Enjoy the green season! While the dry season of December to April offers the most ideal weather and sunny skies, many savvy travelers take advantage of the “green season”, dodging the brief showers and occasional storms with indoor activities like cooking classes and a soothing massage in exchange for steeply discounted accommodations. The rainy season also brings out the best in many of the island’s natural spots, including the Tranh Stream (“Suối Tranh”, pronounced “soo-ey tranh”) with rapids and several waterfalls where visitors can swim which makes for a great Phu Quoc day trip. Explore the island DIY If organized tours aren’t your thing, there are many places to visit on Phu Quoc which can be done on your own. Adventurous travelers can rent a scooter and explore the many beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc. Be aware that while scooter rentals are cheap at roughly USD 8 per day, technically you do need an International Driving Permit and if you get stopped by the police, expect to pay a hefty fine. On the plus side, most of the main roads around Phu Quoc are paved and without too much traffic, making driving quite easy for even the novice. Note that roads towards the north of the island and through the national park are mostly unpaved dirt roads which require some skill to navigate the sandy areas. Otherwise, taxis can be hired for half-day or full-day Phu Quoc island tours, usually either to the south or the north of the island. Negotiate with your driver exactly where you want to visit and the price beforehand. Otherwise, many of the organized Phu Quoc island tours are based on volume, which means if you don’t mind being on a boat with 30-40 other people, the costs are quite reasonable at around USD 20 for a full-day boat trip with lunch and snorkeling. Alternatively, many of the high-end resorts can put together an unforgettable Robinson Crusoe-like day with a picnic lunch on a deserted island beach all to yourself. Boats can also be hired out to visit the islands that make up the An Thoi archipelago in the south or the more sheltered islands in the northwest known for their shallow water and good macrodiving. Some islands that offer postcard-pretty beaches with few visitors include Fingernail Island, Coconut Island with its fish farms and the uninhabited Shadow Island in the south. Night market The night market in Duong Dong is mainly for tourists, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. Cheap souvenir stands vie for space with pop-up restaurants where fresh seafood can be cooked any way you like. Shopping While all the usual beach souvenirs can be easily found around the island, why not take something home that’s truly representative of Phu Quoc? Cooks back home will enjoy a package of famous Phu Quoc black pepper or a bottle of sweet sim wine. Authentic Phu Quoc pearls in a dazzling array of colors and quality are sold directly from the pearl farms along Long Beach and make for a stylish gift. Skip the Phu Quoc fish sauce though, as many airlines don’t allow them on the planes, in case of breakage. If you’ve ever smelled fish sauce up close, you’ll know exactly why!
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Useful Phrases in Vietnamese
As Vietnamese is a tonal language (with six different tones), the particular tone used determines the meaning of a word. As the same word can mean many different things depending on the tone it is a difficult language to grasp but the locals will certainly appreciate your efforts! The following words and phrases are spelled phonetically to help you with pronunciation. Popular phrases: Hello>> sin chow Goodbye >> chow, tam bi-ait Excuse me (sorry) >> sin looee Please >> lam on Thank you >> gum urn Yes >> vung (when spoken in the north), roi(in the south) No >>kom Excuse me >> sin loy How much? >>bough new? Tea >> cha Coffee >>café Water >> nook Beer >>bia I don’t understand >> toy kom beet Numbers in Vietnamese: 1 >> mot 2 >> hai 3 >> ba 4 >> bon 5 >> numb 6 >> sow 7 >> buy 8 >> tum 9 >> chin 10 >> moo-ee 11 >> moo-ee mot 12 >> moo-eehai 20 >> hai moo-ee 30 >> ba moo-ee 100 >> mot tram 1000 – mot ngan (Adderall)Read more
Vietnam Travel Guide
Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful and diverse country which provides value for money. Here are our Top 10 tips for an enjoyable trip to Vietnam. 1. SIM cards with internet access are cheap. Do yourself a favor and buy a SIM card as soon as you arrive. Ask the shop owner to help sign you up for internet access. It’s not difficult, but the process is in Vietnamese which can be tricky. Unlimited internet access can be had for as little as VND 50-70,000 per month. 2. Bottled water is cheap, so avoid tap water if possible. Most ice is made from clean water – look for ice with a hole in the middle which shows that it was made in a proper factory. Ragged chunks of ice mean it was cut from a large block which may not be as sanitary. 3. Until your stomach is used to traveling, stay away from raw herbs, greens and pre-cut fruit. The water used to wash these items may not be clean. 4. Vietnam is a relatively safe country with few guns. However, pickpocketing and crimes of opportunity (eg. purse snatching) do occur. Leave your valuables locked up at your hotel and be careful when using your phone or expensive camera in public. 5. If you do stay out late and have had something to drink, ask a sober friend to help you make it back to your hotel safely. Drunk tourists late at night make for a tempting target. 6. When crossing the street, walk slowly so drivers can avoid you. Some locals raise one hand up high so as to be more visible in heavy traffic. 7. Always ask the price beforehand. This goes for taxis, xe om, and even street food. 8. When eating street food, look for stalls with high turnover, meaning the food is fresh. Check that the vendor wears gloves when handling food. 9. Limes are often on the table as a condiment. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over your utensils and wipe dry if you feel the utensils may not be clean. 10. When shopping, don’t touch anything or ask about prices if you do not intend to buy. This may anger the sellers, especially if it’s early in the morning. Expect to bargain on souvenirs and clothing, but do so with a smile.Read more
Honeymoon in Vietnam
Between rolling hills, sugary beaches, crystalline waters, colonial structures, sparkling bays, impressive limestone karst formations, idyllic sunsets, UNESCO-heritage sites, and mind-blowing landscapes, lies Vietnam; a destination that has all the ingredients to enchant couples. A honeymoon trip here literally offers it all, from bustling cities with a vibrant night scene to a colourful culture and from private diners in caves to beautiful paddy fields. Why Vietnam for Honeymoon Vietnam is the perfect place for romantic holidays for several reasons, but mainly because it is/offers/has: Inexpensive destination – It lacks nothing of the luxury and amenities of its cosmopolitan international counterparts, yet provides them at a fairly economical price. Grand hotels and fine-dining facilities do not empty your bank accounts, the flights are more than affordable, internal transfers is also at low cost, and life here overall does not call for extravagant expenses unless, of course, you want to. So, you can have all the luxury and pampering you wish without the hefty price tag. Fantastic services – Vietnam may be economical, but nobody here compromises on the quality of the services provided, at least, not the professionals in the Vietnam hospitality industry. So, you have a budget honeymoon destination in Asia that can compete with its luxurious counterparts and look them straight in the eye! Friendly locals – Cordial hospitality and a courteous approach to tourists is interwoven with the country’s way of doing things. Locals greet and treat guests in the most loving way, are ready to help anyone in need, and engage in interesting chats with them while the professional staff ensures that you face no issues on your honeymoon in this beautiful country. Cuisine – Exquisite Vietnamese cuisine is another thing that attracts honeymooners. Hot, sour, sweet, and salty flavours all blend perfectly, offering palate-pleasing dishes. You can enjoy delicious seafood, chilli sauces and fresh herbs on side platter, local produce, the world’s tastiest peppers and fish sauce, and the best vines; all that at heart-stopping rooftop terraces with sweeping views of the ocean and the lush scenery or a marvellous beachfront. Scenic Vistas – Every step you take in Vietnam is a step in a paradisiac landscape distinguished by imposing mountains, jungle-like forests, verdant valleys and rice paddies, life-giving rivers, romantic waterfalls, fascinating caves, sparkling sea waters, stunning national parks, ancient monuments, shining sand dunes, white-sand beaches, and such incredible natural beauty that is hard to imagine exists. Romantic Things to Do in Vietnam There is definitely a long list of activities in Vietnam, which includes cycle tours, boat trips, cruise rides, sightseeing tours, tunnel explorations, musical extravaganzas at Saigon Opera house, private dining in the caves of Halong Bay, tasting delicious traditional