A self-planned trip to Northern Vietnam in 5 days

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Last month, my best friend and I decided that we will spend 5 days to have a trip to Northern Vietnam, from Friday morning to Wednesday. The biggest purpose of our trip is to get away all the fatigue and stresses in life, so we do not want to go as much as we can, but relax as much as we can. Therefore, in our plan, you somehow will find that we will not visit too many places and spend some time refreshing with a cup of coffee or relaxing services. In this Northern Vietnam tour, we have planned to stop by 3 main destinations, which are Hanoi, Sapa and Ha Long. Here below is our detailed plan for our 5-day Vietnam tailor-made tour.

Day 1: Hanoi – Sapa

At 9 pm on Friday, we will get on the coach to Sapa in My Dinh Station and reach Sapa at about 3 am. Then we will depart to the hotel to check in, continue to sleep and take a short shower when we wake up.

At 7:30 am on Saturday morning, we will start to wander around Sapa and have a light breakfast. Then, we will return to the hotel and ask the receptionist to rent a motorbike. Our trip to explore Sapa will start.

Our first destination will be Cat Cat Village. We will play, discover this tourism village for the whole day. We will stop at a small local eatery to have lunch. In the late afternoon, we will come back to the city center and go for a dinner. We were highly recommended to try salmon hotpot and grilled food for 2 nights in Sapa.

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Grilled-food-in-Sapa

In the evening, we will go for the herbal bath of Red Dao people and foot massage. It will take us about 1 – 2 hours. Then, we will wander around the city center and perhaps, stop at a local café to experience the peaceful moment in Sapa.

Day 2: Sapa

On the second day of our 5 days in Vietnam, we will spend the whole day continuing our journey in Sapa. By driving a motorbike, we will pay a visit to other famous tourist attractions, such as Ham Rong Mountain, Ta Phin, Bac Waterfall, etc. We will have meals on the way.

In the afternoon, we will return to the hotel to have a shower and go out for dinner. After that, we will head for the Sapa Night Market. Here, we will go shopping and buy some small souvenirs for friends and families.

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Sapa-Night-Market

Day 3: Sapa – Lao Cai

On this day, we will conquer the Fansipan Peak, the highest peak in Vietnam. We will climb up there by cable car and visit Sunworld Fansipan Legend. At noon, we will return to the hotel to relax and have lunch.

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cable-car-to-Fansipan

In the afternoon, we will have a cup of coffee and a small piece of cake to relax and enjoy the last moment in Sapa. About at 5 pm, we will leave Sapa for Lao Cai by bus. We will spend one night wandering and going shopping in Lao Cai Night Market. Then, we will check in the hotel for one night.

Day 4: Lao Cai – Hanoi – Ha Long

In the next morning, we will get on the coach back to Hanoi. We will stay in Hanoi for half a day. Here, we will have a short tour in the Old Quarter, visit some famous landscapes in Hanoi such as the One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, etc.

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Hanoi-Old-Quarter

In the afternoon, we will get on a coach from My Dinh Station to Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province. The trip will take us about 2 – 3 hours. Right after reaching Ha Long, we will head directly to the hotel to check in and prepare ourselves. Then we will go for a dinner and visit Sunworld Ha Long. We will play and have fun there until night, then we will get back to the hotel.

Day 5: Ha Long – Hanoi

At 8 am in the morning, we will get up and have breakfast. Then, we will start to go to Tuan Chau Port, get on a yacht to have a tour around Ha Long Bay. The yacht will take us to visit some impressive tourist spots in Ha Long Bay, such as Ga Choi Island, Trong Mai Island, Hoa Cuong Fishing Village to take part in the practical fishing activities with the local people. At noon, we will enjoy the luxurious lunch on the yacht.

In the afternoon, we will start our own journey to explore Ha Long Bay by going kayaking by ourselves. It will be one of the best experiences of us. Or we can choose to relax and go bathing in Soi Sim Beach, which is believed to be great, too.

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kayaking-in-Ha-Long

After finishing the Ha Long Bay cruise, we will go to a local restaurant to enjoy dinner with the local specialties. Then, we will have to say goodbye to Ha Long to get back to Hanoi. We will get the coach to Hanoi at about 9 in the evening. Our Vietnam tailor-made tour to the North will end with the joy and happiness of both of us.

I know it would be really great that you can plan your own trip by yourselves. However, sometimes, because of objective or subjective reasons, you cannot do it by yourselves. Then do not worry, you just need to brainstorm the destination you want to go, what you want to do and contact to the reliable Vietnam tour operators, they will help you to arrange your own trip. It would also be a remarkable option though.

Áo tứ thân (4-part dress) in Northern Vietnam

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Home to 54 different native groups, Vietnam is an amalgamation of different cultures and traditions. From the languages we speak to the traditional costumes which sometimes look radically different we wear, our S-shaped land is a rainbow of innumerable shades.

Tribal and traditional costumes in Vietnam come in many shapes and sizes and vary from region to region. For example, citizens of communities that live on the plateau have very colorful dresses with the most elaborate outfits found in the North region, such as red brocades and an almost psychedelic color pallet of rainbow adorned cultural clothes of the Flower Hmong people and the decorated headdresses of the Red Dao. Meanwhile, the plainsmen wear very simple and modest outfit. These traditional costumes are basically the perception of Vietnamese people in regards to our identity and spirit and a reason to go on your Vietnam culture tours.

When it comes to a traditional Vietnamese women’s clothing, most will think about áo dài. But do you know that before the áo dài evolved into the five-paneled dress which is known as the closest form to the áo dài, Vietnamese women wore áo tứ thân – the origins of the áo dài, whose existence was traced to the 12th century.

Let’s take a look at Áo tứ thân – the traditional dress of the Vietnamese women in the North for centuries before the emergence of the Áo Dài.

History of Áo Tứ Thân

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Little girls in áo tứ thân

Usually made of plain fabric in dark browns, light browns, and blacks, with the exception of special occasions such as weddings and festivals, the áo tứ thân first appeared as a necessity and has long been a dress of peasant women.

Its origins are uncertain but it is believed to be worn widely by women from as early as the 12th Century on to the early 20th century making it one of the most recognizably Vietnamese items and the oldest enduring Vietnamese cultural relics. And what’s interesting is that this glorious traditional costume seems “obvious” to our land or people.

As its name might suggest, áo tứ thân is a special silk gown with four slits divided equally on its lower section. The older version of áo dài is a 4 part tunic-jacket which reaches almost to the floor. The outer garment has five flaps including two flaps split in the back, a long skirt worn under the tunic, Yem (Vietnamese brassiere or bodice) – an ancient bodice worn as an undergarment by women, and a silk sash left dangling or tied at the waist as a belt.

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Áo Tứ Thân in Lim Festival

Yem – an ancient diamond shaped undergarment is generally sewed from white silk or the natural color of silk fibers like black or bright pink, but it can also be dyed in brown tuber water to have crimson (dark red). The contrast in the hues – the light yellow of the second layer, the pink of the third layer, and the bright or dark red of the brassiere together with the variety of fabrics used to make the tunic, the bodice, and the skirt makes this costume attractive and sensual.

