Why should you come to Vietnam? Entering Vietnam easier with Vietnam Visa

Actually there is no reason for why not. Coming to a new place means to explore another part of the world, to learn something new and to experience things that you would not find back home. Vietnam has stolen many people’s hearts because of its nature’s charm, its exotic history, its excellent cuisine and even its madness. It is easy to dislike this country but it is even easier to fall in love with this land.

The long old history


Maybe the American and the French Wars would come up when people talk about Vietnam. The tragedy that the wars caused might have branded in many people’s minds but the victory has marked an unforgettable memory for not only Vietnamese people but also for the world war history. Being in Vietnam, you are able to learn more about what happened in the past and how much the wars have changed this country.

Worth to visit: Dien Bien Phu, Cu Chi Tunnels, Hue

Vietnam’s magnificent nature will steal your heart


Not many people know that Vietnam has an unique gift from the mother of nature. It is endless to list out how many mountains Vietnam has or how insane caves are in Vietnam. The ocean shapes along the S of Vietnam which brings so much resources for this country. In every region, every part of the country, there is always something for you to explore. Vietnam has a total of 8 world heritage sites in which 2 of them belong to Ha Long Bay and Phong Nha Cave. However, the new found Son Doong cave is currently blowing people’s minds and has become one of the hottest destinations in Vietnam.

What should be in your bucket list? – Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Phong Nha Cave, Hai Van Pass, Phu Quoc Island

The diversity of people and tribes is the spice of life in Vietnam

Taken in Sapa by Alexander Stephan

Taken in Sapa by Alexander Stephan

If you think everyone in Vietnam is the same, you might think again. There are over 27 tribes which make every single person in Vietnam different already. You can recognise the difference between people in Hanoi and Saigon or people from the far north and the rest of the country. Each part of Vietnam has shaped a different character in each person living here. After living in Vietnam for several years and being a Vietnamese born, I have seen this diversity in characters, personalities and appearances of each person in different part of this country. They somehow bring colours to the knowledge of human learning.

You should go to: Sapa, Bac Ha, Kon Tum

Vietnamese cuisine is exquisite and mouth-watering


Talking about food, most foreigners know Vietnamese cuisine by Pho (traditional noodle soup). A bowl of goodness with clear stock, rice noodles and thin slices of meat (either beef or chicken) is something you would like to try first thing when you come to Vietnam. However, it is just one dish that you know of because Vietnam offers so much more. Where should I start? There are more than 10 different kinds of noodles and each kind offers estimate over 20 kinds of dishes. That I have said about hundreds of dishes which do not relate to noodles. Home cooking dishes in Vietnam are also something that you would like to try because of its authentic taste and its cultural experience.

Can’t leave Vietnam without eating: Bun Cha, Pho bo (ga), Bun Nem, Cao Lau, Banh Xeo, Bun Bo Hue, Bo La Lot

Vietnam is like nowhere else and things that you can only find in Vietnam

  1. The madness of traffic
    Every country has something unique but something in Vietnam you are not able anywhere else. One fact that the traffic in Asia is madness but in Vietnam, it is extreme. For the first time crossing the road, you pray to god that you survive by the time you get to the other side. It might sound exaggerating but crossing roads in Vietnam can be listed to the scariest thing to do. However, don’t be too scared because it could turn into fun. It might look like vehicles going towards you but actually they always manage to drive around you. Therefore, it is said that you better close your eyes and cross. It might be safer.
  2. Street barbers – dare you find it elsewhere
    People ask me to find something that so special, so unique in Vietnam. After listing out several points, it came down to one specific job that nowhere offers – Street Barber. Walking in every city in Vietnam, you will find a private business opened in some corners where a man has his tools set up for barbering. You can get an affordable haircut but no guarantee, unfortunately, depends on your luck.
  3. Morning exercises
    I love the fact that this activity has become a distinctive culture of Vietnam. Most of the time, you see it most often in Hanoi. People wake up early in the morning, no matters hot or cold, rainy or sunny, people still go to the Hoan Kien Lake to do exercises. Some dance, some run, some stretch…
    Read more: Morning in Hanoi

No difficulty to enter Vietnam by Visa on Arrival with Vietnam Visa

Vietnam has changed some regulations upon visitor allowance. Some European passport holders such as German, English, Italian, etc. and people from South East Asia do not need to apply for a visa but get a visa on arrival. To check the full list of who needs to apply for a visa HERE.

