Located 150km from Hanoi, Halong Bay – Vietnam is a spectacular island waters of Quang Ninh, a top-leading marine tourism site in Vietnam. With outstanding value in the universal landscape and geology, Ha Long Bay has twice been recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage.
Halong Bay with nearly 2000 multifold “pearl” islands above sea level, covering an area of over 1500 square kilometers, creating an extremely poetic and majestic natural wonder. The abundance of styles and the diversity in shapes of thousands of islands creates a forest of natural sculptures, a rare natural impression over the world with the fortified attraction and capacities satisfying the rich imagination of humans.
Phu Yen is a coastal province in South-Central Vietnam, located on 1A highway – the most important route from North to South of Vietnam. Bestowed with unparalleled coastline and spectacular geographic structures, Phu Yen has gain significant popularity among local travellers, especially after one of the movies was casted here. Grand, Peaceful and so many Shades of Green and Blue. Here are some things and recommended itinerary to catch up once you’re there!
Con Dao (Côn Đảo) island is a small island of Ba Ria – Vung Tau province. Traveling to Con Dao, especially during summer time, you will get to enjoy the freshness of tropical island and the endless deep blue water. Wanna know what interesting to do there, keep on reading!
How to get to Con Dao island
Con Dao is an offshore island so there’re just 2 ways to get there: by air or ship.
Can Tho (Cần Thơ), one of the 5 biggest cities in Vietnam, is a rich land endowed by nature. Visiting Can Tho, you get to see the famous Cai Rang floating market and enjoy hand picking fruit from luxuriant gardens all year round. Summer is the blooming season of all kinds of fruit in Southern Vietnam.
Especially, if you arrive in Can Tho on full moon days (12th and 4th) of the lunar month, you will be joining in Thuong Dien (Lễ Thượng Điền) and Ha Dien festival (Lễ Hạ Điền), 2 of the 3 biggest festivals in Mekong Delta.
To support you on a perfect trip, here are some of my experiences, tips and top things to do in Can Tho – Vietnam. Keep reading and take some note!
Buon Ma Thuot (Buôn Ma Thuột) is the heart of Dak Lak (Đắk Lắk) province and Central Highlands (Tây Nguyên) of Vietnam. Buon Ma Thuot was built over 1 century ago, when the French people were still in Vietnam and built the ruling fortress in this area.
Before becoming a city, this land was a very big village with over 50 Long Houses (Nhà Dài – a unique house of ethnic groups in Highlands), each of which is home to 30-40 people. The entire village was led by the chief Ama Thuot (Ama Thuột) who is very reputed and powerful. Therefore, the name of village, Buon Ma Thuot, was named after the chief. The word “Buon” means village in Vietnamese, so “Buon Ma Thuot” means the village of chief Ama Thuot.
In Vietnam, Buon Ma Thuot is very famous for coffee (origin of the tastiest coffee of Vietnam), big flocks of elephant, unique houses of ethnic groups, as well as majestic nature of Central Highlands.
Binh Ba island (Đảo Bình Ba) is a beautiful island not far from mainland, about 20 km (13 miles), located in Cam Ranh bay, Cam Binh ward – Cam Ranh city – Khanh Hoa province (60 km or 39 miles from Nha Trang and 15km or 10 miles from Cam Ranh airport).
The island is also known under the name Lobster island (đảo Tôm Hùm), because this place is famous for big and tasty lobsters. Unlike its noisy, bustling and urbanized neighbors (Nha Trang, Mui Ne – Phan Thiet), Binh Ba’s sea is pristine with two long and beautiful beaches.
Travelling to Binh Ba is quite easy and convenient. Following informations will help you have a perfect trip.
* From Hanoi. The distance is 1400km (880 miles), which takes under 30 hours. Fare of buses from Hanoi is about $40 to $45. Some reliable firms are:
– Hoang Long bus. Add: Giap Bat bus station – Km 6 Giai Phong street – Hoang Mai district, Tel: +844.3664.6617 or My Dinh bus station – 20 Pham Hung – My Dinh, tel: +844.3795.1776
– Sinh Cafe (open tour). 38 Ly Nam De street – Hoan Kiem district – Hanoi. Tel:+8498.8757.689
If go by bus, you need to tell driver to drop you at Cam Ranh post office or Cam Ranh bus station. These are close to Ba Ngoi port (cảng Ba Ngòi) where you will take boat to Binh Ba island. There’s only one trip from mainland to the island at 10a.m everyday, and 2 trip back from island to mainland at 5a.m and 12a.m.
Hotels and motels on Binh Ba island
There are not so many choice, and no luxury hotels on Binh Ba island too. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Mrs. Dung’s motel, tel +84972.332.202, about $4/night, and $4/meal.
2. Mrs. Tuyen’s motel, +84914.493.793, cool and spacious motel, comparable to Mrs. Dung’s motel. Additionally, you can buy seafood (lobster, snail,…) to eat in hotel with affordable price.
