Category : Travel Tips - By Brian Vu - At 9:09:00 PM/Friday, August 4, 2017 - No comment - Location: Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)
The peaceful life in Inle Lake
The image of boats sailing in the early morning, fishermen rowing boats and birds hunting for food… have featured Inle Lake, one of the two-largest freshwater lakes grasping peaceful and romantic beauty in Myanmar.
If you visit Myanmar without drop by Inle Lake (or inlay), it must be a big regret. The name of “Inle” means a large lake – one of two largest freshwater lakes. The lake belongs to Shan State, about 600 kilometers from Bagan and spreads an area of about 220 km2, the deepest about 6 meters.
From Bagan, you might take a bus to get Inle Lake. In order to fully explore the beauty of the lake, you should get there from 8 p.m to 4.30h of the next day. The bus fare is 11,000 kyat per person and visiting fare is 12,500 kyat per person. This visiting expense does not offer the train. Therefore, you must hire a boat which can carry 4 guests at the price of 12,000 kyats per day.
The ideal time to visit the lake is at 5.30 a.m. You definitely enjoy the cold air and foggy frosty weather of the morning at 15oC.
The sun begins to rise at 6 p.m. The very first sunlights of the morning that shine into the mist create a sparkling and alluring scene. This definitely makes you love at the first sight.
In addition to the immense beauty, Lake Inle impresses its visitors by the “weird” fishing method- rowing with one foot of fishermen.
The fishermen clamped their other leg in a cage. This cage will be raised high and lowered into the water.The thin nets around the cage prevent fishes from escaping. Some of them thrash the oars into the water to chase fishes into cages.
This traditional fishing method is considered to be environmentally friendly and safe for the ecological system of the lake.
The hovering seagulls on surface of the sea…
The fishermen start their catching journey when the frosts evaporate from the surface of the lake. Morning light probably makes it alluring as a charming water painting.
The sun climbs higher in the sky at 8 a.m. The gentle lake reflects the shadow of traditional stilt houses.
Inle Lake is home to Inthar people, a minority ethnic group in Myanmar. In Myanmar, Inthar means "lake-dweller".
You might see baby boys and girls selling Thanaka, a long-lasting traditional powder of this country. Thanaka Powder is said to be cool to the skin, tighten pores and prevent X-rays of sunlight.
Thakana powder is shaped in cubes. To put it on your face, you have to rub it on the “kyauk pyin” (a special dish made of stone), mix the powder with the water, then apply a thin layer on your face. All Burmese people use Thakana and consider it a great pride.
Category : Travel Tips - By Brian Vu - At 8:50:00 PM/ - No comment - Location: Phú Quốc, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
As being raised and educated in the midland, I have long been familiar with the sea. However, I still dream of a “must – be – memorable” trip to Phu Quoc, the “pearl” island of Vietnam.
On the first day, I was available at Tan Son Nhat Airport at 12:30 p.m to do the procedures for the flight to Phu Quoc at 2: 30 p.m. I stepped foot in that amazing land at 3 p.m. There was one thing interesting that the pearl island “welcomed” me by the drizzle. Therefore, I immediately thought of the situation that a young lady greeted her lover by an unknown emotion.
In the evening, I made an appointment with a group of friends on a business trip there. At 7 p.m while it was still raining outside, we met at the locally famous 343 restaurant that offered a variety of tasteful dishes at reasonable prices. I dropped night market where fresh seafood restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs gathered as Bui Vien Street in Saigon. In addition, the market sells unique souvenirs and local specialties, so you might buy as gifts for friends or family.
On the second day: We woke up in the early morning to greet the very first rays of sunshine penetrating into our room. Then, we made a visit to Sao Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The beach was 25 kilometers from our hotel, so we got there by motorbike. Setting foot on the beach, we were immediately overwhelmed by the pristine blue sea water, smooth sandy beaches, and fresh air. Therefore, we couldn’t help staring at the sea. Imagining that you lie leisurely on the beach on a sunny day and listen to the melodious songs of the wave kissing the shore, you definitely find your life wonderful. Thus, the beach could be an ideal place for those who want to “escape” from the hustle and bustle of the urban life.