A truer representation of Kinh Vietnamese often dismissed as simply Northern commoner clothes is an excellent example of Vietnamese traditional costume among an extraordinary wealth of clothing traditions to discover on your Northern Vietnam cultural tour.

Áo Tứ Thân – the beauty of Vietnamese women

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Áo Tứ Thân – the beauty of Vietnamese women

Áo Tứ Thân is the traditional clothing playing an important part of a Vietnam’s history and identity, but nowadays, it is not regarded as an unofficial uniform and commonly used in the daily life of Vietnamese people. Our national dress has evolved and taken on a new more “fashionable” role, especially in religious rites. It is worn only on ceremonial occasions and an indispensable part of traditional festivals in Northern Vietnam such as annual Lim festival which takes place on around 12th – 13th day of the first lunar month to celebrate the famous Bac Ninh Quan Ho folk songs, instead.

In Northern Vietnam, people today are wearing one of the brightest, most outrageous clothing man has ever seen, which has gone into poetry and become a beautiful symbol of Vietnamese women in the past. Want to know more about the traditional costume in Northern Vietnam? This article will tell you about the general characteristics of áo tứ thân – the traditional attire in Northern Vietnam.

Tet atmosphere of Mong people in Northwest of Vietnam

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Lunar New Year is the biggest traditional festival in Vietnam. With 54 ethnic groups living together, each has the custom to welcome New Year and that has contributed to the diverse cultural identity of the Vietnamese people. Today Vietnam culture tours will introduce you to how H’Mong celebrate Tet.

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Mong people

H’Mong people are considered an important member of the ethnic minority community in Vietnam. They mainly live in mountainous areas of some provinces in the North such as Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang, Nghe An.

Mong has their own calendar and Tet is usually held in late November, early December (lunar calendar). However, these days, most of them have celebrated Lunar New Year – one of the most important Vietnam holidays as Kinh people, except for a small part, such as H’Mong people in Moc Chau still retaining Tet festival based on their own calendar.

As usual, H’Mong people start to prepare for Tet on the 25th – 26th of December. They will seal all the production tools, such as the blast furnace, the corn grinder, and a paper sheet. They also make “Banh Chung” but it is not necessary for their Tet. To them, meat, wine, and corn tortillas must be 3 indispensable items.

H’Mong people do not welcome New Year’s Eve, instead, they will wait for the first crow in the early morning of the 1st lunar day. They worship their ancestors with a live pig and a live rooster. And then they kill these animals, have meals together and wait for the crow. There are many interesting activities held during Tet. However, one cannot fail to be mentioned is throwing “pao”.

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Throwing pao

Visitors who want to take Vietnam culture tour to know more about the culture of the S-shaped country should take part in Gau Tao festival, traditionally held by three families having the relationship by blood. This festival is held in the spring for 3 consecutive years – each family will take turn to plant New Year tree. The homeowners will see the tree and the objects hang from that tree to get the good fortune for the new coming year.

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Gau Tao – the traditional ceremony of Mong in Tet holiday

Gau Tao ceremony is taken place on the hill called by the name Hau Tao (Hoi Hill). It is a low hill surrounded by higher hills with a hollow space. Hau Tao hill must turn to the east so that the New Year tree will catch the sunshine.

To H’Mong conception, Gau Tao hill represents the destiny of the landlord. The frontal hollow space stands for the fault, unluck and the higher hills represent the prosperity: children are better than parents with more fortunes.

Gau Tao Festival – the largest festival of Tet holiday in Vietnam of the Hmong in the early days of the year usually lasts for 3 days but the local must prepare particularly from the end of December in the lunar calendar. It clearly demonstrates the cultural characteristics of the Mong on Tet.

Like Kinh people have some taboos that should not do in Tet holiday, and H’mong people also do. To their perception, during the 3 first days of the New Year, H’Mong will avoid eating rice with soup since they believe that the fields will be flooded affecting the harvest. In addition, to the H’Mong, “banh day” – Vietnamese traditional cake is the symbol of the moon, the sun so they will not eat that fried cake on Tet. It is said that people who eat that cake have to face much bad luck, or even worst died of fire.

Apart from the taboos, the H’Mong also have good fortune. For example, during those 3 days, if the homeowner sells something, they will prosper.

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Colorful dresses of Mong in Tet

H’Mong people in Moc Chau also organizes many traditional games. From the 4th day, they begin to hang out for Tet. The most beautiful dresses will be showing up on this occasion. Thus, prominent in the colors apricot blossom, plum blossom and pink of peach blossom flowers is the brilliant color of the dress. The sound of silver flower coins of young girls also makes them happier.

Hope that you will have successful Vietnam culture tours and learn a lot of new things.

Get lost in rhododendron flowers season with North Vietnam group tours

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Today, North Vietnam group tours will introduce you a special kind of flower in the north of Vietnam which you cannot miss when traveling there. In recent years, in the North of our country, many people come here to explore its wild and tranquil beauty. If you are wondering where to go in Vietnam, this place will be the best suggestion.

Travel to North Vietnam which has many beautiful views and nice people is so great. Especially the rhododendron forest will surely fascinate you at the first sight.

The rhododendron flowers are quite diverse in color and size. Its size usually ranges from 2 to 15 cm with 5 main colors: yellow, white, pink, red, and purple. The most distinctive is that there are 6 species of white flowers, 7 species of white flowers, 5 species of white flowers, 4 species of flowers pink-red, 6 species of flowers yellow and 2 species of flowers purple.

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Mountains in Northern Vietnam

The best blooming seasonal flower in Vietnam of the year is around February. On the way to “conquer” Fansipan Mount where the color is brilliant, adorned mountainous forest, you will be satisfied with the high score of 2.200 – 3.200m

Cable car travel

Many people are very excited to take the cable car to the top of Fansipan. Sitting in the cable car, you can enjoy the cloud river wrapped in the high mountains of the North West or Muong Hoa valley and Hoang Lien jungle from hundreds of meters high and so on.

The nature of this place always gives you strange emotions at different times of the year. Coming to Fansipan Legend at the end of spring and early summer, you can admire the sunshine through the transparent glass wall of the cable car and see the white clouds bending around the mountainside, the bottom is Muong Hoa valley full of green color.

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Cable car system

The “United Kingdom of Rhododendron”

Dubbed the “United kingdom of Rhododendron”, the Hoang Lien forest is the land of the most diverse Rhododendron species in Vietnam. With nearly different 40 species of flowers with many different colors: red, white, pink, yellow … Rhododendron blooms almost year round, but the end of spring is the most brilliant time.

When it comes to summer that is also the time when the Rhododendron blossom. When the sun is sharper, each yellow rhododendron flowers bloom, white rhododendron flowers also bloom in all the forest.

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Girls and flowers

Fansipan – The roof of Indochina

You should not miss a moment to sip a cup of hot honey tea with aromatic ginger to familiarize with atmospheric pressure at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters above sea level.

