Question: Should I visit Sapa in late-January and early-February?
Answer: It depends. You are advised to check the weather forecast before starting your trip because the weather is now unpredictable. However, normally, this is the time when Sapa is getting colder and colder. Snow often falls in Sapa in these months. So, if you can adapt to the freezing cold weather and love admiring snow in Sapa, go ahead! On the other hand, choose another time to visit the town.
There are a number of good coffee shops in Hanoi though music is a frequent offer like those in Ho Chi Minh City. You can browse through our listing page of coffee shops in Hanoi and try them out one by one.
Align Café (1B Ma May and 10A Khuc Hao), for example, is an ideal place to relax. Align has drawn customers ‘attention by its luxurious appearance of a wooden house with windows looking out on to old streets. Coming to Align, consumers are able to enjoy the cozy atmosphere offered by yellow light, old style furniture and trees with changing colour leaves. The music here is nice and soft, with classic rock, blues, souls and sometimes country/funk. It will easily take away your stresses and brings you relaxing moments. Drinks here vary from regular ones like tea, coffee, fruit juice to special drinks like cocktails, mocktails and alcohols. You can order sandwiches, French fries, salad or soup if you want some snack and the most famous food here is the unique takoyaki (octopus meat balls) of Japan.
You need a place to hang out with friends, you yearn for somewhere to rest, or you just want some privacy with your favourite books? The Bookworm cafe at 44 Chau Long street can fulfill all of your demands. This cafe also functions as a bookshop with the largest collection of English books in Hanoi.
Near Westlake area- the expats district of Hanoi, there are also many options: the Donkey Bakery (8 Nguyen Hoang Ton), Joma Bakery and Cafe (54 To Ngoc Van), Le Pub (9 Xuan Dieu) are all worth not one but many visits.
Vietnam should be correctly written as Viet Nam. Viet is the name of the people, which covers the 54 different ethnic groups in the country. Nam means South. Viet Nam means the Viet people living in the South.
To many people, Vietnam is not an unfamiliar name as it had been on the international press and media for such a long time. But what have been left in their minds are just images of war in a secluded corner of Southeast Asia, nothing more. So hardly does anyone know the meaning of the name and the long established history of that remote country.
The name Vietnam came about when Emperor Gia Long desired to rename the country Nam Viet which was the combination of names of regions in Vietnam, including An Nam and Viet Thuong, and later change to Vietnam as seen today. There are many other assumptions about the meaning of the name and the most rational explanation is that the name is the fine combination of both geographical and ethnical factors.
In brief, Vietnam means the Viets of the South according to the second explanation or is synonymous with the reunification of different regions in Vietnam in accordance with the first explanation.
Airport departure tax for domestic flight is $2 and for international departure tax is $14. The taxes are included in the air tickets, even low cost carriers like Air Asia often include the airport tax so you do not have to worry about paying extra.
Taking place every Sunday’s morning, Bac Ha is the local market where ethnic communities living in Lao Cai Province gather to exchange and trade goods. Bac Ha Market attracts tourists from all over Vietnam as well as foreigners for the original and diverse features of culture. People can visit Bac Ha Market by catching buses from Lao Cai Terminal or Sapa Terminal, as it is located 70km far from Lao Cai City and 80km from Sapa Town.
Every day, there are three buses departing from Lao Cai Terminal at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., with the fare around VND 70,000. In addition, passengers who travel by train can get off at Pho Lu station, which is only 50km far from the market; and then use local buses or motorbike service.
From Sapa, tourists have several alternatives to go to Bac Ha Market: buses or motorbike. There are direct buses from Sapa Terminal with the ticket price of VND 80,000; and it will take up to three hours to reach Bac Ha Market.
Tourists can also hire motorbike (Minsk is the most popular) for VND 100,000/day and enjoy the wildly picturesque sceneries on the way to Bac Ha. The route passes through Ban Phiet; then following Highway 70 for about 40-50km, turning left at the three-way crossroad leading to Bac Ha.
Tips: Use our Route Planner Tool (http://routeplanner.vietnamonline.com/) to find the best way to get from Sapa to Bac Ha.
Question: Hi, I am planning to stay in Vietnam for 2 months on business. For the convenience, I want to buy a Vietnam Simcard. Could you please suggest me where to buy and which one should I choose?
Answer: Currently, there are many mobile network providers in Vietnam, however, for the best coverage, you are suggested to choose Viettel, Mobifone, or Vinafone network. The market share of these providers accounts for approximately 90% of Vietnam mobile market. In addition, they offer great coverage throughout the country.
Referring to places to buy Simcard, it is very easy to buy a simcard in Vietnam. From the moment you land in Vietnam, you can buy simcard everywhere, in stalls, stores, booths, or even if in and around the airport. You just need to take a few steps around your place, find the lines “Viettel”, “Mobifone”, or “Vinafone” and walk in the store to buy.
Tet is one of the most exciting festivals throughout the year in Vietnam. It is a wise choice to visit Saigon in Tet because there are a lot of activities going on on this special occasion.
