Cat Ba- Jade island

With 366 islands, the Cat Ba Archipelago offers stunning scenery. Recognized by Unesco as a World Biosphere Reserve, this archipelago lies next to the World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay

With beautiful sea views, endemic forests, fabulous caves and fairytale beaches, Cát Bà Island has a lot to offer. The largest island in the archipelago, Cát Bà is often compared to a beautiful jade pendant.

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This is one of 3 beaches at Ca Bat island

A new eco-tourism development promises to complement the island’s natural beauty. On one side the Cát Bà Amatina faces an idyllic bay and white-sand beaches. On the other it faces mountains and forests. Located in Cái Giá Bay and not far from Cát Bà National Park, this world-class ecotourism project will offer modern, urban comforts, luxurious marinas and the friendly, serene atmosphere of resorts.

a must visit to destinations in the North of Vietnam

Cát Bà Amatina mixes French elegance, American passion and warm, gentle Vietnamese architecture. Designed to fit with the area’s beautiful surroundings, Cát Bà Amatina will feature business malls, an international conference hall, 4 and 5 star hotels, and leisure facilities such as a sports complex, Private and VIP marinas, and out-door restaurants. A bridge and highway are now being built to link Cát Bà Island with Hai Phong city. This will allow tens of thousands of tourists to reach Cát Bà each month.

Cat-Ba- Amatina-resort
The Cat Ba Amatina Project promises modern facilities in a peaceful setting

For those seeking peace and quiet, Cát Bà Amatina is an ideal getaway spot. Guests will enjoy high-end villas set in beautiful scenery. Just a short stroll away lie beaches, forests and the marina. Tourist sites include Cát Bà National Park, Trung Trang Cave, and the Frog Pond.

An attractive development for investors, Cát Bà Amatina embodies serenity and luxury on the peaceful island of Cát Bà. It also reveals the expertise of its investor, Vinaconex – ITC, professional investor and developer in real estate.
At Cat Ba Amatina, nature and human artistry come together in perfect harmony.

Cannot-miss dishes when traveling to Vietnam

According to Ultimate Hanoi Adventures, there are so many reasons why you need to visit Vietnam and enjoying its cuisine is also one reason. Vietnamese cuisine is not only tasty but also creative, so sometimes, you have to spend a tour to discover the food in Vietnam. Below are delicious dishes you should try when traveling to Vietnam, listed by the famous tourism blog of Southeast Asia, with all flavors from the North to the South.

1. Vietnamese rice noodle soup with beef

beef-noodle-soup

 

Not surprisingly, Vietnamese rice noodle soup with beef is on the list of must-try dishes when taking a tour to Vietnam. Simply because this dish becomes a special one in the hearts of connoisseurs around the world. If you are a noodle lover, you will easily realize that the dish brings the local flavors and each restaurant has its own secret to make “pho” and passes on to next generations.

Difficult to make at first but it will turn out to be easy to cook at the end if you take part in a Hanoi home cooking adventures. With such classes, you will fully experience Vietnamese cuisine.

2. Bread

Although it is listed as “the world’s most delicious bread”, in Vietnam, it is something very simple with cheap price. The flavor of Vietnam’s bread is subtle with perfect combination of fresh herbs, sauces, pate, meat and fried eggs. Especially, you will feel excited when knowing that there are many choices for you to eat like fried eggs, grill pork, roasted meat and so on.

3. Vermicelli with grilled pork balls

rice-noodle-grilled-pork

Vermicelli with grilled pork balls is a very subtle mixture from vermicelli, golden brown grilled meat balls, sweet and sour sauce, and herbs. This dish is a pride of Hanoi cuisine so, you will easily enjoy it at any places when walking around the city center.

4. Fresh spring rolls

fresh-rice-rolls

One of cannot-miss food while visiting Hanoi is fresh spring rolls. Like most of dishes, spring rolls should be served when it is still hot. It has many variations but for Hanoi cuisine, the ingredients will include rice vermicelli papers, stir fried beef with onion and fresh herbs. All will be rolled together in one rice paper and dipped in the bowl of sweet and sour sauce. Such a delicious dish!

