Category Archives: Travel News

Mountainous village attracts visitors to northern province

 

Pom Coọng Village in Mai Chau District is a must-see for travelers to the northern province of Hoa Binh.
A village populated by the Thai ethnic minority, Pom Coọng in Mai Chau District is a must-see for travelers to the northern province of Hoa Binh.There are 70 stilt houses in the village.

Many people here stick to their traditional vocation of making brocade while others help entertain tourists by performing traditional music or serving local specialties made from pork and chicken.

Visitors to Pom Coọng can stay in the stilt houses and rent motorbikes to explore the region.

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Vietnam renews visa waiver program for Europeans

The Vietnamese government has extended a visa exemption program for Germany, France, the UK,

Foreign tourists are watching candy coconut making in Mekong Delta

Foreign tourists are watching candy coconut making in Mekong Delta

Italy and Spain for another year, local media reported Friday.

It will enable citizens from the five countries to continue to travel to Vietnam for tourism or business without obtaining a visa for stays of up to 15 days, news website Vietnam Plus said, citing a decree dated June 30.
Vietnam introduced the visa waiver program to people from those countries on June 30 last year. It expired on Thursday.
The new decree extends the policy until June 30, 2017.
More than 4.7 million foreigners visited Vietnam in the first six months of this year, a 21.3 percent year-on-year increase, according to the General Statistics Office.
Tourism revenues rose 22 percent year-on-year to more than VND200 trillion (US$9 billion). Officials are confident that the country can achieve the targets of 8.5 million foreign visitors this year and $370 trillion in revenues.

Overnight cruising in Ha Long Bay to be banned ‘soon’

Sunset in Halong Bay

Sunset in Halong Bay

Passenger ships will soon be banned from staying overnight in Ha Long and Bai Tu Long bays, authorities in the northern province of Quang Ninh said.

In the near future, only daytime travel will be allowed in the sea.
The move is part of a local program that also intends to replace wooden boats with metal boats over the next five years.
The authorities expected that the program will help enhance tourism service quality and safety.
Currently, 553 tourist ships operate across the two bays, 202 of which dock overnight.
In 2015, Ha Long and Bai Tu Long bays welcomed about 2.5 million tourists. The fleet can serve a maximum of 10 million passengers, meaning there are too many ships.
Quang Ninh recently issued a temporary regulation that allows wooden ships to operate in the bays for a maximum of 15 years, as opposed to the regulated 25 years.

Sampling Hà Nội’s phở, one bowl at a time

Pho Rice Noodle soup with www.tourguidehanoi.com

Steaming bowls: CNN has named Hà Nội’s phở as one of the top ten most delicious dishes in the world.

Sweet, savoury and steaming hot are just some of the features of Ha Noi’s most esteemed
bowls of pho. Hà Nguyễn learns that the broth is what makes or breaks a dish.

My friend Dương Quang Phong from Los Angeles arrived in Hà Nội for a trans-Việt Nam tour. He asked me to join him for phở, the most famous food inside and outside of the country.

We decided to start our breakfast at 49 Bát Đàn, a bustling street in Hà Nội’s Old Quarter.

As soon as we entered the street, we smelled the aromatic fragrance of phở from the shop, rousing our appetites. Although many years had passed by, the shop maintained its same shape, doors, old tables and tools – particularly a long queue of diners patiently waiting for their turn, said Phong.

We joined the queue and heard curt words from the shop owner, Trịnh Văn Hiếu, loudly asking guests about their orders and whether they wanted more or less rice noodles, or thick or light broth.

There was the familiar sound of a knife regularly chopping meat against a cutting board. Steam from big bowls of phởspiraled upward.

When our turns came, I ordered phở tái bắp lăn (stir-fried beef muscle), while Phong ordered tái lăn (half done stir-fried beef).

The shop owner skillfully cut the beef and put it into a bowl with sliced fresh onions before scooping broth on top.

The shop is so crowded that we had to struggle to find a seat before joining the queue. After receiving our dishes, we returned to our seats in a corner of the shop.

Phong said the quality of the broth has remained the same for 20 years, when he returned to Hà Nội the first time.

Whether phở is tasty or not depends on the broth and rice noodle, and here, the combination was just right.

Hiếu said he made the broth by simmering beef bone and organic spices such as ginger, cinnamon and sá sùng (sand worms) from the northwestern province of Yên Bái and the port city of Hải Phòng.

