Our third day on the road in Ha Giang was spent in a battle with frequent cloud bursts. Up until now, we'd been having great weather, so it didn't feel right to complain, especially since the slower pace gave us more time to appreciate the province's unbelievable scenery.
Halfway between the Thấm Mã Pass and the Lũng Cú Flagpole, we made a stop at the Opium Palace of the H'mong. We were pretty excited about this. Of all the places which we've visited in our years of travel, almost none of them have had a name as intriguing as the "Opium Palace of the H'mong".
After having visited the Tam Sơn market on Sunday morning, we got back on our motorbikes and set off toward the north... to the very north. Today, Chu Chu would be taking us to Vietnam's border with China, marked by the Lũng Cú Flagpole. Along the way, we'd see some incredible scenery, especially at the Thấm Mã Pass.
We woke up early on Sunday morning, but probably later than every other person within a fifty-mile radius of Tam Sơn. Today, you see, was market day. And groups from all around Ha Giang would be pouring into town to sell, buy, eat, and socialize.
Founded by the French in 1907 as a retreat from the summer heat of Hanoi, the little town of Tam Đảo is found high in the hills, near a national park which shares its name. Today, it's a popular place for Hanoians to cool off and enjoy some nature. We decided to hop on a bus, and spend the night in town.
After settling into our room aboard the Dragon Legend, we had lunch and then took a couple short excursions. The first would be a sightseeing trip on a small jetty between the limestone hills, while the second would take us to one of Ha Long's oldest floating fishing villages.
While walking around small Trúc Bạch Lake, we had the chance to visit a couple of Hanoi's most historic temples: the Đền Quán Thánh, on the southwestern corner of the lake, and the Chùa Trấn Quốc, found on a small island between Trúc Bạch and the larger West Lake. Đền Quán Thánh We started at the Đền Quán Thánh, which was built in the 11th century, making it among the oldest temples in this very old city.…
As a country made up of 54 ethnicities, Vietnam is uniquely in need of an ethnology museum. And happily, the one found in the west of Hanoi is excellent. We drove out to the Cầu Giấy district to check out the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology.
A distinctive facade of three wide arches welcomes shoppers to Hanoi's largest covered market, the Chợ Đồng Xuân. With mostly clothes and bulk foods on sale, this isn't a place for souvenir-hunting tourists. But if you're in the market for a fascinating slice of local life, it might be just what you're looking for.
Located about 30 minutes north of Ninh Binh, the Vân Long Nature Reserve protects one of Northern Vietnam's largest unspoiled natural areas. Visitors can take a boat tour to see a small section of the park, and possibly spot the elusive, endangered Delacour's Langurs which call it home.