Then you can climb over 600 stone steps to the roof of Indochina. The fragile yellow and red rhododendron petal will accompany you during the journey to the summit.

The Rhododendron forest is well-known through a festival held in Lao Cai for the first time in 2017. Festival of Rhododendron opens on the 31st of March to the 9th of April at Fansipan Legend.

The rhododendron flowers

The cable car experience will open up a breathtaking natural view for you. You will be overwhelmed with many of colorful rhododendrons. This kind of flora is planted at the largest scale in Lao Cai.

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Red rhododendron flowers

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Purple rhododendron flowers

In addition, many cultural, artistic activities and interesting traditional games of Highlanders are waiting for you to join.

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Rhododendrons flower festival

The rhododendron flowers festival is a unique cultural event. Followed by a series of jubilant and interesting festivals will take place in the Fansipan Legend throughout of year. It is a special tourist activity that attracting tourists to SaPa, Lao Cai in early summer tourist season.

Hoang Lien National Park (Sa Pa) has been recognized as the Vietnam Association for Nature and Environment as a wildflower plantation at the altitude of 2,200 meters at the age of 300 years. These days, many scientific documentaries on rhododendron flowers have been made in Sapa Natural Forest and this species is also supposed to be recognized as the Vietnamese Heritage Trees.

Coming here, you guys will have the chance to enjoy the unique tourism with an indigenous cultural experience. And we hope you will have an unforgettable trip with our North Vietnam group tour to SaPa, the most attractive destination in the North.

Vietnam culinary tours: herbs and vegetables

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Vietnam is known for not only its eccentric beauty but also excellent cuisine. Why some may disagree, but its cuisine is listed among the healthiest for its balance use ingredients.

Have you ever noticed that mini basket of greens on almost every table, even in street vendors?

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A mini basket of greens

While some may only feel familiar with salad as the only green dish in a full course meal, the Vietnamese enjoy their fresh vegetables with almost every single dish. Whether you are in a fancy restaurant or a shabby street vendor, you will quickly notice that almost everything is accompanied by some fresh leafy greens. Locals usually just pick them up with their chopsticks, some even use their bare hands, dip in some kind of sauce and enjoy them fresh like that.

Vietnamese food earns its reputation from this generous use of fresh herbs and vegetables, which set the cuisine apart from others.

Here we will give you some basic information about them: what they are, why they are included and how they are prepared.

What are those?

While they appear in almost every meal, tourists know little about them.

The Vietnamese use the term “rau sống” when mentioning these green ingredients.

They make up the most common side dish in Vietnam.

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Vietnamese’s most common side dish

They can be fresh herbs, but usually green leaves. There are many types used, but the most common ones are: lettuce – iceberg and butterhead lettuce (xà lách Mỹ và xà lách mỡ), watercress (cải xoong), ung choi or water spinach/morning glory (rau muống), mustard green (cải bẹ xanh), Chinese parsley (rau mùi), lemon mint(kinh giới), centella (rau má), beansprout (giá đỗ), basil (húng quế) and perilla (tía tô).

Why are they included?

The reason varies for people. Ask your tour guide and you might receive a different answer. But here are the most popular explanations:

  • The Vietnamese consider them a staple – something that has always been on the dining table. Some do not give particular reasons and just accept them as a necessary part. But part of it stems from the history of poverty. For many years, undergoing many political conflicts and wars, they were what readily available. The meat was quite luxurious. When they did not have much around, the Vietnamese had to utilize what they had. Vietnam is also a tropical country with fresh herbs and vegetables available year round.
  • These edible bits contain nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, dietary fiber, carotenoids, folate, and manganese. They are also low in calories and fat, making them healthy snacks for many people.
  • It is also about the contrast and balance. The Vietnamese cuisine especially highlights the Yin and Yang elements in their dish.

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A full Vietnamese meal

Their freshness is used in contrast with cooked meat. They also provide a different texture to the dish, balancing the ingredients. And their flavor is also taken into consideration to harmonize and even enhance the taste of the whole dish. Not to mention the green does add an eye-catching color. And with them, after enjoying the healthy and delicious Vietnamese combination, people often feel surprisingly refreshed.

  • It might be that the Vietnamese just love fresh food, to be honest.

How are they prepared?

If something that worries visitors the most when sampling the Vietnamese cuisine, it is possibly the questionable hygiene standards.

But overall, be assured that they are usually not the main cause of any digestive concerns.

They can all be eaten raw and if you are still in doubt then a few dunks in boiling water is enough.

They are usually rinsed a few times before consumed. Some places soak them in salt water to make sure that they are thoroughly clean of dirt and harmful pesticides. They are also let dry before eaten.

All in all, fresh veggies are of importance to the Vietnamese. They are an essential part of the cuisine. They add a delicate touch to your dish – the flavors, the textures and the colors seem a bit off without them, so top your food up with some greens.

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The refreshing green color

And, while you are in Vietnam, you can always have some fun with them – they are aromatic and colorful, and with each combination, you get to experience something new and amazing. The possibilities are endless.

Lowering Dong Van Karst Plateau’s curtain of secrets (Part 2)

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For once in a while, probably the most frequently provoked questions is: “Why do you travel?” In all those answers such as “because I love traveling”, “because I want to explore all the new lands”, or “because I want to conquer as many places as possible”, the probable core reason for all those sayings can be pressed down into only one single word: Curiosity. We all perceive well ourselves that human being’s curiosity is infinitive and compared as if it is a deep well without the bottom. And for that reason, it is somehow regarded as a reason, a cause, or even a kind of inspirational source triggers, for example, the “wanderlust” that has been talked-about by people here and there. And of course, curiosity is only provoked when it is surrounded by what we usually call “the unknowns” or you know, “secrets”. Therefore, this time’s journey will be full of the unexpected and secrets only! If you have been curious enough, follow us to travel to Northern Vietnam to lower down the curtain of secrets of one of the top must-go destinations here in Northern VietnamĐồng Văn Karst Plateau.

5. Must-visit destinations in Dong Van

One of the best parts is finally here. Guess what you will find at Đồng Văn Karst Plateau? Of course the best of the best adventurous and dangerous destinations for backpackers in the North! Beforehand, there are a few things that you should really know about Đồng Văn. First of all, Đồng Văn is the first, also the only destination in Vietnam recognized by the UNESCO in 2010 as Global Geopark. This is truly a prestigious title since it is the only in Vietnam and the second one in the whole of Southeast Asia. Hence, if you love geographic, Đồng Văn will be a super great place for you to explore with 80% of the topography covered in limestone and many other secrets, which will be revealed in the next part.

Vuong’s Palace

The first destination on our list is Vương’s Palace. This is actually the old residence of a great Mèo King built around early 20th century. Specially structured in Geomancy architecture, the place is filled with the breath of original Asian style state-of-art. Therefore, it was once honored as one of the most spectacular constructions of Vietnam. The legend surrounding this building was actually mentioned in the previous post about Northern Vietnam. If you cannot recall, we can go through that again.

