Staying Sleepless with Saigon, Why Not?

This article is the last-minute tip for those passengers or tourists who aren’t able to find accommodation for the first night travelling to Saigon. Don’t worry, Saigon will kindly host you a safe place somewhere. Follow my lead, I’ll show you the spots to rest your exhaustion.

Saigon – the generous night owl’s nest.
Saigon at night. photo; lozi.vn

I am as young and wild as many of you. I enjoy travelling and partying and sometimes when the night gets too wild, I have no choice but waiting outside until the dusk activates the city’s busy flow. I am sure this happens to all of you once in a while, regardless of wanderlusts or party-animals.

Here in Saigon, staying outside the street at night is not safe, at all. Dear wanderlusts, don’t even think of this idea – it’s my sincere advice. But where will you stay in Saigon at night for free if you are yet to find your lodging? Or if you have to catch a plane/bus in the early morning? Don’t worry! I’ll show you some (secret) tips right away!

24/7 cafes – Seeing Saigon nightlife in the box.

You can easily find many of those cafes around the town. Some even offer benches for night owls to have a quick nap. All you need is to order a drink, and stay as long as you want.

SNOB coffee chain:

These cafe shops open 24/7 with great interior designs and Saigon views. However, since the cafe shops are so well-known to the Saigonese youth, they can get crowded sometimes very late at night. But if you’d like a nice place to get to know the local’s nightlife, this is the place to be.

Seeing Saigon nightlife in a box @SNOBcoffee
photo: @zacmillionie

Address: – SNOB Coffee Trần Hưng Đạo  –  147A Trần Hưng Đạo St, District 1.
                – SNOB Coffee Minh Khai           –  185 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai St, District 1.

Opera Tea Club:

Opera Tea Club offers benches and cushions and a fairly quiet space to sleep. Feel free to enjoy these amazing benefits because you are exhausted enough from a long travel day.

Opera Tea Club – A Feel-Free-To-Sleep Coffee
photo: @wilbowoarry

Address: – 1st Floor, 39 Lý Tự Trọng St, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1.

Thức coffee chain:

The chain is quite popular in town. You can find one of their stores in many places around Saigon. The places are quite small and often stuffed. Thức cafe is suitable for late night football match audiences. You’re a big football fan? Welcome home! Come, enjoy the matches and get as much wild as you can. The more, the merrier!

A small and cosy box full of Saigonese to warm your soul through the night.
photo: dendau.vn

Address: – 37/11 Lý Tự Trọng St, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1.

               – 48 – 50 Huỳnh Thúc Kháng St, District 1.  

               – 182 Pasteur St, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1.

KAI Coffee: 

Let me tell you a small story. Last year, I had a crazy night outside partying. When it finished, it was 2:00 in the morning, and by chance, I stopped by this place. Not only that I had a place to stay for the night, but I also received the cutest paper heart from the barista working at KAI coffee. Even though I was too drunk to remember anything had happened before, the paper heart was still the most memorable gift that it made me drop a smile every time I rode my motorbike cross this cafe. 🙂

🙂
photo: me

Address: – 139 Nguyễn Thái Bình St, Nguyễn Thái Bình Ward, District 1.

Convenient Stores – The ideal place for your late night munchies!

Convenient stores such as Family Mart, 7 eleven, B’s mart, and so on are ubiquitous in Saigon. Many stores have tables for customers to stay in. Moreover, most stores have wifi, air conditioning and a large number of food items including warm serving food. I stayed in those stores overnight sometimes when I partied too hard that my mom locked me outside the street! That’s why I recommend you those stores. It’s not a problem for the staffs if you stay in for long hours. Please kindly enjoy the food and drinks, and get yourself some rest. It is often quiet at late night in these stores.

Convenient stores are ubiquitous in Saigon. You can bump into them without even seeking one.
Challenge: find a 7eleven in Saigon!
photo: @traammiao
Other Choices:

Airbnb, Couchsurfing and other travel websites such as Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia, etc. are not strangers for wanderlusts, plan your trip to Saigon beforehand and get greatest deals from them. Prices for accommodation in Saigon is quite affordable, starting from $9.

Enjoy your time in Saigon! Don’t forget to spend some crazy wild nights in this sleepless town. I hope you’ll have one of the most wonderful memories here.

.Levi.

Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum – A Must Visit Place in the Heart of Saigon

Saigon traffic is Vietnamese life, a continuous charade of posturing, bluffing, fast moves, tenacity and surrenders.” Andrew .X. Pham

I dropped a smile when reading those lines, cause being a Saigonese myself, I agree with the author that it is truly a delightful chaos. However, finding a peaceful place to temporarily rest your soul in the centre of Saigon isn’t that hard. For those who are looking for a quiet spot in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum is the place to be.

A brief introduction to the Museum

This building was constructed by a group of French architects between 1929 and 1934 as formerly a villa owned by the Chinese wealthy businessman Hứa Bổn Hòa (Uncle Hoa). The structure of the blocks combines between Art-deco style and Oriental fusion. It is one of the typical fusion buildings amongst several legacies that Saigon earned pending its colonial period. The museum was first opened to the public in 1989, storing collections of paintings, potteries, religious and non-religious sculptures from ancient to temporary time.

