Enjoy the Vietnamese kitchen: Hanoi Delights and Discover old temples: Hue Impressions

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Văn Miếu - the Temple of Literature in Hanoi



Stone steles on top of stone tortoises: Here you find the engraved names of the studends who passed the final exam at Quốc Tử Giám (Imperial Academy), the first university of Vietnam (1076 to 1779), and became doctors. This university was established in the Confucian temple Văn Miếu (Temple of Literature), that was founded in 1070. It was Emperor Lê Thánh Tông, who founded the tradition of the tortoise-steles from 1448 on.


Van Mieu Gate, the entrance to the Temple of Literature. After this gate you enter the two first courtyards of the temple, a green paradise with ancient trees.




Khuê Văn Các. This pavillon, built in 1802, marks the entrance to the third courtyard with the water of Thien Quang Tinh (Well Of Heavenly Clarity) in the centre and halls on both sides, that house the turtle-steles.


Thien Quang Tinh with the halls.



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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cat Ba and the islands and caves
in Lan Ha Bay: Have a quiet time

See the locations on Cat Ba Google Map


So many islands... A look from a mountain on Cat Ba Island, picture by Xuanxu

If you think, that Halong Bay is a crowded place, and if you are looking for a more quiet experience in a landscape, that is not less impressive than Halong Bay you are right with Cat Ba Island . It lies between Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay is "as magnificent as Ha Long Bay", finds vietnamtourism.com. The bigger part of it belongs to Cat Ba National Park. Background about the karsts and caves you read on speleogenesis.


Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba island is known for its rugged limestone mountains, hot and cold springs, moist tropical forests and coral reefs. A big part of the island belongs to Cat Ba National Park, a beautiful landscape with up to 300 metres high mountains and nice beaches (read Biosphere Reserve Information by Unesco, Cat Ba National Park by Lonely Planet) and this report. In the park you can visit caves, where 7000 years old tools of men have been found (Trung Trang, Quan Y Grotto and Thien Long Grotto) and trek up to Ngu Lam Peak or Navy Peak. A special type of tree called “Cay Kim Giao” is unique to Cat Ba. This is one of 118 timber species on the island. 745 species of plants are recorded for Cat Ba, more than 100 with medicinal value. The national park is home to 32 types of mammals and more than 70 species of birds. There is a beautiful lake inside the national park called Frog Lake (Ao Ech). Two groups of people live on Cat Ba Island. The ethnic Vietnamese, or Kinh people, moved to Cat Ba after 1979. The second group are the Viet-Chinese, they descended from fishing communities that have existed on Cat Ba for many generations. Fishermen and farmers live in Tran Chau (the oldest and largest village on the island); in Gia Luan you find farmers, fisherman and some hunters; in Phu Long fisherman and salt farmers; in Xuan Dam farmers. In the smallest village, Viet Hai, 200 people live in simple, houses made of bamboo, wood, leaves and earthen walls.

See a video about Cat Ba by electronicaleyeview, video part 3, video part 4, video part 5 with Ngu Lam



The door to the port and Cat Ba National Park


Full of boats: the port of Cat Ba, picture by mckaysavage


Cat Co 2 Beach, picture by Houston Marsh


View from top of Cat Ba, picture by Puff's Daddy


On the road, picture by kontell


Picture by mulaohu


Fields on Cat Ba, picture by Ben Beiske


The landscape, picture by solarfeet


Rent a bike and discover..., picture by Ben Kullen-Kerney


Frog pond on the way up to Ngu Lam Peak. Picture by kevincure


Nice flower, picture by hifix


A temple, picture by diego hernandez

Picture mattjkelley
On the wai to Viet Hai


Viet Hai Village, picture by dom


Near Viet Hai Village, picture by dom

Picture el_floz
Near Viet Hai

Picture mattjkelley
View after a hike near Viet Hai

If you have luck when trekking you can see a very endangered species, the Cat Ba langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus poliocephalus), also known as Golden-headed langur.


The golden-headed langur, picture by conservation.or.jp

This species only lives on Cat Ba, nowhere else in the world. By the year 2000 poaching had reduced this species to only 53 individuals in several isolated sub-populations and the Cat Ba langur became listed by the IUCN, the World Conservation Union, as one of the world’s most endangered primate species. Towards the end of 2000, the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) and Münster Zoo (Germany) formed a cooperative partnership with Vietnamese conservation agencies, and the “Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project” was initiated. Since then, langur poaching has been brought under control and in 2003, for the first time in decades, the population of the Cat Ba langur increased. Read more about this project.


