A wonderful trip on the Mekong Delta

We just got back from a two-day private tour to Mekong Delta spending the night in a homestay (which was pre-arranged by Mrs Trang of Eviva tour).

Different from the previous trip, we wanted to experience the daily life of local people in the Mekong Delta. “Abundant” is the best adjective to describe the delta. Created by alluvium of mighty Mekong River, the Mekong Delta is the biggest rice-growing region in the country and Vietnamese often refer it as Vietnam’s rice basket. The region is crisscrossed by the chocolate-coloured canals encompassing green fields and peaceful villages. This fertile delta nourishes the cultivation of not only rice, but also sugarcane, fruit, coconut, fish and shrimp which sustains life of its inhabitants. Everything grown in this land has its own purposes. For example, rice, fish and shrimps are used for daily meals; leaves are for salads and soups; fruit is used for desserts; banana stems are for rope and floating raft and water hyacinth is used for feeding cattle. Life of people here also depends on the river. With the help of our tour guide, it is not difficult to find a three-generation family that was born, lives and earns their livings in their vessels and homes on the water.

Fruit in Mekong Delta

Floating market of Cai Be is the most popular “work place” of people here. The daily life in Cai Be floating market starts from early dawn with noises and shouts of busy people and ends at noon. Dozens of boats carrying large amount of sugar cane, pineapples, jackfruit, pumpkins and vegetables were rowing around. Each boat has a tall wooden pole which displays a sample of what the boat’s owner sells, so that goods can be “advertised” and seen from a long distance.

Besides, there were many boats offering local soups, snacks and even coffee for dealers and buyers attending the market.

Customers generally use smaller boats which are filled with various products purchased.

We spent our night at a local family who offered homestay options. Everything was very simple and pretty much as what we expected from a Mekong Delta homestay – no hot water, no TV and of course, no wifi. The host was open, friendly and easygoing. She showed us around the backyard garden and duck farm where she collected almost everything to prepare for our meals. For dinner we had a selection of delicious Mekong food including duck soup with bamboo and a deep fried fish with mango sauce that was freshly caught from the river outside the house. All was cooked perfectly and full of flavour. To accompany the main dishes, we had fresh salad, vegetables and lots of other tropical fruit. I have included some photos below showing all the weird but juicy fruits growing in the garden of our host family.

If you are planning to travel to Vietnam, I really recommend a Mekong Delta trip with home-stay to get a much closer insight into the way of life in this wonderful part of the world.

Experience 6 Tops Beach Resorts in Mui Ne, Phan Thiet

Known as the heaven of resorts, it is not a surprise that Mui Ne has lots of top resorts along the beach. These resorts do not simply amaze you with their fancy architecture but also their high-quality services. Here are 6 beach resorts in Mui Ne, Phan Thiet we recommend for you:

1. Sea Links City Resort

Right at the waterfront of Mui Ne beach, Sea Links City Resort situates in a prime location on a hill which is 1000 meters above sea-level. Looked down from the sky, Sea Links City embraces the entire Mui Ne Bay. The resort with open modern plans offers you a spectacular paranormal view of the paradise bay.

Here you can spend your day enjoy regular activities like sea bathing, basking, or reading by the beach. Besides, you may also want to take a stroll along the beach while the sun sets over the endless skyline. Visiting nearby fishing villages on a scooter is another choice for you. When the night falls down, you might want to gather around the fire, dancing, singing, and enjoy the freshly caught seafood. These experiences would definitely be unforgettable.

2. Takalau Resort

Just about 3 kilometres from Phan Thiet city, hillside Takalau Resort hides under the lush green of coconut leaves. The resort comprises a number of villas with a unique design, a clever combination of classical and modern style embellished by Vietnamese traditional patterns. In addition, each villa has its own swimming pool, suitable for families and groups of friends who would like to be private.

Someone might say, Takalau Resort looks like a giant flower garden. Indeed, you can spend your whole day wandering under a colourful curtain of Bougainvillaeas, lying on the soft grass reading your favourite book or swinging under the palms facing the cool ocean breeze. Such relaxation you hardly find elsewhere.

