Details in the "Events" section: News from the children. To see the poster: To view the pictures from the event: To view the poster: Video presenting "Perspectives Musicales" "Perspectives Musicales" helps NGOs collect funds, by selling recordings and organizing concerts for their benefit. To view the video: News from the village children. To order them online: You may also make a donation to help the children of Vietnam: To view the pictures: Video Thuy Xuan.
Merci de choisir votre langue. So even though you had these [Soviet modernist] adventures building here and there, the dominant style was still French Colonial. And they created such a coherent image of the city. It survived until , close to The real damage was done after that. The death of terrazzo in Saigon is the story of how the past gets left behind. When people see its traces in years — still in stairs, window ledges and courtyards everywhere — it will seem fantastic to them.
Much of this comes from the globalised nature of design in the present era. Designers and clients conceive a building without ever attempting to understand its location and context.
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The results are often inappropriate. But this year, the tree [went] up studio houses and resorts very high, and we had to change, we had of reclaimed wood, stone to adapt. People have to accept that. Nowhere is this as stark as in District 7, overlooking fields of teetering rowhouse skyscrapers, set adjacent to empty lots. This is the type of logic driving Saigon out of balance. A totally unprotected sheet of glass. Not only that, but the microwave is attached to the rest of your house. There is a rejection of the colonial past and yet a longing for it, a push to stake out a new identity and yet no clear vision for it, and opportunistic middlemen everywhere you look.
And in the middle of it all are the people these buildings should be designed for, trying to adapt to their built environment. Pizzini sees a beauty in this flexibility, and more sustainability than most contemporary constructions have to offer. Photos by David Harris and Julie Vola. Its construction on the site of an ancient Buddhist temple was a sign of the French expansion of power and influence across the city. Hanoi Railway Station Le Duan, Hoan Kiem — a perfect example of two periods coming together, the station was originally built during the French colonial period. But due to heavy bombing during the American War, the central section has been rebuilt in a Cubist Soviet style.
Quan Thanh Temple cnr. Quan Thanh and Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh — founded in the 11th century and rebuilt numerous times over the last thousand years, this typical Taoist Den is famous for a huge black bronze statue of Tran Vu, said to protect Hanoi from evil spirits and invaders from the north. State Bank of Vietnam cnr.
Ly Thai To situated his Thang Long Citadel and Royal Palaces facing south, on a northsouth axis in accordance with feng shui principles. The with the stone dragon stairs communities founded chua pagodas and the imposing threededicated to Buddha , dinh communal arched gate, are the only houses and den Taoist shrines to large remaining structures important historical figures and spirits of the original Citadel.
After the establishment of Spiritual sites remain one of the the Citadel, entire villages constants in an ever-changing city. Biography of a City. According to Logan, religious and ancestral buildings in Vietnam are periodically repaired, repainted and even rebuilt as a sign of respect.
Quan Thanh Temple and Bach Ma Temple are two of the oldest temples that date back to the founding of the city. Bach Ma, in the heart of the Old Quarter, has been rebuilt and even moved numerous times since Ly Thai To first dedicated it to the white horse, a vision that became one of the guardians of the city. Quan Thanh, directly to the north of the citadel, is dedicated to Tran Vu, the Taoist guardian of the north. The temple is rich in Taoist symbols such as tigers, goldfish and dragons.
The interior is adorned with poetry written in Chinese characters made of mother of pearl gleaming against dark wood. A huge four-ton black bronze statue of Tran Vu sits in the back, dating back to the 17th Century. Recent years have seen a revival in the appreciation of these ancient religious sites, and more and more temples and pagodas are being rebuilt and renovated around Hanoi.
The houses, typically constructed of bamboo and wood, were usually only one storey to ensure no one could look down upon the Emperor. One of the few remaining 19th century buildings has been recently restored at 87 Ma May, where multiple peaked roofs and courtyards that bring light and breeze can be seen. The regions which are now Vietnam and Cambodia had just been declared the Federation of Indochina, and within the next two decades Hanoi would become the capital of this Southeast Asian French empire.
City plans spread south and westwards from the original military concession area, where early colonialists lived and worked along the eastern edge of the city. Infrastructure plans blossomed, and roads, tramways, drainage and sewerage systems were installed, draining the surrounding marshland The new villas, entertainment centres and utilising bricks and grand municipal buildings stood in and materials from the stark contrast to the simple, flat-roofed, Vietnamese city wall.
Completed buildings resembled architecture found in on the site of a in the British colonies of the time. With imposing Doric and fluted Ionic columns, the soaring chandelier-adorned roof and velvet swathed galleries flanked by capitals of elaborately carved flowers and garlands, the Opera House is the epitome of French colonial architecture in Hanoi. As the population grew, neo-classical style villas lined the wide and shady boulevards of the French Quarter between what is now Trang Thi and Tran Hung Dao and around the citadel.
From the mansard attic roofs and tall window shutters to fancy entrance porches and decorative stucco carvings and scrolls, these villas illustrated classical aspects of French design. There was a shift away from traditional colonial style, as architects embraced the culture and climate of the region. His designs, such These stylised additions represented as the National Museum the desire of the residents to show of Vietnamese History and individuality through their villas.
The Private residences former Esperanto headquarters on Hang emphasised this new fusion Quat, the Olympic Committee Building promoted by the Beaux-Arts at 36 Tran Phu, and villas 76 and 78 on school of architects, who Phan Dinh Phung are all examples of were heavily influenced this unique period. The ornate decoration of colonial architecture was cast aside in favour of the modern streamlined shapes that came to signify sophistication, luxury and glamour around the globe.
In a desire to show that Indochina was progressing and to stimulate the depressed economy, the government opened up the areas of Ba Dinh to the west of the city and the swamp to the south of Rue Gambetta Tran Hung Dao , encouraging modern and fashionable designs. Key features of the International Style, such as round ventilation windows, circular stairways and thick cement walls, encouraged air flow and were perfectly suited to the Hanoi climate.
