Phu Quoc Island – SHOULDN’T MISS TOP 5 THINGS MUST DO

Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam, near the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. The Island attractions aren’t just limited to its stunning beaches, but extend to high-end resorts, delicious cuisine, evidence for brutalities of wars and its famous fishing villages. A UNESCO-listed national park takes up more than half of Phu Quoc Island, offering recreational activities such as hiking, camping, wildlife, photography and bird-watching. Meanwhile, vibrant markets, traditional fishing villages, and pepper plantations are perfect for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling authentic regional specialties. Laying for hours on stunning beaches, sinking in the warm ocean, enjoying a massage, and a few cocktails as the sun goes down followed by a delicious dinner on the beach will made you relax completely after the busy working day. HiVietnam is willing to guide you to travel Phu Quoc by the list best things to do in Phu Quoc Island.

Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Beaches – the heaven for relaxing

Anyone who’s been to Phu Quoc will tell you it’s hard to believe that there are so many beaches that are both stunningly beautiful and deserted in just one place. The triangular-shaped island has many good beaches, like Long Beach on the western side, which is also the biggest and where most of the hotels are located. Bai Sao, on the east coast, is a favorite spot – possibly the best beach on Phu Quoc with fine white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. Some others worth checking out are Ong Lang, Bai Thom and Bai Dai. Many of the island’s beaches are not marked on maps also very well.

To relax on the beach, just lying in a comfy beach chair catching some sun where you can read a bit, swim a bit and have a drink or two. There are ladies selling fresh fruit for when you get a bit hungry. This is completely the authentic heaven!

After a hard day on the beach, you can also enjoy a massage, order yourself a cocktail and watch the spectacular sunset. If you travel with kids, beach bars are perfect as the kids can play in the sand, even swim while the adults unwind with a few drinks.

Bai Sao – one of the best beaches on Phu Quoc

Explore Phu Quoc National Park

Occupying more than 50% of the Phu Quoc Island and being home to a variety of ecosystems, wildlife and plants, Phu Quoc National Park is considered a precious gem, and in 2010 the park was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. A visit to the park is always worth time and money, especially if you long to make an escape from the heat of the sun and stay close to nature at best. Whether you choose to walk in the forest along narrow trail or ride a motorbike on one of the park’s roads, the experience is always stunning and wonderful, which gives you a close look and taste of this large and lush park. Visitors to Phu Quoc, especially those enjoy discovering the natural, mostly untouched environment, should not miss the Phu Quoc National Park.

Phu Quoc National Park

Wander around Phu Quoc Prison

Phu Quoc Prison is where Northern Vietnamese soldiers were imprisoned during the Vietnam War. This was the largest place to keep communist soldiers in the South with more than 32,000 prisoners. Sometimes, this number was up to 40,000 people including political prisoners in several periods. The prison is now a museum where you can see torture instruments, photographs of former prisoners and various exhibits with life sized mannequins depicting graphic scenes of what life was like in prison during its operation.

Phu Quoc prison was the living evidence for the extremely brutal crimes of aggression colonialism and imperialism, while it proved the indomitable spirit and valiant struggle of revolutionaries. The war prisoners in Phu Quoc prison were suffered extremely savage punishments and tortures. The prison is a way for tourists to learn more about Vietnam’s history and a reminder of the brutalities of war. It’s becoming one of the best things to do in Phu Quoc.

Putting prisoner into sack and placing on the oven

Explore the Local Life at Ham Ninh Village

Ham Ninh Village is a picturesque fishing village and a great spot to get a glimpse into the everyday life of the local fishermen. For those who love fresh fish, the village is a great spot to eat some bargain priced seafood as well as try some unusual dishes such as sea cucumber soup. Especially, Ham Ninh’s flower crab is one of the best dishes must-eat in Phu Quoc and readily available in many local restaurants. The fresh red flower crabs get an amazing taste when being boiled and dipped in the sauce made from black pepper, salt and lime juice. Moreover, fishermen often take the fresh crab blood which is extracted from the pincers to drink. Later, the fresh crab blood is cleverly processed to create a very impressive dish called Phu Quoc fresh crab blood. A delicious and nutritious fresh crab blood dish must be made from sea crabs which have roe.

