Blog posts of '2017' 'February'

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in Asia

Glistening sands along the country's central coast have made it onto TripAdvisor’s top 25 beaches on the continent

Travelers have named two of Vietnam's beaches among the best in Asia in a recent survey conducted by global travel site TripAdvisor.

Non Nuoc in Da Nang in central Vietnam came in at number 10 on the top 25 beaches in Asia in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Traveller’s Choice Awards. An Bang in Hoi An, the ancient town just up the road, claimed 25th position.

Many travelers said that they had fallen in love with Non Nuoc's fine white sands and crystal clear waters.

“The sand is so clean and fine my three young kids were able to play on the beach all afternoon bare foot without getting hurt,” said a tourist from Canada.

Although the beach is one of the top attractions in Da Nang, many described how surprised they were to find it so “calm and quiet”.

Some also said that the best time to catch the beach is at sunrise or when the fishermen are setting out to sea.

An Bang, which also made the top 25 last year, also gives visitors the chance to indulge themselves in the simple fishing life, where children gather every sunset to play with kites or just collect shells while they wait for their parents to return from the sea.

For most tourists, An Bang is simply “a beautiful beach”. Some say it’s the most beautiful in Vietnam, with white sands stretching down the coast, a cool breeze and a great selection of restaurants.

The best time to visit An Bang is between May and September, and Non Nuoc between February and August, the tourists recommended.

Thailand proved to be the most popular beach destination in the region with five beaches making it into TripAdvisor's top 25 list.

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in AsiaBeautiful sunshine on Non Nuoc in Da Nang.

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in AsiaA fisherman fixes a fishing net on his coracle on Non Nuoc.

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in AsiaSunrise on Non Nuoc.

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in AsiaAn Bang.

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in AsiaCoracles on An Bang.

Vietnamese beaches tipped by travelers among best in AsiaA bicycle ride to the beach.

Source: Vnexpress


The most beautiful islands in Vietnam you can’t visit

the most beautiful islands in vietnam

 VnExpress International digs deep on why foreigners can no longer visit Vietnam’s 21 unspoiled islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

This week, a Vietnamese friend came back from the Nam Du archipelago raving about pristine beaches, seafood fresh off the boat and long, languid afternoons spent swinging in hammocks in a place that’s literally off the grid.

The pace of life is so slow, she said, Nam Du’s few residents leave their keys in their bikes and only bother to fire up their gas-powered electricity generators for a few hours a day.

She’d visited the collection of 21 islands in the Gulf of Thailand by hopping on a $10 ferry from Rach Gia, the sun-baked capital of Kien Giang Province.

I’d wanted to visit the islands since Quinn Ryan Mattingly photographed the islands in June of 2015.

“We stayed two nights,” said Mattingly, who recalled paying a local man the equivalent of five dollars to climb to the top of a lighthouse on a military base. “It was like, no problem.”

Now, it seems, there’s a problem.

I can’t go. And, if you’re reading this in English, chances are you can’t either.

the most beautiful islands in vietnamFish drying in the sun, which you can't smell.

Last April, an Irishman named Sam Pearson described walking into the Rach Gia office of a ferry company called Superdong (it means “super crowded” you skeez) only to learn that tickets to Nam Du had been sold out for… forever.

Further inquiry suggested that there were tickets — just not for foreigners.

The sudden prohibition inspired some of the greatest minds on TripAdvisor to put their heads together, offering explanations as boring as a dearth of fresh drinking water and as amusing as a desire to limit Nam Du’s appeal to fugitives of international justice (not kidding).

One savvy observer indicated the cause was likely Article 7 of National Decree No. 71 on the management of maritime boundary areas.

The strict bit of legislation that went into effect just months after Mattingly bribed his way onto military property to take a pretty picture and reads like it was drafted (over one too many cups of coffee) shortly after a Chinese oil rig and a posse of missile ships tore into the East Sea, ostensibly to drink Vietnam’s milkshake.

But, I digress. Decree No. 71 contains some good news and some bad news, if you take it at face value.

The good news: foreigners can go to Nam Du!

The bad news: they need a valid passport, visa, residence papers and “permits for entry into maritime boundary areas issued by provincial-level public security departments.”

The most beautiful islands in Vietnam
A vendor selling delicious fried taro cakes, which you can't try

The most beautiful islands in VietnamA fish vendor on Hon Lon island selling a variety of things you can't taste.

The most beautiful islands in VietnamThe coast of Hon Lon, the largest of Nam Vu Archipelago's 21 islands, which you can't visit.