Gia Luan Harbour, picture by Binh Giang


Hoa Cung Cave: Near Gia Luan village, 100m from the road. See picture


Hotels in Cat Ba

Sunrise Resort: "Gorgeous spotless pool, semi-private beach with a sheltered bay, views to die for from almost all of the rooms", comments awry on tripadvisor.com.


Sunrise Resort


View from the room


Beach with own bay


If the sea is wild, you have a nice pool...

Cat Ba Island Resort & Spa: Cat Co 1 beach. Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com


The resort


View of the bay, picture by Mạnh Tuyến

Princes Hotel: Critical review on tripadvisor.com, good review on travelfish.org

Holiday View Hotel: Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com and on travelfish.org


Holiday View Hotel, picture by nicholasjes

Nam Phuong: Good review on travelfish.org

Quang Duc Family Hotel: Good review on travelfish.org

Whisper Nature Bungalows: In Viet Hai Village, seven single private bungalows, a large bungalow for groups and a triangular bungalow where a bar is located with food, drink and wine.


Restaurants in Cat Ba:
Green Mango:
Tuyet Beo: Floating restaurant.


Seafood delicatesses: fish with tomato at Tuyet Beo. Picture by hifix


Tours on and from Cat Ba:
Cat Ba Ventures: Trekking tours, fishing tours, snorkeling and boat tours
Slo Pony: Rock climbing, kayaking, boating.


Ferries to Cat Ba:


The boat has a lot of room for bikes and motorbikes

From Tuan Chau Island to Gia Luan: Every hour from 6.00 to 18.00 (45 minutes).
From Halong City, Bai Chay Harbour: Tourist boat at 8.00 to Cat Ba Town, taking 4 hours. From Cat Ba Town: 13.00
From Haiphong to Cat Ba: Hoang Long takes you by bus and speed boat (1.30 hrs. From 4 Le Thanh Tong in Hai Phong at 8.00; 10.00 and 14.00.
From Haiphong to Cat Ba: Take the slow ferry (every hour) from Dinh Vu ferry station to Cat Hai island. Drive 7 km to the Got ferry station. Take the ferry to Phu Long, then drive 40 mins to Cat Ba town (3 hrs).
From Haiphong to Cat Ba Town: At Ben Binh ferry station there are Hydrofoils (8.30 and 9.00) to Cat Ba town (45 minutes) and ferries (6.00, 12.20, 2 hrs). From Cat Ba the hidrofoils leave at 14.45 and 15.00 pm, the slow ferries at 5.45 am and 12.20 pm).
From Haiphong to Cat Ba: Cat Ba Tourist Transportation company takes you from Ben Binh harbour (06.40; 08.15; 09.45; 13.40; 15.10; 16) by mini bus to Dinh Vu ferry station. A high speed boat takes you (07.15; 08.45; 10.15; 14.14; 15.45; 17.00) to Phu Long (it takes bicyles and motorbikes also). Then a mini bus brings you to Cat Ba Town. From Cat Ba Town at 06.10; 07.50; 09.10; 13.10; 14;50; 16, from Phu Long at 06.45; 08.30; 10.00; 14.00; 15.30; 17.00.


Map of Cat ba Town:
Map


Read more about Cat Ba:
Cat Ba in the Evening
Ah... Cat Ba...


Discover Lan Ha Bay

Dau Be Island
See Dau Be Google Map and other map. There are sandy coves, a small settlement of fishers and a peak reaching 139 metres above the sea. Not far from the beaches there are some diving spots with rich corals. On the western side of the island you discover Ho Ba Ham, a grotto with three lakes inside, which are enclosed by cliffs on all sides. You can get through only at low tide in a small rowboat. The tunnels flood at high tide and get dangerous. Read more about these lakes by Speleogenesis.info. Read, which animals and flowers you will find near Ba Ham Lakes.
See pictures by cxc


Entrance to Ba Ham Lagoon, picture by Andrew. See more pictures by Queen Hanh


Monkey Island
See pictures of Monkey Island Resort and another one by Ends of Earth. Read about the stay of Davidsmeaton and the experience of An Thi with the monkeys.


Monkey Island, seen from the top, picture by Getting My Sarong On


Bungalows on Monkey Island, picture by tuantrekkingtravel


Ocean Beach Resort: Bamboo huts on Cat Ong Island, 3 miles southeast of Cat ba. "Each bungalow has two rooms and being only a thin wall between the two it can be noisy if you get snoring people in the next romm - so take ear plugs", comments Helen78 on tripadvisor.com, who found the resort beautiful and relaxing.


