Thai Nguyen: A Visit to Vietnam’s Tea Region with Footprint Travel

Thai Nguyen tea region Vietnam Footprint Travel tea tour from Hanoi

As tea lovers, Ethan and I were excited to visit the Thai Nguyen province with Footprint Travel’s Tea & Bike Tour. Thai Nguyen province is the premiere tea growing region of Vietnam and is famous not only for its green tea, but also for its beautiful Nui Coc Lake and mountain scenery. Located about 2 hours from Hanoi, this region is a popular local vacation destination for Vietnamese travelers who want to relax on and around Nui Coc Lake, but has yet to be widely promoted as a tourist destination for Westerners. A great place to add to your Vietnam trip itinerary if you appreciate tea and/or want a break from crowded Hanoi. There is much to do in this scenic province, but we focused our visit specifically on the tea-related attractions. Our private day tour from Hanoi with Footprint Travel included stops at a local tea growing plantation, a Read the Rest…

Drinks with a View: 10 Best Rooftop Bars in Ho Chi Minh City

best rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City best views in Saigon Vietnam best hotel bars

We love to find places that offer good views of a new city and the rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City provided not only an excellent opportunity to get a good orientation to the city, but also the chance to savor some delicious cocktails. Ho Chi Minh City, often still referred to as Saigon, is a booming city on the rise—quite literally! You’ll see the shorter historical French colonial buildings next to giant sleek glass-and-steel skyscrapers throughout the downtown area making for an interesting city landscape. We discovered that there are essentially two places to look for good rooftop bars in the city: hotels (old and new) and business towers. You have a wide array of choices from historical colonial-era hotels to up-and-coming glitzy nightspots, depending on whether you feel like contemplating the war-era days of Graham Greene or hanging with hipsters in a modern lounge. You can also have Read the Rest…

Our Favorite Castle in Germany: The Mighty Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz best German castle castles in Germany Mosel River

Burg Eltz is the German castle that has impressed us the most and currently holds the title as our favorite castle in Germany. Even in a region where it is almost impossible to not stumble over some ruined castle, this castle really stands out. Burg Eltz sits in a forested green valley alongside the babbling Elzbach Creek in the Mosel Valley, hidden away from the traffic of the main roads. Walking up (or down) to this magnificent castle provides for a really knockout view, as it looks today much as it did in 1540 when the last major part of the castle was built. Unlike the vast majority of castles along the Mosel and Rhine Rivers, this was one of the few that was not destroyed or badly damaged. Its history is quite fascinating as it has been owned within the same family since at least the 12th century and continues Read the Rest…

Guide to Halong Bay Cruises in Vietnam & Our Cruise with The Au Co

Halong Bay Cruise Vietnam The Au Co Cruises Review

Halong Bay is considered one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Vietnam, and a Halong Bay cruise is a must-do on many travelers’ lists. Imagine an emerald bay peppered with about 2,000 tiny vegetation-topped islands which feature numerous caves, lagoons, coves, and coral reefs. This breathtaking UNESCO heritage site has recently received the honor of being named one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the world and is not surprisingly one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam. Most visitors need little convincing to visit, but the array of cruise options can be daunting as hundreds of boats ply across the waters of Halong Bay each day. Cruises range widely in price and companies offer a variety of cruise lengths, itineraries, amenities, and activities. We’ll share our tips on how to choose a Halong Bay cruise, answer common questions about Halong Bay cruises, and review our own recent Read the Rest…

Dreaming of Turkey: Colorful Turkish Hammam Towels from sorbet ltd

sorbet ltd Turkish hammam towels The Beach Towel Clip review

These colorful handwoven Turkish hammam towels from sorbet ltd have us dreaming of Turkey! Ethan and I have been thinking about visiting Turkey within the next year and we were very delighted to have the opportunity to review a set of sorbet-colored hammam towel hand-woven in rural Turkey. These towels, also called peshtemal towels, have a long and important history in Turkish social life and have been worn as clothing, used in ceremonial bathing of brides to be, and today are mainly associated with their use in traditional Turkish baths or hammams. Recently, Turkish hammam towels have also been popping up on beaches, pool lounge chairs, yachts, and in travelers’ suitcases as these towels are not only beautiful but lightweight, quick-drying, and made of natural absorbent fibers. We’ve used ours mainly as beach towels, but one of the problems we have with all beach towels is them blowing away in the Read the Rest…

