The Best Cruises in Ha Long Bay in 2023

cruises in ha long

Known for its enchanting limestone karsts, emerald waters, and floating fishing villages, Ha Long Bay is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience. And what better way to explore this breathtaking beauty than by embarking on a cruise adventure? Read on the explore our list of the best cruises in Ha Long Bay. A Dive into the Bay’s History Ha Long Bay’s history is as fascinating as its breathtaking scenery. The bay’s geological formation dates back millions of years, with the region being submerged and uplifted multiple times due to tectonic activity. The name “Ha Long” translates to “Descending Dragon,” and legend has it that the bay was created by dragons sent by the gods to protect Vietnam from invaders. As for its human history, archaeological evidence suggests that ancient cultures inhabited the bay area over 4,000 years ago. Ha Long Bay’s strategic location also made it a significant trade route for maritime activities in Southeast Asia. Throughout the centuries, the bay witnessed various cultures, from early coastal communities to Chinese invasions and French colonization during the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1994, UNESCO recognized Ha Long Bay as a World Heritage Site, preserving its natural and cultural significance for generations to come. Today, it remains one of Vietnam’s most iconic and cherished destinations, enchanting visitors with its timeless beauty and storied past. Best-rated Cruises in Ha Long Bay 1. Bhaya Classic Cruises: A Journey of Luxury and Elegance Price range: If you’re seeking a luxurious experience that combines comfort, elegance, and authenticity, Bhaya Classic Cruises is a perfect choice. With a fleet of beautifully designed wooden junks, this cruise line takes you on a voyage that harmoniously blends traditional Vietnamese aesthetics with modern amenities. As you cruise along the bay, you’ll be mesmerized by the towering limestone formations and sparkling waters. Bhaya Classic offers a variety of itineraries to suit different preferences and time frames. Whether you opt for a day cruise or a multi-day journey, you’ll be treated to delightful activities such as kayaking, cave exploration, cooking classes, and Tai Chi sessions at sunrise. The onboard dining experience is exceptional, serving delectable Vietnamese cuisine and international dishes. 2. Indochina Junk: An Eco-Friendly Adventure Price range: For environmentally-conscious travellers, Indochina Junk stands out as a top choice. Committed to sustainable tourism, their fleet of junks is designed with eco-friendly materials and practices in mind. The company also actively supports local communities and conservation efforts in the area. Cruising with Indochina Junk is a truly immersive experience. You’ll have the opportunity to visit less-crowded parts of Ha Long Bay, where you can witness the raw beauty of the natural landscape and interact with local fishermen. The crew is known for their warmth and hospitality, ensuring every moment of your journey is comfortable and memorable. 3. Paradise Cruises: Unmatched Elegance and Serenity Price range: As the name suggests, Paradise Cruises promise a paradisiacal experience that blends tranquillity with luxury. Their meticulously crafted junks feature spacious cabins with private balconies, perfect for absorbing the stunning vistas in solitude. Onboard facilities, including a spa and jacuzzi, ensure you’re pampered and relaxed throughout the journey. Paradise Cruises offer various itineraries, ranging from day cruises to extended voyages. Activities like exploring hidden caves, visiting floating villages, and beach excursions are included in their packages. And of course, the culinary delights on offer, ranging from Vietnamese delicacies to international cuisine, are exceptional. 4. Emeraude Classic Cruises: A Journey Back in Time Price range: For those with a penchant for nostalgia and a love for history, the Emeraude Classic Cruises present an unforgettable journey. Modelled after a 19th-century paddle steamer, this elegant cruise ship will transport you back to the golden age of travel. The timeless charm of the ship, coupled with the awe-inspiring landscapes of Ha Long Bay, creates an ambience that’s hard to replicate. The cruise offers a range of exciting activities, including Tai Chi classes, kayaking, squid fishing, and guided excursions to some of the bay’s most stunning spots. The wooden cabins are designed with a classic flair, ensuring a comfortable and intimate experience as you sail through the magical waters of Ha Long Bay. 5. V’Spirit Cruises: Affordable Adventure without Compromise Price range: For travellers seeking a budget-friendly option without compromising on the experience, V’Spirit Cruises offer an excellent choice. With a focus on providing value for money, V’Spirit ensures that everyone can indulge in the splendours of Ha Long Bay without breaking the bank. The cruise ships boast comfortable cabins with essential amenities, ensuring a cosy stay during your time on board. While the vessels may not be as opulent as some high-end cruises, they still offer a pleasant and memorable journey through the bay. Excited about cruising one of the Seven Wonders of the World and wondering the best way to reach the Bay? Check out our article for a guide on travelling to Ha Long Bay. Embarking on a cruise in Ha Long Bay is like setting foot into a dream. With its ethereal landscapes and serene waters, the bay provides an experience that lingers in the heart long after the journey is over. The cruises mentioned above, each unique in its own right, offer an opportunity to witness the bay’s splendour from various perspectives. Whichever cruise you choose, you’re bound to encounter the magic and allure that makes Ha Long Bay one of the most sought-after destinations on the planet. So, set sail and let the beauty of Ha Long Bay take your breath away!

