temple translates to ‘Temple of the Jade Mountain’ and is predominately dedicated to war hero General Tran Hung Dao who defeated an armed force of 300,000 soldiers sent by Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan in the 13th century to invade Vietnam.

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi

The large central sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site just in time for Hanoi’s millennial anniversary in 2010. The ancient site was the political centre of the country for 13 consecutive centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries.

Imperial Citadel of Thang LongImperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi, located in the heart of the capital of Viet Nam, is the most important and best-preserved part of the ancient Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.

The Thang Long Imperial Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty, marking the independence of the Đại Việt. It was built on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating from the 7th century, on drained land reclaimed from the Red River Delta in Hanoi. It was the centre of regional political power for almost thirteen centuries without interruption.

The buildings of the Imperial Citadel and the remains in the 18 Hoang Diêu Archaeological Site reflect a unique South-East Asian culture specific to the lower Red River Valley, at the crossroads of influences coming from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south.

Location: Next to Ba Dinh Square, opposite the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and also near many important political buildings including the Vietnamese Presidential Palace.




Top 7 things to see and do in Hanoi on your visit

As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is home to a large number of must-see attractions. Museums and pagodas scatter the city and Hoan Kiem Lake serves as the centre point to reach just anywhere. Hanoi Old Quarter, the cultural, dining, entertainment and shopping heart of the city is worth the majority of your time to discover. If you plan a trip to Hanoi, spare at least a couple of days to explore the city.

1, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. This was the centre of ancient Hanoi and served as the political centre for eight centuries. Located in Ba Dinh, the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is close to many other tourist attractions. 

 Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

2, Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi tourists and locals alike head to Hoan Kiem Lake when seeking a place to get away from the noise of the city. Peaceful and quiet, the lake surrounds Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island.

 Hoan Kiem Lake

Hoan Kiem Lake

 3, Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square is one of the most visited attractions in Hanoi. It is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes).
For visitors, a trip to Uncle Ho’s final resting place can be an extraordinary experience as it is not just an average attraction; it’s a part of a unique history.

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum

 4,  Hanoi night market

This market spreading from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market creates a busy and crowded walking street. on weekend evenings, a lot of people come here to stroll or go shopping, which becomes a habit.

Dong Xuan marketDong Xuan market

5, Old Quarter

The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem lake, has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter.

Old-Quarter HanoiOld-Quarter Hanoi

 6, Temple of Literature in Hanoi

The Temple of Literature is often cited as one of Hanoi’s most picturesque tourist attractions. Originally built as a university in 1070 dedicated to Confucius, scholars and sages, the building is extremely well preserved and is a superb example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture.

Temple of Literature in HanoiTemple of Literature in Hanoi

 7, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

This fabulous collection relating to Vietnam's ethnic minorities features well-presented tribal art, artefacts and everyday objects gathered from across the nation, and examples of traditional village houses.


Vietnam Museum of EthnologyVietnam Museum of Ethnology


Ha Long City

Ha Long City is an amalgam of Hong Gai and Bai Chay, two towns merged in 1994, and now lassoed together by a bridge. For the moment, locals still use the old names – as do ferry services, buses and so on – as a useful way to distinguish between the two areas, each with its own distinct character, lying either side of the narrow Cua Luc channel. The hub of tourist activity and accommodation is Bai Chay, a rather unattractive beach resort and the main departure point for boat tours. For those in search of more local colour, or who are put off by Bai Chay’s overwhelming devotion to tourism, Hong Gai provides only basic tourist facilities but has a more bustling, workaday atmosphere.

halong city                                                                                      Halong city

Halong city is a center of economy, culture, politic of Quang Ninh Province. The former name of Halong is Hon Gai, the east in city is Cam Pha city, the west is Quang Yen,the neighboring of the north is Hoanh Bo, the south is Halong Bay, and it is the coast of 20 km.

halong city 2                                                                                  Halong City

Halong bay is famous in the Vietnam and all over the world, it was recognized the natural world, heritage of the world, it is superb image from thousands of limestone islands and islets to create a lively pictures. Halong city has many temples, pagodas - historical vestiges such as Bai Tho Mountain, Duc Ong Temple, etc. The most ethnic groups in the city is Kinh People who coming from other places to here for settling house and earning in living here by fishing - trading. Halong is city for tourism, but also developing other economic fields such as Commerce, Trade, Coal, Seafood processing, building material,beers.

