7 Must See floating markets in Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Let’s imagine that one early morning, you are surrounded by noise sounds, by lively colors, and you are sit on a boat flow along Mekong delta.. For travelers from afar, visiting a floating market is the best way to discover the unique characters in the South Vietnam.. Take time to explore the floating markets like: Cai Rang, Cai Be, Phung Hiep and Nga Bay… You will get a special feeling for the rhythm of daily life there..


Floating market - Cái Bè (Tiền Giang province)
Address: Cai Be, Cai Be district, Tien Giang province.
Cái Bè is the most famous floating market in Tien Giang as well as the most attractive destination. It is located along Tân Phong island where is a adjacence of three provinces: Tiền Giang, Bến Tre and Vĩnh Long. Floating market Cái Bè is an amazing place with hundreds of boats full of all kinds of goods, floating business, boats serving as homes. 
Cái Bè is also the largest fruit market of Tien Giang province so you can taste many kinds of fresh fruit of Vietnam there. You also can explore by yourself others destination on the islands nearby..

Cái Răng Floating market ( Cần Thơ)
Address: Cai Rang district, Can Tho
Cái Răng is one of the most attractive destination of Can Tho city. You should get up early at the dawn of the day to be sure that you won’t miss the great moments at the floating market. You can catch a small boat then enjoy the busy atmosphere of this special market. Like many other markets, floating marker Cai Rang is the place where people exchange goods, but you can see sellers there often stand quietly at their boat rather than cry out about their goods because every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung. If you wanna buy something, you don’t need to ask what goods sellers sell, you just need watch these poles…  You will explore amazing things about the daily life of the local people in the vastness of the river. I believe that you will have unforgettable moments when you wake up in a beautiful morning and travel along a part of Mekong delta..

Ca Mau Floating market 
Address: Ca Mau city, Ca Mau province
Floating market Ca Mau is the place where go into traditional songs of Vietnamese. Located in Gành Gào river, Ca Mau city, floating market Ngã Năm attract a hundreds boats from many other rural areas to exchange goods such as: Nam Can, Dam Doi, Ngoc Hien, Cai Nuoc.. The floating market mainly provides agricultural products: mango, coconut, … The floating market open from the sun rises till the sun sets. And their way they exchange goods is the same the way traders do in the inland. 

Nga Nam Floating market 
Address: Nga Nam town, Nga Nam district, Soc Trang province
The original of the name “Ngã Năm” come from this floating market is an intersection point of five rivers flow to five directions:  Ca Mau, Vinh Quoi, Long My, Thanh Tri, Phung Hiep.. Nam Can is not being well-known like other floating market like Cai Rang, Cai Be. This helps floating market Nga Nam retains its wild beautiful from the hundreds years. This floating market is also the focal point of 3 provinces: Soc Trang, Hau Giang and Bac Lieu. By dint of being an intersection point of five rivers, Nga Nam market open whole day, sellers and buyers pass by very frequently, draw a lively picture. If you are a photographer, these spectacle may inspired you to create something unique.  

Phung Hiep Floating market
Address: Nga Bay, Hau Giang province
The alternative name of this floating market is: Nga Bay, belongs to Hau Giang province. This market shaped from the early 20s. It became well-known not only in province but also all over six provinces in the South Vietnam. Nga Bay market is the place where traders meet and exchange goods each other as well as an attractive destination especially foreign visitors. There are many kinds of goods there: from fruits to household items, seafood… etc.. Goods is flow to remote area of country or even export abroad. An Australian culture when visiting floating markets Nga Bay commented as: " It is marvelous open-air market , an explosion of color , sound , taste natural , human imbued Vietnamese behavior . A cultural community filled with sensual properties "

Tra On Floating market
Address: Tra On district, Vinh Long province
This is the last floating market on Hau River before emptying into the East Sea, Tra On market located junction of Hau river and river Mang Thit. It is particularly popular in this market is market open go after the water, usually crowded in the morning but the moment of raising water is the most crowded. Visitors can watch the beauty of the market in each moment of the day on the water. Goods here are sold and distributed by the group. The main unique feature has attracted a significant number of tourists come here every year to visit. And visitors should not miss the famous dish is beef noodles served with vegetables and bananas.