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The palace from above

About 100 years ago, there was this person called Vương Đức Chính, which was an “entrepreneur” who made trades with the Chinese, for specific, trading poppy as the youngsters nowadays usually call “drugs” or the ingredient of drugs. And by successfully trade with the Chinese, our so-called “neighbor”, he got very rich and people throned him to be their King. After his enthronement, he came to find an architect in our neighbor’s land, who was an authority on Geomancy architecture kind to be his counselor in building his future house that we still see these days. Generally speaking, the house gives the first impression of a turtle’s back with layers of grey roofings. The full house includes a total of two floors and more than 60 compartments or rooms, 64 to be exact with the outside main path covered the lush greenery of cunninghamia just because the King loved this kind of tree. And of course, such a huge house would cost dozens of coins, total 150.000 silver coins were on their way to the builders’ pockets so you can imagine the luxury of living in such house!

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A small corner of the palace

Of course, these are what we heard from the locals, the truth may be it or may not but the story of Đức Chính King is more historical related so you can count on what has just been told. Actually, now you can still find many pictures of Đức Chính King and his family inside the house. They say that the King had three wives but in most pictures, you will find that there are only the King and his two wives – the First and the Third Lady. The Second Lady rarely or never appeared in the family group photos because they say that she could not bear a son for the family and for that reason, she was taken for granted and regarded as an “Outlander”.

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The main entrance of the palace

Dong Van Old Street

The second destination in the journey is Đồng Văn Old Street. The nearly one-kilometer street was formed about a century back in the past with the significance and domination of Northern tribal architecture exposed through the stone floor, or yin-yang roofing and walls. The street until now remains about more than 40 old houses with the age ranges from 100 to over 300, in which the house of Lương is claimed to be the most ancient. In fact, the place is somehow slightly affected by French architecture of 1920. The street is especially gorgeous on festivals such as Midfall when it is vividly lit with hundreds of floating red lanterns for sale and for decoration, and the food is also served alongside with beautiful dances, laughter, and music. Such a feast of vision!

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Whole view of the market

One feature that pre-eminence in Đồng Văn Old Street is Đồng Văn Market, which we have suggested in our previous post. This is a very special market that is only gathered once a week. As the beginning of this post has mentioned, the special market gathers every Sunday and so does Đồng Văn Market. If there is any word to use, we would not choose “market” to describe Đồng Văn because it is more like a complex, or intersection of culture where you can encounter all kinds of people and all kinds of tribes from Tày, Nùng to Dao, Hmong, etc. Because vehicles are very limited in the mountainous areas such as Đồng Văn and many people also cannot afford one so there are people who travel at 3:00 am from their house just to get to the market in time. Therefore, if you ever drop by the market, please buy them something as a support for their consistent spirit!

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Beauty created by the stone walls

Tham Ma Slope

The next destination will surely blow your mind! Actually, it has also mentioned in the all-inclusive pack about Hà Giang. The destination mentioned is the renowned Thẩm Mã Slope or Thẩm Mã Mountain Pass. Since Hà Giang is contiguous with China, these destinations, more or less, are affected mostly by Chinese culture, even in the languages. According to Chinese transcription, “Mã” means horse, so the name “Thẩm Mã” has much to deal with legend about horses.

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The legendary Tham Ma Slope

In the past, the locals used to have their horses carry the goods from the bottom of the slope to the top. After making through all the way, if the horses are still strong and healthy, the locals would keep raising them to carry the goods for them, and of course, the rest, which could not make it through would be left behind. Not only relating to the legendary midst of the horses, Thẩm Mã is also wholeheartedly praised by most tourists as a smooth and elegance silk embracing the rough and crocked silhouette of the mountains. In your journey to conquer the mighty Đồng Văn, Thẩm Mã Slope is regarded as the first important entrance to the location. After crossing the slope, you will be welcomed by the beautiful land Phố Cáo.

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The beauty of Tham Ma at night

Lung Cu Flag Tower

If you have come to Vietnam, you must know the famous Lũng Cú Flag Tower – one of the most significant starting point of the country, stating our territory. Most people until now still bear the conception that Lũng Cú Flag Tower is a point marking the Northern end of Vietnam. As we explained in the previous post, the actual Northern end of our country lies about 300 kilometers away to the North of Lũng Cú Flag Tower, near the middle of the beautiful Nho Quế River.

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Lung Cu Flag Tower

There is also a little reminder if you tend you get to the flag tower. In case you do not want to waste your time by climbing up all the road to get to the top of the tower, which can be time-consuming, it is advisory that you drive your motorbike straight to the point where you must take the stairs as the last resort. Since motorbike is allowed here, this can also save you some energy.

Sung La Commune

One of the intriguing places we would like to take you to is Sủng Là Commune, a gorgeous land lying in a small corner of Đồng Văn. On the way from Yên Minh to Đồng Văn, Sủng Là will reveal itself before your eyes and takes all your attention. The place is probably regarded as the most beautiful commune in the whole Đồng Văn Karst Plateau. Despite being hidden among the crooked lines of mountains and slopes, Sủng Là still exposes its brilliant beauty as a tremendous place of the lush of greenery and the rarely found tranquility.

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Sung La valley in the everlasting green

Sủng Là Commune is just a small part of the great valley of Sủng Là. Sủng Là Valley is indeed something that easily draws the attention of all tourists at the first sight. From April to October, the valley seems to be covered in the evergreen color of trees and forests. This everlasting scene just ends until November comes and the triangle flower queen spreads its dress of gorgeous pink and white covering on the whole existence of Sủng Là Valley. Catching this sight will absolutely be a chance of a lifetime.

6. Fund Facts and Mysteries about Dong Van

Well, finally the main part of the whole post. This is just the most special one to read and explore. As we have mentioned above, Đồng Văn is truly the place of dozens of secrets and crazy stuff going around from the ice age till this very moment! If you are obsessed with strange things such as Aliens, the mysterious circles on the meadows or cool culture facts, this is definitely something you must read!

Ta Leo

The first thing we are gonna tell you about is Tà Lèo. If you guys have been to Japan or heard on the Internet or television, you will see there are a few stores on the street sides without the seller and you can freely take anything that you want, even the whole store! Of course, with one condition, you have got to pay for it. Well, maybe you will not but we are sure that you do not want to live in guilty! So back to the main point, there is also something similar in Đồng Văn that they call “Tà Lèo Culture”. This Tà Lèo is actually just a flat and round thingy made of vines or bamboo strings. When you come to Đồng Văn, sometimes you will see a motorbike without its owner on the street side but no one even cares to steal it! This is just insanely strange!

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Interesting life in Dong Van

Actually, this is just Tà Lèo Culture that we have just said. Meanwhile, the owner can be wandering somewhere, having some fun and flying high somewhere, no one would even care about his motorbike, which is standing lonely on the street side. Well, everything can be solved with just one Tà Lèo. Tà Lèo is used as a mark for your own “territory”. This comparison may be slightly hilarious but it is just like when animals leave a mark on their thing to claim to others that “this is my stuff so don’t you dare touch it!”, or the fact that some girls or some guys mark on their lovers by “hicky”. Once a person sees the Tà Lèo, they will know that this is owned by someone else and they will not take it!