We got back to the hotel to begin our journey to famous tourist attractions on the island. We had lunch at Le Giang restaurant and grasped our time to relax after that. Interestingly, it was still raining as if a “’ falling - in – love” young lady was crying. Thus, I fully enjoyed the change of season on that amazing island.
Our first destination in the afternoon was Dinh Cau temple, the symbol and hottest tourist spot of the island. It is an odd-shaped natural formation in Phu Quoc Island, in which the fishermen pray to before heading out to the open sea. Located just next to Duong Dong Fishing Habor, it features a brightly-coloured lighthouse and Buddhist shrine, making it a popular spot for photography among travelers.
Dinh Cau Temple was constructed in 1937 to commemorate Thien Hau (the goddess of the sea), whom the locals believe in providing protection for fishermen heading out to the open sea. There are 29 winding steps to reach this temple’s rooftop terrace, where you can hold panoramic sunset views of Dinh Cau Beach, traditional fishing boats, Duong Dong Town, and neighboring islets.
We also dropped by Son Sim Wine shop (at Group 1, Cua Lap Hamlet, Duong To Commune) to learn the process of processing the special wine made from a local fruit named « sim », a specialty of Phu Quoc. Moreover, you definitely enjoy this flavor wine for free. How amazing!
In the late afternoon, we made a visit to the famous Van Ninh fishing village to explore local daily life. Sauntering around the village, we saw an 80 – year – old grandmother immersing herself in water to sell what she did catch, so we did support her. Additionally, we enjoy fresh seafood right on the raft boat of a fisherman.
The next morning, woke up in the early morning to have breakfast in Duong Dong Market and buy some specialties as gifts for friends and families.
Before leaving the amazing island, we visited the bee farm to explore the process of breeding bees and processing honey. Bees are bred in small boxes placed in the durian and rambutan garden. Bear in mind, you should wear a special hat to avoid being bitten by queen bees, drones, and worker bees. Moreover, you definitely observe the whole process of making honey if you buy it and enjoy tasteful products made of honey.
Thus, we came back Ho Chi Minh city while still thinking of the marvelous island.
Category : Vietnam Destinations - By Brian Vu - At 8:32:00 PM/ - No comment - Location: Tà Xùa, Bắc Yên, Sơn La, Vietnam
If you do not have enough time to travel to the Northwest of the country to explore the “breath – taking” cloud paradises of Ta Xua and Y Ty, you could definitely make a visit to the charming Dong Cao wild prairie that is only 150 kilometers from Hanoi.
Located in Thach Son commune, Son Dong district, Bac Giang, the 600 meters – high Dong Cao Steppe has fascinated visitors by the flat terrain, vast lush green lawn, and cool and fresh air all year round. Therefore, it is undoubtedly an ideal destination for camping for families and young travelers. Giving it a try, you surely grasp “unforgettable” moments and “nice” pictures to “show off” with your friends.
Passing such a winding road of the gentle terraced rice fields and the scattered Dao village, we “embraced” two memorable days in Dong Cao. Tent, fire, all necessary gadget were all available so that we could fully enjoy 2 – day vacation in this amazing land. There is one thing interesting that the local residents offer firewood, place of setting up the tent, even burn the fire for you, so every thing is ready for a warmly BBQ party, dance, and sing. How amazing!
When it was getting dark and the fire was burned, we faced an amazing scene that seemed to “melten” our little heart. We saw the sparkling “full – of – star” sky that we could not see in the city. To fully enjoy that “extraordinary” scenery and moment, we just lay leisurely on the grass and reach the hand to the sky. Surely, you also can’t help being “mesmerized”’ by that scene.
If you get there, you should wake up early to greet the charming dawn and “hunt” the cloud that seems to be touched by your hand. You must be “overwhelmed” by the cloud paradise facing you. The images of the thick white clouds “blanket” the whole valley and the golden sun “bathed” the sky are surely “ one – of – all – kind” scenery that you have a chance to witness in your life. I called my friend to climb up to the mountain to watch the exhilarating sunrise and captured that moment with the camera on our hands.
