Vietnam’s most challenging foods

There is a local Vietnamese saying that when a man encounters a new animal, his first question is: “Is it dangerous?” and the second question is “ Is it editable?”

The Vietnamese are adventurous eaters, and they’re not afraid to eat the whole animal, blood, guts and all. Here are six Vietnamese dishes to chew over.

Bugs

Fried crickets, raised on farms, are light and crispy like popcorn.

Vietnam’s ethnic Khmer in the Mekong Delta are among the country’s most adventurous eaters of insects and arachnids, though some hill tribers lso enjoy snacking on giant water bugs, tarantulas and scorpions. The mst commonly eaten include crickets, bee larvae and silk worms. Most bugs are fried and take on the flavor of their seasonings. They have very little flavor of their own. 

Frogs

The tastiest frogs are grilled with lemon grass and chili.

Vietnamese don’t just eat frog’s legs. After gutting and skinning these tubby, cartoonish bullfrogs, they then try, steam or grill the whole animal. One exception: on the evening of the first heavy rain, villagers gather a particular species of smooth-skinned toad, which is boiled whole, the stomach muscle removed, and then the entire animal eaten-skin, guts and all, with some lemon, salt and pepper. 

Pha Lau

Pha Lau is popularly added to noodle soups and hot pot. Of all the unusual foods listed here, it is the most common one for tourists to encounter at mealtime.

 Vietnamese don’t waste any part of the animal. Pha lau stands display piles of beef and pork intestines, lungs, kidney, heart and stomach. The tasty innards are chopped up and loaded into baguette sandwiches or sold by the plate to company rounds of beer or rice wine.

Squid teeth

Squid teeth are popular in coastal towns — always served in the vicinity of a fisherman’s wharf or fresh seafood market.

Squid teeth (rang muc) are another example of Vietnamese resourcefulness. The mouth parts of squid form a white, marble-sized ball with a tiny black beak protruding at the end. Steamed with ginger, grilled on a kebab or friend in batter, they are a popular after-school snack or market food for moms on-the-go.

Fetal duck eggs

In Vietnam, both fertilized duck eggs (known as trung vit lon) and tiny fertilized quail eggs are a popular snack.

Fertilized duck eggs are a very popular snack, appetizer or beer food. The contents are much harder than a conventional boiled egg, with a partially formed duck fetus inside. There may be visible signs of feathers but they dissolve in the mouth. The top is cracked, juices slurped, and then the contents are eaten with a spoon. Popular condiments include lemon and black pepper, fresh herbs, pickled veggies, raw garlic and green chili.

A note on eating wildlife

Unfortunately some restaurants in Vietnam serve wild game — some of it threatened or endangered, and much of it illegal. Guidebooks and television programs sometimes recommend these venues, ignorant of the issues involved. The Travel Channel recently faced this issue when the Wildlife Conservation Society successfully persuaded them to re-edit episodes of “No Reservations” and “Bizarre Foods” that contained questionable wildlife consumption in Vietnam and Cambodia respectively.

Vietnam’s allows wildlife ‘farms’ to operate if they buy a permit. But many of these farms still tend to source their stock from poachers, often involving tiger parts, bear bile and Rhino horns smuggled from Africa.

As such, all restaurants serving exotic animals here should be strictly avoided, and should not be considered bizarre, but illegal.

Explore the Thai white shampoo custom

Every year in the 30th’s afternoon of the Tet traditional holiday, the Thai white people who live on the moutain stream of Quynh Nhai, Phu Yen, Ngoc Chien ( Son La), Muong Lay (Dien Bien), Phong Tho, Muong Mo, Muong Te (Lai Chau), Nghia Lo (Yen Bai) organize the shampoo festival.

The Thai people live in many locations in Vietnam territory but most-densely inhabit in the West North provinces; about more than 1 million people live in Son La and Lai Chau with groups of the Thai black ( Tay Dam), the Thai white ( Tay Don or Tay Khao) and the Thai red

For Thai women, besides “tang cau” – (high chignon on the top head), their arts of shampoo and care for hair are also considered as a new art with many special features. The Thai white in Quynh Nhai, Son La also has a festival of shampoo in the 30th‘s afternoon of Tet holiday. All village patriarchs, leaders in villages, young and elderly people shout for river terminals to hold the shampoo festival

Drum urges people to come to the river terminals to take a shampoo

The mixture for the shampoo is the “bo ket” mixed with the hog-wash, forest flowers to nourish the glossy hair

According to Thai people ‘concepts,  the shampoo festival is an important festival to begin festivals in a year. In a new-year period, everyone in the villages must have a shampoo to washout difficulties, illness, and unfortunate things of the old year, see great disasters and tiredness off along the water currents (in lakes, in springs) forever as well as praise people a year of health, great and advantageous occasions and prosperous merchant.

