[Review] Full Day Trip to Giang Dien Waterfall

Hi, everyone!! Last Sunday (10 Dec 2017,) our group went to another peaceful and enjoyable place – Giang Dien Waterfall. Our goal of this trip was to observe magnificent and breathtaking waterfall and simply enjoy the nature away from the hustle city. In this article, I would like to share with you our travel memories as well as provide some tips so that you can plan your own trip to Giang Dien Waterfall.

1, Where is Giang Dien Waterfall??

Giang Dien Waterfall is located in Trang Bom, Dong Nai Province, Southern Vietnam. There are many industrial parks in Dong Nai province which have received a great deal of investment from foreign companies. Moreover, there will be a new international airport – Long Thanh International Airport. Therefore, Dong Nai province is an important area for Vietnamese economy.

In terms of sightseeing, there is Cat Tien National Park in the south of Dong Nai. This park is famous for huge area of rainforest. You can enjoy jangle walking or night safari there. Another gem of Dong Nai tourism is Giang Dien Waterfall which was the destination of Vietnam Track’s second trip last Sunday.

Giang Dien Waterfall

2, How to get there??

Talking about the transportation, it is quite simple. There is a big bus station on Ham Nghi Street near Ben Thanh Market (District 1, HCMC) where you can take the bus to Giang Dien Waterfall. To many foreigners, taking a bus is quite challenging, but for this time, you don’t need to worry about it. Just take the bus No. 12, which will take you directly to the waterfall. You don’t need to change bus routes on the way. And Giang Dien Waterfall is also the final stop of this bus, so neither do you need to concern about where to get off. The bus fee is only 30,000VND for one way.

***Note that the time of the last bus may be changeable. On the day we went there, the final bus back to HCMC was 15:45, so remember to check the time with the driver of the ticket seller before getting off.

The bus stop on Ham Nghi Street where we took bus No.12
Inside the bus No.12

 

Entrance Tickets:

From Mon-Fri: Adult 50,000VND; Kids 30,000VND.  

Sat and Sun: Adult 60,000VND; Kids 35,000VND.

From the bus stop to the waterfall, you need to walk for around 2 km, but believe me, it is an enjoyable and relaxing walk with trees along the road, river flowing and a big lake nearby.   

 
Welcome to Giang Dien Waterfall Tourist Site
Giang Dien Waterfall Tourist Site map

3, What we did??

One of my impressions on the park is that there were a lot of peaceful and beautiful green spaces where people could lie on the chair, walk around the park or have a picnic as we did.

 

Upon reaching the waterfall, we quickly found a spot on the meadow nearby, from which we could have a whole view of this magnificent and imposing waterfall. We brought Indian snacks, sandwiches with peanut butter and pork bologna, fruits, drinks and also UNO board game. Some people in the group enjoyed swimming, including me. The water was so cool which made my body shaking for the first few minutes; however, once I felt comfortable, I could forget hot and humid weather of HCMC. Many people in the park enjoyed BBQ beside the waterfall with Karaoke. I am big fan of BBQ and Karaoke so I was a little bit jealous with them. If I come here next time, I would definitely go for BBQ. 

Camping site
Our picnic spot

4, Conclusion:

I was very thankful for this park which helped me to escape from noisy sounds in the city like those of motorbikes and of construction. When you feel exhausted with the city life, don’t forget this place, especially for those who like BBQ and camping. The park serves you all the necessary facilities to have a wonderful picnic with your friends or families.  In addition, there is no restriction on doing BBQ, so you can enjoy BBQ wherever you think suitable around the waterfall. And finally, I would like to thank all of my friends. I had absolutely spent a great time with them.

We are planning next trip already. If you are interested in our trips, feel free to join us. The next trip will be to Tay Ninh Province on 13-14th January 2018. More information on the next trip will be published soon.

Thank you for reading and hope to see you guys again in our next trip!

We were having dinner at Pho 2000 restaurant, a well-known Pho restaurant in Saigon

Kazuki Nishioka

[Review] Full Day Trip to Thanh An Island

Hello everyone! I am an exchange student from Japan, and one member of Vietnam Track Team. From today, we would like to share our memories of Vietnam Track’s events through reports written by a participant, for example, me as an organizer and a participant. You can know what kind of activities we are holding and also get information about hidden places in Vietnam. 