Little fact: the building has totally 99 windows. For those who want to retrieve their childhood, try a hide and seek evening here!
photo: saigoneer.com
Reasons to visit Fine Arts Museum

Saigon owns its fame for the complex historical backgrounds. When travelling here, you might find most museums have historical, but particularly, Vietnam war concept. Fine Arts Museum, however, is unique as it is the only art museum in the city. Personally, it is my most favourite museum in Saigon and here are some reasons that I think you should write it in your Saigon travel list:

*Approachable

Fine Arts Museums is located in district 1, considerably opposite to Ben Thanh Market. So, it is not difficult to find the way to the museum. You can walk there after visiting Ben Thanh Market. From the market’s main entrance, cross the roundabout, continue straight to the big gasoline station, the museum is right behind!

Direct address:  97A Phó Đức Chính, Quận 1

*Unique Vietnamese arts experience

Blocks, floors and exhibition rooms are categorized by certain periods of arts development in Vietnamese society. Maps of the museum are available at the ticket counter. But it doesn’t matter visiting the museum with or without guidance. For me, I prefer getting lost from one little corridor to another while admiring every charming piece of art inside the museum.

Temporary and modern arts are displayed in the main building. Items in here are paintings and sculptors represent arts during colonial time, wartime and post-wartime. You will find in here many spectacular artworks, especially, Vietnamese lacquer paintings – an authentic Vietnamese painting technique.

Famous lacquer painting: Spring garden Central-South-North by artist Nguyễn Gia Trí.
*A journey to the vintage Saigon

Spending an easy afternoon in the museum is like taking a mind gap from the busy atmosphere outside. The 90-year-old building holds the perfect vintage view since it has kept the original design since its first construction.

Patterned ceramic tiles swap colours from rooms to rooms.
photo: vntrip.vn

Right at the entrance, there’s a retired elevator that was one of the first lifts ever introduced to Saigon’s fancy villa. From rooms to rooms, the playful tiles swap colours and patterns gives the kaleidoscope effect. Towards the corridors, sunbeams slant through half-opened windows, reveal the mystery of the hidden art treasure in town.

Mysterious corridor, the mistress of the sunbeam.
photo: tapchikienthuc.com.vn

In the third block of the museum lies a truly mesmerizing work of arts. A spiral stair accompanying a stained glass window leading towards the floral pattern ceiling. Witnessing this corner might make you respect the architects for their wonderful aesthetic in interior design.

Mesmerizing spital stairs in the smallest building – a diamond in the rough.
photo: mytour.vn

A thorough visit takes approximately 2 hours, but it is possible to stay longer. Just bring a book (or sketchbook) of your choice and enjoy a quiet and peaceful afternoon apart from the busyness outside. The museum’s open hours is from  8:00 to 18:00. Tickets price is 45,000Đ per entrance.

Writer: Levi

 

Which Food in Ho Chi Minh City Should You Try?

Tell me, my fellow readers, what is it that keeps you alive until today? What is irreplaceable and is the utmost pleasure in life? F – O – O – D. Food. One word which contains one of the best delicacies of this world.

Here in Ho Chi Minh City, so many, too many kinds of food are available. From national to international appetites, nothing is out of the reach of Saigonese. Along with adapting, importing and appreciating other regions and nations’ cuisine, we also possess strong desires to share our personalities to the world, through the amazing dishes which has been cooked and developed through generations.

Most of our food is served on the street. That is the way we do things. Simple and convenient. We do not care about fancy places, for what we crave for is not luxuries, but the feeling of utter satisfaction in taste.

A street food stall in old Saigon. Photo: https://thanhnien.vn

I always find myself drowned in the ocean of choices that HCMC has to offer. Sometimes more is less. There are so many kinds of food to choose from, whenever I decide to eat out while living in this city. With that bears in mind, I would like to give you a list of several street foods of HCMC, and let’s figure out if you can make the decision faster than I do every day.

* ‘Bánh mì’ (bread with everything)

Bánh’ stands for all types of cakes or anything made of rice or wheat in Vietnam.

Bánh mì’ is what we Saigonese can eat at any time of the day. There are bread and everything inside it. We have cucumbers, all kinds of herbs (vegetables) and meat of course. Ham, grilled fork, ‘chả cá’,… Anything you could ever imagine of, we can put it in ‘bánh mì’. The ingredients of ‘bánh mì’ are usually not put into the bread before the orders from the customers are received, for everyone has a different opinion on how they want their ‘bánh mì’ to be served.

Photo: http://afamily.vn

For more information about bánh mì, we have another article for you:

Recommendations

**Bánh mì Sáu Minh

Address: 170 Võ Văn Tần, phường 5, quận 3 (170 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)

Hours: 8:00 – 22:00

Price: ~30.000VND (~1.32$)

This price is three times higher than the average price of ‘bánh mì’, because there are usually lots of ingredients inside and the bread is fully stuffed.