Phong Dien Floating market
Address: Phong Dien district, Can Tho city
Far from Can Tho city center is about 17km, Phong Dien floating market is a focal point of trade and tourism is very popular in Can Tho. This market often opens at 4-5am and closes at 8-9am. Goods in Phong Dien floating market diversity than Cai Rang floating market. If the Cai Rang floating market is primarily agricultural, the Phong Dien floating market sales of agricultural products, tools such activities as: boat, knives, machetes, baskets ... Tourists can combine visiting floating market with the grave Phan Van Tri bachelor or walk under fruit orchards of this fertile land.

Sa Kul

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Vietnam: Hands-on adventure

We were picked up very early. Way too early given that we were on holiday, but we had to buy our produce at the markets before we started our cooking class.


It was all part of a culinary experience in Hoi An, a Vietnamese heritage town that used to be an important trading port on the country's east coast.

Visiting this area is a pleasant counterpoint to the incessant bustle of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, although some of the market sights made a few of our group a little squeamish.

It was all there out in the open air. No refrigeration - and no waste either. There was no smell and no flies, but our guide and cooking guru Van pointed out that prices got cheaper later in the day.

All sorts of meat, fish and poultry was sliced and diced, stacks of vegetables and herbs laid out and a formidable range of eggs shown, from what looked like marbles to ostrich ova. Van hand-picked all the goods before we headed back to her Green Bamboo Cooking School.

The pressure was on. Greta was a Junior Masterchef winner from Perth travelling with her food-mad dad; there was a British couple, a soon-to-be-wed Swiss duo and us.

Soon we were slicing, dicing, grinding, pounding and chopping for our international pride and self-respect as we each assembled our choices.

Our menu consisted of several chicken and prawn dishes, fish cakes, pork skewers and succulent sauces, vegetarian curry and pho soup.

Somehow my concoction got to be sampled first. After shredding the fish, garlic, ginger, chilli, spring onions, lime, fish sauce, coriander and sugar joined it in the mortar for my pounding pestle. The mixture had to be broken down into a paste before my oiled hands formed the fish cakes for cooking in batches. Van's guidance and the nods of approval allowed me to relax as the others endured their culinary tests.

Everyone passed no problem, and we managed to persuade Van to rustle up a few local beers to help us digest our platters until we sat down for the last course, the speciality pho broth Greta had been making. Like tom yum soup, its success lies in the balance of flavours.

None of us knew how difficult it was to create and we were all a little smug by now after surviving our inquisition. Greta was not fazed and with Van's instructions on how to slice and braise the beef and integrate the noodles to the spicy broth, she created the day's masterpiece.

The day had been something different from the usual tourist trail, a hands-on adventure made even more amiable as Van took us into her own kitchen rather than some warehouse.

She works hard at her business, in season operating every day while she runs the house and family with her Swedish husband and chef.

The fish cakes were fine, but I know I should have paid a little more attention to her tips on making the pho. My imitation since has been close, but not quite on the mark.

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Singapore Airlines flies From Auckland to Hanoi daily, with a stopover in Singapore.

Source: NZ Herald
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Travel photos: Dalat, Vietnam

The city of Dalat (Da Lat) is one of the most beautiful cities of the south-central Vietnam. Lonely Planet wrote: "Dalat is quite different from anywhere else you’ll visit in Vietnam. You would almost be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into the French Alps in springtime. This was certainly how the former colonists treated it – escaping to their chalets to enjoy the cooler climate".

I can't remember how many times i rode my motorbike to get there. But i know that Dalat is one of the most places that i really love to travel.


Xuan Huong lake (the heart of Dalat)
A farm in Dalat, Vietnam

Dalat train station

Tuyen Lam lake (near the Truc Lam Zen Monastery Dalat)

Xuan Huong lake, Dalat, Vietnam

Hai Vinh Nguyen

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Getting to hanoi from noi bai airport

Noibai airport far from the center of Hanoi about 45km. But do not spend time worrying about the transportation. Save time to enjoy your trip and what you need to do is only reading our article.


