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Vietnam

Driving the coveted Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass:

There’s beauty everywhere, all you have to do it to look around. Stunning seaside views, mountainous landscape, low lying puffy clouds, wide open road, fresh air, and the thrill of discovering what lies around the next bend aptly describe the Hai Van Pass. Driving on this much-coveted road is everything a traveler and photographer can ask for. This 20 km of picturesque roadway winds up and over multitudes of mountains, connecting the city of Da Nang with the town of Lang Co in Hue province.

Hai Van Pass

The Gorgeous Hai Van Pass

Stunning views from the Hai Van Pass. How can you not fall in love with it !!

Being from India, knowing to ride a motorbike was a given. But since we had never done a motorbike trip on a vacation before, we exercised a bit of caution. We researched thoroughly while putting our itinerary in place and decided to take the bike on rent from Motorvina – one of the highly rated bike rental agencies in Vietnam. We did the motorbike booking online in advance as well since we wanted to leave from Da Nang before the crack of the dawn to catch yet another majestic sunrise from the Hai Van Pass and add it to our list of successful sunrise chases. But as luck would have it, we landed in Da Nang the previous night only at 2100 hrs due to flight delay and could only take the bike for rent the next day around 0700 hrs. But nonetheless, Hai Van Pass for its scenic and an unforgettable drive will still remain one of the highlights of our Vietnam trip.

One of the most beautiful and unspoiled Panoramic views we have ever seen !!

The Locals trying to get a perfect shot of the Hai Van Pass. Would advise against taking such risks on the highway though

Lang Co Beach:

The Hai Van Pass ends at the Lang Co beach which is an attraction in itself. the beach is about 8km long, located along with the National Highway 1A, and has been known as one of the most popular beaches of Vietnam. With long stretches of white sand, the vast blue waters of the ocean and rainforests on the undulating mountains, the Lang Co beach is definitely a delight for any beach lover.

Click here for the location of the Lang co Bay View Point on Google Maps

View from the Lang Co Viewpoint. Doesn’t Lang Co bay look like a postcard picture !!

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We were welcomed by a beautiful sunset at Da Nang

Quick Tips:

  • Don’t be misled by the short distance of the Hai Van Pass. You will definitely take more time as you would want to stop for a photograph or two every 5 minutes on it. So plan accordingly.
  • If you plan to drive all the way to Hue from Da Nang and enjoy Hai Van Pass on the way, then would suggest you to either stay at Hue or return by car if you want to come back the same day. The two-way bike ride from Da Nang to Hue can be a bit tiring given the distance and humid weather.
  • We rented Suzuki GZ150 from Motorvina for a one way rental of 45 USD (The two way rental for the bike was around 33 USD). The bike was pretty comfortable and had two luggage racks. You can contact Motorvina at +84 935922866 for any more information. Other gears and accessories (apart from the helmets) were also available at a nominal rent. We came back by a chauffeured car and paid 45 USD for the same. (Use – motovina2018 for 10% discount while booking with them)
  • The bike rental agencies usually insist upon keeping the passport towards security. Check with them and instead carry and give them some other ID proof along with a credit card deposit.

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Vietnam

Your Guide to Hanoi Street Food

Those who know us well know that we are foodies. For us, the culinary experiences form an essential part of our travel escapades. While traveling to places, we love to explore around and try the local cuisines as they are the cultural gateway, the dishes and drinks get us deeper into a culture, leading to interactions with local people and incredible travel experiences !!

The Vietnamese cuisine is one of the most delicious and healthy cuisines in the world. Thanks to its tropical climate and diverse landscape, Vietnam is blessed with a variety of plants and herbs which make its way into the food bowl. When in Vietnam, we were pleasantly surprised by seeing the high healthy quotient in the food consumed.