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Lining up to buy groceries in the past

Actually, this is quite similar to Vietnam’s culture in the war or post-war. During the invasion of the colonists and at the early stage of the country’s reconstruction after the war, people had to use a thing called “tem phiếu” (stamp) to buy things. And sometimes it took them the whole day just to buy some meat because the line was too long. However, they did not want to waste their time because they also had to do other things, so they put a brick at where they used to stand to claim: “This is my spot”. Until now, there is still a joke among Vietnamese about it called “đặt gạch” (putting the brick) when they want to claim the spot or they will simply leave a “dot” at the comment of a post they want to read but do not have time to so they can be notified about it later.

Odd numbers are lucky

Well, this is actually a very cool thing. Do you remember when you were young, kids used to ask one another question like “what is your lucky number”? Usually, you will have the tendency to choose the number that you like or has some relevance to your birthday or special events of your life. In Vietnam, there are also some myths about “the lucky 7” or “the lucky 9” or 6 and 8 are good. Mostly because Vietnam is affected by China. More or less, we had been dominated for more than 1000 years by China so this is quite normal actually. Back to the track, if many people regard odd numbers are unlucky then they will have to think again when coming to Hà Giang because Hà Giang people just simply love the numbers! As a result, you will see people here build their houses with 3 to 5 floors or odd-numbered compartments. Even relating to the Tà Lèo above, when Đồng Văn people go out for a hunt, they will usually bring odd-numbered Tà Lèo with them for luck. We do not know why odd numbers are so important to them because it is a long time culture. So if you have a crush on a girl in Đồng Văn for example, remember to avoid giving her something with even numbers!

Stone fence

There is something very interesting if you come to Hà Giang, specifically Hmong Village, you will see many houses with a huge stone fence surrounding them. At first sight, it looks quite like some old Korean houses, right? Just do not mix up that they do not have bricks to build a wall. You must know that to build this fence, Hmong people have to use their bare hands, put the bricks one by one on one another in order for them not to fall down without using any cement! Oh, it is no different from building the ancient Egypt Pyramid! And these walls are built by the man in the family, which means the husband. These stone walls are regarded as the eternal evidence of love and carrying of a man for his family.

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A stone wall is being built

Reading to this part, many people will have a question like “how can you compare a stone wall to a man’s affection?” Well, actually, we can! First of all, the wall is built with bare hands with cement, just rocks and stones solely. Moreover, the man must go to the mountain, pick the stones himself, brings them to the house, fixing their shapes and put them together. The whole work takes months, even years to complete so he must be very patient. The more beautiful the wall is, the bigger the love! From the picture, you can see that the wall looks like a force field protecting the house. In another way of understanding, it can be referred to as the big arms of the man holding and protecting his family. Very meaningful, isn’t it?

Mysterious circles on the stones

This last one is actually what give us all the goosebumps! There have got to be something weird going around this place. It is rumored, not rumored but now if you go to Đồng Văn Karst Plateau, you will see the truth right before your eyes! So basically, there are many stones with super creepy and mysterious circles on them. This reminds of the mysterious circles on the meadows of England discovered back in the past.

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The spectacular topography of Dong Van

People say that on a snowy day in 2013, at a vonfram mount, the first stone with the weird sign was discovered in Hố Quán Phìn Commune, just 10 kilometers away to the South of Vietnam-China border. Right here near the top of the mount, they discovered the five stones with these weird signs lying among other big stones emerging on the ground surface. However, the distance between every two stones is not equal, ranging from 5 – 15 meters and they all have different shapes and sizes. There were a total of more than 100 different signs and drawings on the stone surface, each has its own significance. These drawings were created by using metal objects or tools to carve on the stones. Probably because the tools were plain with no modern technique, these were all created by hands and therefore, the shapes are also not equal or 100% alike. Most of the signs have a very high symbolic meaning that has yet to be discovered or is understudied by the most professional geologists and archaeologists. Those drawings can be circles, spirals, sin-types, rectangles, and triangles with parallel stripes. The rest is unidentified shapes.

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Mysterious drawings on Dong Van’s stone

The question raised is if there any mystery around these things. To reveal the truth, many people have directly go to Đồng Văn to interview the locals about this but there is still no clue. Most locals believe these drawing are created by the human from the sky who notify about their existence on Earth by marking on the stones. Well, that can be one way of thinking! The journey to Đồng Văn may end here but it leaves so many questions and who knows, maybe you will be the one who writes the next chapter of the story!

Lowering Dong Van Karst Plateau’s curtain of secrets (Part 1)

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For once in a while, probably the most frequently provoked questions is: “Why do you travel?” In all those answers such as “because I love traveling”, “because I want to explore all the new lands”, or “because I want to conquer as many places as possible”, the probable core reason for all those sayings can be pressed down into only one single word: Curiosity. We all perceive well ourselves that human being’s curiosity is infinitive and compared as if it is a deep well without the bottom. And for that reason, it is somehow regarded as a reason, a cause, or even a kind of inspirational source triggers, for example, the “wanderlust” that has been talked-about by people here and there. And of course, curiosity is only provoked when it is surrounded by what we usually call “the unknowns” or you know, “secrets”. Therefore, this time’s journey will be full of the unexpected and secrets only! If you have been curious enough, follow us to travel to Northern Vietnam to lower down the curtain of secrets of one of the top must-go destinations here in Northern Vietnam Đồng Văn Karst Plateau.

1. Where is Dong Van Karst Plateau?

If you are a travelholic and especially love wandering here and there to the faraway mountainous areas in the North, you will instantly recognize Đồng Văn Karst Plateau – one of the most famous and worth-visiting destinations of Hà Giang Province, which is also known as the starting point of the country. Hà Giang might not be an unfamiliar place to travel lovers, especially most backpackers.

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The breathtaking Road of Happiness

To start with, this place is truly one of the most, to be said, attractive and thrilling journey you can ever have if you love the feeling of hanging over those narrow and crooked mounts of rocks, or driving around all the most breathtaking mountain ranges because Hà Giang owns many of the Northern famous destinations such as the Road of Happiness. If people have sometimes regarded “happiness” as “the little things” that you can easily and surprisingly find in your life, this Road of Happiness will lead you to happiness in a weird, and hard, and the crooked way that you have never thought you would ever go through in your life. In addition, Hà Giang also owns one of the Four Great Mountain Passes of the North – Mã Pí Lèng, which is one of many amazing check-in spots on the bucket list of many travelers and also a very famous place for whoever loves a little bit of adventure while uploading their selfies on Facebook to add to their collection of “virtual life”. And there are also many other spectacular wonders that you will love to see such as Quản Bạ or Vương King’s Palace, etc. So, isn’t it great if you can be a part of a private tour in Ha Giang Vietnam?

