Posts Tagged ‘Hanoi’

Indochina’s Heritage

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Immerse yourself in the trio of beautiful and varied World Heritage locations in Luang Prabang, Halong Bay and Angkor with our 15-day journey of discovery.

Monks at Angkor Wat

Monks at Angkor Wat

Indochina is home to several stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites and this signature trip takes in the most impressive of these in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Starting in lovely and languid Luang Prabang, we enjoy the combination of rich culture and lush nature in this charming town. Flying to elegant Hanoi, we pay our respects to Uncle Ho and explore the exotic Old Quarter. Halong Bay is the only natural World Heritage Site on this list, but it is undoubtedly one of the most memorable with a forest of karst peaks soaring skywards from the sea. Flying south, we stop in Hoi An to explore the compelling historic house, tailor shops, galleries and cafes of this atmospheric place. We leave some time to enjoy the beach before flying on to Siem Reap, our base to visit the simply sublime temples of Angkor. Our visit includes all the world famous temples such as Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building, as well as some of the floating communities of the Tonle Sap.

Contact our Sales Team at Hanuman for more information or visit our website at http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Indochina/World_Heritage_Indochina.html.

Tour of the Week: Tickle Your Tastebuds

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Our Tour of the Week provides an opportunity to tickle your tastebuds with our Culinary Vietnam special.

Culinary Tour of Vietnam

Culinary Tour of Vietnam

This week-long trip is designed to stimulate the senses by introducing visitors to the delicate aromas and spices that make Vietnamese food such a delectable experience. Starting in Hanoi, we bring visitors face to face with the sights, sounds and smells of the Old Quarter. Our first epicurean encounter is at Highway 4 Restaurant, famed for its blend of modern Vietnamese and traditional hilltribe cuisine. We learn some signature recipes before continuing our journey to Halong Bay, a stunning world heritage site where nature has run amok. After enjoying a night on a traditional junk, we travel south to Hoi An, a timeless trading port on the Thu Bon River. We visit a local market to shop for produce before travelling downriver to the Red Bridge Cooking School. Set amid ricefields on the banks of the river, it is an inspiring location to learn the art of the Vietnamese table. We leave some free time to soak up the charms of Hoi An or explore nearby Marble Mountains or the Cham Museum in Danang.

For more details on our 7 day/6 night Culinary Vietnam itinerary, visit the Hanuman website at: http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Vietnam/Culinary_Vietnam.html.

Featured Tour: Hanoi to Luang Prabang Overland

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Following on from a busy ATF in Vientiane last week, the Hanuman team was inspired to pick this 15-day overland trip through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of mainland Southeast Asia as the tour of the month.

Where the Mekong River meets the Nam Ou

Where the Mekong River meets the Nam Ou

One of Hanuman’s more adventurous itineraries, this trip offers an intriguing overland journey from Hanoi to Luang Prabang via some remote and beautiful regions. Starting out in historic Hanoi, we explore the lively Old Quarter of the city and some of the city’s most famous sights. We travel to majestic Halong Bay to experience a night aboard a traditional junk, perfect to soak up the stunning scenery. From here, we swing west into the striking mountain landscapes around Mai Chau, our base for some trekking amid the ricefields and villages of the White Thai minority. We then cross the mountainous border with Laos to explore the infamous Vieng Xai Caves, which served as a secret base for the Pathet Lao leadership during the war. Our journey continues through some remote parts of Laos to the enigmatic Plain of Jars. The culmination of this adventurous trip is the charming World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, an atmospheric town of ancient wats and designer shops.

For more details on this off-the-beaten-track itinerary, see: http://www.hanuman.travel/Tours/Indochina/Vietnam_Laos_Revealed.html

Hoa Sua Offers a Helping Hand in Hanoi

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Romdeng in Cambodia, Mak Phet in Laos, KOTO in Vietnam, the Mekong region is famous for its training restaurants, but one of the first to open, Hoa Sua in Hanoi, continues its excellent work in the Vietnamese capital and beyond.

Hoa Sua: Restaurant and cooking classes in Hanoi

Creative Cuisine at Hoa Sua Restaurant

Creative Cuisine at Hoa Sua Restaurant

Who and What: Hoa Sua is a vocational school offering tourism and hospitality training in Hanoi. Our objective is to contribute to the fight against poverty in Vietnam by training young people, especially disadvantaged and disabled youth. Established in 1994, to date the school has helped nearly 4,000 youth find stable jobs. Every year, the school recruits 500 young people who live in difficult circumstances.