Paul Prudhomme once said – ‘You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food”. When it comes to Hanoi food culture, this is true to the core where you get a great variety of tastiest street food in the narrow bylanes of its Old Quarter. We spent hours strolling in the Hanoi Old Quarters exploring the local eateries, enjoying the sumptuous food and exchanging pleasantries with the locals. As the Old Quarters swarms with such eateries, it is important to know these hidden gems tucked away in some corner that serve the most popular (with locals) and authentic food which becomes overwhelming at times to find. To make it easier for you, after a lot of research, we bring you our Hanoi Street Food Guide which lists the dishes that we treated our taste buds with and would highly recommend you to to do as well. So let’s get started.

1. Bun Cha:

Bun Cha is one of the most popular local dishes in Hanoi. Some say this dish originated in Hanoi & can only be found in Northern Vietnam. Bun Cha is barbequed pork two ways with flavourful broth served with rice vermicelli and generously sprinkled with greens, herbs & dipping sauce to the side. You will find many roadside eateries serving Bun Cha but instead, head to Bun Cha Dac Kim on Hang Manh Street which is quite popular amongst the locals and is known for serving the most authentic Bun Cha in town.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Bun Cha Dac Kim

Bun Cha – Our First Meal in Vietnam

Bun Cha Dac Kim

Bun Cha Dac Kim on the Hang Manh Street

2. Egg Coffee:

Yes, you read it right. This mysterious beverage, favorite among locals (also known as Cà Phê Trứng), is made by beating an egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk until it makes an airy, creamy fluff. This eggy goodness is then slowly poured on top of the hot espresso or iced coffee. There are many cafes that serve Egg Coffee but it was Mr. Nguyen Giang who invented this coffee & opened Giang Cafe in 1946. Since then, this cafe has been a local favorite.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe, Hanoi

Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe, Hanoi

3. Pho:

Originally from northern Vietnam and had by rice field workers, Pho today is one of the most iconic and staple dishes of Vietnam, usually eaten for breakfast. Pho consists of a clear beef or chicken-based broth, rice noodles, greens and herbs, and thinly sliced meats. We tried Pho across various places in Vietnam but the best Pho bowl we had was in Hanoi at Pho Bat Dan. It is undoubtedly one of the most frequently visited places by locals & tourists alike.

Quick Tip: Do not get intimidated by the old character of the place and the meat pieces hanging at the shop food counter. Just order a Pho bowl and slurp on it.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Pho

All the goodness of meat, greens, and herbs in one Bowl of Pho

The old rustic charm of the restaurant

4. Hoa Qua Dam:

Simply put, Hoa Qua Dam resembles fruit custard and was the most refreshing dessert we had in Hanoi. It is a bowl loaded with seasonal fruits mixed & topped with coconut & condensed milk, yogurt, crushed ice & few drops of flavored jelly. We treated ourselves with Hoa Qua Dam while roaming around in the weekend market thus won’t be able to share the exact location but you can easily spot local street vendors or shops selling this.

5. Beer Street:

Ta Hien, famously known as ‘The Beer Street’ is a small street lying in the famous Old Quarter of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake. During the Day, this street looks like one of the many streets of the Old Quarters in Hanoi. But during the night, especially on weekends, it transforms itself into one of the most crowded and happening streets in the Old Quarter bustling with people. Foreign travelers and locals gather in this small street and enjoy Bia Hoi, a local favorite draught beer. We earned a very different experience for ourselves -  sat on small-sized plastic chairs on the street, sipped beer after a long day of exploring Hanoi and enjoyed looking at the cluttering charm of Vietnam.

6. Cong Caphe:

This place was not there on our list but as luck would have it, we were destined to visit this place. Fortunately, we discovered this cafe one fine evening while looking to save ourselves from a sudden rain shower. We were welcomed by a very cute and excited pug dog who was intent to lick everyone as a customary way of him greeting people. We instantly fell in love with the rustic charm of the cafe and a variety of beverages listed on the menu. Would strongly recommend trying their Coconut Coffee.

Coconut Coffee at the Cong Caphe

 

The recommended places to eat in the Old Quarters of Hanoi

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