This famous ‘bánh mì’ stall on Võ Văn Tần Street is often crowded with customers. The place was recommended to me by my father, and our family usually buy ‘bánh mì’ there. Besides, they also sell dumplings and sticky rice.

**Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa

Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1 (26 Lê Thị Riêng Street, Ward Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1)

Hours: 14:30 – 23:00

Price: ~33.000VND (~1.45$)

This place is where you can get the biggest ‘bánh mì’ in HCMC. This is, of course, to make sure you can’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.

* ‘Cơm tấm’ (broken rice)

Now, this is a truly special dish of Saigonese. We created this dish, and it is one of the best dishes that we are most proud of. Interestingly, the history of this dish goes way back into the past.

Photo: https://www.vietnamtravel.co

The main ingredient, broken rice, is fragments of rice grains, broken in the field, during drying, during transport, or by milling. It used to be considered as the cheaper grade of rice for only the poor had to consume the “incomplete” rice. However, now it is considered a special part of Saigon cuisine, a dish that is loved by many people.

Nowadays, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish ‘’ (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. Various green pickled vegetables are added along with a prawn paste cake, steamed egg, grilled prawns and egg meatloaf (the customers decide what to be put on their dish, really). Typically, restaurants will serve this popular combination with a small bowl of fish sauce, as well as a small bowl of soup broth with garlic chives (to cleanse the throat). Sometimes, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with omelette.

Recommendations

**Cơm tấm Trần Quý Cáp

Address: 260 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3 (260 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)

Hours: 10:00 – 21:00

Price: 20.000VND – 50.000VND (~0.88$ – 2.2$)

This place is my family’s all-time favourite Cơm Tấm Restaurant. There are so many factors joint together to create the delicious dish of ‘cơm tấm’, and this place is most famous for its broken rice. However, one of the restaurant’s drawbacks is that there is only one kind of soup served here which is bitter gourd soup.

**Cơm tấm Nguyễn Văn Cừ

Address: 74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ Street, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1)

Hours: 6:00 – 20:00

Price: 50.000 – 100.000 (2.2$ – 4.40$)

This ‘cơm tấm’ restaurant owns the market of pork-chopped in ‘cơm tấm’. Their pork is big and delicious, with as much amount as you could ever imagine having for a day. And yet you still crave for more on the next. This restaurant is most famous for its pork in ‘cơm tấm’, because who doesn’t like BBQ? Therefore, the average cost of each serving in this place is more expensive than many others.

* Hủ tiếu/ Hủ tíu (Kuy teav)

Kuy teav is a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stocks and toppings. Kuy teav is generally assumed to be a dish with Chinese origin. It can be found at marketplace (phsar) stalls, roadside vendors, and restaurants across the country, and is highly regarded for its clear and soothing broth and a dazzling array of herbs, aromatics and other garnishes and condiments.

Photo: https://news.zing.vn

Recommendations

**Hủ tiếu Nhân Quán

Address:

  • 488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường 2, Quận 3 (488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, Ward 2, District 3)
  • 27Q Âu Cơ, Phường 14, Quận 11 (27Q Âu Cơ Street, Ward 14, District 11)
  • 122 Trần Quang Khải, Phường Tân Định, Quận 1 (122 Trần Quang Khải Street, Ward Tân Định, District 1)
  • 239 Âu Dương Lân, xã Bình Hưng, huyện Bình Chánh (239 Âu Dương Lân Street, Ward Bình Hưng, District Bình Chánh)
  • 72 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền, Phường 5, Quận 3 (72 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền Street, Ward 5, District 3)
  • 448 An Dương Vương, Phường 10, Quận 6 (448 An Dương Vương, Ward 10, District 6)
  • A68 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (A68 Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)

Hours: 6:00 – 22:00

Price: 50.000VND – 66.000VND (~2.2$ – 2.91$)

This is the most famous system of ‘hủ tiếu’ restaurants of HCMC, as you can see above this brand has many locations all over the city.

**Quán Cả Cần

Address: 213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương, Phường 9, Quận 5 (213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương Street, Ward 9, District 5)

Hours: 6:00 – 22:00

Price: about 44.000VND (~2$)

This restaurant is not only famous for its ‘hủ tiếu’ but also all kinds of Chinese dumplings. We Saigonese usually go there for family breakfast.

* Phở

Phở’ is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà.) ‘Phở’ is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. ‘Phở’ is originated in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, and was popularized throughout the rest of the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of ‘Phở’ differ from each other by noodle width, the sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs.

Photo: http://www.baoquangninh.com.vn

Recommendations

**Phở Thanh Cảnh

Address: 101 Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (55 Nguyễn Cư Trinh Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)

Hours: 6:00 – 22:00

Price: 40.000VND – 60.000VND (~1.46$ – 2.64$)

This is my personal favourite ‘phở’ restaurant because I used to study English at ILA in the building next to the restaurant. Every Sunday morning, I, my sister and my father would enjoy a hot bowl of ‘phở’ before we go to English class. Despite that, I love the place because of the memories there and of course also the unforgettable taste of ‘phở’ in this old restaurant.