Vietnamese Embassy is not available everywhere in your area so that it makes applying for a visa way somehow inconvenient. With Vietnam Visa, it is fast and no hassles is applied. However, keep it in mind that, “while visa on arrival is more convenient and less time-consuming, it is applicable for those who travel to Vietnam by AIR only“.

As easy as it goes:Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 15.52.13

Information by Vietnam Visa

For more information about  Vietnam-Visa.com:

Website: http://www.vietnam-visa.com
Phone: +84.473.005.333
Email: support@vietnam-visa.com


Vietnam: Son Tay – An older and quieter version of Hanoi, featuring Thao Vien Resort

Being in the city for a long time, Hanoi gave me nerve. For those who have lived in Hanoi, you know what it is like to be in this city – pollution, traffic, noise… It exhausts me every now and then (actually most of the time). Surprisingly, just about 40km north west of Hanoi, Son Tay is a small town right next to Hanoi but it would give you a different atmosphere. Something old, something new, something very familiar but somehow so different.

An hour away from Hanoi, I arrived in Son Tay and breathed the new air. How crazy it could be when this town is so close to the city but it showed me such a big change. People still speak with the Hanoian accent, around town looks very much similar to Hanoi but a bit older, but there is no noise, there is no honking, and the air seems fresher and clearer.


First checked in in Thao Vien Resort, a change already hit me. The scenery is set up in a traditional Vietnamese way with a touch of the countryside’s vibe. Palm trees grow everywhere, thatching huts are placed along the resort and some are on the water which look very dreamy, and staff dresses in the traditional way. The heat of the summer day following the warm breeze zigzagging through a row of weeping willows started to hit me. I sat down on the bench and looked out to the pond. Cricket was chirping which completed the picture of one of those summer days. I finally escaped from the noise of traffic and the city’s life to be out here cuddling myself up in quietness.

I came to Son Tay without knowing anything but maybe it was a good thing. That late afternoon, I took a drive to the centre to visit the Ancient Citadel which people had told me to check out. A canal runs around the area which reminded me of Utrecht, where I used to live in The Netherlands. That image just caught my eyes which made me feel like Dejavu. People were having their afternoon run along the canal and some were chilling on the pavement playing chess. The Ancient Citadel seems like to be placed on an island where the area is relaxing playground for locals. It somehow still got its solemness. What is most solemn is the flagstaff standing high with the flag of Vietnam.

Son Tay does not have much to offer but somehow this place seems so peaceful. It got something so alike to Hanoi but quieter, cleaner, people are way much friendlier. I couldn’t believe that those changes could be so big even though Hanoi and Son Tay are literally next to each other. Two cities, two different images. For a day get-away from Hanoi, Son Tay could be a great place to be.


Featured post: The inspiring Yana from Travel Art, Chiangmai



About one and a half years ago, I was backpacking in South East Asia. Koh Lanta was one stop I made but luckily I chose that small non-touristy island to stay for few days because I got a chance to meet a passionate girl who was always behind the bar serving me some cocktails. Yana is an Ukrainian girl who left her hometown to be in Thailand to volunteer for 3 months but turned out 7 months staying on that beautiful island to find the definition of happiness. During the time I spent on Koh Lanta, I gotta get to know Yana and her passion for art. I still remember how impressed I got after seeing her art works. After one and a half years, I feel happy to have followed her journey and her works all this time.

So, what is the story of Yana Shvets?


In Ukraine, Yana always thought that having a job and working hard to earn good money would satisfy her. Hence, she worked in an PR company and she was proud of what she had done. However, after awhile, she realised that it did not fulfil her. Yana asked herself – “What is happiness? What is like to be fulfilled?”

