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Pu Luong Nature Reserve travel experiences

Where is Pu Luong Nature Reserve?

Pu Luong Nature Reserve is a new tourist destination, located in the districts of Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa, in the Northwest of Thanh Hoa Province, which is about 130 km from the city center. Pu Luong has a border adjoined with Mai Chau, Tan Lan and Lac Son Districts of Hoa Binh Province in the North and the Northeast.

What is the best time to visit Pu Luong?

Pu Luong is beautiful all year round, but according to many experienced tourists, the most beautiful time to have a Pu Luong trekking tour is during the period of May to June and September to October. In May and June, this time in Pu Luong is summer, but the weather is extremely cool and the temperature does not exceed 20℃. Pu Luong this time seems to be immersed in the new green color of rice paddy fields. Whereas in September and October, is the ripe rice season, thus, during this period, visitors will have a chance to admire the golden rice terraces spreading on the mountains. What an amazing and peaceful beauty!

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Golden rice terraces in Pu Luong

How to go to Pu Luong?

If you depart from Hanoi and Northern provinces, you can follow the direction of Xuan Mai, Luong Son, Hoa Binh to Lac Village, Mai Chau, then continue traveling along to Co Luong, Dong De, turn to 15C Road then go along the Ma River to Pu Luong Nature Reserve. If you depart from Thanh Hoa and Central or Southern provinces, you just need to go along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Until you reach Cam Thuy, turn right then go straight to Canh Nang, turn to 15C Road and go 10km more to Pu Luong.

Where to stay in Pu Luong Nature Reserve?

Pu Luong is an ideal eco-tourism destination for nature and culture lovers. Therefore, if you travel to Pu Luong, you can choose to stay at hostels or homestays in Kho Muong Village, Kiet Village, Ban Village, etc. to have more experience. The price for this service is about 50.000 VND/ person for one night.

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Pu Luong Retreat

In addition to that, you can choose to stay at Pu Luong Retreat. There are collective stilt houses for about 320,000VND/ person/ night or bungalows for about 1.4 million VND/ person/ night. As a tourist destination associated with ecotourism, those places certainly do not have televisions, air conditioners, or refrigerators, etc. However, it is sure that space here is very clean, airy and it still has the basic facilities and wifi to meet the basic needs for a Pu Luong tour for families.

What to eat when visiting Pu Luong?

To Pu Luong, tourists will be able to enjoy delicious specialties of any Vietnam food tours such as hill chickens, sour bamboo shoots, bitter bamboo shoots, bamboo rice, banana flower salad, etc. In particular, you totally can order those dishes at the homestays or hostels you stay with the price of about 80,000 VND/ portion. Among those mentioned specialties, the 3 most delicious dishes in Pu Luong you definitely have to try is the bitter soup, hill chicken, stream duck or fermented rice wine (“rượu cần”).

The bitter soup is made from a type of bitter leaves in the forest, which is often cooked with chicken giblets and blood. The bitter taste will be difficult to eat on the first try. However, once the bitterness passes, your tongue will feel the very sweet and strange flavor. Bitter soup is considered as the famous specialty of Thanh Hoa Province in general and Pu Luong in particular.

Hill chickens and stream ducks are simply chickens and ducks which are raised naturally, often run and mainly eat natural food so the meat is very textured and fragrant, different from the poultry raised in the cages. These chickens and ducks are cooked in many ways such as boiled, roasted, grilled, stir-fried with bamboo shoots, steamed with wild leaves, etc. Each way has its own taste but in general, it tastes very good.

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Pu Luong specialties

Fermented rice wine is another specialty in Pu Luong and Vietnamese cuisine. Rice wine is made from cassava and spring water, has a very strong pungent taste. In every meal, the hosts will use rice wine to welcome guests, and if you are invited to use this rice wine during your Pu Luong trekking tours, then you should feel very happy because the hosts really like you.

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Try Vietnam luxury tours, why not?

Have you heard about the visit of US President Donald Trump to Vietnam for the APEC senior week, according to Business Insider? Are you curious about where he stays? Let’s discover that special place in your Vietnam luxury tours.

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Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula

The Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula, located at Son Tra Peninsula, Da Nang is the place for world leaders to stay during APEC senior week. Conveniently located in an ideal position, about 30 minutes drive from Da Nang International Airport and 13km from the busy city center, the resort is nestled in a private bay and completely secluded of the mysterious peninsula. The resort is built on the hillside of the Monkey Mountain. Monkey also plays a key role in decorating the resort. Located in the Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is surrounded by green forests.

