1950s Saigon from above
A rare aerial photo of Vietnam's biggest city some 70 years ago. In the center is the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, while a curve of Saigon River and its east bank occupy the top left. The east bank - once a marshland - is now known as Thủ Thiêm Ward of Thủ Đức City, the fastest developing and most modern urban area of Saigon
A 70-year-old bistro serves rice in a unique way
Opened and operating since 1948, this is one of the oldest bistros in the Saigon. Rice is steamed (not boiled) in ramekins and served with various side dishes. This is Chinese people's old way of preparing rice, and due to its complication and time-consuming process compared to using a rice-cooker, not many people retain this method. If you already try broken rice or chicken fried ice, stop by this bistro for a and delightful change of taste! (Photos by thanhnien.com)
The Garden of Edam
The only entrance in Son Doong cave network that is accessible to tourists. The ceiling of the cave collapsed a few hundred years ago and formed a sinkhole that allows rainwater and sunlight to pass through, nurturing the ground below into a lush garden. From below ground, the sinkhole looks like an ascension to the heavens. From above ground, it is a gateway to a lost underground kingdom that you only see in movies!
Định Yên Mat-weaving Village
Weaving is one of the most ancient crafting arts that humanity has ever known. Thanks to the advance of technologies, machines are now doing all the hard work. This small village in the Mekong Delta, however, is still preserving the art of weaving mats from straws. Everything is done by hand (and with hearts) - from harvesting the plants, dyeing, drying and weaving. Despite the labour, you can see in their eyes how much they love and enjoy their work! (Photos by thamhiemmekong.com)
The Marble Mountains - Đà Nẵng City
An otherworldly corner of the Hell Cave of the Marble Mountains. Locates in a suburban area just outside of Đà Nẵng City, the Marble Mountains is actually a cluster of five hills of encompassing a great number of limestone caves and grottos. This place is both a spiritual sanctuary and a historical site of the Vietnam War. Only part of the attraction is open to the public. (Photo by vnexpress)
Tà Đùng Reservoir
Tà Đùng is part of the reservoir system of Đồng Nai Hydropower Plant. Dubbed the Hạ Long Bay of the Central Highlands, Tà Đùng has been gaining popularity amongst local hikers, bikers and campers, as it is located not too far from Saigon - the travelling hub of southern Vietnam. During July - December, water level in the reservoir reaches the highest point, allowing visitors to cruise on the lake. July is less than a month away, now is the perfect time to plan a trip to Tà Đùng!
Biking in the rain!
Rainy season is coming into Saigon, but the rain has never been an issue for XO girls and guests! On the contrary, it gives our guests an entirely new (and thrilling) experience. And of course, our hot-serving food tastes ten times better in the chilly rain!
Ba Na Hills - Da Nang City
A resort and entertainment complex locates 1,500m above sea level, right next to Vietnam's most popular destination of 2018 - the Golden Bridge. This was once a French resort and mountain retreat in 1920s, boasting over 200 villas, restaurants and clubs during its most vigorous days. Bà Nà Hills is now the locals' favorite tourist spot, dubbed the "Dalat of Da Nang City" due to its romantic vibe and mild weather
Mui Ne Fairy Stream
This is not a painting. Locates 20km northeast of Phan Thiet City center, Mui Ne Fairy Stream looks like a soft border between a dessert and its oasis - with red sand rocky ledges on one bank and flat land forest occupied the other. During the dry season when the water level is low enough, lots of visitors will stop by for a fantastic experience of letting the cool stream water rush by their feet while enjoying a short walk upstream!
Bathing in the river
Just two brothers taking care of their buffalo friends. Mekong Delta's water surface is dwindling due to the growth of population. That, couples with the machinization of agriculture in the region, has made sights like these extremely rare and can only be seen in the ruralest part of the delta.
$100 Bánh Mì
Bánh mì is known for its cheapness, wide variety and availability, but a chef in Saigon has just invented a whole new level of Bánh Mì. So what's inside it? Handmade French pate, a slice of pork chop slow-cooked for 6 hours, foie-gras, fresh herbs and - the playmaker - mayonnaise mix with ground truffle! To top it off, the Banh Mi is served with french fries and caviar dip!
