Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Ninh Binh: The Gem of Vietnam

overview bai dinh pagoda ninh binh vietnam


Ninh Binh is a town which lies to the southeast of Hanoi and is a lesser-known gem of Northern Vietnam.  It is commonly referred to as ‘Halong Bay on Land’ for its similar landscape, but is far less touristy and untouched.  Ninh Binh is surrounded by hundreds of limestone mountains topped by dense greenery that tower from the ground, scattered with serpentine rivers flowing through and around them, while lush green rice fields shoot up from their muddy banks.  If the scenery itself is not enough for you, the area is dotted with some of the best pagodas and temples in the area and one of Vietnam’s ancient capital cities.

Perfume Pagoda

perfume pagoda thien tru vietnam


              The Perfume Pagoda is located 60 kilometers southwest of Hanoi where the karst limestone mountains jut out of the rice fields below.  The Perfume Pagoda is a very revered and sacred site featuring a maze of Buddhist pagodas built into the limestone cliffs of the mountain.  It is northern Vietnam’s most famous pilgrimage site and one of Hanoi’s most visited tourist day trips.  

Sapa

aerial view amitabha buddha statue fanispan sapa vietnam


Sapa is a small town located in the heart of northwestern Vietnam.  Located above a deep valley flanked by cascading rice terraces and surrounded by high mountains, Sapa is a sight to be seen.  Though heavy mists often roll through the mountains, the vibrant colors of its rice fields, temples, and people shine through in a vibrant display.  

Ba Be National Park


lake ba be national park vietnam


              If your looking for an outdoors adventure in Northern Vietnam then look no further than Ba Be National Park.  Ba Be boasts a pristine lake, beautiful rivers, scenic waterfalls, and prehistoric caves set amid towering forest shrouded mountains.  The national park offers rich biodiversity, unique landscapes, and at its heart, Ba Be Lake, which is the largest and highest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam.  The park can be explored on foot by trail, bicycle/motorcycle by road, or kayak/boat.  Offering great and welcoming homestays, Ba Be National Park is a great place to get way from the hustle of Vietnam. 

Ban Gioc, Vietnam

ban gioc waterfall aerial view dji drone vietnam


              Located in the northeastern province of Cao Bang, Ban Gioc is home to Vietnam’s best-known waterfall.  Surrounded by tree covered limestone mountains that stick out of the ground like spear tips, the Quay Son River ambles through green rice fields and bamboo groves till it pours in a torrent over the three tiers of the Ban Gioc Waterfall.  This off the beaten track location sees very few foreign tourists so its waterfall and cave are left mostly empty, and the area still has its countryside feel.  Due to this, this area is a great get away for those wanting to get away and experience the Vietnamese way of life first hand. 

Yen Tu: A Pilgrimage to Vietnamese Buddhism

dong pagoda mists yen tu vietnam


              Yen Tu has been referred to as the center of Vietnamese Buddhism and, like most of the sacred Buddhist temples, the magic of Yen Tu lies in the journey.  Consisting of a series of temples following the monk king’s pilgrimage to enlightenment, Yen Tu stretches 6000 meters (about 6 hours of walking) from the valley floor all the way up to the cloud-wrapped, mountain top Dong Pagoda, 1,068 m above sea level.

Ha Long Bay

halong bay vietnam


              Ha Long Bay is easily Vietnam’s top tourist destination and brings in thousands of tourists daily during the peak season.  There are many cruise companies that offer 2 day/1 night or 3 day/2 night cruises through the bay and this is by far the most popular way to tour this area.  Known for its beauty, Ha Long Bay is scattered with thousands of forest-topped, karst limestone islands that reach out of its blue waters into the heavens.  Its ethereal beauty is something you would only expect to see on a movie screen and it in fact has been featured in a small handful of movies; namely the recent King Kong: Skull Island.  It has also been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding geological and geomorphological value, as well as its aesthetic value.  

Cat Ba Island

cat ba island halong bay vietnam


              Cat Ba is a beautiful island set of the coast of Vietnam in the heart of Ha Long Bay.  Many tourists only get to see a small piece of this island when they come ashore as part of their Ha Long Bay cruise, but there is so much more to be had here.  For those independent travelers, Cat Ba is a great place to get away from the normal tourist grind and spend a day or two, or more, to enjoy the amazing views, history, and natural reserves Cat Ba Island has to offer.

Hanoi



              Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is also its second largest city.  Unlike its larger cousin, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi seems to be more in touch with its roots and exhibits a more intimate appeal.  Amidst its cultural and historic background, Hanoi seems to be slowly and grudgingly modernizing.  The streets hum, with drones of motorcycles whizzing through, while between them the buildings still show the historic past of colonization; a charming blend of East and West.

