Friday, November 29, 2013

Vietnam: Hill tribe treks

By Marty Silk

The French colonialists dubbed Vietnam's Muong Hoa Valley area the "Tonkinese Alps" and walking in these mountains is hard work.

 Muong Hoa Valley

Clinging to a clump of grass with one hand and a thin bamboo strand with the other, I feel myself sliding down the hill.

My feet slip down the steep path and my rump hits the ground hard, leaving a big muddy patch on my white shorts.

Finally I've stumbled, after three days of trekking through the wild Muong Hoa Valley near Sapa, in northwest Vietnam.

I've sloshed through rice paddies, scrambled up thin dirt tracks in bamboo forests and hopped over rocks in shallow mountain streams for almost 13 kilometres.

But in one moment of hesitation, so close to the end of the trail, I've ended my personal quest to remain upright.

Our whole group erupts in laughter, but after laughing so hard at all those who've fallen before me it's only fair.

The Muong Hoa Valley is criss-crossed by myriads of tiny bamboo aquaducts and mud channels which feed into planted terrace plots - mostly rice and some corn.

The plots are occasionally broken by small fenced ponds full of ducks and geese or even fish.

There are buffalo, pigs and cows kept in shady pens and chickens pecking around in the fields and paddies.

The local hill tribes - the Hmong, Dzao, Tay, Giay, Muong, Tai, Hoa, Xa Pho - have turned these heights into an agricultural powerhouse.

There's no shortage of water here, the sounds and sights of it flowing are always nearby.

And it's hot, incredibly hot - any breeze is a blessing during a trek.

Sure-footed Hmong women constantly trail you, waiting for any slip or stumble, ready to reach out with a helping hand when you do.

These women will be with you all day, walking many kilometres and asking "your country? your age?" and "your name?"

These questions turn into a friendship, but it can be costly.

At the end of the day they open woven grass backpacks and expect you to buy whatever knickknacks they have inside.

So you become fiercely independent, prepared to fall, eager to avoid any unexpected shopping.

But in the end you soften, realising that with hundreds of tourists walking through their homes and paddocks every day, it's only fair these women are allowed to make a buck or two out of us.

Our guide, a chirpy Hmong woman named Chai, leads us to a local homestay for the night.

We'd been expecting dirt floors, mosquito nets and painful broken english conversations, but we're surprised by a modern looking wooden house with showers, cold beers, power sockets to charge our smartphones and even Wi-Fi internet.

The beds are set around a central living room on two levels, there are wooden framed beds downstairs and simple mattresses upstairs.

As the sun sets over the peaks above and a calm spreads over the valley, we take in the scenery and rest our weary legs.

We help our hosts making spring rolls packed with wild mushrooms, but apart from that all we can do is sit, watch and wait.

Dinner is a smorgasbord of stir-fried pork, beef, tofu, crisp fried spring rolls and steamed rice followed by a pungent and biting shot of rice wine.

Afterwards, we mill about in the courtyard wondering what to do, while our homestay family watch Vietnamese sitcoms loudly in the kitchen.

There's a certain peace or meditation in trekking through the Muong Hoa Valley, which sadly feels as if it's on the cusp of being overrun by tourist hordes.

So before things change, it's probably time to go and see the place - endless rice terraces cascading downhill, a hard sun, the gentle trickle of water, wind rustling bamboo stalks - one step at a time.

Firmly treading, occasionally squelching and that dreadful sliding sound that only ends in mud and laughter.


* Bring enough water to last you at least a day, two 1.25L bottles

* Wear thick, waterproof hiking boots or a pair of old shoes, as there will be mud, lots of mud

* Slather yourself with plenty of strong sunscreen, wait half an hour, then put on strong insect repellent, then wait at least an hour to give it all time to dry before setting off

* A raincoat or poncho is essential

* Walk at a slow, steady pace and find a place to rest in the shade

* Bend the knees and walk quickly in steep up or downhill sections of the track, it gives you a lower centre of gravity and makes it a shorter fall if you do

* Don't forget to take in the surrounding scenery, it's a truly majestic part of the world.


