FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The most well-known specialties in Hoi An?

Question: The most well-known specialties in Hoi An?

Answer: Hoi An has dozens of local delicacies. When making mention of the most well-known specialties in this beautiful town, it will be a great mistake without mentioning Quang Noodles (Mi Quang), Cao Lau, Chicken Rice (Com Ga), White Rose (Banh Bao Banh Vac), Steamed Rice Pancake (Banh Beo), Hoanh Thanh, Hoi An Bread, and Fried Rice Pancake (Banh Xeo). Visiting Hoi An, you should not miss these mouth-watering food. 

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What does Vietnam mean?

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.

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The best budget hotel to stay in Hanoi?

Question: The best budget hotel to stay in Hanoi?

Answer: Hanoi is a well-known capital of Vietnam and a tourist hub of world-wide travelers. Due to the increasing demands of many tourists to find a good accommodation, nowadays, there are many hotel types in Hanoi to meet travelers’ expectation. Referring to the budget hotels, the average prices of these hotels fluctuate from USD23 to 95. Depending on your budget and criteria, you can see the following link and choose the most suitable for yourself.

http://www.vietnamonline.com/hotel/hanoi/more/budget.html

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I am intolerant of gluten products and therefore not able to eat foods containing wheat. I would appreciate your advice on whether gluten free meals are available in major cities Vietnam?

Thank you for writing to us. Gluten-free travellers will not have a hard time in Vietnam, because the main meal in Vietnam involves rice instead of wheat (see how rice is used in Vietnam). Major dishes such as "Pho" (beef noodle), "Nem" (spring rolls) are made purely from rice.

The concept of gluten allergy and gluten free meal are not popular in Vietnam at all. You may find these niche products, however, in the expat area of Hanoi (Xuan Dieu road) and Ho Chi Minh City (Pham Ngu Lao street).

The advice we have for you is to check with the hotel and restaurants to verify that the ingredients do not contain wheat (bot my in Vietnamese). If you stay at upper-scale hotels in Hanoi or in Ho Chi Minh City, check with the hotel chef or restaurant head to ensure a gluten free meal.

A few popular food that will contain gluten for sure that you should avoid (this may help with the Vietnamese vocabulary):

- Any food with a "banh" (including baguette, baked goods, ..)

- Any food with a "my" (including egg noogle, instant noodle)

- Any food with a "quay" (fried fritter dough)

- Any food with a "tam bot" (Vietnamese term for fried fish or meat with a flour coating)

We hope this is helpful to you and your family. Bon Voyage!

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I am planning to go to Hanoi in December, can you please let me know whether the weather will be ok for sightseeing and walking outside at that time? I am from Washington D.C.

Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam. December is in the winter in Hanoi. Therefore, it is cold but is still ok for travellers, especially those from temperate zone like you will not have a difficult time at all. The temperature is about 16 Celcius degree on average, with light rain and windy weather. You can go out for sightseeing comfortably, but make sure that you bring some warm clothes because Vietnam does not have central heating system like North America so it might be colder than it sounds.

Many Hanoians talk about having ice-cream and walking around the tree-lined Hoan Kiem Lake as a leisure activity during the winter days. Winter food in Vietnam is not about apple cider and fresh-from-the-oven brownies, but there are sure things to enjoy: sweet potatoes grilled on charcoal or toasted corn on the cob; chicken skewer and a hot bowl of pho will definitely give your stomach a satisfying feeling like you never feel before. 

Enjoy Hanoi!

Suggested Readings:
Hanoi Travel Guide
Hanoi weather in December

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What can I do during Tet in HCMC?

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). 

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Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?

Question: Where are the best places to enjoy Hanoi’s coffee?

Answer: If you want to enjoy Hanoi traditional coffee, Starbucks or Highlands Coffee are not the ideal choices. The coffee flavors in these cafés are pretty standard and popular all over the world, meanwhile, Hanoi traditional coffee is stronger, more condensed and tasty.

Here are some addresses for your references to enjoy the unique flavors of Hanoi Coffee:

1, Café Giang – No. 39, Nguyen Huu Huan Street or No. 109, Yen Phu Street

(Giang Café is well-known for its Traditional Egg Coffee, don’t miss it if you visit the café)

2, Café Dinh – No. 103, Dinh Tien Hoang Street

3, Café Pho Co – No. 11, Hang Gai Street

4, Cong Café – No. 152, Trieu Viet Vuong Street

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What is the most popular food in Vietnam?

Pho is arguably the most popular food in Vietnam. It is served both at restaurants and in families, eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This famous dish is basically rice noodle soup but the broth is seasoned in a very unique way that appeals to almost everyone.

You can try pho in one of the street corners where every local gather or at more upscale restaurants such as Pho Vuong or Pho 24. Pho 24 also has a vegetarian option for pho, replacing beef and chicken with a variety of mushrooms.

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What medication should I bring along?

It is highly recommended that you bring a first-aid-kit with any of your trip. In addition, you might also want to include medication in case of diarrhea, sore-throat or those that you are on use. Consult your family doctor or a travel clinic for further details. If you head first to city centers such as Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City, you can purchase your medication when you arrive.

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Why Vietnam Tet Holiday changes its date from year to year? What will the date be for 2012? Is it ok to travel to Vietnam during that holiday?

Hi,

Thank you for your questions. Vietnam Tet holiday is calculated based on the Lunar Calendar, which is different from Solar Calendar. Sometimes the Lunar Calendar has 13 months (leap year) instead of 12 months so the date of Tet holiday might change. It often falls into the end of January to early February.

As for your second question, Vietnam Tet Holiday 2012 will be January 23rd, 2012 (Solar Calendar). Most offices will be closed a few days before and after this date so be prepared (for example, please apply for your visa well in advance). Many Vietnamese overseas will return home, and those from the city will come back to the countryside so the traffic volume may be quite large. We suggest you to plan your travel well and book all the necessary flight tickets and tour service to avoid delays.

It will be a delight for you to get to know Tet Holiday - the most important holiday and event of the year for Vietnamese. If you are lucky, you will be invited to a Vietnamese family to enjoy the Tet holiday with them - which will totally change your idea of travel and travelling to Vietnam. 

Here are a few reads and articles on the website which might be helpful to you:
Vietnam Lunar Calendar
Vietnam Tet Holiday 
What you should know when visiting a Vietnamese family

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I’m going to travel to Hanoi and want to taste some street food here. Can you please give me some suggestions?

Welcome to Hanoi.

There are variety of street food here which is offered by both vendors and small shops that utilize the pavement to accommodate customers.

Just walking around the Sword Lake or Hanoi Old Quarter for a while, tourists easily meet a number of vendors selling “bánh rán” (deep-fried glutinous rice donut), spiced fruit, “tào phớ” (tofu pudding), “cốm” (green young rice), boiled corn on the cob, or grilled sweet potatoes. Besides, one can enjoy “Phở” and other kinds of noodle for breakfast or lunch in various small shops. Some streets which is famous for its typical food located in Hanoi Old Quarter hat you should drop by is To Tich (selling sweetened mixed fruits), Ho Hoan Kiem (selling sweet, chilli and sour grated salad), Tam Thuong lane (selling deep-fried fermented pork roll).

Read The 5 street vendors you cannot miss in Hanoi for information.

Enjoy!

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