3. The Cliff Resort & Residents

The Cliff Resort & Residents sit comfortably atop the rocky and gentle slopes, offers you a breathtaking panoramic view of the ocean. Accommodation options range from the Azul room with picturesque ocean vistas to the elegant Terra rooms, which boast a panoramic ocean view and sun deck. All offer you an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the unbelievable natural beauty.

The Cliff Resorts and Resident offers almost every service you can think of. From fancy restaurants and bars to the luxurious spa. From water sports like windsurfing and sailing to the area only reserved to watch the starry sky of Mui Ne. The complex will certainly meet your expectations.

4. Princess D’Ân Nam Resort

Only 30 kilometres from Phan Thiet, Princess D’Ân Nam Resort rests in the peaceful heart of Ke Ga Bay. Designed by world famous architect, Tan Hock Beng, this luxury resort is also home to an award-winning spa, two epicurean restaurants, a bar, serene pools, function rooms for private and corporate events, and heliconia-filled gardens.

Spanning over 45 acres on a long stretch overlooking the East Sea, it is famed for its natural beauty – stunning mountains, red canyons, sand dunes, rich ecosystem – and its historic lighthouse built by the French in 1899. At the Princess D’Ân Nam, you can live your days in a relaxed and luxury environment personified just for your wonderful vacation.

5. Green Papaya Organic Village Resort

Located at Tien Thanh Beach, Green Papaya Organic Village Resort is surrounded by a traditional fishing village. This is an ideal place for tourists who trying to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. The resort has six villas along the coast, standing out by sophisticated carved Vietnamese furniture. Not just the environment-friendly architectural styles, the resort will also make you fall in love with their fresh garden. Vegetables from this garden will be the ingredients for your delicious seafood meal in the resort.

6. Anantara Mui Ne Resort

One of the first five-star resorts in Vietnam, Anantara Mui Ne Resort can bring you unique and memorable experiences. The resort has 89 rooms which are a harmonious combination between Vietnamese traditional and the contemporary design. Besides the private stone bathroom and swimming pool, there are also many gymnasiums with the shady garden frontage. The outdoor restaurant with high-quality facilities creates a luxurious and romantic space for you. Tourists can also take part in water activities on the beach or discover the local life in a nearby fishing village.

Resource: http://blog.evivatour.com

Top 4 Must-visit Forests in Mekong Delta Vietnam

Imagine yourself on a rustic boat in the middle of a lush green world of a typical tropical forest, admire the very distinctive species you have never known of its existence. Come to these untouched forests of the Mekong Delta Vietnam and experience the most get-in-touch-with-nature moments of your life.

Tra Su Forest in An Giang

Just about 20 km southwest from Chau Doc, Tra Su Forest is an evergreen ecosystem of cajuput trees lining in dusty paths and a flooded mangrove forest. The forest of 850 hectares is a natural paradise which homes 140 types of flora, 70 species of birds, 11 types of animals, 25 species of reptiles, and 23 kinds of fish. After getting on a rustic narrow boat, you will begin your journey into the world of an endless green. You will find yourselves zipping through a living carpet of water lettuce, so dense that you might forget that you are actually on the water. It costs 150,000 VND ($6.66 USD) for a boat. So if you are by yourself see if you can split a boat with another group.

Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap

The picturesque Tram Chim National Park, awash with tall grass, homes over 230 different birds, from slender-necked storks to the towering sarus cranes. The national park spreads around on 7,000 hectares of waterlogged land. Visit Tram Chim Park, you will have chance to admire the majestic flooded forests on boat, which will come within a few hundred meters from the various species of birds. You might also want to see the panoramas of the park’s greenery and birds in flight from the watchtower. There are several different routes for you to go around the park. The shortest route lasts for about 45 minutes (VND500,000 per boat) offer you a brief glimpse of the park. Longer routes will take you deeper into bird-watching territory.

Tan Lap Floating Village in Long An

Tan Lap floating village is an attractive tourism destination, exclusively for young backpackers. Located in the heart of Dong Thap Muoi Area, the village is a typical flooded land of the region. It is home to cajuput forest, lotus – water lily, water hyacinth, wild rice and hundred species of birds and fishes. Visit Tan Lap Floating Village Eco-tourism Site, you will have chance to walk on the path through cajuput forest and enjoy the panorama view of the cajuput forest from the observation tower. You may also want to take a boat along Rung Canal. It only costs 50,000 VND for one ticket with rowing boat and 130,000 VND for motorboat. The boatman will guide you to explore and learn about the vast eco-system of the forest.

