Van Phuc traditional village in Hanoi

Van Phuc traditional village is one of northern Vietnam’s most famous “traditional craft villages” but local silk producers are using so many imported materials and modern machinery that soon it might not be so traditional.

Down a small snaking lane in Van Phuc village, five men lug a large silk dryer towards Nguyen Thang Vinh’s house. It will take three days to install the new equipment so Vinh’s family has temporarily stopped producing silk. Although he will lose out today, soon Vinh speculates he will be earning much more with the new machinery, which will dry silk more quickly and so boost his capacity.

“I have spent VND270 million (,200) on three new driers,” says Vinh. “All houses around here use power-run driers and weaving machines now. It takes too much time to dry and weave silk manually.” Pointing at an old handloom in his kitchen corner, he says that it’s a merely a keepsake. Only one year ago when I first came to Van Phuc, one of Vietnam’s most famous ‘traditional craft villages’, reams of silk were drying in the sunshine alongside paddy fields and by the banks of the Nhue river.

Foreign tourists snapped photos while art students tried to capture the glistening silk in the afternoon sunlight on canvas. But according to Vinh nobody dries silk outdoors anymore. It makes sense. Silk could only be dried outside when the sun shined. Now, with modern machinery, you can dry silk rain or shine, day and night.

Silk drying is a crucial stage determining the smoothness and colour of the end product and Vinh sees both pros and cons to power drying silk. On one hand he believes it’s better looking but less durable than silk that’s left to dry in the natural heat of sunshine. “There’s nothing traditional about making silk now,” says Vinh.

A long history of silk
The name Van Phuc is synonymous with silk. Some will tell you that silk was first produced here around 700 years ago when a woman from China’s Hangzhou city, also well-known for silk products, arrived in the village. At the time the village was desperately poor, so she decided to teach the villagers how to weave silk so they would have a trade.

Another legend said that a princess during the reign of the semi-mythical Hung Kings introduced silk making to the area nearly 2,000 years ago. But yet another story goes that 1,200 years ago, a young woman called A La Thi Nuong from Cao Bang province, who married a man from Van Phuc, taught the village how to cultivate mulberries, raise silkworms and weave silk.

After she passed away, she became a tutelary village genie. In feudal times, silk products were made exclusively for kings, queens, mandarins and other members of the royal court. In colonial times Van Phuc silk was highly prized and sold in international fairs in Marseille and Paris, held in 1931 and 1938 respectively, and distributed across Europe afterwards.

Today nearly 700 households are engaged in silk weaving in Van Phuc with more than half of the village’s population involved. The village produces 2.5-2.7 million square metres of silk every year and is home to nearly 100 shops.

Fading traditions
Traditionally Van Phuc produced silk from locally-made materials. The villagers liked to say they had their secret methods when it came to producing silk. But now you can buy silk from elsewhere in Van Phuc. Roughly half of the products in most shops are believe to be either imported or produced from imported materials.

“You will never find any family cultivating mulberries or raising silkworms now because of the lack of cultivated land and a lack of human resources,” says Pham Anh Nguyet, who works in a silk-producing workshop. Pointing to a large, flat basket filled with dried silkworms, the 17-year-old says that it’s only for decoration. When she started to weave silk three years ago, the locals had given up raising silkworms.

Nguyen Anh Nga, Nguyet’s mother, claims she is an exception, though her daughter said they used materials that were bought from Bac Ninh, Nam Dinh and Hai Duong provinces. “We make silk materials ourselves and we also raise our own silkworms,” Nga says. According to a number of shop owners, there are only 10 kinds of locally-made silk and each silk-producing household makes the same kind of samples.

“Meanwhile, more and more shops are appearing, so if we don’t import more samples, our sales will be poor,” says Nguyen Van Thuc, one shop owner and silk producer. As I purchase three shirts from his shop, Nguyen Van Thuc chats freely, not suspecting I am a journalist. He confesses that only a small ratio of the shirt’s material is actually made from silk.

“The remainder is made up by nylon fibres,” says Thuc, before adding with a whisper, “The imitated products cannot be spotted unless you’re an expert.” I tell Thuc that two months ago a colleague came here and bought a silk dress only to discover it was Chinese-made when she got home. According to Thuc most shops sell imported goods, including garments that can be found in markets around the country. Van Phuc, he claims, has been “invaded by foreign goods”.

When foreign tourists walk into the shop, Thuc’s wife jumps into life: “Buy it! 100 per cent real silk! Traditionally made!” Later, another customer, Pham Thuy Linh, an overseas Vietnamese silk trader from Canada, says she read that Van Phuc produces and sells handmade high quality silk but looking around the shops she’s far from impressed.