Yet in the early s, the city entered a period of unrest that would last well into the s. The Soviet era brought a departure During the American from indigenous and religious traditions, War, extensive bombing with a greater emphasis on development of military and industrial of extensive suburbs and social housing buildings destroyed many rather than high-profile and ornate parts of the city, including municipal buildings. Pre-fabricated, civilian areas. However, prominent examples of municipal architecture remain.
The Soviet-Vietnamese Cultural Friendship Palace, an example of s International Modernism, was designed and built the angled roof edges represent a by the Soviet Union on what were traditional Vietnamese house or previously the grounds of an elaborate resemble a lotus bud. French neo-classical building. Although based on a model became increasingly influenced for an exhibition and a sporting hall by international styles, ending developed in Moscow, modifications the dominance of Soviet — such as the broad curved awnings architecture. In addition influence on the otherwise Modern to the new developments, Cubist interpretation of a classical the s brought a growing design.
As anyone who has lived in the city more than a decade will tell you. What was a sleepy town at the turn of the new millennium is quickly morphing into a fast-paced global city with a shiny new exterior. According to Callison, Lacey. Narrow-style tube houses still dominate the Old Quarter, and there is a growing taste for neo-Haussmann style buildings, which mimic French designs of the late 19th century.
Elaborate wrought-iron balconies and carved stucco moulding, fake mansard roofs with dormer windows, gold-painted banisters and oversized sparkling chandeliers typify these outof-continuity constructions. A perfect example of this can be seen in Trang Tien Plaza, which mimics the original department store, Magasins Godard, built in the early s.
Yet the new National Assembly building and Hanoi Museum are. This alliance of old and new can also be seen in the National Assembly building, currently being constructed on the site of the old Thang Long Citadel. In addition to the sustainable water treatment and energy saving features, the building will include glassbottomed walkways — allowing visitors to view the excavated foundations of Thang Long. And this new piece of architecture embraces that ancient history while moving the city into the future.
The City in Mind Cities are in a constant state of transition. They go with nature. When Mike Hern sees a city, he sees it in layers, like the rings of a tree. I see developments in the neighbourhoods at random with no fear of simply building on top of existing rooftops. The only concern is using up as much space as they can. I had a lot of connection with the building. There is an equality in the destruction which is a model for a balanced society.
That their identities cannot be stripped entirely reveals how deeply the images and ideals are ingrained in our collective consciousness. He adds: Then I was riding my motorbike in District 5, and purposely looking for these houses. Photos by Francis Xavier. We caught Nghia at his Ho Chi Minh City office, at a mid-morning hour after some meeting and before another. His architect workforce were dressed in regulation white shirts, models of past constructions surrounding them.
The office radiated a sense of peace and productivity. Over black tea, we chatted architectural visions and life. What are you trying to express in your architecture? Vo Trong Nghia: We express our thinking, our lifestyle, our love with the city, with the human being and with nature. We are now almost crazy with seven billion people in the world, climate change and every day — changing, changing, changing. People are getting crazy. How does your work interact with these big skyscrapers? Scale is important, but also small projects can have a big impact to the city We are making houses like [ HCMC residential project] Stacking Green, and we want people to make all tube houses with a green facade, and green roof.
Why all the bamboo in your work? Bamboo is just one natural material Now we are using much more bamboo. We do like 30 percent bamboo projects, and We have a lot of bamboo in Vietnam. And especially the big ones in northern Vietnam are one piece, one dollar. You can have a huge amount of that with low cost Bamboo should be a very good material in the 21st century. What does the Japanese influence in the firm add? The way of working, the way of thinking — also, being honest.
What are you trying to represent of Vietnamese architecture to the world? As much as we win awards, Vietnamese architecture is going to the world. What do you value in the architecture of Ho Chi Minh City? No comment. No, we just talk about what is the potential. Because everything can be rebuilt. Building a World for Trees Word: And what areas do you see the most opportunity in? I like District 2. You build a few domes You have a parcel of land, and most people build up in a square.
But you sometimes round the corners, sometimes like with the university you have green areas We try to plant as much as we can, and every time we think how many trees we can plant on our building, on our site. Does that differ for Hanoi? We do the house for trees too [there]. And then people can enjoy the trees and living in that space. In their headquarters, [lead. No — but recently, every client wants nature inside their home, inside their building. But you feel that buildings have to bend to nature.
Of course we need to respect nature. Humans are a small part of nature. A lot of work. And a lot of things to do, you know what I mean? What work informs your work? What architects have influenced you? I love the system of Norman Foster. I like the way [he built] up a system that can do very high quality buildings around the world. Because we can work with many partners. If partners can work by themselves, that means they can make their office. Like [partner Masaaki] Iwamoto, he handles a lot of projects, and some of them he has to do by himself.
And then he will quit [our] office and make his own office. You are working around the world Yeah, but not big like him. We train together. Your company has grown a lot since you started. Yes, yes. We target not only architecture, we try to produce architects. That is much more important. How about you? Are you working on anything personally, or do you supervise? I am here — like I told you at first, I am here without TV, without magazines, without internet. He just does some important.
How do you envision Vietnam looking in 20 years? And what will they look like? What will they look like?
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I love Kuala Lumpur. But you can walk from here to there in five minutes, and if you go by car it will take you a half-hour. The same problem will happen here. Do you think that infrastructure — like when they build a metro system in Ho Chi Minh City — do you think that infrastructure will make a big difference? Of course. We need something like that system.
Otherwise people will be using cars — traffic jams all day. I prefer [the monorail] to the underground. Because you know, in Ho Chi Minh City there are a lot of floods If they cannot control the water, someone some day inside the metro will have a problem. I love London. Crazy beautiful. A Roaring Trade How does a business go from being small to becoming medium or even large? Photos by Kyle Phanroy. Located just across from the Park Hyatt, at the entrance to the courtyard leading to the Refinery, this was the sixth restaurant the chain had opened in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Bangkok.
