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.

Thang Co – Unique Food In Sapa

Located in Vietnam’s northwestern remote mountains, Sapa is famous for not only its stunning hidden landscapes but its wide variety of unique specialties as well. However, there is a dish that could horrify everyone with its extremely unpleasant smell but as well makes you addicted to it just by taking the first bite. And that is Thắng Cố, one of the most well-known dishes in Northwestern Vietnam.

>>>For travel tips to Sapa, please visit here

1/Traditional Food Of The H’mong:

Thắng Cố or so-called Thắng Cố Ngựa is a traditional food of the H’mong people and believed to have first appeared more than 200 years ago, when the H’mong, Tay, Nung ethnic groups migrated to Bac Ha in Lao Cai province. It is originated from the northeastern mountainous Ha Giang, and gradually gained popularity among all of the ethnic minorities in the remote northern mountains of Vietnam. People here are really proud of Thang Co dish.

Sapa is not only famous for its stunning sceneries but also its most special food. Source: Whereto

 

2/Ingredients:

In the past, the main ingredient to make a traditional Thang Co dish is horse meat, instead of buffalo meat, pork or beef like the Kinh’s cuisines. Each kind of remade recipe of Thang Co owns its featured flavor; however, Thang Co in Bac Ha ( Muong Khuong) may obtain the best flavor.

Despite its unique taste, the cooking process is quite simple with 12 traditional ingredients, for instance, cardamom, citronella, ginger, star aniseed, cinnamon twig, Thang Co plant and others.

3/The recipe:

To make the dish, firstly, meat and internal organs must be carefully cleaned by being boiled up and then sliced into pieces before marinated. After that, without any oil, it will be fried up in a big pan on a charcoal stove. Lastly, we will leave all of the spices, together with main ingredients prepared, to simmer for hours. For a tastier dish, backbones and ribs are added to make the soup more flavored and sweeter. In order to make the soup look clearer, we must strain the veggies from the broth.

It is maybe a featured characteristic of Thang Co when we use a big pot or a kind of deep-fry pan instead of a normal pot and the pot is always seethed even when customers are enjoying it. It should be eaten with fresh vegetables such as lemongrass, chayote, cabbage, chili leaf, especially special sauce of H’mong people, which is made from Muong Khuong chili.

Thang Co – one of the unique specialties in Vietnam Source: foody.vn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thang Co can also be eaten with mèn mén, grilled corn, especially aromatic corn wine. The best recommendation for you to fully experience the authentic taste is enjoying Thang Co with a little warm and aromatic ethnic corn wine of Bac Ha or San Lung wine.

4/Only on special occasions:

Previously, Thang Co was only served on the special occasions like Tet holiday, village’s big crop festivals or in the large fair like Bac Ha market, which was not held regularly. Nowadays, it is gaining more popularity and appears in the menus of many restaurants. However, to get the real and original taste of the food, you should have the dish in fairs and markets in Sapa, especially in Bac Ha market.

If you plan to travel to Sapa, you must not miss this one-of-a-kind specialty of the mountainous upland, the unique recipe of Northwest Vietnam.

>>>For travel tips to Sapa, please visit here

Trang Nguyen

Moc Chau Plum Flowers Season: White Heaven On Earth

Like a painting with pure white theme, plum flowers in Moc Chau are making many people trembling with excitement. Do you want to go to Moc Chau this January to have that feeling, the feeling of soaking yourself in this earthly paradise?

White plum is the characteristic flower of Moc Chau highland. Since plum trees are planted in fields covering even a whole village or valley, their flowers also bloom in groups close to each other. This is why the place has gained its famous name “White Paradise”.

Plum flowers. Photo: we25.vn
Moc Chau paiting white with blossoming plum flowers. Photo: Tago Travel

1/ When to go:

Coming to Moc Chau from January to February, you will be greeted by a white paradise of plum flowers. The picturesque scene becomes more colorful with pink French peach flowers, wild peach flowers and green grasses.

The best time to see plum flowers is between January and February. Photo: Dream Travel

It is certain that plum flowers season is in the January -February period, but the starting time depends on the weather – it can be earlier or later. The blooming peak time lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, withering quickly later for bearing plum fruits in April. That is why people describe plum flower as a young north-west maiden – fragile, vigorous, soft and nearly untouchable.

2/ How to go

From Hanoi to Moc Chau (Son La province), you can go by motorbike or by bus.

If you choose bus, you can book a seat in My Dinh or Yen Nghia bus station.

If you think motorbike is favorable, the direction is easy – just follow the ‘new’ 185-kilometre National road number 6 connecting Hanoi city center to Moc Chau town center.

>>>More information on transportation to Moc Chau, please click here.

Local people hang Vietnamese flag in the top of plum tree in Tet holiday. Photo: Ngoi Sao Net

The most suitable spots for seeing plum flowers are Ban Anh pine forest, Ba Khe minor area, Long Luong, Thong Cuong, etc. Because of the fast withering phase, rush yourself to Moc Chau in January- February now!