The design and interior is decorated like Vietnamese culture by architect Bill Bensley. Its style looks like similar to Hue royal palace, the decorating items are from Bat Trang pottery, the seasonal straw of the Northern Delta. Each of the hotel rooms has large windows and views of the sea. With many world leaders and politicians, the living room makes them feel comfortable like in their home.

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HARNN Heritage Spa

In this place, you can also visit Danang’s pristine white sand beach about 94 km from the resort. Or, make an appointment with famous tourist spots of Da Thanh or Hoi An old town with a free daily shuttle service. Alternatively, if you want to explore other places in the area, the resort also provides a free shuttle service and guided tours.

In order to make your Vietnam tours more enjoyable, the resort also provides airport pick up service with a variety of high-class cars on request.

Here, you can enjoy a tranquil morning with Tai Chi or yoga moves with the dedicated guidance of an indigenous people or take a leisurely walk along the 700-meter private beach and enjoy the beauty of the ocean. The sea at the foot of the legendary mountain owns a secret beauty that attracts everyone.

Here, you can have the chance to explore the natural wilderness Son Tra Peninsula, try Kayak in the private bay, dive into the cultural space of Hoi An Ancient Town, the ruins of My Son holy land or the moments of pleasure when immersed in the cool water in the sea or swimming pool.

The InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula is located in the midst of the tropical nature of Son Tra Peninsula, nestled in a secluded bay separated from the outside world, giving you absolute peace of mind. Some rooms at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula also feature infinity pools.

Besides, in this place, you can also enjoy relaxing moment with the most wonderful spa. With eight well-designed treatment rooms next to a peaceful lake, HARNN Heritage Spa is like a miniature paradise hidden in secluded space that is worthy of the title of “World’s Best Spa 2017 “by World Luxury Spa Awards.

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La Maison 1888

Enjoying good food at famous restaurants is always one of the goals of the luxury tours in Vietnam. Every country and city has its own characteristics and cuisine, and famous restaurants change their menus every day to attract as many tourists as possible. Come here you will have a chance to visit many famous restaurants. Located on the top floor of the resort, Citron Restaurant brings a bold impression to guests with delicious Vietnamese, Asian specialties and international cuisine at a masterpiece of architecture.

Or you can take time to visit the top 10 best new restaurants in the world voted by CNN – La Maison 1888 that brings authentic French cuisine to guests, with a special menu featuring exquisite French cuisine. In 2014, overcoming many of the world’s best restaurants, La Maison 1888, has rank 4th in the list of 10 best restaurants in the world by the prestigious New York Daily News and The Daily Meal.  If you are looking for a restaurant, that is good both in food and view. Barefoot Seaview Restaurant offers a variety of culinary delights and provides you intimate dinners. Moreover, you can enjoy the cool breeze from the ocean. That is quite great, right?

All of the above information will surely give you the reasons for choosing this Vietnam luxury resort to stay on your journey right? What are you waiting for? Do you like Vietnam luxury tours? Go now.

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Travel by bus like a local in Vietnam

Vietnam local tour operators always attractive as it can help you understand more about the unique culture of Vietnam. Try riding the bus in Vietnam is also a part of a “unique experience” in Vietnam that you can try. But in this writing, you will also find what you should notice when taking a bus in Vietnam.

Today in the big city of Vietnam, the bus has become a quite popular means of transportation. Not only fast moving, continuous routes but also safe and cheap. This is very convenient for students, newcomers or those who do not have personal transportation. However, you must take some note before taking a bus in your Vietnam local tour operators. Please read thoroughly this article and share with everyone who going to ride a bus.

Theft

It is not difficult for you to take a bus by yourself through searching the information of bus routes on the Internet. But remember, at peak hours, most buses are very crowded with so many people. This is when you may be stolen something valuable because of many pickpockets in the bus. They often stand next to you, when no one pays attention or when the bus brakes, causing everyone to wobble, they will pick on your pocket or bag and steal any valuable things. The property that the pickpocket usually target is the phone, wallet. They are very fast and smart and even you cannot realize when you lost your phone or wallet. So be alert when someone stands close to you.

Determine where you want to go

You should find out by bus or Internet about where you want to go. If you offer Vietnam tour operators you do not need to care much about the road to get to your destination, in your tour on bus you need to know the right way to get to your destination so that you do not waste your time. When you arrive at the bus stop, you can see maps and routes throughout the city. So you know how much you should ride and when you want to get down you can ask the driver, bus employee. Always look at google map so that you are able to know exactly where you are.