GETTING THERE: The Muong Hoa Valley is about 380km northwest of Hanoi. The most popular route is the bumpy overnight train to Lao Cai and then a bus up to Sapa, which is about 38km away. A local guide will walk you into the valley, about 8km from Sapa.

STAYING THERE: For accommodation, local homestays offer lodging and food at the cheapest rates, while also helping out local tribal people. Most have toilets, showers and some have Wi-Fi internet too. A local guide can organise homestays.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Sapa Trekking & Homestay tour.At an elevation of 1,600 meters, Sapa is a delightful former French hill station situated in the mountainous region of Vietnam's northwest, close to the Chinese border. The region is home to many ethnic minority groups, each wearing traditional and colorful attire. This trip includes a trek through the hills and valleys of the Sapa region, discovering several different minorities along the way. You will experience overnight accommodation in the hospitable villages of Giay and Tay ethnic minorities. The apparent hardships are worth it though as we walk through some of the most spectacular scenery that Vietnam has to offer and experience unique villages culture.
  • Awesome scenery
  • Rice terraces
  • Colorful minority groups 
  • Homestays in minority villages

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top Ten Things Do Not Miss in Vietnam

Take a cooking class
From Pho to spring rolls, one of the best things about Vietnam is its delicious and varied cuisine. Join in a cooking lesson and try your hand at whipping up some dishes yourself. Small groups will often go to the market in the morning, before spending the day learning to cook their way around the nation’s hearty and aromatic dishes. Hoi An is a particularly good place to do this. It’s great fun, and a skill you can take home with you.

To market
The markets themselves are also worth a day of exploration. Try to find the strangest looking or smelling food (and be warned about the pungent Durian fruit!). Finding out what people in different cultures consider a delicacy is always interesting to see. And the Colonial French presence means if you want something a bit different, you can also sample the delights of French-Vietnamese fusion cuisine. A personal favourite is Cho Lon market in the Chinese influenced District 5 of Saigon or the ever-lively Dong Ba market in Hue -lots of “interesting” stuff.

Get some glad-rags
Hoi An is famous for its tailors and the ideal place to get some swanky clothes made up on the cheap. The city’s wealth of tailor shops will make you any thing from a made-to-measure ball gown to a winter coat in just a few hours. The clothes are cheap to buy and quick to make, so if you have the time this can be a fun  and useful thing to do!

Get on track
To make your way off the beaten track! Go by overnight train to somewhere exciting. The trains are not for everybody but are a novel way to travel and make the journey feel like an adventure. There are a range of travel options to suit, whether you want a private cabin, or to share and meet other travellers and locals on the train. The trains in the north, and between central & northern Vietnam offer the most comfortable options. The Victoria Express to Sapa is Vietnam’s answer to the Orient Express though…not quite the same, but an amazing experience.

Visit the Mekong Delta
The overnight river cruises down in the Mekong Delta are lovely. The best way to explore the delta is by boat, and taking a 2 day overnight cruise will allow you escape to the remoter areas of the Delta and see local floating markets. This is also the perfect place to experience a homestay with a local family for the evening, and see how a traditional home is run in Vietnam. Staying in a village or at a small community gives you a different perspective on life in rural Vietnam. Most homestays are very basic, offering just simple accommodation but make for a great experience.

Get on your bike
Take a cyclo bike trip around the old town Hue with its  colonial style. After sightseeing and walking around the Citadel and tombs sitting back in a cyclo is a relaxing way of seeing this town. Whilst in Hue, take the opportunity to take a boat trip down the possibly misleadingly named Perfume River.

Just relax
Have a well-earned  break on one of Vietnam’s beautiful beaches. The stunning and unspoilt Cham Island  is arguably one of the country’s most beautiful and undiscovered: white sands, palm trees, monkeys, snorkelling and sun. Lovely.

Get back to nature
Tour around the beautiful UNESCO world heritage site, Halong Bay. You can rent a Junk and take a trip around the bay. An even better option is to stay on board a boat for a night or even two and get out to some of the less visited areas of the bay to really appreciate the magic and serenity. You are more likley to see the bay at its most picturesque too.