“My rice noodle is made from the VN10 species of rice grown in the northern provinces of Thái Bình and Nam Định,” Hiếu said. “The rice yields more powder, which makes our rice noodles whiter, softer and thinner, and helps it remain firm when it is dipped into hot water, compared with others.”

We enjoyed the phở very much, although each bowl was rather expensive at VNĐ 50,000-70,000.

Despite this, locals and foreigners continued patiently queuing for their turn to enjoy an aromatic and tasty phở.

Phong told me that he would like to enjoy more phở at other famous shops such as Phở Thìn at 13 Lò Đúc Street and Phở at 10 Lý Quốc Sư Street.

The next day we arrived at Phở Thìn early in the morning.

We asked for two bowls of tái lăn for VNĐ50,000 each. We did not have to wait long because there were not so many diners compared with Bát Đàn.

A server brought us two big bowls of phở, which was also full of rice noodles and stir-fried beef that was very fragrant. Although the servers were not so friendly, the service was quick and the quality of the food made us pleased.

The dish is fragrant and tasty because of the broth, which is greasy and quite sweet, while the tái lăn is soft and sweet, too, mixed with ginger and garlic.

This helps shop owner Nguyễn Trọng Thìn keep his trademark, which spread far and wide so that customers would never forget it.

Thìn set up his shop nearly 40 years ago.

From the onset, he tried phở at many other famous shops in the city and thought of special spices to create a unique recipe of his own.

After a year, he decided to serve phở tái lăn, in which the beef is quickly stir-fried over a big fire in a large pan with fat in it. After that, the thin beef pieces are put into the pan and stirred quickly. Ginger and garlic are added to the pan before it is scooped into the bowl.

In 2009, after 30 years of business, Thìn was invited to Seoul to teach phở cooking techniques to a number of Koreans and Vietnamese working and living in South Korea who wished to open a phở shop there.

“In Seoul, I made rice noodles, and chose beef and spices to cook more than 100 bowls of phở,” Thìn said. “The food was so well loved that all the bowls were left empty.”

A Korean general director of a large company told him he had never eaten such delicious food. He asked Thìn to sell his secret for making phở. Thìn agreed.

After three months of training, several phở restaurants opened in Seoul, including Tặng Restaurant, a popular place for Vietnamese and foreigners alike to come and enjoy phở Thìn”.

The next day, we tasted phở at 10 Lý Quốc Sư Street. When we reached the shop, a crowd of locals and foreigners had already gathered.

With prices between VNĐ40,000 and 50,000 per bowl, Phong said he could eat two bowls because the rice noodles seemed to be in smaller quantity compared with the other two shops, but the beef and broth were both excellent.

CNN has named Hà Nội’s phở as one of the top ten most delicious dishes in the world. — VNS

Colourful: The broth at Phở Thìn is greasy and sweet, while the tái lăn is tender, mixed with ginger and garlic. VNS Photos Đoàn Tùng
Get in line: The phở at 10 Lý Quốc Sư Street always draws a crowd.

 

9 dos and don’ts of Tet: This cheat sheet will help you survive Vietnam’s Lunar New Year

Many Vietnamese believe that the first few days will set the tone for the whole year.
So they try to do everything that can bring them good luck and avoid all bad omens.
This cheat sheet will help you navigate through the country’s complicated set of customs often practiced during the Tet Lunar New Year holiday.

Dos:
1. Give good luck wishes
Sức khỏe dồi dào” (Extremely good health) and “Tiền vô như nước” (Money coming in like water) are two of the most popular wishes shared among relatives and friends during the holiday.
Practice the wishes and say them to everyone you meet with a big smile, in order to bring them good luck.
To elders, there’s another wish, “Sống lâu trăm tuổi” (Live long until 100 years old). Just make sure that the wish recipient is not 99 years old already.
If those are too hard, at least say the most basic greeting: “Chúc mừng năm mới” (Happy new year).
2. Give lucky money
During Tet, children are given some lucky money. Therefore, prepare some red envelopes, of course with money inside, when you are invited to visit a Vietnamese family.
More on this custom, please check out this particular guide to avoid any embarrassing moments.
Tip:  US$2 dollar bills are trendy in recent years, because of the scarcity of the note.

Giving kids lucky money is a long-lasting custom during Tet.

3. Buy salt
Buying a small bag of salt is highly recommended in the New Year’s Day, based on the belief that you will have a “tasty” energetic year. Otherwise, you may face an insipid, boring year.
Tip: Don’t buy too much because you may want to avoid a year that is “too salty”. So a small bag as a symbol will be enough. And, never bargain with salt sellers during the festival.