Many asked Dany Himi, the brains and driving force behind this themed Argentinian steakhouse, the same question. His initial response was non-committal. If we need to make changes, we will. Others like the new one. His sons, Patrick and David, treat their father with reverence. But the error is also internally. The error is on my part. My first project in Vietnam was in , and for the next three years I frequently travelled to Hanoi.
Back then the hidden charm had far more emphasis on the charm. The market was vibrant and I saw an opportunity to put my mark on what was a new sector. It was tough. I had a three-month-old daughter and put my heart and soul and every last penny into. We hired them. The most difficult factor is finding,. It underlies every success and every failure. The ability to adapt is what Dany stresses as well. This is where we excel. We invest a lot [in technology]. Given our size, we punch well above our weight in terms of the tools we employ and the speed we bring things to the market.
Customer-Focused Caroline Bidermann cut her teeth working for restaurant chain owner Groupe Flo in France before moving to Vietnam to take up a position with Highlands Coffee. The joint founder of barbecue-on-the-table concept Barbecue Garden, in the past 12 months she has opened a second restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City and two franchises overseas, one in The Philippines and one in Malaysia. Like Dany and Richard, she stresses the importance of people and teamwork.
The possibility for our guests to cook together at their table is an exciting and unique experience for. The ingredients need to be extremely fresh and tasty. Vietnamese do not appreciate dishes that [are cooked from] frozen. The Personal Challenge The need to be constantly involved in the business, to be hands-on and always focused is something that Caroline also feels. To make this happen — although motivations such as earning money and being successful are a driving factor — you require something extra.
You have to go the extra mile. I hardly know any business that can make a one-time investment and then all is settled. I think it is not professional either to think that way. The key, though, is why. Why are you doing this? Understand the sacrifices you will be making. Make sure your home business is strong, in good leadership hands and will not suffer if attention is diverted elsewhere. Take one market at a time, get each. My partner travels, too, out of Hong Kong.
But topping all of these is passion, drive and self-sacrifice. The solution she proposed to end this vicious cycle was in embracing the music while it lasts, and maybe even afterwards. And, though the battle was pitched, some good points came out of it, all circling around a dilemma concerning the four bands talked about later in this piece — namely, can bands with mostly expat members, playing a nonVietnamese brand of music actually make a dent here? Ben Robinson: Anyone in any way serious about trying to make a career in music that involves recording in a studio and releasing music to buy is at home or in their home country doing just that.
Expat musicians are dilettantes, only the seriously misguided would come here to try to further a music career. Genuine question: Who has released an album here? Or even, who has recorded anything in a studio? There are a handful of bands that are not just gigging in Saigon. Will they continue to stay? Do they care about reaching the local audiences? I believe they do. David Moses Haimovich [of Space. It will sound like The Love Below — urban hip hop sound with soul and groove.
Dynamic synergy. The sound of one hand clapping in an empty forest. Whether this Western-type music will eventually lure in the masses is a question that only time will answer. To see more of Jack Clayton's woodcut prints, go to jackclaytonart. Look up Mark Rodgers' production offerings at sonicuprising. Although its s halcyon days are a distant past, a jazz scene is returning to Hanoi, with both students and professionals playing the sounds of Dixieland.
Words by Katie Jacobs. Photos by David Harris. Pounding out electric notes, so passionately played it seems to be coming directly from his heart. We had expected a quiet Wednesday evening and gentle background jazz. Instead we found a packed rooftop, excellent food and a level of music that would knock the socks off the.
As the threat of the storm faded and the smooth beats of the opening set echoed the distant flashes of lightning, we were soon enveloped in the universal charms of jazz. Jazz may have officially started in the US at the beginning of the 20th century, but these days it wears a timeless and international style like no other genre. Although there are certain distinguishing features associated with particular areas. Swedish jazz is known for incorporating local folklore , the essence of the music erases boundaries. Every time a piece of jazz is played, it bears the mark of the individual musician and it is this individualism, the personal sounds and improvisation, which draw a global connection.
Steeped in Time Although the current-day jazz scene is still in its infancy, the genre is not new to the city. On sunny weekends a little under a century ago, French and Vietnamese would gather at the bandstand on Avenue Domine now Le Lai near the lake to hear the brass band perform the greatest hits of the day. The bright brassy sounds of the jazz age were sweeping the globe, and Vietnam was not to be left behind. Jazz bars sprung up throughout the country and in both Hanoi and Saigon, nightclubs would be packed with Vietnamese and French patrons, swinging into the early hours.
Like the pop music of today, jazz attracted a younger crowd who connected to the upbeat tempos and dance styles. With the departure of the French and the turbulence that followed, jazz took a backseat. The past few years have seen a resurgence in jazz throughout the country, with both Hanoi. Along with Manh Nguyen, Long is coorganiser of the Jump for Jazz concert series, which performs at venues across the city. With jazz taking a mostly-unknown backseat to commercial pop in Vietnam, the Jump for Jazz initiative aims to introduce jazz to Hanoi audiences and give them the opportunity to hear some great live music.
Not just something played in hotel lobbies. Forging an Identity The next big challenge for the Hanoi jazz community is to create a sound unique to Vietnam. Hands flying, legs bouncing, he is a force of energy lost in the beat of his music. It was Led Zeppelin-esque drummer passion right up here on this warm Hanoi evening. Heating up around 9pm every evening, the band usually plays two sets until around 11pm.
From 8. Keep your eyes peeled for pop-up concerts and events organised around the city by visiting musicians, the university, embassies and the team at Jump for Jazz. Nothing like national pride to get tongues wagging. The Word Cup! What was interesting while writing the article was actually the side-dishes: Vietnamese wings come served with watercress and tomato slices; American with celery sticks and ranch dressing; and South Korean with diced radish in vinegar and coleslaw.
It makes you realise that there are countless ways to not only make the wings themselves, but to create the wing experience. Without further ado — here are your winners. Photos by Kyle Phanroy Word August wordvietnam. That said, the menu is extensive enough to include spring rolls, barbecued beef and assorted other items.