Approaching the island, picture by Linh


The resort, picture by Winemaker01


The beach, picture by Linh



Read more about attractions near Lan Ha Bay

How to choose the right junk for Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay
Bai Tu Long Bay
Quan Lan Island
Co To Island





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Friday, December 18, 2009

Beaches and Hotels on Phu Quoc Island

See the locations on Phu Quoc Google Map

Long Beach

La Veranda Resort: "Top luxury spot" on Long Beach, according to travelfish.org.


La Veranda, picture by Krysten

Terrasse of La Veranda, picture by thomaswanhoff


Room at La Veranda, picture by Nathaniel


Beach Club Resort: From 25 USD. Bungalows and rooms on Long Beach. "One of the most tranquil and inviting accommodation options on Phu Quoc", writes travelfish.org, that qualifies the rooms as "fairly basisc".


Bungalow at Beach Club, picture by Tim


The beach at Beach Club Tweet This

Monday, December 14, 2009

Be pampered in Hoi An



Aly Spa: 49 Ba Trieu. Massage, facials, body wraps, manicures and more.

Countryside Charm Massage: 512 Cua Dai, near Greenfields Hotel. Asian Blend Massage, Swedish Massage and Thai Massage.

Na Spa: 463 Cua Dai and 7 Cua Dai. Read review by Girl Clumsy


Na Spa


NQ Spa: 446 Cua Dai.

Victoria Spa: Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa.

Zen Spa: Hoi An Beach Resort.



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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hoi An Hotels and Guesthouses

See the locations on Hoi An Google Map


Vinh Hung Hotel 1: From 80 USD. In a 125 years old Chinese trader home. Second-storey rooms in the original wooden house. Two have a balcony overlooking Tran Phu Street. Here was Michael Caines dressing room during the making of the movie "The quiet American". Be aware, that this is an old house, so you will here the sounds from other people in the house. From the rooms towards the street you can follow the life on the street, but you have also the noise of the street. In the backward rooms you have a bath with a lot of space. Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com. See pictures by Aptronym. See video on youtube.com


Picture by Cynthia


The Lobby, picture by Cynthia


Chinese Room


Picture by Verciny


The upstairs corridor, picture by Cynthia


The front balcony, pictury by Cynthia


An Hoi Hotel: From 22 USD. 69 Nguyen Phuc Chu. Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com.


Ha An Hotel: From 45 USD. 6-8 Phan Boi Chau. Good reviews on tripadvisor.com and also on reidontravel.com


Ha An Hotel


Golden Sand Resort: From 85 USD. Huge, 200 metres long poold, good reviews on tripadvisor.com, some critcs.


Seen from the seaside, picture by Viet Hung


Pool at Golden Sand Resort, just some steps away from the sea, picture by Leonard


Hoi An Beach Resort: From 79 USD. 4 km outside of Hoi An, situated between De Vong river and Cua Dai Beach. Very good reviews on tripadvisor.com


The Pool


The Restaurant


Hoi An Trails Countryside Resort: From 65 USD. Rooms in two- and three-storey villas between Thu Bon River, green garden ad ricefields. 1 km from Cua Dai Beach and 3 km from town. Good reviews on tripadvisor.com


Trails Resort, picture by Lily


At Thu Bon River, picture by Lily


Picture by carol.wright61


Life Heritage Resort: From 111 USD. 1 Pham Hong Thai Street. Located along Thu Bon River.


Life Resort Lobby


Life Resort Pool, pictures by sega128


Life Resort restaurant, picture by sega128


Palm Garden Beach Resort: From 120 USD. Lac Long Quan Street, Cua Dai Beach. Mixed reviews on tripadvisor.com


Picture by Trinia


Picture by Ivan


River Beach Resort: From 60 USD. Formerly Dong An Beach Hotel. Where De Vong River meets South China sea, at Cua Dai Beach. Good reviews on tripadvisor.com



River Beach Resort, picture by Cathy



The pool


The beach, picture by Michael


Thanh Binh 1 Hotel: From 15 USD. 01 Le Loi.


Thanh Binh 1 Hotel


Thanh Van Hotel: From 20 USD. 78 Tran Hung Dao.


Picture by gbabe


The Nam Hai: "This is the best luxury resort in Vietnam", comments frommers.com. Why? Frommers points to the big size (35 Hectares), the quick service and chic villas.


The Nam Hai, picture by NamHai.MM


Pool of The Nam Hai, picture by Imedagoze


One bedroom villa



Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa
: From 170 USD. Shuttle boat to Hoi An Ancient Town. Excellent, according to reviews on tripadvisor.com


Picture by Joelle


View of the pool, picture by Fred Rosenberg


And the Cua Dai beach, picture by Steven



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