“I can see low quality silk here and a lot of products are obviously mass-produced as they all look the same,” says Linh. “Why don’t the local authorities tighten management over low quality products?” A proposal to develop Van Phuc into a traditional tourism site was approved by the former province of Ha Tay (now part of greater Hanoi) several years ago but nothing has been implemented to date. How sad to think that in the meantime, Van Phuc is losing its traditional ways.

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Peaceful Hanoi Capital

Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the center of culture, politics, economy and trade of the whole country.

Located in the heart of Red River Delta, in the North Vietnam, Hanoi shares the border with Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc provinces to the north, Hoa Binh and Ha Nam to the south, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Hung Yen provinces to the east, Hoa Binh and Phu Tho to the west.

Hanoi is situated in a tropical monsoon zone with two main seasons (dry season and wet season). But it can be further divided into 4 distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

The spring is from February to April and is characterized by light drizzles keeping the weather wet. The season also culminates with the Lunar New Year Holiday and many festivals. The summer season is relatively hot and humid and consists of the months of May to August. Temperatures can soar as high as 38- 40 degree Celsius with the highest amount of annual rainfall (around 1682 mm/ year). September to November falls the autumn months. The weather is dry but cool and is considered to be the best season in Hanoi. Winter lasts from December to January, and is cold and dry with temperatures falling as low as 6-7 degree Celsius.

In Vietnamese, “Ha” means the river and “noi” means interior. “Hanoi” means “the hinterland between the rivers” Hanoi’s territory is washed by the Red River and its tributaries, as well as some other rivers flowing through the capital, including Duong, Cau, Ca Lo, Day, Nhue, Tich, To Lich and Kim Nguu.

Hanoi is a sacred land of Vietnam. It was chosen to be the capital of Au Lac Nation (Co Loa citadel) in the 3rd century BC, of Ly Dynasty (Dai La citadel, then called Thang Long). For about a thousand years, the capital was called Thang Long, then changing to Dong Do, Dong Kinh, and finally to Hanoi, in 1831. This sacred piece of land thereafter continued to be the theatre of many fateful events.

– Highways: Hanoi is 93km from Ninh Binh, 102km from Hai Phong, 165 km from Halong City, 400 km from Sapa, 474 km from Dien Bien Phu, 658 km from Hue, 763 km from Da Nang, and 1,710km from Ho Chi Minh City.

– Airways: Noi Bai International Airport, over 35km from the city center, is one of the biggest airports of the country with various international and domestic routes. There are domestic flights from Hanoi to Da Nang, Dien Bien, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang and international flights to many countries from over the world.

– Railways: Hanoi Railway Station is Vietnam’s main railway station. It is the starting point of five railway lines leading to almost every province in Vietnam. Some main train routes available in Hanoi include: Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh (with many stops on the way), Hanoi – Sapa, Hanoi – Halong and Hanoi – China (Nanning Province)

As the capital turning 1000 in 2010, Hanoi has within it the finest touch of what a Vietnamese cultural tradition of over a thousand years has to offer. The city hosts more cultural sites than any other cities in Vietnam, including over 600 pagodas and temples. Even though some relics have not survived after wartime, the city still has many interesting cultural and historic monuments for visitors and residents alike.

Hanoi has hundreds of old pagodas and temples such as One-Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Thay Pagoda, Tay Phuong Pagoda, Dau Pagoda, Tram Gian Pagoda…; dozens of museums such as Vietnam Military History Museum, Vietnam Ethnology Museum.. as well as many traditional festival (Thay Pagoda Festival, Tay Phuong Pagoda Festival, Huong Pagoda Festival)…

Hanoi also characteristically contains 18 beautiful lakes such as Hoan Kiem Lake (Restored Sword Lake), West Lake, and Truc Bach Lake…, and many famous places: Long Bien Brigde, Dong Xuan Market, Huong Son Tourist Area, Mount Tu Tram, Dong Mo King Island’s Golf Club, Two Binh Da Communal Houses…

Many traditional handicrafts are also practiced in Hanoi including bronze molding, silver carving, lacquer, and embroidery. Hanoi has many famous traditional professional handicraft villages such as and many famous traditional villages such as Bat Trang Ceramic Village, Van Phuc Silk Village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village, Yen Thai glossy silk…Visitors can also enjoy many famous dishes of Hanoians such as Hanoi noodle, Vong Villages Com…

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Winter in Hanoi finally comes after teasing its lover for a while!