**Phở Đoàn

Address: 574 Kha Vạn Cân, phường Linh Đông, quận Thủ Đức (574 Kha Vạn Cân Street, Ward Linh Đông, District Thủ Đức)

* Ốc (Shellfish)

The eating of shellfish is unique to Vietnam. We eat every creature with a shell that lives in water bodies. There are lots of ways invented to make them, such as grill, stir-fried, boiled, raw, etc.

Photo: https://huracars.com

Recommendations

**Thảo Ốc

Address:

  • 229 – 231 Hoàng Diệu, Phường 9, Quận 4 (229 – 231 Hoàng Diệu Street, Ward 9, District 4)
  • 99 Vĩnh Khánh, phường 8, quận 4 (99 Vĩnh Khánh Street, Ward 8, District 1)

Hours: 11:00 – 23:00

Price: 70.000VND – 150.000VND (~3.08$ – 6.61$)

This restaurant will bring you the truest taste of the ocean. The seafood is usually fresh and amazing, but what attracts customers here is actually the way the cook makes all the dishes. Incredibly strong favour. Everything is unforgettable.

**Ốc Đào

Address: 212B/D28 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (212B/D28 Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)

Hours: 10:30AM–11:30PM

Price: 60.000NVD – 110.000VND (~2.64$ – 5$)

* Bánh xèo (Sizzling cake)

Bánh xèo, literally “sizzling cake“, named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, diced green onion, and bean sprouts.

>>>For more information about bánh xèo, please refer to this link

Photo: https://www.youtube.com

Recommendations

**Bánh xèo Ăn là Ghiền

Address: 74 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, phường Bến Thành, Quận 1 (74 Sương Nguyệt Ánh Street, Ward Bến Thành, District 1)
Hours: 10:00 – 21:30

Price: 25.000VND – 110.000VND (~1.1$ – 4.84$)

This restaurant is our family’s favourite ‘bánh xèo’ dinner. We love the crispy of the cake here, and the stuffing is no different.

**Bánh xèo Mười Xiềm

Address: 204 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1

Hours: 10:00 – 22:00

Price: 50.000VND – 110.000VND (~$2.2 – 4.84$)

* Bánh ướt (Steamed rice crêpes)

Bánh ướt’ is one of my favorite choices of breakfast, thanks to its simplicity and undeniable deliciousness. Bánh ướt, literally “wet cakes”, is a Vietnamese thin pancake wrapper consisting of rice noodle sheets, served with dipping sauce, fried shallots, and slides of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage).

Photo: https://cachlammonngon.vn

Recommendations

I usually eat ‘bánh ướt’ in the marketplaces.

* Bánh tráng

Bánh tráng or bánh đa nem, a northern Vietnamese term, (literally, coated cake and nem skins, respectively), sometimes called rice paper wrappers, rice crepes, rice wafers or nem wrappers, are edible Vietnamese wrappers used in Vietnamese cuisine, primarily in finger foods and appetizers such as Vietnamese nem dishes. The term rice paper wrappers can sometimes be a misnomer, as some ‘bánh tráng‘ wrappers are made from rice flour supplemented with tapioca flour or sometimes replaced completely with tapioca starch. The roasted version is bánh tráng nướng.

Recommendations

All over the street.

Bánh tráng nướng. Photo: https://thedriftbackpackershostel.com
Bánh tráng trộn (Rice wrappers mixed with everything). Photo: http://huongrung.net

There are many varieties of bánh tráng, about which we will discuss in another article for you.

If you have any questions about this article or are in need for assistance about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we are sure to be thrilled to help.

Ngọc Lê

Recommended Places and Food in Hanoi By Local

As a city lying on the fertile field of Hong River, Hanoi keeps a-thousand-year cultural history of Vietnam and withholds unique attractive East Asian cultural values. Many valuable historic remnants were left in Hanoi since the year 1010 when King Ly Cong Uan moved Vietnam’s capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh province) to Thang Long (Hanoi’s former name). 

In this article, I will recommend you some must-visit destinations and must-eat food in Hanoi that should be in your bucket list when travelling to Hanoi. 

I – Best Season To Visit Hanoi:

There are four seasons in Hanoi,mostly humid and hot with a lot of rain. In the summer, it is quite hot and rainy, but cold and dry in the winter. The spring and autumn, with comfortable weather, play the role as a transiting season and enrich climate diversity for the city. Every season of Hanoi is glamorous and worth exploring.

For instance, if you visit Hanoi in the spring from January to March, you will experience the exciting atmosphere of traditional Tet festival (Lunar New Year) in the light rainy weather with blossomed peach flowers coloring all streets with red and pink. As for romantic people, please come to Hanoi in July and September and you will be amazed by the leave-changing mosaic beauty of such streets as Phan Dinh Phung, Hoang Dieu, Kim Ma, etc.

Phan Dinh Phung street. (Photo: hanoihotels.info)

II – Must-visit Destinations in Hanoi:

Here, I will skip some popular destinations like Hoan Kiem Lake, Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, etc.