U Minh Ha National Park in Ca Mau

Located in the southermost province of Ca Mau, U Minh Ha National Park is another natural gift of the Mekong Delta Vietnam. The 8,000ha national park has diverse varieties of flora and fauna typical of a seasonal wetland. The flora system includes immense cajuput forests on peat soil, seasonally flooded grasslands and vacant swamps. Visitors can use a boat or take in views from a 25-metre high tower. Freshwater fish are now reproducing in the park’s submerged forests. Visitors can join local people to fish, or collect honey from beehives.

Source: Blog.evivatour.com

Best tips to save money when traveling in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the most affordable travel destinations in Asia, where budget-conscious tourists can enjoy a wide range of activities, attractions, and local delicacies. Follow our Vietnam travel tips on how to save money in Vietnam, which comprises essential aspects such as accommodation, dining, and shopping.

Eat like a local

Bun Cha, a delicious famous dishes in Vietnam, usually costs less than 2 dollars. (Photo from pasgo.vn)

Vietnam has recently become a popular destination for tourists, therefore a lot of restaurants and hostels serve Western food with a rather higher price. However, this is rarely worth the extra cost since the local street food is cheap and yet very delicious. Often times the most authentic dishes can be found in roadside eateries, vibrant markets, and food carts. Eating at street stalls is not only the best ways to discover Vietnamese cuisine, but is also incredibly cheap. For example, a bowl of Phở costs just about 40,000 VND (less than $2). Rice dishes, banh mi, spring rolls, and banh xeo are often at a similar price. Pick a stand, do what the locals do and go for it. If you want a truly authentic Vietnamese dining experience, eat a meal with a local family in home-stay or learn to cook the dishes with cooking classes.

Drink like a local

Bia Hoi Junction in the Old Quarter is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. (Photo from vietnamnet.com)

Beer in a Southeast Asian country like Vietnam is cheap. A bottle of Tiger or Saigon costs you around VND 20,000 (under $1). However, there’s an even much cheaper one is ‘bia hoi’. This ‘cheapest beer in the world’ is a draught beer freshly brewed on the day and served from a keg or container on the side of the street. Nothing beats sitting on a street corner on a plastic chair, sipping this cheap and cheerful beer at around 15-30 cents. If you’re in Hanoi, Bia Hoi Junction in the Old Quarter is a great place to sit and watch the world go by. However, there’s a drawback that it contains only 4% of alcohol. So if it’s not enough, beers such as Tiger are available.

And bargain like a real one, too

Bargaining is a must to save some money as sellers often charge higher for tourists. (Photo from seektheuniq.com)

Shopping is one of the best things to do in Vietnam, here you can find unique handicrafts and local food at relatively affordable prices. However, selling and buying in Vietnam tend to need some tactics. As a tourist, you should expect to be charged more than the true price of an item or service, but don’t take it too serious cause that’s just the way it goes around here. Be confident and find ways of bargaining. Also, take your time searching for good Vietnamese souvenirs and gifts for your family and friends.

Here are some tips for bargaining in Vietnam:
– First ask the price, then ask if the price can be reduced.
– If the answer is yes, then offer about one-half of the asking price.
– After some counteroffers, you and the seller will agree on a price that is about half to two-thirds of the original asking price.
– You can leave if you think the final offer is too high.
– Tell the sellers you have visited several shops and you knew the price.
– If you don’t really want to buy, don’t open negotiations.
– If you are going to shop there frequently, your relationship with the sellers will be important and eventually, his opening prices will be lower.
– In some cases, learning a little Vietnamese can help.

Find the right place to stay

Night Time Photo of District 1, the Tourist and Backpacker Area of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City (HCM), often called by its former name, Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam. It is located near the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam and is a popular starting point for tourists wanting to travel in Southeast Asia.