Hanoi French Quarter: A Fusion of Heritage and Charm

hanoi French quarter

Hanoi, the vibrant capital of Vietnam, is a city that seamlessly blends ancient traditions with modern influences. At the heart of this bustling metropolis lies the Hanoi French Quarter, a captivating district that reflects a unique amalgamation of French colonial architecture and Vietnamese heritage. Steeped in history, the French Quarter is a testament to the enduring legacy of French colonization and a living museum of Hanoi’s past. A Glimpse into History To understand the essence of Hanoi’s French Quarter, we must delve into its historical roots. The French influence in Vietnam began in the mid-19th century, and by the late 1800s, they had established their colonial presence in the region. Hanoi’s French Quarter emerged as the centre of administrative, commercial, and cultural activities during this period. The French architecture, evident in the charming buildings lining the streets, is characterized by a harmonious blend of European and Vietnamese styles. Architectural Marvels The French Quarter’s architecture is a visual delight, transporting visitors back in time. Strolling along its tree-lined avenues, one can witness grand villas, colonial-era houses, and government buildings adorned with ornate balconies, wrought iron railings, and tiled roofs. The Opera House, one of Hanoi’s crown jewels, stands as a magnificent example of neo-classical architecture. It continues to be a venue for opera, ballet, and cultural performances, showcasing the enduring cultural ties between France and Vietnam. Cultural Attractions Apart from its architectural gems, the French Quarter houses several cultural attractions that offer insight into the city’s artistic and intellectual heritage. The National Museum of Vietnamese History, located in a splendid French colonial building, houses a vast collection of artefacts that trace Vietnam’s history from prehistoric times to the present day. If you’re interested in purchasing Vietnamese Art to bring home, visit our article on the most reputable galleries in Hanoi! Gastronomic Delights The French Quarter is not just a feast for the eyes but also for the taste buds. Influenced by French culinary traditions, the district boasts numerous cafes, bakeries, and restaurants offering an array of delectable delights. From freshly baked baguettes and pastries to sumptuous French-Vietnamese fusion dishes, food enthusiasts can savour a delightful culinary experience. The Vietnamese culinary experience is one you surely would not want to miss! Our local writer created a guide to help you navigate the city to find the best places to experience authentic Hanoian food! Shopping Haven For those who love to shop, the French Quarter is a paradise. The district is home to upscale boutiques, art galleries, and handicraft stores, making it a perfect destination for unique souvenirs and gifts. Visitors can explore artisanal products, traditional crafts, and contemporary artworks, all beautifully showcased within the charming surroundings. Check out our article for a guide on Hanoi’s shopping haven. Stop for a drink In Hanoi’s French Quarter, you’ll find an array of charming cafes that offer a delightful mix of French-inspired ambience, Vietnamese hospitality, and delectable treats. Here are some highly recommended cafes to explore: These cafes are just a selection of the many charming spots you can discover in the Hanoi French Quarter. Whether you’re seeking a quiet retreat or a vibrant atmosphere, each cafe offers a unique experience that contributes to the district’s undeniable allure. Tranquil Escapes While the area is known for its bustling streets and lively ambience, it also offers tranquil escapes for those seeking a moment of serenity. The verdant gardens and shaded squares provide a peaceful oasis amidst the urban hustle. The Hoan Kiem Lake, with its iconic red bridge leading to the Ngoc Son Temple, offers a picturesque retreat, ideal for relaxation and reflection. Preserving Heritage and Challenges Preserving the heritage of the Hanoi French Quarter poses several challenges, considering the ongoing modernization and urban development in the city. The delicate balance between preserving historical landmarks and meeting the demands of a growing population is a constant struggle. Conservation efforts, however, are in place to safeguard the district’s architectural treasures and cultural significance. Local organizations and authorities are working together to ensure that the spirit of the French Quarter endures through generations. The Hanoi French Quarter is an enchanting neighbourhood that exudes an irresistible charm and allure. Its rich history, captivating architecture, cultural landmarks, gastronomic delights, and tranquil spaces make it a must-visit destination for travellers seeking an authentic and immersive experience.

