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VIETNAM – a booming destination with great cultural diversity

– Hanoi: Walking Tours and Cooking Classes
– Crafts and youth training projects
– Halong Bay
– Sapa and Ethnic Diversity
– Backroads and rivers into Laos… further below
– Hue and Hoi An
– Ho Chi Minh City accomodations

Hidden Hanoi
Walking Tours and Cooking Classes: www.hiddenhanoi.com.vn

Yin Yang Hanoi – a great restaurant at 78 Ma May Street in Old Quarter.
The owner Mr. Lam is also a great English speaking guide.
Email: yin.yanghanoi@gmail.com

KOTO – Know One Teach One
hospitality training for street kids and underpriveleged youth with their restaurant close to Temple of Literature in Hanoi. www.koto.com.au

Craft Link – supporting traditional artisans
an outlet shop located next to KOTO Restaurant in Hanoi – www.craftlink.com.vn

Hanoi Opera House performance info:  www.hanoioperahouse.org.vn

Accomodations:
Hanoi:
Maison d’ Hanoi
boutique hotel just off Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem lake with quiet ambience. www.hanovahotel.com

Splendid Star Grand – very friendly family hotel with a new wing-lovely touches and standard with reasonable rates on a small quiet alley behind Au Trieu and St. Jospeh’s Cathedral- close to nice Cafes and easy walk to Hoan Kiem Lake and Old Quarter and quieter too! www.splendidstarhotel.com click on Splendid Star Grand!

The Metropole Sofitel – luxury close to Hanoi Opera House. A treat for High Tea!

 

Halong Bay:
Red Dragon Cruise operates various junks and suggest for small groups to take your own junk on charter to explore the more hidden coves around Bai Tu Long Bay. www.reddragoncruise.com

For luxury join in cruise:
Indochina Sails Junks www.indochinasails.com

 

Sapa:

Sapa guiding and arrangements by David Le Duc Tho email: davidsptour@gmail.com
www.sapaparadiseviewhotel.com

Chau Long 2 Hotel – 4 star with great view and quiet location. www.chaulonghotel.com

Victoria Hotels from Sapa to he south
unique boutique accomodations from up north while visiting ethnic groups around Sapa to the south of the Mekong Delta – www.victoriahotels.asia

Baguette et Chocolat in Sapa – training project for ethnic minority youth- a fun restaurant and guest accomodations – www.hoasuaschool.com

Trains to Sapa: to check out the options www.traintosapa.com

Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi – excellent and a must visit for those venturing up around Sapa. www.vme.org.vn

Overland into Laos  –  read more below.

 

Hue:

Pilgrimage Village one of the finest small luxury resorts- truly a special oasis 15min drive from center and close to quiet pagodas. www.pilgrimagevillage.com

Ideal Hotel – new 3 star in central location. www.idealhotel.com.vn

Orchid Hotel comfy 3-star hotel right in the commercial area www.orchidhotel.com.vn

Healing the Wounded Heart Shop

beautiful crafts and eco friendly items produced by disabled artisans and supporting heart surgeries for poor children. On Vo Thi Sau Street supported by www.spiralfoundation.org

Tu Hieu Pagoda – where Thich Nhat Hanh first ordained as a monk is a peaceful oasis to visit in Hue. Learn more about Thich Nhat Hanh www.plumvillage.org

Legacy of War and Links to good work today in DMZ area: www.endthepainproject.org

Project RENEW: www.landmines.org.vn

 

Hoi An:

Luxury accomodations:
Anantara Resort – short walk from ancient town. – www.anantara.com

Hoi An:
Reaching out Vietnam – beautiful crafts produced by disabled artisans- and check out their new Tea House close by! www.reachingoutvietnam.com

Streets Cafe – great place to dine supporting this training project: www.streetsinternational.org

 

Ho Chi Minh City ( Sai Gon as District 1 is still called!)

The Continental for nostalgia opposite the Opera House – www.continentalhotel.com.vn

Saigon River Boutique Hotel – not right on the river, but a short walk away – very friendly and comfortable budget hotel: www.saigonriverhotel.com

 

Back roads and rivers into Laos

The border crossing at Dienbien-phu in Northwest Vietnam is now open to cross into Laos. This is an exciting new backroads and river journey by local boat ( smaller than the boats down the Mekong) for 2 days along the beautiful Nam Ou River to Luang Prabang.

From Hanoi, you can either drive or fly to Dien bienphu.

Or journey up to Sapa by train and spend 3 nights beyond Sapa exploring ethnic villages of northwest Vietnam enroute to Dien bienphu.

Crossing the border, Lao visa is available upon arrival. It’s about a 2 hour semi-rough ride down to Muang Khua on the Nam Ou. Either overnight in simple guesthouse, or if arrive early enough in the morning- continue by local boat down the Nam Ou as far as Nong Khiau for overnight.

Nong Khiau Riverside Resort: www.nongkiau.com

The next full day down the beautiful Nam Ou will flow you into the Mekong at the Pak Ou Buddha caves.From here its about an 1 hour further downriver to Luang Prabang.

If wishing your own boat charter with guide down the Mekong or Nam Ou, or interested to explore more of northern Laos,
contact Khamsouk of Muang Lao Tours in Luang Prabang.
Email: khamsouk.laos@gmail.com

Double check on the road works progress from Vietnam border down to Muang Khua in Laos!

For those wanting to get to Laos quicker, nonstop flight Hanoi to Luang Prabang is only 1 hour.

Further backroads into Laos
Viengxay Caves, Houaphanh province

Another fascinating overland experience to cross into Laos at Sop Hao, a few hours drive from Hanoi. Here you enter Houaphanh province and can visit the Caves and for Hidden City of Viengxay where for 9 years during the massive US bombing of the Vietnam war, the Pathet Lao leadership was formed in 1975. Today the caves are open to visit and is an eye-opening experience. Serving as a symbol of peace today amidst the striking limestone peaks, an informative visitor centre with local guides are happy to welcome you.

Important
Confirm if Lao visa on arrival is available at Sop Hao!

Accomodations in Viengxay are more for the seasoned traveller. About an hour and half drive from Viengxay is Xam Neua, the capital of Houaphanh province. Very famous for the master Tai Daeng (Red Tai) ethnic group weavers of Laos. Continuing west about 9 hours drive on good road these days will bring you to the Plain of Jars. Or one of the most scenic routes of Laos is the road from Xam Neua to Nong Khiau – 12-15 hours and then arriving at the Nong Khiau Riverside will be a nice treat. www.nongkiau.com

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