3. For homestay, you can contact Mr. Tu +8494.2016.958, who offers spacious, clean and comfortable house, close to market and beaches, suitable for big group of 20 people.
Where to visit and play on Binh Ba island
You are advised to spend 2 days for the attractive sites and interesting activities on Binh Ba:
1. Nom beach (bãi Nồm) is a sandy beach with clean and blue water. Most of locals and tourists choose this place to entertain.
2. Chuong beach (bãi Chướng) has many rock and reef, more for sightseeing and seafood.
Besides Nom and Chuong beaches, if you can rent a boat to visit other distant beaches then very amazing.
3. Historic sites from wartime (over 1 century ago) such as blockhouses, cannon, tunnel through mountain,…
Several interesting activities that you can’t miss:
4. Get up early to watch sunrise, as Binh Ba is among the first place in Vietnam to welcome sunrise. Not a bad idea!
5. Fishing and squidding. You can contact boat owners to enjoy this service. Fishing is usually in the early morning while squidding is at night.
6. Diving to watch reef. If you don’t have much time, you can dive at Nha Cu beach (bãi Nhà Cũ – on the island).
7. Travelling around island. You can rent a motorbike to take a tour around island, visit historic sites from wartime, go to the peak of hill to have the entire island in your view and a part of Cam Ranh bay.
8. Catch Cong (Còng – a kind of crab) in the evening. There’re many Cong on Binh Ba beaches. When the night falls, you will hold a lamp, find and chase after them, very interesting. What’s even more interesting is when you get to fry and try them!
Tour guide service on Binh Ba island
You can contact Mr. Quy +8493.2536.997 (or +8497.2000.784) or Mr. Hau +84123.3157.654 (owner of a fish boat) for a guide and information on the island.
Specialties of Binh Ba island
Don’t miss Binh Ba’s lobster (tôm hùm), which is fresh for 30%-60% cheaper than restaurants on mainland. There’re 2 types of lobster: alive and dead. Alive lobster is from $70-$90. Dead lobster is from $20-$30, which is also still very fresh and tasty coz they only just die anyway.
Additionally, there’re many fresh seafood on the island: many kinds of fish and snail, squid, sea urchin. Indulge yourself generously!
Hanoi Old Quarter (Phố cổ Hà Nội), the oldest area of Hanoi, has been existing for hundreds of years, undergoing many vicissitudes of history. Old Quarter includes 36 streets which Hanoian proudly call “Hà Nội 36 phố phường” or 36 Streets.
I still remember the first time I wandered in the Old Quarter, I got lost and had to take a taxi out. 36 Streets, they’re too similar, like a big maze, and so difficult to distinguish if you visit just a few times. For now, I still enjoy strolling around the Old Quarter in my free times. In this article, I’m going to share with you my experiences, tips and top things to do in Hanoi Old Quarter for a day trip.
The majority of Old Quarter are in Hoan Kiem district, west and north of Hoan Kiem lake, home to 36 Streets and a huge number of people. The names of the streets in the quarter are very unique, most of them have “Hang” (Hàng – store) at the beginning, because long ago (hundreds of years ago), each street focus on selling a distinctive item, and people named the street according to the item that’s sold.
Highlights in the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter area is very large and has many sites to visit, but if you have only one day here, consider checkin out these places.
1. Dong Xuan market (chợ Đồng Xuân) is one of oldest and most famous markets in Hanoi. The market is very bustling with a lot of goods, most of them are wholesale, price is more expensive if retailing. Come here to learn more about the frantic trading scene, so typical of Hanoi.
2. O Quan Chuong (Ô Quan Chưởng) is a short street (75m, 250ft) with ancient gate remaining after war from over a century ago.
3. Dong Xuan alley(ngõ Đồng Xuân) is where you can enjoy most of street foods of Hanoi as Pho (phở), Bun cha (bún chả), Bun dau (bún đậu),… or snacks like chè, tofu (tào phớ),… These dishes are priced from $1,3, snacks are from $0.8.
4. Bach Ma temple (đền Bạch Mã – white horse temple), was built from Ly dynasty (about over 1000 years ago), is one of 4 sacred sites of the old Thang Long capital.
5. Ancient house at 87 Ma May street was built from early 20th century. The house preserves many cultural and architectural values of ancient Hanoi.
6. Lemon-tea, a super-popular drink in Hanoi that permeates Old Quarter (and Hanoi). Youngsters often gathers for lemon-tea in the evening. Go to Hoan Kiem lakeshore, Cathedral (near the lake) or Cho Gao street (phố Chợ Gạo) to enjoy the bustling atmosphere of Hanoi.
7. Ta Hien street, also the beer corner where locals and tourists love to go for a beer on the street; where the ancient and modern meet.