The higher it gets, the more extraordinary and immense the cloud paradise is. Only a moment later, we had a chance to see the first rays of sunshine sparkling in the thick clouds, red and yellow color mixed to create the most charming dawn that I have ever seen. Then the sky is blue and the sunshine bathes in the whole prairie.
Standing on the steppe, you definitely see little boy raising buffalos. Thus, you will see how peaceful and tranquil the life is. As a result, Dong Cao is really an ideal place to "escape" away from the urban life for those who do not have much time at the weekend.
The best time that you should make a visit to Dong Cao is the summer (from June to August) to avoid rain and the autumn (from September to November). Bear in mind, you should prepare all necessary things for camping and clear the garbage before leaving.
Halong Bay, Quang Ninh
Distinguishingly featuring 1,600 limestone mountains, Ha Long Bay is definitely one of the most unique landscapes in the world. The majestic mountains and lush vegetation on each island have significantly contributed to creating the “one – of – all – kind” beauty for the bay. Moreover, you have a chance to enjoy the fresh air when setting foot in “uninhabited” islands. This opportunity is not for everyone, especially those who have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the urban life. Bear in mind, you can stay on cruises or boats right on the bay to admire its both day and night life. Give Ha Long Bay a try, you surely have unforgettable experiences without burning much money to travel abroad.
The Ancient Imperial City - Hue Citadel, Thua Thien Hue
The Citadel Complex of Hue, set up under Nguyen Dynasty, is now a relic of Hue ancient Capital and recognized as the World Cultural Heritage. This historical place is featured by the “wonderful” combination of both Western and Eastern architecture, the harmony of modern and classical design. Visiting Hue Citadel, visitors probably access to an essential historic site that they often learn through the historical documents. During the daytime, the Citedal looks solemn and ancient due to the presence of vestiges of time. At night, however, it turns into a new appearance, shimmering and sparkling. These defining characteristics definitely fascinate its visitors.
Historically, the last Vietnamese kings moved the capital to Hue in the 19th century with the aim of achieving the unification of the country. However, the endeavor “went up in smoke” by the intervention of the French colonialists. Moreover, the Citadel had been significantly destroyed in the battle in 1968 but the work was embellished again. Today visitors have a chance to explore the appearance of the citadel from 1802 when it served as the capital of Vietnam.
Tu Duc Tomb, Thua Thien Hue
Built in a narrow valley, Tu Duc Tomb fascinates tourists by huge investment for a burial place of King Tu Duc. The building was designed and constructed under his reign, featured the sophisticated architecture and charming landscape. Thus, it is one of the most beautiful royal tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Thien Mu Pagoda, Thua Thien Hue
Characterized by the stunning 7 - storey tower that can be seen from a distance, Thien Mu Pagoda is a popular place of worship of both locals and tourists. Moreover, visitors to the temple are definitely fascinated by the bonsai garden that is meticulously kept. Standing at the pagoda, visitors can hold panoramic views of the charming peaceful Huong River especially in the late afternoon and in the evening.
Hoi An ancient town, Quang Nam
Hoi An ancient town was once served as a bustling commercial port, attracting merchants from different regions in Asia. Featuring the “perfect” combination of the inner charm and historical and architectural values, the amazing ancient town has been definitely one of the most famous tourist attractions in the central region of Vietnam. The peaceful and tranquil landscape has magic to “allure” both tourists within and outside the country, so you surely have unforgettable experiences when traveling here. Moreover, if you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the urban life, you should definitely make a visit to this charming land. Then, you might engage in cooking class to explore the local cuisine or drop by garment shops to have a beautiful “Ao Dai”. Sound amazing!
An Bang beach, Quang Nam
Visiting the “unspoiled” An Bang beach, tourists “do not” have a chance to see familiar high buildings featuring in big cities, boats or people traveling by motorbikes. Instead, you definitely indulge yourself into the pure blue sea water stretching endlessly, relax on the sea benches to pick up fresh sea air and saunter along the smooth sandy beach to “exclude” all concerns and worries of life. How amazing!