Our MGallery Sapa Review: Luxury Amidst the Mountains

mgallery sapa review

In the heart of the picturesque town of Sapa lies the MGallery – Hotel de la Coupole, a true gem that promises an unforgettable experience amidst breathtaking landscapes and authentic cultural encounters. Read our MGallery Sapa review for an in-depth exploration of this luxurious retreat. Uncover stunning landscapes, cultural encounters, and top-notch amenities that promise an unforgettable experience. Location and Surroundings Perched atop a lush hill, MGallery Hotel Sapa offers awe-inspiring panoramic views of Sapa and majestic mountains. The location is simply unbeatable, as it allows guests to immerse themselves in the tranquillity of the mountains while still being close enough to explore the vibrant town centre and nearby ethnic villages. Accommodations The moment we stepped into our room, we were greeted by a harmonious blend of modern elegance and traditional ethnic decor. The hotel has thoughtfully incorporated local motifs, textiles, and artworks, creating an ambience that beautifully complements the natural surroundings. The plush bedding, luxurious amenities, and a private balcony with sweeping vistas added to the overall comfort and relaxation. Dining Experience The culinary offerings at MGallery Hotel Sapa were a delightful surprise. The breakfast buffet served a wide range of dishes, along with eggs and open ovens for freshly made noodle soups. They offered a large range of patisserie options, jams and cheeses. Needless to say, we were well-fed, full and satisfied until afternoon time! The hotel boasts a restaurant that serves a delectable array of Vietnamese and international dishes, each prepared with finesse and using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. I particularly enjoyed indulging in traditional Vietnamese specialities while enjoying the splendid views from the terrace. The Indoor Pool Escape into tranquillity at MGallery Hotel Sapa’s indoor pool, a hidden gem within the heart of the hotel. Embraced by the surrounding lush interiors, the indoor pool offers a soothing retreat regardless of the weather outside. This pool is definitely one of a kind, we have never seen anything remotely like it before on our travels. The decorations and sculptures surrounding the water are uniquely stylish. The water temperature is well-regulated for colder months and high-quality towels, chairs and lounging spaces are free of use to all guests. Spa and Wellness After a day of exploring the rugged landscapes, the hotel’s spa was the perfect sanctuary to rejuvenate and unwind. The skilled therapists offered a variety of massages and treatments, leaving us feeling completely refreshed and ready for more adventures. Staff Throughout our stay, we were impressed by the hospitality displayed by the hotel’s staff. From the warm welcome at check-in to the personalized recommendations for exploring Sapa, the staff went above and beyond to ensure a memorable experience. Sustainability and Responsible Tourism MGallery Hotel Sapa takes pride in its eco-friendly practices and dedication to responsible tourism. The hotel actively engages in initiatives that support the local communities and protect the environment. If you want to find out more about the local communities in Sapa and what to do during your trip, check out our guide on exploring the enchanting town! Unforgettable Sunrises and Sunsets One of the highlights of staying at MGallery Hotel Sapa is the chance to witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets over the mist-shrouded mountains. The hotel’s elevated location offers unobstructed views, and each morning brings a symphony of colours as the sun rises above the horizon. In the evenings, the mountains and valleys are bathed in golden hues, providing an enchanting backdrop for relaxation and reflection. Cosy Lounges and Relaxation Spaces The hotel’s thoughtfully designed lounges and relaxation spaces are perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. The cosy fireplace lounge, adorned with complex decorations and comfortable seating, creates a warm and inviting atmosphere during the colder months. In conclusion, our stay at the MGallery Hotel Sapa was a captivating journey of beauty, immersion, and pampered luxury. From the breathtaking architecture and interior design to the impeccable service, every aspect of the hotel contributed to a great experience.

Ha Giang Travel Guide: Waterfalls, Caves, and Natural Wonders

ha giang

Welcome to Ha Giang, a mesmerizing province in northern Vietnam that beckons with its rugged landscapes and cultural diversity. While the region is renowned for its breathtaking trekking opportunities and vibrant hill tribe villages, it also harbours a plethora of hidden gems that captivate the senses and stir the soul. Cascading Splendor: Ha Giang’s Enchanting Waterfalls Ha Giang’s terrain is adorned with stunning waterfalls that cascade gracefully from lofty heights, creating picturesque scenes that seem straight out of a fairytale. Our first stop is at Thac Tien Waterfall. The sight and sound of the rushing waters are sure to leave you in awe. Next, we venture to Lung Cu Viewpoint, a gem nestled amid the verdant hills of the Dong Van Karst Plateau riddled with multiple waterfalls. Lung Cu Viewpoint offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, surrounded by pristine nature and idyllic landscapes. The serene atmosphere invites visitors to take a refreshing dip in the natural pools formed by the cascading waters. Continuing our waterfall exploration, we reach the breathtaking Ban Gioc Waterfall. Straddling the border between Vietnam and China, this majestic waterfall is one of the largest in Asia. Its multi-tiered cascade, thundering down the lush mountainside, creates a spectacle of natural grandeur that must be witnessed firsthand. The surrounding karst formations and emerald green pools add to the allure of Ban Gioc, making it a must-visit destination in Ha Giang. Unravelling Mysteries: Ha Giang’s Mysterious Caves Ha Giang’s rugged landscapes are dotted with fascinating limestone caves, each holding its own mysteries and historical significance. One such cave is Lung Khuy Cave, located in Quan Ba district. It is famous for its intriguing stalactites and stalagmites formations, resembling a captivating work of art created by nature itself. Exploring the cavernous chambers of Lung Khuy Cave is like stepping into a mystical realm of wonder. The journey to Ha Giang’s hidden gems would be incomplete without visiting Dong Van’s Vuong Palace Cave. This cave served as the residence of the Hmong King Vuong Chinh Duc during the French colonial period. Today, it stands as a fascinating testament to the region’s history and architectural heritage. Visitors can wander through the palace’s chambers, admiring its intricate carvings and cultural artifacts that narrate the tales of the past. Another remarkable cave is Nui Doi Cave, or Double Mountain Cave, located in Meo Vac district. As its name suggests, the cave is nestled between two towering limestone mountains, forming an otherworldly landscape. Nui Doi Cave is adorned with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, forming unique shapes that spark the imagination of those who venture inside. Nature’s Artistry: Ha Giang’s Awe-Inspiring Natural Wonders Ha Giang’s hidden gems extend beyond waterfalls and caves, encompassing a myriad of natural wonders that will leave you spellbound. Our first stop is at Ma Pi Leng Pass, often dubbed the “King of All Passes.” This mountain pass offers panoramic views of the Nho Que River, winding through deep canyons and limestone peaks. The road atop Ma Pi Leng Pass provides breathtaking vistas, making it a photographer’s paradise. Next, we head to Lung Cu Flag Tower, standing tall at the northernmost point of Vietnam. The tower is perched atop Lung Cu Peak, providing a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and neighbouring China. It is also a symbolic representation of the country’s sovereignty and ethnic unity. Our journey concludes at Quan Ba’s Fairy Bosom Twin Mountains, known locally as “Nui Co Tien.” These twin peaks rise dramatically from the earth, their shapes resembling two breasts, giving rise to the name “Fairy Bosom.” Local folklore narrates a romantic tale of the mountains, adding a touch of mystique to the scenic wonder. Motorbike adventures on the Ha Giang Loop Arguably the most popular attraction in Ha Giang, the 3 day loop takes you to the most breathtaking destinations of the region. Check our our full blog on the Ha Giang Loop for more information! Ha Giang’s hidden gems beckon adventurers and nature enthusiasts to explore the lesser-known wonders of this captivating province. From the enchanting waterfalls that glisten in the sunlight to the mysterious caves that hold the secrets of the past, and the awe-inspiring natural wonders that leave us humbled, Ha Giang’s hidden gems offer an unparalleled escape into the lap of nature’s artistry. As we bid farewell to this extraordinary journey, may you be inspired to tread off the beaten path and discover the treasures that Ha Giang has in store, ready to weave its magic upon all who seek its hidden wonders.