Prepare money at a low value to pay for tickets

” Prepare money at a low value to pay for the ride ” is a slogan cannot be missing on any bus. The preparation of the pre-boarding bus has helped the process of picking up passengers quickly and on time schedule of the bus. Therefore, always reserve and preparation of retail are one of the “secret” for students choose bus as a means of transportation. If you give a VND200,000 or VND500,000, that means you will be kicked off the bus or get money left over in the grievance of the driver.

Get on in the front door and get down in the back door

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Get on the right door

Another Vietnam travel guide for you on your bus travel is making sure to get on in the front door and get down in the back door. The pushing is often occur on the bus. Be careful before getting down or up is something you have to do. Remember that when you take the bus you have to go up the front door to the back door. Avoid getting up and down in the same door. This will further disrupt the route. You should give older people and younger children up front. Do not push to accelerate quickly.

Always lean on the chair and firmly hold the handle

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Bus is always crowned

When you stand up, you should stick to the handle or lean on the chair. Because the bus stops very often. Each time so many people flopped forward, shake the other side. You should stand wide with your shoulders so you can keep balance. As a result, no matter how tilted the car is, you might not afraid of falling. Those who take the bus many times will probably be okay. But most of you are new, not used to the bus, it is very easy to fall.

Wait for the car stop to get off the bus

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Wait for the bus to stop

When the bus arrived at the bus stop that you want, you should ring the bell and wait for the bus to stop. Many people have fallen or slipped when the bus does not totally stop, which is very dangerous as you do not know whether there is a car behind you or not and the bus has not stopped what if the bus still keep going. The person in danger is no one other but you. So be careful every time you get on and off the bus.

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Learn how to ride a buffalo in Vietnam tours

In Vietnam tours, you might have many activities that you want to experience and many places that you want to go. But one of the most unique activities is learning how to ride a buffalo. You may think that it is a crazy idea but many people estimate that the activity is quite exciting.

Vietnam is known as an agricultural country with Agro-forestry production that is the most important production sector for Vietnam’s development. In recent years, many places in Vietnam have offered Vietnam countryside tours. The special feature of agricultural tourism is the combination of natural and traditional cultural values in rural areas. The development of agricultural tourism contributes to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage as well as traditional crafts.

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How to ride a buffalo

Among many interesting activities, riding a buffalo is always in the list of top things to do in Vietnam tours of many visitors.  You might wonder how to ride a buffalo. According to locals in Hoi An, first, they have to choose a good buffalo. Then, to control it, they must also have enough time to train the animal to contact with strangers’ characteristics. Many local says that it may take four years to dare to bring buffalo to riding.

In the hot weather, Pham Ho (51 years old) in Cam Thanh commune heard a phone call from the tour operator. He has just opened a tour for riding buffaloes, he immediately leads the over 5 quintals buffaloes gnawing young grass to the appointment. 11 years of raising buffaloes, now he and buffaloes have new occupations to make friends with Western people. To have the buffalo that allow people to ride, the owner has to train for buffaloes balancing when someone stands on his back.

The owners keep the buffaloes standing on the grass field, the guests sit on the back of the buffaloes. When they feel safe to move, the locals will poke them to make it move. In the middle of the field, he “poked” the buffalo to go faster. When the buffalo is still standing, Mr. Ho speaks to him in buffalo language that is to pray and encourage him. The locals in every Vietnamese village are always lovely and friendly with every people, especially with foreign tourists.

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Buffalo in field

Mr. Ho is a person who has experience keeps buffaloes for Western tourists riding in the outskirts. Initially, buffalo refused to listen. When going home, Mr. Ho patiently taught the buffalo how to stand right, left by order, or balance, go fast or slow when someone sitting up.

In order to make the buffaloes go to serve tourists and contact with strangers, buffalo managers have to be always enthusiastic, hard.

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How to speak to buffalo

Having gentle buffaloes is not easy, but teaching the buffaloes to listen to the words, contact with strangers seems to be a more difficult task. Especially the guests riding buffalo often use perfumes that are not familiar to the animal. Therefore, the buffaloes easily get scared and may run. For visitors to be able to control an obedient buffalo to go straight, go back, turn right, turn left or stop. The first thing is learning the buffalo language well. Le Viet Nhien (Cam Chau Ward, Hoi An) is the owner of 14 buffaloes doing tourism. He said that if you want to drive a buffalo, you should teach them to memorize the “commanders”. Of course, besides the chanting, the owner has to pull the buffaloes’ nose to control their direction.