If you make tours to Vietnam, and Halong bay tour is also added to your itinerary, you should not ignore these temples.

Dinh Tien Hoang Temple

Dinh Tien Hoang TempleDinh Tien Hoang Temple

Dinh Tien Hoang Temple relics of the Hoa Lu ancient capital of in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province.The temple is located on the campus of 5ha, under the special protection of the relics. The temple is built in the style of foreign.turn east. King Dinh Temple is the palace built on the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, architectural style “of the foreigners”. Around this area, archaeologists have unearthed an array of textures yard with shower and playing with each opponent. On the bricks have the words “Vietnam National University in specialized military” and “military arms”, proved to be the bricks while Dinh – Le.
Dinh Tien Hoang Temple                                                                      Dinh Tien Hoang Temple

The temple was built in the 17th century, with a special architecture, the interior of which had an “I letter” shape, surrounded by a square land. Now you are standing at the 3-class mid-noon gate. You can go on to the next one, seeing a dragon bed and getting the second gate. Passing through one more gate and walking along the holy way will lead to the main house. In the middle of the house is one more stone dragon-bed, which is 1.8m long and 1.4m wide. Looking at the bed surface you can easily find sculptured dragon, shrimps, fishes, rats images which are of deep delicateness and skill.

This main house has 3 parts. The first one is the worshipping place with 5 rooms. The second is an incense burning room where they worshiped 4 important mandarins under Dinh dynasty. The third main part, the most important one, is separated to the second by a high door. Here you can witness there worshipping King Dinh Tien Hoang and his three sons.

If you make tours to Vietnam, and Ninh Binh is also added to your itinerary, you should not ignore these temples.

What's the best thing about Saigon?

A visit to Ho Chi Minh City is an encounter with exotic food, French colonial architecture and memories of war, writes Guy Wilkinson.

Video - Source from VnExpress

1, Cheap eats
Ho Chi Minh City (also still called Saigon) is famous for its pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) and pork rolls. Often the best places are shops and stalls named after family members, such as "Aunty" or "Chi" (meaning sister) followed by a number representing their order in the family and, finally, their name. Though many chains, such as Pho24 and Pho 2000, do big business these days, you can't beat family-run outfits for the real deal.
Street food in Saigon                                                                         Street food in Saigon

2, War Remnants Museum
Not for the squeamish, the War Remnants Museum documents the brutality of the Vietnam War and, although it has received criticism for its alleged propagandist tone, it remains one of the most visited museums in the country, attracting more than half a million visitors a year. Retired military vehicles such as "Huey" helicopters, attack bombers and even an M48 Patton tank dominate the front yard while, inside, a harrowing selection of text and photographic exhibits tell the story. (Open 7.30am-noon and 1.30-5pm.)
War Remnants Museum                                                                          War Remnants Museum

3, Bonsai River Cruise
Though it's true the Saigon River has serious pollution issues, a Bonsai dinner cruise is still a unique experience. Watch the city lights at sunset while sipping a Tom Collins from the deck of a traditional 19th-century dragon boat, take in a show and enjoy a buffet meal in style. Try to pre-book and stretch your dollar for a more boutique cruise if funds permit.

Bonsai River Cruise
4, History Museum
Ensconced among lush botanic gardens in a beautiful 1929 French colonial building is the history museum, showcasing 4000 years of Vietnamese life and culture, starting from the Bronze Age. The collection includes items from the Cham and Khmer civilisations as well as artefacts illustrating mountain culture, revolutionary periods and even gifts bestowed on president Ho Chi Minh before his death. Not all exhibits are clearly labelled in English, but the setting practically justifies the visit. (Open Tuesday-Sunday, 8-11am and 1.30-4.30pm.)

