DISCOVER ANGKOR, ONE OF THE LARGEST MEDIEVAL CITIES IN THE WORLD !

Come and discover the magnificent complex of  Angkor  ! Located a few kilometers from the city of Siem Reap, this  archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site , plunges you into  Cambodia’s past . Put yourself in the shoes of Indiana Jones and explore this huge complex that once was  one of the capitals of the Khmer Empire .

Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are the two most famous areas: while Angkor Wat was beaten as a ” state temple “, Angkor Thom was the  royal city . Both witness to the greatness of Angkor,  one of the largest medieval cities in the world .

Angkor Wat

Like all other Khmer temples, Angkor Wat was built of stone, a material destined to last for eternity. The stone used for most of the Angkor temples was the sandstone extracted from  Mount Kulen  located about 20 kilometers from the site. If the temple is gray today, imagine that it was formerly  covered with magnificent colors . Today, there are still some traces of red paint whose pigments have withstood the onslaught of time unlike the white or blue that have disappeared. According to the researchers, the walls of the temple were once covered with white paint while the roofs were  goldenAngkor Vat was undoubtedly spectacular!

This temple houses 1832 devatas! Sometimes decorated with jewels, elaborate headdresses and superb costumes, they are a testimony to the refined Khmer’s art. Also called  Apsaras , they are female divinities that can be described as nymphs, celestial courtesans who charming the gods with their dances and songs.

Angkor Wat
Apsaras

Angkor Thom

Bayon  is the main temple of Angkor Thom, it includes forty-nine towers carved of giant faces with troubling smile. Of Javanese inspiration, the influences are also Hindu, worshiping  Shiva  and  Vishnu . This temple of state was probably aimed at  gathering all the energies of the kingdom and all the religions .

The 300-meter-long  Elephant Terrace  has a wide variety of sculptures such as representations of elephant processions decorated with lotus flowers around the trunk, Garudas and lions. The most impressive sculptures are at the north of the terrace: elephants with almost real size, as well as.

Angkor Thom
Bayon

WHAT TO DO IN PHNOM PENH ?

The National Museum of Cambodia, located in Phnom Penh, is a place full of Khmer works of art, including sculptures. The museum itself is also impressive to see from the outside as it is traditional terracotta architecture. The different buildings of the museum revolve around a magnificent tree-lined courtyard where you can take some photos. Please note that photos inside the museum are prohibited unless you buy authorization for $ 1.

Most of the works on display in the museum are pre-Angkorian and Angkorian collections. The signs under the sculptures will allow you to have a better knowledge of Hinduism and Buddhism.

The Royal Palace of Phnom Penh is a magnificent closed complex where the royal family of Cambodia lives. Accessible to the public, this space consists of several buildings in traditional Khmer architecture surrounded by sublime gardens. Photographing the interior of buildings is not allowed, but take our word for it, the interior of the throne room and the Silver Pagoda will leave you with lifelong memories!

 

KONG : SKULL ISLAND / SPOTLIGHTS ON VIETNAM’S BEAUTIES !

On the 8th of March, the film Kong: Skull Island was released in cinema for the delight of the Vietnamese spectators who ran to the movie theater !

Shot in the country’s most beautiful natural sites, the film highlights the splendor of Halong BayNinh Binh and Quang Binh province known for its magnificent caves.

The director of the film, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is glad to introduce the surrealist landscapes of Vietnam to spectators from all over the world and to provoke the desire to visit the country. Kong: Skull Island put the spotlight on Vietnam, that hopes to boost tourism thanks to the magnificent images taken by the filmmakers team.

A communication operation was launched in the capital, Hanoi, where many Vietnamese are taking part in the promotion of the film with photo montages of King Kong in the most beautiful places of the country. Here are the photos !

King Kong chilling out in the Mekong’s Delta. 

King Kong having a moment in
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoï. 

Mmmh let’s have a nice Bun Bo on top of the northern mountains…!

That’s not the Empire State Building, is it ??
Ho Chi Minh City, is waaaaay better !! 

WITHOUT WORRIES WHEN TRAVELING DURING TET HOLIDAY

Some travelers hesitate to travel to Vietnam during this traditional national holiday. This is largely explained by the points quoted below. And yet, if you know the keys, your stay in Vietnam during New Year will be wonderful and filled with unforgettable memories.

  • Closure of stores and offices:

Traditionally, Vietnamese people enjoy the Tet holiday for 4 days (From the last day of the year to the 3rd day of the new year) to meet and visit friends, relax, have fun…. Almost all stores and offices are closed during this period.

Note: If you travel with a travel agency: no problem because they had information before Tet holiday to send you in restaurants which will be open.