Trekking in Ha Giang: Conquering the Beauty of Northern Vietnam

trekking in ha giang

Ha Giang is a province located in the northernmost region of Vietnam, renowned for its dramatic landscapes, ethnic diversity, and unparalleled trekking opportunities. As the beating heart of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, trekking in Ha Giang offers adventurous souls a chance to embark on unforgettable journeys amidst rugged mountain terrains, terraced rice fields, and vibrant hill tribe villages. What You Need to Know about Trekking in Ha Giang Exploring the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark Spanning over 2,300 square kilometres, the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark is a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts a geological wonderland waiting to be explored. This section will take readers on a journey through the ancient karst formations, towering limestone peaks, and deep valleys that characterize this unique landscape. We’ll explore the fascinating geological history behind the plateau’s formation and the significance of its preservation as a globally important geopark. Additionally, we’ll delve into the efforts made by local communities and authorities to maintain sustainable tourism practices, balancing economic development with environmental conservation. The Best Trekking Routes in Ha Giang Ha Giang offers a plethora of trekking routes, each offering a distinct blend of scenic beauty and cultural encounters. In this section, we’ll present a comprehensive guide to some of the most popular trekking trails in the region. Readers will discover the mesmerizing Ma Pi Leng Pass trek, known for its breathtaking views of the Nho Que River canyon; the exhilarating Lung Cu Flag Tower trail, which leads to Vietnam’s northernmost point; and the Dong Van Plateau loop, offering a diverse landscape of rocky mountains, terraced fields, and traditional villages. We’ll outline the difficulty levels, estimated durations, and highlights of each route to help trekkers choose the best itinerary that suits their preferences and fitness levels. Cultural Encounters with Ethnic Minority Communities One of the most enriching aspects of trekking in Ha Giang is the opportunity to interact with the region’s diverse ethnic minority groups. This section will shine a spotlight on the Hmong, Tay, Dao, and other communities, delving into their unique traditions, distinct languages, and rich cultural heritage. Readers will gain insights into the daily lives of these hill tribe villagers, their traditional clothing, culinary practices, and artisanal crafts. We’ll share heartwarming stories of cross-cultural exchanges and showcase the significance of respecting and preserving the local cultures while appreciating their hospitality. Check out our blog for more information on ethnic communities in Ha Giang. Preparing for a Trek in Ha Giang Trekking in Ha Giang promises a once-in-a-lifetime adventure amidst awe-inspiring landscapes and diverse cultural encounters. To ensure a safe, enjoyable, and rewarding trekking experience, thorough preparation is essential. Ha Giang’s Wildlife and Flora Beyond its cultural richness, Ha Giang boasts a diverse array of wildlife and flora, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. In this part, we’ll introduce readers to the region’s unique biodiversity, which includes various species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. We’ll explore the endemic and rare plant species that thrive in Ha Giang’s diverse ecosystems, from lush forests to high-altitude meadows. Understanding the delicate balance between tourism and conservation, we’ll highlight the importance of responsible trekking practices that minimize environmental impact and promote the preservation of Ha Giang’s natural heritage for future generations to enjoy. The Magic of Ha Giang’s Festivals Ha Giang’s festivals are an integral part of its cultural identity, offering visitors a chance to witness the vibrancy and authenticity of local traditions. In this section, we’ll delve into some of the most significant festivals celebrated by ethnic communities throughout the year. Readers will get a glimpse of the colourful Khau Vai Love Market, where once-a-year encounters between former lovers take place, and the lively Long Tong Festival, celebrating the new agricultural year. We’ll highlight the cultural significance of these festivals and how they contribute to the sense of community and unity among ethnic groups. Trekking in Ha Giang is an awe-inspiring experience that combines nature’s grandeur with the warmth of diverse cultures. From the mesmerizing landscapes of the Dong Van Karst Plateau to the captivating encounters with ethnic minorities, Ha Giang offers an unparalleled opportunity for adventurers to explore the rugged beauty of northern Vietnam. However, we must always remember that responsible trekking practices are crucial to preserving this fragile ecosystem and ensuring the sustainable growth of Ha Giang’s tourism industry. By treading lightly and respecting the local communities and nature, trekkers can contribute positively to the preservation and appreciation of Ha Giang’s unparalleled natural and cultural treasures.

