Art/Culture Festivals/Areas in Northern Vietnam?
September 27, 2007 3:21 PM   Subscribe

My bosses are going to Vietnam early next year and are interested in finding Art and Cultural things to do. They ask me 'cause I haven't told them of the Hivemind yet. I've looked through the old threads which dealt mostly with Hanoi (and I'm sharing those) but they're up for some travel into more rural areas. They're looking for advice not only for WHERE but WHEN. Anytime from Jan to March is good.

Right now I'm considering recommending the latter part of February which has Tet and Lim festivals.

About them: They're very artsy / cultural explorers and are experienced travellers but are not into the whole backpacking through Nature thing. Their last trip was to Berlin and they came back with photos and stories of galleries / museums / old districts / etc. As to economics...I won't say money is no object, but they're not the sorts to be staying at the HoJo.

Many thanks for any thoughts!
posted by Wink Ricketts to Travel & Transportation around Vietnam (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: I'd recommend travelling overland across the whole country, if time permits.

The cities of Hue and Hoi'an were the highlights of Vietnam for me. They both have preserved old towns, as well as nearby attractions which you can check out yourself on a scooter, or in a tour bus. I really recommend renting a scooter and taking off to explore the countryside by yourself (or, that your bosses do that)
posted by bluejayk at 10:24 PM on September 27, 2007


Best answer: I was incredibly lucky to be able to travel back to VN with my parents. While i do speak vietnamese, it was incredible to have their perspective and knowledge of the country and to see it through their eyes.

A few things that we saw along the way that i would have never chanced upon otherwise:

Monkey Mountain at the Son Tra Pennisula is named after the monkeys that inhabit the mountain. Few people seem to know this, but at the top of the mountain is a buddhist monastary. If you go either in the morning or in the evening, the buddhist bring out fruits and "call" the monkeys down from the mountain to feed them. When we went, it was incredible. There must have been over 100 monkeys. You don't get the feed the monkeys because as anyone will tell you-- wild monkeys can be very mean and scary. The monks however, have befriended them and feed them rice and lychees. When we went, we were the only tourists there and i believe my father found out about it by just asking the locals. Theres nothing on the internet about it but if your bosses happen to be in the area-- they could probably ask around to some of the local drivers and hitch a ride up there for very cheap. I think it might be well known amongst some of the locals because we got a little lost going up and our driver just stopped someone randomly and they knew the way. The monks were so incredible to meet and they'll give you a small tour of their compounds and lead you on hikes to see some of the rock formations up there as well (theres one called "snake head" that looks like a snake! and a HUGE tree that you can climb!) The monks are incredibly friendly and nice. I don't think they get very many tourists at all. This is all free-- but i highly suggest leaving them a donation.

When visiting Can Tho by the Mekong Delta, my dad got us a tour on the floating market by Cai Rang. Our boat brought us to the market (the one on the land, next to the one in the water) to a small restaurant we knew of where they serve snake. The walk through the land market was incredible-- tons of raw meat that i am definitely not used to eating (ferrets, skinned snakes ready to be cooked, etc). We got to the restaurant and learned that they will serve that infamous drink that you can see on so many television programs-- homemade alcohol (vodka?) with snake blood and the beating snake heart as a chaser. In short what they do is get a live snake, make a small incision, drip some of the blood into a glass of vodka, take the heart out. You swallow the heart and drink the blood/vodka and it is supposedly very good for your heart and sex life. Afterwards, they skin and clean the snake and you can take it to any of the surrounding restaurants and they will cook it for you. There is also very little information on this on the internet (that i could find)-- its more of a 'just go there and ask around and you'll find it' type of thing. Oh, the Mekong Delta and the floating markets are also very incredible. You have to go in the very early morning to see the floating market in action. During the day there are a few boats still around but nothing major.

When we were in Vung Tau my father, who has been an avid fisherman since he was a young boy, asked a local fisherman to take us out on his boat. I imagine this would be kind of cool to do out by Ha Long Bay or Nha Trang. Its humbling to see what an average fisherman has to do in 1 day to provide for his family.

Anyway if you need any more info-- my email is in my profile. I feel like i'm writing a book. :c) HAVE FUN.

oh, and EAT EAT EAT is the best advice i can give. Eat anything and everything. The food alone is worth the trip.
posted by modernsquid at 7:15 AM on September 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


P.S.

I have to second bluejayk in travelling across land over the entire country. I think VN is only the size of California. Travelling over land lets you see landscapes and meet people and see places you'd miss if you travelled by plane.

Renting a driver and van/car is easy and not-that-expensive as well. Every price in VN is negotiable. If you're lucky your driver can give you tips on local stuff to see, as well.
posted by modernsquid at 7:17 AM on September 28, 2007


Response by poster: Thanks for the direction. I'll be passing them along and might pop back with some questions if they want to look into some of them. Monkey Mountain sounds really swell. Makes me jealous!
posted by Wink Ricketts at 8:30 AM on September 28, 2007


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