Grab some cheap eats
Vietnam’s answer to the pop-up shop, tiny makeshift eateries  known as ‘dust cafes’ will appear on the pavements, serving  bowls of noodles for around 60p or $1. Can’t argue with that. The street cafes are some of the best places to eat and Hanoi’s old quarter is home to some of the most lively street cafes visited by locals and foreigners alike, testament to their authenticity and quality.

Experience Saigon like a local
Brave the hectic streets of  Saigon, by scooter and see how the locals get around. Intially quite scary, but lots of fun and the best way to get around. Approximately 10 million motor bikes hit the streets of Vietnam everyday, and Saigon is no exception.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Family Adventures in Vietnam tour.With its stunning natural landscapes, millennia-old history, exciting cosmopolitan cities, friendly hamlets and mélange of cultural influences, Vietnam has it all. And there’s no better way to become acquainted with this vibrant country than by exploring it under your own locomotion and at your own pace. Walk past pagodas and temples in old Hanoi, kayak amid labyrinthine limestone outcrops in Halong Bay, bike past vibrant green rice paddies, investigate magnificent historic sites in Hue and stroll through the enchanting city of Hoi An, one of Vietnam’s architectural gems. Round out your days of discovery with meals of delicious local cuisine and stays at warm welcoming hotels.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weaving through the Central Highland’s legendary road

Travelling on a bendy road linking Nha Trang City in Khanh Hoa province and Da Lat City in Lam Dong Central Highlands stuns visitors and leaves them in awe.

Driving along the road reflecting the sunlight, wooden-made houses are seen looming among the hills and mountains.

The road connecting the coastal city of Nha Trang and the flower city of Da Lat.It used to be that to travel from Nha Trang to Da Lat, visitors had to follow the 228-km route Nha Trang - Phan Rang (Ninh Thuan Province)-Da Lat.

In 2002, leaders of Khanh Hoa and Lam Dong provinces agreed to open a new route which shortened the distance between these two famous tourism cities by nearly 90km.

The Nha Trang-Dat Lat route, with its breathtaking scenery of mountains and immense forests, also contributes to the socio-economic development of the two provinces.

At this time of year, it’s easy to feel the distinct weather differences with sunlight in Nha Trang City, coolness at the 1000-metre altitude and white spaces of fog in the boundary between Khanh Hoa and Lam Dong provinces. Passers had their clothes got wet or hair covered with a thin layer of fog, which brought them a feeling of coldness. The scenery is a natural painting. Travelling for an additional 10km, the weather got warmer under the sun.

The 140km Nha Trang-Dat Lat road has become a choice for people who like exploring.

Suspension bridge among mountains
Surrounded by fog
A sight similar to northwestern Vietnam
Seeping in through the mist, the sun starts to appear
 Khanh Vinh District, Khanh Hoa Province
A dreamlike villa in the middle of pipe tree hill 
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Motorbiking the Ho Chi Minh Trail - Complete Challenge tour.The legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail was the supply line used by North Vietnam to link North and South Vietnam during the American War. Soldiers, ammunition, weapons and supplies were carried by hand, bicycle and truck for hundreds of kilometers through the otherwise impenetrable jungle that covered Vietnam’s mountainous border with Laos. A testimony to the ingenuity, fortitude and commitment of the northern Vietnamese, the trail slipped from use at the end of the war and was taken back by the jungle. Recent road work that follow original sections of the trail have changed this. Besides incredible driving, deep in the Vietnamese countryside, this ride takes in the charming ancient trading town of Hoian, Khe Sanh battle site and DMZ. We also take time to stay overnight in a traditional Thai hill tribe and visit to some tribal villages on the way.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Motorbike travelling in mountainous areas in Vietnam

When coming to Vietnam, beside big cities’ well-known tourism destinations, many foreign travellers love spending their time chasing the wind on the road of the wildly mountainous areas by motorbike. We tell you How and Why!