The most beautiful islands in VietnamThe road leading to Hon Lon's largest light house, which you can't climb to the top of.

Anyone who has ever tried to obtain a driver’s license in Vietnam understands the likelihood that a group of provincial policemen in the Mekong Delta would ever issue a foreigner permission to enter an area technically controlled by the military.

According to the unfortunate Superdong ticket saleswoman unfortunate enough to pick up the phone when we called, none of this would be a problem if the Nam Du Islands were a designated tourist area. Despite booming domestic tourism, Nam Du remains in the sensitive administrative penumbras of a “border area” or “frontier zone.”

Interested foreigners should plan to arrive in Rach Gia two days before they want to board the ferry, she said. Then, they sashay into the provincial police department (accompanied by a citizen willing to guarantee their good conduct) and request a two-day permit for $10-15.

“Does that work?”

“Sometimes,” she said, noting that intermediaries, like her friend Trang, can often help expedite the process.

Trang never picked up the phone, so we made four or five calls to different officers at the Kien Giang Tourism and Trade Investment Promotion Center until we got a very helpful man who called himself Mr. Hai.

“As far as I know now, [Kien Giang Province] still isn’t allowing foreigners to come to certain islands, like Nam Du,” Hai said, adding that those with a clear purpose like business or study can request special permission.

Sadly, neither myself nor any of the people I consider friends have ever known anything like a clear purpose in Vietnam.

By Calvin Godfrey

Photos by Nhung Nguyen and Phung Hoa

The most beautiful islands in VietnamA beautiful bay off the coast of Hon Lon which you can't swim in.

Source: Vnexpress

Think you’ve got it bad in Vietnam? Here’re the 5 countries with the worst traffic

The new ‘global’ study by INRIX somehow does not gather data from Vietnam.

1. Thailand

Thailand was the world’s most congested country for traffic in 2016, according to a study released on Monday by the Washington-based transport analytics firm INRIX Inc.

Drivers in Thailand spent an average of 61 hours stuck in traffic last year. The Global Traffic Scorecard rated Bangkok in particular the 12th most congested of all cities rated, much worse than its 30th ranking in 2015.

Bangkok trafficBangkok. Photo by Reuters/Adrees Latif

2. Colombia & Indonesia (tie)

Drivers spent an average of 47 hours stuck in traffic in 2016 in these countries, with Bogota and Jakarta having the worst congestion.

Jakarta trafficJakarta. Photo by Reuters/Supri

4. Russia & the U.S. (tie)

In these two countries, drivers spent an average of 42 hours stuck in traffic in 2016.

Traffic jams in Los Angeles may have inspired that amazing dance number in "La La Land," but real-life pictures depict a much less romantic situation. Things in New York and San Fransisco are just a little bit better.

Russia & the U.S trafficLos Angeles which individually was named the worst city for traffic. Photo by Reuters/Mike Blake

Inrix reportedly analyzed 1,064 cities worldwide across only 38 countries. China, Japan and Vietnam were not included.

But based on what we've seen in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the company really should add Vietnam in its next study.

Ho Chi Minh City trafficHo Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress.

Want more proof?

Ben Thanh market

As a crowded market all day long, Ben Thanh market, Ho Chi Minh is known as a symbol and a destination that attracts both the residents and international tourists.

Ben Thanh Market Sai GonBen Thanh Market - Sai Gon

It is an integral part in any Saigon tours to do shopping, walking and discovering Ben Thanh market, Saigon.

Ben Thanh market in District 1 owns ancient architectural characters and has been voted as one of best places to visit in Vietnam. Ben Thanh market is so well-known that almost foreign visitors feel that they wouldn't fulfill their Ho Chi Minh tour if they missed setting their foot here.

Ben Thanh Market Sai Gon - MapBen Thanh Market Sai Gon - Map

Built in 1870s, Ben Thanh market, Saigon was first named Les Halles Centrales before it was renamed Ben Thanh market in 1912. After many ups and downs over the time, Ben Thanh market is one of the most ancient markets in Saigon.

Ben Thanh market entryBen Thanh market entry

Ben Thanh is firstly well-known as the place for real Vietnamese food. There a number of vendors and food stalls in the market food section that offers guests dishes freshly made to the order. Here, one can taste various kinds of local dishes like banh xeo, banh cuon, banh beo, cha gio, hu tiu… In the evening, while all stalls inside the market are closed, sidewalk restaurants around the market open and make it extraordinary lively area. One of the most recommended foods by tourists is deep fried whole fish, so remember to try it at least once when you dine here. Besides, one can also taste seafood and enjoy cool beer at cheap price (only $1-2 for a beer only). One advice for tourists is not sitting deep into the crowded food tent to avoid the heat.