Best Places to Buy School Supplies in Hanoi

school supplies in hanoi

The start of a new school year is always an exciting time, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to buy, and it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re looking for school supplies in Hanoi, there are plenty of great places to choose from. Best places for school supplies in Hanoi 1. Hong Ha Store This is one of the most popular school supply stores in Hanoi, and they have a wide selection of products. You’ll find everything you need here, from notebooks and pens to backpacks and calculators. Hong Ha is located at 25 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. The average price of school supplies at Hong Ha is around 50,000 VND.  2. Muji Muji is a global Japanese retailer that sells a wide variety of products, including high quality school supplies. They are known for their simple and minimalist design. The prices of school supplies at Muji are typically higher than the prices in stores, but the quality is also higher. You can find them at Vincom Metropolis, 29 Lieu Giai, Ba Dinh District. 3. Miniso This Japanese retailer is known for its affordable and stylish home goods and stationery. They have a wide selection of school supplies, including notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, and more. Miniso has several locations in Hanoi, including 111 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan District, and 35 Hang Khay, Hoan Kiem District. The average price of school supplies at Miniso is around 30,000 VND.  4. Shopee Shopee is a popular e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia. They offfer a convenient shopping experience with a wide selection of school supplies, including notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, backpacks, and more. The prices of school supplies on Shopee are typically lower than the prices in stores. 5. Mumuso This is another Japanese retailer that sells a wide variety of school supplies. They have a similar selection to Miniso but also carry some unique items, such as water bottles and lunch boxes. Mumuso has several locations in Hanoi, including, 29 Hang Nhang, Hoan Kiem District, 183 Nguyen Trai, Thanh Xuan District, and 106 Xuan Thuy, Tay Ho District. The average price of school supplies at Mumuso is around 40,000 VND.  6. Supermarkets Most supermarkets like Circle K or Winmart in Hanoi sell a small selection of school supplies. This is a good option if you’re looking for basic items like notebooks and pens. The average price of school supplies at supermarkets is around 20,000 VND. In addition to these brick-and-mortar stores, you can also buy school supplies online in Hanoi. There are a number of websites that sell school supplies, including Shopee and Lazada. The prices of school supplies on these websites are typically lower than the prices in stores. Tips for buying school supplies in Hanoi If you’re also looking to do some shopping for yourself in Hanoi, check out our guide on the best spots for beauty products in the city!

Explore the Finest Coffee Shops in Hanoi – A Must-Visit Guide 

Coffee shops in Hanoi - Aha Coffee

Welcome to Hanoi, a city well-known for its rich coffee culture, exquisite cafes, and charming ambience. Whether you’re a coffee lover or just seeking a cosy spot to relax, Hanoi offers a diverse range of coffee shops that cater to every taste.  From traditional Vietnamese style to Western-inspired cafes, Hanoi’s coffee scene has something for everyone. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. But with our guide, you can explore Hanoi’s must-visit coffee shops and experience the city’s unique coffee culture.  Discover Hanoi’s Vibrant Coffee Scene  If you’re a coffee lover, Hanoi is the place to be. The city is renowned for its vibrant coffee scene, which has thrived for decades. Locals and tourists alike flock to the coffee shops to enjoy a cup of joe and soak up the unique ambience that each has to offer.  With coffee shops on practically every street corner, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a favourite spot. However, there are a few that are unmissable and considered the top coffee shops in Hanoi.  Coffee Shop  Location  Atmosphere  Cosy and nostalgic  Giang Cafe  39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem  Cozy and nostalgic  Egg coffee  Cong Caphe  Multiple locations  Rustic and vintage  Coconut coffee  Cafe Dinh  13 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem  Old-school vibe  Phin coffee  Giang Cafe is a must-visit for its legendary egg coffee, made with whipped egg yolk, condensed milk, and robusta coffee. Cong Caphe is known for its unique blend of coconut milk and coffee, while Cafe Dinh serves up top-notch phin coffee in an old-school setting.  But these are just a few of the many coffee shops that make up the vibrant scene in Hanoi. From trendy modern cafes to hidden gems tucked away in the alleyways, there’s something for every coffee lover to discover.  Must-Try Coffee Shops in Hanoi When it comes to coffee shops in Hanoi, the options are endless. Whether you’re in the mood for an artisanal roast or a traditional Vietnamese-style brew, these must-visit coffee shops have something for every coffee lover. Coffee Shop Egg coffee (ca phe trung), traditional ambience Location Cong Caphe Egg coffee (ca phe trung), unique atmosphere Multiple locations throughout Hanoi Giang Cafe Selection of books, cosy and quiet atmosphere 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem Tranquil Books & Coffee Selection of books, cozy and quiet atmosphere 5 Nguyen Quang Bich, Hoan Kiem The Note Coffee Unique decor, variety of coffee drinks and desserts 64 Luong Van Can, Hoan Kiem Cafe Pho Co Traditional Vietnamese-style coffee, stunning view 11 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem Cong Caphe is a popular chain that features a unique blend of rustic decor and modern flair. Be sure to try their signature egg coffee, a delightfully creamy and sweet treat. Giang Cafe is a Hanoi institution, serving up its famous egg coffee for over 70 years. The cosy ambience and traditional decor will transport you back in time. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to read or work, Tranquil Books & Coffee is the perfect place. With a vast selection of books and a peaceful atmosphere, it’s a welcome reprieve from the bustling city. The Note Coffee is a quirky and colourful coffee shop that offers a variety of coffee drinks and desserts. The walls are covered in colourful sticky notes, creating a playful and inviting environment. Located in an old Vietnamese house, Cafe Pho Co offers a stunning view of Hoan Kiem Lake and a peaceful oasis away from the busy streets. Their traditional Vietnamese-style coffee is a must-try. These coffee shops are just a small selection of the many amazing options available in Hanoi. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover new favourites! Experience Hanoi’s Coffee Culture For many Vietnamese, coffee is more than just a drink – it’s a way of life. In Hanoi, coffee shops are everywhere, offering a variety of brews and unique experiences. It’s not uncommon to see locals spending hours at a coffee shop, sipping slowly while chatting with friends or catching up on work.  The coffee culture here is steeped in tradition, from the way the coffee is brewed to how it’s served. One popular method is the phin filter, a small metal device that sits atop a cup and slowly drips coffee through a filter. This process can take several minutes, but the resulting coffee is strong, flavorful, and perfect for savouring slowly.  Hanoi’s coffee culture also has a strong social aspect. Many coffee shops are designed to be inviting and cosy, with comfortable seating and unique decor. It’s not uncommon to strike up a conversation with a stranger over a cup of coffee, especially in one of the many street-side cafes that dot the city. The Role of Coffee in Vietnamese Daily Life Coffee in Vietnam is much more than just a morning pick-me-up. It’s a way to connect with friends, relax after a long day, and even work through business deals. In fact, coffee is often part of business meetings and negotiations – it’s seen as a way to break down barriers and get to know someone on a more personal level.  For many Vietnamese, coffee is a social experience. It’s common to see groups of friends gathered around a table or sitting on small plastic stools outside a coffee shop, chatting and laughing over several cups of coffee. This social aspect of coffee is one reason why it’s so popular in Hanoi and throughout Vietnam. The Significance of Coffee Shops in Hanoi Coffee shops play an important role in Hanoi’s social and cultural life. They serve as meeting places for friends, colleagues, and even strangers, offering a welcoming atmosphere and a chance to connect with others. Many coffee shops also showcase local art, music, and culture, making them a hub for creativity and expression. Whether you’re a coffee lover or simply looking to experience a unique aspect of Hanoi’s culture, exploring the city’s coffee shops is a must. From traditional phin-filtered brews to trendy pour-overs and artisanal roasts, there’s something for … Read more

