Friday, August 26, 2011

Vietnam Wrap up, guide, help...the go to sources (lots of links!!)

     This post is a general hint list of great resources, places to now and where to check out while in the adventurous land of Vietnam!

     I went to three destinations total, spanning all throughout Vietnam (though there is a LOT more to see)! I started my adventures in Hanoi (the capital) then went South to Ho Chi Minh City, to Mui Ne and then routed back to Hanoi. 

Here are some helpful phrases that are worth knowing:

Hello~ Xin Chao (Jzin Chow)
Good morning~ Chao buoi sang
Good afternoon~ Chao buoi toi
Hi friend!~ Nay E! (Nay,ye!)
Good night~ Chuc ngu ngon 
Thank you~ Cam on (Caam oon)
No good/ too expensive~ Come phy

GREAT website:  Has classifides, restaurant reviews, events, things to do, etc...

GREAT travel agent: Lai, She is located just inside iProvecho
     Address: 18 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi (about three blocks from Hoan Kiem lake)
     Phone #: 0912223996

Where to eat~
Vegan restuarants:
GREAT Vegan food at White Cloud
     I ate food from here three different times, and was pleased each time. The food is made with love, be patient. If you want food quickly, this is NOT the place. Put at least an hour aside. It is worth the wait and the place is super cute. 
     ~I highly recommend the spring rolls (of course), the banana flower salad, fried mung beans, and tofu cooked with tomato sauce!!
     Address: So 2 Ngo 12 Dang Thai Mai,HaNoi

                  No.2, alley 12, Dang Thai Mai street, Hanoi
     phone #: 04)-6258-1622/ 0912-143-647
     hours: Monday through Sunday 11am to 2 pm and 5pm to 9pm

     This is an all vegan place that offers a LOT of vegan meats, more quirky than yummy in all honesty. It is more than affordable and the interior is stunning, but that all it really has going for it. The best dish is the grapefruit salad, this is worth coming back for. But if you want to explore a vegan variety...I'd steer elsewhere. 
     Address: 184B Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi
     Directions: At the end of Xuan Dieu (West lake would be on your Left is you are walking   

                    towards it), across from the turn into Cong Doan Hotel
     phone #: 04-7307-8838

Vietnamese street food: Quan An Ngon

     This place means 'delicious food' and has an interesting concept, taking street food inside. You can dine family style next to loads of people, order lots of food on the cheap and be more than entertained by the busyness that is going on around you. NOT very vegan friendly, but you can find something (tofu, and specify for soy sauce!)
     Address: 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
     Phone number: +84-4-3942-8162 

Western Food: iProvecho
     Daniel Hoyer is the head owner and chef behind the food here. It is not very vegan friendly, but the guacamole I had was lovely. Fresh, creamy, full of flavor...and served with fresh made tortilla chips. While your here, grab a drink, sit at their glass bar that opens over the streets, nom on some Mexican glory and who knows, book a tour somewhere! Defiantly worth checking out!
     Address: 18 Hang Be, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
                  It is about 3 blocks from Hoan Kiem lake.
     Phone #: 0912223996

More affordable: Foodshop 45
     This place has a lovely interior and is great to go with friends while on the go to a bar or out on some nightly adventure. Lots of people came in and out, so it's more popular than I may give it credit for. The staff was very kind, but the food isn't amazing. It's affordable and with everything in Vietnam, you get what you pay for. This is more vegetarian friendly than it is vegan friendly. But I had an alright experience. 
     Address: 59 Truc Bach street, Ba Dinh, Hanoi 
     phone number: +84-4-3716-2959 

Quality: Namaste 
     This meal was beautiful, aesthetically, through taste and experience. The food was a bit more expensive, but well worth it. Gopi, the owner is very attentive and clearly has a passion for food. Everything is made to order, is fresh and able to be slightly manipulated. Not originally vegan items were made vegan after I let Gopi aware of my dietary restrictions. He helps you out too, not letting you over-order and giving great advice on what works well with what. 
     ~*I highly recommend the pakeezah, a coconut appetizer that is just so strange it works! And the Kapuli salad is DIVINE!!!