Ham Ninh Fishing Village
Fresh crab blood

Enjoy scuba diving in Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is an island district located 45km off the coast of mainland Vietnam, that consist of 28 different islands and scuba diving in Phu Quoc is slowly becoming popular adventure sport activities. Diving is a great way to escape reality and explore the underwater world.  Whether you are just a beginner or expert diver, Phu Quoc Island is one of the most beautiful areas to dive. With beautiful reefs, wrecks, and weird fascinating sea creatures, you will be in constant awe with everything you see during your dive.

Enjoy scuba diving in Phu Quoc

All of this makes it the top destination must come in Vietnam and totally relax and chill out. Make sure to get here soon!

Ho Chi Minh City – Top best places to go

Ho Chi Minh City is the most populated city in Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, when the South lost the battle from the North of Vietnam in 1975, Saigon was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. It got its name after the communist leader Ho Chi Minh. Locals still call it Saigon, especially the center of the city. With so many people around, the best way to discover its highlights is with the insights and tips from a local. Therefore, instead of hopping on one of the tour buses, hop on the back of the motorcycle of a private guide and experience the War Remnants museum, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Ben Thanh Market, Diamon Plaza and many more highlights in this bustling city.

Ho Chi Minh City

Let’s go through the history of the Vietnamese folks that stretched out over 2000 years until 18 Century at the History Museum. Built in 1929 with the harmonious combination of Indochinese and French styles, the museum and the surrounding gardens do give visitors a peaceful escape from the bustling city vibe. Simply enjoy a promenade around the gardens and zoos for a chance to learn more about nature and history.

Exhibition at History Museum – Champa Empire relics

Next to, paying visits to French Quarter buildings, most built in the early 18 centuries, bringing the essence of French culture and architectures including Notre Dame De Saigon Church, Central Post Office, Reunification Palace, City hall (now at Ho Chi Minh square), Opera house. A private tour guide will lead you to some of the most famous sights in this city.

Notre Dame De Saigon Church
Sai Gon Central Post Office

Visiting next to the War Remnants Museum to have an insight into Vietnam – American War in the 60s and 70s here, the war that surpassed all limits to human’s spirits. Museum store more than 20,000 documents, exhibits and films, in which more than 1,500 documents, artifacts, films have been applied to introduce in eight thematic exhibitions frequently. In 35 years, the Museum has welcomed over 15 million visitors at home and abroad. Currently with about 500,000 visitors each year, the War Remnants Museum is one of the only cultural tourism to attract high public credibility at home and abroad.

War Remnants Museum

Let’s make plans to visit Ho Chi Minh city right now!!!

Westerners share 10 things you must try when coming to Hanoi (Chapter 3)

Walking on the Long Bien Bridge or join the flag raising and lowering ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which are also the things you cannot miss in Hanoi.

Walking on the Long Bien Bridge

Long Bien Bridge is like a historical witness throughout the ups and downs of Hanoi. The bridge is more than a hundred years old is also the connection between the present and the old memory of Hanoians.

Long Bien Bridge late afternoon

The bridge was built in 1898, and now still operates with three lanes, middle lane was separated for only train crossing. Westerners often share about the experience of walking or cycling through the Long Bien Bridge early morning, late afternoon or at night, and don’t miss bring each camera together to preserve the beautiful images of this ancient construction.

Walking on the Long Bien Bridge

Join the flag lowering ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

If you miss the flag raising ceremony at Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in morning, visitors can take a comfortable walk around the city and come back here to attend the flag raising ceremony at 9pm daily. The solemn atmosphere covers throughout Ba Dinh Square when the loudspeaker sounded alarm the flag lowering ceremony upcoming. People line up neatly and watch the bodyguard pull the national flag down gravely with the song “You are still marching with us, Uncle Ho”.

