MAI CHAU & HOMESTAY TOURISM

Mai Chau is a district in mountainous province of Hoa Binh, 140 km South West Hanoi, gate way to huge mountain North West Vietnam.

From Thung Khe pass you can take photo of Mai Chau valleys dotted by district town, Van, Lac, Nhot, and Pom Coong villages with stilt houses hiden under green trees.

Mai Chau is home to Thai ethnic group, H'mong, Dzao, and Viet people. Thai people live in the house on stilts. Traditionally, there is fish pond under the house, or right behind it. Weaving loom for women is placed on ground floor. Besides farm work ( 2 rice farming seasons a year) the women here weave brocade, make bamboo baskets, and many other traditional products.

Lac Village in Mai Chau is one of the first village received tourists for homestay. Nowadays there are more village in further location do the same such as Van, Pom Coong, Xam Khoe...Home stay services includes staying on stilt house, hot water for shower, clean rest room, mosquito net, electric fan, traditional meals with rice wine, free bicycle, blanket, soft sleeper, Thai music dance upon request.

People here are quite friendly. You find it easy to make interaction with them on the trekking paths, in the market, at their house, or on rice paddy field. You can do trekking, cycling, or having a short walk around the village here with so pleasant feelings.
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SAPA VIETNAM FOR ADVENTURE & HOLIDAY TRAVEL

Sa Pa is a town in North West highland, and is a famous sumer resort in Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. It has many wonders of natural mountainous landscape that looks like a harmonious painting with romantic scenery.

Sapa is situated on the elevation of 1500 - 1650 m above the sea level. From the town we can see beautiful view of Ngoi Dum and Muong Hoa valleys. The town is around 350 km from Hanoi. Tourists can get there by night train (9 hours) or bus on high way( 6 hours).

Sapa has temperate climate so it is cool all year round. The winter, Nov - Feb, is quite cold, and sometimes there is snow. Sapa is home to several ethnic minority like H'mong, Zay, Tay, Red Dzao, Viet. At the weekend they, in traditional costume, gather in local market for exchange homemade goods. Besides goods market at daytime this place is also love market where the boys have opportunity to find them suitable girl friends on Saturday night.

In winter 1903, while conducting mapping measurement, the expedition group of the geographical Department of Indochina  discovered Sa Pa village. This event marked the birth of Sapa town. In 1905, the French had collected the first information about the geography, climate, and vegetation ... Sapa began to be known as the cool air place, the fresh and beautiful scenery. In 1909, a resort was built . In 1917, a travel agency was established in Sa Pa, and a year later the French began constructed  the first villas. In 1920, the railway Hanoi - Lao Cai was completed. Sa Pa was considered the summer capital of North Vietnam. In total, the French had built in Sapa nearly 300 villas.

Sapa name is derived from SAPA  or "sandy beach"  where became local marketplace.
In here, French had built hydro power plant, water station, and administrative offices especially more than 200 Western-style villas in the town center. The town and it's villas were located in the middle of pine forest  so it looked like an european city.

Sapa has many natural beauty such as the Silver waterfall, about 200 meters high, Cau May bridge, Cloudy gate to heaven, Fansipan peak with the height of 3143m, Bamboo forest, dynamic Ta Phin cave, Muong Hoa valley, Lao Chai Ta Van valley. Ham Rong peak is the place for  a lot of flowers especially orchid garden.

Sa Pa is the kingdom of fruits and flowers such as peach blossom, roses, peach fruit, plum, pear, chrysanthemums, flowers. Besides that dozen kinds of temperate vegetables planted here such as cabbage, kohlrabi, potato, carrot, and tomato.
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VISIT HALONG - ONE OF NEW 7 WONDERS

If you have not visit Halong Bay you hardly say you have visited Vietnam. Halong Bay was recognized as the World Heritage Site in 1994, and one of New 7 Wonders in 2012.

Ha long Bay covers an area of 1500 km2 dotted by around 3000 islets in which most of them are limestone. Halong means "Descending Dragon". According to the myth that passed down generations,  when the country was invaded by stronger foreign enemy the Jade Emperor sent Mother dragon and her children to this world for protection of people here. After the victory over the aggressor they decided to stay here with the locals forever, and turned into thousands of island that can be seen today.