1/ Imperial Citadel of Thang Long:

In 2010, it was 1000 years since the day King Ly Cong Uan moved the capital to Hanoi, Thang Long royal castle was recognized by the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee as the World Cultural Heritage. Although Thang Long Citadel was torn down throughout history, fortunately its main entrance to the Forbidden City (‘Cấm Thành’) – Doan Mon Gate is still remained. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is one of the regrettable things of Hanoi people, and Vietnamese people as general. If it was still in its complete shape, it would be comparable to the Forbidden City of China (‘Tử Cấm Thành’.)

  • Address: Quan Thanh District, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00 every day except Monday.
  • Entrance ticket: 30.000 VNĐ ($1.32) (for students is 15.000 VNĐ ($0.64).
  • Public transportation: Bus number 22, 33, 45, 50.
Photo: TourHanoi

2/ St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church:

Catholics is the second biggest religion in Vietnam after Buddhism. From the sixteenth century, the European missionaries began to introduce Catholics to Vietnam. Over 5 centuries, Catholics became familiar with a large Vietnamese community. The religious values also left for Hanoi some beautiful architectures carrying uniqueness of European Gothic architecture, namely St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, Ham Long Church, Cua Bac Church, Phung Khoang Church, An Thai Church, Thinh Liet Church, and Ha Dong Church. Out of those, St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church is the most famous one.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church was built in 1884 and consecrated on Christmas day in 1887. It is one of the first western architectures that were reconstructed in Hanoi. Its original name was Saint Joseph because Pope Innocentinus XI wanted to honour Saint Joseph as a saint protecting Vietnam and neighbouring countries. However, people usually call it ‘Nhà thờ Lớn’ (the Big Church.) It was also a cathedral of the Hanoi archdiocese.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church. (Photo: timeoutvietnam)

One interesting point to attracting tourists to St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, which also has led to unique trademark of Hanoi people, is ‘Trà chanh nhà thờ’ (Church’s Lemon tea.) This area has become a familiar place of young Hanoians. With a cup of iced tea, sitting opposite to the church, visitors can feel relaxed enjoying the whole view of the church in ‘one of a kind’ area of the capital. In addition, there are famous night street food nearby, including cheese sticks, roasted fermented pork roll.

  • Location: Nha Trung street, about 5 minutes of walking away from Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • Small tip: Visitors can choose visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, and rent a cyclo, which is always available on two side of pedestrian zones, to go to the Big Church.

3/ Temple of Literature:

In Hanoi, there is a place considered as the soul of Hanoi, the heart and symbol in the mind of Hanoi people. That is the first university of Vietnam – The Temple of Literature. Built in 1070 (King Ly Thanh Tong,) it was originally the school for princes and the place to worship Confucius scholars and sages, namely Khong Tu (Confucius), and Chu Van An.

The architecture of the Temple of Literature is unique with Confucius style. The most outstanding of the whole relic site is 83 Stelae of Doctors on turtles (only 1 stelae has only turtle). Those stelae were carved the names of the doctors who had passed the exams in Han language. According to archaeologists, the oldest stelae was constructed in 1484, and the newest in 1784. Those stelaes did not only have historical value, but also philosophical, architectural, and art values.

>>>We have a full article about the Temple of Literature, please click here.

Stelae of Doctors on turtles. (Photo: dkn.tv)

The relic site of the Temple of Literature was placed 23th on the list of National Monuments in Vietnam. If you have a chance to visit Hanoi, should not miss this place.

  • Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam street, Dong Da District, Hanoi City.
  • Opening hours: 
    Monday – Friday: From 7:30 – 18:00 (I checked it from Mon- Fri not Thurs)
    Saturday – Sunday: From 8:00 –  21:00.
  • Entrance ticket: 30.000 VND/1 time ($1.32), 50% off for the disabled, students, the elder from 60 years old to above.
  • Public transportation: bus number 2, 23, 38, 41.

***From Hanoi, it is easy to visit other provinces like Sapa, Moc Chau, Cao Bang, etc.

II – Must-Eat Food in Hanoi:

Hanoi is not only famous for interesting places, but also for various cuisines which have all the quintessence of Hanoians. Let’s move on those already popular dishes, which had been introduced from the past Vietnam Track’s articles such as pho, bun cha, bun thang, cha ca La Vong, bun dau mam tom, banh tom Ho Tay, etc. Here, I will recommend you some other delicious dishes that you must try in Hanoi:

1/ Bún ốc (snail vermicelli soup)

Bun oc is easy to find because of its popularity; from street booth to restaurants, they all serve it.  The main ingredient is vermicelli noodles and snails, which have been cleaned. A bowl of bun oc is always colorful with distilled tomato and yellow banana. The taste is a perfect combination between soup with a little bit of greasiness, sour, and smell of vinegar. With thin slice of banana flowers and vegetables, the bowl becomes full of different flavors.

Bún ốc. (Photo: i.ytimg.com)

Recommended restaurants:

Ms. Beo at Hoe Nhai street,

Ms. Luong at Khuong Thuong street, 530 Thuy Khue,

Tinh Que restaurant at Cao Dat street,

Inside Dong Xuan market,

Around Tay Ho (West Lake).