The Experience: Visit Hoa Sua restaurant (28A Ha Hoi), Le Croissant (21 Ha Hoi and 54 Xuan Dieu) and Café Smile (5 Van Mieu) for meals or snacks. Everything that you eat in these places has been made by the students as part of their training. Attend our Vietnamese cooking classes and learn about the country’s gastronomic culture.

From Hanuman: Hoa Sua is a very successful vocation training restaurant offering students a helping hand into hospitality. Cooking classes are an excellent way to discover the secrets of the Vietnamese kitchen and include tips on beautiful presentation. The restaurant offers set menus of French and Vietnamese cuisine, plus there are more cafes dotted about the city, including Croissant and Cafe Smile.

Baguette & Chocolat: Cafe helping disadvantaged youth in Sapa and Hanoi

A Touch of Paris at Baguette & Chocolat

A Touch of Paris at Baguette & Chocolat

Who and What: Baguette & Chocolat provides disadvantaged and disabled youth with tourism and hospitality training. We have a beautiful Baguette & Chocolat restaurant in Hanoi on the spacious and lush grounds of the Museum of Ethnology as well as a Baguette&Chocolat charming café and mini hotel in the highlands of Sapa.

The Experience: Stay or dine at Baguette & Chocolat Sapa. Your participation is integral to the project’s ongoing success to give ethnic minority youth an opportunity to put their skills and knowledge into practice. Visit Baguette & Chocolat Hanoi and relax in the calm shade of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The menu includes both Vietnamese and western favourites, French bakery and drinks.

From Hanuman: Baguette & Chocolat produces some of the most delightful cakes and pastries this side of Paris and the prices are very reasonable, as it is part of training initiative by Hoa Sua to give disadvantaged people a headstart in tourism. The Sapa bakery is a lovely place to escape on a foggy day and enjoy a moist croissant with some strong coffee. The Hanoi branch is located in the impressive Museum of Ethnology.

The new Hanuman Travel Collection 2013/14

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The latest Hanuman Travel Collection 2013/14 is back from the printer and we have uploaded it live to the Hanuman website at www. hanuman.travel.

The Hanuman Travel Collection 2013/14 is now available for browsing, including Inspirational Holidays, Authentic Journeys, Original Adventures and Unique Experiences. The collection features our recommended hotels and cruises around the region, as well as themed trips to help your journey planning.

Myanmar is new for 2013/14, including 10 pages of inspirational advice on planning trips to this enigmatic destination. As well as our recommended destinations and journey planner, we also showcase our signature unique experiences and some responsible tourism initiatives.  Stand out hotels include the historic Strand in Yangon, the Rupar Mandalar Hotel in Mandalay and the Amara Ocean Resort in Ngapali. We also feature two of the most popular cruises, Ayravata Cruise and the Road to Mandalay under our Cruising section.

Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Introducing Myanmar

“Myanmar is one of the most desirable destinations on the planet in this day and age, now that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has invited travellers to visit once again and the government continues to surpise observers with its reform programme. The shimmering spire of Shwedagon Paya is a symbol of the nation, but this enigmatic country is home to the incredible temples of Bagan, the crumbling ancient capitals around Mandalay and the stunning natural beauty of Inle Lake. Further afield lie unspoilt beaches, charming colonial relics and unique local cultures. Quite simply, as Kipling once said, “Burma is quite unlike any place you know about”.

To view the brochure online, please visit http://www.hanuman.travel/pdf/HNM-brochure-2012-13Edition.pdf

 

KOTO Comes Good

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
KOTO in Hanoi

KOTO in Hanoi

KOTO is making a real difference to lives in Hanoi and Saigon.

KOTO is an extraordinarily successful not-for-profit project that provides career training and guidance to disadvantaged kids in Hanoi and now Saigon. Its flagship stunning four-storey modernist cafe-bar-restaurant overlooking the Temple of Literature is in Hanoi, where the interior design has been taken very seriously, from the stylish seating to the fresh flowers by the till. Daily specials are chalked up on a blackboard and the short menu has everything from excellent Vietnamese food to yummy pita wraps and beer-battered fish n chips. KOTO (meaning for Know One, Teach One) offers a vocational training program that is changing the lives of many street children, providing them with skills, dignity and pride. Every six months they recruit 25 to 30 trainees in a 2-year programme. Founded by one of our old friends, former tour leader Jimmy Pham, KOTO played host to then President Bill Clinton on his visit to Vietnam. KOTO chefs pass on the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine with daily cooking classes if you want to become an expert yourself. In Hanoi, they open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week and for dinner every night except Mondays. In their Saigon restaurant, they open for lunch daily and for evening dinner from Wednesday through to Saturday. And earlier this year, a new venture, Pots ‘n Pans’ with a focus on innovative Vietnamese cuisine opened in Hanoi, offering lunch and dinner seven days a week. Take our recommendation and pay them a visit.