“Mua xoe” dance in the shampoo festival of the Thai white people

After taking a shampoo, all people take part in activities like: “ném còn”, “tó má lẹ”, “múa xòe” as well as other traditional games. Every people come home from river terminals to worship ancestors. The men who is the core in a new family will be let to come to ancestors ‘altars called “nả hón” to clean, change incense burners, arrange everything on the incense burners and worship ancestor as well as welcome the new year at their families

Night safari in Cat Tien

Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam’s UNESCO-recognized World Biosphere Reserve, offers night safari trips for tourists willing to brave the jungle in the dark of night.


Birds and animals alike are spotted on the night safari in Cat Tien National Park.

The deal is your safari starts at 8 p.m. after you have hired a jeep to explore the forest together with a local tour guide. From the park’s office, the car speeds through the bamboo forests and grasslands and appearing in front of you is a domain where animals often go seeking food.

The driver stops and turns off the lights. The tour guide on the hood switches on the flashlight, creating streaks of light a hundred meters long and scanning before discovering some carefree deer grazing.

Detecting the light, they lift their head and see tourists via their red and wild eyes in the dark. The truck penetrates deep through the forest and passengers may see a black wild boar, muntjac, porcupine or pangolin searching for food.


Tourists jump on a specialized truck to head into the jungle at night.

They quickly hide in the deep forest if they encounter humans, though, so be still and quiet if possible. On the road to the jungle, you have to be careful with unexpected long branches of trees which can hit your face.

So many varieties of birds rest on the branches of trees along the two sides of the road. Even when the light shines on them they stand quietly, and it’s an ideal spot for photographers to take some snapshots. When the flashlights and the flashes from cameras turn on, thousands of termite species try to attack the tourists.

Cat Tien National Park is a natural reserve stretching over five districts of Tan Phu and Vinh Cuu (Dong Nai Province), Cat Tien and Bao Loc (Lam Dong Province), and Bu Dang (Binh Phuoc Province).

Escape the hustle of Hanoi at scenic Ba Vi National Park

As a nature lover, I take a trip to Ba Vi National Park almost once every two months. I am lured not only by the convenient road leading to the nearest “green world” to the capital, but also the pleasant feelings that overwhelm me when my lungs fill with fresh air and my eyes feast on the trees and lakes there.

The park also attracts me as it changes through the seasons. In spring, the forest is highlighted with striking colours of wild peach blossoms and apricot flowers, while in summer the dense forest is dryer and brighter with light sunshine beaming down through thick layers of leaves. Autumn covers most of the trees with yellow coats and winter seems to bring a fresh cool air to the space.

Located in the middle of the northern plain, Ba Vi (Three Peaks) is mentioned in the ancient legend of the Mountain God Tan Vien, and is said to be his final resting place.

The highest peak, known as King Peak, is 1,296m, followed by Tan Vien Peak (Mountain God) at 1,227m and Ngoc Hoa Peak at 1,131m. There is a temple dedicated to President Ho Chi Minh on King Peak and another to worship the Mountain God on Tan Vien Peak.

At the entrance to the park is Tien Sa Tourism Site, where a 20ha lake is surrounded by a 120ha forest.

“Its clear crystal waters make it an ideal destination for fishing lovers like me,” said retiree Tran Huu Canh, who drives here almost every weekend from Ha Noi to relax.

The site is divided into several themed zones to suit various ages, including a water park of 3,000sq.m with three swimming pools and nine slides and a games area of 2,500sq.m.

Young people can enjoy boating or play tennis, football, volleyball and badminton.

“Dancing and singing by the bonfire while tasting local delicacies like baked corn, sweet potatoes and grilled meat in the middle of the immense forest is inspiring,” said director of the site Banh Anh Tuan.

Following the sloping zigzagging 12km road from the park gate gives visitors a chance to see the rich local flora and fauna. The park is home to more than 1,200 kinds of plants, 21 of which are mentioned in Viet Nam’s Red Book. There are also 63 species of animals.

