2-day backpacking from Hanoi to Ninh Binh – Ha Long

2-day backpacking from Hanoi to Ninh Binh – Ha Long

Only trip for 2 days 1 night, you can discover two tourist sites in the north of Vietnam, which are Ninh Binh and Ha Long Bay. We are an experienced travel consultant will help you schedule departing from Hanoi, here you get to receive detailed explanations and informative advice at our office located in the Old Quarter and on behalf of Hanoi Travel Agency, we will be your reliable companion, just follow this itinerary below:

Day 1: Hanoi – Ninh Binh

7am: Departure from the Southern Station in Hanoi (Giap Bat station) on the road to Ninh Binh. Every 30 minutes, there will be a passenger car to Ninh Binh, from 6am to 6pm every day. The current price is about 60,000 – VND100,000/ ticket. Currently, because Cau Gie highway was put into the operation, the time from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is only about 50-60 minutes.

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Harvest season Ninh Binh

8am: you are present in Ninh Binh District and have breakfast with specialty which is the eel vermicelli soup on Tran Hung Dao, or at 86 Vo Thi Sau Street, opposite the youth park. After breakfast, you will catch a car to Bai Dinh Pagoda, which is far from the district about 15 km. If you go with your group, you can take a taxi. Otherwise, you can go there by bus or taxi.

9am: You arrive in Bai Dinh Pagoda and enjoy the breathtaking scenery

12pm: You will have lunch at many restaurants nearby to enjoy the plenty of specialties such as mountain goats in Ninh Binh, wild chicken, “cơm cháy” (literally “scorched rice”) and Vietnamese traditional foods with affordable price.

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Bai Dinh pagoda

2:30pm: You will be at Trang An tourist site, which is in the opposite direction with your departing point in Ninh Binh with the distance of about 5km. Then, you will buy entrance and ferry tickets: VND100.000/ person. You should avoid going to Trang An in the peak season so not to suffer from the crowds, queues and chaotic.

5.30pm: You will finish the visit and catch the car from the Bai Dinh to Ninh Binh town. There are two choices: You will either have dinner and stay overnight in Ninh Binh hotel and the next day, you can take another trip to Hoa Lu Tam Coc by organized tour or have dinner and then go back to Hanoi to stay at the hotel. It is up to you as your preference.

Day 2: Hanoi – Ha Long

6am: You will depart to Ha Long – World Natural Heritage, 170 km from Hanoi, with 3 to 4 hours by car. If you are backpacker, you can catch a bus, at Kim Ma station on Nguyen Thai Hoc in Hanoi. Regularly every 15 minutes, there will be one flight. You can also depart from Luong Yen station or Gia Lam station and stop at Bai Chay. To save time, you have breakfast before departure or while moving on the road. Ticket price ranges from 90,000 to 120,000 VND
(For those who stay in Ninh Binh, you can catch the passenger car to Giap Bat station and then the car to Quang Ninh. You should remember to get off at the Bai Chay).

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Ha Long Bay – natural wonder of the world

10pm: You will be at Bai Chay station. From the station to the Bai Chay tourist cruise port, you can take the taxi motorbike about 30.000/ person, bus of approximately 5.000 – 10.000 VND/ person. You should take a taxi if the group is more than 3 people.

Every day, Bai Chay tourist cruise port organizes the visit to Thien Cung Cave – Dau Go through Cho Da Islet, Dinh Huong and Trong Mai (Kissing Rocks Islet) with 04 hour journey and the fare of 100.000/ passenger; at fixed time: 8am and 12.30pm. (As a rule, in addition to the train ticket, you have to buy visit tickets as a form of contribution of tourists to Ha Long Bay conservation). You should go directly to the official ticket office of the tourist site, not the purchase of the ticket brokers.

Click here to check another fantastic islands out in southern Vietnam

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Sung Sot Cave, Ha Long Bay

Note: You can change the journey into Hanoi – Ha Long – Hanoi – Ninh Binh. Thus you can experience through one of the preferred choices of tourists, which is staying overnight on the cruise available at Ha Long Bay to enjoy the fresh air and the freshness of the sea. The lowest price is from 2.028.000VND / night. However, the service price is quite expensive and often applied for 2 days 1 night, with lots of recreational activities such as squid fishing, kayaking, hiking, visiting caves, etc. So if you have time and money, you should choose overnight on cruise.