There are many things that you can discover in your tour to Vietnam. Try a tour with the experience of riding a buffalo will surely bring you the most unique tour. What are you waiting for? Go and try it now.

The most difficult obstacle while raising buffaloes for tourism is not the way to feed them, but how to teach them obediently without hitting the visitor. According to local people, before the buffalo is used for tourist they have to plow hardly in the field. The plowing requests hearing the “command” of the owners. If the buffaloes are fed grass, they will eat forever and feel being spoiled that make them not work as before. Therefore, you just should give them a little bit of suffering.

You can spend your holiday visiting many beautiful destinations in the world. It is ensured that the nations owning marvelous nature like Vietnam recently attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Their Vietnam tours to rural areas can be more meaningful and interesting if they can join in some activities like riding buffaloes. It may help you be closer to nature and have a quite meaningful holiday. Let’s try it and tell us your feeling.

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Discover En Cave _ A trek on Ho Chi Minh Trail

If you have ever taken  South Vietnam tours to historical sights relating to the country’s over-20-year civil war, you must have heard somewhere about Ho Chi Minh Trail, an infamous track cutting Vietnam Central Highland, threading through Laos and Cambodia to be finalized in Southern Vietnam. The trail is said to be the key factor leading to the ending of Vietnam War and officially marking the reunification of the two Vietnam regions in 1975. There can be a lot of stories and rumors behind this warfare icon to be revealed during your Southern Vietnam tours, but today is the day to talk about something more offbeat, a trekking path to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.

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Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Lied deeply in the core of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province, Én Cave bears a stunning beauty of the primitive nature of the country. Departing at Phong Nha Town, you need roughly an hour traveling by bus following Quyet Thang Street, a highly focal point during the hustle battles in order to reach the Western branch of Ho Chi Minh Trail and stop by kilometer No.35 to embark your trekking route.

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Ho Chi Minh Trail in the past

Starting venue of the trek exploring En Cave is Ba Giang Slope, or Doc Ba Giang in colloquial term, which is known to be pretty slippery in the rainy season. It takes you around two hours to climb up the mountain following the winding trails which sometimes seem to be vertically sloping at some specific points. Ba Giang Slope is followed by Rao Thuong Valley, where you can spot out a latent pure cool stream hiding polished pebbles at the bottom. Move on further for another twenty minutes, you will catch sight of Doong tribal village, home to the Bru-Van Kieu ethnic community. Over here, you and your group have a chance to taste the local green tea and get into a short chit-chat with the natives. This is surely one of the main factors making your trek a climax out of all your Southern Vietnam tours. A farewell to Doong tribal village is also a goodbye kiss to a slightly mild path, the first segment out of your whole trip, which means that you may be required to conquer the following chain of river and streams before arriving at En Cave.

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En Cave

After getting fully equipped with a headlight, safety helmet, and gloves, you will start exploring En Cave right after that. The Cave was recorded to be 1.6 kilometers in length with an available camping site right in the middle. From the main entrance, you can somehow see the natural sunlight illuminating the whole camping site, turning it into a mystic scene and gigantic at the same time. There are two natural lakes in En Cave, one is filled with warm water whilst the other one is cool. You can feel free to wallow yourself in both of the lakes to catch the best feeling of living with nature. The cave is home to thousands of swallows when summer comes. That’s the reason why the cave is named the Swallow Cave, or En Cave in Vietnamese.

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A girl of Bru-Van Kieu tribe

On the second day discovering En Cave, you and your group will move further and deeper into the core and start admiring at the oldest fossil all over Asia with over three hundred million years of age to see how massive and gigantic it can be. Space is featured with huge limestones and untold rumors about Arem tribal citizens’ rituals of eating swallows and full moon festival. Especially, you would definitely be left breathless at the magnificent landscapes at the end of the cave, where the sensational movie “Pan and the Neverland” captured multiple scenes. After conquering En Cave, your local leading trekker will walk you back following the same old path, marking the end of your trekking tour to Southern Vietnam.

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Son Doong Cave

This trekking route to En Cave is known as an entrance to Son Doong, the largest natural cave recognized. The length of Ho Chi Minh Trail is hidden with potential and captivating trekking tours. Following this track can somehow help you learn more about how the Northern Vietnamese soldiers had dedicated their lives during the time when equipment and facilities were seriously lacked. Trekking is also an interesting pick in Southern Vietnam beside other popular packages upon your travel to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam.