2/ Banh cuon (Rolled rice crepes)

Banh cuon is made from rice flour through the skillful hands of the cooks to create a very thin and soft layer. Banh cuon has different types to keep up with the various tastes of people such as Banh cuon without filling, banh cuon filled with wood ear mushroom, banh cuon filled with egg, or shrimp, salted shredded meat, roasted cinnamon pork, etc.

However, the only thing to make banh cuon delicious is sour and spicy fish sauce, which is the cook’s secret. Using chopsticks to dip a piece of banh cuon in the sauce then put it straight into your mouth will give you an unforgettable experience.

Bánh cuốn. (Photo: i.ytimg.com)

Recommended restaurants:

Banh cuon Phuong, 68 Hang Cot (Hanoi),

Banh cuon Ms. Thoa at Ham Tu Quan street,

banh cuon Thanh Van at Hang Ga street.

3/ Pho cuon (rice noodle rolls)

If you already felt familiar with the pho with broth, then pho cuon (rice noodle rolls) will be an interesting thing for you to try when visiting Hanoi. It is different from pho with broth, but rather similar with banh cuon (rolled rice crepes). However, the flour is tougher and thicker. Inside the roll is fried beef, egg, vegetable; and it is served with sweet and sour fish sauce. The most delicious pho cuon is at Ngu Xa village, near Truc Bach lake; it is also the original place of the dish.

Phở cuốn.(Photo: chiecthiavang.com)

Recommended restaurant: Hung Ben restaurant at 33 Ngu Xa, Hanoi.

>>>For drinking beer, here is a good place to check out.

>>>Hanoi has a very special tea, click here to discover.

Writer: Linh Dang.
Translator: Diem Nguyen.

Travel Tips to Moc Chau

Moc Chau, a big plateau in Son La province 180km from Hanoi, has a shared border with Laos of 40.6km. Moc Chau is very popular among Vietnamese travelers because of its poetic landscapes with endless grass fields, huge gardens of plum and apricot trees as well as peaceful countryside atmosphere. The habitants of the plateau are mostly of 12 ethnic groups, namely Thai people (33%) and Muong people (18%.)

Photo: tuannguyentravel.com

1/When to travel?

If you just simply want to have a change of air, an escape from the crowded and noisy cities of the modern world, then Moc Chau will be welcoming your tired souls at any time. However, there are several occasions of the year when you can truly enjoy the unique beauty of Moc Chau, according to the seasons.

Suggested time to travel to Moc Chau

  • Before and after Lunar New Year is the season of peach blossoms and plum blossoms.
Photo: mocchautourism.com
  • Around March is the time when white orchids bloom. In addition, on March 26, there is also Hết Chá festival of the Thái people.
Photo: thegioidisan.vn
  • Early September is the Independence Day of the Mông people.
Photo: zing.vn
  • November is the time when cauliflowers paint the hills pure white.

    Photo: Google Image
  • December is the season of marigold flowers, you will meet them everywhere along Highway 6.
Photo: news.zing.vn

2/Destinations

And here comes our most awaited part: where to go? Below is some suggestions you may find interesting: 

2.1/Thung Cuông Village (Thông Cuông)

Thung Cuông (Thông Cuông) is a Hmong village located between two communes of Đông Sang of Moc Chau and Xuân Nha of Vân Hô. The pathway to Thung Cuông has its two sides decorated with vast valleys of white cauliflowers. Between the flowers are lines of plum trees waiting for spring to come, along with waves of mountains creating a magnificent scene of nature.

Photo: cungphuot.info

This is also one of the favourite wedding photography spots of young people. The local people let themselves be absorbed into the gentle arms of nature, the children cycling home when school is over creates such a happy and joyous scene. Meanwhile, the travelers become so hurry in the scare that if they are too slow such incredible scene will disappear into the old books of fairy tales.

Photo: tuannguyentravel.com
2.2/Pa Phách Village

The top of Pa Phách is a village of the Thái people. The bottom of Pa Phách includes three villages: Pa Phách 1,Pa Phách 2 and of the Mông people. The village Pa Phách 1 belongs to Đông Sang Ward.

The road to Pa Phach is quite dangerous, simultaneously passing through upright slopes that sweat you out, and on the top is the view of a blue sky of plum trees, peach trees… and a few Mông’s houses hidden in the forest. On the other side, the plateau Moc Chau extends its arms full of green grass, young corn, and some dairy cattle grazing the green grass… Especially, the climate is very cool and in the afternoon, the fog will escalate everywhere and make you feel like drowning in the ocean of fog.

Photo: thongtindulichthungnai.blogspot.com
2.3/Rừng thông bản Áng (Pine forest of Áng Village)

Located on Moc Chau Plateau, Áng Village does not just own the fresh and cool climate and the romantic scenery, but also has the preserved cultural treasures of the Thái people.