According to Nguyen Xuan Tan, a guide from the park, some old vestiges of the French occupation have recently been opened to the public at 1,000m above sea level thanks to the upgraded road leading to the ruins.

“There are not many documents on the French ruins available,” Tan told Viet Nam News. “The management board is trying to gather first-hand accounts from people who were alive at the time to provide tourists with a clearer picture.”

A French document dating back to the 1930s mentions the French planned to build three resorts at heights of 400, 600 and 1,000m above sea level, and were particularly keen on developing the highest one. Between 1932 and 1944, they built various facilities like a hostel, playground, church, orphanage and military basement that we can still see today.

A jail was also built in the 1930s capable of holding up to 200 prisoners, and some of the implements used to torture the prisoners are on display.

An unforgettable trek

Tan said that a new trekking route had been opened leading up to some of the parks oldest trees, mostly Bach Xanh (calocedrus macrolepis). Hundreds of them flourish at an altitude of 1,000m, and the tree offers fine wood with a gentle fragrance which is easily processed into furniture and houses.

For me, waiting for the scarce rays of light to leak through the dense layers of leaves to capture the perfect photo of the old forest is a unique moment.

At the end of the road, climbing over 1,000 steps leading to the temples on King Peak or Tan Vien Peak is another unforgettable experience.

I could not find the proper words to describe my feelings as I stood in the clouds at the top of King Peak watching the scenic landscape below after the tough trek.

From King Peak, the scenery looks like a huge painting with giant “strokes” of green grass fields, yellow rice crops and the Da River zigzagging through the undulating hills.

Admiring the live “painting” and taking a deep breath of misty air, I felt like a minute part of the immense wonder of nature.

Phong Nha Grotto– The first section of the Ho Chi Minh Historical Trail

Not only is Phong Nha Grotto the World’s Natural Heritage Site or Vietnam Wonder, but also a relic system of the Ho Chi Minh historical trail which collaborates with Xuan Son Ferry in order to create a route supporting for the battleground of the South Vietnam during the war against the American Empire. Today, this place has become the first section of the Ho Chi Minh historical trail. Therefore, coming to Phong Nha Grotto, tourists in Vietnam travel visit this legendary street.

Phong Nha Grotto– The first section of the Ho Chi Minh Historical Trail

From Bo Trach Town of Quang Binh Province, following the Street 15 to the west about 50 kilometres, you will reach Xuan Son Ferry on Son River. This is considered as the starting point of the system of Ho Chi Minh Trail. Phong Nha Grotto stays 4 kilometres far from the ferry. Previously, all people and goods shelter in this cave to avoid bombs and bullets. Today, the Tourism Centre Phong Nha is located at 1 kilometre far from Xuan Son Ferry (where now a modern bridge has been built). Visiting this grotto, sitting on the boat drifting along Son River, watching the green, pure river water and the imposing mountain chain Bao Dai Son surrounding, tourists feel like their souls are open with the nature.

At the first sight, the grotto does not have any special features of a wonder if we just take a look from outside. But when passing the grotto gate, you can a very high arch with many various shapes and fanciful colours. The river seems black and unusually quiet. This is the underground river with the length of 13,969 metres. Following this way, you will enter the wet cave. If you want to go to the dry cave, at the grotto gate, you need to turn right to reach Tien Son Grotto which is located at the height of 20 metres around; this is the place called “the mansion of stalactites”.  Phong Nha Grotto– The first section of the Ho Chi Minh Historical Trail

In the system of Phong Nha Grotto, the most famous is Bi Ky Grotto. Here you can find a plenty of sparkling stalactities, especially on the cliff inside the cave, people have discovered 97 words of the ethnic group Cham. Until now, more than 300 caves have been found here. Among those, Phong Nha and Tien Son are the most beautiful grottos of the world.

The world’s natural legacy Phong Nha – Ke Bang together with Ho Chi Minh trail has become an interesting destination in Quang Binh Province in particular and in Vietnam in general.

Mu Cang Chai – The Home Of Golden Terraced Rice Fields In Vietnam

Mu Cang Chai is a western district of the Yen Bai province in Northern Vietnam. Mu Cang Chai is famous for its terraced fields. The terraced fields here are mostly located in three towns: La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and Ze Xu Phinh. These three towns were ranked as National Famous Landscapes. Due to that, from September to October, the fanciful scenery of terraced fields during the harvest season attracts many photographers to this area.