Halong soon became one the best tourist attraction in the country after we carried out open door policy since 1990s.

Halong Bay beauty is marked by limestone islands and beautiful caves. Islets in Ha Long are  two types of limestone  and schist, concentrated in two main areas in the southeast Bai Tu Long Bay and southwest Ha Long Bay. This is the most ancient image aged  250 - 280 million years. This is result of the earth work when it raised up, lowered several times from the sunken continent into the sea. The process of karst erosion and weathering  created Halong as unique area in the world.

Among hundreds of limestone islands, each has their owned shape that looks very lively such as Man's headed islet, Dragon islet, Old man fishing islet, sail islet, cock fighting islets, incense burner islet, frog, and dog islet ... Hidden inside limestone islands are beautiful caves concerned  with many miraculous legends such as Thien Cung, Dau Go, Sung Sot, Trinh Nu, Tam Cung ...

You can apply flexible ways to explore Halong Bay from half day to 4 day cruise including stay overnight on 3-5 star cruise.

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EXPLORE OLD HANOI BY XICH LO (Pedicab)

In the heart of every Hanoi citizen, pedicab is a unique vehicle that makes a distinction for Hanoi culture. A lot of foreign visitors who travel to this city have choosen this means of transportation to explore the ancient beauty of Hanoi and daily life here.

When was cyclo born?
The birth of cyclo still remained a dubious story and controversiality in many countries. So far, both the Japanese and the American give out evidence that their countries have invented the first cyclo in 1868 or 1848 by the blacksmith following the orders from churches.

For the name of Xich lo, it derives from "cyclo" in French. A document showed that the term "cyclo" was appeared around 1939, for a French person named Coupeaud who invented then asked his government for license in circulation.

However, cyclo then was not popularly used in France or other countries, but in the colonial countries, including Vietnam. Since then, the vehicle has been called "Cyclo" in Vietnamese, soon then became a familiar means of transport with the Vietnamese people, especially in Hanoi.

At beginning, cyclo was used by French and the Hanoi administrators. Appearance of cyclo changes people's ways of transportation  from palanquin, hammock, horse to cyclo. Gradually, moving around by cyclo became familiar on the streets in Hanoi, and exists till nowadays.

For convenient, friendly, and comfortable reasons so foreign tourists choose this mode of transportation when visiting Hanoi. Sitting on a cyclo, sauntered through the ancient streets, watching the bustling Hanoi in the old town is a significant pastime for tourists. The uniqueness of the tour by cyclo always makes them amazed each time going through the streets of traditional crafts. In the noisy, bustling modern city, the cyclo is a special highlight, which preserves culture of old Hanoi.


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HANOI TRADITIONAL LONG HOUSE

As one of Hanoi's old houses, the house at 87 Ma May is traditional long house that let us know how is the living space for Hanoi people in the past.

The house was built from the beginning of the nineteenth century. The traditional architectural design consists of living part and shop. Total area of the house is around 160 m2 with length of 28m and the width of 5m.

The house was built from the beginning of the nineteenth century. The traditional architectural design consists of living part and shop. Total area of the house is around 160 m2 with length of 28m and the width of 5m.

The house was restored from 1998, and was completed in 1999 based on cooperation between Hanoi and Toulouse city (France). The structure of the house with it's building material are majorly wood. The house became national Heritage on April 16.2.2004.

Due to the trade requirement so the main door overlooks to main street. Therefore, the width is usually 2 to 6 meters.

Mezzanine for storage  or sleep so the height is not exceed 2.2 m . If you need more living space they add more storeys for the house so it is called the tubed shape house. 

The second floor is the ancestor alta and bedroom. Between inside compartments are yards with bonsai plants that make us feel close to nature. The needs of people at that time was simple so they  need not private spaces like today. For this reason  the space across from room to room is typical aspect in ancient houses in the Old town of Hanoi.
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ANCIENT DUONG LAM VILLAGE

Duong Lam is a commune in Son Tay city, 50 km from Hanoi. Duong Lam became the first ancient village  in Vietnam recognized as national cultural and historic relics on May 19, 2006.