The wings here are heavy on the garlic, served with tomato slices and watercress. Salty from the fish sauce infusion, extra spice can be added with a dipping chilli sauce. At VND90, for six wings, they are filling enough for one person, or as an appetiser for the other items offered here. That whole stretch of road seems to be getting new and interesting ventures opening up all the time, although you never know which ones will be there on two consecutive visits.
After the garlic onslaught at Quan 46A, we decided to go for both a spicy and a sweet version. You can see the chilli seeds sitting on top of the thick spicy sauce, and after a bite or two you can feel it kicking in. The honey mustard was a bit more neutral, not overpoweringly sweet. The sauce was accompanied with diced onion. Celery sticks and ranch dressing, par for the course at most North American wing eateries, were brought as well at this American-owned shop.
Breakfast items were also on offer, but if your place is called Saigon Wings, your product better back it up. The smallest eatery on our list, but good peoplewatching from your picture window stool. For this one, I returned in my mind to my days of teaching in Seoul. Two-Two Chicken is a favourite among expats, Vietnamese and Koreans alike.
That said, VND80, to VND90, gets you six wings at each other place, while we got triple the number it looked like 18 for a corresponding price hike. I think the title made me expect really salty wings, but these seemed to be battered with a bit of soy sauce in the preparation; they were actually a bit sweet. The only side for dipping was actually a bowl of salt, which sounds a bit odd but seemed to work.
But great atmosphere, no doubt. The place was packed on a Monday night, with businessmen talking shop and Vietnamese families chattering away. Perfect with a couple of beers and a light breeze. Breaking the Fast Over the month-long fast of Ramadan, life takes on a certain rhythm for those who observe. Words by Ed Weinberg, photos by Kyle Phanroy. As SaigonNezumi. When the French influence fell away from Vietnam in , so did the trading connection with the French Indian colony of Pondicherry, whose cultural influence was responsible for the construction of this mosque and others as well.
Those who follow the Hanafi school of thought, like Kevin, only eat fish. And there are other differences. People can take advantage of that. Devout Turks will only eat at Berru. They even paid a former imam to sit in the restaurant to attract Muslim travellers. Most Muslims in Hanoi butcher their own meat.
The current sources of Halal meat have not been confirmed. The majority of travellers bring halal canned food with them. Ramadan with the Cham According to Kevin, most mosques in Saigon are in Cham areas — the Cham are usually in charge of running the temples. The mosque we attend on the secondto-last Friday of Ramadan — and the last Friday before most Cham Muslims traditionally go back to their hometowns — is Cholon Jamial Mosque, a District 5 temple home to a congregation of about Here, all the food is paid for by members of the congregation.
At some mosques they eat pho, at others curry. As the men eat, photographer Kyle takes pictures and kids in bright headscarves and skullcaps run around. A fire alarm-sounding bell goes off. Men in jeans, longyis and traditional white robes stream into the mosque for the post-meal prayer. The Kaaba at Mecca is embroidered on their prayer rugs, and men stand contemplating their open, upturned hands before the amplified wail.
The paint is perfect, unblemished baby blue. Little girls play leapfrog on the white tile just outside, screeching as they land. Our undercover reporter heads to the first Polish restaurant to set up shop in the capital. Does it get the thumbs up? In Hanoi it is probably lower, particularly during the oppressive summer heat.
For one, the new eatery, located on leafy To Ngoc Van in Tay Ho, joins only a handful of Slavic restaurants in the city. The other reason is that, aside from being surprisingly delicious, the eclectic cuisine has evolved over many centuries and is a novelty in its own right. Occupying a refurbished villa boasting indoor, balcony and courtyard seating areas, inside the white walls, dark timber furnishings and exposed brick create a suitably rustic feel for diners. The ground floor has also been converted into a deli-slash-bakery, offering visitors a peak at traditionally cured meats and whiffs of freshly baked sourdough as they walk through the door.
Hand me a Drop Cloth A quick glance at the menu shows that the owners have stuck as close to their culinary roots as possible: Everything comes in frighteningly large portions, so consider bringing a friend. And maybe a forklift to take you home afterwards. To start, I opted for the bigos cabbage with white sausage VND, , a Polish national speciality that combines sauerkraut, meat and a handsome blend of spices into a medieval-style stew. Combined, each mouthful of herbencrusted sausage with bigos was a burst of subtle yet hearty flavours. The Polish mustard also added a pleasant kick to the more relaxed flavour of the cabbage.
The service is extremely fast and by my third mouthful of bigos, my smiling waitress was already heading over with the main course: A moment or two between courses may have been necessary with dishes of these proportions. As promised, the roasted pork hock aka pork knuckle was crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. Served in traditional peasant-style on a rustic wooden board, it was topped with a spicy roast sauce and fresh herbs. Although a satisfying follow-up to the bigos, some acidic tones may have helped cut through the richness of this dish. Naughty But Nice The venue also offers a humble selection of desserts ranging from fried ice cream with strawberry mousse and whipped cream VND, to Polish-style pancakes with fresh seasonal fruits VND70, To complete my trifecta of traditional Polish fare, I went all out on the mammoth-sized freshly made Karpatka or Carpathian Mountain cake served with whipped cream.
Each layer of pate a choux was light and fluffy and drizzled with chocolate sauce. A little too much cream? The consistency and speed at which food is served is also sure to prove a hit with diners. Hawking down lumps of roast meat and hearty winter cabbage may seem unusual at this time of year, but come the dreary winter months, this place will be packed to the rafters. Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to Papaya salad with dried beef anyone?
Huyen Tran goes in search of this most traditional of dishes. After a pause he explains his response. The sauces all look the same, but taste so different. Large numbers of Vietnamese dishes contain light fish sauce, such as mixed noodle dishes like mien tron, pho ga tron or bun bo Nam Bo. Light fish sauce is also an essential ingredient when we eat spring rolls, banh tom Ho Tay and nom. Keeping it Traditional Nom, or papaya salad, is often served in restaurants as an appetiser.