If you are traveling alone: you will have the pleasure to taste the street food, or you can ask a local travel agency which restaurants are still open, or even go shopping before Tet holiday for the preparation of these 4 days if you stay in an apartment where you can easily cook.

  • Food :

You will be invited by friends throughout the holiday. This may torture your stomach and make you gain weight, just like during Christmas in the west.

Note: Watch your weight with a scale every day, prepare medication against diarrhea, fever, hangover,… (remember that drug stores also will be closed during these 4 days).

  • Substantial increase in prices :

During this period, prices tend to increase (double or even triple) while needs are increasing (purchase, entertainment, transport, …) and even the production cannot adapt sufficiently to the demands. This price increase will last from the first day until the sixth day after the Tet.

Note: Do your shopping before Tet holiday when the prices haven’t increased yet.

  • Local tours :

Local markets and some handicraft workshops will be closed during the Tet festival.

Note: enjoy landscapes, pagodas, temples, where you will discover the special atmosphere of Tet holiday. Or just stay in local house is a good choice that will help you discover the customs of Vietnamese people during this Tet period.

  • Reservation airline’s ticket and train’s tickets :

Tet holiday among other festival are the opportunity for locals to return to their hometown and village which translates into long queues for booking tickets. The lack of availability is not a big surprise. And even if you have booked by calling, your ticket might not be considered and could be cancelled. Therefore, make sure to pick up your ticket in time.

Note: Booking your ticket a month before to be sure to get a seat.

  • Visiting locals:

The majority of Vietnamese people believe that the first visitor on the first day of Lunar New Year decides the state of the family throughout the hole year. Therefore, Vietnamese people choose in advance their first visitor according to their age which suits to the age of all members of the family.

Note: if you want to visit someone’s house, you must avoid visiting on the first day of Lunar New Year or at least call before asking for permission.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HANOI’S TET AND SAIGON’S TET

It seems like Tet in Saigon is simpler than Tet in Hanoi. Saigon people love to travel while Hanoi people like to meet their family.

Climate: During Tet holiday, it’s cold and rainy in the North. And in the South, the weather is dry and there is sunshine. This results in a flagrant difference of dressing between the two cities.

Climate

Floral decoration:the peach blossom in the north (pink flowers). The apricot flower in the south (yellow flowers).

Floral decoration

Tet cake:Basically, two cakes with the same ingredients. Banh Chung in the North shaped as a square, Banh Tet in the South shaped as a cylinder.

Tet cake

Appetizers:Hanoi people like salted and fermented onions. The Saigonese love salted and fermented bean sprouts.

Appetizers

Taboo: Hanoi people avoid eating eggs during Tet holiday, due to their shape similar to the number Zero. While the Saigonese consume caramel pork with eggs.

Taboo

Soup: Pork Skin soup in the North and stuffed bitter cucumbers soup in the South.

Soup

Fruit Platter: In the North, the banana is a symbol of happiness just like the other 4 spring fruits. But in the South, the banana means failure in work or study.

Fruit Platter

Worship: the Hanoi people catch a carp to worship during Tet and releases it once they finish the ceremony. The Saigonese do not have this type of custom.

Worship

Home: Hanoi people invite you to take a cup of green jasmine tea. The Saigonese invite you to take with them an alcoholic drink.

Home

Tet: Southern people travel a lot during Tet holiday, while in the North, they prefer to spend time with their family.

Tet

THE ORCHARDS OF CAI MON BEFORE TET

For the holiday, in addition to traditional Tet flowers such as the apricot, chrysanthemum, carnation of India… most families possess a Bonsai which shaped and sized vary depending on the tastes of the family: dragons, phoenix, deer, …

While discovering Cai Mon garden, you will have a chance to taste fresh fruit depending on the season. 

Enjoy this magical moment, where you can even pick-up tropical fruits straight from the tree. A great way to get a taste of Vietnam throughout its delicious fruits.

After visiting the orchards in Cai Mon garden, you can explore the surrounding villages to learn more about the arboriculture, discover Ben Tre’s specialties or just let your soul fly away with popular South Vietnamese traditional music.

HAVE A NICE TRIP !

HOW TO GO AROUND WHEN IN VIETNAM ?

For those who travel to Vietnam for the first time, for those who would like to dive into the effervescent life of the young cities or to the sweetness of the rural hamlets, we present you some tips to circulate like a real Vietnamese.