How to Apply for a Visa to Vietnam in 2023

Visa to vietnam in 2023

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, one of the first things you’ll need to do is apply for a visa. A visa is a travel document that allows you to enter and stay in the country legally. Applying for a visa can seem daunting, but with the right information and resources, the process can be relatively easy. In this article, we’ll walk you through the visa application process for travelling to Vietnam. We’ll cover the different types of visas available, the general requirements, and the step-by-step application process. So, whether you’re planning a leisurely vacation or a business trip, read on to learn how to obtain your visa for Vietnam. Types of visas for Vietnam When applying for a visa to Vietnam, it is important to understand the different types of visas that are available. The type of visa that you require will depend on the purpose of your visit. Tourist Visa A tourist visa is issued to those who are travelling to Vietnam for leisure purposes. This type of visa is valid for a maximum of 30 days and can be extended while in Vietnam if necessary.  Business Visa A business visa is intended for those who are travelling to Vietnam for work-related purposes. This type of visa can be issued for a longer period of time than a tourist visa and may allow for multiple entries into the country.  Other Visa Categories In addition to tourist and business visas, there are other specific visa categories that may be available depending on the purpose of your visit. These include visas for those travelling to Vietnam for study or employment, as well as visas for those who are planning to marry a Vietnamese citizen.  It is important to research the specific visa requirements for your intended travel purpose to ensure that you apply for the correct type of visa. General requirements for a visa to Vietnam Before applying for a visa to Vietnam, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the general requirements that must be met to ensure a successful application. The following information outlines the necessary documents and conditions for obtaining a Vietnam visa: Requirement Details Passport Must have a validity of at least six months beyond the intended stay in Vietnam, with at least one blank page for the visa stamp. Visa application form Must be completed accurately and truthfully online or in-person and signed by the applicant. Photographs Two passport-sized photographs must be submitted with the visa application. Visa approval letter For visa on arrival, a pre-approved visa application must be obtained through a travel agency or visa booking service. Visa fees Must be completed accurately and truthfully online or in person and signed by the applicant. Additional documents For business or work-related visas, an invitation letter from a Vietnamese sponsor or employer may be required. It is essential to carefully review all requirements and instructions before submitting the visa application to avoid delays or rejections. Applicants must ensure that all information provided is accurate and truthful, as any misrepresentation may result in a denial of the visa. Vietnam visa application process Applying for a visa to Vietnam is a straightforward process, but following the correct steps is crucial to ensure a hassle-free experience. Here is a step-by-step guide to applying for a visa to Vietnam: It is important to note that visa processing times may vary depending on the type of visa and the embassy/consulate you apply through. Additionally, certain visa types may require additional processing time and documentation, so it is crucial to check the specific requirements before starting the application process. Vietnam Visa Fees Before applying for a visa to Vietnam, it’s important to know the fees involved. The cost of a Vietnam visa can vary depending on the type of visa and the processing time. The visa processing fee is the cost of having your application processed by the Vietnamese government. The stamping fee, also known as the visa approval fee, is the cost of having your visa stamped on your passport upon arrival in Vietnam. In addition to these fees, applicants may also need to pay for additional services such as expedited processing or courier fees. Visa Type Processing Time Processing Fee Stamping Fee Tourist Visa (1-3 months, single entry) 2-3 business days $20 $25 Business Visa (1-3 months, single entry) 2-3 business days $50 $25 Tourist Visa (1-3 months, multiple entry) 2-3 business days $30 $50 Business Visa (1-3 months, multiple entry) 2-3 business days $95 $50 Note that the processing time may vary depending on the embassy or consulate where you submit your application. It’s important to check with the embassy or consulate for their specific processing times. It’s also important to note that these fees are subject to change without notice. Applicants should check the latest fees with the embassy or consulate before applying for a visa. Check out the Immigration ePortal for the latest information. Visa Processing Time for Vietnam The processing time for a visa to Vietnam varies, depending on the type of visa and the method of application. Typically, it takes around 5-7 working days for embassy or consulate visa applications and 2-3 working days for visa-on-arrival applications. However, it is recommended to apply for a visa well in advance to avoid any delays or inconveniences. It is important to note that visa processing times may be longer during peak travel seasons or national holidays, so it is advisable to plan accordingly. If you opt for a visa on arrival, the processing time starts only after you arrive at the airport and submit the required documents. The visa approval letter is usually issued within two working days, and you will have to pay the stamping fee on arrival. If you need your visa faster, you may be able to request an expedited service for an additional fee. However, this service may not always be available, so it is best to check with the relevant authorities or your travel agent. Visa Extension and Renewal … Read more