Ben Thanh Market Sai Gon

Ben Thanh Market Sai GonNorth gate is the place you can find all kinds of fresh foods and fruits 

Curious about what the locals eat, wear or use daily? Just come here and find out the answer. From clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry to kitchen ware, grocery, sweets, and great Vietnamese coffee… every thing that Saigonese need for their daily life can be found here. Taking a look at things for sale here, seeing how people make transactions or which kind of goods is purchased most by the locals, one can learn much about the local life and get useful experience for shopping in Vietnam also. For the ones who are keen on shopping, here is exactly the place you are looking for.
Besides goods for daily use, tourists can find here variety of eye-catching local handicrafts, souvenirs. Just pick up some cute fridge magnets or delicated small piece of lacquer, one has got small gifts for friends and family at home or something to remind him/her about the trip to Ho Chi Minh city. “I live in Bangkok, the land of markets, but I still found this market rather interesting. It sells items slightly different from what I get in Thailand. Fascinated by the coffee bean/powder and knick knack shops. My sons bought a fridge magnet each with famous Vietnamese landmarks on them. I don't normally purchase souvenirs when I am overseas but landed up with some nice pieces of lacquer from one of the shops”, a tourist from Bangkok said. Here is some advices for an idea of what to buy when you are in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ben Thanh Market Sai Gon

You can try many delicious Ben Thanh market foods

Ben Thanh Market Sai GonRice pancake


Binh Tay Market

If you’re going to visit Ho Chi Minh City your visit will not be complete without visiting a local market and Binh Tay is the largest traditional market in the city.

When people talk about markets in Ho Chi Minh City, much of the love goes to the more central Ben Thanh market. Don’t get us wrong; Ben Thanh is a great place to go if you want to get knockoff designer goods or swarmed by people trying to sell you hammocks, but if you're in the market for a market that isn't selling ‘I Heart Pho’ T-shirts then Binh Tay market in Cholon is more on the money.

Binh Tay MarketBinh Tay Market

Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.

Also known as Cholon Chinatown Market, Binh Tay Market occupies a two-storey building along Thap Moui Street. Travellers can also find an assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, and textiles that are sold in bulk, though goods are not varied compared to other (more touristy) markets in downtown Hanoi. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Cholon, Binh Tay Market is great for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.

Binh Tay Market - cho LonTraders at the busiest market in town have had 15 days to move all the their goods to a new, temporary market located in front of the existing one.

Binh Tay MarketOne of the gems of the market are vintage hand-painted signs hanging in front of stalls. Many of them are over 40 years old.

Binh Tay Market - Cho LonNobody knows for sure what fate awaits those signs when the renovation starts. Many shops said they will replace their decades-old signage with new printed ones.

Binh Tay Market - cho LonBinh Tay Market is also famous for its central courtyard and bagua-shaped design. Bagua is a Chinese religious motif that incorporates eight trigrams such as the sky, fire and wind and the trigrams are arranged around a circle symbolizing yin and yang. 

Binh Tay Market - cho Lon“It’s so hot in here, we can hardly breathe. And this is just the third day we have been here,” said one of the shoe sellers. The renovation of Saigon's biggest wholesale market is scheduled to take a year, but many vendors believe it could take two years. 


On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasures

If you pay close attention, you can find art everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, starting with the orange vendors on the street.
Not knowing a language has its advantages, according to Steffi W. Neukirchen.

When the German graphic designer arrived in Saigon two years ago she found herself captivated by hundreds of handwritten signs.

“I didn’t understand the content, I only saw the form,” the RMIT University design lecturer recalled.

Soon she stumbled on a wild sign covered in hand-painted scrawl. Passers-by explained that someone was both renting an apartment and selling land in the same sign space.

“And I thought it was so interesting that someone had written this out, by hand, and mounted it on a pole. And all of the sudden, all of my senses were alerted to handwriting.”

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresArt on the street: the first sign that caught Neukirchen's attention. Photo courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

From there, she embarked a quest to document all the city's signage, starting with street vendors advertising their wares.

"Sometimes the signs are so beautiful that it makes me think: 'oh, someone with a certain knowledge of handwriting must have helped, or the seller himself/herself has this remarkable ability,” she said.

Neukirchen credited the local "motorbike culture" with inspiring the cultivation of this innate sense for typography.

The signs were designed to quickly catch the attention of passers-by in every possible way.