5. Sweetened porridge

sweetened-porridge

It is the mixture of glutinous rice, different beans, fruits and jelly. It is also a common dessert in Vietnam. With sweet and cool flavor, it is a great drink in summer. There are many kinds of sweet gruel to enjoy but the most typical ones are sweet porridge with black bean or green beans, mixed sweet gruel…

Have you ever tried this before? Or simply, have you every cook it? If you haven’t, Hanoi cooking class will help you to make it real.

6. Banh Khot

“Banh Khot” is a southern specialty consisting of small, fried rice flour pancakes, which surely make you interested when enjoying. You will love it when eating the golden brown pancakes with shrimps, minced meat and onion inside the bowl of sweet and sour sauce, accompanied with fresh herbs.

7. Vietnamese Crepesvietnamese-crepes

It will be a missing in Vietnam tour if the foreign tourists haven’t enjoyed the pancakes of central region’s style with typical flavor. These pancakes are the perfect combination from the crunchy deep fried rice flour pieces with herbs, small shrimps, bean sprouts and meat inside. It will be more tasty to dip eat with sweet and sour sauce and roasted peanuts.

Are you eager to come to Vietnam for cuisine experience? Do you want to know how to cook the above mentioned food? No time for hesitation! Just book a ticket, take a tour and join a Hanoi cooking class to discover Vietnamese cuisine through the dishes!

Golden St. Petersburg

The second largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg captivates visitors’ hearts with the beauty of its golden autumns

Despite many ups and downs, St. Petersburg has retained its charm. Thanks to its magnificent architecture and beautiful landscapes, St. Petersburg is a symbol of Russian culture. Founded by the Tsar Peter the Great upon former wetlands, St. Petersburg is Russia’s cultural capital. A copper statue of Peter I of Russia, also known as the “Bronze Horseman”, is considered a symbol of the city.

St-Petersburg

Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, St. Petersburg is the eighth most-popular tourist attraction in the world. With its large and extensive canal systems, ancient mossy bridges, and antique houses lining the riverside, the city is often called “Venice of the North”.
St. Petersburg is a remarkable showcase of Russian architecture, history and culture. With lavish Baroque and neoclassical buildings, the city evokes Europe during the 16th to 18th centuries. Fit for a king, St. Petersburg is home to many splendid palaces such as the Pavlovsk Palace, the Winter Palace, the Summer Palace, and the Catherine Palace. St. Petersburg also impresses tourists with its unique and exotic museums. With 221 museums, 80 theaters, cultural centers and many other art centers, the city hosts many artistic and cultural events, as well as festivals and competitions.

Cambodia- The region of Southeast Asia is the land of architecture, rich culture and religious

In the autumn, this ancient city looks especially magical. In the fall, St. Petersburg dons a golden cloak. Kazan Cathedral with its majestic colonnade, the old bridge built during the time of Peter I across the Neva river, and Peter the Great’s palace beside Black Lake … In the autumn, these sites appear different and outstanding. Strolling down a path strewn with yellow leaves and inhaling the cool autumn breeze, visitors will feel the magic and romance of this majestic city.

Cannot-miss tourist sites in the North of Vietnam

After the busy time at work or stressful exam days, you do not know what to do or where to go to refresh your minds. No need to worry because you can spend your time relaxing and enjoying the most attractive tourist destinations in the North of Vietnam.
Let’s discover 5 wonderful spots below!