Vũ Đại Braised Fish in a Claypot
Even though having been around for a hundred year, this exclusive dish is not that widely known even amongst Vietnamese people due to its high price and limited production. A pot of braised fish can cost 500k VND ($22 USD), with the most special ones (made from black carps) cost up to 2 million VND ($87 USD - to compare, a Banh Mi in Saigon is around 15k VND or 65 cents!) - Photo by Hanoi Panorama & Skyline Gallery
One of the best beaches in Vietnam
Dam Trau Beach in Con Dao Island has been honored as one of the 25 most beautiful beaches in the world by Travel+ Leisure. But the island is not only known for its pristine beaches with crystal clear water, it is also home to a national park within which lies a big sea turtle conservation center. This is an effort of the local authorities to boost "sustainable tourism" while raising funds for the center. If you're in Con Dao Island, don't forget to pay these tiny little guys a visit.
Cát Bà Archipelago
Less than an hour cruise from the nearest ferry and at the gateway to the 3 major bays in the Gulf of Tonkin: Hạ Long, Lan Hạ and Bái Tử Long Bay, Cat Ba Archipelago is a definition of nature's playing favorite! The Archipelago consists over 350 islands, with Cat Ba National Park - a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Area - occupies 80% of the biggest island. Hiding in between the rocks are two of the oldest fishing villages in Vietnam. The archipelago is on its own way to become a UNESCO World Heritage!
Home to Vietnam's last king
A picture of the main gate of An Định Palace - King Bảo Đại's private residence home during his early years as the Crown Prince. The palace itself was built in comtemporary European architect and elaboratedly decorated with lavish wall paintings and motifs. The main gate however remains a traditional Vietnamese style with the signature "two dragons battling for a pearl" on top.
Rice in Vietnamese cuisine
Vietnamese people love rice, in fact, many of them feel unfulfilled eating a rice-less meal. Even though it has a dull taste, the soft and fluffy grains easily absorb every flavor that comes into contact, blend them all together and enhance them with a slight starchy sweetness. Everything is better with rice! From top to bottom and left to right: "Cơm Cháy Kho Quẹt", "Cơm Âm Phủ", "Cơm Lam", "Cơm Sườn Nướng", "Cơm Gà Xối Mỡ", "Cơm Hấp Lá Sen"
Tra Su Cajuput Forest
The forest lies in one of the most remote parts of Mekong Delta, and won't be accessible from Saigon within a day trip. This is a nature lover's dreamland as it is home to nearly 300 different living species! During rainy seasons, green duckweeds and water ferns cover every inch of the water surface and give travelers an illusion of a grass land. To catch this sight, make sure your visit is in October-December, when the water level is at the highest!
March is the time for flying kites
Probably one of the best months of the year climate-wise: the sky is blue, wind is gentle and heat is tolerable, all of which are perfect for outdoor fun. If you are living in a big city like Saigon, come to the suburbans during the late afternoon to watch the sky full of colorful kites. In coastal areas, where the wind is strong enough, the locals can even fly giant kites like the dragon in the picture!
In most Vietnamese fishing villages, whales are considered venerable beings, capable of saving sailors from drowning at sea and bring about calm weather for fishing. Thus, fishermen hold a big festival each year, usually in the fifth month of the lunar calendar, to pay tributes to the whales and wish for ludicrous sail-outs. The festival is specifically lively in Can Gio, HCMC with live music and many traditional games/contests!
There's a lot to be said about Vietnam and its coffee, especially how you can get a glass of one of the most tasty coffee brews in the world from every corner of Saigon's streets with a surprisingly cheap price. This coffee shop, unlike most others, has a very unique method of brewing the coffee: water is pouring quickly through a hand net full of ground coffee, into a kettle on top of a low fire to keep the heat. This is why it's called "kho", or "stewed".