Some overnight cruises on Ha Long Bay are:
– Syrena Cruise
– Emeraude Classic Cruises

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A visit to Cai Rang Floating Market

A visit to Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho is a colorful early-morning bazaar full of memorable sights, sounds and tastes.

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Sampan boats typical of Southwestern floating markets, equipped with both oars and engine

As a student of mine advised me, no visit to the Mekong Delta is complete without stopping by a floating market. The student, Pham Viet Ngoan, is from Can Tho, and his hometown boasts Vietnam’s most famous floating market, Cai Rang. We made plans for an outing, and at dawn of the next day, a group of five students and I arrived at Ninh Kieu Harbor to set out for Cai Rang Floating Market by small boat.

The river was sprinkled with floating patches of algae and a buzzing boat traffic passed in both directions. After 30 minutes on the lively river, our boat reached the floating market, set on a river bend that was around 300 meters wide and one kilometer long and full of boats and canoes of all sizes, colors, shapes and styles, carrying both market-goers and vendors.

Trung Dong, another student, explained the market’s name to me: local legend has it that in ancient times a giant crocodile crawled out and sank its teeth into the riverbank, thus the name “Cai Rang” (which means “the teeth” in Vietnamese). However, according to scholar Vuong Hong Sen in his Analyses of Southern Dialects, Cai Rang was actually derived from the Khmer word karan, the traditional kitchen god. Khmer natives in Tri Ton (An Giang) specialized in terracotta pots and karan statues and loaded them on boats to sell along this river bend. Gradually, the word “karan” became commonplace for the vibrant trading boats seen everyday, and the Vietnamese in the Southwest modified the name to Cai Rang.

Whatever the origin of its name, Cai Rang Floating Market today is a wholesale market specializing in fruits and vegetables, local staple commodities, merchandise and delicacies that characterize the region’s cultural identity and enhance the market’s distinct charm. The captain skillfully maneuvered the boat to carry us around the hundreds of other boats, ferries, coracles and vessels that filled the market. None of us could count how many boats were gathered that day; however, the driver said that there were 400 to 500 boats on ordinary days and up to 700 trading boats during the run-up to Tet holidays, when a colorful variety of flowers are on offer.

Pointing out bamboo poles planted on prows on which fruits, tubers and other little items were hung, my student Dong Yen explained that these are called beo poles, and are used to promote goods for sale. The students further explained that the poles were also used by locals to hang out their clothes to dry, while a coconut leaf hung on the beo pole advertises that the entire boat is for sale.

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Transport fruit for sale

Our boat continued deeper into the market to explore further delights: merchants tossing watermelons from big ferries to smaller boats; women piloting oars with their feet to transport fruits for sale; coffee vendors who steamed coffee in Chinese medicinal kettles on glowing braziers. Piercing cries advertising goods, murmured words of bargaining and exclamations of joy over delicious foods mingled with noise of boat engines to result in the daily concerto of sounds of the floating life on the Mekong.

Last year, I also had a visit to another province in southern Vietnam, Kien Giang and got to the island Nam Du, and this floating market reminds me of the fishing village.

Minh Thu, the youngest one in our team, stood at the prow and waved her hand. A boat selling kuy teav, vermicelli with grilled pork and soup rice cakes, promptly approached our port side. Immediately another boat selling drinks reached our starboard side. We chose our favorite foods and coffees to enjoy a floating breakfast together.

No sooner had the food boats left than fruit and souvenir ones arrived. Reasonably priced tropical fruits that had been collected last night (to retain their colors, fragrances and tastes) enticed many of us. Souvenirs included coconut-based products, local striped scarves and Southwestern confections and specialties.

At 9am, boats started to spread apart, as the Cai Rang Market grew quieter and dissolved. Our boat headed back to Can Tho. Departing from this unique and fascinating market, I was reminded of some verses by Huynh Kim about Cai Rang that I had once read somewhere:

The market has floated since midnight
And I sink into endless dusk
… Urban girls and guys from afar
Wander aimlessly throughout the floating market
Reaching the merchant boat they just squirm
A durian deepens their sorrow.

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Beautiful Bagan-Myanmar in my heart

Beautiful Bagan-Myanmar in my heart

Some 3000 temples and pagodas lie scattered around Bagan, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular destinations

Myanmar’s economic opening has brought many changes to its big cities. Its golden capital, Yangon, attracts foreign investment, while other destinations draw growing numbers of tourists. Bagan is the country’s best-known tourist site. Home to over 3,000 temples and pagodas built around the 13th century, Bagan covers some 42 square km along the Ayeyarwady River. This old city is a world wonder.