From Moc Chau Farm Town, following Highway 43 about 2km to the South is Áng village. From above, Áng Village is as beautiful as a water painting with layers of traditional stilts lay hidden under the green leafy canvas. Near the village is a natural lake with an area of ​​5 hectares surrounded by green pine forests on reddish brown hills. In the distance, the scenery of Moc Chau plateau, especially in spring, with the tea hills, green pasture, flowers, banana flowers, plum blossom whitening the forest seems to be adorning the beauty of Áng Village to be more dreamy and romantic.

Photo: didi-adventure.com

Áng Village is home to the Thái ethnic group. They live mainly on farming (tea, canola, corn, rice), traditional breeding and handicrafting (weaving brocade, rice padding,etc.). Although located in Moc Chau Town, Áng Village’s community residents still preserve peculiar traditional stilt house, costumes, traditional folk songs, folk games, and special ceremonies. You will have the opportunity to experience daily life with the villagers (in the floor, rice padding, tea picking down the hill, fishing stream,etc.); explore the scenery of the Northwest forest, especially horseback riding on the Áng forest and enjoy the local specialties, such as rượu cần (weed wine), cơm lam (bamboo rice), pa pỉnh tộp (grilled fish), smoked meat, and wild vegetables,etc.

Photo: dulich.wikihoidap.com
2.4/Thác Dải Yếm (Dải Yếm Waterfall)

Dải Yếm Waterfall is also known as Nàng Waterfall or Bản Vặt Waterfall. It is located in Mường Sang Commune, Moc Chau District, Sơn La Province. According to the legend, the waterfall is bib of the girl who saves the boy out of the flood.

The Bim Waterfall consists of two parts: the upper waterfall (70m wide) and the lower waterfall (150-200m away from the upper one.)In the dry season, the lower falls only have a flow from the height of 50m to the rocks below. The two cascades fall down together with a total height of 100m; one side is divided into 9 floors while the other is divided into 5 floors. Between the two waterfalls is a flat land. On its top is flourished rich vegetation.

Photo: vietnamtoursinformation.com
2.5/Ngũ Động Bản Ôn (The five caves of Ôn Village)

The five caves consist of four main caves lying on a hill and an independent cave on the other side of the hill. The five caves are compared with the theory of the Five Elements: Wood, Water, Fire, Earth, and Metal. The stalactite shimmers with many unique shapes, crystallized over thousands of years. The third cave is the most extensive and also the only one, which is equipped with electric system by the transmitter, but it is only used during holidays, so you will need to bring a flashlight when exploring the caves.

Photo: dulichtaybac.info
2.6/Đồi chè Mộc Châu (Mộc Châu Tea Hill)

Moc Chau Plateau is famous for its green tea plants stretching across all the hills. Tea is grown everywhere here and mixed with the beautiful small houses among them. Somewhere along the spring flowers, paper flowers are blossoming in the frosty mist like the poetic scenery.

Photo: checkinmocchau.vn 

3/What to eat?

There are so many unique dishes of Moc Chau that I’m sure you will fall in love with:

3.1/Steam Fish

The fishes round of Moc Chau stream are very round. Some are little like the little finger, some are just bigger than two fingers. The fish is washed and then pan fried until crispy, when eating you can chew both the meat and the bone.

Photo: tuannguyentravel.vn
3.2/Mán Taro

Some other lands also has this potato but in terms of deliciousness, the taros of the Dao people are the best and most delicious. According to many people, the taros can only be grown by the the Moc Chau Dao people of Moc Chau. Taro is usually eaten between July and October, November. If you have the opportunity to go to Moc Chau at this time, don’t forget to buy a little as a gift for your friends and family at home.

Photo: biggreen.com.vn
3.3/Strawberry

Approximately one kilometer from the Áng Village, there is an area where attractive orchid and strawberry orchards have been planted and tested for fruit for several years. Many gardeners are expanding the area to export to the city and processing into jam and wine.

Photo: dulichcanhdieu.com.vn
3.4/Tea

At present, Moc Chau Province has about 3,000 hectares of tea of ​​different kinds. The beautiful vast hills of tea plant has turn Moc Chau into a dreamy green pearl. Tea is one of the symbols of Moc Chau plateau, which is also increasingly attached to the lives of the peoples here.

Besides, many tourists enjoy the taste of the most famous tea of Moc Chau plateau, San Tuyết (San Snow), a tea made from hundred years old tea plants here.Other brands are  OOLong tea and Kim Tuyền tea with different tastes.

3.5/Diary products

With hundreds of dairy cows on the farm, dairy products are one of the specialties you should definitely try when you come to Moc Chau. If possible, enjoy a glass of freshly cooked milk as soon as is leaved the cow (it’s Vietnamese’s favourite way of drinking milk). Other dairy products you should also try are yogurts (not the kind canned in supermarkets), butter, cream,etc. You can buy these products in any restaurant on the way to the Town.

4/Transportation

Moc Chau is about 200 km northwest from Hanoi, in the direction to Sơn La. You can travel to Moc Chau on private motorbike from Hanoi, or by bus and then rent a car to Moc Chau.