This time, I will talk about our very first trip to Thanh An Island. Let me begin with general information.

Place: Thanh An Island, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City

Date: November 26th, 2017

Cost: 250,000VND/person 

1/ How to get there?

Do you know a trendy traveling style in Vietnam called ‘Phượt’? It means traveling by motorbikes. And for this time, we chose ‘Phượt’ style to get nearer to the nature. Really, imagine you are on the back of a motorbike enjoying cool breeze and inhaling fresh air.  I bet it would be one of the most enjoyable moments ever for you!

>>>Details of the way to get to Thanh An Island, please visit here

This is called ‘Phượt’. I tried to ride the motorbike, and it turned out that it was not too difficult at all (at least for this road)

2/ Our trip:

6:40 : We gathered at District 7

At first, I thought 6:40 was too early, and I had no idea why we had to gather in the early morning. However, it was totally wrong. It would be a truly  long journey!

8:00 : Arrived at the entrance of the Binh Khanh Ferry

We arrived at the ferry about 8a.m. To reach Can Gio, it took only 10 to 15 minutes, very quick! I even did not notice it was moving. The fee for 1 motorbike was 4,500VND plus 1,000VND more for the one sitting at the back, so it was quite cheap for us. Inside of this ferry, there were so many motorbikes and cars as shown on the photo, however if you went upstairs and had a seat, you could enjoy good view and feel more comfortable. I really recommend going upstairs.

Binh Khanh Ferry, so many motorbikes, cars and buses

8:20~10:30 : Long journey by motorbike to Thanh An Island…

We needed to travel through the whole Can Gio to take the second ferry. Normally, it takes around 1 hour and a half; however, we used over 2 hours to get there. On the road, there were a few motorbikes and cars and you know what, Can Gio was actually a countryside in Saigon. So you could enjoy beautiful peaceful sceneries and fresh air along the way. Our group really enjoyed this journey. We stopped at some points to take pictures, talk with each other, and eat some food.

I thought ‘Phuot’ style traveling to here was so nice because we didn’t need to concern about heavy traffic and we could feel the cool breeze. But, you should be careful with the police when driving motorbikes. Don’t drive so fast and keep to the right side of the road!!

12:00: Taking 2nd Ferry to Thanh An Island

Because the ferry here was quite small, it was not strong enough to carry motorbikes. We parked our motorbikes at  Coopmart and took a rest. Then, we walked for 2km to the ferry port. Unfortunately, when we got the port, the ferry was already gone, so we had to wait for more than one hour and we spent that amount of time on recharging batteries and talking with other people in the group as most of us had not known each other before.

Finally the ferry came. It cost 10,000VND for each person. This ferry is smaller than the first one, so it looked much more similar to a fisherman boat. From the ferry, we could see the island and local people’s lives; how they traveled around each island and what did they did near the island. The sunlight was so strong at the time. So, don’t forget to bring sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, especially women!!!

13:00 : We finally arrived at Thanh An Island 

How far the journey was!! We finally arrived at Thanh An Island at 1p.m. This island was small so that we could go all around on foot. My impressions on the island were that there were a lot of adorable dogs on the road. Some little children were playing outside with their friends. Many dried seafood was sold along the road. I really enjoyed seeing what the local people’s lives on the island.

Eating seafood is a must do on such an island as Thanh An. One of the special things here was that you could choose which kinds of seafood you wanted to eat. They served many varieties of sea foods such as crabs, shrimps, squids, fish, oysters, etc. And the dishes were cooked so delicious.

Here are some of the dishes that we enjoyed there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15:00: Enjoyed a beautiful ocean view!!

To see the great ocean view from here is the main part of this trip! Standing before the vast sea, I suddenly felt how tiny a human was, and also at the same time I wanted to go travelling more to see more and more beautiful sceneries like this. Probably, when you are sitting here and looking at the sea, you will forget the time is passing. I appreciated my friends taking me here.

Beautiful sea view

16:30~20:00: Back to Center of Ho Chi Minh City

Finally, we get back to the center of Ho Chi Minh city by traveling the same way. We took the last ferry to Can Gio at 5p.m and almost the last ferry to Binh Khanh at 7:30p.m. The road was quite terrible to ride motorbikes at night because of lacking street lights, so it would be safer if you go back earlier before the night fall down. Besides, the temperature at night became cooler than that of daytime. So, I recommend bringing a thin jacket with you.

