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There are so many variations to the Pho noodle soup in Vietnam, and yet, one of the best one I've ate was in Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Grab a plastic chair, chopsticks and don't forget the lime. It's a great combination.
A girl and her younger brother sell paper candle boats during the Tet New Year celebrations in Hoi An, Vietnam. After purchasing these boats, a wish is made for the new year and the boat is released into the Thu Bon River.
"…A smile is the only crooked line that sets a lot of things straight…" Sapa, Vietnam, February, 2012 I just got back from Sapa in the north of Vietnam, where I was hoping to take pictures of the beautiful endless rice fields and terraces. I say ‘Hoping’ because from the minute I arrived there till the minute I left, it was quite rainy and foggy. Least to say, I was quite disappointed. In fact, very disappointed that I got back to Hanoi at the same day, getting on the first night train back. However, in between my back and forth train rides I still got a chance to eat the best Pho soup (in an outdoor market among the locals) and walk with two other photographers down the hill towards Cat Cat Village, which is a home to the Black Hmong people. The only way to discover Cat Cat village and its people is by taking the steep stairs down the rice terraces to see the waterfalls. On my way downward I passed through this little girl who was running up the hills. I managed to pull out my camera very quick and take a picture of her before she ran away. When she saw my camera she made this silly smile. No doubt it was such a nice smile that it brightened up my so far depressive day.
My wife and I spent roughly 10 days in Southern Vietnam exploring Ho Chi Minh and Phan Thiết. Our schedule was tight so we could only do a day tour of the Mekong Delta which meant we would miss the peak action of the floating market in Cai Be. Nevertheless it was a great tour and gave us a brief glimpse of the daily life for locals. I would highly recommend visiting the area if you are spending any time in HCM.
Whole animal butchery and cooking is one of the trends du jour in high-end Western restaurants that have the space and a sensitivity to sustainability. But it's old hat in rural America and throughout the world, even in the largest of cities. The Ben Thanh Market in high on the list of must-see destinations for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam, and this stall's offal display sees a lot of camera action, if not a lot of purchases by tourists used to eating a little higher on the hog.
When I traveled to Hoi An, the prettied-up UNESCO-protected town on Vietnam's central coast for AFAR, I wanted to unravel the mysteries of the town's iconic (and secretive) noodle (and noodle dish of the same name), cao lau. One family has had a monopoly on making the noodle for generations and no one knows exactly how it's made. After some work (and talking to the right people), I was allowed into the family's lair. The above photo shows Em, the family patriarch, pounding away at the rice dough that is steamed and, eventually, formed into the thick, chewy noodles known as cao lau.
Ben Thanh Market in the city center of Ho Chi Minh, is one stop shopping for pretty much everything under the Vietnamese sun. It's arranged in sections according to categories, from textiles and souvenirs, to fresh produce. Be sure to consult the maps at the entrances to scout out your route and arrange a meeting place for when you inevitably get lost. Also bring your game face and be prepared to haggle a bit- the prices are marked up considerably- feel free to cut their initial offer in half and they'll work with you. When you need a break, there are quite a few little food stands run by business savvy Vietnamese women who will gladly grab you if you get close enough, and press you down into one of their seats for some amazing Bahn Mi and iced coffee.
Halong Bay is by far the most beautiful place I've ever been to... It's like the movie Avatar minus the blue guys and destruction. Tall peaks jump out of the water all around you, and floating villages are hidden around every bend. If you travel to Vietnam, definitely make a day trip to Hanoi and spend it relaxing on a boat in the middle of the bay.
The beach that will leave you speechless. Bai Sao (South Beach - in English) is located on the Vietnamese island, Phu Quoc. This place oozes relaxation. The mood on the island is very different from mainland Vietnam and if you have any inclination to see a beach whilst in Vietnam make it Bai Sao. Sipping on a cold Saigon Beer and slurping down some seafood pho will be a moment of pure bliss. The main tourist area is on Phu Quoc is Long Beach. Don't hire a driver to take you out for a venture, rent a scooter from your guesthouse. Dirt cheap pricing and a flexible itinerary make renting a scooter the ideal way to see Phu Quoc. Drive south on the main road outside all of the guesthouses on Long Beach (called: Tran Hung Dao). Once you've gone far enough keep your eyes peeled for a combination of signs one with 46 on it and the other with Bai Sao. You will head north on 46 for less than a mile catching an unmarked road heading east. You may feel lost in the middle of your journey as a large portion of the earlier mentioned Tran Hung Dao is unmarked, don't fret there is a New Zealander who works at the Phu Quoc Pearl Farm along this road. Stop in and he will answer any questions you may have about the area.