Today, Duong Lam village retains most of the basic characteristics of the Vietnamese village, for example; village gate, banyan trees, water well, communal house, pagoda, temple. Lanes structure in Duong Lam is very unique because they are shaped fish bone frame. With this structure, if start going away from communal house people are not against their back to the Holy gate

One special thing is Duong Lam still preserves and ancient village entance gate in the village of Mong Phu, that differs from other ones in Northern Vietnam. The communal house was built in 1684 and  is typical for traditional Vietnamese communal house. The yard is lower then surrounding so when it rains, the water flows into the yard and then escaped in two drains in the form of two beards of dragon.

 Duong Lam has 956 traditional houses in which many of them were built long time ago (1649, 1703, 1850 ...). Characteristic of traditional old houses here are all built from bee net shaped stone bricks.

Famous cultural relics in Duong Lam are Mong Phu communal house, Mia pagoda that wellknown for 287 statues of Buddha including 6 bronze ones, 107 wooden statues and 174 earthern ones.

One day trip there is a good idea. You can cycle here then have luch with village specialties.
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CHA CA HANOI (Rice noodle with grilled fish)

Cha ca has been popular over 100 years. Cha ca is one of must-try local food in Hanoi capital.




Cha ca is fried chopped fish. The best taste is from Lang fish in the Red river. Each restaurant keep their owned ingredients of making typical Cha ca. The square-shape chopped fish is fried with onion and fennel leaves. The waiter places coal stove on the table and guides you how to cook and serve yourself.



                                                    

Cha ca is served with rice noodle. A plate of scented greens such as basil, coriander,onion, and mint leaves are also served. The sauces, shrimp paste of fish sauce, are mixed with lemon drops and red chili. Cha ca dish looks colorful and inviting.


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CAFE CỘNG & AN OLD HANOI

After hard working hours in Hanoi what would you like to do? for me, I like to spend the lazy time in a quiet cafe in Old town here. Cộng cafe is one of my best favourite one. I did see the first Cộng cafe several years ago but from outside and I thought Oh, a new cafe, another normal one. But my thinking was wrong when I came in for a cup of coffee in Cong one morning.

I changed my thought when having time for coffee here. I discover the life style of a Hanoi family dated back to 70s and 80s of 20th century. All are humble but beautiful. An authentic Hanoi of 1970-1980s.


The first Cong cafe was open in 2007 on a small street in Hanoi. The biz idea from a singer named Linh Dung, born in 1975, who witness a difficult Hanoi during that time. Most of the things decorated inside are selected from old ones.

Until now,2016, there are more than 10 Cong cafe in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. From difficult time she could not imagine Cong cafe becomes famous franchise of cafe with 100% Vietnamese owned brand.

Come and enjoy a delicious taste of Hanoi cafe and see a Hanoi in the past time. Staff here are friendly and attentive.

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NGOC SON TEMPLE ON HOAN KIEM LAKE

Do you know the meaning of Ngoc Son? It means Temple of Jade Mountain that situates on a small island in the northern side of Hoan Kiem Lake connected to lake shore by red elegant bridge name The Huc.The temple is dedicated to General Tran Hung Dao who defeated Mongols in the 13th century, Van Xuong saint (the saint of literature).


Pen tower
On Ngoc Boi mountain, scholar Nguyen Van Sieu built a stone tower shaped up-side-down paint brush with 3 three carved words "Ta Thanh Thien" (written on blue sky).

Dai Nghien (ink stone bow)
Next yard is entrance gate that has  ink stone bow shaping a half peach caried by 3 frog team, with teams. On two sides by entrance gate are motifs dragon and tiger that symbolize the noble men who passed exam.

The Huc Bridge
The Huc bridge means beautiful sun light place. The bridge leads to Ngoc Son Temple Gate.

Dac Nguyet Lau (Pavillion receves moon light)
The pavillion is hided under tree shade of banyan

Ngoc Son temple
The main temple consists of two connected buidings worshipping General Tran Hung Dao and Van Xuong Saint (Saint of Literature)

Tran Ba Pavillion
The Pavillion was built with the meaning of preventation spoiled currents of culture during that time.

The Sains, hero, and Buddha worshiped in temples represents three religions co-existing in the mind of Vienamese people.