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: A Historic Hotel in Vietnam’s Capital

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel review Hanoi Vietnam hotels

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi serves the dual role of being both a historical landmark and a luxury hotel. Opened in 1901 by two French investors, the French colonial-style hotel soon became one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic hotels and today is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Vietnam, This grande dame has not rested on her legendary laurels but continues to modernize and innovate, undergoing massive renovations over the past few decades, including the opening of an award-winning spa in 2009. Honored to be the first Sofitel Legend property (only a handful of Sofitel properties carry this distinction), the hotel offers three restaurants, three bars, seven function rooms, an exclusive Club Lounge, a heated swimming pool, a health club, and the luxurious Le Spa du Metropole. A unique offering by the hotel is a daily guided Path of History tour that provides guests with not only an opportunity to learn more about the hotel’s history Read the Rest…

Up at 4am: Early Morning Adventures in Hanoi Vietnam

Footprint Travel Hanoi Vietnam tour morning things to do in Hanoi

One morning while in Hanoi Vietnam, we got up before 4:00am to go on an early morning city tour. Crazy, right?! Now, we are not early morning people by any means, but we trusted our guide and drug ourselves out of our comfortable beds to explore Hanoi at 4:00am. We are so glad we did as there are things that you only have the opportunity to experience early in the morning in Hanoi and few tourists venture out at these hours. We explored chaotic early morning markets, witnessed the changing of the honor guards ceremony, joined the local early risers for tai chi at Hoan Kiem Lake, searched for a magic turtle, and had breakfast with the locals in the Old Quarter. All that before 8:00am! Interested? We’ll give you a list of places in Hanoi Vietnam you might want to visit on a morning venture of your own and share Read the Rest…

Travel Advice: A Guide to Passport Photos and Visa Photos

visa photos cheap passport photos

Recently we’ve been needing to apply for several international visas for travel in Asia and Africa, which means we’ve been filling out application paperwork for each country and obtaining a lot of visa photos. Even though biometric passport and visa photos are just simple digital photos, most people have them taken professionally because they need to meet the country-specific requirements of the destination and in the case of passport photos, may be accompanying a person for a full 10 years. Ethan and I have each needed almost a dozen visa photos over the past several months, and we became very frustrated with the cost of passport and visa photos at our local drugstores. After paying almost $50 for 8 photos (ridiculous!), we started researching the various places where we could get visa photos taken and exploring the do-it-yourself options where you can take and print your own photos. After our research, we have Read the Rest…

Exploring Vietnam: A Hoi An Day Trip

eOasia tours in Asia Hoi An day trip Vietnam things to do near Hoi An Cinnamon Cruises

Hoi An is a postcard perfect historic riverside town that has been carefully preserved so that the Old Town looks as it did centuries ago; however, the town is hugely popular and the crowds might have you searching for some Hoi An day trip destinations. Hoi An is certainly a gem but we were feeling a bit claustrophobic in this UNESCO heritage town after a couple of days, so we decided to spend a day exploring the nearby area. We booked a day tour through eOasia which is an online booking website that consolidates local tours and activities in more than 12 different countries in Asia. The tour we chose included the temples at My Son, a local market, a local pottery village, and a relaxing cooking cruise along the Thu Bon River; however, there are also several other worthwhile day trip destinations in the area. We’ll give you some Read the Rest…

Enjoy your Beach Vacation in Style with UjENA Swimwear Swimsuits

UjENA Swimwear review one piece swimsuit travel swimwear traveling bathing suits

Like many women, I have struggled to find a swimsuit that fits me well. Several years ago, I spent one entire summer going through stores’ swimwear racks trying to find a one-piece swimsuit that would fit me. I finally gave up as they were all too long for me or just didn’t fit my body properly. However, when packing for our recent trip to Southeast Asia, I wanted to have a swimsuit that would allow me to move around a bit more and would be more conservative than my bikini. So I decided to give my search for a one-piece swimsuit another try, but I started my search online this time. An online search brought me to UjENA Swimwear. UjENA offers a large array of swimwear, including custom swimsuits and an exclusive size assurance policy. The family-owned brand sells and ships swimwear internationally, but all swimwear is manufactured in the Read the Rest…