Sapa – Lao Cai

sapa-market

Sapa is the great place for you to relax and sometimes to feel something romantic from sightseeing the cloudy sky, mountains and the coldness. Bac Waterfall, May Bridge to Cat Cat Village and gate to the sky are no longer strange to locals and tourists. However, you will never feel bored when visiting Sapa with many interesting activities.
You can choose the tour to Sapa for 3 days or even 6 days for discovery by one package tour at Hanoi Ultimate Adventures

Co To Island – Quan Lan Island, Quang Ninh Province

coto-island

Co To and Quan Lan belong to Quang Ninh Province and are far from Hanoi about 350 to 400 km. To visit the islands, you have to take the train or boat.
Once arriving in the island, you will feel something amazing and interesting when you comfortably play with your families or friends on the white sand on the beach and sightsee the beach. Moreover, there are lots of cheap but delicious seafood served immediately on the beach for you to enjoy.
Because tourism in Co To Island and Quan Lan Island is not much exploited, they still keep their own wild and rustic beauty. It is a wonderful experience when you walk in the middle of the cool pine garden or scream on the tuk tuk car. Perhaps, these are 2 great beaches tourists should take a tour to.
For visiting the islands, you should spend 3 days.

Moc Chau – Quiet Roads

moc-chau

Moc Chau is one of the most attractive sites in the North of Vietnam, especially after the Lunar New Year. The weather in Moc Chau is quite similar to Hanoi but thanks to the immense scene of forests and mountains, it makes Moc Chau more picturesque and strangely beautiful.
From the town center to the villages are the quiet roads to Ang village, Dai Yem Waterfall, Ba Phach Waterfall and so on. You will never get any feelings of commercialization or bustle and hustle to the land of tea and cauliflowers like you feel in the cities.
Moc Chau is far from Hanoi nearly 200 km so you can try to drive a motorbike as many backpackers do or passenger car for safety. It just takes you a little time and money so Moc Chat promises to be the meaningful trip.

Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh

halong-bay

In the tourism of the Northern Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is one of the most well-known and beautiful tourist sites in Vietnam. Ha Long Bay has the cluster of stone isles with the unique shapes and famous caves. What attracts tourists is the visit to bay and sightsee “Hon Trong Mai” (The Rocks of Kissing Cocks), alluring nature stone mountains or Thien Cung Cave, etc.
Travel to Ha Long Bay, you can visit Tuan Chau Island and bath on Bai Chay Beach as well as enjoy the fresh seafood with the reasonable price. The seafood you cannot miss is delicious dipped squid. You can buy it as a gift for your family or friends. After buying, you should out it into the ice box to keep it always fresh.

Tam Dao – the alluring beauty

tam-dao

Tam Dao is an ideal resort for you in the North of Vietnam. Especially, it is suitable for those who do not have much time. The 80-kilometer road from Hanoi to Tam Dao will take you a little time and effort by renting a motorbike from Hanoi.

In this place, you can enjoy the fresh air and comfortable coolness. Located in Mang Chi Valley with the height of 1.000 meters and the temperature of 18 – 25oC on average, Tam Dao treasures so many wonderful spots to visit and capture the wonderful moments.
It also promises to serve the typical specialties such as chayote for boiling, stir frying or deep frying with flour; wild boar to steam, grill or fry. If there is a buffet of grilled foods at the area of campfire, it will be the greatest thing.

In conclusion, the above mentioned places are just some spotlight destinations in the North of Vietnam. There are many other tourist sites for you to discover such as Cham tower in Ninh Thuan. Let’s stand up, step out and plan for your trip to these famous places. Hopefully, you will have happy and safe trip.

Dancing Shiva-Stone Sculptures

The ancient kingdom of Champa existed on Vietnam’s central coast between the 2nd and 15th centuries. Due to its crucial position on the maritime silk road, Champa enjoyed trade and cultural ties with distant lands. Champa’s culture was profoundly shaped by cultural influences from India.

Hinduism was adopted into Champa quite early. In its home country, Hinduism was dedicated to the Unified Three Gods, which held supreme power, namely Brahma (Creation God), Vishnu (Maintenance God) and Shiva (Destruction God). However, as time went by, Hinduism was transformed and assimilated into the vernacular culture of the Chams, shaping a religion exclusively dedicated to Shiva, known as Shivaism. The Chams likened Shiva to the King of the Chams. They made many limages of Shiva, particularly in stone sculptures.

