Hoi An City of lanterns

Hoi An - City of Lanterns. Laterns festival

HOI AN CITY OF LANTERNS. Hoi An is a city in Viet Nam about 30km to the south of Danang. The Old Town of Hoi An is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a typical trading port in Southeast Asia from the 15th to the 19th century. Indeed, thanks to its favorable location, Chinese and Japanese settlement, Hoi An became a busy trading port. Moreover, the handicraft villages such as lanterns, carpentry, pottery, vegetables… also created the busy trading port of Hoi An.

In particular, Hoi An is considered as the cradle of pure Vietnamese lanterns. Anyone who has ever been to Hoi An cannot forget its nostalgic beauty. Walking through the old quarter, you will immerse yourself in typical buildings of the Old Town of Hoi An of the 18th and 19th centuries with wooden houses, mossy walls and street vendors. Throughout the streets, you can see beautiful lanterns in different shapes in every restaurant, shops, hotels… Definitely, Hoi An cannot be completely beautiful without lanterns. The harmony of lanterns’ colors, the authenticity and the tranquility of the city make us fall in love with Hoi An.

Furthermore, contemplating lanterns in Hoi An is really interesting. Indeed, at every moment, they all have their own beauty. We can see all delicacy, creativity and talent of artisans by looking at these lanterns in the morning with all their details. When night comes, lanterns are bright and full of magic colors. It is lanterns that bring to Hoi An the poetic nocturnal beauty.

Actually, lanterns appeared in the late 16th century when the first Chinese came to settle. They hung the lamp to deal with the feeling of nostalgia. According to the local population, the craftsman Huynh Van Ba was the first one who studied, created and integrated the cultural characteristics of Vietnam into traditional lanterns. The process of making a lantern is a meticulous work that requires many skills of artisans. The main materials used are bamboo and silk which are familiar images in Vietnamese people’s life.

At first, the upper class in society was the only one who could have big lanterns decorated with Chinese characters or paintings hanging at home. Gradually, lanterns became popular for the middle class in the form of home decor by retaining its beauty, luxury and inherent charm.

Nowadays, lanterns come in various shapes, sizes as well as methods of construction. They can be spherical lanterns, pumpkin-shaped lanterns or rotating lanterns. Each shape and color of the lantern has a different meaning. For example, the rounds symbolize harmony and balance. This is a typical shape of lantern in Hoi An. According to folklore, a lantern hanging in the house is the symbol bringing more warmth, peace and luck to the home. If you have the chance to visit Viet Nam, you should not miss Hoi An and the contemplation of lanterns. Source: vietnamtourism.com

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Danang City
Danang International airport
Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills

Source: vietnamtourism.com

Phu Quoc Vietnam’s Maldives

Take a summer trip to Vietnam's 'Maldives' Phu Quoc Island boasts sandy beaches, turquoise waters, historic relics, fresh seafood and more.

Phu Quoc Island boasts sandy beaches, turquoise waters, historic relics, fresh seafood and more. Lying on the southern coast off the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, Phu Quoc has become one of the top holiday destinations in Vietnam. Vietnam’s largest island has recently been named one of the most beautiful places in the country by U.S. news site CNN. However, the beach paradise has kept its best secrets awaiting to be discovered. With the summer vacation season calling, allow us to plan you a four-day trip to catch the best of the amazing island, dubbed ‘Vietnam’s Maldives’.

For a castaway-esque experience, head east to one of the oldest fishing villages on the glamorous island that lies just 20 kilometers to the south of Duong Dong Town, the capital of Phu Quoc. It is no exaggeration to call Ham Ninh a priceless jewel with pristine charm and beauty that has luckily escaped the tourism boom raging on Vietnam’s largest island. Locals still live in the same thatched houses and catch shrimp, fish, pearls and sea cucumbers to earn a living. Travel tip: Sunrise is the best time to stroll around Ham Ninh, and don’t forget to bring your camera with you to capture the best of the fishing village.

On the second day, wake up early to make your way to Sao Beach, one of the top beaches on Phu Quoc and dubbed as “crown jewel” of the pearl island by the U.K.’s Telegraph. From the downtown, hop in a taxi for around VND300,000 ($13) to get to the beach that boasts crystal blue water and stretches of soft white sand. A bit of advice: buy a package tour for VND550,000 ($24) per person for hands-on experience. The tour includes a 30-minute motorboat ride, snorkeling on the coral reef and squid-fishing at night.