Sai Gon Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City
The charming Sai Gon Notre Dame Cathedral has long been known as a long-standing monument of the city and a heritage of Vietnamese Catholic architecture at the same time. In addition to the tranquility of ancient French architecture, the church is surrounded by bustling streets and attracts a significant number of visitors each day. Thus, you should make a visit to this amazing tourist attraction to explore the ancient work that is embedded with the history and religion of the country.
Category : Travel Tips - By Brian Vu - At 7:45:00 PM/ - No comment - Location: Phú Quốc, Phu Quoc, Kien Giang, Vietnam
Only for 3 days, you will have an unforgettable trip on a tropical island surrounded by turquoise sea. Phu Quoc is not only remarkable for its scenery but also the fantastic accommodation and various activities such as snorkeling, fishing, and so on.
Known as the "Pearl Island" of Vietnam, Phu Quoc has been blessed with the very best features of a tropical island. From an unknown and wild destination, tourists today are free to explore the natural beauty of the island while staying in one of the most luxurious resorts. But with a few days, Phu Quoc will surely take you from one surprise to another. Either visiting tranquil rivers and lakes or shopping in busy night markets is great for any traveler.
Everything you expected from a tropical is presented here: the amazing beaches with crystal-clear water, vast white sand, and fresh seafood. However, Phu Quoc has more to offer as there is a number of homestay with spectacular view to the sea. Special beachfront cafes designed in a unique way are also fun places to relax and take pictures.
If you still wonder about traveling in this wonderland, here are some of our pieces of advice for your upcoming trip:
- Traveling on the Island:
+ By Tran Hung Dao Street: there are plenty of resorts and hotels on this path
+ 30/4 Street: the Food Street
+ Hung Vuong Street: choose this way if you want to venture to other famous sites
+ The motorbike is a popular form of transportation on the island which you can rent for about 8$/day
- Accommodation: depends on where you stay (Homestay is cheaper than a resort), the price can be varied from 10$ to 25$/per day for each person. However, expect higher price in high season.
- Duong Dong town is the center of Phu Quoc island, where tourists can enjoy an excellent view of the dawn. Afterward, it is possible to visit Ham Ninh fishing village or snorkeling near small islands in the South of Phu Quoc.
- If you travel from June to October, Tranh River is one of the must-see places on the island. Only 9 km from Duong Dong Town, Suoi Trang will immediately enchant visitors with clear water flowing about 9 miles through the mountains and forests.
Camping is also one of the popular activities on Phu Quoc island for adventurous souls. As a result, you are recommended to pack a meal and hike until you reach the upstream where people consider a perfect location to contemplate the river. If you desire, it is also possible to soak your feet in the water or even swim to feel the fresh and cool water.
After that, head Northeast of Phu Quoc to arrive in Ganh Dau, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Unlike other locations which brimmed with resorts, hotels, Ganh Dau is wild, peaceful added with the waves softly douses onto the sand and great mountains from afar.
On the other hand, Ganh Dau town will be a great destination to visit local market as there will be a variety of seafood around. Additionally, it is said that the forests and mountains of Cambodia can be seen from Ganh Dau Cape.
Another one you should visit is Bai Dai, which is in the Top Ten most beautiful and wildest Beach in the world. Even though the waves are not very strong, Bai Dai is famous for its turquoise water and magnificent surrounding.
Dinh Dau Cape lies beside Duong Dong River and has historical sites featuring unique ancient architecture. After contemplating this special location, you should stay for a little while to witness the sun kisses the horizon.
At night, Phu Quoc is even more bustling with night markets offering more than 100 local products, mainly seafood such as sea snail, cuttlefish and so on. For a small cost, you will be able to taste the finest dishes that are exclusive to the island.
Yet, Phu Quoc has much more to discover than just natural beauty and delectable foods. Venture to an old fishing village like Ham Ninh to see up-close the life of local people. With the extreme friendly attitude, local people will gladly show their daily activities. Finally, sit down and taste delicious Ham Ninh Crabs newly caught from the sea.
Visiting Phu Quoc without swimming in Bai Sao Beach is one of the biggest regrets for travelers here. With the soft sand and turquoise water, Bai Sao is certainly a gem for beach-lovers.