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TRAN QUOC PAGODA IN HANOI

Tran Quoc Pagoda is one of the oldest pagoda in Hanoi and Vietnam. The pagoda is situated on a peninsula on southern side of West Lake, beside Thanh Nien Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. It had been the Buddhist center of Thang Long during Ly and Tran Dynasties. With the values of history and architecture, Tran Quoc Pagoda becomes famous Buddhist holy place for domestic and international visitors.

It was built from the Ly Nam De (541-547), called Khai Quoc. The pagoda was built in Yen Hoa village (later was changed for Yen Phu) by a dike next to the Red River.

Inside pagoda complex, a lotus stupa was built in 1998. The stupa is 11-storey, 15m high. Each level has 6 arched doorways in which put a statue of Buddha made of precious stone. On top is lotus tower that has nine floors. This stupa was opposit to a huge bodhi tree donated by the Indian president when he visited Hanoi in 1959. Venerable Thich Thanh Nha explains "the lotus represents the Buddha dignity because the lotus grows in mud but not is polluted. Bodhi is the cognitive, intellectual supreme.

With the value of the history and architecture, the temple was recognized as National Historic Culture in 1989. Tran Quoc Pagoda is not only the sacred place of Buddhism for a lot of Buddhists coming to worship but also the attraction for local and foreign tourists.
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BUN CHA - BEST STREET FOOD HANOI

Bun cha is a dish that rice noodle is eaten with grilled pork on charcoal and spicy sweet and sour sauce. The dish originates from northern Vietnam and has been the best common hanoi specialty.
Bun cha is usually served at noon. But now there are also some shops selling bright bun cha both lunch and evening.


Not difficult to find a restaurant bun cha in the heart of Hanoi. Here are  some street stalls which have been quite popular as bun cha in Hang Manh, bun cha Duy Diem, bun cha Lien Huong at Ngo Thi Nham  street, bun cha Ngoc Xuan in Thuy Khue street , etc.


Beside rice noodle and grilled pork the dipping sauce is also very important element that makes Bun cha more special. Dipping sauce or Nuoc cham is prepared from thinly sliced kohlrabi, green papaya, carrots, lemon drops, chili cuts, garlic, sugar, black pepper, water, and fish sauce.

Mr. Obama, president US, tastes Bun Cha at Huong Lien restaurant located on 24 Ngo Thi Nham street in Hanoi when he officially visited Vietnam in May 2016. Two portions of Bun Cha and Hanoi beer costs him only 6 USD. Bun Cha is one of things you should not miss when visiting Hanoi.

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ANOTHER HANOI IN EARLY MORNING

The beauty of Hanoi capital is marked by lakes, green parks and tree-line streets and local markets but during the rush hours Hanoi becomes very bustling. Do you want to see another Hanoi in the morning for around 3 hours, before working hour and traffic jam?

Our rickshaw man will pick you up at hotel at around 5 AM
We move around Hoan Kiem lake, West lake to witness Hanoi people doing morning sport like taichi, badminton, jogging, and dancing,ect.

 Continue pass by French colonial buildings in French old town. Stop at Ba Dinh Square and Ho Chi Minh mausoleum to witness daily raising flag ceremony done by Vietnamese army.

Go around the heart of Hanoi then stop by a local Pho (noodle soup with beef) for your breakfast.  By the way we can see vendors who deliver food to household in the old town.

Drink coffee in a local cafe. We use the filter to prepare a cup of coffee with condense milk for you.

Come back to your hotel. 




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TEMPLE OF LITERATURE HANOI

The Temple of literature Hanoi or the first university in Vietnam.

Temple of Literature is located in the heart of the capital Hanoi, and considered the first university in Vietnam. From the beginning, the school has been gathered a lot of talented students who laterly contribute their effort to the development of country. Currently Temple of Literature is still the attractive destination for tourists by it's unique and impressive architecture.

Temple of Literature (or first university) has undergon many changes, up and down of history, but still retains the traditional beauty. Temple of Literature is located in the south of Thang Long citadel. This university had been during the period from 1076 until 1820, and trained many talents for the country.

Temple consists of two main sites which are Confucius temple,  Chu Van An, the first teacher of the school.
At beginning the Temple of Literature was study place for the princes. It was later extended to talented people in the country. The university has an area of 54 331 m2 including Lake Van and Giam garden.