Once branded “Hell on Earth” for its notorious jail, Phu Quoc Prison is living witness to the most horrifying scenes of oppression during wartime that has left mysterious and creepy stories behind. A tour here will render every heart heavy but will make your trip a lot more memorable. And don’t miss a chance to drop by Dinh Cau (Cau Temple), which is just 25 kilometers from the prison. Get lost and allow your breath to be taken away as the sun goes down over the shimmering water. Prepare to take your wallet with you for a night trip to the Phu Quoc night market, which has around 50 food stalls serving a wide range of Vietnamese seafood. It is a great place for anyone who wants to go out for a late bite.

Leaving the noisy downtown behind, pack up and head north around 20 kilometers to Ganh Dau Cape, one of the few inhabited and secluded gems on Phu Quoc. It would be a waste of a trip not to set foot on Ganh Dau and enjoy the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere. Tourism is not yet a popular term here, so services are still underdeveloped. Don’t expect a fancy world of restaurants and bars, but instead try little homestay facilities willing to treat you to exotic seafood dishes. After that, take a trek through the primitive forests in Phu Quoc National Park which is home to a rich variety of fauna and flora. If you have enough time, try to conquer Chua Mountain at a height of 565 meters above sea level, considered the roof of Phu Quoc.

It’s not difficult to find all the local specialties in markets on Phu Quoc. Among them are honey, pearls, fish sauce, pepper and Rose Myrtle wine.

If you’re a fan of straight-from-the-sea food, the best time to touch down in Phu Quoc Island is between May and November which is the fishing season. But if you wish to get a true taste of Phu Quoc’s culinary world, do not miss a noodle soup called “bun quay,” or stirred noodles, at the intersection of Tran Phu and Cach Mang Thang Tam, raw herring salad served with Phu Quoc’s fish sauce on Tran Hung Dao Street, and thick noodles with mackerel on Bach Dang Street. Plus, several famous restaurants in Phu Quoc that you should note down are Com Bac 123 on April 30 Street, Hello on Tran Hung Dao Street, and Quoc Anh on Bach Dang Street.

From Hanoi and Saigon, the best way to reach Phu Quoc, which was named among the top 10 destinations in Southeast Asia by the U.K. travel magazine Rough Guides, is flying. Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air have direct flights to Phu Quoc every day. Return tickets usually cost VND1 million ($44) from HCMC and VND2 million from Hanoi.

Phu Quoc International Airport stands around five kilometers (three miles) from the downtown. You can take a shuttle bus from the airport or call a cab to get into the town center. Those who start their trips from HCMC can also opt for a sleeper coach to Rach Gia or Ha Tien, and then take a high-speed boat. It takes six to eight hours by coach and costs from VND150,000 to VND190,000. High-speed boat tours are available at 8 a.m. and 8.45 a.m. every day with tickets priced at VND340,000 per person. A bit of advice: book your tickets in advance during the peak travel season to avoid higher costs. Once in town, you can hire motorbikes for VND120,000-150,000 per day or book a car for around VND750,000 per day if you’re traveling in a group of five to seven. You can ask your hotel or homestay to help you with this.

For accommodations, a number of four-star hotels and resorts scattered around Duong Dong Town, the capital of Phu Quoc, cost from VND1.5 million per night for two people. For cheaper options, take a look at the hotels on Nguyen Dinh Chieu, April 30 and Nguyen An Ninh streets, with prices ranging from VND300,000 to VND500,000 per night. Homestay services are also worth consideration. You can choose from D’Hotel, 9 Station Hotel and 88 Hilltop Hostel & Villa on Tran Hung Dao Street, and Cottage Village and Peace House along Tran Hung Dao Street. Prices range from VND150,000 to VND300,000 per night.

The best time to make a trip to Phu Quoc is between October and May, with the rain long gone and the sun shining down on crystal blue waters.  Avoid the crowds and beware of the heat and scorching sun. Phu Quoc is also home to other places of interest, including Nguyen Trung Truc Temple, Ho Quoc Pagoda, Khem Beach, Long Beach and the Rach Vem fishing village.