BUS FROM NOI BAI AIRPORT TO HA NOI
The cheapest way to go to the center of Hanoi is by bus. This way is suit to surfers down to the ground. There are two kinds of buses: public buses and buses’ travel companies (minibus).
Public buses
Turn right as you exit the airport terminal for the bus stop and you can catch the number 7 bus there. Like other buses in Hanoi, the no.7 bus runs frequently, about 15mins-20mins a trip and you just have to pay only VND 5,000 for about 20 km. However, you might have to stand because bus usually so crowded and it take about one hour. This quite uncomfortable and inconvenient for you with heavy baggage (C’mon. Look at bright sight: If you are a surfer, catching a bus, standing with heavy baggage in a crowded bus may an exciting experience in Hanoi :)) ). Furthermore, the last destination of the no.7 bus is Cầu Giấy, it’s far from center about 10-15km therefore you still have to catch a taxi or motorcycle to go to the center ( Old Quarter) ( You should ask the price before you go.
Minibus
There are several Airline companies operate their own buses that serve different stops in Hanoi. When you go out arrival terminal, you can easily see many minibus there.
+ Vietnam airline: Vietnam Airlines offers both drop-off at and pick-up from. The last stop is at the Vietnam Airlines office at 1 Quang Trung Street . It’s very nearly Old Quarter, just around 2-3km. Expect to pay about VND 40,000 (US$2) 
+ Jetstar: The last stop is at 206 Tran Quang Khai Street. It’s also located in the city center like Vietnam Airlines’ office, offers two ways and takes US2$/trip.
Besides, there are many other minibus lines like Đại Nam, Việt Thanh, VietJetair… All these companies office are located in the center and expect the same price. The quality of vehicle and service is nice with comfortable seats and air conditional. There are many minibuses so you should catch the one has available seats or wait for other one.  
However, most these minibuses wait until all seats are taken then leave instead of leaving at specific times like bus, but not too long.
If you do not carry too heavy baggage, you should choose minibus. Cheap, fast, convenient, safe and comfortable. 

TAXI FROM NOI BAI AIRPORT TO HA NOI
Taxi may is the most convenient and comfortable way to travel. There are many taxis at the airport. 
  • Taxi Mai Linh – Tel: 0438222666
  • Taxi Nội Bài – Tel: 0438868888
  • Taxi Việt Thanh – Tel: 0435636666
  • Taxi Đại Nam – Tel: 0438846666
  • Taxi Group Airport – Tel: 0438515151
  • …..

These taxis are quite prestigious so you can feel reliable. Airport taxis charge a single fixed rate, about $20 or more. Taxis take the fastest to get to the center, about 40 minutes depending on the traffic.  You should have a paper with the exact name and address of your hotel on hand, and show it to the taxi driver. Do not forget ask the price first and bargain if you can :)) ( Few taxi drivers in Hanoi can speak English  )  
 If you get your hotel's official airport transfer to pick you up from Noi Bai. The porter will wait at the arrivals gate with a card bearing your name, and he'll take you straight to your hotel from the airport. Sure, it may cost a little extra, but you pay for greater peace of mind.

Several tips:
  • After you go out the arrival terminal, you may be approached by many people: taxi drivers, tour guides… so you should spend a short time to breath and decide what transport you travel. 
  • Do not forget ask the price and bargain (if you can) when you buy or use something.
  • In fact, most of younger Vietnamese are kind, friendly and open. If you getting around Hoan Kiem lake or Old Quarter, you can see many younger willing to guide you and help you if they can speak English. Do not hesitate ask them for help, they will very helpful. Trust me. 
  • You should carry a map and travel book guide to avoid be lost in Old Quarter.