5, Saigon Central Post Office
This building stands as a reminder of the more than 70 years of French colonial rule (and it's still an operating post office, so you have no excuse not to send a postcard home). Designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, like the tower), the Saigon Central Post Office was completed in 1891, two years after he finished that famous Parisian landmark. Walk along the pretty patterned tile floor and admire the decorative ceilings.

Saigon Central Post Office                                                                  Saigon Central Post Office
6, Daring food
Fertilised duck eggs, fermented scorpion wine, deep-fried snake dishes: Vietnam is synonymous with cuisine to put hairs on your chest. Try to avoid restaurants prone to killing the snake in front of you (some diners like to feast on the still-beating heart). It's not kind to the snake and it won't increase virility. Reputable hotels can point you in the direction of a good restaurant with such creatures on the menu, or look out for glass bottles of snake wine known as "ruou thuoc" at most markets. Don't worry, the venom is neutralised by the ethanol.

7, Markets
There isn't much you can't buy from a market here, and although haggling is an art form requiring practice, it's still easy enough to pick up a bargain. District 1's Ben Thanh Market is certainly the most famous — there are more than 3000 stalls — but prices can often be inflated for tourists. For a lesser-known alternative, District 1's Tan Dinh specialises in silks and clothing material, while Ben Thanh night market is popular for those who prefer bargain hunting free from the noon heat.

Ben Thanh MarketBen Thanh Market

8, Coffee

Since its introduction to Vietnam by French colonists in the 19th century, coffee has become a national obsession that rivals our own. Thanks to the intense humidity, iced coffee, known locally as "ca phe sua da", is generally favoured, and is brewed with a dark roast over a single metal french drip filter called "ca phe phin". Served with sweet condensed milk poured over ice, it's the perfect kick-start. Head to the Tan Tao Park to enjoy an early-morning brew with the locals or order a cup from any street vendor.

9, Pagodas and temples
The kaleidoscopic Jade Emperor Pagoda is widely regarded as the city's most spectacular, but it's one of many. For a dose of southern India's colour, check out Mariamman Temple, built in the 19th century by traders to honour the Hindu goddess Mariamman. For a wealth of Chinese temples, check out Cholon or take a day-trip to the Cao Dai temple at Tay Ninh, which is easily combined with a tour of the nearby Cu Chi tunnels. Incorporating aspects of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and even Catholicism, it was built between 1933 and 1955. (Day tours, including the temple and tunnels, cost about $8.)

10, Shopping
Markets aside, there are plenty of options for high-end shopping. The major department stores are found at the central business district's Diamond Plaza or Saigon Centre — though prices won't differ much from home — while locals tend to favour Trai Street, straddling districts 1 and 5 for cheaper goods. Le Cong Kieu is famous for antiques, and the relatively new Vincom Centre opposite the Hotel Continental is a good bet for pricier, high-quality and boutique wares, while fashionistas will love Nguyen Hue Street.


How To Bargain In Vietnam

Bargain is not common in some countries, but in Vietnam it really is. In Vietnam, bargaining is always worthwhile. Yet, it is not always due to the fact that the local have a great deal of time and very little money. Bargaining is part of Vietnamese culture as through bargaining people communicate with others, create and build up their relationship, not to mention a form of entertainment.



Why You Should Bargain

There are a few good arguments for engaging in epic arguments over prices, though the most pragmatic one might be a simple case study in economics.
In Vietnam, there is no social taboo against asking directly how much something cost. This is cultural standard, and if you pay too much someone will tell you.

