Destination Vietnam | Ninh Binh day 1 I am off to Ninh Binh, a city located in Northern Vietnam, just few hours south of Hanoi. It is a quick get away from the capital, but I’ve decided to go there with the same travel agency (Ethnic Travel) I used in Mai Chau buying the 2-days/ 1 night package. This travel agency in Hanoi is known (supposedly) for doing things off the tourist track including a better experience of the local life. I look forward to visiting Ninh Binh, not so much the city itself but rather the surrounding area; I heard the scenery is amazing.

The trip from Hanoi took 2.5 hours. I arrived around noon and had lunch at a restaurant with Ok food (not worth any pictures). After the lunch, I went for boats ride in two different rivers. The first ride was about the daily life of the inhabitants along the river. An old Vietnamese dude drove the motorboat. He was very excited about showing me the scenery, and even let me drive; I’ll realize later that was to pump the tip up. Pictures are below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The second boat tour was in another river and was more about the landscape as well as going under grottos. This time I was in a rowing boat driven by an old lady who paddled for an hour plus non-stop – Simply amazing! Oh yeah, the sight also was amazing just see for yourself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the second ride, it was getting dark, my guide and I went to the homestay situated in a small village forty minutes away of Ninh Binh. The homestay was more like a lodge, which was a bit different from where I stayed in Mai Chau. Indeed, I didn’t see the local family it was really more like a hotel – very disappointing. That being said the location was great. Although it was already dark and I could not capture any pictures I got to see the daily routine of the Vietnamese by late afternoon in a small townSimilarly to the Western countries it consisted of kids cycling back from school, old folks playing some kind of dice game with a TV nearby showing some local shows. On the road, I‘ve also met farmers bringing back their chickens, cows, the latter making sure to leave their traces; there were also a lot of workers drying rice on the floor (pictures below). Last but not least I can only remember the countless number of scooters on the road and the noise that goes with it.

After the dinner, I went back to my room hoping for a more exciting and adventurous next day.

Destination Vietnam | Mai Chau day 2

After the breakfast made by the host family we headed out towards the village to see a bit of the local lifestyle. We couldn’t see much since we only stayed in the main road. Nonetheless, during that three hours trek we did get to see, local houses, daily routine of the folks, markets, women working in the rice fields easily recognizable with the famous Vietnamese conical hat Non La.

Amazing right! A little video bonus while I was trekking…

The trek ended at the same place where we had lunch the previous day. They served us our meal, and I must say I was a bit disappointed – it was very much the same food as the day before. I will realize later that all the homestay or daily tours provide the same type of dish including rice, of course.

Lunch done; we went for a bike tour. Nothing particular to see except for the daily routine of the inhabitants and that includes kids in schools, fruits markets, cows in the road, etc.

The bike tour lasted a little less than an hour. After that, we got to the minivan direction Hanoi. Traffic is crazy in Hanoi, so the bus tries to leave as soon as possible from Mai Chau. (around 2-3pm)

Later that night in Hanoi, I checked-in at local restaurant in Ma May street where you can go in the kitchen and choose what you want. I went for the following…


This was a summary of my 2days/1 night tour in Mai Chau with Ethnic Travel. Next is another 2days/1night tour with the same agency in Ninh Binh, located south of Hanoi.

Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned above and that this is not a paid advertisement. This information is presented here strictly for the benefit of my readers.

Destination Vietnam | Mai Chau day 1

Before going to Northern Vietnam, my friends told me I must visit Sapa, a city located in the mountains close to the China border and known for its paddy fields as well as its indigenous population. Thus, a Sapa tour was my first request at the travel agency (Ethnic Travel) , but they said, although it is worth travelling to, there is no rice field anymore (it has been harvest.) Instead, they suggested the city of Mai Chau for similar scenery and fewer tourists. I was down. Let’s go to Mai Chau!

Sunday morning 8am the bus picked me up at the hotel, and after few stops at other hotels, we were on the road to Mai Chau for almost 3 hours. Since it is a high-speed road the ride is pretty chill, nothing especial to see on the road. I was asleep for the most part.

In Mai Chau, the first stop is at a family house that work with the agency. They prepared a delicious lunch…

…and after a quick nap you start trekking and end up soon in the Vietnamese Continue reading

Destination Vietnam | Hanoi Day 2

After a mere breakfast at the hotel, I took the camera, GoPro, iPhone and went for a walk in the city focusing primarily on the Old Quarter and the French quarter.

The Old quarter is a touristic area and as such has a backpack street Ngo Huyen Street located near the St Joseph’s Cathedral. In this part of the city, you will find a bit of everything and nothing, from very useful to very useless. You can buy handmade crafts, paintings, cards – you can have street food, fresh juice, or go to the barbershop for a quick fix. was walking toward the Hoan Kiem Lake, a landmark in Hanoi. This is where they showcased the fireworks the night before celebrating the 60th anniversary of Hanoi independence from the French. While walking on the west bank of the Lake towards the French quarter, I was suddenly hungry and craved for Pho Bo, my first one in the country well-known for this dish.

Somehow, right next to me there was a Pho Bo shop that appears to only attract Tourists. I went in — the food was OK, but I don’t recommend it. I hope to have better Pho Bo during my visit in Vietnam.

Pass the lake on the Southeast; you walk into the French Quarter. The area is quite distinctive from the Old Quarter. Back then, the French Continue reading