On your way to Bai Sao, there are a wide variety of locations to visit and especially black pepper plantation. Take time and capture the beauty of the countryside in Vietnam. Then, explore fish sauce factories nearby to find out how Phu Quoc become a popular brand in the country. You will witness the process from the beginning till the end and buy one of the final products if you love the taste of this wonderful product.
Ong Doi Cape, which recently discovered by travelers, is a new and unique destination on the Pearl Island. Blessed with a special geographical location, Ong Doi Cape is the only location where you can watch the sunrise and sunset at the same spot. On the other hand, the magnificent landscape is also a bonus for young tourists.
Besides hiking and swimming, snorkeling is enjoyed by a huge number of visitors. Your trip will be much more interesting when you dive and seek the coral reefs around An Thoi Island. Afterward, it will be a miss-opportunity to not set foot on Mong Tay Island, which is untouched for thousand years. The wild forests next to the beach along with multiple large boulders randomly places might offer photographic chances for tourists. Other exciting activities include snorkeling, swimming to discover the rich ecosystem on the island.
At the end of your trip, you can relax at one of the bars, especially the Rory's Beach Bar on Trang Hung Dao Street. As a beachfront bar, this has become a familiar meeting spot for foreign tourists on Phu Quoc Island. You will be amazed at the rich menu, and the friendly host and staffs. Listening to the music till midnight or even walking around the seashore is a great way to close your terrific trip.
If you have never brought your friends on a journey, then it certainly a big mistake while you are young. It is said that the memories you made with your best friends will always be a story to be told in the future. Here are the top reasons why you should plan your upcoming trip with your best friends. It is time to make a little adventure once in a lifetime!.
1. They are the most patience person in the world (with you at least)
Truth to be told, only your best friends understand your personal tastes the most, especially when it comes to selfie and the likes. Imagining the time when you travel alone or with a family and you have to ask a stranger to hold a camera for you. Perhaps you will satisfy with none, out of 1000 photos taken, if you have the courage to ask them by the way. Having a friend beside you is a great way to ensure that you will always have a perfect picture on your Instagram during a trip.
2. Now you have a team for thrilling activities
When you and your family come across a Bungee Jumping, you would not ask your father or mother to play with you since they would not agree anyway. Instead of playing alone or passing the game and say nothing, bring a friend along and convince him(her) to join you or the other way around. Either way, you will have a fun time together.
3. Stop or rest whenever you want
One of the most disadvantage of group traveling is that each person will have a different health and stamina. What if you are not really “fit” and you group is consist of adventurers? It is only possible to accept the reality and keep continue on traveling. However, with your best friends right next to you, you can stop midway, and chat or take photos. Even when you are shopping together and feel sleepy, take them back to the hotel and have a nap.
4. Easier to plan out your trip
Since you are technically a team, sharing tasks would be much easier than usual. For instance, you may find a place to stay and your friend may look up for a list of must-see locations.
5. Strengthen your friendship
It is hard to believe your friendship will not be stronger after planning a trip, spend time exploring and discovering and make little adventure together. And as mentioned, a trip with your friends can be a mark in your history, a story for younger generations.
6. Same personal interests
If you desire an thrilling experience, it will be hard to travel with people who just want to laze on the beach all the time. As most people becoming friends because of their hobby or interests, you will, no doubt, have a companion to explore every corners of the city.
7. Have a better understanding
Not all journeys are without problems, some of which will make you scratch your head. However, your best friend will be there to help you in difficult situations since people always say “two heads is better than one”. For instance, if you have a limit budget, both of you may want to share the cost or if you are a vegetarian and your friends decide to find some suitable restaurants to dine.
8. Be a “little bit” crazy in public
We ussually tend to be shy in front of strangers or our family, yet with our friends, things can become a bit “weird”. Beginning with a yoga pose or creating a fun picture next to a statue is completly normal for your friend and sometimes, they will join you too.
9. Less luggage to bring along
Sometimes, you can share with your friends a bottle of suncream, camera, laptop or maybe a hair dryer. As a result, the luggage will be lighter, saving space for a wave of upcoming shopping on your trip.