Top 7: Taiwan



1. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial



fo guang shan buddha memorial complex taiwan
Giant Buddha at the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Complex


              Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial easily tops the list as my #1 tourist destination in Taiwan.  This temple complex is the largest in Taiwan and houses, amongst many other things, a Buddha tooth relic.  The whole temple complex is huge and anyone who sets foot in it will find themselves hard pressed not to be amazed and awe inspired by the size and grandeur of it all.  Not only are there numerous temples and statues throughout the complex, but there are also many shows and festivals practiced on a daily basis in the many areas throughout. 

Green Island

rocks ocean green island taiwan


              Green Island might not be a lot of people’s to-do list when visiting Taiwan, but it is certainly deserving of a top spot as one of Taiwan’s most beautiful places.  It’s great for a short get away from Taiwan’s hustle and bustle and offers some great attractions and sights that you will find no where else in the country.  Some strong words seeing that the first day there was possibly the worst experience I’ve had since being in Taiwan (more about that here).

Taroko Gorge

taroko gorge taiwan


              If you enjoy nature, hiking, sightseeing, or just want a way to get out and about, then look no further than Taroko Gorge.  Taroko Gorge is one of those places whose sheer beauty and grandness has caused it to be touted as one of Taiwan’s most beautiful places.  

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

laterns pingxi sky lantern festival taiwan


              The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival has been ranked highly on global must visit lists by numerous sources like CNN, Discovery Channel, and Foder’s; just to name a few.  This ancient Chinese festival has been reimagined for the modern age with live music and dance shows, coupled with vendors selling all sorts of food and souvenirs.  


Rainbow Village

rainbow village taichung taiwan


              Rainbow Village is more than just a painted neighborhood; it’s one of those places that is beyond ordinary.  It is a home, unique art gallery, historical landmark, and showcases the accomplishment of a peaceful protest done right.

Kaohsiung

fo guang shan buddha memorial compound kaohsiung taiwan


              Koahsiung might be the Heart of southern Taiwan, but it doesn’t have a lot to offer to a would-be tourist.  That being said it is worth a visit if only to go see the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Complex.  

Teapot Mountain

teapot mountain taiwan


              Teapot Mountain, a four-hour hike, is by far one of my favorite hikes in Taiwan.  Only 1.5 hours from Taipei, it can easily be done as a day trip.  Being located so close to Taipei, many Taiwanese get up early to make the trek up and around the mountain range.  You will often come across older Taiwanese people that will put you in their dust as they walk past as if the trail is no trouble at all.  

How to Travel from Hanoi to Hai Phong


gia lam bus station hanoi vietnam
Gia Lam Bus Station


              Travel in Vietnam is much easier than you might expect.  If your traveling to Hai Phong, the jump off point for Cát Bà Island and cruises into Ha Long Bay, you most likely are coming from the Old Quarter in Hanoi.  The best mode of transportation from Hanoi to Hai Phong is by bus.  The most convenient option for a bus is to talk to your hotel/hostel and have them arrange for a bus to pick you up, which will cost 250,000 VND/11 USD.  If your trying to travel cheaper, then the public bus is your best bet.  

Houdongkeng Waterfall

houdongkeng waterfall yulan taiwan


              Yilan, in northeastern Taiwan, doesn’t have much to offer a passing tourist and you won’t find many that stop there.  But if you are making your way down the east coast and looking for a quick and rewarding hike, look no further than Houdongkeng Waterfall. 

Must Try Food in Taipei


lan jia traditional taiwanese snack taipei taiwan


              Taiwan is full of amazing food, and there is no place better to try it all than Taipei.  Taipei is a city that never sleeps, with bustling streets and lively night markets, the sheer variety of amazing food here is a foodie’s dream.  Everything in Taipei is delicious, but if you want to make sure to hit the best food Taipei has to offer, there are a few things that you must have on your eating checklist.  From sleepless night markets to must try restaurants, I have scoured the streets of Taipei to experience the best Taipei has to offer, bite to bite.  Here are a few of my personal favorites.


Top 10 Things To Do: Taipei


teapot mountain taiwan


              Taipei, the sprawling capital city in northern Taiwan, is well worth a visit for any traveler wishing to take an amazing city vacation in a far away land.  Taipei offers world renowned food, transportation, hospitality, and experiences and should be on anyone’s bucket list of cities to visit.  Whether you have only a few days or weeks to spare, you can easily fill your time with awesome experiences, great sites, and amazing food.  If you are looking for what to do here is my list of the top 10 things to do in Taipei.

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