Water Spectacular

Monday, September 10th, 2012
Vietnam's Water Puppets

Vietnam’s Water Puppets

Hanoi’s Water Puppets are Vietnam’s Punch & Judy.

Northern Vietnam is the birthplace of water puppetry (roi nuoc) and is at least 1,000 years old. Hanoi is the best place to catch a water puppet show, with the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre at the center of the action with six daily performances, though it’s wise to book well ahead. Contemporary performances use a square tank of waist-deep water for their stage; the water is murky to conceal the mechanisms that operate the puppets. The wooden puppets, up to 50cm long and weighing as much as 15kg, are decorated with glossy paint. Each lasts only about three to four months if used continually, so puppet production provides several villages outside Hanoi with a full-time livelihood. Eleven puppeteers, each trained for a minimum of three years, are involved in the performance. They stand in the water behind a bamboo screen and unfortunately suffer from a host of water-borne diseases, an occupational hazard. Some puppets are attached to a long pole, while others are on a floating base, with rudders to help guide them. The skills required to operate the puppets were always kept secret and passed only from father to son, never to daughters who might marry and take the secrets with them.

Accompanying the action in the water is the music provided by a band. It includes wooden flutes, gongs, drums, bamboo xylophones and the stringed zither. The performances consist of a number of vignettes depicting pastoral scenes and legends, like the battle of the fisherman with his prey, or fire-breathing dragons. These performances are a lot of fun, the puppets are amusing and graceful and the water setting allows the puppets to appear and disappear as if by magic. Spectators sitting in the front-row seats can expect a bit of a splash. You have been warned. If you are not heading to Hanoi, then there are a couple of locations in Ho Chi Minh City that cater for the one of the “must-see” tourist experiences.

Tour of the Week – Adrenaline Cambodia & Vietnam

Thursday, July 19th, 2012
The adrenaline rush in Vietnam

The adrenaline rush in Vietnam

Try the excitement of our 16-day Adrenaline Tour of Cambodia and Vietnam featuring the best of the adventures to be found in both countries.

Enjoying a different type of journey through Cambodia begins our adrenaline tour which includes a wide range of activities from cycling to horse-riding to quad-biking and much more besides. We begin in Siem Reap with sunrise visits to Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, cycling out to ancient temples and floating villages, quad-bike fun at sunset and a helicopter flight over the Angkor temples. We head south to lively Phnom Penh and take to the water for two boat trips, cycling on an island in the Mekong River and the rest of the highlights of this cool capital city. Our next stop is Vietnam and this section of your trip will get the blood coursing through your veins with some adventurous cycling and beautiful hiking in the mountains, as well as kayaking and climbing in Halong Bay. Starting out in elegant Hanoi with a cyclo experience through the buzzing Old Quarter, we then head north by night train to Sapa, the unofficial capital of Vietnam’s highlands. We enjoy some trekking and biking around the valleys and villages of the Sapa region before travelling to majestic Halong Bay. Heading off the visitor trail, we kayak some caves and grottoes and then wind up on Cat Ba Island where we can try some rock climbing amid the karsts or explore some of the remote and hidden coves and beaches. If it’s adventure you want, Cambodia and Vietnam will certainly deliver. You can take a relaxing side trip to the coastal beaches to wind down or if you need even more adventure, try our adrenaline tour of Laos.

Kids stuff in Vietnam

Friday, July 6th, 2012
Vietnamese children at play

Vietnamese children at play

Going to Vietnam with your family? Here are some things to look out for on your travels.

In north Vietnam, Hanoi is a fun city for children thanks to the all-action Old Quarter and the city’s many parks and lakes. Keep an eye open for motorbikes, but wandering the streets of the Old Quarter has enough diversions to keep older children entertained, and plenty of ice-cream shops and fruit markets for little treats along the way. If they like to dabble with a bit of cooking, then try the special interactive Kids Club session at the Hanoi Cooking Centre. Boating is a fun family activity and there is the choice of bigger boats on Tay Ho or pedal-powered boats in Lenin Park. Hanoi Water Park is a great place for children to cool off, but it’s only open half the year (Apr-Nov) and is fifteen minutes from central Hanoi by taxi. Come evening-time and the water-puppet shows are a must for any Punch and Judy lovers, but beware if you sit in the front row, you might get wet.

In Ho Chi Minh City there are a couple of water parks at Dam Sen and Dai The Gioi complete with water slides, rope swings and large pools, lots of leafy gardens and many cafes and ice-cream shops that are family-friendly. There are also plenty of activities for older children to enjoy such as ten-pin bowling at Diamond Superbowl and rock-climbing at X-Rock, which has a 16-metre climbing wall. Beyond the city is Dai Nam Theme Park, the closest thing to Disneyland in Vietnam. Here you can enjoy the amusement park, a zoo, a beach and temple complex.