Plum flowers blossoming in a garden of one local house. Photo: Hachi 8
An ethnic family enjoy the beauty of plum flowers. Photo: Du Lich Binh Chau
Moc Chau in plum flowers season is also an ideal place for pre-wedding photoshoots. Photo: Today TV
A perfect place for a youth photo albums. Photo: Top List Tips

>>>More information on travel tips to Moc Chau, please click here.

Source: we25.vn

Translator: Diem Nguyen – Le My Anh

All Things You Need To Know About Cao Bang

Today, Vietnam Track Team will introduce you a well-known attractive travel destination – a place far away from hustle metropolitan area. This destination is called ‘Cao Bang’.

1/ Where is Cao Bang?

Located in the Northeast of Vietnam, Cao Bang Province shares a more than 333 kilometer border with Guangxi (China.) Its natural land area is almost 6700 square km – mostly occupied by forests (90%) and endlessly extended mountains. Because of this feature, the climate in Cao Bang is mild and breezing cool.    

Photo: Wikipedia

2/ How to get to Cao Bang:

Cao Bang is 240 km away from Hanoi, and you can get there by car or motorbike.

2.1/By car:

You can follow the belt road 3 (vành đai 3,) go across the Thanh Tri Bridge, and head to Ha Noi –Thai Nguyen Highway. Upon arrival in Thai Nguyen City, you need to follow the National Highway 3 for 50km to reach Bac Kan Province and then for another 120km, you will set foot in Cao Bang territory.

2.2/By motorbike:

As for those who like backpacking or couchsurfing, going to Cao Bang by motorbike to explore beautiful sights is a perfect choice. From Hanoi city center, you should go straight to Nhat Tan Bridge and then follow National Highway 3, which will lead you to Cao Bang province territory.

One advice for foreign tourists: although the road to Cao Bang is not so hard to track, you should be accompanied by experienced Vietnamese-native backpackers/couch-surfers because there are dangerous mountain passes, which are full of heavy-loaded trucks.

3/ Beautiful scenes in Cao Bang:

3.1/ Ban Gioc Waterfall:

Ban Gioc Waterfall lies on the Vietnam – China border in Dam Thuy Commune, Trung Khanh District which is 84-88 km away from Cao Bang city center and 25 km northeast away from the center of Trung Khanh District. The 30-metre high waterfall is one of the most imposing ones in Vietnam. To capture its best moments, you had better visit it in August or September because of the rainy season.

On arrival in Cao Bang City, you have two options to reach Ban Gioc Waterfall. First, hire a motorbike and drive to the destination by yourself. Or hire a local motorbike taxi to drive you there. It’s advisable for foreign tourists to choose the second way because the road to Ban Gioc Waterfall is quite dangerous. 

Ban Gioc Waterfall. (Photo: luonggiatravel.com)

From faraway, you are able to see regal white water pillars and hear the thudding water hitting multiple limestone stairs. Especially, in the middle of the waterfall, there is a wide stone block dividing the waterfalling line into three smaller streams. On sunny days, the steam risen from water bubbling at the end of waterfall creates magical glittering rainbow.

Services there are not fully completed yet. So it is advisable to bring food, water and other personal stuffs by yourself. There are a few motels and restaurants at Ban Gioc, but reservations are needed. Entrance ticket fee is VND 20,000/person (approx. USD $1.)

The famous cuisines you should taste are grilled chicken, sour pho, cóng phù (similar to Chinese stuffed sticky rice balls), xôi trám (canarium steam sticky rice balls) and Chongqing nuts.    

Cao Bang ‘s cusine: Xôi trám. (Photo: baomoi)
3.2/ Nguom Gao Cave:

The second famous travel destination which Vietnam Track would like to introduce is Nguom Ngao Cave. Located 3km away from the Ban Gioc Waterfall, the cave was first discovered in 1921, but not until 1996 did it become a travel destination. According to local natives, the name of Nguom Ngao originally came from the fact that there were ferocious tigers living there a long time ago and they often sneaked into nearby villages to eat the cattle.

Nguom Ngao cave. ( Photo: atlatvietnam.besaba.com)

The total length of the cave is 2144 meters with 3 main entrances: Nguom Ngao, Nguom Lom and Ban Thuon. The Nguom Ngao entrance is a few hundred stairs from the bottom of the mountain while the Nguom Lom entrance stays hidden under stone blocks of the bottom as well and the Ban Thuon entrance is behind the mountain. When entering the cave, you will be amazed by the nature’s construction printed on the limestones in various shapes. 

We hope that the information given is helpful for your trip to Cao Bang. Please share with us your own experience when visiting our country!

If you have any problem travelling in Vietnam, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more assistance. We will be thrilled to help.