On top of popular transportation such as cycling, scooter, bus, taxi, you can find special means such as:

Motorbike taxi or Xe Om (hugging motorbike):

You can easily recognize a man who is a motorcycle taxi, on the sidewalk. He always keeps 2 helmets beside him, sometimes he is lying on is moped with a hat covering his face, sometimes he is siting with cross-leg on the pillion holding a cigarette in his hand. They can be in a group playing chess next to their motorbikes. It is absolutely necessary to bargain the price before going and then pay on arrival. With good negotiation skills, the cost for a motorbike taxi will be 4 times cheaper than a regular taxi. With bad skills it can be higher than a taxi fair, it’s all on you….

Xe Om

Lambretta :

You can find Lambrettas in the suburbs, not in the city center. The rate is similar to the public bus although it is less comfortable and it makes too much noise. For travelers who like photography and for those who have trouble with closed bus, the Lambretta will suit you as you get fresh air and can take beautiful pictures while sitting.

Lambretta

Rickshaw:

It will be very unfortunate if you don’t try a rickshaw tour during your stay in Vietnam. They are numerous in Hue, Hanoi and Hoi An city. While on a rickshaw, you will dive into the craziness of the traffic and discover lots of things that will make your trip incredible!

Rickshaw

Horse carriage:

The horse carriage in Dalat is romantic and decorated with beautiful ribbons. Very amusing rhythmed by the horse’s steps. This horse cart is ideal for wedding trips.

Horse carriage

Pirogue:

Poetic and mysterious pirogues slowly moved like a flower on the river. That is a typical image of the highlands in the center of Vietnam.

Pirogue

Vélo-lanpau :

You can see numerous vélo-lanpau in the Mekong Delta – a simple but charming way to get around.

Vélo-lanpau

10 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VIETNAM AND LAOS

Apart from the similarities of daily life, culture and climate, these two Asian brothers, Vietnam – Laos have very different cultural aspects.

1. Meals:Vietnamese people eat rice, Laotians people eat sticky-rice, Vietnamese use chopsticks, Laotians prefer eat with their hands.

2. Traffic:Vietnamese honk fairly often, Laotians people honk when necessary.

3. Costume : “Ao dai” in Vietnam and “sing” in Laos.

Ao Dai

4. Type of transport : “xe-ôm” motorcycle-taxi in Vietnam and “tuk-tuk” all over Laos.

Xe Om

Tuk-tuk

5. Demand for alms : in Vietnam, it is rare and the devotes don’t usually sit down to wait for the monks as they do in Laos.

6. Beauty treatment :  Vietnamese always wear a mask and gloves before going out, but Laotians people let the sun shine on them.

7. National flower : the lotus in Vietnam symbolies the nobility, the indomitable will against all adversity; The dok champa in Laos symbolizes joy and sincerity.

National flower

8. Autostop : : In Vietnam, 8/10 person will stop. In Laos about 1/100 person.

9. Bargaining: Bargain 5 times for a good in Vietnam while in Laos it is only one time.

10. Greeting : you can hear “Sabaidee” (hello) all the time during your trip in Laos, and the Vietnamese people will great you by “Hello” or just by a simple friendly smile.

 

TOP 9 STREET DRINKING IN VIETNAM

Live like a Vietnamese: get up early, around 5 am, do some exercise in a park, eat a bowl of “Pho” for breakfast and stroll on the sidewalks enjoying a drink. What kind of drinks do locals like to drink? Which of our suggestions would you choose?

1. Chè nóng – Hot tea:

You can see this type of tea in northern Vietnam, and more specifically in Hanoi. The image of an old lady sitting on a small wooden stall holding a cup of hot tea in one hand and a tobacco pipe in the other. This is a daily scene that you can witness on every street corner and that will touch you. And you, would you like to enjoy a cup of hot lotus or jasmine tea and smoke a pipe while chatting with friends?

Hot Tea

2. Trà đá – Iced tea:

In southern Vietnam, you can order “Trà đá” everywhere: in a restaurant, an ice cream parlor, a bakery, a coffee shop, etc. Iced tea is essential for locals who drink more ice tea than water. The reason is simple, it’s fresh, quickly served, inexpensive (or even free), and it helps quench your thirst quickly.

3. Nước mía – Sugar cane juice:

Listen patiently to the sound of a machine-pressed sugarcane on a sunny afternoon as you taste this typical and popular juice. In addition to its great taste, sugar cane juice is excellent for health thanks to its natural sugar. It gives a lot of energy but it also prevents certain diseases like kidney stones, diabetes, jaundice, flu, etc.

4. Coffee – coffee:

You can easily find a small cup of hot black coffee in Hanoi or a large glass of café au lait. Each day this drink is consumed by the locals at different times of the day and on occasions. This is why many coffee shops are open all over the cities. Coffee can be enjoyed everywhere: in a park, on a stool, on the sidewalk or even standing against a wall. Coffee is one of the reasons why the Vietnamese people are so energetic. You should also know that Vietnam is one of the world’s largest coffee exporters.