Motorbike Vietnam
Reasons for choosing motorbike
Motorbike is considered the best means of transportation for travelling mountainous areas due to its convenience and initiative. With a motorbike, one is free to go wherever he loves, despite all kinds of road’s condition. He can stop whenever he feels like to take photographs or relaxing, instead of depending on the driver or tour guide. Motorbike helps integrating people with nature and fresh air, and one will never be afraid of motion sickness. If choosing a car, people are likely to waste hours sleeping in passenger’s seat with air condition, not to mention the car sick caused by consecutive slopes and mountain passes. Riding on the motorbike means living on every single kilometer of your itinerary! Moreover, one can ride a motorbike in any kind of terrains, and it is much easier to repair in case of breaking down.

Motorbike Vietnam
Which kind of motorbike and when?
100 cc-or-more semi-automatic motorbikes are all suitable for roads in Northern Vietnam’s mountainous area. The main criteria for choosing motorbike are strong engine, gasoline-saving and flexible packing space.
Weather is one of the most essential issues regarding planning for motorbike trip. The best time for exploring those mighty areas is from late September to the beginning of December or after Tet Nguyen Dan, when there is almost no rain and the temperature is cool. The spring’s rain and summer’s heat in high region somehow are hazardous for health as well as damaging to the road’s quality.

Be well-prepared!
There are indispensable things that one has to bring whenever travelling to remote areas such as specialized clothes and shoes, personal stuff, map, contact information and medical bags. However, a motorbike trip requires more than that. One will have to be well-prepared with a protective helmet and a motorcycle repair tool kit, and of course, certain skills of mending engine. An extra spark-plug and motorbike’s key are always in need. Remember to maintain the whole motorbike before setting off, change the oil and check its tyres, brakes, mirrors, horn and light. Fill up your motorbike with gasoline and know the location of gasoline station!

Motorbike Vietnam
On the way
If possible, traveling in groups of two or three motorbikes with one experienced leader is advisable. All members of the group are required to have detailed itinerary to get rid the risk of getting lost. People should not ride parallel to each other and talk while controlling the motorbike, thus, stop the bike if feeling a need for a conversation.

Pay attention to the bend and ones driving contrariwise and do not drive into other lane. Sometimes, there may be animals like buffaloes, cows, dogs or even pigs crossing the road, so one should decrease the speed and avoid making them panic. At night or in rain weather, when the vision is limited, travelers had better pause the journey for resting and safety reasons.

Other things to remember
  •  Do not ride when you feel tired or sleepy.
  •  Do not ride after drinking alcohol.
  •  Avoid riding too fast or stop without noticing.
  •  Observe carefully and pay attention to road signs.
  • Bring your identity paper and driving license because there will be police checking along the road ( however, they will not be very strict to foreigners)
  •  Be extremely careful when crossing the stream; be sure about the depth of the water to have the best arrangement.
  •  Respect the ethnic minority people and their distinctive culture.
  •  Protect the environment and always remember: Safe is of primary important.
ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Motorcycling adventure in Northern Vietnam tour.The mountainous area of Northern Vietnam has long been famous for its beautiful scenery and great diversity of ethnic minorities. With our adventure motorcycling trip you will make a big loop to experience all the bests that area can offer. Starting in Hanoi you will explore Northwest before jumping into Northeast, back to Hanoi after a day relaxing in Ba Be Lake. The perfect itinerary and the support crew ensure you get the most out of the trip in terms of comfort, enjoyment and adventure. Along the way we encounter dramatic landscapes and sweeping panoramas as the rural population goes about its business. Highlights include the terraced valleys of Sapa, beautiful Ban Gioc Waterfall and many different colorful minority groups. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Travel in Vietnam’s Countryside

Leave Hanoi when you hunger for a countryside dip of the Real Vietnam Countryside! Although Hanoi is a great place to stay, it is still a big city with everything you need. After a while you are just curious what is out there. Because we’ve got loads of time, we’re staying in Hanoi for a while (we will travel through Vietnam in a few weeks together with family who’s coming over) but making short trips to areas not far from here. So, the last few days we’ve stayed in a little village called Mai Chau. Maybe you already read some of my posts about the local market in Mai Chau where we’ve seen a lot of interesting and shocking things as well.