Upon entering the Temple of Literature, visitors will come to the main entrance with Van Mieu Mon letters on top. On two sides, there are two stone dragons dated back to Le dynasty. The second area is the Khue Van that was built in 1805 with 2 floors, spacious 8 roofs. The next one is stele  garden with 82 steles recording all names of doctors who passed royal exams.
The last yard is University where students studied and discuss about literature.

Nowadays Temple of Literature is not only popular tourist destination but also place for us to learn more about country history and education in the past.
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HANOI CAPITAL IN VIETNAM

 Thang long citadel in the past and charming and modern Hanoi nowadays.

In 1010, King Ly Thai To chosed Hanoi as the capital and named it Thang Long citadel with the desire for prosperity as Dragon soar. Nearly ten centuries have proved that his decision is wise. Thang Long in the past and today Hanoi  has always been the center of politics, economy, and culture of Vietnam unity.

In 1831 King Minh Mang of the Nguyen Dynasty renamed Thang Long become Ha Noi that has meaning as the city is surrounded by a river (Red river) inside the firtile Northern Delta. Many cultural vestiges of the land are recorded and exsist during periods of Ly, Tran, Le dynasties. Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam nowadays.

Thang Long has favourable natural environmental factors shown in "changing capital city proclamation" of King Ly Cong Uan. With strategic vision, the young king realised that former Hoa Lu capital located  in mountainous areas where is so easy to defend but not the capital of a prosperous country in both national security and economy. He found  Dai La, Hanoi today, that  meet his needs. The image of a prosperous city appear extremely vivid: The land named Dai La in the middle of the  holy territory, with rolling up dragon, seated tiger formation surrounded by mountains and rivers from 4 directions. The land is quite flat and high so people will not be suffered from flooding. Truely this land will be the best for the capital city. When the king's boat reached Dai La, he saw a dragon flying up in the clouds so that's why he named the city Thang Long. That year was 1010.

Hanoi beauty is blend of classic and modern. It marked by tree lined street, hundreds of lakes, thousands of pagoda, Old town, French colonial buildings, new modern cities, and lots of daily traditional aspects of culture.
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MAI CHAU - MOC CHAU TOUR

Tour Hanoi - Mai Chau - Moc Chau - Hanoi
(3 days - 2 nights)
Visit ethnic White Thai and enjoy wonderful landscape at the entrance to North West Vietnam
 


DAY 01: HA NOI - MAI CHAU (L,D)
07h00: Our guide and car pick you up at the meeting point in Hanoi for departure to Mai Chau district - Hoa Binh provioce (140 km from Hanoi). Along the way, you will admire the  mountain landscape  Northwest Vietnam.
09h00: Stop at Hoa Binh Luong Son (15 minutes)
10:30 Thung Khe Pass stop, where you can view the mountainous landscape, enjoy the hot grilled corn. Take photo. (15 minutes)
11h30: Arrive at  Lac village - Mai Chau Valley.
12h15: Have lunch at the stilt house in the village
14h00-17h00: our guide takes you to visit Mai Chau beautiful and poetic valley , learn unique cultural activities of ethnic White Thai, visit brocade handicraft shops.
17h00-18h00: Free time for shopping, photo and drinking
18h30: dinner in  traditional stilt house of the Thai white, where we spend overnight.
20h00: Enjoy Thai music program, during the dance show we can join with Thai girls and boys in traditional costumes. Drink local rice wine.
Overnight in the Lac.

 DAY 2: MAI CHAU - MOC CHAU (B,L,D)
08h00: After breakfast, depart for the plateau of Moc Chau, you enjoy the amazing natural picture of  stilt houses hidden under thick forest, and the streams as white silk ribbon moving around mountains.
11h00: Arrive Moc Chau, you get a break on stilt house.
12h00: lunch in the stilt house.
14h00: on the bus to visit the pine forest of Ang village.
16h00: You depart to visit the Bat Cave (Cave Son Moc Huong) - A beautiful caves
18h30: dinner on stilt house. Overnight here

 DAY 3: MOC CHAU - HANOI (B, L)
08h00: Have breakfast, then we take you to visit Moc Chau tea plantation, get known the process of green tea. Free for photo
11h30: Check out and have lunch. 14h00: Return to Hanoi. 19h00: arrival in Hanoi. End of the trip.
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