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The Best Guided Tours In Vietnam

Are you planning to take a trip to Vietnam? Here is our list of best-guided tours that surely provide you the most enjoyable experiences while traveling in Vietnam.

Hanoi Street Food Tour

Hanoi Street food tour

Hanoi Street Food Tour (Source: Internet)

Hanoi Street Food Tour is a local travel company in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Not only is the company famous for street food walking tours but also food tours by scooters or cyclo. Hanoi Street Food Tour offers a number of private guided tours that surely fit your travel style, such as Hanoi Street Food Walking Tour, Scooter Food Tour, Hanoi Street food Veteran Tour, Cyclo Street Food Tour, Hanoi Cooking Class Tours… Choosing the tour, with only $20, you will have the chance to taste a lot of delicious Vietnamese cuisine and explore narrow, yet bustling streets around Hanoi. In addition to trying tasty foods, you will also learn much more about Vietnamese history, culture, and modern-day life. Hanoi Street Food Tour is a must try tour for every traveler.

Hanoikids Tour

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Hanoikids Tour (Source: Internet)

Founded in 2006, Hanoikids is a volunteer tour guide club run by young, ambitious students who love Hanoi and want to help tourists from all over the world to have the best experiences while traveling to the city. The organization provides free tours for all of the tourists, and you, as a tourist, are expected to cover the expenses throughout the tour. For those who love to explore Hanoi and are inclined to gain a better understanding of Vietnam’s landscape, culture, and history, Hanoikids tour would be a good selection. Especially, you can freely pick places according to your time and your preference. There are different types of tours in terms of duration, places, time…

XO Tours

XO tour

XO Tour (Source: Internet)

XO Tours is a motorbike tour company in Vietnam which offers different unique and high- ranked tours in Vietnam for over 6 years such as “The Sight” tour, “The Foodie” tour, “Saigon by night” tour,… And “The Foodie” tour is maybe the most popular tour provided by the company. “The Foodie” tour is also an ideal choice for those who adore Vietnamese cuisine and want to explore more the beauty hidden behind those delicious dishes. Joining the tour, you will have the chance to discover the most popular street stalls in Saigon; and the tour guide will show you where in the city the locals love to eat. The special thing about this tour is that it is only available in the evenings when street vendors open for business. The price is reasonable, at $75 with unlimited foods and drinks and XO accident insurance.

Jack Tran Tours

Jack Tran Tours

Jack Tran Tours (Source: Internet)

Jack Tran Tours is a local Vietnamese fishing family-run business in Hoi An that provides you a privileged opportunity to experience the locals’ lifestyle and gain hands-on experiences of fishing and farming. Founded in 2005, Jack Tran Tours offer a lot of different private cultural tours to help you learn more about Vietnam’s cuisine and to allow you to immerse yourself in the way the locals live and eat. Joining the tour, you will attain full of memorable experiences and your trip in Hoi An will turn into a lifetime memory.

Le Family Rider

Le Family Rider

Le Family Rider Tour (Source: Internet)

The Le Family Rider Tour is considered as the most popular motorbike tour from Hue to Hoi An. The tour features a team of very experienced, friendly and funny riders who are always willing to provide you with lots of information and always try to make you feel safe while on the road. Especially, the route from Hue to Hoi An is very attractive, known for many popular attractions such as Elephant Spring, Hai Van Pass, Fishing village, Marble mountain, etc…; and you will easily decide on when and where to stop to admire the stunning scenery or get some fresh air along the way. The tour price is favorable, at around $58 per person, including safety equipment and foods.

Every guided tour mentioned above has its own special features and is different from each other in terms of location, type, and prices. Just pick one that best fits your travel plan. Don't forget to travel with explorevietnam so that you can discover many amazing destinations in Vietnam.

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How To Travel In Vietnam: 5 Things To Know Before Setting Off

Vietnam is well known for stunning landscapes, friendly people, and rich culture. If you intend to visit the country, here are 5 essential things from explorevietnam you should know before heading on your trip.

Apply for your visa (if you plan to stay in Vietnam more than 15 days)

Just like other countries, to enter Vietnam, you will need a passport with more than six months remaining until the expiration date. If you are from one of the South East Asia countries, you will easily enter Vietnam, normally without a visa. Otherwise, a visa is required to visit the country. Make sure you have a good preparation of entry requirements and sorting out your visa before booking your flight to Vietnam.