 Vietnam Countryside
This time I want to tell you about what I’ve seen on the way to Mai Chau and about the people there. Starting at the beginning of our stay, the drive up to Mai Chau. Picked up by a big van in Hanoi, we left the busy city for a bit less chaotic atmosphere. After 2,5 hours, the driver stopped at a local plant/animals/food market on top of a mountain along the road. Have a look…
 Vietnam Countryside
The village is not that special. A lot of concrete buildings, shops and big trucks on the main road. Behind these concrete building are hundreds of rice fields and locals working on the field. Did you know that the women maintain the fields? This is from a long long time ago when the women worked on the fields and the men did nothing. Nowadays the men have some business to attend but the women still work on the field. This is a pretty hard job, working in the sun all day, bent over or squat. That’s why they wear these typical Vietnamese hats, to protect them from the sun.

Vietnam Countryside
In these rice fields you can find rice plants and lots of water of course, but did you know that there are also snails, snakes, crabs, frogs and eels living in these waters? Some men go frog or fish hunting during the night as these animals are a good income and apparently delicious.. Oh by the way the frogs make a awful loud sound during the night.

While we were there, we stayed at Mai Chau Nature Place which has bungalows and a homestay in the village. I would recommend the bungalows or a dorm, as these are situated a bit more out of the village and more in the rice fields. They serve you breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want to. All vietnamese food! You can rent bikes here and they have a dance show with traditional Thai dance almost every night.
Vietnam Countryside
Are you interested in the crafts they do in Mai Chau? The women make their own bags, cloths, bracelets and much more by sewing, embroidery and weaving every day. I’ve written a post on the Dutch DIY Blog de TweakFabriek in Dutch, but the pictures will explain the whole story. Have a look for my posts on this amazing blog where you can find really great DIY and inspiration posts.

In area around Mai Chau they build their houses a bit different than the ones in Hanoi nowadays. In former times the people who lived there, had a lot of trouble with the rain fall and floods. That’s one of the reasons why they build their houses on stilts. The other reason is because at that time there was still a wild tiger living in this area. The schema of the houses is very simple. There is only one big room on one side of the house and a kitchen on the other side. That’s why they builded two stairs to enter the house. One staircase was for the men, to receive guests and the other staircase was for the women to go to the kitchen.

Vietnam Countryside
The main big room was usually used as a living room and bedroom. The Thai people slept on the floor with a blanket. The whole family lives together and eventually the children have to take care of their parents. When one of the kids get married, the last one that does, has to take care of their parents. They will live together in one house and if they want “a few nights of privacy” as our tour guide explained, they have to sleep in the kitchen.

These houses are build from wooden stilts, beams and bamboo flooring. I’ve to admit, it felt pretty stable
and safe but you have to be comfortable with vermin. Insects and other little animals are every where. By the way, do you see the concrete on the right side of the rice field? That’s how they regulated the water for the fields. It’s amazing to see their irrigation.

It’s also a lot of work to maintain the rice fields. As you can see there is a lot of weed growing on the sides and also between the rice plants. They have to remove this every day as otherwise the weed will use the water instead of the rice plants.

This is the kitchen floor of a typical Mai Chau house. Bamboo flooring, which is very strong but maybe not so hygienic. As I told you, there is a lot of vermin walking around the house. This is a good example of the methods they use to keep these little animals away from food. This bowl with water keeps ants from climbing up the pantry for food.


ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Trekking Mai Chau tour.Mai Chau is a mountainous area of outstanding natural beauty, inhabited by a Thai and H’mong ethnic minority groups. This trip offers a great combination of cultural expedition and trekking. We trek for three days through the spectacular scenery, visit remote and stay overnight in local homes where we have the chance to get to know these hospitable villages. From the mountainous region of Mai Chau, we travel back to the nation's capital, Hanoi.
  • Awesome scenery
  • Homestays in villages of ethnic minorities
  • Beautiful trails
  • All meals included

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beauty of the special houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority people

Houses made from soil, which are cool in summer and warm in winter, share this special architectural feature of Ha Nhi ethnic minority people in Y Ty Commune.

Houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority
Houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority
Every year, after each crop, Ha Nhi people often build new houses to replace those that are old and deteriorated. After selecting suitable soil samples, they put them  into moulds and then use a pestle to squeeze the soil in as tightly as possible, which helps to create a firm wall. The wall is between 40-50 cm thick and 4-5 metres high. The average area of the houses is from 60-80 square metres.

Houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority
Houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority
After that, they install the parts for the roof. Previously, they used to go to the forest to collect Alang grass for roofing, therefore, when a family began building the roof for the new house their neighbours traveled  to the forest with them to help gather the grass. The grass layers are then weaved into a roof which is up to 50cm thick.

Houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority
Houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority
Bat Xat District has been focusing on tourism development, with tours to places such as Muong Hum and Y Ty, thus, more tourists have come to Y Ty and have had a chance to see these special houses.  However, recently, many local households have replaced the grass rooves with corrugated iron roofing sheets, so that currently, fewer than ten houses with grass rooves are left in Y Ty Commune.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Motorcycling adventure in Northern Vietnam tour.The mountainous area of Northern Vietnam has long been famous for its beautiful scenery and great diversity of ethnic minorities. With our adventure motorcycling trip you will make a big loop to experience all the bests that area can offer. Starting in Hanoi you will explore Northwest before jumping into Northeast, back to Hanoi after a day relaxing in Ba Be Lake. The perfect itinerary and the support crew ensure you get the most out of the trip in terms of comfort, enjoyment and adventure. Along the way we encounter dramatic landscapes and sweeping panoramas as the rural population goes about its business. Highlights include the terraced valleys of Sapa, beautiful Ban Gioc Waterfall and many different colorful minority groups.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cuc Phuong offers a break from city buzz

Cuc Phuong National Park, the first national park in the country, is a relaxing place for tourists to enjoy a few days exploring tropical rainforest and a wonderful place to escape to and provides the perfect backdrop for profound thoughts and musings about life. 

Trekking Cuc Phuong National Park
Established in 1962, the 22,000ha forest stretches across three provinces: Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa. Cuc Phuong hosts more than 2,000 kinds of plants, 2,000 kinds of insects, 122 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, 65 kinds of fish, and 133 kinds of animals. 

Before reaching the forest, deep inside the Tam Diep mountains, the local motorway leads travelers through Ninh Binh's karst mountain ranges, where they can enjoy scenic lakes, caves and rice fields and glimpse the lifestyle of northern countryside farmers. 

A stop at big fields feasts the eyes on immense green young rice paddy and scattered lakes where herds of ducks and buffaloes swim. The peaceful villages are bordered with ranges of karst mountains. 

Yet the most relaxing moments are inside the forest, whether they are riding a bicycle along the lanes, jogging around Mac Lake near the entrance of the forest or trekking to the 1,000-year-old cho xanh (East Indian almond tree, or Terminalia Myriocarpa). 

Trekking Cuc Phuong National Park
The pleasant 3km walk to the tree offers some interesting lessons on wildlife. Equipped with trekking shoes, long-sleeved shirts, hats and water, necks and arms soaked with mosquito repellant, the travelers followed tour guider along the path. 

The smell of wild grass and the moist air and absolute quiet of the old forest drew them in. It seems that time had stopped. There was no signal in our mobile phones. Deep in this forest, they were one with nature. 

A green twig was moving in the green. Tour guider explained that it was an insect called bo que, or walking stick (carausius morosus), famous for its capability to camouflage itself in the environment. 

"Such an insect can disguise itself as a green twig or a brown one depending on the tree that it lives in," adding that there are 25 species of that insect in Vietnam, of which 20 can be found in Cuc Phuong. An adult "walking stick" can reach 60cm in length. 

Through a vast land populated by wild banana, the guide said it was the most reliable source of fresh water in the forest. "Water from wild banana trunk tastes pretty acrid but it is safer than water from streams,". 