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Photo by adventureideas

It costs just 10,000 Kyats (US$10) per day to hire a horse-drawn carriage. I met an experienced, friendly and funny coachman named Ko Zaw Win, who lives in Bagan and speaks good English. He told me that, long ago, Bagan was home to around 4,000 temples and pagodas, of which some 3,000 remain today. My guide led me through small villages and up to temples located on high hills. Along the way, we met lovely children running barefoot, Bagan women with thanakha powder on their faces, and workers in small pottery kilns.

unlike the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the most famous pagoda in Bagan is the white-painted Ananda Temple, which stands 52 meters high. The temple is nearly intact and a very good example of Myanmar’s ancient temple architecture. Ananda Temple is famous for four gilded wooden Buddha statues. Each statue stands 9.5 meters high and shows the Buddha in a different posture. Built by King Kyanzittha between 1090 and 1105, this temple has been renovated many times. Legend has it that the architect who designed the temple was killed by the king as soon as the temple was completed to preserve its uniqueness.

Shwesandaw Temple, also known as the Sunset Temple, is an ideal place to watch the sunset. At 5 pm, people flock to this temple. Visitors may be amazed to see photographers lugging heavy camera equipment up the temple’s narrow stairs. At sunset, visitors will understand this venues magic, as the hot red sun sinks below the horizon, its golden rays highlighting thousands of temple spires before everything fades into darkness. With no street lamps, we rode back to the hotel in darkness.

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At sunset, visitors will experience this venue’s magic, as the hot red sun sinks below the horizon and golden rays highlight thousands of temple spires. Photo by Cathyw228

At five the next morning, my guide and his horse-cart appeared in front of my hotel. We traveled along unlit roads, armed with an electric torch. Our destination was a hot air balloon. Visitors can enjoy one hour-long flights that depart from the north and arrive to the south of the city. While the tickets are expensive, Ko Zaw Win assured me the ride was worthwhile. He was right. Sunrise over Bagan is breathtaking. Before 6 a.m, the temples lie in thick mist. As the mist clears, colorful temples appear against the red-basalt soil and nestled into thick jungle Gilded wood, red bricks and white paint glow in the morning light. The view is unforgettable. This was the journey of a lifetime

By Hai Au

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Majestic Angkor Wat

Majestic Angkor Wat

The temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom remain serene, as if they were still largely untouched by human interference

City of Peace

Siem Reap Airport lies about 10km and 15 minutes by bus from the city center. The road to town is flanked by hotels and resorts that reveal Siem Reap’s place as a popular tourist site. While the city welcomes visitors from around the world, it has not lost its authentic beauty. The Cambodian government regulates construction and architecture to maintain Siem Reap’s identity in harmony with the Angkor complex. Most hotels and resorts feature Khmer architecture with red roofs. Buildings cannot be taller than 65 m so as not to surpass the tallest temple towers. This demonstrates local people’s reverence for this sacred site.

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At the heart of the Angkor compound stands the Bayon, famous for both its scale and its unforgettable architecture

The second largest city in Cambodia, Siem Reap attracts thousands of tourists each day. Nonetheless, it remains calm, with no traffic jams or noise. Security is quite good despite a vibrant atmosphere in the main streets and markets. The friendliness and simplicity of the Khmer people make visitors feel comfortable. Even at busy tourist sites, order and security are strictly guaranteed. The temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom remain serene, as if they were still largely untouched by human interference.

Ancient temples

The best time to discover Angkor is during the dry season between November and April. While the summer brings treacherous tropical rains and burning sunshine, legions of visitors still stand in line waiting to discover Siem Reap’s most famous temple compounds: Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat.

Built at the behest of King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century, Angkor Thom was the last and longest-standing capital of the Khmer Empire. On a perfect square that measured 3 km by 3 km stand temples dedicated to deities and ancestors of the Khmer kingdom. Key materials include laterite and sandstone. Historians and archeologists still struggle to understand the construction techniques of the ancient Khmer workers. The prevailing theory holds that workers used a canal system to transport stones weighing up to 1.6 tons over 30 km from quays to the construction site.

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Dedicated to the Hindu God Visnu, the second floor of Angkor Wat boasts a variety of beautifully carved Apsara fairies

The compound is home to 54 towers of various sizes, each tower featuring the massive statue of a face carved on each of its four facades. Whether these smiling faces embody deities, demonstrate key Buddhist principles, or represent King Jayavarman VII is still subject to debate. The benevolent and enigmatic faces lend the Bayon a romantic and otherworldly atmosphere.