Winter (Hanoi) is divided into several spells. It’s like playing peepbo with Hanoians in a few days, and then hides in somewhere like teasing its lover.

Hanoians might be accustomed to one thing that winter is divided into several spells. Every monsoon comes in a few days and plays peepbo with people by its suddenly cold weather, then hides in somewhere like teasing its lover, leaving hot weather for people to wait the coldness restlessly next monsoon.

But maybe this doesn’t matter, because it’s still good if each cold spell’s temperature falls like this year.

During the period of turning to the winter (Hanoi), from midnight to morning, the wind blows strongly with little rain in some places. It’s so cold last night, and another winter in Hanoi comes again in one morning that we see cups of hot tea and coffee along with venders selling flowers on streets, and the city is colored by the winter totally.

Hopefully, Hanoi’s winter weather will last little longer, so the capital will really live in cold days of the year’s ending months.

Daisy flowers are winter flowers of Hanoi
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Best Sapa hotels with views are so ideal to enjoy the town

Sapa Vietnam hotels with luxurious and modern architecture will satisfy you when stepping in, especially, they have amazing views overlooking Sapa town.

The weather is getting cold. If we don’t travel to Dalat, why don’t we travel to Sapa? And after coming there, where will you be in Sapa? Here is the suggestion for you!

Amazing Sapa Hotel
Dong Loi Road, Sapa City Center
About 86 USD

Amazing Sapa Hotel is constructed in typical European style. This Sapa hotel attracts many tourists by its opulent strait and the modern unique architecture.

82 full facility rooms of the hotel will bring you warm and comfort feeling. Amazing Sapa is one of Sapa hotels with views that is so great through its big windows.

In addition, the hotel also possesses a beautiful indoor swimming pool. You will have moments of recreation with clear blue water while enjoying delicious cocktails with smooth loungers overlooking poetic Sapa town.

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa
Xuan Vien Street, Sapa
About 140 USD

When talking about hotels in Sapa Vietnam, you cannot miss Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa. It is one of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in Sapa. Located in a favorable position at the center of Sapa but the space of the hotel is large and windy.

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa is built with traditional wooden houses in mountain area. This hotel has high ceiling, wooden beams and fussy encrusted rock patterns.

Besides, Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa is one of Sapa Vietnam hotels that has a great pleasant feeling in cold winter with the heating area like cozy arms hugging you.

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa has 77 rooms from luxury, premium rooms to family rooms in order to give customers more choices upon theirs different needs.

Topas Ecolodge Sapa
21 Muong Hoa, Lao Chai – Ta Van, Sapa
About 168 USD

Topas Ecolodge Sapa is just 18 km from Sapa town, which is at the top of two hills. It has 25 rooms designed in traditional style with wood and plain stones. Whenever you walk into Topas Ecoldge Sapa’s rooms, you will feel a romantic atmosphere like among nature.

All the rooms have balconies which are toward the valley. From here, you can look far away to see the romantic valley covered by green terraced fields and the Muong Hoa stream bendy around the bottom of the mountain.

U-Sapa Hotel
08 Cau May, Sapa
About 91 USD

U-Sapa hotel is constructed in French style and in harmony with traditional local custom.

Many Sapa hotels reviews show that this hotel has 4-star qualify with full facilities and high-class Vietnam travel services.

U-Sapa has 57 rooms and customers can enjoy many services like restaurant, bar, gym, library. While resting here, tourists can relax, enjoy the atmosphere and refresh after working days. You can also visit the villages of ethnic minority people around.

The unique feeling of U-Sapa is 24-hour room service. It allows customers to use their room in 24 hours since they register and get the rooms. Breakfast is served anytime and anywhere in the hotel in their 24-hour staying time. U-Sapa promises to bring customers a completely relax and pleasant holiday.

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Best recommended Sapa restaurants to enjoy specialties in the town

Best restaurants in Sapa, Vietnam with dishes which are both delicious and cheap to satisfy your stomach in one of the most beautiful spots of Vietnam!
If you are planning to travel to Sapa and wondering which restaurants are good and cheap, here is the list of the best restaurants in Sapa with specialities you should check out!

A Quynh – Northwest speciality
Address: 15 Thach Son
Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:30

The A Quynh is one of Sapa restaurants famous for “thang co” dish made from meat and internal organs of horse, beaf, buffalo and pork. This regarded as the most special food of people in Northwest Vietnam.

Beside that, when you get here you can also enjoy many great food like fried bamboo-tube rice, smoking-shelf buffalo, salmon hotpot, mushroom and vegetable hotpot, stream fish, sautéed and bake food made from wild boar, chickens living in the hill, buffalo, horse, etc.