     Hours: Open 7 days. 11am-2:30pm (last order is at 2) and 6-10:30 pm (last order at 10)
     Address: 47 Lo Su, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
     Directions: East of the Northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake
     Phone #: 84-4-3935-2400 


~***Bia Hoi= BEER***~
Barbetta: A classy bar that's always got good people in it. You can sit on the roof and sip on some delicious cocktails while the moon shines overhead. The staff doesn't speak very much English but no worries, if you can read it, you'll be fine. The drinks are all creative and from all the ones I sampled (mojitos, to beachy drinks, to rums)~ you can't go wrong with anything. 
     ~Drinks are around 80,000-100,000 dong ($4-5) 
     Address: 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh, Hanoi

Mao's Red Lounge: This place is dark, to the point where you have to feel around to figure out where to park it. But the drinks are cheap, it's FULL of people to talk to and meet. It is located in the Old Quarter, so if you'e aiming to meet fellow travelers, you're in luck. There are a LOT of drink options, so if you want the cheap bia hoi, or the frothy coconut milk cocktail~ this place has it. 

      ~IF you are all dressed up (why in Vietnam>!!) you will sweat loads...
     Address: 7 Te Hien, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
    Phone #:           +84-4-3926-3104 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            +84-4-3926-3104      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      end_of_the_skype_highlighting 

Half Man/Half Noodle: I'll be 100% honest, I don't remember very much about this bar. I remember loving the name. I was...a tad tipsy at this point (damn those fruity cocktails!!) but I do know that this is one of the only places that serves food rather late for the hungry kids! In Seoul, where you can a full course meal at any hour, no matter the point of inebriation, in a country where everyone sleeps around midnight (at the latest) those drunk munchies are left to munch. Drinks are affordable, but...honestly, it's the name isn't it!     
     Address: 62 Dao Duy Tu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoiend_of_the_skype_highlighting
     Phone #: +84-4-3926-1943 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            +84-4-3926-1943      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

~Hoan Kiem Lake: a beautiful walk, peaceful, full of people watching, photo opportunities, and also legend has it an ancient turtle lives here!
~Check out the Old Quarter, there's a big backpacker's district here (travelers, LOADS of places to crash here!) shopping opportunities, comforting AND exotic foods!
~Shop around: eat the fruit, buy scarves, bikinis, and iPho tees!
~ Vietnam Museum of Ethnology: A place we were going to check out (another reason, man they keep popping up!) Apparently all the tribes and communities of Vietnam are represented here and it is more than interesting!!!
     address: D Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay, Hanoi
     phone #: +84-4-3836-0350 

Ho Chi Minh City
     Ani and I only stayed one night and two days here. Even though we were there for a short time, we experienced all the main tourist points, here's my two cents^^*!~

Vegan noms: Saigon Vegan
     A more than extensive menu offering lots of traditional Vietnamese fare, just without the flesh!>.<# Everything is more than affordable and like all places in Vietnam~ BE PATIENT. This place is affiliated with Loving Hut (murmur) and due to that, low prices and Vegan safety. 
     ~I recommend the bi cuon springroll, it's fresh and subtle. Also the Goi Nam Bao Rau Ram (mushroom with flagrant knotweed salad) is interesting and packed full of flavor!! And the coffee is BOMB!!!
     Address: 240 Bui Vien Street, District 1
     Phone #: +84-4-3837-2686

~* Bui Vien street is backpackers district, loads of places to crash, find cheap drinks, wander, and meet people*~

Hong Han Hotel: For only $25.00 a night you sleep in a clean big room, complimentary breakfast on a cute balcony, and a staff that speaks English! Ahn (brother) gave Ani and I a map along with easy directions of where to go and how to do it. Very relaxing area, located in the middle of bars, restaurants, stores and shops. We had a great experience here and if you're wanting a bargain, and a CLEAN place, stay here!!
     Address: 238 Bui Vien street, Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam     
     telephone: (84-8)-38-361-927 