Sa Kul

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Travel tips: Train in Vietnam

As mentioned in some historical documents about tourism, the first tour was held by railways. Customer’s increasing demand, train was replaced by airplane, subways, and coach which are more luxurious and faster than train. As a result, train is no longer used by tourists for a long time. In recent years, tourists seem to get back to that former means of transportation. In terms of safety, train is one of the best choices for tourist. 
Train in Vietnam
Besides, a good price is also the other side of this choice. Thus, using this service is very popular with Vietnamese people. Nevertheless, foreign visitors may face more hassles with ticket, seat, luggage, clothes, food and beverage, moving, WC, shopping, hygiene … Here are 9 simple tips to travel by train in Viet Nam. We promise, it will make your trip even better.

Ticket
A Vietnam train ticket
You should remember that the ticket price is depended on the season of tourism in Viet Nam. The peak of domestic tourist is from the Tet holiday (February) to November. During that period, it is so hard for you to find a ticket that meets your need. Maybe it will be either pricey or of poor quality.
If you book ticket soon, especially in a group, you can receive the cheaper price. Moreover, your group can stay in the same railway carriage.

Seating

When buying a ticket, you should pay attention to the seats in train. There are 2 kinds of carriage in train: carriage containing seats and carriage containing berths. The seating coach is divided into 2 classes: solid seat and soft seat. The berth coach includes 2 classes: solid air conditioning berth and air mattress conditioning berth. Depending on the length of your trip, you can collect one suitable class.

Luggage
You should prepare and bring the light and tidy luggage. Because the stocking place in train is quite narrow and the route inside is narrow too. Can you imagine how you can move in that narrow way easily? Your big luggage may disturb other passengers.
Pay attention to your sleep, you have to hide your personal property such as jewelries, mobiles, tablets … to avoid thieves or pickpockets.

Clothes
Wearing comfortable clothes such as pullover, T-shirt, shorts or something like that would be fine. Also, remind yourself to bring a coat or a shawl alongside in case of sudden climate change.

Moving
Maybe you will have a long trip, moving around train can help you escape from nausea and relax. You should be careful when step from your coach to another. Some people lie down on the floor for sleeping. Therefore, you may kick them although you don’t want to.

Food and beverage
The train staff will serve foods and drinks hourly. If you need to eat or drink something you have to pay for it. The price in train is quite okay with tourists. If it is out of service, you can move to the canteen, which is the coach near the locomotive.

WC
Each coach has only one WC, which means you have to wait for other people. In this case, you should try to use other toilets in the next coaches. You had better set the alarm to get up early so as to use the toilet ahead of others. When the train stops at the station, the WC will be closed immediately. Don’t worry! You can step down and use the toilet inside the station.

Shopping
You have a chance to go shopping at the train station following the itinerary. But you should be careful with the quality of products, probably it is out-of-date or without a brand name.

Hygiene
Remember to keep your seats clean and throw garbage into trashcan.

In conclusion, all of the tips above are very practical as well as essential. The more you prepare, the more joys you get! 

Huy Tung

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Myanmar: On the Very Festival of Light

Festivals are the essence of a culture. People celebrate the very reason of being alive and it is festivals that truly reflect our human soul. Myanmar is filled with festivals of all kinds. 


Different cultures, ethnicities and traditions are celebrated in the Golden Land. In locally, festivals are named as Pwe or Pwe Taw. Different festivals for each month of the year and they are all celebrated with the fervor. Since there are so many festivals that no matter which time of the year you visit, you’ll definitely witness a festival or even two. So, on your Myanmar visit, be prepared to celebrate and enjoy.

The whole country celebrated the Thidikyut Festival by raising various kinds of colorful light illuminations. The festival is known as The Festival of Light and the myriads of small lanterns will decorate the monasteries, pagodas, houses and even on the streets. As a traditional belief to celebrate for the day Buddha’s return from the heaven after teaching of Dhamma (Pali) to the celestial beings, this is a sacred time to donate a great feasting to the monks as well as pay respect to elder ancestor. Through the years, the festival has been adapted to each customs and lifestyle and so has produced a wonderful diversity of traditional celebration around Myanmar.