>>>Details of the way to get to Thanh An Island, please visit here

Enjoy the dawn on the ferry back home

Conclusion:

I think this place is a little bit hard for foreigners to go alone because the way is complicated, and it is difficult to find the bus stops. However, participating in this event, I had many Vietnamese friends to go there together. So, I was so glad to go with them. And also, thanks to having friends from the US and New Zealand, we had a great time exchanging languages and culture during the trip. I was so satisfied  with the trip.

In addition, it is hard to find Thanh An Island from the guidebook for foreigners. I strongly recommend going there if you want to find a hidden part of Vietnam, especially Saigon. Till now could I know that there was a countryside in the modern Ho Chi Minh City. Anyway, this trip is a perfect opportunity to track to the heart of Vietnam.

I’m looking forward for our next trip. Finally if you have trouble in your trip to Vietnam, feel free to contact us!!

>>>Announcement of our next trip to Giang Dien Waterfall, please visit here.

Here are our happy moments ^^

On our way to Can Gio Market.
Recharging batteries before taking the second ferry.

Don’t forget to take pictures at any time ^^

On the ferry to Thanh An Island.
We, waiting for the ferry to run.
I am so ‘high’
So happy are we! ^^
Before the lunch
On the rock road

 

Kazuki Nishioka 

 

Thiên Đường Cave – Heaven on Earth

Vietnam is a country blessed by God for its own beautiful nature nowhere else could have. It’s the breathtaking beauty, the beauty that if one has seen, one could never forget. In the middle area of the letter “S” shaped country, lies one of the most beautiful provinces of Vietnam, Quảng Bình Province, home to so many extraordinary beaches and of course, natural caves. Among them, Thiên Đường Cave (Paradise Cave,) the longest cave in the world, is a true heaven on Earth.

Paradise on Earth. Photo: asitimes.blogspot.com

The discovery of Thiên Đường Cave:

Thiên Đường Cave (Paradise Cave) is part of Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng National Park, a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. The cave was discovered by a local man in 2005, and the first 5 km of its was explored by the explorers from the British Cave Research Association in 2005. The British cave explorers were so impressed with the beautiful and spectacular stalactites and stalagmites inside that they named it Thiên Đường Cave (Paradise Cave.) This cave is 31km long, 72m high and 150m wide. In 2012, a new scorpion species Vietbocap thienduongensis was found here.

Amazement. Photo: Google Image

How to get there?

Thiên Đường Cave is 200m above sea level, near the west branch of Hồ Chí Minh Highway, in Sơn Trạch Commune, Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam. It is 60km northwest from Đồng Hới city.

There are many ways to get there. You can travel by train or airplane to Đồng Hới city, then rent a car or get on a bus to reach the cave.

A journey to Thiên Đường Cave:

Once arrival, you can see the parking lot, a wide area to park car,take a rest and buy souvenirs from local shops and enjoy some food at local restaurants. There you must also buy entrance tickets to visit the cave.

After entering, you will have to walk or get on the electric car to get to the foot of the cave.

Photo: Ngọc Lê

Then, there will be two ways up to the cave, one stairway and one flat trail. Either way, you have to hike or climb the stairs. There will be two public toilets along the way.

The Walk. Photo: Google Image

After a pretty (very) long hike, you will reach the entrance to the cave, which only fits one person at one time. There is a house for you to rest your tired legs, buy water and food, take photos or simply just enjoy the view of the beautiful nature before entering the cave.

 

A 15m steep slope leads down to the base of the cave, which is created by nature in an extremely sophisticated way, with numerous stalactites and stalagmites. On the two sides of the slope are traces of past collapses, scattered of stalactite poles like having undergone a tectonic phase.

Down to Heaven. Photo: Ngọc Lê

Located at 360 meters above sea level, Paradise Cave has the temperature of 9 to 10 degree Celsius different from outside. The cave is separated into many large chambers, the widest being 200 meters wide and above 100 meters tall.

To protect the natural condition of the cave, the ‘Trường Thịnh’ Group enterprise built a wooden bridge which is 3.5 meters wide and more than 1000 meters long for visitors to observe the beauty of the cave. This road is currently holding a national record as “The Longest Wooden Road.

