Incense Travel - BLOG

Our Trip to Ninh Binh, Halong Bay and Sapa

Our Trip to Ninh Binh, Halong Bay and Sapa

September is the beginning of the best time to travel Vietnam, as it’s the harvest time in the region. Visitors to northern Vietnam this month will have opportunities to see the golden color of the ready-to-harvest rice fields, spreading from Red River Delta to terraces on the hillsides around Sapa. On my most recent tour, I took my clients from Hanoi to Tam Coc, to Lan Ha Bay, and to Sapa. Following is how we experienced the destinations in our 7 days exploring northern Vietnam.


Read More

Rooftop Bars with Stunning Mountain Views in Sapa, Vietnam

Rooftop Bars with Stunning Mountain Views in Sapa, Vietnam

Being a trip leader, I travel to the mountains of Sapa with my group almost every month. Beside showing my travelers the fascinating cultures of the ethnic people living on the hill sides, the gorgeous mountains and valleys of Sapa during our hikes, I love to take them to a local rooftop bar for a drink for its panoramic views. There is no better way to take in the magnificent views of Sapa than being on a rooftop with a drink, and here are my favorite rooftop bars in Sapa.


Read More

My Day Trip Back to Tam Coc Ninh Binh

My Day Trip Back to Tam Coc Ninh Binh

A day tip from the capital city to Tam Coc landscape in Ninh Binh, a southern province of Hanoi, is always recommended to every travelers visiting north Vietnam who seek for a serene countryside and stunning natural scenery. Tam Coc features a lovely river running through picturesque limestone mountain ranges, which are surrounded by yellow rice paddy fields dotted with hard working farmers. The destination is one of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage listed-sites.


Read More

To the Memory of Bui Xuan Phai

To the Memory of Bui Xuan Phai

Today marks the occasion of the 99th birthday of Bui Xuan Phai, who is seen by many as the most important Vietnamese painter of the 20th century. I want to share my clients’ recent visit to the artist’s son, artist Bui Thanh Phuong, in honor of his memory.


Read More

Tipping Custom: Complete Guide to Tipping in Vietnam

Tipping Custom: Complete Guide to Tipping in Vietnam

Being a tour guide and trip leader for the last 12 years, I see that one of the most confusing things for visitors to Vietnam is figuring out the tipping custom. Unlike the United States and other western countries where tips are expected, and considered as a part of the wages paid, in Vietnam, tip is not a part of the culture, wherever you drink or eat. However, in the past decade, it’s become common to leave a tip when you are pleased with the services provided.


Read More

Top 6 Rooftop Bars in Hanoi with Stunning Views

Top 6 Rooftop Bars in Hanoi with Stunning Views

One of the best ways to discover a new city is to be at somewhere high up with a panoramic view, where you can get a visual grip on your new surroundings while sipping on a local drink. Imagine being elevated above the chaos of Hanoi traffic, where you can feast your eyes on the magnificent views and watch the city transform from day to night. There is no better way to experience the city and to enjoy a sundowner than looking down from a rooftop bar in the capital city of Hanoi.


Read More

What’s the Betel Nut that Vietnamese are Chewing?

What’s the Betel Nut that Vietnamese are Chewing?

On my Hanoi food tours, we often walk by a respectful lady sitting by the foot of a giant iron wood tree on Hang Ma street. Her name is Van, 89 years old and she lives by herself. Chewing betel nut in her mouth all the time, she earns living by selling betel nuts and small fresh aroma like pomelo, jasmine and areca followers. A common question I have from my clients is; what’s that betel nut that she is chewing?


Read More

Top 5 Pho Bo Restaurants in Hanoi

Top 5 Pho Bo Restaurants in Hanoi

On a recent survey conducted by the city of Hanoi, visitors were asked which Vietnamese dishes they had enjoyed the most, most responses were pho bo (beef noodle soup). That doesn’t surprise me, because pho bo is not only famous for its tenderness of the rice noodle, the texture characteristics of low fat thinly sliced beef and the sweetness of the stock attained from low simmering rich marrow bones overnight, but pho bo has also been a symbol of the Vietnamese cuisine.


Read More

What’s The Vietnamese Pho Noodle Dish?

What’s The Vietnamese Pho Noodle Dish?

Pho, the Vietnam’s most famous noodle dish, is considered by many Vietnamese as the national dish, though it has been served mostly as a street food targeting common people in the last hundred years of its history. Not only in Vietnam, the migrations of the Vietnamese following the end of the American war have brought Pho to many corners around the global. Today, the Vietnam’s national dish has been capturing the fascination of people from all over the world.


Read More

10 Tips to Maximize a Day in Hanoi

10 Tips to Maximize a Day in Hanoi

Most travelers to the capital of Vietnam with a booked package tour, but some only book flights and accommodations in advance while others prefer to go with the flow. It doesn’t matter which plan they have, my clients often ask me seriously how should they maximize their day in Hanoi, which I am very much happy to answer. If you happen to have the same kind of question in mind, here are my 10 tips to maximize a day in this exciting city.


Read More