As a typical Burmese Buddhist, it’s the season to give the time for the family on the month of October when a fine weather blends with the clear sky on top. The festival itself creates a reason to gather with the friends and family that mean the most to us. There is also something to remind us the purpose of our life and of the power of our adjoining relationships. Family reunion allows us to relax and unwind in the midst of busy lives and it’s time to make up the mistakes from the past.


There will be a lot of Charity Food Fairs which quite unique and ton of funs! The organizer will give you the tickets according to the number of participants. Says if you get the 30 tickets, you have to prepare some food or things for 30 people and you need to hang the Charity Food Fair Sign in front of your house. The organizer will stamp your house number on all the tickets. At the time of six o’clock, somebody with a ticket with different house number will knock the door unless you opened for it, then he will exchange his ticket with the food or thing you prepared. You need to be standing by until 9pm. At the same time, someone from your house can go around to get the things from other people house. After everything we collected, just the word “wow”, full of foods on the table and the entire family chit chat and enjoy it.

During the October there will be around ten days Public Holidays, the date is set according to the Myanmar Calendar. As the schools, government offices, most public and private companies are closed for this blessed holiday, local tourism is quite busy and crowded during the time. The gardens and the parks are full with local families and all the pagodas are busy from the sunrise till almost midnight. There will be temporary night markets in every cities of Myanmar which will allow you to do food adventure or superb circuit exploration. If you don’t mind the crowds, it can be lots of fun to enjoy like street activity or even a local night market. You will witness the truly traditional and local culture showcase during the Festival of Light which called Thi Din Kyut!

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The 9 Best Things To Do In Vietnam


Vietnam is one of my favorite places in Asia. So much history, so much natural beauty, and the Vietnamese people themselves are renowned for their graciousness and good cheer. They harbor no resentment toward Americans despite a decade of bombings during the war. In fact they hold us in the highest favor -- increasingly consuming our globalized bounty of pop culture -- and welcome Americans with open arms.

A hopeful current is buzzing throughout much of the country, and it's a thrill to watch the chaos and order play out their yin and yang amidst honking horns, noodle stands, crumbling colonial remnants and high-rises. Here is my list of the nine best things to do in Vietnam.

#9 -- Access ethic tribal minorities at villages nestled in the lush hills near Sapa, and share a cup of tea with locals in their rustic mountain homes.
#8 -- Dine at the epicenter of culture at an exclusive dinner at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
#7 -- Enjoy a private reception at a first-rate art gallery in Hanoi. The curator is our longtime friend, and the crème of Hanoi's artists are in attendance.
#6 -- Take a private cooking class with a gourmet chef, our friend of two decades who is frequently featured on Vietnamese cooking shows.
#5 -- Visit the collection of antiques and photographs of the "American War" by our friend Cuong, who photographed the fall of Saigon and was later sent to a Marxist re-education camp. His life story has been the subject of a PBS documentary.
#4 -- Enter a state of blissful oblivion at the breathtaking Six Senses Can Dao beach resort, located on a white sand beach of stunning natural beauty.
#3 -- Navigate the alleyways of the ancient port town of Hoi An by bicycle, to explore the syncretic cultural influences of Southeast Asia's most important port from the 17th through 19th centuries.
#2 -- Cruise the waterways of the Mekong Delta to glimpse the timeless rural scenes of farmers working the fertile land and fishermen with their nets. Stop in a home to see them making rice paper, one at a time, with a ladle and griddle.
#1 -- Take a private overnight cruise through Halong Bay on a restored junk, a traditional Chinese sailboat. This bay is on anyone's short list for the greatest natural scenery in Asia. From sea kayaking into caves to visiting locals in their fishing villages on tucked-away islands, Halong Bay is a must on any trip to Vietnam.

Honorable mention: joining locals in a crowded café for a cold "33 Export" beer and a hot bowl of pho (pronounced "fuh"), a beef, noodle and fresh vegetable soup that is eaten obsessively in this strange and wonderful land.

Marilyn Downing Staff
Founder, Asia Transpacific Journeys

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