8. Ô mai Hồng Lam, a kind of jam, famous specialty of Hanoi made from many kinds of fruits. Among many similar shops on that very street, you are advised to shop at Hồng Lam, 11 Hang Duong street (phố Hàng Đường). Ô Mai Sấu ( relatively translate to Crocodile fruit) is highly recommended (I love it most and have been a fan of this brand for years), could be a very good choice for souvenir and gift.
9. Snails and shells on Dinh Liet street is sold from 4.30pm. The place-to-go for this kind of food!
10. Bun cha – You must not forget to try this dish. To me, Hanoi Pho is second to this one. It is addictive, especially on Hang Buom or Hang Than (at $1.5). Don’t even try expensive fancy restaurant (not even as good), stop for ones whose enticing smoky haze from the grilling is visible and touches your nose from far away. It is mesmerizing.
Hotels in (or near) Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is the heart of Hanoi’s culture, commerce and tourism, hence packed with a variety of accomodation choices, from motels to 5-star hotels. Go for Hang Be (Hàng Bè), Ma May (Mã Mây), Thuoc Bac (Thuốc Bắc), Hang Ma (Hàng Mã), Hang Bac (Hang Bạc). These streets have many hotels for good prices.
Itinerary exploring Old Quarter for 1 day
7.30am. Leave (walk, by taxi or cyclo) for Dong Xuan alley on Hang Chieu street (phố Hàng Chiếu). to have breakfast with Pho, bun cha, bun rieu, etc.
8.30am. Visit Dong Xuan market right besides, stroll around the market.
9am. Keep walking to O Quan Chuong, take photos with the only remaining ancient gate of Hanoi.
9.30am. Head for Bach Ma temple. Remember to avoid short, sexy or too exposed clothes.
10.15am. Get to the ancient house at 87 Ma May street ($0,5/entrance ticket). If it’s already 12 p.m when you’re done with the house, you can go to Hang Buom street nearby to eat Bun Cha for lunch, or visit Nola cafe, very close to the house (in a alley), to have a rest. This cafe has a very impressive decor.
11am. Visit Kim Ngan temple at 42 Hang Bac street (phố Hàng Bạc – Silver Store street), where worship the ancestor of jeweler.
12am. Have lunch at Bun dau restaurant on Phat Loc alley (ngõ Phất Lộc). Note, the Bun dau is authentically dipped in mam tom (mắm tôm – shrimp sauce), a super-smelly sauce even to locals. If you can’t eat shrimp sauce, you can totally eat with fish sauce, which I do all the time. Still tasty as much. Don’t forget to order Cha Com (chả cốm – a very tasty dish eaten Bun Dau).
You can also eat Bun Cha in other restaurants (on Phat Loc alley, near Hang Mam street).
1pm. After lunch, you can rest in Shot cafe at 60 Phat Loc. The cafe has airy space and beautiful decor.
2pm. Keep going to Hoan Kiem lake and Ngoc Son temple (đền Ngọc Sơn).
3pm. If you want to watch Water Puppet, you can buy ticket at Thang Long water puppet nearby Ngoc Son temple.
4pm. Wander to buy souvenirs, eat snail in Dinh Liet street or drink beer in Ta Hien.
7pm. Eat Cha Ca (widely translated to Fish cake) at Thang Long fish cake – 21 Duong Thanh street (phố Đường Thành).
8pm. Stroll on streets. Hanoi at night is even more beautiful when social life starts moving and importantly the cool breeze evokes a lovely delight. If you travel on weekend, you can visit Night Market (Chợ Đêm) on Hang Ngang (Hàng Ngang) and Hang Dao street (phố Hàng Đào), or drink a cup of coffee or lemon-tea on the lakeshore, Cathedral or Cho Gao street (phố Chợ Gạo).
Tip: If get lost in Old Quarter (which I am almost so certain you will), use Google Map or get a taxi. Of course you can ask locals but it will end up really hard to follow for you don’t clearly understand the language.
Cần Giờ is a coastal district of Ho Chi Minh city, 50 km (32 miles) form the city center. Can Gio tourism is famous for its intact mangroves and pristine beaches without many rather-touristy services. Also, the seafood here is cheaper than in Vung Tau (a more popular beach near Ho Chi Minh city). Though the sea is not crystal blue due to the water outflux from mangrove but not too bad to jump in. Ideal for a one-day getaway weekend!
Tam Dao (Tam Đảo), a small mountainous town of Vinh Phu province, is favored by many young locals. At 1000m (3000ft) high, Tam Dao has a cool weather throughout the year like Da Lat and Sapa. In addition, the 70km (44miles) from Hanoi has made it an attractive place for Hanoi people on weekends and holidays.
Nam Du is a small archipelago (near Phu Quoc island) of Kien Giang (a province in Mekong Delta). The largest island is Hon Lon (Large Islet), locally called Cu Tron islet. Nam Du tourism is at its early stage so everything is still pristine and natural. Following are some my informations and experiences for travelling to Nam Du island.