The flag raising ceremony at 9pm daily

Walking at night

When the whole city was asleep, Hanoi streets suddenly dressed the calm cover, contrasted with the bustle of the day. Doors are immobile, stores turn of the lights to close, vehicles in the streets are sparse … will leave a very different impression in the hearts of travelers.

Big Church at night

Westerners share 10 things you must try when coming to Hanoi (Chapter 2)

Getting lost in Hanoi Old Quarter or losing your footsteps on the old streets, which is also one of 10 things you cannot miss in Hanoi.

Getting lost in Hanoi Old Quarter

Chris Anderson, CNNGo reporter, lost his footsteps on the old streets of Hanoi. He said that describing Hanoi Old Quarter is somewhat of a waste of breath. “No need go to the right place, just letting your feet lead the way to discover the most colorful nostalgic streets of the capital. No destination, no lines, only turn right, turn left or go straight.” Chris suggested.

Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi (simply called “Big Church” in Vietnamese)

This street is full of toys, that street is selling all the shoes, clothes, antique or tombstone, motorcycle parts. If you come here at rush hours, you will have the experience more interesting. You always have to be willing to dodge people and cars on the road.

The street at rush hours

On the sidewalks as bustle as in the middle of the road, people set up plastic chairs to trade, motorcycles parked in rows, small dogs running around, full of laughter at the stalls.

Hanoi’s history flows through the streets

Day by day, 1000 years of Hanoi’s history flows through the streets as the blood stream in every vein, blowing into the breath of both past and present.

Visit “railroad – village

Tourists normally have to surprise if accidentally crossed railway trains running between small streets in Hanoi. People can calmly trade, chat or circulate in this area cause of they know the time of the train coming accurately. As soon as the bell rings, they will re-clean the store and spread out the rails. While the train was crossing, so close that it feels like someone just stands out from the door with his hand out impossible touch the train. “Crazy“, “unique” or “only in Vietnam” are what visitors describe this rare sight.

Kham Thien Ward – Railroad village

Egg coffee – the special drink cannot miss in Hanoi

Besides black ice, milk ice coffee or yogurt coffee, many visitors are surprised to know egg coffee in Hanoi. A small cup of coffee putted in a bowl of warm water will fascinate visitors with different flavors – not too sweet or bitter, the greasy taste of eggs beaten up mixed with each drop of coffee.  Foreign visitors to Hanoi often go to Giang, Dinh, Lam or Coffee in Old Quarter … to enjoy some old Hanoi aftertaste. Let’s pull a chair to sidewalks, sit down and sip coffee in the style of Hanoians. It really is a way to enjoy the wonderful life.

Vietnamese Egg Coffee in Hanoi

<to be continued>

Westerners share 10 things you must try when coming to Hanoi (Chapter 1)

Going to market early, walk around Hoan Kiem Lake or sitting on the sidewalk for street food is the list of “certain to do” in Hanoi by Westerners.

Go to market

Either Dong Xuan, Quang Ba flower market or Long Bien wholesale market is the destination where Westerners advise you should go once you have a chance to visit the capital. Those markets have mainly flower and fruit, but require visitors must stay up late, get up early to see the alternately crowded, bustle atmosphere of Hanoi when the night comes down.

Located right at the foot of Long Bien bridge, Long Bien wholesale market is almost bustle with seafood, food for cattle and poultry, vegetables… but the most famous is the fruit wholesale market, which locals call “flea market area”. The market start at 8 pm and being more bustle at night.

The fruit wholesale market near Long Bien bridge

Quang Ba Flower Market is open all night but most crowded is around 3 to 4 am, both buyers and sellers are quite busy. Small bouquets of flowers is put on the vehicles come out briskly. The lights on the street illuminated shimmering, fanciful, spread over the tens of thousands of color flowers, the scene that made many people must fall in love. There are people who are not traders or shopkeepers, also spend all night wandering in the market. Do not be drunk with someone, do not love flowers, but they are addicted to the atmosphere at midnight of this land.