It is viewed by many as a salad and is compared to som tam in Thai cuisine. It also goes really well with beer. Very well! There are a number of versions of nom, each made seasonally. It can be served up with jellyfish — nom sua — or barbequed bird — nom chim quay. But the most traditional version is nom bo kho, papaya salad with dried beef.
Think how much it is back home, ask for big discount and walk away, pretending that the price isn't right. Many products tend to be standardized and compare more. Try to be as clear as possible on the agreed price. You may agree 20, dong with a "Xe Om" driver for a specific trip, but at the end he may claim you are due 40, dong. Then you pay 20, dong, smile and say goodbye, because you have a good memory.
Vietnam is still cheap by most standards: Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, with the exception of bellhops in high end hotels. In any case, the price quoted to you is often many times what locals will pay, so tipping can be considered unnecessary in most circumstances. To avoid paying a tip when a taxi driver, for example, claims they don't have small change, always try to have various denominations available.
With unbelievable abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs, fish and seafood, Vietnam has a lot to offer. It can be mentioned here a range of widely- admired dishes such as noodle served with beef or chicken pho , spring roll, eel or snail vermicelli, crab fried with tamarind, crab sour soup, rice spaghetti, steamed rolls made of rice-flour, rice pancake folded in half and filled with a shrimp, meat and soya bean sprouts. Food sits at the very centre of Vietnamese culture: Special dishes are prepared and served with great care for every birth, marriage and death, and the anniversaries of ancestors' deaths.
More business deals are struck over dinner tables than over boardroom tables, and when friends get together, they eat together. Preparing food and eating together remains the focus of family life. Vietnamese cuisine varies slightly from region to region, with many regions having their own specialties. Generally, northern Vietnamese cuisine is known for being bland while southern Vietnamese cuisine is known for being spicy. At the same time, the Vietnamese are surprisingly modest about their cuisine.
High-end restaurants may serve "Asian-fusion" cuisine, with elements of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese mixed in. The most authentic Vietnamese food is found at street side "restaurants" A collection of plastic outdoor furniture placed on the footpath , with most walk-in restaurants being mainly for tourists.
Definite regional styles exist -- northern, central, and southern, each with unique dishes. Central style is perhaps the most celebrated, with dishes such as mi quang wheat noodles with herbs, pork, and shrimp , banh canh cua crab soup with thick rice noodles and bun bo Hue beef soup with herbs and noodles. Try taking home a bottle of fish sauce, and using it instead of salt in almost any savory dish -- you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. It's available at any time of the day, but locals eat it most often for breakfast.
Though they may look filthy, street side eateries are generally safe so long as you avoid undercooked food. In rural and regional areas it is usually safest to eat the locally grown types of food as these are usually bought each day from the market. It is not uncommon, that after you have ordered your meal a young child of the family will be seen running out the back towards the nearest market to purchase the items.
It is very common for menus to be up to pages. These will include all types of Vietnamese food, plus some token western food, possibly some Chinese and maybe a pad thai as well. It is generally best to stick with the specialty of the area as this food will be the freshest and also the best prepared.
Be advised that when dining in a restaurant, it is common practice for the wait staff to place a plastic packet stamped with the restaurant's name containing a moist towelette on your table. They are not free; they cost between 2, - 4, VND. If you open it, you will be charged for it. Also, peanuts or other nuts will be offered to you while you are browsing the menu. Those are not free, either. If you eat any, you will be charged. Vegetarian food is quite easy to find anywhere in Vietnam due in large part to the Buddhist influence.
These restaurants will run from upscale to street stall. Basically any Vietnamese dish with meat can be made vegetarian with the abundance of fake meats. Besides the Buddhist influence of two vegetarian days a month, Cao Dai people eat vegetarian 16 days, and followers of the bizarre Quan Yin method eat vegan daily. Look for any sign that says Com Chay or simply remember the phrase An Chay. Coffee , baguettes , and pastries were originally introduced by the French colonials, but all three have been localized and remain popular contemporary aspects of Vietnamese cuisine.
Most pastry shops serve a variety of sweets and quick foods, and are now owned by Vietnamese.
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If you like seafood , you may find heaven in Vietnam. The ultimate seafood experience is traveling to a seaside village or beach resort area in the south to try the local seafood restaurants that often serve shrimp, crab, and locally-caught fish. Follow the locals to a good restaurant: All Vietnamese restaurants are controlled by government, and some are fully owned by government.
Most restaurants' opening times are In hour restaurants, there will be two prices, the price is normal from For example, rice com usually costs 10, dong, but if you order after This project is made by government to discourage people from eating late. Some dishes are not served after In many restaurants, you will usually get "errored cuisine" translated dishes, such as fried fish with lemon sauce instead of fish sauce, or rice with tea instead of chili, and some dishes are not available for one month long without any announcement.
To know which restaurants and dishes are highly rated by locals, try downloading popular food apps among locals such as MenuX, Foody, or Lozi on app stores. Be aware that using this incurs an extra charge on your bill. The legal purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is However, there is no legal drinking age. Do not drink tap water, it's a game of Russian Roulette. Drink only bottled water. Watch out for ice in drinks. Factory-made ice is generally safe, but anything else can be suspect. Drinking in a Vietnamese bar is a great experience.
One of the interesting things is that during the day, it is almost impossible to see a bar anywhere. Once the sun goes down though, dozens seem to appear out of nowhere on the streets. It's available throughout Vietnam, mostly from small bars on street corners. Bia hoi bars will give you the opportunity to relax drinking in a typical Vietnamese bar surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Every traveler can easily find these bars to experience what the locals are enjoying. The beer is brewed daily and each bar gets a fresh batch delivered every day in plastic jugs.