Small bags of lucky salt for Tet.

4. Display lucky fruits
Certain fruits including custard apple, coconut, papaya and mango are recommended for Tet.
Their names, when put together, sound very similar to a prayer for a fruitful year: “Cầu vừa đủ xài” (Wish for just enough to spend).
Because only the most reasonable prayers, which ask for “just enough”, are answered by the gods.

A tray of lucky fruits will include at least a custard apple, a coconut, a papaya, and a mango.

 
Don’ts:
1. Don’t sweep houses
Sweeping your house is a taboo on the first three days of the new year because all your money and success will be swept out too.
So don’t touch the broom during those days.
Tips: If you really need to clean up, just sweep your house from the front door into the kitchen, to bring money back inside.
Otherwise, just use a vacuum cleaner. Modern life saves the day.

Don’t sweep your house during the first days of Tet.

2. Don’t use profanity
Refrain from swearing and using unlucky words.
Bad words will haunt you for the whole year. Among the words in the blacklist are “die” and “sad”.
Basically it’s just common sense.
3. Don’t invite yourself
Xông nhà”, or being the first guest visiting a family, is an important custom during Tet.
Vietnamese believe that if a successful, charming guest enters their house, he or she will bring them good luck.
Tip: Only going to public places is a safe choice. Nobody wants to be blamed for bringing bad luck.
4. Don’t break glassware
Unless you want to have a “broken” year, be careful with your dining ware.
Tip: You may serve children with plastic plates and cups, to make sure everything is intact.

Be careful with your dining ware

5. Don’t wear black and/or white
Since black and white clothes are often worn at funerals in Vietnam, people are supposed to avoid wearing these two colors on the first days of the year.
Tip: If you really want to wear that white shirt you really like, just add some colorful accessories, such as a pair of red shoes or a yellow hand bag.

These are stylish, but just leave them at home during Tet.

Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave is magnificent in this ‘Good Morning America’ video

The film crew on a stalagmite in Son Doong Cave. Photo from Ginger Zee’s Facebook page

A six-minute video posted on YouTube has showed the journey of Good Morning America’s film crew inside “an extraordinary cave” deep inside a jungle of the central province of Quang Binh.
The scenes were shot from the Son Doong (Mountain River) Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and were broadcast to American viewers on Wednesday in the popular morning program on ABC.
The crew used seven Phantom 3 drone cameras to get aerial shots of the magnificent cave.
Ginger Zee, the host of the live broadcast, said the journey to Son Doong was the grittiest, most difficult and dangerous assignment she had ever been on.
The cave, which contains at least 150 individual grottos, a dense subterranean jungle, and several underground rivers became known as the world’s largest cave in 2009.

17 Reasons Why a Job Can Wait But Travel Can’t

gap-year

1. Because you are thinking about it.

2. Because you should take advantage of not knowing what to do next.

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3. Because you should let the world take you by the collar and shove you into the unfamiliar. Your parents have been doing it all your life. You’ll get used to it.

4. Because you can be an engineer, doctor, academician, consultant, 365 days later too.

GapYearExperience

5. Because you’ll see life in its truest, barest form. And, it’ll educate you. Not the way books do. In a more subliminal manner.

6. Because you might ‘find yourself’ while waiting at a bus stop for a day and getting nothing. Or, you might not. But you’ll learn something else. Something essential. Patience.

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7. Because you might end up actually knowing what you might want to do with your life.

8. Because you have stayed in the same place, slept in the same bed, woken up to the same people for far too long. Change that. Move.

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9. Because you’ll get pissed drunk and disillusioned and wake up in an empty swimming pool after the Full Moon Party. But, that’s okay.

10. Because you’ll see love for more than what you thought it was. You’ll see love in its most giving, caring form.

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11. Because you’ll grow as a person and an entity. You’ll start comprehending the world, and your importance in it.

12. Because you’ll come back with stories.

Anchorage Fur Rendezvous

13. Because your heart actually wants you to. Take the plunge. You’ll survive it. And, when you resurface, things would’ve changed. For the better.

14. Because white collars and corner offices can wait.

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15. Because you can survive another year without much money. You survived high school.

16. Because there will never be a better time. You are young. You are eager. And life’s diktat hasn’t been able to bog you down. Yet.

And,

17. Because you stayed with this list till the very end. Go. Travel. Experience. Learn.

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