After spending months to think about what makes her happy, after sipping several cups of coffee each night and letting her mind lost in thoughts, she decided to quit her job and her flat, and took an internship for 3 months in Greece. In 2014, she wanted to go somewhere warm and easy to enter with the  Ukrainian passport so there she flew to Thailand and got a volunteer job. After that, she luckily got adopted by a Thai family in Koh Lanta to work for them for awhile. During this time, she spared her time to pain more and sold her amazing works to several people. She felt happy. Those 7 months had fulfilled her and brought her back to life. They got her realised how happy she had been doing things that made her happy.

Late 2014, she decided to move to Chiangmai to take part in a volunteer project. She met up a group of digital nomads and it brought her thoughts of being one of them.
“Is it possible to earn money doing what you are passionate about?” – that’s the one question in Yana’s head.

art and coffee event_free

And then, that’s how TravelArt was found.

Yana’s goal is to inspire people in wherever she stop by to paint, inspire people to take a risk and do what they really love doing but not just follow the social standards. Yana’s started several workshops based in Chiangmai, Thailand to help people learn about watercolour painting and inspire them to create art. Talking with Yana and listening to her sharing how happy she was seeing her students grow and their works getting better, I was inspired. Not much of an artist or painter but the power of her voice passionately shared with me gave me a push. She travels, she works and she inspires. Let Yana inspire you as well!

“Art will be always with me no matter what I do or where I go”
-Yana Shvets

Follow Yana and her works on Facebook, ArtFinder and don’t miss out her workshops in Chiangmai.

Vietnam: Good morning, Hanoi

That bit of sunlight sneaked out very early in the morning in Hanoi in those summer days. I woke up at 5am to catch the sunrise but somehow I was still the late one. The whole sky was brighten up already and many things around me had started going on. There was one thing I had wanted to witness was the activities in Hanoi in mornings. Having spent many years visiting Hanoi, lived here for awhile, but somehow I hadn’t known that much of this motherland of mine.

The street seemed quieter in that early morning. There was not much traffic on the road but it was still crazy driving a motorbike then nonetheless. I was the only one stopping at the traffic light but then I realised it did not make no sense of stoping anyway. However, seeing Hanoi so empty like that is quite rare. So there I went to Hoan Kiem Lake.


One thing I noticed about early mornings here was many people going out with their bicycles. Along the lake, everyone cycled their way around the lake and elsewhere. Some were probably doing that as their morning exercise. Some people sitting by the post office were wrapping newspapers to deliver on time. Old people were gathering together into different groups – some joined taichi group, some gave massage to the other, some did some stretching… Maybe this image I had seen many times on TV and on media, but it was my first time witnessing it. Actually, this has made Hanoi so colourful and fascinating.


Making a lap around the Hoan Kiem Lake, I was amazed by the variety of activities at that hour. Some looked quite strange to me such as old women rubbing their bellies, or men using trees as their kungfu training tools. Some dance groups were very active – from Aerobics to Latin dance. If you think about it, you wouldn’t find this anywhere else except in Hanoi. The image of old people doing exercises either in the park or around Hoan Kiem Lake has been the typical picture of this capital city and it has got to most people’s memory no matter they are tourists or Hanoians. Funnily, this has made a vivid culture of Hanoi. Either hot or cold, the morning exercise is one thing that people will never skip. Like on that day, even though the temperature was close to 35 degrees, sweat was running on everyone’s face, it wouldn’t be an excuse to stop skip the morning routine.

This habit is one long-time tradition of Hanoi. People who have ever lived in this capital city would miss this image when they are gone. One thing I know that the longer I linger my feet in Hanoi, the more attached I feel for my homeland. That does sound quite strange but for whom live abroad like me, we appreciate this moment which we find something so close to our root but far forgotten because of being abroad.