Read more: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa
Radisson Blu Resort Phu Quoc

Liveinmuine.com providing a reliable and affordable hotel transfer service. We operating all over Vietnam. You’ll get a direct door-to-door transfer directly to your destination. Whether it’s an airport, port, train station, town or city we have the right vehicle for you. So, tell us where and when you’d like to go, whatever time day or night our vehicles could be available to suit all your needs. Moreover, check also sightseeing tours, personal driver service, and Muine quality accommodation options. Thank you!

Good morning Vietnam

VIETNAM passes the test of the three Cs: it’s cheap, cheerful and close – and, in these difficult times, it is safe. Vietnam will become an increasingly important destination for international tourists and has the potential to become the most popular Asian destination. It not only offers superb beaches and bargain shopping, but the Vietnamese cuisine also is a delight and the chance of picking up food bugs is minimal.  

Visitors either enter in the south at Ho Chi Minh City (it was Saigon) and slowly make their way north to the capital Hanoi or vice versa. They can use Ho Chi Minh City as a base to explore the Mekong Delta, which is the rice bowl of the country and worth an overnight trip. The meander north can include Nha Trang, a one-hour flight north from HCMC and a very relaxing beach stopover. It is similar to Bali, with hawkers on the beach to make life more bearable, selling fresh fruit, beer, T-shirts, postcards, jewelry… you name it and they sell it. Unlike Bali, however, the hawkers are usually happy to take “no” for an answer.

The next 60-minute flight took us from Nha Trang to the coastal town of Da Nang where China Beach became a famous R&R spot for troops during the Vietnam War. A 30-minute hair-raising drive from Da Nang was Hoi An, the town of tailors – almost 800 of them to be precise. They can knock up any sort of clothing in two days – suits, jackets, slacks, skirts, and shirts – and that includes at least one fitting. Prices range from about $10 for shirts up to $120 for suits and it is very competitive.

A complete wardrobe revamp could take a few days but the money saved could pay for the trip, so don’t miss Hoi An. For visitors more interested in the beach, a beautiful strip of white sand is just 5km from the town where there are several high-class resorts. A two-hour bus trip from Hoi An leads north to Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam. A must-see for visitors is the old city and citadel which is being rebuilt after extensive damage during the war.

Fighting around Hue was intense and the town was retaken by the Vietcong during the Tet Offensive – a nationwide uprising in 1968, which claimed 1000 American and 2000 South Vietnamese army deaths while the North Vietnamese lost 32,000 troops. It was the beginning of the end of the war but it was not until 1975 that the Americans pulled out. Another 90-minute flight took us from Hue to Hanoi and back to the big-city bustle where the motorcycle is king.

Hanoi has three million people and two million motorcycles and very little in the way of road rules. It is organized chaos, as horns constantly toot and bikes dive into holes in the traffic. Little wonder that about 30 people die every day on Vietnam roads. There’s no break in the traffic, so crossing the street is an art that has to be learned quickly. It’s a case of slowly moving across the street, no sudden movements while making eye contact with oncoming drivers. The traffic flows around pedestrians. The trick is to do this while praying and avoiding the almost overwhelming temptation to panic and run.

A welcome break from Hanoi was a trip to Halong Bay – three hours by bus but a world away cruising the bay that is littered with unusual limestone rock formations. Old junks have been rebuilt to cater for six couples in cabins with their own en suites. Very civilized, and all for around $50 a head for the two days with meals thrown in. Another Hanoi sanity stopover is Sapa, an overnight train trip away in the highlands near the Chinese border.

While Hanoi and, to a lesser extent Ho Chi Minh City, are interesting, they are also heavily polluted, so it is best to spend most of a Vietnam visit in the provinces. After hundreds of years of war with the Chinese, the French, and then the Americans, the good times have finally come to these resilient and resourceful people. Vietnam is no longer at war. It’s a country going places with plenty to offer.”

Source: http://www.news.com.au

Liveinmuine.com providing a reliable and affordable hotel transfer service. We operating all over Vietnam. You’ll get a direct door-to-door transfer directly to your destination. Whether it’s an airport, port, train station, town or city we have the right vehicle for you. So, tell us where and when you’d like to go, whatever time day or night our vehicles could be available to suit all your needs. Moreover, check also sightseeing tours, personal driver service, and Muine quality accommodation options. Thank you!