Bia hoi is not always made in sanitary conditions and its making is not monitored by any health agency. Though fun for the novelty factor, this beer may produce awful hangovers for some. For those people, sticking with bia chai bottled beer might be more advisable. Bia Saigon is also available as little stronger export version.
It's regular practise for beer in Vietnam to be drunk over ice. This means that the cans or bottles need not be chilled. It is also considered necessary to drink when a toast is proposed Tram phan tram hundred percent is the Vietnamese equivalent of "bottoms up". Beer consumption is dominated by bottled beers and bia hoi but there are also plenty of microbreweries in Vietnam. Most of them make Czech styled beers with imported malt and hops. The marketing of these breweries is more or less non-existent so they can be hard to find, but the full list can be found online.
The price of a mL glass of beer is normally VND30, Most of the breweries serve one black and one blond beer, are small and produce about thousand litres a month. There are more than thirty microbreweries in Vietnam which is more than in many other countries in the region. They serve great American style microbrews with a local ingredients adding a nice twist.
Vietnamese "ruou de" or rice alcohol ruou means alcohol is the Vietnamese version of vodka, served in tiny porcelain cups often with candied fruit or pickles. It's commonly served to male guests and visitors. Vietnamese women don't drink much alcohol, well at least in public. Dating back to French colonial times, Vietnam adopted a tradition of viticulture. Dalat is the center of the winelands, and you can get extremely good red and white wine for about USD Wine can be purchased at shops at the vineyards, or at local markets.
Most wine served in restaurants is foreign imported and you will be charged foreign prices as well making wine comparatively quite expensive compared to drinking beer or spirits. It makes an attractive drink because it is served in the whole coconut and sipped through an aluminum tube. It is made by placing traditional ingredients such as sticky rice and pure sap into a whole coconut to ferment.
It is believed the copra the white meat of the coconut can purify aldehydes that are typically found in rice wine which can cause hangover symptoms such as headaches and tiredness when consumed in excess. So you can feel more free to drink to your drinking partners health! Rice spirit and local Vodka is incredibly cheap in Vietnam by western standards. Russian Champagne is also quite available. Coconut water is a favourite in the hot southern part of the country.
You can also have it blended in a mixer. Juices are usually without condensed milk or coconut milk. The coffee then takes it time slowly releasing drops of hot coffee into a cup filled up with tablespoons of creamy thick sweetened condensed milk. Once the brewing is done the metal lid is removed from the filter, poured over ice and mixed with the condensed milk. Do be careful when drinking locally prepared coffee as the locals tend to drink it incredibly strong with about 4 teaspoons of sugar per cup.
Lodging is not an issue in Vietnam, even if you're travelling on a pretty tight budget. As with hotels elsewhere in the world, mini-refrigerators in Vietnamese hotels are often stocked with drinks and snacks, but these can be horribly overpriced and you would be much better off buying such items on the street. Adequate plumbing can be a problem in some hotels but the standard is constantly improving.
It is a legal requirement for all hotels to register the details of foreign guests with the local police. For this reason they will always ask for your passport when you check in. The process usually only takes a few minutes, after which they will return your passport. However, because non-payment by guests is by no means unknown, some hotels retain passports until check-out. If a place looks dodgy then ask that they register you while you wait and take your passport with you afterwards.
It is helpful to carry some photocopies of your passport as well as Vietnam visa, which you can then hand over to the hotel, insisting if necessary that your actual passport is not in your possession but rather at a travel agency for purpose of visa extension which is a legitimate situation. Alternatively, you can try to extend an advance payment rather than allow them to keep your passport. Most hotels throughout Vietnam now have high-speed Internet access. Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are blocked but a quick google search can explain how to easily bypass this ban; a useful hotel booking engine hotels-in-vietnam , too.
The use of computers is generally free, although some hotels levy a small charge. The more high-end hotels offer a multitude of amenities; such as elaborate buffets with local cuisine, spa treatments, local sightseeing packages, etc. Hanoi now has some hostels for families called Hanoi Family Hostels.
Rooms here are large and with more beds for children. Homestay accommodation is easily booked through travel agents. However, some tourists are disappointed to learn that the "homestay" they booked is really a commercial hotel or the accommodation is situated in a separate building from the family home. Responsible hotels, green hotels or claimed to be so hotels are increasing in Vietnam. There is no standard or accreditation scheme but this is a positive sign that Vietnamese people are paying more attention to the impact of tourism on environment.
By saying "yes" to responsible accommodation, you can help protect the local nature, environment and community without without sacrificing your enjoyment. Eco-friendly hotels can be found in northern mountainous areas as well as some Lodges in Mekong Delta , a Vietnam that many dream about with lush rice paddies, endless waterways and laid back villages. If you want to meet local people, stop by a school.
In Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon , visit the American Language School, where you'll be welcomed enthusiastically and invited to go into a class and say hello. You'll feel like a rock star. The Vietnamese love to meet new people, and teachers welcome the opportunity for their students to meet foreigners.
Dragon House is the story of two Americans who travel to Vietnam to open a centre to house and educate Vietnamese street children. Former BBC reporter in Hanoi, Bill Hayton, has written a good introduction to most aspects of life in Vietnam - the economy, politics, social life, etc. It's called Vietnam: You can volunteer as an English teacher through many volunteer organisations. Without qualifications it's also possible to find work, but it takes more patience to find a job, and often there are concessions to make with payment, school location and working hours weekends.
There are also many paid volunteering organisations which allow you to help local communities, such as:. If you don't have a TESOL or TEFL certificate yet, you can join an in-class training center in Vietnam and then start working as a teacher once you've completed the course, for example:. Rural Vietnam is a relatively safer place for tourists than urban Vietnam. Low level street crimes like bag snatching regularly occur in major cities like Hanoi and Saigon. Few instances of knife attacks during robberies have been reported. Avoid fights and arguments with locals especially groups.
Keep in mind that yelling is highly insulting to Vietnamese, so the reaction of a Vietnamese in such a situation may be unexpected. As a foreigner, Vietnamese expect you to act a certain way in their country. You should respect the general law of the land. Most of these arguments can be avoided easily by showing general courtesy, and tolerating cultural differences that may seem rude to you.