We must say this Sapa Vietnamese restaurant has the most famous special dish in Sapa with reasonable price that many tourists love to visit. The space of the restaurant is decorated finely which will bring you warm and friendly feeling.

A Quynh also serves music and song on Friday nights and Sundays every week. If you may have a chance to visit Sapa, don’t forget to come on those days.

Sapa barbeque zone
Address: Cau May Street
Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:30

If you ever go around Sapa in the afternoon, the barbeque zone at Cau May street is the best choice in Sapa. Tourists can enjoy variety of food like barbeque skewers, grilled chicken eggs, grilled salmon, grilled bamboo-tube rice and grilled sausages, etc.

The reason why this place is most attractive to tourists is cheap price, quick and enthusiastic serving. Each skewer is just about 10k-30k. You could be full if you eat about 60k-70k.

Red Dao
Address: 4B Thac Bac
Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:30

This Sapa Vietnamese restaurant is located at the center, on the way to Silver Waterfall (Thac Bac). Red Dao restaurant serves rural local foods like wild boar “heo rung cap nach”, bamboo-tube rice, salmon, river fish, wild vegetable, smoking-shelf buffalo, etc.

Inside the restaurant, you will see red theme of decoration which is right with its name. The restaurant gives you warm feeling with thoughtful and good Vietnam travel services and food that is pleasant to taste. Red Dao surely is one of the best restaurants in Sapa that you should put in your list.

Sapa Lotus
Address: 34 Cau May
Opening hours: 9:00 – 22:30

Many Sapa restaurants are famous with their special foods and Sapa Lotus is the same. It serves many traditional grilled dishes of Sapa people. The restaurant is located in Cau May Street in which you can find many street restaurants. Sapa Lotus restaurant is standing out by its swanky design in a classic but unique style.

Each hotpot (fresh pork, fish and wild vegetable are cooked with tasty and great flavor) in the restaurant is just about 600.000 VND (~28 USD).

Pho Tung – handed from older generation in Hanoi
Address: 71 Xuan Vien
Opening hours: 6:00 – 21:00

If you would like to discover “pho” (noodle soup) flavor of Ha Noi right at Sapa, just go to Xuan Vien Street, near Sapa lake. This restaurant is crowded every morning because of its great taste of “pho” handed from older generation in Hanoi.

Each bowl of “pho” costs from 40.000 to 60.000 VND (~1.8 – 2.7 USD) and it will make you full until noon.

Sapa cuisine zone
Address: To the left of Sapa stone church
Opening hours: 6:30 – 22:30

Sapa cuisine zone is famous with many Sapa restaurants and cafés surrounded with cheap prices. It has many different types of dishes for example barbeque skewers which are 10.000 -15.000 VND (0.45 – 0.68 USD) each skewer; or a hotpot which is from 600.000 VND (~28 USD).

If you ever come here, just never forget to try the dish made from hill chicken, village boar and river fish. The meat tastes great and tough and not soft like the one in the lowland.

Beside restaurants with specialties in Sapa mentioned above, check these places that are also great and good to enjoy:

• Chapa restaurant: 40 Cau May
• Hoang Minh restaurant: 23-24 Sapa Cuisine Zone
• Rendezvous restaurant: 06 Muong Hoa

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5 so pretty Sapa cafes to visit as soon as you are in the town

Update some beautiful cafes in Sapa with nice views and cool things for your trip to one of the most famous Vietnam spots.

Sapa is always a “hot” place for tourists, so why don’t you update some beautiful Sapa cafes with nice views and cool things for your trip?

No matter whom you travel with, Sapa always deserves one of the best Vietnam travel services. That is why you should check-in here at least once in your life.

One cool thing to do in Sapa is to go hiking in the mountains to see the snow fall, or see new villa zones or new homestays. You can also have fun while sitting with a hot cup of coffee, slowly enjoy it and see the whole giant mountains and forest, or terraced fields. These whole things will make you less stressful and anxiety inside.

So where is the good coffee shop in Sapa? Let’s take a quick note of 5 coffee shops below!

Gem Valley coffee
The cafe Sapa Vietnam which is always suggested firstly is Gem Valley. It is located 2 km from the center, right the beginning of Cat Cat village and very easy to find.

There are beautiful bunches of flowers hanging at the front of Gem Valley. The color of old brick and wood makes Gem Valley look plain, warm and mountainous.

Inside the coffee shop, there is a small gallery of an artist from Ha Noi.

At the balcony, there is a line of wooden tables with coffee sets. You can look down to see the entire rice valley of Cat Cat village from here. Go further, you can see the huge and mighty Fansipan mountain.