Sapa roof of Vietnam

Sapa roof of Vietnam: Just another reason to visit the roof of Vietnam, Sapa. Sapa in Vietnam’s northern province of Lao Cai has become more touristy in recent years, so it is important for those who love the pristine beauty of the town to find a place where they can breath in the fresh air, dive into the green jungle, gaze over the vast paddy fields and experience the ethnic culture.

Aware of that demand, National Geographic has the answer: Topas Ecolodge in Ban Lech Village. Naming the lodge on its new list of Unique Lodges of the World, the U.S.-based publisher suggests to its readers to “wake in the morning to the mist rising with the sun and spend your days exploring the surrounding forests and ethnic villages, and you’ll start to feel the pull of the hill tribes’ centuries-old lifestyle, native to these mountains and virtually untouched by the modern world.” This is because “the stilted common buildings at the heart of the lodge were sourced from a nearby community of ethnic Tay people; and private guest bungalows swirl along the ridgeline, ensuring a spectacular view no matter which one you check in to.”

Opened in 2005 on a mountaintop far from the emerging tourist hub of Sapa Town, Topas Ecolodge offers its guests a rare experience of culture, as there are five different native tribes in the region with distinctive languages and lifestyles. Surrounded by mountains and green rice paddies, the hilltop resort is the first in Vietnam and the 5th in Asia to make the National Geographic list. Last year, it was also ranked first by the site on the list of “21 places to stay if you care about the planet.” All of its 33 white bungalows overlook a spectacular landscape view of terraced rice fields and magnificent mountains, including the rooftop of Southeast Asia, Mount Fansipan. Other lodges in Asia that made the list are Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Malaysia, Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia, Twinkle Valley in China, and Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Bhutan.” Source: e.vnexpress.net

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Sapa Fansipan railway line

Liveinmuine.com providing a reliable and affordable hotel transfer service. We operating all over Vietnam. You’ll get a direct door-to-door transfer directly to your destination. Whether it’s an airport, port, train station, town or city we have the right vehicle for you. So, tell us where and when you’d like to go, whatever time day or night our vehicles could be available to suit all your needs. Moreover, check also sightseeing tours, personal driver service, and Muine quality accommodation options. Thank you!

Cat Ba Island

The dragon, sent by the Jade Emperor, descended from heaven into the sea and sprayed a thousand pearls from its mouth. From these cascading pearls, the 1,600 shaggy limestone stacks of Halong Bay emerged, a huge curvature of jumbled karst fortress designed to protect Vietnam from invaders in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Most visitors to Vietnam sail past the rocky outcrops – some soaring 100m high – on boat cruises, but last month Vietnam’s first tourism seaplane launched, flying visitors over the Unesco world heritage site and giving them spectacular dragon-eye views.    

Hai Au Aviation’s Cessna Grand Caravan, carrying 10 passengers, flies low over the entire panoramic karst fest – a vast area of 43,400 ha of drowned limestone karst some 165 km from the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in northern Vietnam.

The towering outcrops of Halong Bay, which means ‘where the dragon descends to the sea’, dwarfed the pleasure boats on their overnight cruises and from the air the forested boulders now looked like mossy lumps and bumps – the stepping stones of a giant, plopped on an emerald green pond.

As a passenger on the first flight, I could see parts of the bay not visible from a cruise boat – lush, sculpted valleys and hidden lakes which shimmered in the late afternoon sun. It was like glimpsing a primeval land untouched since the mother goddess of Vietnam Au Co, and the dragon prince, Lac Long Quan, met on earth thousands of years ago before they gave birth to the ancestors of modern Vietnam.

The new seaplane service also takes visitors to the bay from Hanoi airport – a 30 minute flight compared to four hours by road – before landing at the local marina. From here, visitors board different cruises, with varying price tags, to explore Halong Bay by boat.

Designated a Unesco world heritage site 20 years ago this year, the bay is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions. It is only recently though, that a small number of cruise boats have ventured further east into the Gulf of Tonkin, to the outer rocky flanks of Bai Tu Long.

I escaped the congestion of Halong Bay with Bhaya’s three-day cruise to Bai Tu Long on the Au Co with her 32 handsome wood cabins with balconies.

The white ship (in a mysterious move, authorities ordered all the boats in the bay to be painted white, the same color as the fog that can envelop the area) heads first to Bai Tu Long, the outer battlements of the limestone fort, before cruising back through Halong Bay at the end of the trip.