Touristy areas and high population cities in Vietnam are areas to watch for thieves, pickpockets, and scammers. They especially target foreigners. Thieves on motorbikes will snatch bags, mobile phones, cameras, and jewelery off pedestrians and other motorbike drivers, and it is a crime committed so regularly that even local Vietnamese are common victims. Avoid dangling your bags along traffic roads. Talking on your mobile phone next to cars on the road and putting your bag on the front basket of a motorbike will tempt a robber.
It could happen day or night, in a crowded road with hundreds of drivers. Pickpockets are well organized and operate in groups. If you travel by motorbike, be aware that crooks can cause serious security issues. Reports of people claiming that "your motorcycle is on fire" and offering to repair it or passers-by that throw nails at foreigners on motorcycles are frequent. Also infamously common are thefts on popular beaches. Never leave your bag unattended on beaches. In hotel rooms, including five star ones, reports that belongings are stolen have been heard regularly by hotel staff, especially when it comes to small personal items of high value cash, digital cameras, etc , so take your cash or put it in a security deposit box, and the same with small digital equipment.
There are many places where leaving larger electronics like laptops in the room is perfectly fine. The most effective preventative step is to only book hotel rooms at places that have a good reputation and reviews. One of the tricks employed by con men is targeting tourists traveling on bikes by deliberately crashing into tourists bikes to blame them to extort money. Vietnam probably has the most scams per square foot, and significantly more than in surrounding countries.
One certain trait of Vietnamese scams is that there seems to be no limit to what people would try to overcharge you. It is pretty common for the scammers to attempt to overcharge you by ten or fifty times and sometimes even more. A very common one is when the organizers claim that the bus broke down and the tour operators force people to pay huge amounts for crummy hotels "while the bus is repaired". Be careful when going to a shop or restaurant that doesn't have prices written down.
Before eating a meal, ask for the price or you may be in for a surprising bill. When you embark on a tourist tour, be independent: The police are probably the worst crooks of them all. They are known to steal items from people both locals and tourists and ask for a steep bribe to get the item in return. Also, don't count on them for any help if you are victim of crime. Most scams in Vietnam are in transport, hotel prices and the two-menus system practiced by some restaurants. Hotel owners may tell you that the room price is , dong.
However, when checking out, they may insist that the price is USD20, charging you almost a double. Another trick is to tell customers that a "room" is a few dollars, but following day they'll say that price was for a fan room only and it's another price for an air-con room. These days, legitimate hotel owners seem to be aware of these scams and are usually willing to help by writing down how much the room is per person per day in US dollars or dong , if it has air con or not. Staff of legitimate hotels also never ask for payment from a guest when they check in.
Watch out if they insist that you should pay when you check out but refuse to write down the price on paper. Some restaurants are known to have two menus, one for local people and another one for foreigners. The only way to deal with it is to learn a few Vietnamese phrases and insist that you should be shown only the Vietnamese menu. If they hesitate to show you the local menu, you better walk away. On rare occasions restaurants have two English menus with different prices.
Taking pictures of all menus might be excessive, but if you suspect that the food had a different price when ordered, stand your ground. We usually memorize the prices of what we order and pay exactly that.
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The owners rarely make a big deal out of it because they know they cheated. Otherwise ask for the police. Many taxi drivers in Saigon and Hanoi install rigged meters, charging up to 2 to 8 times more. If you don't know what a reasonable fare is, it is generally a bad idea to agree on a price in advance. Spoken for Saigon, the two recommended companies have quite reliable meters.
Vinasun taxis usually have notices explaining that the meter value should be multiplied by to obtain the fare. Some drivers will take advantage of the ambiguity, and tourists' lack of knowledge about what the fare should be, so it is best to have things clearly written out. Taxis are abundant in Saigon - and you can get a taxi at any time of the day or night.
You can also call a Taxi, and usually people at call centers will be able to either converse in English, or will pass on the phone to someone who can. Rule of thumb to detect scammers: It's a definite scam. When leaving the airport, the taxi driver may insist that you pay the airport toll. He might not be very forthcoming about the price and, if you give him cash, he will pay the toll and pocket the rest. Many taxi drivers in Sai Gon and Ha Noi try to overcharge thin faced, just arrived, and gullible travelers.
You should consult some guidebooks and travel forums to prepare yourself for those petty scams and to learn more about how to avoid them. The airport toll fee in Saigon is 10, dong as of July - this is also written, along with the fare, on the dashboard of the taxi. You can confidently say "airport toll only 10," and refuse to pay anything else such as parking etc. Usually, the driver will not argue it out.
In Saigon, a trip to Backpackers Street should not cost more than , dong from the airport in any case. The airports are as far as km from these places and meter will cost you from , to , dong. However, you can either take a bus from the Airport to the city center, or pre-negotiate rates with taxis from ,, dong. Refer to individual sections for details. Pay attention to sides of taxi - usually a rate for Airport drop is written on the door itself.
Taxi and cyclo drivers may claim that they don't have change when accepting payment for an agreed-upon fare. The best way to handle this is to either carry smaller bills or be ready to stand your ground. Generally the driver is only trying to get an extra dollar or so by rounding the fare up, but to prevent this scam from becoming more popular it is advised to stay calm and firm about the price. When you meet an over friendly cyclo driver who says, "never mind how much you would pay" or "you can pay whatever you like at the end of the trip". He even tries to show you his book of comments from international tourists.
This kind of driver has to be a scammer. If you still want to use his service you should make it clear about the agreed price and don't pay more than that. Just be clear what you are willing to pay; the cyclo drivers are just trying to make a living. Corruption is a big problem in Vietnam and locals are convinced that the police are not to be trusted.
Remember to stand your ground and all officers are required to write all traffic violations in their notebook and give you a receipt with directions to pay to the station not the officer.