~China Town: This is the biggest one in Asia (besides all of China!!) and is full of options and opportunity. Enjoy some Chinese fruits and snacks, or shop for vegan meats on the cheap. There are black cashews (roasted with the skin still on) and they're AMAZING! There are loads of things mirroring China, knock off bags, breaking toys, hammocks...worth to play around in! And a great people watching experience!!
~ War Remnants Museum: This is a MUST. It's upsetting and powerful and very informative. It provides a side to the war that Americans especially are unaware of. IT's heartbreaking...recommended to go after won't be hungry after. 
     Address: 28 Vo Van Tan, in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
     Telephone number: 930-5587
     Open: 7:30-11:45 am and 1:30-5:15 pm
It is 15,000 dong to get in ($0.75).
~ Into Yoga and meditation? Check out the YMC: Yoga and Meditation Center. Classes are nearly two hours long and come in at 200,000dong ($10.00!!!) The instructors speak English, along with the desk staff. It's a bit hidden away but it is walking distance from the War Remnants Museum!!

     Address: 335/31 Dien Bien Phu, Ward 4, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
     Phone number: (08)-3929-1707

     Ani and I stayed here for only a couple days and were in paradise. There is so much to see, explore, eat- pure brilliance. A MUST go for anyone if you're in Vietnam. 

Vietnamese noms: 
Vietnam Family Resturaunt: The spring rolls here are amazing, and the drinks are fresh and refreshing. The food is affordable, healthy, and quality. The family that owns this place is very kind and accommodating and understand English. The owner speaks the best. They have two dogs that are just too cute to handle! 
     ~get the spring rolls and the mango vodka!!!
     *located on Nguyen Ding Chieu Street near Mai Am Guesthouse. 

WHERE TO STAY: (and eat at!!)
Mai Am Guesthouse: Hands down the BEST hotel experience I've ever had. The family running this joint are beyond accommodating and so genuinely kind. I've never been more relaxed and "at home" in any other place. The food they serve here is great, the coffee wonderful, the location superb! You're RIGHT on the beach, so you wake up to a breeze, the sea air wafting around you and the sun shining smiles! The rooms are large and clean and the rooms are $25.00 a night. Bikes and motorbikes are available upon rent. The location is great also, lots of restaurants and bars around, along with tourist shops and the Fairy stream is nearby. 
    ~~Eat their springrolls, a vermicelli noodle nest wrap instead of the flat noodle! The coffee is strong and sweet!!
     Address: 148 Nyguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ham Tiem Ward, Phan Thiet City, Binh     
                Thuan Provine, Vietnam
     Phone number:             (+84)-062-3847062 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (+84)-062-3847062      end_of_the_skype_highlighting      

~ Rent a motorbike!!! and EXPLORE!
~The White Sand Dunes: Impeccable, breathtaking, straight up spiritual. Seeing such beauty with your own eyes can't compare to anything also, no effects, movies, pictures. This place is magical. Miles upon miles of stretched out sand dunes, high hills, and a direct connection to the soul. PLEASE PLEASE go here!!
~Fairy Stream:(pictures part 2) This is a beautiful stream full of stunning views and giddy glory. It stretches for a long time, and is hidden behind some dingy neighborhoods. The water looks murky but it's only because of the runoff sand and clay. You're in a canyon, surrounded by red and white sands, thick clays, and tropical plants. I took so many pictures because everywhere I turned, my eyes were astounded, and in that my heart nearly stopped! 

~*Ha Long Bay: sadly a typhoon hit while our overnight plan was supposed to happen. I just have to go back again. ^^*!~

*You can get your Visa On Arrival...I used this VietnamVisaPro, all together (stamp and service fee is $35.00)
*bring a LOT of tank tops, this will soak up the sweat...and you'll be sweating
!*Ladies, ditch the make-up...not worth it
*When wandering or shopping, remember to goes a LONG way
*Remember that your freedom does not travel with you!
*Enjoy and be open to what life brings you!
*Drink a lot LOT of coffee and 
*Eat all the fruit

VEGANS/ VEG-HEADS~ Vietnam is do-able!!! GO GO GO!!!

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