Buses (passenger cars) from Hanoi and some other Northern provinces to Sơn La

The cost for one trip is usually from 125,000 to 145,000 VND (5.50$ – 6.38$) and takes around 9 hours of travelling.

1.     Company name: HƯNG THÀNH

Intinery: Hà Nội – Sơn La

Departure time: 08:15 – 10:15 – 13:30 – 19:15 – 19:30

Intinery: Hà Nội – Mường La

Departure time: 09:15 – 19:00 – 20:00

Hotline: Mỹ Đình: 0974 888 555, Sơn La: 0989 764 764

2.     Company name: HẢI NAM

Intinery: Hà Nội – Sơn La

Departure time:

Sơn La: 6:30, 9:30, 12:15

Mỹ Đình: 3:30, 11:00, 13:00

Hotline: 0915 599 449 – 0987 073 999 – 0978 674 999

Full list: https://cungphuot.info/xe-khach-di-son-la-post5099.cp (this website is in Vietnamese so if you need translation, please inform us for further assistance)

Bus routes within Sơn La Province:

Bus number: 01
Route: Bản Cá, Chiềng An Ward, TP. Sơn La – Bệnh viên đa khoa tỉnh – Chợ Trung tâm – Cầu Trắng – Ngã ba Quyết Thắng – Bến xe khách TP. Sơn La – Trường Cao đẳng sư phạm Sơn La – Nhà máy xi măng Chiềng Sinh – Chiềng Mung – Nà Sản – TT Hát Lót – Bến xe buýt Cò Nòi, xã Cò Nòi, huyện Mai Sơn

(Ban Ca, Chieng An Ward, Son La – Provincial General Hospital – Central Market – White Bridge – Quyet Thang Junction – Son La – Son La Teachers College – Chieng Sinh Cement Plant – Chieng Mung – Na San – Hat Lot Town – Co Noi Commune, Co Noi Commune, Mai Son District)

Bus number: 02
Route: Tiểu khu 64 Thị trấn Nông trường Mộc Châu – Trung tâm hành chính mới huyện Mộc Châu – Ủy ban nhân dân xã Chiềng Hắc, huyện Mộc Châu

(Moc Chau 64 Farm Town District – Moc Chau District New Civic Center – Chieng Hac Commune People’s Committee, Moc Chau District)

Bus number: 03
Route: Phường Chiềng Sinh, TP. Sơn La – Bến xe khách TP. Sơn La – Ngã ba Quyết Thắng – Cầu Trắng – Đèo Sơn La – Chiềng Đen – Phiêng Tam – Ninh Thuận – Chiềng Pấc – Bệnh viện Thuận châu – Trung tâm xã Phỏng Lái, huyện Thuận Châu

(Moc Chau 64 Farm Town District – Moc Chau District New Civic Center – Chieng Hac Commune People’s Committee, Moc Chau District)

Renting motorbike/scooters in Moc Chau

 

Company name: CHỊ DUYÊN (SISTER DUYÊN)
Address: Tiểu khu 9- Thị trấn Mộc Châu (Ngã 3 bản Mòn – cạnh Sữa Chua dẻo Mộc Châu)
Hotline: 01636 828 666

Company name: NHÀ NGHỈ PHƯƠNG VY (PHƯƠNG VY MOTEL)
Address: Thị trấn Mộc Châu, Mộc Châu, Sơn La (Đối diện Khách sạn Công Đoàn)
Hotline: 022 3869813 – 0975 304595 – 0984 607327

Company name: THUÊ XE MÁY MỘC CHÂU (MỘC CHÂU MOTORBIKE RENTING)
Address: Thị trấn Mộc Châu, Mộc Châu, Sơn La
Hotline: 0163 2653052 – 0945 918050

I kept the address in Vietnamese so you can easily ask the locals for directions while travelling in Mộc Châu. Just simply show them the address and they will guide you there.

5/Some notes

  • If travel by motorbike, try to drive during the daytime, try not run late after 18:00 (especially for those who have not experienced mountain bike) because after this time the roads to Mộc Châu are often thick with fog. If travelling in winter, you will be blind (from Mai Châu to Mộc Châu).
  • If travel by passenger car, you should choose the hotel or motels just off Highway 6 and booked them in advance because these cars are often running in the evening. When you arrive at Mộc Châu, it is likely to be 1-2 o’clock in the morning.
  • Moc Chau is a hot spot for drugs dealing. When you go to the local’s villages (especially the Lóng Luông area), always stay alert and absolutely never leave your belongings or your vehicles away from you because if somebody put a little drug in the luggage, you will be in trouble.
  • Km 135 border between Mai Châu (Hoà Bình) and Moc Chau there are often inter-sectoral bolts of Traffic Police, Local Police, Drug Prevention Bureau… If they ask you to stop for some check-ups, it’s completely normal; you should be courteous, not objectionable in that case.

6/Few last words

I hope this article can help you choose your next travelling destination, or simply just give you a more fully understanding of Moc Chau, a very poetic area of Vietnam. If you have any problems or questions about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. We would be thrilled to help you.

From Vietnam with love.

Ngoc Le