Nguyen Hue Flower Street on Nguyen Hue Boulevard
The whole street is decorated with many kinds of flower and plants. However familiar you are with Nguyen Hue Street in daily life, you are still amazed how beautiful it is during Tet. The theme for the whole street is different from year to year. Thousands of colorful flower baskets of all kinds: orchids, daisy and carnations, gathered and arranged in an artistic way, will surely impress visitors. A gorgeous outfit with a nice camera can work out a good memorial album of Tet in Saigon. Spring can’t be better with the warmth of sunshine, the colorful flowers and happy people smiling everywhere on the street!
Flower Festival at Tao Dan Park
Tao Dan Park, located on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai-Cach Mang Thang Tam crossroads, is a place where Flower Festival is held every year. Different from Nguyen Hue Flower Street, Flower Festival brings visitors more chances to see much more kinds of flowers in an open and vast area. Besides, rocks and limestone are also exhibited. In another area, there are Vietnamese traditional games, such as: beating the pot with blind eyes or walking on a thin bridge (Cau Khi).
While Nguyen Hue Flower Street is free, Tao Dan park charges about $1-$1.5 for entrance ticket to the Flower Festival.
Besides these two major activities, you can also see lion and dragon dances in front of luxury hotels on the first days of Lunar New Year. Lion and dragon dances are believed to bring prosperity and luck for people in the upcoming year. Another fun activity to attend is to try the largest Banh Tet, a kind of tradition cake in the South Vietnam at Dam Sen Amusement Park (03 Hoa Binh St, Wd 3, Dist 11, HCMC) or join the fruit festival at Suoi Tien Theme Park (Tan Phu Ward, Dist. 9).
In HCMC, latest 2D and 3D movies can be seen at Galaxy Cinema or CGV Cinema (Megastar Cineplex). These are currently the only two cinemas that retain English dub or have English subtitle.
Schedules can be seen online at the website of Galaxy Cinema or CGV Cinema. Online booking is also available. You can choose either to pay immediately or pay later. If you choose to pay later, you just need to arrive at the cinema at least 45 minutes prior to the showing time to pay for your tickets. Besides, you can check out these websites to know about concurrent promotions. Price is a little bit higher in Megastar Cineplex (at least $6 for a 3D ticket and $4.5 for a 2D ticket at noon and $1-$2 extra in the evening and on weekends).
It is recommended that you book tickets for the latest 3D movies online because they might have run out of seat when you get there, especially on weekends.
Ho Chi Minh City Cinemas:
Address 1: Hùng Vương Plaza, 7th floor, 126 Hung Vuong, District 5,HCMC
Address 2: CT Plaza,10th floor, 60A Truong Son, Ward 2, Tân Bình District, HCMC
Address 3: Parkson Paragon, 5th floor, 03 Nguyen Luong Bang, District 7, HCMC
Address 1: 116 Nguyen Du, District 1, HCMC
Address 2: 2/230 Nguyen Trai, District 1, HCMC
Address 3: 246 Nguyen Hong Dao, Tân Bình District, HCMC
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You can use your current phone with the sim card you buy in Vietnam like other international sim card. Vietnam now has only a number of service providers on mobile phone services with different advantages and disadvantages. Among those firms, Vinaphone, Mobiphone and Viettel are the three biggest service providers.
Vinaphone is reputed with the stable and high standard of network, while Mobiphone has better customer services, and Viettel focus more on promotion and competitive price. The price for a new prepaid account and sim card is normally from VND 50,000 to 100,000 based on the type of accounts (USD 2.43 to 4.86) and the price for using services is different for each firm, with the range from around VND 1,200 to 2,500 per minute (USD 0.06 to 0.122).
Fortunately, Viettel is currently offering a special package for the foreigner tourists name “Tourist” with more benefit and easiness to them to use phone in Vietnam. More information about this package can be obtained at the branches or stores of Viettel.
Question: Should I travel to Vietnam during Tet?
Answer: The answer is yes or no depending on you.
First of all, in terms of transportation, if you plan to visit Vietnam on Tet holiday, you should book transferring services (airplane, train, car…) in advance. Why? Because this is the time of Vietnamese family reunion, so airplanes, trains and coaches are often fully booked. In addition, be ready that you may have to pay more for the fare at this special occasion.
Secondly, referring to accommodation, hotels in this time are abundant. You can book any room types in any hotels you like without worrying about the overbooked condition. However, similar to the fare of transportation, the accommodation expenses may increase because companies have to pay more for staff working in the most important vacation in their country.
Having said that, the most interesting fact when visiting Vietnam on Tet Holiday is that you can see how Vietnamese people celebrate their biggest holiday in a year. Streets will be wonderful decorated with eye-catching items such as colorful flowers, national flags, lanterns, and twinkling lights. This is also a wonderful chance to see traditional trees in blossom like peach flowers, apricot flowers, or kumquat trees and try traditional cuisines which only appear in Tet such as Chung Cake, Picked Onion, and so on. The streets at this time are very quiet and peaceful because people will spend most of their time for in-house parties. No crowd, no noisy! Especially, don’t miss the countdown moments when you can listen to “Happy New Year” of ABBA and enjoy the firework show in Hoan Kiem Lake (Hanoi), Bitexco Tower (Saigon), Dragon Bridge (Da Nang)…