How about a visit to “Ha Long Bay”. Not the usual one. Let’s go a bit far from the sea and closer to earth, where limestone mountains give way to endless rice fields and rivers. Where you can cycle for hours and find shelter in shacks tucked in the silent and stunning countryside.
And how about a pit stop in Hanoi, to grab one of those delicious Banh Mi or just stay a little longer at the house of an artist and savour vietnamese hospitality.
This incredible hotel situated in the middle of a valley offers an ecotourism kind of experience. A friendly team will make sure your “Bamboo bungalow off the beaten track” is well heated. Or that you have enough blankets at night (It can get really cold during winters and this is glamping…).
Their biking tour is worth the go. Toan, one of the managers will guide you through small villages, a hidden pagoda and landscapes that will unfortunately be transformed into modern residential areas in a few years.
The Huang Mua temple is just about 10 minutes walk (+ 15 minutes climbing to the summit) and gives an ideal view of Tam Coc.
ASK: For their banana flower and chicken salad.
The menu is mouthwatering and you’ll preferably eat at their restaurant, as there’s nothing nearby.
Known as the terrestrial Ha Long Bay, this is where you’ll embark for a 1h30 small boat excursion along the Ngo Dong river. Beautiful Tam Coc, (unlike some parts of Trang An) is a natural cave site, where the National Liberation Front army used to hide during the Vietnam war.
ASK: To go early to avoid little boats traffic jam
Hanoi is about 2 hours drive from Tam Coc. And a 4 seat private car should cost around 70 USD.
BANH MI 25
Crispy french baguette with handmade pâté, barbecue pork, fresh vegetables and a family secret sauce recipe. This stall made its reputation by selling one of, if not The best Banh Mi in town. Tasty, authentic and affordable street food.
ASK: Well you don’t need to ask, tea and bananas come for free.
Chef Didier Corlou’s restaurant is a dedication to his wife’s grandmother and “to all Vietnamese women of the past and the present”. The result is divine cuisine.
Before it became “Madame Hien”, this mid-19th century home of Hanoi’s Opera architect, later welcomed Ho Chi Min.
If you like houses full of stories, his other restaurant “la porte d’Annam” is a former presbytery once visited by Mother Teresa.
ASK: For the “Nam cuon tom va xoai” (Mango salsa with prawn, fresh spring roll), their specialty.
LE HONG THAI HOMESTAY
This very very hidden gem is home to Mr Le Hong Thai, a Vietnamese painter who takes really good care of his Zen garden and has been gathering antiques throughout the years. HIs beautiful eurasian style house is a peaceful homestay, and Mr Thai will kindly light the fireplace to keep you warm.