In Vietnam’s bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, glittering high-rises and global brands are on the rise—but at L’Usine, a café-boutique hidden along shopping strip Dong Khoi, it’s the old, the handmade, and the local that are revered. Housed in a 1890s building that was once the glamorous Hotel du Saigon, the enormous space was recently renovated to its original splendor, with 20-foot ceilings, oversized arched windows and ornate iron columns. Weaving looms and sewing machine bases from the city’s junkyards have been reborn as fixtures for L’Usine’s treasure trove of locally designed clothing, accessories, and housewares. Look for buttoned-pocket men’s cotton tees from Tinwell & Bismarck and ruffled, deconstructed linen dresses and patterned silk scarves from Trois Filles. And if Wetter Indochine’s darling cupcake-shaped lacquerware tempts your sweet tooth, a homemade red velvet cupcake is just steps away in L’Usine’s café. 151 Đồng Khởi, 1st Floor, District 1, 84/(86) 674 3565, lusinespace.com
We spent our last day in Ho Chi Minh City with Geoffrey Deetz, a restaurateur and foodie from Oakland, California, who has lived in Vietnam for the past decade and operates the wonderful Black Cat Cafe. He and his Vietnamese girlfriend took us on a street food tour that included stops in District 4 (down a boggling maze of alleys); at a stall behind the giant Ben Thanh Market; at a bustling corner in District 1; and to a remote outpost in District 5. The food tally, in order of consumption: bun khot, dollar-size spongy rice-flour pancakes topped with shrimp and minced pork; luscious fresh corn milk; bun thit nuong, noodles with imperial rolls, BBQ pork, herbs, greens, and a good drenching of fish sauce; xoi ga, sticky rice topped with shredded chicken, chicken livers, gizzards, and crisp fried shallots; and finally, in a crowning explosion of flavor, tamarind crab, stir-fried in a giant wok with pork belly, garlic, tamarind, sugar, and salt, and served with crunchy-soft banh (Vietnamese baguette rolls) and cold beer.
Halong Bay is a breathtakingly beautiful bay in the Gulf of Tonkin, comprised of densely concentrated zone of stone islands. The only way to see it all is to take a leisurely boat ride around the bay (a day trip or an overnight stay) soaking up the spectacular scenery, exploring the grottoes and caves, and just enjoying what seemed like nature’s work of art. http://0dysseusjournal.blogspot.com/2012/01/vietnam-natures-work-of-art.html
You want to find the best banh mi in Saigon - then go where the lines is. There was a huge line at Huynh Hoa on Le Thi Rieng street. It was a little hole in the wall shop, but the stand was packed with locals pulling up on their bike and getting them to go. A man sweat over a little oven warming up the perfect bread while a few women grabbed meat and veggies with chopsticks, placing it between the warm bread. After saucing it up they’d wrap it in paper and snap a rubber band around it and off you went. They had two stands in a little store space and only sold take away. Clearly a great local find!
A visit to the charming Vietnamese city of Hoi An isn't complete without a fresh bowl or two of Cao lầu. Cao lầu, a noodle dish prepared with sliced pork and fresh vegetables, is considered authentic only if it is made with water drawn from a specific ancient well hidden within the old city of Hoi An. Not to worry, this dish is easily found in restaurant menus all over Hoi An. Try a bowl in a few different spots--but some of the best bowls can be bought from the street vendors who appear along the river at night.
Vietnam has a coffee culture all to its own and in Hanoi, this includes a few cafes that serve it with egg. Whipped with sweetened condensed milk, the egg sits atop the slow roasted coffee, providing you with a hot afternoon treat that you'll think about for days. URL below is a recipe for how to make it, but Cafe Giang in Hanoi was the one I enjoyed the most. If you're too warm for egg coffee, try the yoghurt coffee on their menu instead.
Interesting and scary visit to a recent historic site, where the Vietcong and local people lived, trained, and fought the U.S. Forces from deep tunnels. We learned how they lived, eat, and survived even with extensive bombing by US B-52 bombers
This little boy captivated us on a recent tour of Vietnam. We were on a moped tour of the rice producing area of Sapa, Vietnam when we came across him walking on the rim of a rice paddy. He couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 years of age and there was no one else around for miles. We voiced our concerns for his safety to the surprise of our guide; he couldn't understand why we were worried. We drove off, leaving him on his mission and unknown destination.
The beautiful Halong Bay, about an hour outside Vietnam's Ha Noi city is as awesome in reality as it is in pictures (albeit a little more crowded). There are literally thousands of boats running trips into the bay, some are amazing, others are grotty. Be sure that while booking a tour you are shown pictures of the boat you are supposed to be on, be sure to ask if that is the exact boat you will be getting on and tell the agent or hotel that you will be returning after your trip (even if you will not) and that you will book another tour with them if this one is good. Often times people on the same trip are charged totally different prices, sometimes $100's different. Be sure to do a little research about what the boat you want should cost and do not be afraid to bargain hard!