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Take your visa seriously before traveling to Vietnam (Source: Internet)

Weather in Vietnam

Vietnam weather is diverse and beautiful, with each month differing from another in terms of humidity, temperature, and seasonal fares. The weather tends to vary considerably across the country. In particular, the northern part’s temperature is often lower than that of the south; and, in the north, there are 4 different seasons in a year while the south is in tropical temperatures all year round with only 2 seasons (rainy season and dry season). Therefore, it is essential that you learn about Vietnam climate in advance to find the perfect time to see the whole beauty of the country.

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Hanoi weather – wintertime (Source: Internet)

Must-visit places and must-try activities in Vietnam

Vietnam is filled with so many appealing destinations to visit and interesting activities to try. Therefore, if you don’t learn about how to travel in Vietnam before the trip, you may somehow waste your time due to being overwhelmed by too many landscapes or too many activities. One of the most essential things that you must know before setting off is the list of top tourist attractions or amazing places that suit your travel style. This is also a must for those who travel on a tight budget, yet still want to gain excellent experiences while traveling in Vietnam. Here in Vietnam, the highest-ranked destinations that you should visit are Guom Lake in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa and Hoi An Ancient Town.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay – one of the best places in Vietnam (Source: Internet)

Prices are negotiable

Remember that it is normal in Vietnam that the locals sometimes overcharge or inflate the prices. Negotiating is not rude but expected. Appearing here in Vietnam since long before tourists arrived, bargaining is somehow part of Vietnamese culture as through bargaining people communicate with others, create and build up their relationship. Therefore, to get a better deal when shopping in Vietnam, you are advised to take into consideration some bargaining tips such as “walking away”, or bargaining with grace and humor.

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Don’t forget to bargain when shopping in Vietnam (Source: Internet)

Festivals in Vietnam

Viet Nam is a rich cultural tradition country with hundreds of festivals celebrated every year. Experiencing several festive events when coming to Vietnam will definitely help you to understand its culture and history, which means that before heading on your trip, you had better have some knowledge of the most important Vietnamese events. Some major festivals in Vietnam worth your consideration are Lunar New Year festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Lantern Festival in Hoi An, Huong Pagoda festival, and so on. 

Festivals in Vietnam

Lunar New Year festival in Vietnam (Source: Internet)

These are among the most necessary things that you should know before your trip to Vietnam. Be well prepared and if you are ready, just jump right in!

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How to get to Sapa from Hanoi

Despite being a fast-growing destination for both local and international tourists, there is no nearby airport to be found in Sapa; so the two viable options for getting there are either by road or by trail. I have excluded the motorbike since it would take the best part of 2 days to reach Lao Cai and the journey is often boring and strenuous.

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Sapa from above (Source: Internet)

Take the train to Sapa

Traveling by overnight trains is the most popular choice and often takes around 8 hours to get from Hanoi to Sapa; the remaining 34 km is covered by minibus or private transfer.

There are thirteen sleeper trains leaving Ha Noi. Online booking and information are available on Vietnam-railway.com. Bear in mind that some cheaper trains sometimes arrive late so consider this if you have a tight schedule.  

A train cabin

A train cabin (Source: Internet) 

For those who are willing to pay, the privately operated soft-sleepers cabins are comfortable and adequate for a lengthy journey. There are four berths in each cabin, two upper and two lower ones. This choice can even spare you the heat of the north weather as the cabins are all air-conditioned. The mattresses are thick enough, the bedding is clean to send you to sleep and if you want to do some reading before bed, you have your own light to do so too. There are shelves to store your luggage under the lower beds or at the end of the upper ones. Although you can lock the door, it is advisable to keep valuables on your person. The toilets are often clean but not always functioning so if you are unlucky enough to pick the one that does not work, look around for another toilet, and bring your wipes as well in case there is no toilet paper available on board.

Standard soft-sleepers are good but the water is not included as the privately operated one. Hard sleepers are not bad either but there are six berths per cabin; if you are on the top two beds, it might be a little bit uncomfortable as you cannot sit on your bed.