Coffee

5. Soy milk:

In addition to soy milk, you can also find peanut milk or green bean milk in carts on the sidewalks. Take a glass of hot or iced soy milk according to your taste. Do not hesitate to ask to take your drink.

6. Salted lemon:

Almost all street vendors have salted lemon in their carts. This type of juice helps refresh the body after walking for hours under a blazing sun. And you know what ? Drinking salted lemon juice is one of the best ways to lose weight. Try it with ice, sugar, water and this drink will awaken your senses.

7. Sinh Tố – Fresh fruit juice:

If you want to have beautiful skin, fresh fruit juices are perfect. There are several types, but we recommend coconut juice with peanuts or sapodilla juice with coffee. The local favorite juice is avocado milk juice.

8. Rau má, dắp cá, and other juices made from roots or leaves:

After trying all these popular drinks in our country, do not hesitate to try a little strange drinks made of plants. This type of drink can be difficult to drink at first because you are not used to it. But it’s really good for your health, and why not be a little adventurous?

9. The last drink !!!!

We recommend that you drink mineral or spring water. Water is the best choice for our body and is essential in a country as warm as ours.

 Pay attention ! Do not drink all these drinks in one day, your stomach will be upset! HEALTH !!

TRAIN & FLY

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

In Vietnam:

  • Vietnam Airlines : National airline
  • Vietjetair: Low-cost airline
  • Jetstar Pacific: Low-cost airline

In Laos:

  • Laos Airline : National airline
  • Vietnam Airlines: For flights between Laos and Vietnam

In Cambodia:

  • Cambodia Angkor Air: National airline
  • Vietnam Airlines: For flights between Cambodia and Vietnam

In Myanmar:

  • Air Bagan: National airline
  • Yangon Air: National airline

NIGHT TRAINS

In Vietnam, 4 night train routes are available: Hanoi – Lao Cai, Hanoi – Hue, Ho Chi Minh – Danang and Ho Chi Minh – Nha Trang. Night Trains are difficult to organize. They are often fully booked and even if we book the best carriage for your customers it can happen that we cannot get any bunks for various reasons and there is a risk of last minute cancelation. There are 3 choices:

  • Livitrans : Private company
  • Ratraco : Private company
  • Governemental trains

1/ ROUTE HANOI – HUE

* Livitrans Express (www.livitrans.com)

Nice wooden carriages with A/C compartments of 4 bunks for the following routes:

HANOI – HUE – DANANG: 19H30 – 08H48+1 – 11H26

DANANG – HUE – HANOI: 13H58 – 16H47 – 05H30+1

* GOVERNEMENTAL TRAINS, RATRACO CARRIAGE(www.ratracotraveltrain.com)

According to the organization of the governmental train (non manageable), the carriage can be either really nice or dirty for the same price:

HANOI – HUE – DANANG: 20h10 – 09H50+1 – 12H20 +1

DANANG – HUE – NINH BINH – HANOI: 18H40 – 21H33 – 10H02+1 – 12h23 + 1

2/ ROUTE HANOI – LAOCAI – HANOI (towards the mountains to visit the ethnic minorities)

* Ratraco Train (www.ratracotraveltrain.com)

Nice wooden carriages with A/C compartments of 4 bunks for return trip Hanoi – Lao Cai:

HANOI – LAOCAI: 21H40 05H35+1     /     LAOCAI – HANOI: 20H35 04H45+1

* Livitrans Express (www.livitrans.com)

Nice wooden carriages with A/C compartments of 4 bunks for return trip Hanoi – Lao Cai:

HANOI – LAOCAI: 21h40 05H30+1     /     LAOCAI – HANOI: 20H35 04H45+1

Nice wooden carriages with A/C compartments of 4 bunks for return trip Hanoi – Lao Cai:

HANOI – LAOCAI: 22h00 06H20+1     /     LAOCAI – HANOI: 21H10 05H22+1

3/ ROUTE HOCHIMINH – DANANG

Only one option for this route: Governmental train, governmental carriage, old, dirty, bad services, long journey. But interesting experience, spend the night on the local train, cheaper than a flight and a hotel night.

HOCHIMINH – DANANG : 19H30 – 12h30

4/ ROUTE HOCHIMINH – NHATRANG (towards Nha Trang seaside destination)

* Golden Train www.saigongoldentrain.com

Nice wooden carriages with A/C compartments of 4 bunks for return trip Hochiminh – Nhatrang:

HOCHIMINH – NHATRANG: 20H30 05H30+1    

NHATRANG – HOCHIMINH: 19H00 03H28+1