Backpackers’ areas are great to save money when you travel in Vietnam as you can find just about anything that you want without being charged unreasonably high for it. Wherever you go, hostels are among the cheapest options you can find if you’re traveling on a tight budget. These areas usually have funky bars, roadside eateries, street markets and countless tour companies. Accommodation options here comprise guesthouses, hostels, and motels. A typical backpackers’ district in Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City’s Pham Ngu Lao Street. If you want it to be more private, most hostels in Vietnam offer rooms for couples or singles at higher rates.

What to see in Phu Quoc Island

The Phu Quoc Island is quite large with over 40 kilometers from north to south so you should rent a motorbike to get around Phu Quoc Island with just $10 per day. Beside, you can also rent a taxi for about $35 per day. If you want to have a motorbike tour, you should contact “D.S” Bar. Stephane, the owner, can advise you great itineraries. He used to be a tour-guide on this island; he speaks English, French and Spanish fluently. At D.S Bar, you can have a drink with good music, “flat” pool table and cheap cocktails. “D.S” Bar is opened until late night.

Roads going round the North Western corner of the island are an interesting ride with car or motorbike, the roads are quiet and safe and easy to ride. During your ride, you can stop for coffee or lunch at the Chez Carole Resort to see the views to the mouth of the Cua Can River.

an thoi phu quoc

Phu Quoc also is famous for fishing town of An Thoi at the Southern tip of the island. There are some fishing boats to see and you can also hire a boat to take you to other small islands in the South of Phu Quoc.

sao beach phu quoc

The prettiest beach on the island is Sao Beach can be founded at the Southeastern corner of the island with a restaurant/cafe and sun-bathing facilities. There are also quite nice beaches at the westernmost shores of the island and on the road east from Ganh Dau goes through dense forests.

There are beautiful pearl farms on the Western side of the island and South of Duong Dong. The Phu Quoc Pearl Farm is about 10 kilometers away, and they have a café, restaurant and a shop selling pearl products.

Phu Quoc Pearl Farm

Pepper farms at Phu Quoc Island should be visited, it clearly shown on the tourist map. The pepper plant is growing hanging from a long pole, with small green peppers in them. You can also buy pepper products to bring home as souvenirs

Phu Quoc is famous for Fish sauce. Phu Quoc’s fish sauce receives a lot of love from people not only in Vietnam but also in foreign countries. Some of the fish sauce factories can be visited.

Phu Quoc fish sauce

Ham Ninh fishing village on the East coast across the island from Duong Dong is also recommended when coming to Phu Quoc. In the dark, watching the local fishermen who uses attach lamps on their boats to attract squid is interesting thing you should not miss.

There is also a special breed of dogs that live on the island, they are similar to normal dogs except for the fact that they have 2 special markings on their back and this breed of dogs are more intelligent than others.

by Bonvini Monica


Non Nuoc village

After a 15-minute ride from the centre of Danang, the biggest city on the Central Coast of Vietnam, I reached its renowned stone carving village, Non Nuoc, which lies at the foot of the picturesque Marble Mountain.

Non Nuoc village

In the village, there are thousands of craftsmen working day and night to turn stone into works of art.

Speaking with 89-year-old Le Ben, one of the oldest artisans in the village, I found out that about 400 years ago, this village was established by Thanh Hoa resident Huynh Ba Quat, an expert in carving.

Le Ben shared that in the first half of the 17th century, Huynh Ba Quat left his hometown and went to Marble Mountain. Realsing that the area was abundant in marble, he decided to take some home and turned it into epitaphs and millstones. After receiving complements from villagers, Huynh Ba Quat passed his skills on to the younger generation.

“At that time, the most popular marble products were stone blocks to anchor boats, a variety of millstones, and tombstones. Besides, sculpture of sacred dragons, phoenix, turtles for pagoda, temples, and mausoleums were also in high demand,” says Le Ben.

Almost every tombstone in Quang Nam-Danang area from the 17th century to now has been made by Non Nuoc artisans. The Non Nuoc villages now also carve historical figures, spiritual characters and international celebrities.

Walking along Huyen Tran Cong Chua street, which features about one third of the stone art producing houses in Non Nuoc village, I was taken aback by thousands of stone artifacts of many sizes. The majority are spiritual, such as statues of Buddha, Maitreya, and Guanyin. There are also scared animals such as the dragon, phoenix, lion and elephant.