Vietnam: The ceramic village – Bat Trang

The sun kept shining harshly on Hanoi and the temperature did not seem to lower down. The route from Hanoi to Bat Trang was not the prettiest and the traffic on the highway could take your breathe away every second. However, that 30 minute ride brought me out of the city and took me to a village where the tradition of making ceramics has been passed on for the last 700 years and through different generations.


With its old tradition, Bat Trang has marked it name to the most famous village for making unique ceramics and their products have been supplied to all over Vietnam. The village is far from to be called touristy despite its popularity. Certainly, it is not a catchy place to come to take photos but it is fascinating to learn about. Each house has its own ceramic business – either selling ceramic products (Bat Trang Porcelain) or workshops teaching how to make ceramics or painting ceramic statues. I could not help but get very curious about making one myself. Looking at the instructor showing me how to create a simple vase, it seemed so easy. Starting with making your clay wet and try to centralise the inner point, working with your fingers and palms to make the pottery go higher and thinner. However, the second I laid my palms around the clay, I sensed its difficulty. It requires so much carefulness and gentleness. If the water is too much, it could ruin the whole thing. “The water is to make it dam not wet, to make it slippery enough to create the form of the pottery” – said the instructor.


The outcome did not turn out as pretty as I had expected it to be but I gotta learn to appreciate this handcraft industry. Even though, there are now several other ways to make potteries without making by hands but there in Bat Trang, it is the tradition that still stays alive and sure will not be forgotten any time soon.

If you come to Bat Trang, the porcelain market is not the only thing you should check out. Try to take a walk through small alleys because those are where you find the real ceramic village. People make the mixture for the clay, shape different potteries, store final products. That’s where you find what the actual procedure is. The paths are narrow but cosy. Somehow, it seemed like a maze but you will always find the way out. Sometimes you end up at some temples, or to the Red River, or to the other side of the village. No matter what, you would not mind being lost in that maze.






Tanzania: Support Architecture Volunteers with The Backyard Hostel, Moshi

The Backyard Hostel

Address: Uru Road box 8817, Moshi, Tanzania
Website: http://backyardhostel.org/

Just about one and a half hours away from Arusha, I took the local bus to Moshi. The ride was terrible and I can never forget those moments when I was off my seat and went straight to the ceiling because of the bumpy roads. Moshi’s weather was a bit chiller than in Arusha but lifestyle ain’t the same. I could see that the amount of tourists wandering in Moshi was much more than in Arusha.

I was invited to come to Moshi and to stay with The Backyard Hostel. It is not so far from the main bus station, about 20 minute walk and pretty easy to find. Unlike other hostels I have stayed before, Backyard Hostel is just a simple hostel with a small scale and a simple design. Entering the colourful painted gate, you find a big backyard with a giant giraffe leading to the open bar of the hostel and the reception. Nothing spectacular, but Backyard Hostel impressed me with its vibrant and friendly atmosphere. They only have 7 beds including 1 double bedroom but the space is pleasant and fully equipped.


What special about The Backyard Hostel?

The Backyard Hostel is under an NGO organisation called C-re-aid.

“C-re-aid mostly works with people living in villages around Tanzania. People are used to built here without regulations or any form of planning. Because of development changes and modern influences, for example decrease of wood use because of deforestation or introduction of the corrugated roof sheet, traditional architecture is disspearing. Currently built houses are not built with the knowledge and cultural meanings of the vernacular architecture but are often built fast, unsustainable, not safe and unhygienic because of the lack of knowledge. This contributes to negative factors that can cause poverty. C-re-aid wants to provide architectural interventions for people in these situations. By smart designs and innovative building techiques using local materials the current houses and buildings can be improved without increasing the costs.”About C-re-aid

Every year C-re-aid brings volunteers from all over the world to come to Tanzania to join hand in developing and renovating houses in this country. The Backyard Hostel is one small business from C-re-aid which supports the organisation.

It is not just a budget hostel for travellers but staying with The Backyard Hostel is also a way to support C-re-aid and their projects on making Tanzanian people’s lives better. So whenever you are in Moshi, why don’t you give a bit of yourself to the country you are travelling in by a small action.