10. Remain secure beside trusting friends
Your best friends will consider you like their family and protect you when they need to. Being sick on the way, forget your wallet somewhere or drop your phone while walking are typical situations you may meet and they will help you greatly. Additionally, your family will not be too concerned while you travel alongside a friend.
Category : Travel Tips - By Brian Vu - At 7:05:00 PM/ - No comment - Location: Da Nang, Hải Châu, Da Nang, Vietnam
Lying in the corner of Hoang Dieu street (Danang), the chief is making a dozen of hot pans, but still not enough to serve a great number of guests waiting for their cakes.
For such a long time, banh xeo Ba Duong (Mrs. Duong’s sizzling cakes) have always left a mark on the memory of local people. Even though the price has already reached nearly 3$ per dish, people constantly pour in her stall every day. 30 years have passed, yet somehow Mrs.Duong and her family can keep the original flavor exclusive to the region.
Mrs. Truong Thi Lai, the 77-year-old current owner of the food store, said that the ingredients must be carefully chosen and prepared in order for the cakes to be crispy. We have to use Xiec Rice in Quang Nam added with turmeric powder (for the color) and soak in water for 4 hours so that the rice can be soft.
To make a good sizzling cake, you will need a quite big fire when pouring the mixture of rice flour, water, and other ingredients into a hot pan. Next, we put bean sprouts, beef, shrimp on the cake until the cake is done and folded in half. The special feature in a sizzling cake in this place is that there is an egg putting in the cake to make it richer and better-tasting.
There will be a raw vegetable, julienne papaya, and a hot plate of sizzling cake awaiting you in Banh Xeo Ba Duong.
However, the most special feature in this place is the one-of-a-kind sauce creating based on a secret recipe of Mrs. Duong.
The staffs in the food store are mainly relatives, and although there are about 30 staffs, it is still difficult to serve all guests at night. Moreover, the store is opened from 9:00 am till 22:00 pm, but when too crowded, the store will run out of ingredients. Most of the time, visitors should come before 5 pm to avoid waiting.
Besides sizzling cakes, the place also offers “rice noodle with grilled meat” and a plate of grilled beef, which cost about 2$ and 4$ respectively. Other special dish is lemongrass skewer (Nem Lui), consisting of minced pork, put on a bamboo skewer and grilled. For just 5000 VND, you can try out this delicious food in the cool night of Da Nang.
Useful Links: Southeast Asia Tours from South Africa | Vietnam Adventure from South Africa | Vietnam Day Tours
Category : Travel Tips - By Brian Vu - At 6:44:00 PM/ - No comment - Location: Ninh Vân, Ninh Hòa, Ninh Vân, Vietnam
Located in a unity of Earth and the Sea in Ninh Van Bay, An Lam Retreat serves as a wonderful resort for tourists from all over the world. Not only the place has a natural beauty but also has the utmost privacy for travelers.
Often be ignored by a lot of tourists, An Lam Retreat, also called Ka Lam Retreat Ninh Van Bay, has wondrous views which can rival that of "neighboring resorts". When we mention about An Lam Retreat's unique features, visitors usually comment on the peaceful atmosphere adding with dreamy scenery in Ninh Van Bay.
However, the floating restaurant is one particular place that immediately captures the curious mind of tourists in An Lam retreat. Built with unique design like a lotus and materials taken directly from the wild, visitors will have a chance to immerse in the stunning nature in the bay.
The food is carefully prepared by an experienced chef from the very first step of choosing fresh ingredients from the sea. Combining the finest of cuisine from the West and Vietnamese traditional dishes, it is always a great pleasure to dine in this special restaurant.
Otherwise, An Lam Retreat presents a huge opportunity to explore the wilderness of Vietnam consisting of a natural waterfall, turquoise beach, and vast golden sand. Accommodation includes 34 luxurious villas, situated among nature and equipped with handmade products in the country such as Bat Trang Pottery.
Your options range from Bay View Villa, Beach Pool Villa to the Beachfront Pool Villa, which lies near the beach and has an exclusive swimming pool. Especially, there is the Jungle Rock Villa created to bring the most relaxing moment in the forest of Hon Neo Peninsula.