When And Where To Bargain
Not every price is negotiable. Many legitimate taxi companies will only charge metered fares, and it would be in poor taste to try and talk your waiter into giving you a better price at a restaurant. So when and where do you start haggling?
A good rule of thumb is that if something has a price tag on it, the cost is non-negotiable. This includes restaurants, where prices are usually listed on menus or signs. Brick and mortar stores (as opposed to market stall) also typically have fixed prices.

Bargaining is a game, not a fight to the death
You should always enter into negotiations in a good frame of mind and a with a sense of humour. If an offer is too high, laugh it off, don't get furious. Make a joke and counter offer; if in turn you are being unreasonable the trader will try to push you in the right direction. Feel free to try again, raising your bid, but keep in mind the real change in value - at the end of the day there is little point negotiating over less than a dollar.


Bargain in Vietnam

Don't take it personally
A market trader's job is to maximise profits, and fixed prices don't always exist in Vietnam outside supermarkets. It is only natural for a trader to 'have a go' and see what they can get, and it is in no way an affront to you. The attitude in Vietnam is that if you take a higher price they've had a lucky day, and if they take the correct price they didn't lose anything in trying - there is nothing personal about it.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that everyone is out to overcharge foreigners, either - Vietnamese people are just as likely to be overcharged, at least initially, and some local people can't stand haggling either.

Consider the real value of an item
A trader will always try to sell for as much as they can get, usually because they don't earn a great deal and could use the extra money. Most travellers arrive in Vietnam with significant amounts of money in Vietnamese terms, and benefit from the low cost of food, hotels and souvenirs in the country. Take a moment to consider how lucky you are.

Remember that even if a product is 'overpriced' it is still generally cheaper than at home; indeed this may be your only chance to buy it - if you pay a few dollars more than the next man, will you really worry about it in years to come? If the product means something to you and the trader won't budge, perhaps you should just buy it rather than regretting it later. If you don't need it that badly then just walk away.

Walk away
Walking away is one of the most powerful tools a shopper has when bargaining, and the market trader's reaction speaks volumes. If you have offered a fair price and been rejected the trader will normally call you back and agree - if they couldn't care less then it is probably you that is being unreasonable. If you realise you were pushing too hard, don't feel too proud to come back either, there is no shame in paying the correct price!

Know when to quit
If you are quibbling over less than 10,000 VND, stop. If you are beginning to lose your rag, stop. If you are thirsty, go get a drink and come back refreshed. If the trader is obviously just particularly stubborn, walk away - you are bound to find another person selling the same thing not far away.

Avoid it all together?
Bargaining is a game and should be fun for both parties. If you're not enjoying it, stop. If you can't bargain without losing your temper, don't - just pay the price requested. Most travellers will have saved $1,000s to visit Vietnam, and yet some will let one disagreement over less than $1 for a motorbike ride ruin their day - a complete waste of their limited time in the country. Pay the price asked - your trip will still be cheap compared to travelling anywhere outside Asia, and you will enjoy yourself an awful lot more.

See more:
Northern Vietnam: a cheapest travel destination for 2017, According to Forbes
Vietnamese comics win silver award at 9th International Manga Awards in Japan

Northern Vietnam: The most low-cost travel destination for 2017, According to Forbes

Come for stunning scenery, cheap eats and accommodation and DIY transportation.

Mu Cang Chai Vietnam
Mu Cang Chai, a popular tourist site in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai

Forbes has included northern Vietnam on a list of 21 low-cost travel destinations for 2017.

"Vietnam is known as a budget destination, but the region north of Hanoi along the Chinese border often gets overlooked by travelers," the magazine said in a recent report.

According to the magazine, areas along the border with China, north of Hanoi, budget travellers can find private accommodation priced at 10-15 USD a night and dorms for 5 USD on average, while meals cost maximum 2 USD.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital, came second in the list, followed by Lisbon (Portugal), Seoul (the Republic of Korea) and Bucharest (Rumani).

Forbes also reccomended Palawan in the Philippines (8th) and Luang Prabang in Laos (13th).