Writer: Linh Dang

Translator: Diem Nguyen

[Hanoi] Welcome Wild Sunflowers in Ba Vi

If you are living in Hanoi and want to be immersed in yellow color of wild sunflowers (Hoa Dã Quỳ,) you do not have to go all the way to Da Lat. Just travel for 45km from Hanoi, mountain flanks of Ba Vi National Park will make your dream come true.

‘Hoa Dã Quỳ’  are also called as daisies (Cúc quỳ) or wild sunflowers (Hướng dương dại.) Their blooming season, from October till November, signals the start of winter with freezing air approaching Northern Vietnam. wild sunflowers are not as big as sunflowers, but their growing in bushes compensates the size of the flowers; so that when they blossom, a golden carpet is naturally laid before our eyes. The most appropriate time to capture this flower’s beauty is in the morning when the dawn is rising and drops of dew are still clinging on the leaves and flowers. 

Although wild sunflowers in Ba Vi is not plentiful as in Da Lat, the flowers in Ba Vi are bigger and their yellow colors are more intense. Moreover, observing wild sunflowers in the foggy scene of Ba Vi would truly give you an unforgettable impression. 

Photo: zing.vn

The Meaning Of Wild Sunflowers

Wild sunflowers are attached to an emotional love legend.

Once upon a time, in Lasieng tribe in remote Tay Nguyen Highlands, there was a beautiful young girl named H’Linh who deeply fell in love with a young man named K’Lang. Everyday, while K’Lang was hunting in the woods, H’Linh was staying at home sewing a blanket for him (according to the custom of the tribe, before marriage, the girl had to sew a beautiful blanket to bring to the husband’s house.) When the night fell down, they would gather, sing and dance with other villagers by the campfire.

Tay Nguyen people. (Photo: Far East Tour)

Their happy life went on and their marriage day was coming nearer and nearer. However, the son of the tribe’s leader LaRihn also loved H’Linh desperately, and he was really jealous when not receiving the love from H’Linh.

One day K’Lang went to the woods as usual, but did not come back. H’Linh waited for one day, then two days but there was no sign of him. Afraid that something wrong happened to her finace, H’Linh went into the woods and crossed multiple streams until she was too tired and fell asleep for a while. In her dream, she heard K’Lang asking her to cross one more stream to meet him.

She woke up from that dream and did as she was told. And before her eyes was a tragic horror scene: K’Lang was tied up and the Lasieng villagers were stabbing him with spears and arrows. She ran towards him regardless of the death risk. Because of the overwhelming jealousy, LaRihn shot a fatal arrow. Tragically, the arrow hit H’Linh – the girl he loved so much. H’Linh died, kneeling, with K’Lang in her embrace.

Later, in that very spot where H’Linh died, a wild flower with a gorgeous yellow appeared, symbolizing a faithful love till death of the young couple. The flower was called by the name ‘Dã quỳ’ (wild sunflowers.)‘Dã’ means wild and ‘quỳ’ means kneeling.

Although holding a remarkable romantic significance, nowadays wild sunflowers are not used as a present for one another in social greetings or romantic relationships. We are just longing to admire their seductive beauty in the wild nature.   

Photo: GoVNPT

Information of Wild Sunflowers Season in Ba Vi in 2017

  1. Blooming time

It is estimated that wild sunflowers’ blooming time is from 28/10 till 26/11 and the peak time is from 04/11 till 19/11.

  1. Location of wild sunflowers garden

After buying tickets, from the entrance gate to 400m mark pine forest, visitors can see wild sunflowers growing on both sides of the curvy road. Continue going for another 200m, visitors park your vehicles, and then turn left, walking ahead for 300m to reach the wild sunflowers garden. This garden’s area is over 10 ha, divided into 5 sections, and connected by a 3-km route.

Photo: zing.vn
  1. Tickets for Ba Vi National park:

+Entrance Tickets:

– Adults: VND 60000 /person /turn (approx. USD 2.6)

– Students: VND 20000/person/turn (approx. USD 0.88)

– Pupils: VND 10000/person/turn (approx. USD 0.44)

– Priorities: VND 30000/person/turn (approx. USD 1.32) (applied for elderly, handicapped people, etc.)

+Parking Fee:

– 9-seat-and-beyond car parking: VND 25000/car (approx. USD 1.1)

– Under-9-seat car parking: VND 20000/car (approx. USD 0.88)

– Motorbike parking: VND 3000/motorbike/turn/place (approx. USD 0.13)

– Bicycle parking: VND 2000/bicycle/turn/place (approx. USD 0.09)

Additional Information

Besides Ba Vi, you can visit Mộc Châu (Sơn La), Đà Lạt, Pleiku, Điện Biên, and Lạng Sơn to enjoy this wild sunflowers season in Vietnam.

Photo: aFamily

If you have any problem travelling in Vietnam, whether it’s food problem or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more assistance. We will be thrilled to help.

Source: Phượt Luôn & Zing.vn

Translator: Diem Nguyen