Viet Emotion
Mention to Sapa cafes, you cannot talk about Viet Emotion. It is a small shop on Cau May Street. Viet Emotion is easy to recognize by its green walls and tiny beautiful potteries of flower hanging outside.

Walking into the shop, the first feeling of tourists is cozy with warm colors of the wall and things inside.

They also hang some colorful lanterns that make this place pretty and different from other shops.

Fansipan Terrace
Fansipan Terrace has windy space and a great view making it the best cafe in Sapa. It is on Fansipan Street, 700 meters from the church and quite easy to spot out.

At Fansipan Terrace, tables and chairs are arranged quite simple. The handrail features with a line of flowers in potteries. All of these things will make you feel peaceful and airy.

Actually, Fansipan Terrace is not just a Sapa cafe, it is also a nice homestay with full facility attracting lots of tourists every year.

The Hill
The Hill is one of cafes in Sapa that has warm and pleasant atmosphere. It has two floors made from wood and stone. The Hill looks nice, tidy and quite Western.

The Hill isn’t very big but has enough capacity for tourists. Visitors come here sometimes just to enjoy its warm space and don’t require much about foods and drinks.

The Haven Sapa camp site
Last but not least, The Haven Sapa camp site is in the list of Sapa cafes you should drop by.

It is located in a favorable position, so most of tourists come to Sapa also visit this shop. They usually come here to have a rest after a long trip and take many nice artistic photos there.

There are many reasons to love The Haven Sapa. The rock stairs that is winding like endless, wooden huts with silk strips flying above the whole fields, great views from the top of the hill, the feeling like gently reaching the clouds when putting your hand up… All of these cool things will blow you up when you first put your step into this Sapa cafe.

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Wallow in dreamy Sapa homestays to enjoy each peaceful moment

Homestay in Sapa Vietnam are so cool that they will give you an ideal vacation with peace in each moment.
Staying in a Sapa homestay is different from staying in a hotel. Homestays in Sapa Vietnam give you the feeling of mysterious and beautiful Sapa that will make you crave to explore.

Hmong Mountain Retreat
Hmong Mountain Retreat in Ho village is a combination of over-70-year-old houses on stilts and thatched houses. It is the place helping you to feel the blend of nature.

The unique feature of this homestay is that you can live in bungalows located among green terraced fields at halfway the mountain. There are days when it’s cool with mist covered around mountains, small steam clouds wriggle into the room creating a mysterious atmosphere.

In this Sapa homestay Vietnam, you can choose “shared-room” to share your room with other people or just stay with two or three people with doors overlooking the hills.

In particular, the Hmong Mountain Retreat chef regularly organizes special cooking classes for guests, you can learn to cook western foods, Vietnam cuisine or traditional dishes which you like.

Price: ~36.4 USD/ bungalow; 9-11 USD/ shared-room.

Nam Cang Riverside Lodge
If this is the first time you experience homestay in Sapa and you want to make sure that your homestay has not only professional Vietnam travel services but also natural space, then Nam Cang Riverside Lodge – a very nice Sapa homestay with modern architecture in Nam Cang village, is the best.

The house is made of wood with the gentle aroma helping you feel so comfortable. Moreover, the decoration with deep brown makes rooms really cozy.

The common dining room is also very glorious. Wooden tables are made into stump shapes, the ceramic dinnerware in deep brown sets are extremely harmonious and consistent with the peaceful atmosphere here.

am Cang Riverside Lodge is located in Nam Cang village, inhabited by the Red Dao minority. You just need some steps to go deeper into the village, exploring the lives with interesting and strange feature of people living here. The Red Dao people usually sell ornaments, exquisite handicrafts to tourists.

Price: ~113.6 USD/room.

Phơri’s House
It would be regretful not to mention to Phori’s House that receives many good Sapa homestay reviews from customers. It is located in Ta Van village, where is peaceful and quiet. In front of this homestay is a small stream flowing murmuring. These make an ideal place for a peaceful trip.

The space inside Phori will bring you the feeling like at home: peaceful, cozy and private. What is better than being wrapped in a warm blanket with thick brocade motifs to sleep, then not getting up hurriedly but lying a little to contemplate or read a book.

That’s not all you can do at this Sapa homestay Vietnam, there is a kitchen for those who want to cook with wine, tea and clean coffee to sip.

Beside the affordable Sapa homestay price, this lovely homestay has other plus point that won’t raise its prices on Tet and holidays

Price: 30 USD/ room/ 2 people, plus 10 USD from the 3rd person, 120 USD /whole house (containing about 14 people).

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