To the east of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm Temple is another much-visited site. Ta Prohm was both a Buddhist monastery and a secluded royal place built for King Jayavarman VII. King Jayavarman VIII ordered that all Buddhist images be destroyed and replaced with Hindu motifs. Therefore, the temples reveal both Buddhist and Hindu influences. Largely untouched since the late 19th century, Ta Prohm remains dotted with massive trees. Great roots wrap around the old temples, threatening to pull them apart.

Khmer architecture reached its peak with the temples of Angkor Wat. Visitors usually come here at the sunset when the sun’s rays shine directly through the main western hall. Nobody is sure why Angkor Wat faces west while all of the other temples in Angkor face to the east.

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Visiting Angkor Wat in a heavy rainstorm, I found the main hall relatively deserted, all of the other visitors intent upon the masterful stone carvings. Lining an immeasurably long terrace are the longest and largest stone murals in the world. They measure 2.5 m high and run for 800m along the terrace of the temple’s first floor. Sophisticated and gentle patterns portray key scenes from epics and recount the deeds of King Suryavarman II, who ordered the construction of Angkor Wat. The second floor of the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Visnu. This floor boasts a variety of carved Apsara fairies. With their inspiring faces and postures, these fairies appear incredibly lifelike. Representing Heaven, the third floor lies 65 m above the ground and is reached by a steep, narrow staircase. Few can enter this Heaven. Those who succeed are rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of Siem Reap and the Angkor compound.

Here are 7 world heritage sites

It was a dream-come-true when I set foot in this land of ancient temples and marveled at the architectural masterpieces of Khmer civilization. Touching stone walls that had stood for millennia, I felt total peace of mind amidst these sacred temple towers.

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Nam Du fantastic islands

Nam Du fantastic islands

Located 83km off the shore of Rach Gia in Vietnam’s southern Kien Giang province, the Nam Du Islands are unspoiled natural masterpieces. Comprising 21 islands of various sizes, the Nam Du Islands have a total land area of 1,500 hectares. Let’s discover the otherworldly beauty of Vietnam’s Nam Du islands

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With fine sand and azure water, there are many places o swim and sunbathe

From Rach Gia Wharf it takes about three hours to reach the islands. It’s no exaggeration to dub Nam Du “a southern Ha Long Bay” thanks to the archipelago’s tranquil and romantic beauty. A popular chant describes the islands as follows:

“Mau Islet leans against Do Nai
Do Nai turns to Bo Dap
Bo Dap overlaps Lo Islet
Lo Islet crashes against Cross Islet
Cross Islet comes across Dung Islet
Dung Islet meets Dau Islet
Dau Islet lies near Bo Ao
Bo Ao turns against Ong Islet
Ong Islet joins Dam Islet
Dam Islet overlooks Bamboo Islet
Bamboo Islet floats to Moc Islet
Moc Islet approaches Nhan Islet
Nhan Islet overshadows Han Islet
Han Islet lakes over the three Nom Islets
Nom Islets sweep over Kho Islet
Kho Islet reaches to the Chet shore
The Chet shore leans against the Major Islet…”

My first destination was Cu Tron Island, also known as Major Island. The largest of the 21 islands, it has the biggest population. A road runs for 2.6km from the heart of Major Island to its highest mount, which stands 295m tall. Since the climb was quite easy I decided to hike. Climbing the mount, I felt as if I was floating in a world of ocean and clouds. I was so fascinated by the scenery that, before I knew it, I had reached the summit. There, a lighthouse rises 309m like a devoted guard. Day and night, it guides ships safely back to shore. As I scanned the sea and the islands I wondered whether this archipelago had been formed by chance or as part of some greater plan by the Creator.

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Gazing upon the gleaming light from the offshore squid-fishing boats and the twinkling stars high overhead, the whole world seemed to sparkle

Near Major Island’s wharf a lane leads to some amazing rock formations. Stone slabs and lava have eroded with time and become fabulous natural sculptures, each with its own shape and pattern.
It takes 30 minutes by boat to travel 3.5 nautical miles east to reach Cross Islet. Drawing near this island I caught sight of lovely bamboo stilt huts beneath lush coconut trees. Seen from afar, boats lay shoulder to shoulder like a floating town on the sea. The island’s fishing villages were beautiful and peaceful. Here, I enjoyed some local delicacies including fresh crabs, oysters, scallops and squids at a beach side restaurant.
While life on Nam Du seems serene, the locals sometimes face harsh weather. The sea can be calm and benign, or violent with treacherous tides.