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Statue of Shiva shed light on the culture, arts and history of Champa

According to Hindu legends, the primitive embodiment of Shiva was the Linga flame pillar (male genitals, symbolising Yang elements). As a result, Shiva was symbolised into the Linga – the pillar of the universe worshipped in temples. The Linga was usually coupled with a Yoni (female genitals, symbolising Yin elements) to form the Linga – Yoni symmetry to express the creation power of Shiva. The Chams made many diverse Linga – Yoni sculptures, including ones in large sizes

Shiva was also portrayed in humanised forms of various shapes and roles. The predominating form was that of Nataraja (King of Dances). This form is an expression of the absolute prowess and perfection of Shiva. Hindu believe that at the end of each universal cycle, Shiva performs his divine dances to destroy the old depleted universe in preparation for the creation of a new universe. Two popular forms of Nataraja dances are Tandava – Vigorous Dance for violence coupled with destruction and Laysia – Tender Dance for rebirth and procreation. Laysia is performed after Tandava, with corresponding dances by Shiva’s spouse, the Goddess Parvati.

In Indian sculpture, Shiva Nataraja was usually portrayed in bronze in round statue forms, with relatively consistent expressions. Shiva performs his dances within a flame circle, a symbol of the universe His right foot treads above the Dwarf Demon Apasmara, a symbol of Shiva’s victory over fallibility, foolishness and ignorance. His left foot is raised to the left to maintain balance. He has four hands: the rear right hand holds the Damaru Drum, which symbolises creation. His rear left hand holds the flame to symbolise destruction. His front right hand makes a mudra, to express overcoming fears. His front left hand is left open, crossed to the right and facing downward to denote emancipation. In general, Tandava is a dance that sums up Shiva’s operations of the universe to embark on a new cycle: Creation -Maintenance – Destruction.

In Champa culture, likenesses of Shiva Nataraja were usually depicted on sandstone as reliefs or bas-reliefs and placed as decorations on the pediments of Champa temples. Unlike the fierce and violent depictions of Indian arts, Champa images of Shiva Nataraja performing the Tandava dance were portrayed in a gentle and flexible manner. The foot movements were quite soft. Shiva’s hair was braided in the three-layer Jaka – Mukuta style or braided in the crown Kirita – Mukuta rather than hanging loose like Shiva Nataraka statues in India.

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The Kingdom of Champa was heavily influenced by the culture of India

Champa statues of Shiva Nataraja featured diverse facial expressions. Shiva was rarely depicted alone, but was usually accompanied by other performing musicians and watched by other deities. Statuettes made between the 8th and 10th centuries and exhumed in Quang Tri, Quang Nam are uniquely realistic. Shiva was portrayed with typical genetic characteristics of the Cham. In contrast, artefacts dating from the 11th to 13th century found in Mam Tower, Binh Dinh are noticeable for their magnificence, with a strong focus on meticulous decorative details that suggests cultural exchanges with the Khmer.

Interested in Cham religious festival?

The most forceful evidence of the diversity of depictions of Champa’s Shiva Nataraja lies in the god’s number of arms and hand movements. Shiva was depicted having four, six or eight arms, except for some cases with up to 10,16 or 28 arms. Regardless of the number, his hands were always depicted as moving in a circle, which embodies the eternal cycle of the universe. The most popular form was the mudra coupled with arms holding belongings, in which the two upper arms were always raised above his head and the remaining two hands made Uttarabodhi mudra to symbolise enlightenment. Other hands might hold belongings. These belongings differed depending on origin and stage. Sometimes, Shiva held a trident, symbolising Creation – Maintenance – Destruction and a sword to symbolise emancipation. Sometimes, he held a variety of belongings such as a lotus, rosary, Naga snake, Parashu axe or Damaru drum. Sculptures of Shiva reveal that this god dominated the spiritual life of the Chams.

By Huu Vy