Your children will become the center of attention everywhere you go so be prepared. Outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, then the beaches of Nha Trang are a big attraction, sleeping on a boat and exploring the caves at Halong Bay is an adventure, and the monkeys and education elements of the Cuc Phuong Primate Rescue Center may be just what your children are looking for to spice up their Vietnam holiday.

Reinventing the Low Season in Indochina

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The majority of visitors to Indochina prefer to travel during the high season which runs from November through March. Here are some insightful reasons to buck the trend and travel during low season which we prefer to call the ‘green’ season.

Angkor is certainly more crowded than it used to be. That is why Hanuman has carved a niche for itself as the company that approaches the temples differently, striving to avoid the crowds and to make the experience more personal, more intimate, more spiritual. Visitor numbers have risen tenfold in a decade from around 250,000 to around 2.5 million. However, the vast majority of these visitors are travelling during high season and the five months from November to March. Why not consider promoting Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam during green season? Here are a few highlights about the green season that could make the difference.

Rain clouds over Angkor Wat

Rain clouds over Angkor Wat... and not a tourist in sight.

Saving Money

In these difficult economic times, price matters. Until recently, there was little difference between high season and low season prices, so there was no real economic incentive to promote the region during green season. This has all changed with the advent of the global crisis and green season rates are now substantially lower than high season, particularly for some mid-range to high-end hotels and long-haul flights. A number of hotels in places such as Siem Reap, Luang Prabang and Hoi An are offering discounted rates of 30% to 50% off the high season price. This particularly applies to Myanmar, where high season rates at hotels are spiraling out of control, but low season rates remain affordable.

Avoiding crowds
Peak season is a busy time and it means the leading destinations (and by default the leading hotels) are very busy. Travel off-season and the numbers plummet. This means the sights are less crowded and the hotels less busy, adding up to a more relaxed and serene experience. In the past week, our team has been in both Luang Prabang and Siem Reap and it is very tranquil compared to the high season. It almost feels like a flashback to bygone days when Cambodia and Laos were truly off-the-beaten-path and only for the most adventurous travellers. This can be particularly important for the more wealthy and discerning traveller who really wants a different experience. It is that much harder to create with ten times the number of tourists in town. The best rooms are available, the best places calm and peaceful and the best restaurants not overcrowded. Coupled with price, this is quite an incentive.

The Weather
This is the big fear when it comes to green season travel. What will the weather be like? Well the honest answer is that we don’t know anymore. Global warming, El Nino, unexpected typhoons, many elements have combined to ensure the weather is not as predictable as it once was. The monsoon no longer arrives and departs to schedule.  Even when it rains, the showers are usually short and sharp, falling at the end of the day, some time between 5pm and 8pm. Yes, there may be some instant floods here and there, but this can be quite a spectacle in itself. So the weather should no longer be an obstacle for a low season visit, as it is too unpredictable these days. If we are choosing our favourite green season months, then June to August are probably the best. May is very hot in many areas and still arid, while September is traditionally the wettest, although in recent years Siem Reap has experienced major flooding in October. There’s never been a perfect season to travel to Vietnam, as there are microclimates up and down the country, so make that the perfect excuse to travel to Indochina when you want and not when everyone else does.

Spectacular Clouds
Well it’s linked to the weather, but the incredible clouds that appear during the wet season are something to behold. Like post-nuclear mushroom clouds, they tower in the sky and make for some spectacular sunsets. These are clouds the like of which you may never have seen. Similarly the storms are a force of nature and witnessing one roll in across the Mekong River from Luang Prabang to Can Tho is something visitors will never forget.

The Landscape
Travel in many parts of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar from December to April and it will be dry and arid in the countryside as the rice has already been harvested. Travel in the green season and the landscape is a rich tapestry of emerald greens glistening in the sun. Not only are the paddy fields more alive, but the lakes, rivers and streams are flowing with water, making for faster and safer boat trips across the region. The moats and ponds at the temples of Angkor fill up, making for spectacular reflections for photographs. The moss and lichen that clings to many temples comes alive, adding a dramatic carpet of green or orange to many of the ancient stones.

So whether you are looking for better value, a more intimate experience without the crowds or a more spectacular landscape, the low season can deliver. Add these together and it might just be a better time to travel to the countries of the Mekong region.

HanumanAlaya is playing its part in promoting the green season with an incredible 50% all rooms from now through until 30 September 2012. For more details, visit http://www.hanumanalaya.com/.