Sapa train station

Lao Cai train station (Source: Internet)

Take the overnight buses

A less comfortable and safe alternative is coaches. These sleeper buses come in two types, 3 beds in a row and 2 beds in a row. Bunk beds run from the front to the back of the coaches and at the end there is a large one. You would have less room for yourself in a cheaper bus and all beds are quite small; if you are taller than 1.6 meters, do not expect to stretch your legs comfortably. In peak season, there are people lie in between two beds even though it is illegal and the operators can be heavily fined. Your luggage is kept in under bus storage and remember to mark yours and keep an eye on it when you get off the vehicle in case there are scammers trying to steal it when you are off-guard. Keep your phone, money, passport, and anything that you cannot afford losing with you and put them in inside pockets or under the pillow. Also, check the cleanliness of pillowcases and blankets, if there are some things smelly on them, ask for another set.

Bus to Sapa

A bus to Sapa (Source: Internet)

There are bus operators that you can check and book online; some can arrange pick-up buses to get you to the station. If you do not want to go through all the hassle of online booking or speaking to someone who can barely understand your language, book through the hotel you are staying and all you need to do is to wait for the pickup bus. If you have arranged a Sapa tour guide, contact him or her and ask how to get to Sapa from Hanoi, they would help you pick the most suitable option.

Buses and trains are the most popular options for those who wish to visit the sleepy town. It is a time-consuming journey whichever you take so choose carefully to avoid sleepless nights and neck pain on the way to Sapa. Getting around Sapa can be done on foot or motorbikes so do not worry as you can find vehicles for rent everywhere in the town.

To receive the interesting information for your journey, follow explorevietnam.net. Have a nice trip!

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Everything you need to know to travel to Vietnam from New Zealand

These days, Vietnam has been high on the bucket list of many foreign visitors. A visit to this enchanting country entails an exquisite retreat to a haven of peace, surrounded by picture-perfect landscapes.

Before getting treated with these scenic places in Vietnam, you need to go through a bit of Vietnam travel information to know what to prepare beforehand. You might read a travel guide to Vietnam here and there, involving must-see destinations, scrumptious local dishes, traditional festivals, don’ts and dos when hanging around. So what is the most concern to get ready for an upcoming trip to Vietnam? If you travel to Vietnam from Newzealand or from any, the very first thing to consider is a visa for Vietnam travel.

New Zealand visitors need a visa to go to Vietnam?

New Zealand citizens have a big advantage over others when it comes to passports. If holding a New Zealand passport, you are able to travel to many countries without needing a visa. But, this doesn’t mean a visa waiver if you plan to travel to Vietnam from New Zealand. There are several ways to get you a visa for Vietnam travel; you should consider the one that is the most convenient to you.

Get Visa to travel to Vietnam

Foreigners with Visas (Source: Internet)

The first way is via an Embassy or a Consulate, which is recommended if you live near any of these visa-issuing facilities. When you get to the office, don’t forget to bring along required documents (especially a physical passport with 6-month validity before the date of entry). You can either apply for a single entry or a multi-entry one, but as far as I experienced, multiple visas with family get you a discount. The procedure normally takes about 3-5 days and fewer hassles occur if all necessary documents are ready!

The other to get a visa for Vietnam is via an e-visa system. The online visa service has been available since February 2017 to enable visitors to pick up their visa on arrival at Vietnam international airports. All that you need is head to Vietnamese e-visa channel:  www.vietnamvisa.govt.vn, fill out the visa application form for New Zealand citizens, pay the fee and then a Visa Approval Letter is sent to you through email after about 2 working days. When you arrive at Vietnam airports (such as Noi Bai or Tan Son Nhat), you will have your visa stamped (this procedure takes you $25). Visa on arrival option is only available if you travel to Vietnam from NewZealand by air.

Cheap flights from New Zealand to Vietnam?

Getting a visa means that you’ve just phased out a nuisance in your plan to travel around the adorable country. After a visa is done, you need to think of booking a flight. Again, just like the e-visa system, you currently find it much easier to search for flights from New Zealand to Vietnam. But it’s worth your effort to hunt for low-cost airplane tickets, meaning a great saving for other expenses.

flight tickets

Flight tickets (Source: Internet)

So before your departure, make sure to check out best airfares to see if you are lucky to descend on an ever promotional flight tickets. There are some options to consider such as Auckland flights to Ho Chi Minh City and Air New Zealand. My take on booking cheap flights is to use Skyscanner. This app is really a salvation when you are too busy to check out yourself. Skyscanner keeps you updated with low-cost airfares so that you can easily pick up the one preferable to your travel time. Anyway, it’s advisable to book well in advance to secure a slot of cheap flight tickets.