Planning Your Vietnam Trip: Travel Tips for First-Timers

Vietnam trip

Vietnam, a vibrant Southeast Asian gem, is a country that offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, natural beauty, and mouthwatering cuisine. Whether you’re planning a relaxing beach vacation, an adventure-packed trip, or a cultural immersion, Vietnam has something for everyone. However, to make the most of your visit and ensure a seamless experience, it’s essential to plan and prepare your Vietnam trip in advance. Important Travel Tips for your Vietnam Trip Research and Planning 1. Best Time to Visit Vietnam experiences diverse climates, so it’s important to choose the best time to visit based on your preferred activities and weather preferences. The country can be divided into three regions: North, Central, and South, each with its own distinct weather patterns. Generally, the best time to visit is during the spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is milder and more pleasant. Check our list of Festivals happening around the year in Vietnam, maybe you’ll find one that coincides with your travel plans! 2. Duration of Stay Consider how much time you have available for your trip, as Vietnam offers a myriad of attractions and experiences. Whether you have a week or a month, plan your itinerary accordingly. It’s important to strike a balance between exploring different regions and allowing enough time to immerse yourself in the local culture. 3. Visa Requirements Most visitors to Vietnam require a visa. Research the specific visa requirements based on your nationality and the duration of your stay. Apply for your visa well in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles. You can obtain a visa through the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in your home country or apply for an e-visa or visa on arrival, depending on your eligibility. 4. Travel Insurance It is highly recommended to purchase travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. Ensure that your insurance policy provides coverage for activities you plan to engage in during your trip. Read the terms and conditions carefully and keep a copy of your insurance policy and emergency contact information with you. 5. Vaccinations and Health Considerations Consult your healthcare provider or travel clinic to ensure you are up to date on routine vaccinations and to receive any recommended vaccines for travel to Vietnam. Common vaccinations for Vietnam include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, and Japanese encephalitis. Also, consider health precautions, such as using mosquito repellent to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever or malaria. It’s a good idea to grab some from Amazon before your trip! Creating an Itinerary 1. Must-See Destinations Vietnam boasts numerous captivating destinations, each offering its unique charm. Consider including Hanoi, the bustling capital, known for its historic sites and vibrant street life. Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is another must-visit, offering a blend of modernity and history. Halong Bay, with its stunning limestone karsts, and the ancient town of Hoi An are also popular choices. Don’t miss out on Da Nang, Hue, Sapa, and the Mekong Delta for a complete Vietnam experience. 2. Transportation Options Understand the various transportation modes available in Vietnam to help you navigate the country efficiently. Domestic flights are a convenient option for long distances, while trains and buses provide affordable and scenic journeys. Boats and ferries are essential for exploring the islands and waterways. Consider the duration, cost, and comfort level when selecting your transportation options. 3. Accommodation Choices Vietnam offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference. From luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels and homestays, you’ll find plenty of options. Research and book your accommodations in advance to secure the best deals and availability, especially during peak tourist seasons. This will definately save you a lot of unnecesary headache on you Vietnam Trip. 4. Budgeting and Currency Determine your budget for the trip and allocate funds for accommodation, transportation, meals, activities, and souvenirs. Vietnam is generally an affordable destination, but prices can vary depending on the region and the level of luxury you seek. Familiarize yourself with the Vietnamese Dong (VND), the local currency, and be prepared to use cash for many transactions. ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in larger establishments, but it’s always advisable to carry some cash for smaller vendors and markets. Cultural Etiquette and Customs 1. Understanding Vietnamese Culture Familiarize yourself with Vietnamese culture to show respect and appreciation during your visit. The Vietnamese people value family, respect for elders, and harmonious relationships. Buddhism is the dominant religion, followed by Confucianism and Taoism, which influence the culture and traditions of the country. 2. Language Basics While English is spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases will go a long way in showing respect and making connections with the locals. Simple greetings, “hello” (xin chào), “thank you” (cám ơn), and “goodbye” (tạm biệt), will be appreciated. Check out our blog on the Vietnamese Language if you want to learn more about the local culture. 3. Dress Code and Respectful Behavior Vietnam is a conservative country, especially outside major cities. Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting temples, pagodas, or rural areas. Cover your shoulders and knees, and remove your shoes when entering religious sites. Avoid public displays of affection and be mindful of local customs and traditions. 4. Tipping and Bargaining Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, but it’s becoming more common in tourist areas. In restaurants, rounding up the bill or leaving a small tip is appreciated. Bargaining is also common in markets and smaller shops, so be prepared to negotiate prices, but always do so respectfully and with a smile. Packing Essentials 1. Clothing and Footwear Pack lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the tropical climate. Include comfortable walking shoes,