According to Tran An, the owner of Tran An Stone, the village’s leading sellers are statues of Vietnamese spiritual characters: “In order to meet the need of foreign visitors, we also make Christian characters like Jesus and Saint Mary.”

Love and dedication is needed to produce each piece and some take an artisan weeks or even months to finish. “If you are hardworking, you can create a miniature after a few months of learning. However in order to carve a more complicated statue, you have to study for years,” Tran An explains.

No easy task

On the trip, I met a young craftsman named Tuan who has been studying carving for two years. “Before carving, we have to make a sketch on a stone block first. When I started learning, I made a lot of mistakes such as chiseling too hard or too soft. As a result, it took me months to finish my first product, which was only 20-centimeters high,” Tuan shared.

One of the hardships that Non Nuoc artisans have to face is breathing dusty air everyday. As a result, many people have to resign because of lung diseases even though their love for carving is still burning. Instead, they move to the sales teams so that they can contribute to their traditional profession.

Attracting tourists

American tourist, Alena, told me that she heard about this village from a friend. “When I saw the miniature sculpture he brought home, I knew that I would visit Vietnam someday.”

My taxi driver, Luong, told me that an Australian came and spent over US$200,000 on marble here. “They don’t have this type of art in other countries, so people are willing to spend thousands of dollars,” he said. “Yesterday a lady bought a 1.3 meter high Guanyin statue for about VND80 million (US$3,700).”

Currently, Non Nuoc village is home to around 500 manufacturers providing over 4,000 jobs with an average wage of VND2-3 million (US$92-134), which can give a Danang family a decent life.

Say goodbye to Non Nuoc village, I could see a bright future for Danang city and Ngu Hanh Son district in particular.


Why do you freaking honk?

In Vietnam, it’s pretty much the first one, and it sounds so bad on the packed roads of Saigon. Let me put the question another way.

The usual heavy traffic in Ho Chi Minh often comes with a lot of honking. Photo credit: Bloomberg

The usual heavy traffic in Ho Chi Minh often comes with a lot of honking. Photo credit: Bloomberg

Is honking free speech or a crime?
I was traveling to work this morning when the driver of a giant public bus kept honking his horn on tiny Nguyen Du Street. Cars and motorbikes tried to give way, but there was not much space.
So the bus driver kept at it until we all came to a red light. 30 seconds… 15… 5… 3… BEEP! BEEP! He was honking again even before the green light was back on. I turned into another road just to escape from him.
Some people say public bus drivers have time pressure. But it is not just them who are horn-happy. Many others are also quick on the draw, blowing the horn for no reason except that they want to go ahead.
My foreign friends say they can get at least one middle finger shown if they honk at another driver to indicate they want them to give way.
One afternoon two years ago my friend was driving me around Kuala Lumpur when a car in front of her kept zigzagging. We never found out if the driver was high on drugs, drunk or sick.
My friend had to slow down for fear of getting into a crash, but after around five minutes she lost patience.
She honked loud and long, which made the driver drive straight and move to one side for her to pass.
She immediately sped up.
“That driver might follow us and beat us,” she told me.
A Filipino friend in the car was also scared.
“What do you do that for?” he almost screamed.
I was not. Unfortunately, in Vietnam, you are not scared of honking at people. Honking is so loud and so often in the country that people just seem to accept it, and you should be scared, in fact, of asking them not to honk.
Vehicle horns are designed for the primary purpose of warning other vehicles of danger. Some also use it to punish others doing the wrong thing on the road, like my friend did.
But somewhere along the way, it has become habitual and a major cause of noise pollution, not just in Vietnam but around the world. The World Health Organization said in a 2011 report that one million healthy life years were lost every year due to traffic-related noise in Western Europe.
Since honking is a habit, it is hard to stop, just like we cannot stop people from using plastic bags or smoking even by printing graphic lung and throat cancer images on the pack.
From what I have read, there is a campaign in Mumbai to curb its honking “epidemic” by installing a device called Bleep to help drivers become aware of their unconscious honking.
It is a red button with a frowning face near the steering wheel that beeps repeatedly when the driver honks. They have to press the button to silence it.
Tests found honking by cars with the button reduced by 61 percent.
Most other countries use cash fines, which is US$350 in New York. In Peru, which is also known for its honking problem, the police can seize the vehicle as well.
Vietnam has a maximum fine of VND200,000, or less than US$10, on drivers if their honking disturbs the peace in a residential area between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
In a country where traffic cops force people to drive past red lights and stop at green to make way for officials’ cars (I’ve seen that with my own eyes in Saigon), such a rule hardly means anything.
One time I was in a taxi when the driver said a young girl had paid him twice the fare for not touching his horn. I was not sure if it was a suggestion for me, but yes, a driver who controls themselves from honking in the city deserves a reward.
It really gets on your nerves when in heavy traffic drivers keep pressing their horns and pass their stress and impatience to others.
Maybe paying a few bucks to stop people from honking is a good solution.