2. How to get there?

It is not hard to travel to Hà Giang. Normally, a usual trip, if departing from Northern provinces or cities such as Hà Nội, takes nearly 7 hours by cars for a normal route of more than 300 kilometers. If departing from the South then obviously you will have to fly to the North because there is no airport in Hà Giang. Usually, when traveling to Northern mountainous sites, people would prefer traveling by coach, train to self-drive, or a motorcycle trip because the journey is quite long and therefore, you will have to drop by many stops before continuing on your trip. For the minor group including self-drive lovers would enjoy traveling their journey by motorbike because it is way cooler and doubles the fun.

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Enjoying the thrill at Ha Giang

In order to get to Hà Giang, you can choose from a few suggestions as Nước Ngầm Station, Giáp Bát or Mỹ Đình Station. There will be lots of coach operators there, and lots of drivers will come to ask you where you want to go. If you feel that you can trust them, accept the invitation to their coach. In fact, they are not bad or something so do not worry too much. They will guide you to the ticket counter where you can buy the tickets to Hà Giang. If you cannot rely on them, do not hesitate to reject the offer and go to buy the tickets yourself. Normally, a one-way ticket from Hà Nội to Hà Giang costs about 200.000vnd per coach with beddings, wifi and is quite convenient so we presume it is a suitable price for a 7-hour trip.

If you really really want to travel by train straight from Hà Nội to Hà Giang, you will be regretful to tell you that until this moment, there is no such trip. This means, if you are still dying to travel by train, you will have to catch the trip from Hà Nội to Lào Cai then take a coach from Lào Cai to Hà Giang. The traveling time for a normal train from Hà Nội to Lào Cai takes about 3-4 hours and from Lào Cai to Hà Giang by coach is also at the equal amount of time so the total traveling time for the whole trip is 7-8 hours. Therefore, we strongly advise that you should not choose this way because you will have to pass through lots of stops and change to different vehicles so it is really time-consuming and troublesome.

The last way is to travel by motorbike. When traveling by motorbike from Hanoi, you should remember to avoid some highways, especially Thăng Long because a few recent years, motorbikes are not allowed there and therefore, some police officers will knock on your doors if you travel this way. In addition, remember to bring your international driving license before jumping on the motorbike. Before starting the trip, you should also check from top to toe your motorbike and do not forget to bring from one to two spare cans of fuel because the trip is quite long and there can be no gas station for you to refuel. The most picked route by the most professional backpackers is Hà Nội – Việt Trì – Đoan Hùng – Phú Thọ – Tuyên Quang – Hà Giang.

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The wilderness of Dong Van

About Đồng Văn Karst Plateau, well, it is tremendously huge spreading through four suburban districts Quản Bạ, Yên Minh, Đồng Văn, and Mèo Vạc of Hà Giang Province. In general, it is more like a stone complex and for that reason, includes a diverse of mini-spots to explore rather than just a single destination. Therefore, exploring Hà Giang will take a bit of time.

Going to Hà Giang, the only vehicle you will need to use is motorbike because it is the most convenient and suitable for the mountainous topography here. If you have your own vehicle, you can easily travel without worrying about renting one. However, if you travel by coach or bus to Hà Giang, you will need rent a motorbike in order to travel. There are many renting spots with a very affordable price that you can make a reference here but keep in mind that they are all in Hà Giang City. The reason for this is that your coach or bus will be likely to drop in at Hà Giang City Bus Station so when you travel to Đồng Văn, you travel from Hà Giang City.

Phượt Motorbikes and Tour

  • Address: 1 Nguyen Trai Street, Ha Giang City (30m from Ha Giang City’s Bus Station)
  • Price: From 150.000vnd/day/motorbike with helmet, map, and protection equipment
  • Tel: 0944 686 366 –02196 50 3333

HaGiangHostel and Motorbike

  • Address: 54A Tran Phu Street, Ha Giang City
  • Price: From 130.000vnd/day/motorbike with helmet, map, and protection equipment
  • Tel:01666166968 – 0986846110 (Mr. Tac)

After successfully renting a bike, you will have to travel 43 kilometers more following the route 4C to Quản Bạ Suburban District, then to Cán Tỷ Mountain Pass, the infinitive pine forests to Yên Minh and Mèo Vạc Suburban District to start the journey discovering Đồng Văn Karst Plateau. The total distance from Hà Giang City to Đồng Văn is more than 100 kilometers so it will take some time and you will have to find a stop on the middle of the road to take a rét. Apart from the motorbike, you can also travel by coach to Đồng Văn with a very cheap price of 60.000 – 70.000vnd at Hà Giang City Bus Station.

Hà Giang City Bus Station

  • Address: Road 19/5, Nguyen Trai Ward, Ha Giang City

3. What is the suitable time to visit?

We do not dare affirm that Đồng Văn Karst Plateau is the most beautiful in which season because each person will have his or her own feeling about it. However, the most suitable season, we assume, to travel Đồng Văn is still “the season of Hà Giang”, which means November and December because it is the season of triangle flowers – the unique one-of-a-kind beauty of the land. In this season, Đồng Văn also owns its very own wild original beauty of the karst and dunes. In addition, the weather also stands to the side of travelers because it is the end of Fall so there is slight rain and the road is not so slippery; and it is not Winter yet so the weather is not so cold because Northern Winter usually comes late about January to February.

A proper journey to discover every corner of Đồng Văn usually takes about two days to nearly three days. One special thing that you should pay close attention to is the weekend market gathering on every Sunday, which is a great place to buy something from the Northern mountainous areas like Hà Giang. We must say that this is a very special and unique market gathering of Đồng Văn in which you can find most of anything that you want from Northern-pattern brocades, broidery, accessories to Hà Giang’s specialties such as alcohol. The detail of the market will be carefully reviewed in one of the following parts.

4. Tips for booking in Ha Giang

Probably what contributes to an amazing race is not solely the destinations but also the experience or the accommodation that you decide to stay during your trip. Coming to Hà Giang, you will have a handful of choice because as you know, Hà Giang is originally one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. However, everything is like two sides of a coin and sometimes you will find yourself sitting on the fence about whether to choose this or that because there are so many options and you do not even know what is the most suitable for you since you have never been here. To double the problem, it is even harder to find a good and cheap accommodation during traveling season like this.

Therefore, the first advice that we give you if you want a smooth and care-free trip to Đồng Văn is booking your room half to one month in advance to avoid out of the room and freely choose from suitable suits.

Most people when traveling to mountainous destinations will prefer staying in a homestay to the hotel because it is such an amazing experience of the local life while hotel can be found almost anywhere. Normally, cheap homestay in Đồng Văn only ranges from 150.000vnd – 300.000vnd per night so the total expense for staying more than two days here is only about 700.000vnd. That is super duper cheap!

On our website, you can find many suggestions of places to stay in Hà Giang so you can check it out. In this article, we only recommend some cheap and cool homestay for you to choose from.