Unveiling the Best Restaurants in Hoi An

restaurants in hoi an

Hoi An, a charming ancient town in central Vietnam, is not only renowned for its rich history and picturesque landscapes but also for its vibrant food scene. From traditional Vietnamese cuisine to international flavours, Hoi An boasts an array of local restaurants that offer a gastronomic journey for food enthusiasts. Embark on a delightful culinary adventure with us, uncovering the best local restaurants in Hoi An. From hidden gems in the Old Town to local favourites off the beaten path, let us explore the diverse flavours, unique dishes, and captivating dining experiences that await. Top 7 Restaurants in Hoi An 1. Co Mai Restaurant Address: 2 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $$$ (Expensive) Co Mai Restaurant is a family-run gem that showcases the flavours of a fusion of Vietnamese and French cuisines. Nestled in a charming old house, Co Mai offers an intimate and authentic dining experience. The menu is carefully curated by Vietnam’s famous chef Didier Corlou, guaranteeing a true culinary adventure. The attentive and knowledgeable staff at Co Mai Restaurant adds to the overall dining experience, providing recommendations and sharing insights about the dishes. The cosy ambience, serene surroundings and dim lantern lights make it an ideal spot for a romantic dinner. The higher price range reflects the quality of ingredients and the attention to detail that goes into each dish. Dining at Co Mai is a chance to savour the flavours of Vietnam and experience the rich culinary heritage of Hoi An. Co Mai is undoubtedly one of our favourite restaurants in Hoi An for a romantic night out in the town. 2. Banh Mi Phuong Address: 2B Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $ (Inexpensive) Banh mi Phuong is a beloved local spot renowned for its delicious banh mi sandwiches and without a doubt one of the most famous restaurants in Hoi An. Located in the heart of town, this eatery offers a simple yet delightful menu. Their signature banh mi is made with a crispy baguette, flavorful fillings of various meats or tofu, fresh herbs, and pickled vegetables. They were even named the best banh mi in the world by Anthony Bourdain! So it is unsurprising that we know people flying all the way from Hanoi just to get a bite of banh mi Phuong. 3. Morning Glory Address: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $$ (Moderate) Morning Glory is one of the most renowned restaurants in Hoi An, offering a wide range of delectable Vietnamese dishes. The menu features classics like banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepes), Cao Lau (a local speciality), and Mi Quang (turmeric-infused noodles). The restaurant’s elegant setting and attentive service create a delightful dining experience. With a focus on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, Morning Glory embodies the essence of Vietnamese cuisine and is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. This restaurant is also just a few steps away from Hoi An’s most beautiful display of lanterns for the monthly Lantern Festival. 4. Nu Eatery Address: 10A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $$$ (Expensive) Nu Eatery is a hidden gem tucked away in a quaint alley of Hoi An’s Old Town. This modern Vietnamese restaurant offers a contemporary twist on traditional flavours. The menu showcases innovative dishes crafted with meticulous attention to detail. From the succulent grilled pork belly to the delicate seafood creations, each dish at Nu Eatery is a work of art. The cosy atmosphere, attentive service, and curated wine selection add to the overall dining experience. 5. White Rose Restaurant Address: 533 Hai Ba Trung Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $$ (Moderate) White Rose Restaurant is famous for its iconic Hoi An delicacy called “white rose dumplings.” This family-owned restaurant has been serving this specialty for generations, using a secret recipe passed down through the years. The delicate, translucent dumplings are filled with a mixture of minced shrimp and spices, steamed, and topped with crispy shallots. Accompanied by a tangy dipping sauce, the white rose dumplings are a must-try when visiting Hoi An. 6. Hai Cafe Restaurant and BBQ Courtyard Address: 98 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $$ (Moderate) Hai Cafe is a charming restaurant located in a colonial-style building in Hoi An’s Old Town. With its cosy ambience and nostalgic decor, it offers a perfect setting to enjoy a traditional Vietnamese meal. The menu features a variety of dishes, including iconic Vietnamese staples such as pho, bun cha, and fresh spring rolls. Hai Cafe also offers vegetarian and vegan options, ensuring that everyone can indulge in the flavours of Vietnam. 7. Mango Mango Address: 45 Nguyen Phuc Chu Street, Hoi AnPrice Range: $$$ (Expensive) Mango Mango is a sophisticated restaurant overlooking the Thu Bon River, offering a fusion of Vietnamese and international flavours. The menu showcases creative dishes that blend local ingredients with global culinary influences. From the succulent grilled seafood to the flavorful curries, each dish is crafted with precision and attention to detail. The elegant setting, attentive service, and breathtaking views make Mango Mango a top choice for a memorable dining experience. Hoi An’s culinary scene is a delight for food lovers, and exploring the local restaurants is a must to truly experience the flavours of this charming town. From savouring the iconic banh mi at Banh mi Phuong to indulging in the modern Vietnamese creations at Nu Eatery, each restaurant on this list offers a unique culinary adventure. Whether you prefer street food stalls or elegant establishments, Hoi An’s local restaurants cater to every taste and budget, ensuring a memorable gastronomic journey through the vibrant flavours of Vietnam.

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