Thuy Vi/Thanhniennews


Tips for your trip to Da Lat alone

If you love the soft beauty of Da Lat and would travel alone, hope that the following information will help you to arrange your trip.

1. Transportation:

– From Hanoi:

+ By Air: It takes 1:40 – 2 hours to fly from Hanoi to Dalat.
With Vietnam Airlines, there is one round trip flight per day and four times per week. Particularly, flights take off at 1:30PM from Hanoi to Dalat and at 11:00AM from Dalat to Hanoi on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
You can buy ticket online or through a travel agent, or possibly at the front desk of your hotel.
Cost: Around USD 300.00 for a round trip ticket

+ By Coach: It takes 22 – 24 hours to drive from Hanoi to Dalat.
You can buy the tickets at Giap Bat coach station at No.6 Giai Phong Street in Hanoi or at Nuoc Ngam coach station with Tai Thang Bus Company. You can buy tickets at the station, travel agencies, or at your hotel.

+ By Train: It takes 27 hours to travel by train from Hanoi Railway Station to Nha Trang Station and another 3.5 hours to travel by coach from Nha Trang to Dalat. For the coaches from Nha Trang to Dalat, there are Phuong Trang Express and Mai Linh Express for your reference.

– From Sai Gon: You can take a passenger car such as Thanh Buoi cars or Mai Linh Cars with 50 seats depart once every hour. Tel: 08.3830.8090

2. Transportation in the city

– Motorbike: you can rent a motorbike in streets to Dalat market (Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street)
– Double bike: mostly bike rental businesses are at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street or Bui Thi Xuan Street or around Xuan Huong Lake
– Carriage: Once coming to Dalat, you should take a carriage to tour around the city. You can take one at the junction near Thanh Thuy restaurant.

3. Accomodation

Prices of hotels in Dalat are from USD 15.00. Three or four star hotels are located near Xuan Huong Lake. If you want to enjoy a more private space, a villa outside the city is highly recommended. Most of big hotels in Dalat offer special promotional programs on Christmas. You are advisable to make a reservation as soon as possible in case all hotels are fully booked during the festive season.

4. Specialties: Wine, hot soya milk, fresh fruits, vegetable, tea, flower and plan.

5. Famous attractions:

– Than Tho Lake: from Dalat city center, go along Thai Phien – Chi Lang Street. The lake is situated in the pine forest.
– Love valley: is one of the most romantic destinations in Dalat, about 6km from the city center in the Northeast
– Flower Garden: is located by Xuan Huong Lake with various types of flowers
– Bao Dai Palace: includes three palaces of Emperor Bao Dai in the city
– Truc Lam Monastery: an extraordinary structure situated in Phung Huong mountain peak and surrounded by an immense pine forest with the turquoise Tuyen Lam lake.
– Tuyen Lam Lake: the largest fresh lake in Dalat located near Phung Hoang Mountain, about 6km from Dalat. The lake has many small oases and turquoise water.
– Langbiang Mountain: or also known as Nui Ba Mountain have a height of 2,169m. It is a special destination for picnics, explorations of nature and local culture. From Langbiang peak, you can have the panorama view of Dalat with villas, schools and churches with high bell tower.

Dalat is covered by cool mist in the day and cold mist at night. Visiting Dalat in the Christmas time, you will feel like walking in a picture.