As a lover of markets, this one was one of the most sensory fulfilling experiences. Visiting this location on a Sunday surrounded us with Hmong locals dressed in traditional intricate clothing, buying ingredients for meals (including a wide variety of live animals), florescent yarn for their weavings, and even toiletries. There were also many groups of locals sitting around drinking, eating large freshly prepared meals, and chatting both quietly and boisterously. I usually prefer photos of intimate moments that represent the spirit of the place, however this picture of the full market captures the Bac Ha Market perfectly: the fogged, terraced hills of Sa Pa watching over the hustle of the vibrant market below.
Imagine you have read so many time about Vietnamese girls being beautiful, but when you are really there you will be surprised that they are more than beautiful. The girls found sitting outside Notre Dame Cathedral can prove it!
We were closely inspected as we walked in to ensure that we showed the proper respect to the man who united Vietnam. I normally only had to cover shoulders and knees for religious regions – and I guess that when it comes to the subject of Ho Chi Minh – aka Uncle Ho – it’s a religious matter. Military guards dressed in crisp white uniforms kept watch on the crowd motioning in disapproval when you got out of line or weren’t moving fast enough. They even ‘shushed’ you if you were talking. They basically demanded respect be shown. This site is definitely a tourist destination on a grand scale – however the majority of people in line are Vietnamese – this feels more like a pilgrimage than a tourist attraction. An awning covered the long line of visitors leading up to the mausoleum – the line moved swiftly and led into the building. A blast of cold air-conditioned air hit you as you entered the building. From there you follow a red carpet up stairs and around corners with guards watching your every move. Finally you follow the red carpet into a dark room with Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body lying in wake. Before you know it – your viewing is complete and you are back out in the humid air. For me the experience of observing the local Vietnamese respect their leader was reason enough to go see this site. It was quite the cultural experience. No cameras allowed. You must wear clothing covering your shoulder and knees – no exceptions. Check opening hours!
Le lac de Ba Be, situé à 240km de Hanoi, se trouve dans le parc national de Ba Be dans la province de Bac Kan. Il est l’un des lacs d’eau douce les plus grands au monde et connu aussi comme patrimoine naturel national. Malgré sa formation naturelle sur un terrain calcaire, le lac de Ba Be n’est jamais à sec. Il est entouré de montagnes calcaires et des forêts luxuriantes qui abritent des centaines d’espèces végétales et des milliers d'animaux, d'insectes comme : signes, ours, oiseaux, papillons… On appelle le lac de Ba Be « trois baies » parce qu’il comprend trois petits lacs : Pe Lam, Pe Lu, Pe Leng. Arrivant au lac de Ba Be, les visiteurs ont le plaisir d'admirer les beaux sites environnants du lac de Ba Be, les rizières en terrasse et les maisons sur pilotis des ethnies minoritaires. De plus, le lac de Ba Be offre aux biologistes des richesses de géologie et de la biodiversité. En 1995, le lac de Ba Be a été classé parmi les 20 lacs d’eau douce à protéger dans le monde lors de la Conférence internationale des lacs d’eau douce aux États-Unis. À la fin d’année 2004, le parc national de Ba Be est reconnu parc patrimonial de l’ASEAN. Les autorités de la province de Bac Kan ont préparé un dossier de candidature de Ba Be de reconnaissance par l’UNESCO au patrimoine mondial. The B Tourist Vietnam A: 42, 1A rue Dang Thai Than, Hoan Kiem, Hanoï T: (+84)4 3 6425 420 E: firstname.lastname@example.org S: www.thebtourist.com www.babenationalpark.com.vn
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BA BE NATIONAL PARK LANDSCAPES General Ba Bể National Park is a reserve in Bắc Kạn Province, Northeast region of Vietnam, set up to protect a freshwater lake (Ba Bể Lake) along with surrounding limestone and lowland evergreen forests. It is located about 240 kilometers northwest of the capital city Hanoi. Ba Be (meaning Three Bays) is in fact three linked lakes, which have a total length of 8km and a width of about 400m. More than a hundred species of freshwater fish inhabit the lake. Two of the lakes are separated by a 100m-wide strip of water called Be Kam, sandwiched between high walls of chalk rock. When to go? The best time to visit Ba Be Lake is during the dry season (winter and spring). In the wet season, the lake takes up water from the Nang River and regularly flooded. If travel at the time of Long Tong Festival on the 10th and 11th days of the first lunar month, there are traditional games and performance of surrounding ethnic tribal groups. The B Tourist Vietnam A: 42 rue Dang Thai Than, Hoan Kiem, Hanoï T: (+84)4 3 6425 420 E: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org S: www.thebtourist.com www.babenationalpark.com.vn
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