12 Day Safari North East Tanzania Itinerary

So many people have dreamt to be on a safari and I got that chance to do so for 10 days in the beautiful country Tanzania. It was a 12-day wonder with full of excitement, heaps of new things to learn about, getting to know Tanzanian people and their culture, and the most fascinating activity was to be in the wild watching animals running free.

To be honest, if you ever plan to be on a safari to see wild animals, 4 to 5 days are enough to see most of them and to experience the safari without exhaustion. However, if you plan to be in Tanzania for a short period to learn about this country, 12 days ain’t enough. My stay included 17 days and I spent most of the time in Arusha. 12 days of my stay, I was on a safari with Heri Africa Tours and Safari to not only see wild animals but also part of the culture of Tanzania.


Duration of stay: 1 day 

To read: First impressions of Tanzania


Arriving at Kilimanjaro, Heri Africa team picked me up and welcomed me to their lodge. With just a few hours, I was already overwhelmed by how different our cultures are. Spending a day in Arusha to walk around to local markets and visit several quarters of the city, I got great impressions on Tanzania then which were absolutely positive and they made me so excited to explore more from this country.


Lake Manyara

Duration of stay: 4 days

To read: Lake Manyara 

                 Mto Wa Mbu


The next day, we all departed from Arusha to Lake Manyara. It would be about 1 and a half hour drive if you are lucky not to be caught by the ‘police-money’ (a term Tanzanian people use to describe traffic police in Tanzania). Around the area, Manyara National Park is one of popular parks in Tanzania which is known by its great migration of flamingos. The lake itself stands out beautifully that you would be surprised. The lake and its environs is also home to herbivores such as hippos, impalas, elephants, wildebeests, buffalo, warthogs and giraffes

From Manyara, it is easy to reach other places from here. In which, I spent one day to explore a town close by called Mto Wa Mbu and learned about tribes in Tanzania. From Manyara National Park, I also spent a day in Tarangire National Park which is just about 20-30 minutes from Manyara.


Ngorongoro Crater

Duration of stay: 1 day

To read: Ngorongoro Crater


Early morning, we drove further to Ngorongoro Observation Park. From what I had seen so far, Ngorongoro took my breath away. That moment I saw the crater from above, I could not believe my eyes. Til I was in the crater, watching wildebeests running around, elephants crossing roads, the route was like the road to the fantasy world, I had no more words to say. It is certainly my favourite national park I have seen ever.

Serengeti National Park

Duration of stay: 2 days

To read: Serengeti National Park


Located in Tanzania but runs to western Kenya, Serengeti is about 30,000 sqm and is one of the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. I got a chance to camp overnight there for 2 nights in the middle of the national park where I saw giraffes walking around when I first opened my eyes.


Duration of stay: 2 days

To see: The Rocky town

After a week on a safari, we headed to one of the biggest towns in Tanzania – Mwanza. It is known by the name the Rock City which it is just like it is known for. The city is absolutely beautiful and what got me love the most was the sunset. Mwanza is also known as a fish town and Lake Victoria is the main attraction there.


Duration of stay: 1 night

It wasn’t a full day stay but what I learnt was more than those 10 days on the road. I stayed in a local house in Singhidad, central Tanzania. I got to see how locals live, their traditions, their living standard… It was a precious experience.


On the 12th day, we all went back to Arusha. Even though the trip was speedy but I had seen and learnt so much. From the eastern part of Tanzania, to the north then centre, what I saw was amazing and it was great to get to know another culture.


Tanzania: Serengeti National Park – Camp in the wild in the endless green park

The road was long and it seemed endless. We arrived late in the afternoon when the sun was almost set. I still could not have the hang of that bumpy road but somehow I gotta get used to it. I was nowhere to be called familiar because surrounding was nothing else than two long stripes of green. The grass field ran all the way from where we started to… actually I was not sure where it ended.