Hue Festival 2016 kicks off
If you have a cell phone, threaten to call your embassy and he may back down. However, you might just find it easier to pay the fine and get on your way. Immigration officers are known to take bribes. During the early Doi Moi the reform in the 90s , bribes could be a few US dollars or a few packs of cigarettes. Today, although some officers still seem to feel okay at taking bribes, it is absolutely risk-free and acceptable if you don't bribe.
The international monitoring group Transparency International has rated Vietnam as one of the most corrupt nations in Asia. Prostitution is illegal in Vietnam, but it is nevertheless widespread. Due to conservative culture it is less visible; there is no street prostitution or go-go clubs. However it thrives both in traditional establishments massage parlors and spas, nightclubs, hourly rentals and in some places you would never expect, such as hair salons. Rickshaw drivers also offer prostitutes to tourists at every tourist destination, and in less reputable hotels the staff may offer them as well.
Pay special attention if you want a massage in a tourist area. In legitimate massage establishments, a man is typically massaged by a male masseur. You can ask for a male masseur, and while most tourist-serving establishments won't have one, it will inform them that you're really looking for a massage and not for other activities. The age of consent is Vietnam has laws on the books with penalties up to years in prison for sexually exploiting women and children, and in the case of underage prostitution, those laws are indeed enforced.
Also, several nations have laws that allow them to prosecute their own citizens who travel abroad and engage in intercourse with minors. The first discovery for many tourists who just arrive in Vietnam is that they need to learn how to cross a road all over again. You may see a tourist standing on the road for 5 minutes without knowing how to cross it. Traffic in Vietnam is a nightmare. Back home, you may never witness the moment of crash, seeing injured victims lying on the road, or hearing the BANG sound.
Staying in Vietnam for more than a month, you will have fair chance of experiencing all these. Roads are packed. To cross the road, don't try to avoid the cars, let them avoid you. Step confidently forward, a little more, and you will see motorcycle drivers to slow down a bit, or go to another way.
Make your pace and path predictable and obvious to other drivers. Don't change your speed or direction suddenly. Then move forward until you hit your destination. The best strategy is just to keep walking forward at a comfortable pace. The simplest way, if available, is to follow a local, stand next to them in the opposite side of the traffic if you get hit, he will get it first and he will give you the best chance of crossing a road.
If you are injured, don't expect that local people are willing to help for even calling an ambulance because it is not free. Make sure you tell local clearly that you will pay the ambulance fee. Hospitals will also not accept your admission unless you prove that you can pay the bill. Highways are also risky with an average of 30 deaths a day and some locals will not even venture on them if not in a big vehicle car or bus. Taking a bicycle or motorcycle on highways is an adventure for risk takers, definitely not for a family with children.
Petty crime in night clubs can happen. Avoid quarreling with local people because drunken Vietnamese can be violent. Clubs are full of prostitutes looking for their admirers but be aware that they may also steal your wallet and mobile phone, etc. Walking very late by yourself on the streets in the tourist area is often unsafe. Avoid asking the cab drivers for recommended nightspots.
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Most cab drivers are paid by KTVs and lounges to bring in foreign tourists. Usually when you walk in they will tell you a set of pricing which seems reasonable; but when you check out the bill will include a number of extravagant charges. Do your homework beforehand and tell the cab drivers where you want to go. Insist on going to where you want to go despite their persuasion. There are a number of reputable pubs and disco around. Try going to those which have a preponderance of foreigners. Overall Vietnam poses no risks for a prudent traveller.
Much of Vietnam's ecology has been severely damaged and very little wildlife remains, let alone anything dangerous to humans. Venomous snakes such as Cobras may still be common in rural areas but virtually everything else has either gone extinct or exist in such small numbers that the chances of even seeing them are remote. Tigers may exist in very small numbers in remote areas, but this is yet to be proven.
Saltwater crocodiles once thrived in southern Vietnam but have been locally extinct for at least 20 years, although a re-introduced population of Siamese crocodiles thrives at a lake in Cat Tien National Park. Tropical diseases such as malaria , dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in rural Vietnam. Malaria isn't as much a concern in the bigger cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, but always remember to take mosquito liquid repellent with you. It may be very useful, especially in the countryside and crowded neighbourhoods. Thanks to much improved hygiene conditions in recent years, cooked food sold by street vendors and in restaurants, including blended ice drinks, are mostly safe.
Just use your common sense and follow the tips under the Traveller's diarrhoea article and you'll most likely be fine. Souvenir shops in Vietnam sell lots of T-shirts with the red flag and portraits of "Uncle Ho. It's common to be stared at by locals in some regions, especially in the central and northern side of the country, and in rural areas. Southerners are usually more open. Asian women traveling with non-Asian men could attract attention, being considered lovers, escorts or prostitutes by some people and may even be harassed or insulted. These attitudes and behaviors have lessened but have not yet disappeared.
The most surprising thing about the topic of the Vietnam War the American or Reunification War, as it is called in Vietnam is that the Vietnamese do not bear any animosity against visitors from the countries that participated, and in the South many Vietnamese especially older Vietnamese involved in the conflict or with relatives in the war appreciate or at least respect the previous Western military efforts against the North.
Two-thirds of the population were born after the war and are quite fond of the West. That said, there are some attractions which present a very anti-American viewpoint on the war's legacy, which may make some feel uncomfortable. Be sensitive if you must discuss past conflicts. Well over 3 million Vietnamese died, and it is best to avoid any conversations that could be taken as an insult to the sacrifices made by both sides during the wars. Do not assume that all Vietnamese think alike, as many Vietnamese in the South are still bitter about having lost against the North.
The official government relationship with the PR China has deteriorated significantly recently as the two countries are locked in a territorial dispute over maritime borders; stay neutral and be aware. It is a long silk dress which is split on its side. For centuries, it has been acknowledged that Aodai is the representative of the country and people. Vietnam is somewhat influenced by the Chinese including their way of dressing due to four thousand years being under Chinese reign.