Have you ever traveled to Vietnam from New Zealand? Is there anything that you can share with people who is going to to make their first trip to Vietnam? As of getting a visa, you should keep yourself updated with latest visa requirements to avoid unnecessary procedures or simply to get a smoother visa process. What’s more, don’t forget to search some recommendations on must-do things in Vietnam so that you are more likely to have an effortlessly joyful trip!

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Best times to visit Vietnam

One of the most difficult things for travelers to consider is deciding the time to go. Regarding Vietnam, any time in a year can be a good time to travel. However, as each region has its advantages, each will have their best time for tourism. Read the following guide from explorevietnam to decide your schedule.

1. Northern Vietnam: March to July, September to October

With pleasant weather without rain and snow, spring, and autumn are the best time to visit Northern Vietnam.

Northwest Vietnam – Sa Pa

Sapa trekking tour

Colourful terraced rice fields in Sapa (Source: Internet)

Located in the mountainous Northern region, the weather of Sa Pa is very seasonal that the temperatures can reach 30⁰ C in the summer and fall down to 0⁰ C in the winter. Summer months, especially July and August, are very wet. Hence, the best time to travel to Sa Pa is in March and April, when the weather is warm and dry. Or you can go in September or October, as the weather at that time is much cooler and fresher. It would be the perfect time for travelers to visit mountainous areas to explore the sheer beauty of dense forests, steep hills, and colorful terraced rice fields. At that time there is a clear day, which enables visitors to go up the Fansipan peak to have a broad view of the whole area.

Northeast Vietnam – Ha Long Bay

Halong Bay

Sunset on Ha Long Bay (Source: Internet)

Often covered in mist, the atmosphere of Ha Long Bay becomes more majestic but the visibility is lessened. In summer and winter, it might be humid, extremely hot or extremely cold, which is not suitable for traveling. In contrast, the weather in spring and autumn are pleasant and the sky is blue and clear, providing travelers with good scenery. 

2. Central Vietnam: Spring and summer

On the list of the best time to travel Vietnam, spring and summer are considered to be ideal for Central Vietnam trip.

Hue festival

Hue Festival in April (Source: Internet)

Spring offers cool and pleasant weather for a long travel to Central Vietnam, namely Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An. It is the perfect time for traveling around, to explore the charming beauty of these cities and see the cultural values of historical relics there.

Skydiving in Da Nang

Sky-diving at Non Nuoc Beach, Da Nang (Source: Internet)

Central Vietnam is the heaven of beaches, thus summer is the best season to visit. As summer in Central Vietnam is very hot and humid, people make their way to the seashores. There are many beautiful beaches in that region such as Cua Lo Beach in Nghe An, Lang Co Beach in Hue and Non Nuoc Beach in Da Nang. With white soft sand and blue sea water, these become the places to escape the heat of summer. 

Hoi An by night

Hoi An Ancient Town by night (Source: Internet)

From July there would be rains and even tropical storms in central provinces, so it is not a suitable time to travel.

3. Southern Vietnam – Summer

The weather in the south of Vietnam is pleasant all year round, thus visitors can pay a visit anytime they plan to. However, to better enjoy your trip, summer will be a great time to go. In the summer, the temperature is always high, yet it is not so hot. It offers good weather condition for traveling.

Nha Trang beach

Nha Trang – one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (Source: Internet)

With a long coastline and pleasant weather, Southern Vietnam is well known for its stunning beaches. Beaches in Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Vung Tau are exceptionally amazing, with soft sand and turquoise water. You can spend time swimming, sunbathing, and even participating in various watersports there. Moreover, visiting Mui Ne, you will have chances to see enormous golden sand dunes, which are considered “Little Sahara of Vietnam”. Watching the sunset in the dunes is a wonderful experience. Another destination for a summer trip in Southern Vietnam is Phu Quoc Island, with beautiful seashores and biodiversity.

Mui Ne

Enormous Golden Sand Dunes in Mui Ne (Source: Internet)

In addition, summer is the season of fruits in Mekong Delta. Travelers can take a tour along the Mekong River, visit fruit plantations, go to floating markets, and buy some fresh fruits. You can also take time to listen to “Don Ca Tai Tu” – the traditional music of Southern people. It would be a great experience for those wanting to see the high cultural value of that region.

Mekong Delta

Fruit plantation on Mekong Delta (Source: Internet)

Any time in a year is the best time to visit Vietnam. Each reason will provide visitors with a different experience. Pack your luggage and enjoy your Vietnam trip!