dishes at picture-perfect locations, and shopping, to name a few. Depending on which part of this beautiful country you wish to explore, there are different things to try. Hanoi A history-rich and utterly exciting city (also the main transportation hub in the North) that can be the start or end destination of a Vietnam honeymoon tour. It is a place that you can lose track of time. After sunset, it is a different world, with bars selling fresh local beer brewed daily and the streets becoming packed-full of people drinking, smoking the infamous bamboo bongs, and having fun. Not far away is the magnificent Lake of the Restored Sword or Hoan Kiem Lake, where, according to the legend, a giant, golden turtle grabbed the Emperor’s sword after he defeated the Chinese from Hanoi, and vanished into the lake to give it back to its rightful owners. An excellent place to have a picnic and enjoy the views. The Water Puppet Theatre, every couple’s cute date night idea, is also not to be missed. You can watch the ancient art form of water puppetry which is a spectacle of itself. Another interesting site is the Hoa Lo Prison complex built by the French to incarcerate thousands of Vietnamese revolutionaries, which will give you an insight into the local culture. Other things to do in Hanoi: Eat Bun Cha – A dish that combines savoury and fresh with vegetables and meat. The broth is sour and sweet at the same time and is serviced with fresh greens (fresh banana flower, mint, coriander, basil, and lettuce), BBQ grilled pork, and bun rice noodles. Drink Egg Coffee – Perhaps, the most delicious coffee you have ever tasted, along with coconut coffee. Generally, locals use condensed milk instead of fresh, which gives the coffee a sweeter taste. To get around, you can do a Cyclo Tour and visit the Old Quarter of Hanoi, take a taxi, get an Uber ride, or catch a long distance sleeper train or bus. The best time to visit Hanoi is during the months of October and November when it is neither too hot nor too cold. Sapa Situated high up in the mountains on the border of China, Sapa is a fab town perched over a grass-covered valley with amazing views of the Fansipan mountain range (sitting at 3143m above sea level) and cascading rice fields. Besides visiting markets, chasing waterfalls, and checking out the Tram Ton Passage, you can also consider a day trek or a homestay in an ethnic minority village. Or, why not, take a cable car and climb to the summit of the imposing Fansipan Mountain. And, if you are into romantic waterfalls, Thac Bac (Silver waterfall) and Love Waterfall are both perfect for honeymooners visiting Sapa. To enjoy the most of this place, better come between March and April or October-November to avoid too much heat and rainfall. Ha Giang This northernmost province is a breath away from China and provides alternatives to the typical honeymoon path with mystical landscapes, pure, untouched nature, secret ethnic minority villages, limestone peaks, and rice terraces disappearing into the depths of the mountainous valleys surrounding Ha Giang. It is not a place that is ever too crowded, yet it generates a decent amount of tourism, which is great, as you have food and accommodation options and lots of room to be as adventurous as you please. If you are riding a motorcycle, you will love the Ha Giang-Yen Ming, Bac Ha-Dong Van, Dong Van-Meo Vac, and Meo Cav-Cao Bang rides; all of which will reward you with heart-stopping panoramas off the beaten path, one of the best Sunday markets in Asia, and awe-inspiring waterfalls and caves! Cat Ba Island Being the largest island around the Lan Ha and Ha Long bays, Cat Ba is a dream honeymoon destination for many reasons. First of all, nearly 50% of the island is a national park, and home to several endangered species, such as the Cat Ba Langur. Secondly, the rugged landscape exudes such tranquillity and peace that it feels incredibly romantic just to be here. Plus, it has some of the nicest beaches in Vietnam, encircled with natural beauties. If you want to pick the best time to come here that would be October to April as it is a perfect season for swimming, kayaking, hiking, and cruising! Things to do at Cat Ba Island: Relax by the Beach – Incredible beaches with sweeping views of Lan Ha Bay offering a plethora of water activities like paddle boards and kayaks and beach bars with reasonably priced drinks. Cruise Halong & Lan Ha Bays – Most cruises include buffet lunches with foods cooked on the boat but you may also choose an overnight journey or a long multi-day one. Rent a motorbike – Exploring Cat Ba Island on two wheels is probably the