Bai Tu Long means ‘the place where the dragon children descended’. It’s an isolated, otherworldly, remote area of the gulf, scattered with knobbly peaks, pillars fringed with untidy twigs, solid limestone sentinels cut with sheer bare-faced rock and, every once in a while, an apron of creamy sand seen tied to the base of the towers.

We cruised to one of these – Vung Ha Beach – a crescent-shaped bay at the base of a crouching outcrop with jagged, castellated peaks. After kayaking through the undercut of a nearby stack, we abandoned the paddles and dived in to the warm, papaya green waters. After a long soak, it was time to sit on coral-shattered sands that were perfumed by the fragrance of a white bloom floating over the beach.

Back on board, we supped on the happy hour flow of cocktails and Hanoi beer with the Au Co guests, hailing from Australia, Europe, America and Vietnam. At dusk, when the wings of the golden crow – the sun of Vietnam’s creation story – hovered over the unkempt rocky lumps, fishing boats puttered by and sampans slouched under the overhangs. Then, when the graceful swan of the moon ascended, all that was visible in this distant spot away from other tour boats were the dying violet clouds and inky black outlines of limestone monoliths. The stars hung very far away in the intensely black sky and the small wake of the fishing boats caused the moonlight to shimmer in slithers, making it look as if stars were dropping into the waters.

Our breakfast in the Au Co dining room came with more spectacular views as we cruised just meters past the scattered islands of Bai Tu Long. Some of the pillars were jagged like the scales of a mythical dragon, some just stumps, others appeared in traditional jelly-mold shape and some like a batch of misshapen rock cakes. In the distance, we spied a dense army of lead grey pillars studded with the tufts of hardy plants glued to the vertical shafts of the rock.

Sheltered in a barnacled corner of Bai Tu Long is Vung Vieng village. In an attempt to control pollution in the bay, fisherman has either been exported to land or corralled into floating communities by the government. We boarded bamboo boats so the locals could row us around their village and oyster pearl farming plots. Au Co’s Mr Tuan explained: “Locals sell these pearls for jewelry, cosmetics, and medicine. It takes a year to 18 months to cultivate pearls but only around 30 percent of the farmed oysters grow pearls.”

After being rowed around Vung Vieng and a lot of leisurely sitting around under the canvas umbrellas of the Au Co, we all felt it was time to exercise – but not before feasting for lunch. The Au Co’s cuisine is based on the Taoist philosophy of balance and harmony and our five course meals included delicate dragon fruit and Phan Thiet scallops, grilled minced Halong fish on lemongrass, chicken roulade with onion cream, and an intense passion fruit pannacotta.

Stomachs full, we moored off the south-east corner of Cat Ba, the largest island in Halong Bay, a colossal karst platform, straggled by smaller tiny islands, and home to a rare and endemic primate.

“In 1960, there were 2,700 Cat Ba langurs, but they’ve all been eaten,” Mr Tuan told us. “Since 2000, the number has increased from 53 to 65, and there is now good conservation education in the local villages.”

Accompanied by zooming green dragonflies, we biked through a Jurassic Park wonderland of limestone walls flanked with feral plants and bushes to Viet Hai, a small, repopulated village where the Au Co employs locals at its organic farm. We didn’t see any primates above ground but below ground was a different story.

Halong Bay’s grottoes have been visited since the French discovered them more than 100 years ago. At Hang Sung Sot (Surprise Cave), Mr Tuan pointed out the subterranean images seen in the whipped up floors and ceilings of the chambers – Kong Kong’s face was here, a turtle symbolizing longevity there, and the tail of a dragon rippled above our heads. It reminded us, again, of Halong’s ‘descending dragon’ and its protection of this extraordinary Unesco landscape.

Best time to visit: Halong Bay can be visited year-round. The best time to visit is September and October, and March and April.

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Danang City
Hanoi the Capital of Vietnam
Hue Imperial City
Hoi An Ancient Town

Liveinmuine.com providing a reliable and affordable hotel transfer service. We operating all over Vietnam. You’ll get a direct door-to-door transfer directly to your destination. Whether it’s an airport, port, train station, town or city we have the right vehicle for you. So, tell us where and when you’d like to go, whatever time day or night our vehicles could be available to suit all your needs. Moreover, check also sightseeing tours, personal driver service, and Muine quality accommodation options. Thank you!