Let’s discover 7 impressive construction works of the world

From Cross Island I traveled to Mau Islet by canoe, admiring breathtaking beaches. With fine sand and azure water, there were many places to swim and sunbathe. As sunset fell, everything was drenched in liquid light. Gazing upon the gleaming light from the offshore squid-fishing boats and the twinkling stars high overhead, the whole world seemed to sparkle.

Set in the middle of the vast sea, these islands offer stunning ecological diversity and natural beauty. Spending time on these 21 islands was like visiting another world.

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7 newly recognized world’s heritages by UNESCO

7 newly recognized world’s heritages by UNESCO

UNESCOS stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. This organization verified and recognized a lot of the cultural and natural sites based on the certain criteria. Until now, UNESCO treasures 1.052 heritages showing the remarkable values on culture and nature. Recently, UNESCO has published the list of 21 names to supplement the list of the world heritage sites in the annual meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey. In which, there are 7 outstanding heritages in terms of many values

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Venice is one of the famous world heritage recognized by UNESCO. Photo: Hernán Piñera

Let’s discover 7 impressive construction works of the world which UNESCO newly recognized as the world heritage. Here are 7 spotlight names in the list of 21 newly recognized world heritages by UNESCO:

Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, China

In the period of the 5th century B.D to the 2nd century A.D, Louye people in the southwest of China described their daily life and spiritual activities on the walls of Hoa Son Mountain, near the Nam Ninh City, Guangzhou Province. Tourists can see the direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong to Nam Ninh City to visit this unique Rock Art Cultural Landscape.

To sum up, to the above mentioned 7 world heritage site recognized by UNESCO, they are so breath taking, splendid and stunning. Each destination has its own typical features to capture the attraction of tourists. Hope that we will have chance to visit these places one day!

The Antequera Dolmens Site, Spain

Regarded as the Stonehenge works of Spain, The Antequera Dolmens Site strongly impresses with the big size stones dating back to the Neolithic period. It is one of the extremely important construction works to the European archeologists. Tourists can visit this site after 45 minute drive from the Malaga City or 2 hour drive of passenger car from Seville and Gibraltar.
It can be said that the Dolmens site is the “outstanding example of megalithic architecture”.

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A view of the Antequera Dolmens Site, Spain

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, Canada

For those who love sightseeing and discovering the nature maybe know this place for many years. Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is located in the edge of southeast of Newfoundland Island, which is the home to a total of 180 species of birds and 40 species of mammals recorded. There are also many kinds of fossils dating back of 500 million years ago.

Cruise ship dock of Antigua navy, Antigua and Barbuda Islands

This is the dock for repairing and building the ships of British Navy during the time European countries was competing to take over the control of the east of Caribbean. Therefore, this architecture works is the same as other works under George Kings in the UK (1714 – 1830). You can travel to this site from Jumby Bay which is the best hotel on Antigua and Barbuda Islands after 30 minute departure by ship

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Romantic scene of Cruise ship dock of Antigua navy, Antigua and Barbuda Islands

Gorham’s Cave Complex, the UK

Located on Gibraltar Island of the United Kingdoms (the UK), Gorham’s Cave Complex is currently one of the most attractive sites in the world. This place has stored the proofs about the existence of Neanderthals culture dating back tens of thousands of years. The archeologists and paleontologists are still doing research on the engravings on the wall or animal fossils in the caves. Tourists can take a visit around this area according to the tour or in individual by boat.

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A corner of Gorham’s Cave Complex in the UK

Pampulha Complex, Brazil

The tourists whom visit Brazil to watch Olympics 2016 can spend time visiting the famous contemporary artistic works such as Pampulha Complex of the architect Oscar Niemeyer in Belo Horizonte City. The complex consists of casino, churches and the government buildings surrounded by the man-made lake with the lines of palm trees

The architecture work of Le Corbusier

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The chapel of Notre Dame de Hault of Le Corbusier

The architect Le Corbusier is the father of Innovative doctrine when he creates the contemporary architecture works in many locations around the world, from Buenos Aires City to Tokyo. One of the most unique examples of architecture is the chapel of Notre Dame de Hault. This church has the asymmetrical design with the concrete dome.

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