Family Homestay Dong Van

The first homestay in the list is Family Homestay Đồng Văn. This is truly a great and friendly place to stay, and quite clean also. In general, it bears more resemblance to a mini dormitory with the main hall on the second floor and two lines of rooms on the two sides. About the rooms, Family Homestay offers fully room kinds from single to a “lone ranger”, double for sweet couples to dorm room if you go in the group from 5 to 10 people. The atmosphere is also very warm and welcoming. Another interesting feature of Family is that if you have been familiar with sleeping on the bed then you should forget that idea immediately when coming here because there will be no bed available for you! Well, it is not exactly what you will sleep directly on the ground but there will be a bedding for you to use. Most homestays in the mountain have this kind of arrangement so you should not worry about it. Actually, it is very comfortable, convenient and cheap. That is just what we call the mountain style!

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Family Homestay Dong Van

  • Address: Đồng Văn Town, Đồng Văn Suburban District, Ha Giang City
  • Tel: 01629 110 567

Jungleman Homestay

The second homestay in this list will be a very interesting one with a super cool name also – Jungleman Homestay. People always have a joke that if you come here, you will turn into a genuine jungle man! It is not that they will make you live on the tree and hang like monkeys but you will learn dozens of cool stuff here through enchanting stories of the house owner about the history of Hà Giang from the ice age, along with packs of mysterious secrets about the land. You will surely adore Jungleman!

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Early morning at Jungleman

  • Address: Phuong Thien Ward, Ha Giang City
  • Tel: 0167 679 6999
  • Website:https://junglemanhagiang.com/

Tay Homestay

The third one is Tay Homestay. If you have not known anything about Tày Tribe, this will be just the place for you to explore a little corner of Northern Vietnam’s tribe culture. From the plain and simple architect to the services are filled with Tày’s characteristic. Especially in every evening, you can have the chance to fill up your stomach with good foods and your soul with good music through the social event of Tày Tribe so it is gonna be thrilling!

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A small corner of Tay Homestay

Address: Group 2, Tien Thang Village, Phuong Thien Ward, Ha Giang City
Tel: 0948 301 972

Son Thuy Homestay

The last homestay in our list is Son Thuy Homestay. No offense but this is actually a very cool place for foreign visitors because most people say it makes them feel at home with the very “Western-like” architecture. Here they also speak English as well as other languages so it will be easier for you to communicate. Besides, you will absolutely fall in love with the dishes here. Not exaggerating but it feels like a 5-star mountainous restaurant!

Every homestay suggested here owns its unique feature that you will love to explore and to choose from. Despite you can choose other accommodations that fit you better, remember the tips that we provide at the beginning of this part to avoid the tendency of sleeping on the street when arriving at Đồng Văn!

>>> To be continued

Top northern destinations for Vietnam cycling tours

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Cycling is a favorable way of traveling of many people, who loves to enjoy the beautiful landscapes while practicing to be physically fit. Thanks to the spectacular landscapes as well as the wonderful mountain roads and passes, the North of Vietnam is exceptionally suitable for cycling tours. Followings are some recommended destinations with long and winding roads that bikers should challenge when biking North Vietnam.

Tam Dao

Located just about 80 km from Hanoi city center, Tam Dao is perhaps the most favorable place for bikers to conquer. Especially, it welcomes large flocks of both local and foreign travelers coming here for weekend break.

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Tam Dao from above

The way to Tam Dao is challenging even with professional cyclers. It is quite dangerous a road with many sharp bends and sheer slopes, yet the beauty of the surroundings is worth all your effort. Biking to Tam Dao may offer travelers exciting experience, but it would be extremely dangerous if you aren’t careful because there is usually a large volume of vehicles (bikes, motorbikes, and cars) coming up and down the hills.

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Way to Tam Dao

Tam Dao possesses ideal weather condition with the average temperature of around 18. It is also home to several attractive destinations such as the old Stone Cathedral, Silver Waterfall, Tam Dao National Park, Television Station Tower, Rung Rinh Peak, and Sky Gate. The tranquility and quietness in Tam Dao will help to release all the stress and fatigue of the daily city life.

Moc Chau

Around 180 km to the northwest of Hanoi locates Moc Chau Plateau – an irresistibly beautiful destination that any nature lovers, especially cycling enthusiasts should visit once.

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S-shaped road to Moc Chau

To reach Moc Chau, travelers will need to cross the Highway 6 – a national road that links Hanoi and other northwestern regions. Highway 6 includes many intrepid roads which are extraordinarily suitable for cycling. The sharp bends, steep hills, and narrow passes along the Highway are tough challenges for bikers to conquer. Of course, your effort will be repaid by the majestic scenery of northwestern mountain. Your jaw will drop when the soaring mountains appear in front your eyes.

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Moc Chau in spring

The way to Moc Chau also crosses several fascinating destinations, namely Thung Khe Pass, the S-shaped curved, the grassland, the pine hill, the flower garden, the tea plantations, and hamlets of ethnic people. With pleasant weather and appealing landscapes, Moc Chau has become a haunted destination for nature photography enthusiasts.

Ma Phuc Pass

Situated between Hoa An District and Tra Linh District of Cao Bang Province, Ma Phuc Pass is considered to be the most beautiful pass in Highway 3. It is one of the top roads for cycling in Vietnam.

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Ma Phuc Pass

The pass is named “Ma Phuc” (the lying horses) because the two sides of the Highway have two large blocks of limestone that look like two lying horses. With sharp and beautiful curves and bends, Ma Phuc Pass is a great place for biking tours. Especially, the scenery along the way is exceptionally exquisite with vast buckwheat flower fields in the spring and the green corn plantation in the summer. The poetic scenery of the pass really suits romantic couples and enthusiast photographers.

Khau Pha Pass

It would be a big regret to miss conquering Khau Pha Pass – one of the greatest pass in the North when taking northern Vietnam tours.

Khau Pha is the longest and the most dangerous pass on Highways 32. Nestled at an altitude of between 1,200 and 1,500 meters in the area between Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai Districts of Yen Bai Province, the Pass cross many famous attractions such as Mu Cang Chai, La Pan Tan, Tu Le, Nam, and Che Cu Nha. “Khau Pha” means the horns rising to the sky. The peaks of the mountains that the Pass cross often appear in the middle of the cloud ocean, which look like horns.

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Khau Pha Pass

Cycling to Khau Pha, you will be left in awe by the colorful terraced rice fields along the way. The rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai is regarded as one of the most wonderful destinations in Vietnam. The rice terraces and the cloud altogether create such a magnificent picture that would steal your hearts.

Northern mountainous regions are undoubtedly perfect destinations for cycling tours. Do not hesitate, get on your bike and conquer the beauty of the Northwest!

Overwhelmed North Vietnam group tours with butterflies in Cuc Phuong

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Extended in 3 provinces of the North: Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa, Cuc Phuong National Park is the first and largest national park in Vietnam, which is home to an exceptionally diverse bio-ecosystem. The spectacular natural settings have attracted thousands of visitors each year. And the abundance, beauty, and diversity of butterflies in the park are among the travelers’ most vivid memories of this National Park, making Cuc Phuong one of the top places to go in northern Vietnam.