The Longest Wooden Road (Photo: Wikipedia)

 

The magnificent beauty of the cave is finally revealed when the light illuminates the colourful stalactites. Inside the cave, you can freely use your imagination with the endless variety in shapes of so many stalactites that the “first men” has used such beautiful words to name, such as the Galaxy Waterfall (Thác Ngân Hà), the Moon Rabbit (Thỏ Ngọc),etc. that could only be seen to understand.

Ilumination. Photo: Google Image

The journey ends after 1km of walking, admiring and relaxing. But it does not just end like that. On your way out, you will see another amazing perspective of the cave, maybe even more beautiful than the way in. That is the magic of this cave: it’s mesmerizing.

Photo: Google Image

  • Ticket price:

– One adult/one ticket: 250.000VND (10.97$)

– Children from 0.9m to 1.3m/one ticket: 125.000VND (5.48$)

– Children below 0.9m/one ticket: free

  • Electric car service from the entrance to the down of the cave (1km trip)

There are two types of electric car service, the price is calculated by trip: 4 seats electric car trip and 6 seats electric car trip.

– 4 seats electric car trip:

  • One way: 60.000VND (2.63$)/trip/turn
  • Round-trip: 100.000VND (4.39$)/trip/round

– 6 seats electric car trip:

  • One way: 90.000VND (3.95$)/trip/turn
  • Round-trip: 150.000VND (6.58$)/trip/round

Note: Electric car trip tickets DO NOT include entrance fees. You still have to buy entrance tickets anyway.

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.

Ngọc Lê

 

Pig’s Offal Congee Restaurants in Vietnam

Although there are many ‘cháo lòng’ eateries in Vietnam, here we are going to show you the most delicious and famous pig congee places throughout the country. In fact, each region of the country has a different way of making and tasting ‘cháo lòng’, so remember to do your research before coming to a certain area.

The North

Street food in Hanoi is actually one of the most famous features of the capital of the country. And ‘cháo lòng’, though not as famous as other Hanoi street food, also stand out differently from its brothers and sisters in the South. It’s best to enjoy ‘cháo lòng’ at a carrying pole by a local person on the street, in a cold winter day. What could be better than a hot bowl of congee in the cooling wind breezing through your body, warming it up? To assist you with your choices, here is a list of famous traditional ‘cháo lòng’ restaurants in Hanoi (source: danviet.vn):

Cháo lòng Hàng Tre (Bamboo Street cháo lòng)

The local Hanoian with the love for cháo lòng usually comes to Hàng Tre. The restaurant is situated at the main street so it is very easy to find. This restaurant usually serves cháo lòng from the early morning to noon. Although this is just a simple and affordable restaurant, many people love to come here.

The hot bowl of congee with the refreshing smell of vegetables and peppers.

Like many other congee restaurants, the congee is cooked traditionally in Northern style, the colour of the congee is a little cloudy, served with pig’s offal and thin slices of liver. When tasting, people often sprinkle the congee with pepper and fresh herb or add a little bit of fish sauce for additional savour.

Open time: from early morning to noon

Price: 30,000 VND (1.32$)/bowl

Cháo lòng Ô Quan Chưởng

Just a noble restaurant, small space of serving, simple furniture but this cháo lòng place is always full of customers because of the specially made pig’s offal congee. A bowl of congee served at this place is always full of delicious pig’s guts with thin pure congee.

The bowl of congee is served with its full beauty.

All the ingredients is kept clean, the chef only chopped and cut and slightly cooked through the thin congee which has been boiled in the kitchen. Therefore, customers have to wait a little longer than usual, but you will find every single second you waited is worthy because the guts is very brittle, fragrant and without any stink.

Open time: 3:30pm – 10:30m

Price: 40,000VND (1.76$)/bowl

Cháo lòng Đào Duy Từ

If you are looking for delicious but cheap food in Hanoi, you could never miss the cháo lòng place at the front of Đào Duy Từ alley. This is just a very small eating place with 4-5 plastic tables, even customers sometimes have to sit together with strangers, but is always crowded with people coming in and out for their amazing congee.

The congee here is served in full, filled with hearts, stomach, colon, liver and only little congee. They also add some daisy vegetables and spring onion on top of the congee.