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasures

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasures

Captured on the street: A cardboard sign advertising "Orange juice and phone cards" hand-lettered in two different fonts. Photo courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresThe type collector pointed out that rice sellers use different fonts to draw attention to different varieties of rice. Photo courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

 Neukirchen used her phone to document professional and semi-professional signage, a project she calls “Saigonese Urban Typography”, on her Instagram account.

The result is a catalog containing hundreds of hand-crafted signs.

"I am collecting them because I think many are being wiped out," she said. "[Looking at these signs,] you can see someone must have spent much time doing this, and you feel more of a human connection to these things than something made by the computer."

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresArt in the making in Ho Chi Minh City's District 2. Photo courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

The project has also connected Neukirchen to local artists who share her interest.

Le Quoc Huy, the founder of a non-profit called Luu Chu - Vietnam's Lost Type helped introduce her to a trove of vintage signage in the shuttered Binh Tay Market in Ho Chi Minh City's District 6.

Neukirchen admits that it wasn't until her fifth visit to Cho Lon in November, when the market had already been cleared for rennovation, that she finally noticed the mesmerizing handiwork.

No one knows whether the two-year rennovation of the iconic chinatown market will result in the destruciton or preservation of its many hand-painted signs.

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresA handdrawn vintage sign in Binh Tay market. Photo courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

"[Finding] old professional handwriting in the city feels like a treasure hunt because it is so rare nowadays," Neukirchen said. "Sometimes you have to peel back layers, you have to walk (or drive) by a few times before you can actually see them."

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresAn old restaurant sign advertising blood and innard porridge. Photo courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

While looking for impressive local work, she also observed a somewhat retro aesthetic among young professional designers, whose work pays homage to tradition while expressing original ideas.

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresPhoto courtesy of Steffi W. Neukirchen

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasures

Describing herself as a type collector, she's considering printing “Saigonese Urban Typography” as a photo book.

"Sometimes I return to a given spot to see the signs and find they have been replaced by some new shops," said Neukirchen. "So far it looks more like a creative process; I have not seen much disappear, but I think it will happen soon."

On the hunt for Saigon's typographic treasuresSteffi W. Neukirchen. Photo by Quinn Ryan Mattingly

Source: Vnexpress


When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

They say art is everywhere. This artist/fanboy has proved it.
Saigon streets have always been a paradise of cool typographies.

Maxk Nguyen, a Ho Chi Minh City-based artist, saw a cool sign one day at a cheap sidewalk eatery selling various types of boiled eggs, including the embryo balut (which is not for the faint of heart).

“And I played a good 30 minutes with this cool font,” he said, noting that the vendor designed the original sign herself.

“If the lady had had a chance to learn Photoshop, she must have been a master in our typography world,” Nguyen said.

Check the results below to see what would happen when an artist gives a superstar treatment to the Saigon font. (Or giving superstars a Saigon street treatment?)

And the results are amazing!

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typographyPhotos courtesy of Maxk Nguyen

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typographyRhi Rhi looks sassy as always

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

Wonder what Big Bang’s G-Dragon would think of the new crown.

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

A new album cover for Pharrell?

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

Miley Cyrus and her famous pose

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

The queen of pop is royal.

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

Sam Smith seems a bit more moody than usual. 

When Adele and Sam Smith break into the cool world of Saigon typography

CL, a K-pop star, should seriously think about this design?

So far the series has been a hit on Facebook.

Fun fact: Nguyen said he did buy a lot of eggs from the lady.

Source: Vnexpress

Why Da Nang should be your next holiday destination this summer?

An amazing fireworks festival and so many other exciting events are coming. Check this cheat sheet and don’t miss the fun in the sleepless city.

Why Da Nang should be your next holiday destination this summer

Why Da Nang should be your next holiday destination this summer

Why Da Nang should be your next holiday destination this summer

Why Da Nang should be your next holiday destination this summer

Source: Vnexpress


Asians in love: Top 5 places with the happiest couples



Asians in love: Top 5 places with the happiest couples

What Vietnamese, Malays and Filipinos love and hate about their partners.

Source: Vnexpress

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. Displays are well labelled in Vietnamese, French and English. If you're into anthropology, it's well worth the approximately 200,000d each-way taxi fares to the Cau Giay district, about 7km from the city centre, where the museum is located.

Vietnam Museum of EthnologyVietnam Museum of Ethnology

Local bus 14 (4000d) departs from P Dinh Tien Hoang on the east side of Hoan Kiem Lake and passes within a couple of blocks (around 600m) of the museum – get off at the Nghia Tan bus stop and head to Ð Nguyen Van Huyen.