The mountain pass, Khau Pha, with a 30km-long, and high slope, make the Northwest area full of obstacles and difficult to access, but deep in mystery. After overcoming the mountain pass, visitors will be satisfied with the view of the terraced fields in the dusky mist and pure white clouds. The terraced fields, as hundreds of different soft ridges, make up the framework of this land with an altitude over 1000m, which captivates hearts.

The all-yellow hillsides of ripe rice seedlings, circling around the terraces – all of these things make up a dreamy beauty; enchanting, romantic and serene. This is a very distinguishing beauty; generous for all visitors, but only during the special Mu Cang Chai harvest season. There are also round roads – no matter how many times visitors turn around, they will be surprised by Mu Cang Chai’s amazing beauty in each turn. Terraced fields and ripe rice seedlings are mixed under the hands of nature, creating an endless sea of yellow. These appear and disappear alternately with the small houses of the ethnic people, which stretches to the top of mountain.

Mu Cang Chai’s beauty is not only shown by the miraculous scenery, but also the human presence here. The vision of the ethnic people harvesting the ripe, full-yellow rice seedling is like a mixture of colors, brightening up the corner of the Northwest sky. The pattern on the colorful costumes of the ethnic people here is drawn by beeswax mixed with color.

Therefore, the costumes of the ethnic people in Mu Cang Chai always have special colors that no other dyes can create. Normally, people here harvest in the afternoon, since it’s the time when the sunshine is most bright. People are hurrying for the harvest season, otherwise all of the ripe seedling rice will fall down and there will be no more sunshine to dry it up. There are families with relatives of all generations to help with harvesting. Families take turns harvesting from one family to the next until it’s all harvested. Even the Red Dao ethnic minority woman brings her newborn baby with her while in the fields to harvest.

After one enjoyable day, you can stay in Mu Cang Chai one night in an ethnic minority house or hotel. You will be surprised by what Mother Nature has given this place the following morning. In the early morning, the sky is brightened up with a perfect combination of light blue and golden yellow, as well as a trove of clouds as fluffy waves. Besides that, there are some pathways along the bottom of the mountain; meandering, curving, to meet the sky at the horizon, creating a true sense of beauty.

Mu Cang Chai, with its own distinguishing beauty and a mysterious attraction, keeps tourists coming back to this place again and again, not only because of the natural scenery, but also because of the friendly, warm and open people here.

Gifted beauty of Quang Binh

Quang Binh is just like an imposing picture with beautiful forest, sea and many other landscapes that are very famous as Ngang pass, Ly Hoa pass, Nhat Le seaport, Hac Hai, Cong Troi lagoon and Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.

Quang Binh is a Coastal Province in North Central part. It places in the narrowest land of Vietnam. To the North, Quang Binh borders Ha Tinh Province by Hoanh Son mountain chain and borders Quang Tri Province to the South.

Towards the East, Quang Binh borders the East Sea and towards the West, it borders Kham Muon Province of Lao by Truong Son mountain chain.

There are not many places in Viet Nam that has such advantages for developing tourism like Quang Binh Province. With an area of 8,065 square kilometers, Quang Binh has three kinds of geographical terrains, including forests, hills and mountains, and coastal areas.

Quang Binh has a very long beautiful seashore of about 116, 04 kilometers with white sand and blue seawater. It definitely has a stable foundation to develop a Vietnam tourism resort.

This beautiful coastal land features the particularity of the North Central part, where there are various ethnic groups reside. Therefore, it has plenty of traditional cultures.

Not only that, Quang Binh is also located in a diversified biology area – where there is a system of many plants and animals and especially, most of these species are from valuable and rare genes. These factors can absolutely help Quang Binh develop the ecotourism.

In January 2009, Dong Hoi and Phong Nha – Ke Bang of Quang Binh were listed in 29 tourist attractions by Los Angeles Times newspaper. Phong Nha – Ke Bang national park is also listed as one of the world’s natural wonders by UNESCO.

Quang Binh has some important transportation routes such as highway 1A, Ho Chi Minh road, railway line North – South. In addition, this province also has maritime traffic (Hon La and Gianh port) and air traffic (Dong Hoi airport). These strong points also help to make Quang Binh become more popular.

Further information about Quang Binh, visit Vietnam Jeep Tours or contact via or phone: +84 8 6290 6577 or hotline (+84) 909 602 370.