It took more than an hour from the gate to our campsite of that night. It was pitch black when we reached our destination but got the flash light on to build our tents. I had camped several times for the last few years but nothing was like it. We had no electricity besides the public kitchen space and public toilets, there was no connection on the phone either. That night was strange because you could not do much in such environment but I was happy to have found some ‘neighbours’ that we could talk the whole night about our adventurous safaris. What strange about it must be knowing that wild animals were around that you wouldn’t know if a lion could jump out of a bush at anytime. That funny feeling I got whenever I went to the toilet and definitely I was scared a bit.

Morning arrived and the sun shined through the thin tent’s curtain. Getting out of my small tent, I spotted a giraffe chilling on the side of the public kitchen having his breakfast. It was real, in front of my eyes, a living wild animal was just right beside me without any hesitation. He startled when I started coming closer and slower walked away. Then, I was ready for my last safari day.

Facts about Serengeti:
Located in Tanzania but runs to western Kenya, Serengeti is about 30,000 sqm and is one of the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. 

Maybe after being on safaris to Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, it got quite tiring to sit in the jeep for another few hours being driven around. Serengeti is pretty much different from those two because it is an enormous green field, the surface is flat, and it is extremely big. It is said that it takes at least a week to explore the whole place. Unlike Manyara and Ngorongoro, Serengeti is quite rocky. On those rocks, that’s where you find loads of lions chilling around. Under the warm heat in the middle of the day, lions did not even feel bothered by tons of tourists surrounding them. They were still in their deep sleep.



Website: www.heriafricatours.com
Email: info@heriafricatours.com


I was stuck in Kenya’s airport – A stupid mistake that a traveller could ever make

Each traveller has to go through some certain bad experiences while travelling, especially if they travel often. It is never a walking-on-a-smooth-path situation because the truth is we travellers have been in tough times too. I do not want to show you all my great experiences with travelling even though they cover most of the time of my travels but I will not deny that I make mistakes sometimes while travelling either. It led me here, being stuck at Kenya’s airport for 18 hours.

I was supposed to fly to India from Tanzania. I was able to check in my flight from Nairobi to Mumbai on the website but not from Kilimanjaro to Nairobi. Standing at the check-in counter, it seemed fine and no one ever mentioned visa for India. As my side, I had checked several times about Indian visa for Vietnamese citizens. I was very certain that I would have the VOA (visa on arrival). Having my passport checked, going through the security just fine at Kilimanjaro Int Airport, I flew to Nairobi, Kenya.

My flight from Nairobi to Mumbai was delayed. It gave me time to have my documents checked before departing. Standing in front of the gate, I felt like a fool.
“Do you have the E-visa?”
“I am Vietnamese, I am supposed to have it on arrival”.

I was so certain about my VOA and never had E-visa on my mind. So there went my flight to India.

Frustration was an obvious feeling I got at that point. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? There was no free wifi at the airport which made me feel even more frustrated. My card was declined when I tried to purchase the wifi access. Luckily, a kind gentleman was willing to buy me a 12hr access to the wifi to help me out in that situation.

The nerve got me when I knew my flight was departing without me on it. It was 9pm and it was pouring outside. I wasn’t sure what I was about to do but I knew that I needed to have another flight to get out of there. Getting out to Kenya was an option too but I would need a e-visa which would take few days to get. I looked for flights to different destinations and compared prices but again, my card did not work to purchase any flights. I was on the phone with several friends just to seek for help. Since I had no money with me, that night pass by as slowly as it could because I could not get any food and drink. I had 12hr access to the internet and I was scared that I would not have a flight out by then. For the first time, fear was in me.

After 10 hours being on the phone with friends, I finally got a flight booked to Vietnam. I survived 18 hours being stuck in the airport, 24 hours of no sleep, food and drinks.

Because of the complication, my baggage got missing. Kenya Airways said that it must be staying in Nairobi because I was not on the flight. However, Kenya Airways service could not find the luggage to transfer to my next flight.

However, I am so grateful to my friends who stayed up through the night with me and helped me with all they could do to purchase a flight. This is certainly an experience that I will never forget.