best way to get around that also comes on the cheap here. Do stop at the Cat Ba National Park, Trung Trang Cave, and Cannon Fort! Stop at Fort Cannon – You will get some of the best views on the island overlooking Lan Ha Bay and the National Park from the spellbinding viewing platforms throughout the site or as you walk through it, as well as get a good look at large cannons and the tiny tunnels the Vietnamese used to hide during the war. Explore Caves – Once serving as a bombproof hospital, Hospital Cave’s infrastructure impresses, as does Tung Trang Cave with its awesome vistas over the island. Deepwater rock climbing – Cat Ba is the perfect location for rock climbing (surrounded by karst limestone formations) so do book a tour and have an adventurous Vietnam honeymoon! Ninh Binh Often missed by couples, this fantastic area is home to astoundingly beautiful natural sights, characterised by jagged rock formations, swirling rivers, and charming rice fields. Besides driving through the lovely landscape, you can also consider: Boat rides at Trang An Grottos – Being part of a tour that involves paddling through the rivers and grottos can be a very romantic experience for couples visiting Vietnam. Along the way, you will see impressive temples and even feed beautiful, big fish! If you are not much into boat rides, you can cycle along Tam Coc riverside and enjoy equally stunning landscapes. Visits to Cuc Phuong National Park – It is the largest reserve in Vietnam and home to endangered animals, rivers, limestone mountains, and profound natural beauty. Do rent a bike, though, as the park is massive. Phong Nha The Ke Bang National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) located here houses Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, and Asia’s oldest karst mountains. Surrounded by jungle, it also offers opportunities to relax via natural mud baths inside Dark Cave, where you will need to either zip line, kayak or swim to get there, live music and entertainment provided around Dark Cave too, viewing the beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, blue rock pools, and colourful rocks on Paradise Cave, or living the total farm-to-plate experience at Wild Boar region and its family-run farms with free-range animals. Phu Quoc Island Every couple visiting Vietnam for their honeymoon find their personal slice of heaven at Phu Quoc Island. Also called Pearl Island, it is a tranquil tropical paradise with so much jaw-dropping natural beauty and tranquillity that it almost feels unreal. From beautiful mountains and jungle-like forests to sugary beaches and crystal clear waters, Phu Quoc’s allure is overwhelming. Honeymooners that choose to stay here usually prefer the luxury resorts at Duong Dong city, such as the La Veranda, as they provide not only ethereal views of the ocean and the unique raw charm surrounding the island but also exceptional VIP services at reasonable prices. Things to do at Phu Quoc: Visit Dinh Cau Temple – The island is full of pagodas, temples, and shrines but Dinh Cau offers a very interesting combination as it serves as both a temple and a lighthouse. Chase Suoi Tranh Waterfall – On a hot day, it is the ideal spot to cool off, have a picnic, dive in the refreshing waters, and treat yourself to soul-filling panoramas. Taste Delicious Food at Dinh Cau Night Markets – Unlike other markets in Vietnam, Dinh Cau comes to life after sunset. You have the chance to enjoy fresh seafood, from freshly-caught squid and octopus to clams and prawns and do some shopping too. Tour to Phu Quoc Prison – Known as Coconut Prison, it used to hold war prisoners during the Vietnam War, who suffered great torture and torments. You will find tons of information on Vietnam’s history here. Lay by the beach – Make your pick as there are more pristine locations to savour the sun slipping behind the horizon or soak up its warmth than you can count. All providing fine-sand beaches and cobalt waters, you are in for the most romantic honeymoon ever. Of course, this is just a very small list of the places a newly-wed couple can visit and an extremely indicative list of the activities you can relish with your significant other. At the end of the day, though, it is all about what you want to take out of your trip here, what you wish to experience, and how you desire to spend your days as two people that have just made life oaths for eternal love and respect. Speaking of love, the Valley of Love in Dalat is another not-to-be-missed spot, as is Xuan Huong Lake and its romantic boat trips! And, still, we have merely scratched the tip of an iceberg!Read more