Finding Paradise in Vietnam: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay resort review

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is a beach getaway destination for the rich and famous and is Vietnam’s most exclusive resort, being accessible only by boat. Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is situated north of Nha Trang on a calm bay with a golden sand beach and surrounded by tall boulder-strewn mountains. A total of 58 personal luxury villas are nestled along the beach, hilltops, and rock formations, each coming with a private plunge pool and butler service. Guests come here looking for privacy, relaxation, tranquility, and luxury. On our recent trip to Vietnam, we had the very exciting opportunity to spend a night at the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay and experience this exclusive resort for ourselves. We’ll share all the details and photos of our stay and tell you how you can arrange your own luxury stay at this little piece of paradise. Even if this is a little Read the Rest…

Fresh Fish for Breakfast: Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul South Korea Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

On our first full day in Korea, we made a morning visit to the Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul. Its official name is Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market and it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is Seoul’s oldest and largest indoor seafood market, housing over 700 vendors with fish brought in daily from fishing ports all over Korea. Throughout the day, you can find on display hundreds of edible underwater critters from sea cucumbers to sea bass, including every possible type of seafood of Korean origin as well as plenty of imported seafood. While it attracts plenty of tourists, this is a real wholesale fish market with hundreds of serious buyers and sellers conducting business throughout the day. The major transactions happen in the early morning at the wholesale auctions, which begin around 1:00am and are generally over by dawn. Yeah, you have to get up real early Read the Rest…

Win a Free Hotel Stay of Your Choice in the TravelPony Contest

TravelPoney contest TravelPony hotel review

Want to use your travel knowledge to win a free hotel stay in the new TravelPony contest? All you have to do is guess the location in the photo and each week you’ll have the chance to win a free hotel stay of your choice valued up to $250!! In case you don’t happen to know about TravelPony, it is a new hotel booking website and you can read our prior review of TravelPony. We had a really good experience booking a hotel on TravelPony and are happy to present this contest to all our readers. Enter the TravelPony Contest to Win a Free Hotel Stay by Guessing Where in the World the TravelPony is! While The Big Travel Sites spend Billions on TV commercials and traditional advertising, TravelPony offers way better prices on hotels when you share them with your friends. Just tell one of your social networks about TravelPony.com and save Read the Rest…

Afternoon Tea in Ho Chi Minh City: Taking a Break at the Caravelle Hotel

afternoon tea in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam high tea at Caravelle Hotel

If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, you may not be thinking about places to go for afternoon tea in Ho Chi Minh City. For most people, Vietnam does not conjure up images of high tea, but you’ll be surprised by how many of the old grand hotels—and some of the shiny new ones—are offering up some pretty fantastic afternoon tea menus. We found afternoon tea to be a much-needed respite from the heat, the crazy motorbike traffic, and the hustle and bustle of this clearly booming city. One of the grande dames of old Saigon, the Caravelle Hotel, had just recently revamped their afternoon tea menus about a month prior to our trip, and we just had to stop by and have tea here. The Caravelle Hotel now offers three tea menus—Traditional English, Vegetarian, and Vietnamese—and yes, after not being able to decide, we just had to try Read the Rest…

Five Ways to Enjoy the Traditional Hanok Houses in Seoul South Korea

hanok houses in Seoul South Korea Bukchon

During our recent trip to South Korea, we fell in love with the look of the traditional hanok houses in Seoul. These traditional Korean houses are built in a specific architectural style designed to maintain balance with the surrounding environment (mountains, lakes, space, land contours) and are constructed using elements such as long curved roofs and alternating ondol and maru flooring that help keep the home warm in the winters and cool in the summers. Once built primarily for the ruling class during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), these simple homes were later associated with lower class families who could not afford more modern housing. Many were torn down or left to decay as most city-dwelling Koreans moved to high-rise apartment complexes. Recently, hanok houses have become very trendy as not only are they historical and beautiful, they are also very eco-friendly and sustainable using natural building materials (wood, clay, paper, stone) Read the Rest…