A three hour journey from Ha Noi (by bus, boat, gondola and foot) will bring you to Perfume Pagoda. This ancient temple attracts thousands of visitors in its peak season (February 15th- March) when many Vietnamese take a pilgrimage up the steep path of Chua Huong while the mountains are in bloom (giving the site its name).
We visited in January when the vendors were just starting to prepare for the hordes of visitors. It was strange walking around the empty zigzagging lines and endless turnstiles. I was grateful to have the place to ourselves but I'd rather have visited when it was bustling with young people looking for romance!
Hoi An's mustard-colored old town is plentiful with relaxing activities. One afternoon, we hired a private little boat for two hours. The ride took us past hard-working fisherman, and we even had the chance to ride in a basket boat that we'd serendipitously encountered on the backwaters! On another morning, we learned how to make mouth-watering Vietnamese spring rolls, banana pancakes and jeweled rice at a small restaurant cooking school. Each night, we strolled along the waterfront, watching as the colorful lanterns danced on the water.
A visit to the historic city is not complete without launching paper lanterns once the sky is cloaked in darkness. Vendors of all ages sell them along the water's edge. If you're feeling romantic, also take an evening boat ride on one of the small vessels. The locals are eager to rent them for half an hour or more. From there, you can send the delicate...
Disadvantaged locals support themselves by selling their handicrafts here. Sustainable souvenirs include vases made of chopsticks, and coasters fashioned from recycled magazine pages.
Lifestart Foundation Workshop. 77 Phan Chau Trinh, 84/(0) 167- 355-9447. This appeared in the May/June 2012 issue. Photo courtesy of Lifestart.
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...
Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, the small, genteel city of Hue (pronounced “Hway”) is renowned for its elaborate cuisine—a legacy of the 19th-century emperors who lived here and reportedly feasted on 50 different dishes at every meal. Hue’s fare continues to place a premium on fresh ingredients, impeccable presentation, and Vietnam’s spiciest, earthiest flavors.
At Huyen Anh Restaurant, overlooking the Perfume River, order a locally brewed Huda beer, grab a pair of chopsticks, and dive into a bowl of bun thit nuong, made with vermicelli noodles, grilled marinated pork, fresh herbs, and peanut sauce. Mu Do (Red Lady) Restaurant, in the old Gia Hoi district, is the place for banh beo—dainty, half-dollar-sized crepes topped with dried, deep-fried pork skins and tangy sweet-and-sour sauce. And just outside the Thuong Tu Gate of the landmark Citadel, a fortified three-square-mile city...
An important destination for East Asian traders in the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An is famous for its traditional Chinese silk lanterns. This shop’s family has produced its own lotus-shaped versions for generations.
Du Kien Thanh. 49 Le Loi St. This appeared in the May/June 2012 issue. Photo by Gerhard Zwerger-Schon/Age Fotostock.
This past May I stopped in Ha Noi on my way to Laos and Cambodia. In barely 1.5 days I felt like I got to see a ton. This is NOT my preferred way to take in any town or city, but it was all I could fit into my schedule. Obviously I missed a ton, but I did have a good time...see all the pics & videos here:
I come from a city with a decent reputation for Vietnamese food, and though I knew the food would be better still in Vietnam, I couldn't fully understand how much better it would be. This is cross-an-ocean-just-to-eat-it good. This is last-meal-before-you-die good. The advertising method? A fan strategically placed behind the brazier where the pork patties were grilling, blowing the heavenly scent of caramelizing pig meat into path of passersby. Highly effective, highly delicious. 57 Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi.
Quan An Ngon: It's an open air restaurant surrounded by food stalls and served by waiters. The various stalls represent different regional fare from around the country. Sitting at communal tables surrounded by the stalls you really feel part of the action as a variety of customers stream in and out: locals, lovers, expats but not too many tourists. Some Chinese next to me were filling up on chicken heads. Mmmmm. And Heineken.
Plus Quan An Ngon is close to the Hanoi Hilton where John McCain "stayed" as a POW, so if you're visiting that sight, Quan An Ngon is a 'must' lunch or dinner stop.
18 Phan Boi Chau Str., | OR 1st floor, 25T2 Hoang Dao Thuy Str.,, Hanoi, Vietnam
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