"If you get lost, you can cut a wild banana trunk 20-30cm from the ground, make a horisontal hollow in the middle of the trunk and wait a few minutes. The water will soon come through the banana root to fill the hollow," he said, pointing to a wooden climber running along the path, flying from tree to tree, and said it was called day bam bam (woody liana). The longest one in the forest runs 2km long, he said. 

Trekking Cuc Phuong National Park
Passing some small springs, deeper into the dense forest, tour guider stopped at a banyan tree that almost completely covered the weak tree below. He explained that many banyan seeds were brought by birds to host trees. The seed grew thanks to nutrition from the host tree, which it gradually swallowed. For this reason, banyans were sometimes called "tree killers", he said. 

The environment might look friendly to tourists, but for animals and plants there was fierce competition to survive. After more than one hour, they finally reached the famed thousand-year-old tree, which measures 45m in height and 5.5m in diameter. From the wide root emerge two steady trunks, which stand firmly on the ground and grow stunningly tall. 

Travelers enjoyed the scarce rays of light leaking through dense layers of leaves as they returned to the car park, felling happy that we had done exactly as the forest management reminded: "Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs."

Source: VNA

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Trekking Cuc Phuong National Park tour.This tour offers a great opportunity to discover the rich fauna and flora of Cuc Phuong National Park, the most important site for biological research and conservation in northern Vietnam. The challenging trail combines with unique home stay experience making this tour is a real eco & community support tour for those who want to travel actively and responsibly.The second day is relaxing with a boat trip to see the unique “Halong Bay on the rice field” before heading back to Hanoi.
Highlights :
  • Primate Rescue Centre
  • Jungle trails
  • Homestay in village
  • Thung Nang - "The Halong Bay on the rice field"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

White mustard flower season in Moc Chau

The Moc Chau prairie in the late fall days are immersed in a fairy space with immense white mustard flowers in floating morning mist, green tea fields or brilliant wild sunflowers and poinsettias.

 Moc Chau, Son La, white mustard flower
Approximately 200 km from Hanoi, Moc Chau is one of the glamorous destinations of backpackers and photographers, especially in the blooming season of white mustard flowers in October.

The weather in Moc Chau in late autumn is cold, with fog in the early morning and sunlight at noon. In the autumn, Moc Chau is very charming, when wildflowers blossom along the road.

Along the road of 3 km long from Moc Chau town to Nong Truong town, visitors are in stupor before fences of yellow wild sunflowers embracing little houses which are sleeping in the sun.

Moc Chau, Son La, white mustard flower
All the fields and hills in Moc Chau are covered by the pristine white of mustard flowers. According to backpackers, the pine forest of Ban Ang (Ang village) is the most beautiful place. Dozens of hectares of fields in this area is covered by white mustard flowers, mixed with the green color of maize, the red color of poinsettias warm and the deep brown color of soil.

From a distance, the valley of white mustard flowers looks like a spongy white cloud floating above an immense field, soaked in sweet floral fragrance and the cool mist.

This land not only has white mustard flowers but also beautiful green tea hills. When the sun rises, every young green tea leaves are shimmering with tiny dew drops as beautiful crystal.

Moc Chau, Son La, white mustard flower
On the way to the Ngu Dong – Ban On, visitors are surprised to see a tea hill in the shape of five interlocking hearts. In the autumn, amid the immense white mustard flower field, tourists with colored sweaters and scarf are busy taking photo. Moc Chau also welcomes visitors with specialties such as veal fried with ginger and citronella, grilled stream fish, fried mustard and sweet taro with pork bones.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Motorcycling Northwestern Trails tour.Discover Vietnam’s rugged and scenic northwest and its people first hand. By taking to the roads and riding from the capital Hanoi to the remote area of the northwest we can see life as it truly is for the Vietnamese. The perfect itinerary and the support crew ensure you get the most out of the trip in terms of comfort, enjoyment and adventure. Along the way we encounter dramatic landscapes and sweeping panoramas as the rural population goes about its business.

  • Stunning scenery
  • Challenging roads
  • Stunning Pha Din Pass and Tram Ton Pass
  • Terraced valley of Sapa
  • Colorful ethnic minorities