Quang Ba flower market
The image of flower market

Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake early in the morning

Someone said that Hoan Kiem Lake is the best place to start a new day. Regardless of spring, autumn or winter, the Hanoians keep their exercise habits early in the morning. Visitors can take a walk, watch the natural scenery at dawn, enjoy the fresh air when the road is not packed with vehicles, or try to join the group of fitness, aerobics, kickball,…

Hoan Kiem Lake
Yoga group near the Lake

Arrive at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

One of the destinations cannot be ignored by Westerners when visiting any city is the museum and historical monuments. One of the most popular cultural and historical sites visited by foreigners is the Ethnological Museum.

Ethnographic Museum currently holds 15,000 artifacts, 42,000 documentaries, pictures and thousands of other documents on 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. The objects are classified and displayed according to different contents in the building, where visitors can learn about the ethnic life through their everyday objects. The outdoor area has 10 unique folk architectures such as Bana communal house, Dao house on stilts, Giarai collective tomb,…

Besides, visitors also come to the Museum of Vietnamese Women, Hanoi Museum or Hoa Lo Prison, the Hanoi flag tower, to see the culture and history of the city.

Some objects of Ethnic lifestyle
Bana communal house

Sitting on the sidewalk for street food

It would be a mistake if visitors come to Hanoi without trying to sit on the sidewalk and try the dishes of street food. From “phở”, “miến”, “bún chả”, “bánh cuốn”,…. for breakfast, lunch, or afternoon snacks such as tea, sugarcane juice, “nem chua rán”,… ; even late night with pots. You can find any delicious dishes for yourself on the sidewalk. Let’s get a small plastic chair, sit down and place your order!

Street food at night

<to be continued>

Places to visit in Phu Quoc island

Far to the south, Phu Quoc is the largest island of Vietnam. Here there are lots of attractions for visitors to choose ranging from majestic parks with many wonderful scene and lovely animals and plants to national historical buildings. Phu Quoc has an unique specie which is Phu Quoc dog, one of the oldest dog breed in the world, loves to climb up trees and catch fishes properly.

Now let’s go with a list of spots to set food in Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Beaches

Sung Hung Pagoda

The Coconut Tree Prison

Phu Quoc Magic Well

Tranh Stream

Ham Hung Fish Village

 

Vietnamese Water Puppetry art

Water puppetry (“Making puppets dance on water”) is a typical form of Vietnamese art, which has existed for more than 1000 years. In many guide books in Vietnam, people said that “Not watching a performance of water puppetry means not visiting Vietnam yet.” And it is definitely true that most visitors to Vietnam should try to watch a performance of water puppetry at least once.

In the past, water puppetry once served for the King’s family and ancient Vietnamese aristocracy amusement. Until the 11th century, it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. Nowadays, water puppetry is widely performed in big modern theaters or in some special stages for conservation and preservation Vietnamese traditions.

Water Puppetry is full of joys, lighting and colors and surprises for the audience. It is one of Vietnamese tradition that referred to Vietnamese traditions by means of water puppets, like daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends. It tells of daily living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales that are told by grandparents to their grandchildren.

A water puppet show is performed in a pool of water as the stage of the puppets. The water puppets are made of lacquered wood and designed by the artists. They also have their own names, which represents for their characters in real life, such as: Uncle Teu (represented for a young, healthy and poor farmer), Dragons (represented for Vietnamese spirits), Fairies, Fox, Ducks, etc. They all can dance and play a lot of interesting items accompanied by animated music and singing.

The puppets are controlled by no more than nine puppeteers hiding behind a bamboo screen. The puppets stand on a round wooden plate which can rotate around it horizontal. The plate is linked with a long pole and the puppeteers will use large rods to support the puppets moving. You will see no puppeteers, no machines or instruments, and even no controlling poles. You only watch the puppets on a water surface.