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From April to May is the butterfly season in Cuc Phuong

The structure of Cuc Phuong National Park enables travelers to enjoy the comfortable driving through the jungle. The road curves along a valley, bordered on both sides by dense primary forests with a diverse system of plants and animals as well as a number of trails to accommodate hikers. The canopy of the forest shadows the road but there often exist large breaks that allow light to touch the road surface and the forest ground. Thanks to the full sunlight intensity, these clear areas offer the appropriate conditions for remarkable butterfly aggregations.

From late April to May, when the weather gets cooler after the spring rain, Cuc Phuong enters the butterfly season. The Park is full of different species of butterflies. It is estimated that the number of species of butterflies in this not-so-large park exceeds 500 species, which is said to be more than half of the whole butterfly fauna in North America (700) and more than the entire number of butterfly species in Europe and Australia (500). This is just incredible a figure! Cuc Phuong Park is hence a must-see destination when visitors travel to northern Vietnam in this period of time.

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Driving to watch butterflies

When passengers drive or hike across the roads or the mud glades, you will stand in awe when seeing the large groups of butterflies burst into a cloud of colors (white, orange, blue, green, and black, etc.). These clearings contain hundreds of butterflies busily milling about at mud glades or water-seepages, and ingesting salt, minerals, and water. An assortment of butterflies ceaselessly patrolling the roads and chasing each other is such an amazing scene to watch.

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The road is full of butterflies

Butterflies are not something that sounds strange to us, but the interesting thing about butterflies in Cuc Phuong National Park that has captured visitors’ attention and makes them believe that they should visit this land at least once when taking North Vietnam group tours is that the butterflies love to cascade along the main roads through the Park! The dreamy and poetic scenery when driving along a road that is full of colorful butterflies is the vivid memory of every traveler visiting Cuc Phuong. The large aggregations of butterflies are believed to swarm along the roads not only to sip moisture and minerals but also to sex. Butterflies often aggregate in the clearings where the sunlight can meet the ground, believing it would offer bigger opportunities to meet suitable mates. And the road is the stimulus for this behavior. Both female and male butterflies patrol on the road, and any other crossing would join in and eventually form large assortments of butterflies.

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Fireflies in Cuc Phuong at night

Additional to the various species of butterflies that can be seen along the roads at daytime, the night on the Park also amazing to admire. The forest is enlightened with fireflies! The scene of millions of butterflies glittering under the moonlight in the jungle is just too awe-inspiring to dream.

The wonderful aggregations of butterflies that you see when driving into the park turn out to be more than just a pretty picture. They also represent the overall biodiversity of the tropical forest system that Cuc Phuong protects. Cuc Phuong is, of course, much more than butterflies. There are at least 119 mammals (27 endangered), more than 300 birds (5 species endangered), and 67 reptiles (2 endangered) that the Park provides habitat for.

The stunning swarms of butterflies in Cuc Phuong and the beauty of the Park itself have been an endless inspiration for nature lovers and photography enthusiast. Watching the butterflies in the National Park is absolutely a should-do activity that your group tour in Ninh Binh Vietnam should not miss.

Awe-inspiring destinations for northern Vietnam group tours

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Possessing marvelous natural settings and long-lasting culture, the North of Vietnam has long been a great destination for group tours. This land has everything that would satisfy travelers of different ages and interests. No matter whether you decide to create your customized tour and travel on yourself, or contact Vietnam local tour operators to have well-planned trips, there are must-stop destinations that it would be a big loss for your group tours in northern Vietnam to ignore.

Hanoi

The peaceful capital of Vietnam cannot be a better destination for Vietnam tours. The city has a long-lasting history and culture, a modern lifestyle, and a diverse cuisine.

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The peaceful city of Hanoi

Having undergone more than a thousand years of history, Hanoi has several valuable historical and cultural vestiges, which would be a big appeal to culture lovers. The Imperial Citadel, Ba Dinh Square, Temple of Literature, Sword Lake, and 36 streets of the Old Quarter would bring you back to Hanoi of hundreds of years ago to learn more about the history of the city in particular and Vietnam in general. Hanoi is also where travelers can sample the delicacies of different regions of Vietnam, the taste of which would definitely whet your appetite.

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Hanoi at twilight

Additional to the high-valued culture, Hanoi is also a large metropolitan with several high-rise buildings, shopping malls, and entertainment centers. Enjoying an exciting night in the city would be amazing, too.

Sapa

Sapa is one of the best destinations for group tours in Northern Vietnam. The irresistible beauty of this small town is a huge appeal to both domestic and international travelers.

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The town of Sapa under the cloud

The magnificent landscapes of soaring mountains, steep hills, colorful terraced rice fields, and dense forests in Sapa would steal travelers’ hearts at the very first look. Especially, from Fansipan Peak, which is regarded the Summit of Indochina, visitors can catch a broad view of the surrounded spectacular scenery. On cloudy days, you can even admire the Sea of Cloud here.

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Ethnic people and terraced fields in Sapa

Sapa is home to several ethnic groups, thus having distinctive cultural identities. A visit to Sapa would enable you to approach the life and customs of the tribal people. You can live in their traditional stilt houses, try on their colorful traditional costumes, and enjoy the special dishes.

Interestingly, travelers can feel the western vibe in a mountainous eastern area like Sapa. In the town of Sapa, there are several ancient and new western-style architectural works, namely the ancient villas and the Old Cathedral.

Halong Bay

It would be a huge regret to miss seeing the wonderful creation of nature in Halong Bay. Voted as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Halong Bay is absolutely a must-see that any Vietnam local tour guides would include in their itineraries.

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Halong Bay from above

Halong Bay consists of more than 1,600 limestone islets on the transparent seawater of the Gulf of Tonkin. Remaining intact from human influences, the Bay well preserves the sheer beauty that would make travelers stand in awe. A Halong Bay tour would allow travelers to go aboard a cruise to glide along the turquoise sea water to visit the jaw-dropping karst caves with wonderful formations of varying poses. The cruise will also take you to the less-visited areas, the secluded beaches, and the floating fishing villages to get exposed to nature and local life.

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Night on the Bay

Watching the glorious sunset, having a BBQ party on a secluded beach, or enjoying the quiet night on the Bay are wonderful experiences to give a try.

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh Province is another ideal place for northern Vietnam trips.

Ninh Binh is home to several attractive natural beauty spots. Trang An and Tam Coc-Bich Dong are two wonderful karst landscapes in the mainland of Vietnam while the lush forests of Cuc Phuong National Park, Van Long Natural Reserve, and the Bird Valley provide natural habitats to many rare plants and animals. The exquisite natural settings of this land will totally leave you in awe.

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Way to Tam Coc – Bich Dong

Ninh BInh is also a great destination for culture tours. The province has many famous historical and cultural attractions, namely the Citadel of Hoa Lu, Bai Dinh Pagoda, and Phat Diem Stone Cathedral. Especially, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a big religious center that holds several national and international records.

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Buddhist festival at Bai Dinh Pagoda

A tour to Ninh Binh also enables you to get away from the bustling city. The tranquility of northern countryside with vast rice paddies will help to release all the stress and fatigue of city life.

The North is definitely a good option for Vietnam tours. The exceptional beauty of the famous northern tourist attractions will never let you down.