More Info:
Tourist information on Vietnam is available on the http://www.evivatour.com/


Mai Chau, Vietnam – fresh Asian destinations

After attending the Vietnam International Conference in Finance in Hanoi, we had 1 free day before coming back to Singapore. We were interested in going to Sapa and experiencing ethnic minority’s life in Vietnam. However, as the time was constrained, we had to choose an alternative destination.

Mai Chau is recommended by Eviva Tour as the closest place from Hanoi to find ethnic tribes. It took us only four hours by car from the city, much closer than the distance from Hanoi to Sapa, which would take us 12 hours traveling by train. We settled in an eco-friendly stilt house with a real minority family, who complements their income from purely farming to a higher level by hosting traveler. It might not be completely authentic but it was a great experience. Their hospitality was a highlight along with the delicious family meals. We also bought some handmade weave souvenirs for housing decoration. Indeed, the family had a very good business and they succeeded in making tourists like us satisfied.

After taking a nap, we stared to get around the valley. As the location is surrounded by limestone cliffs and dramatic hills, Mai Chau seems to be isolated from the outside hustle and bustle world and remain its tranquility with gurgling streams and bird song.

Mai Chau, Hoa Binh-1

The beauty of this foggy valley can represent a classic rural of Vietnam. The small town was surrounded by lush green rice paddies, doting with conical hats and water buffalos of farmers.

Mai Chau, Hoa Binh-2

There is minimal traffic and excellent for walking and cycling activities. The White Thai locals do not wear their traditional costumes every day; however, they still retain their cultural uniqueness. On Saturday night, they gathered in communal house and perform cultural dances and games by blazing fire. It was a delightful experience in Vietnam and Mai Chau has now been added to my list of candidate places to retire (-__-)

(Written by Jemma Marie)


5 useful tips while traveling in Vietnam

Each country has its own rules for traveling in general. However, due to the difference in each one’s culture and characteristics, there would be different tips for traveling in these typical countries. Vietnam is not an exception for this rule as Vietnam has 54 different minorities and each one has their own culture and beliefs.

Therefore, these 5 tips might be helpful for you while traveling in Vietnam based on my experience while traveling here with Ms. Trang – a tour guide of Eviva Tour Vietnam.

1. Always look at every direction carefully before crossing the road

crossing the road in Vietnam

If you come to Vietnam the very first time, you will be very surprised by the way Vietnamese people driving and crossing the road. Anywhere in Vietnam, you would see tons of motorbikes coming from every possible direction. Yes! Every possible direction! Some people might want to save time from traffic jams on the road, so they even drive their motorbikes ON the pavements to go ahead of the others. Therefore, the pavements in Vietnam are not always a safe place to walk. However, you need to get used to it as it is a part of Vietnamese culture.

2. Always be careful if your taxi driver ask you which way to go

Traveling by taxi seems to be a common way of going to where you want in any town or city in the world. However, some taxi drivers in Vietnam may want to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know the way, so they would choose the longest route to rip you off. So you should choose carefully the brand of the taxi you will get into will be really helpful tips if you are going to travel to Vietnam.

3. Always ask the price first before you touch or decide to buy something.

Except for shops that show the prices for each item clearly, you should always ask the shop keepers for prices beforehand. Some people would want to charge foreigners for higher prices than its real prices because of the differences in the exchange rate between dollars and Vietnamese dong. They think that it would not take much difference to foreigners if they raise the prices only from $1 to $1.5. So if you don’t want to be charged higher or ripped off, you should know the prices clearly beforehand.

4. Never let your hand out of your bag

This might be one of the most important tips while traveling in Vietnam as thieves here may drive motorbikes pass you and take your bags away from you by force and he acts fast! One minute earlier, your bags still here with you, and just a second later, you lose your bag. You remain there with some injuries in both physics and mental. You might not know what has just happened to you until a minute later. So, never let your hand out of your bag and never let your bag out of your sight!

5. Be careful whenever you are at a crowded place

You might never think of the situation of while being pushed, your bag is also being ripped and thieves are taking things from your bag! Those thieves are smart and know that crowded places are the perfect places for them to earn money. Therefore, if you walk through a place that is crowded, you should put your bags in front of you and never put things or money in your back pockets of your pants since those are the easiest places to steal things from you.

Source: http://blog.evivatour.com/5-useful-tips-while-traveling-in-vietnam/