Champa Ancient Towers in Vietnam

The Kingdom of Champa was located in mainland Southeast Asia, and occupies the area which is today southern Vietnam. Despite long periods of time, the mysterious Cham Towers, some of which are a thousand years old, still remain in Binh Dinh province almost, as vivid evidence of the Champa kingdom that flourished in the region during the 10th-15th centuries. The ancient Champa dynasties built many elaborate temples and shrines. A typical Cham tower is built in the Hindu Ba La Mon architectural style that represents the symbolic legendary Meru Mountain where Hindu genies and spirits dwell. The architecture is influenced by Hindu art and is imbued with the cultural features of the Cham people.
Historical researchers say that the Cham towers in Binh Dinh are the biggest in Southeast Asia. They are located mainly in Quy Nhon city and Tuy Phuoc, An Nhon and Tay Son districts in the area of the Do Ban Citadel, which was part of the ancient kingdom of Champa.

Mysterious Cham towers in Binh Dinh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides Ponagar Tower in Nha Trang city Khanh Hoa province, which was built in the 12th -13th century, is one of the largest architectural complexes of Champa culture remaining in the central Vietnam. The Ponagar Tower is not only a historical and cultural relic, but also a typical architectural and sculptural work of the Cham people. All the towers were built using bricks and decorated with stones and ceramics. So far, the Cham people’s technique on placing bricks tighter together without any kind of mortar or adhesive has remained a secret to researchers.

Ponagar Tower
Architecture Po Nagar Cham towers In Khanh Hoa, Vietnam

Moreover, My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam province is considered to be one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia and is the foremost heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. It is often compared with other historical temple complexes in Southeast Asia, such as Borobudur of Java in Indonesia, Angkor Wat of Cambodia, Bagan of Myanmar and Ayutthaya of Thailand. As of 1999, My Son has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

My Son, Quang Nam, Vietnam: Remains of Hindu tower-temples at My Son Sanctuary a UNESCO World Heritage site in Vietnam

 

Hanoi’s Old Quarter: The 36 Streets

As the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, Hanoi’s Old Quarter has a history that spans 2,000 years and represents the eternal soul of the city. Located in the middle of Hanoi, a rapidly developing city where changes take place every hour, Hanoi Old Quarter with its old-styled narrow streets full of antique brickhouses seems to resist the flow of time while still actively tries to adapt to the dynamic atmosphere of the moderncity.

Ta Hien old street in Hanoi Old Quarter

The Old Quarter began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter. Because inhabitants of each street came from the same village, streets developed a homogeneous look. Commoners’ homes evolved out of market stalls, before streets were formed. Because storekeepers were taxed according to the width of their storefront, storage and living space moved to the rear of the buildings. Consequently, the long and narrow buildings were called “tube houses.” Typical measurements for such houses are 3 meters wide by 60 meters long.

Hang Be Street in 1907

Although the old section of Hanoi is often called the “36 Old Streets,” there are more than 36 actual streets. Some researchers believe that the number 36 came from the 15th century when there might have been 36 guild locations, which were workshop areas, not streets. When streets were later developed, the guild names were applied to the streets. Others attribute the 36 to a more abstract concept. The number nine in Asia represents the concept of “plenty.” Nine times the four directions makes 36, which simply means “many.” There are now more than 70 streets in the area.

Some streets have achieved fame by their inclusion in popular guidebooks. Han Gai Street offers silk clothing ready-made and tailored, embroidery, and silver products. Hang Quat, the street that formerly sold silk and feather fans, now stuns the visitor by its brilliantly colored funeral and festival flags and religious objects and clothing. To Thinh Street connects the above two and is still the wood turner’s street. Hang Ma glimmers with shiny paper products, such as gift wrappings, wedding decorations and miniature paper objects to burn for the dead. Lan Ong Street is a sensual delight of textures and smells emanating from the sacks of herbal medicinal products: leaves, roots, barks, and powders.

The image of Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi City, the capital of Vietnam, is the sophisticated combination of ancient streets, colonial legacy, modern outlook and colorful culture. Let’s come here and explore the enchanting Hanoi!!!

This is new urban area in Hanoi