It’s a very interesting experience to enjoy pig’s offal congee in the cool air of Hanoi.

The incredible flavor of congee here can easily please any critical customer.

Open time: all day

Price: 40,000VND (1.76$)/bowl

Cháo lòng Hàng Phèn

One of the delicious eating places in Hanoi is the restaurant at the front of Hàng Phèn Street, with the age of 20 years. None of a connoisseur in food is unfamiliar with this restaurant.

The congee restaurant is at the front of Hàng Phèn Street, cross Thuốc Bắc Street (Photo: Ngoisao)

This is only a street eating place with several plastic tables and chairs but customers keep coming all the time. In the cool atmosphere of autumn, sitting silently with a spoon of congee, enjoying the extraordinary taste, the solidarity, the sweet smell of congee and herbs is one of a unmissable experience in Hanoi.

Price: 40,000VND (1.76$)/bowl

The South

The South of Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City’s cháo lòng is very different from the North. Thanks to the creativity and generosity of Southern people, they have created such a different taste of cháo lòng here, compared to the North. The easiest way to distinguish a bowl of cháo lòng cooked in the Northern way with a bowl of cháo lòng cooked in the Southern way is to identify their sweetness. The Southern cháo lòng bowl is much sweeter than the one made by the Northern. However, the truth is, the real difference lies in the heart of yours, or should I say, the mouth of yours. Only by tasting both bowl of pig’s offal congee could you ever understand the uniqueness of cháo lòng of different cultures and regions. Here is a list of famous ‘cháo lòng’ places in Hồ Chí Minh City:

Cháo lòng hẻm Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai (Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street’s alley)

This is my personal favourite ‘cháo lòng‘ eatery in Ho Chi Minh City. This restaurant is located in a small alley on Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, an alley so small in the center of Saigon that even a car could not come in.

Although this place is  not easy to find at all, but everyday, from about 2pm to late night, this alley is always crowded with people, from normal students to elegant customers, all cháo lòng lovers, coming to enjoy their delicious bowl of pig’s offal congee.

Beside pig’s offal congee, this place also serve many other familiar dishes bearing the bold taste of Saigon such as salad rolls, dried beefs, papaya salad,etc. Also, the special feature that makes this place one of the most famous cháo lòng restaurant is its harmonious combination between the taste of Northern and Southern congee.

Open time: 2pm to late night

Price: 30,000VND (1.32$)/small bowl, 45,000VND (1.98$)/big bowl/blood congee, 70.000VND (3.09$/ big plate of pig’s offal only,…

Address: 153 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City

Night pig’s offal congee near Bến Thành Market

This place, situated at the West Gate of Bến Thành Market, is only a carrying pole but is always crowded. The congee here is very nice, soft, delicious and rich.

Open time: 06:00 PM – 03:00 AM

Price: 30,000VND – 45,000VND (1.32$ – 1.98$)

Address: 49 Phan Chu Trinh, Bến Thành Province, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City.

Cháo Lòng 374 

The congee here is very delicious, nice seasoning, the pig’s offal is fresh, and herbs are cleaned. Very devoted service.

Adress: 374 Lê Văn Sỹ, P. 2, quận Tân Bình, TP. HCM

Open time: 06:30 AM – 10:00 PM

Price: 15,000VND – 33,000VND (0.66$ – 1.45$)

Another way of finding the best cháo lòng restaurant for you is to ask any local you see, if you can. They always know best. If you ever come to Vietnam, do not forget to try out this extraordinary congee, if you have the guts.

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 would be thrilled to help.

Ngọc Lê.

Nem Nuong – A Da Lat Specialty Should Not Be Missed

It will be such a pity if you travel around Vietnam – an S-shaped country without paying a visit to Da Lat, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Viet Nam. Here you can enjoy not only the beauty of nature but the food culture as well.

It will be such a pity if you travel around Vietnam – an S-shaped country without paying a visit to Da Lat, one of the most popular tourist destinations, located at 1500 meters above sea level in the Southern part of the Central Highlands. Due to its unique climate, this city is well-known as “the City of Spring”. Da Lat not only appeals visitors by glorious flowers and poetic landscapes, but also by its special food, especially grilled pork rolls (nem nướng).

Continue reading “Nem Nuong – A Da Lat Specialty Should Not Be Missed”