Incense Travel - BLOG

Confucianism & the Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Confucianism & the Temple of Literature in Hanoi

Confucianism is a social, moral, educational and political philosophy (or simply a way of life), which was initiated by the Chinese scholar, Confucius, who lived from 551BC to 479BC. His philosophy was later developed by his followers with the purpose of building a harmonious and peaceful society. The philosophy was then spread in Vietnam during the 1000 thousand years Chinese domination, and together with Buddhism and Taoism - they became the 3 main religions in the country.


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Where to Find the Best Bún Noodle Dish in Hanoi

Where to Find the Best Bún Noodle Dish in Hanoi

Much of living in Hanoi has to do with eating and loving some of the noodle dishes that have emerged from this exciting part of the world. Naturally, pho bo (beef noodle soup) noodle dish is a popular choice. If you’ve ever tried one Vietnamese food, it’s most likely pho bo. Made with beef stock and rice noodles, the beef noodle dish is a must-try on the streets of Hanoi. But there’s much more to Hanoi’s diverse noodle scene than this familiar noodle dish.


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The Remarkable Hanoi Train Street

The Remarkable Hanoi Train Street

I took some of my food tour clients to the “Hanoi Strain Street” yesterday, and it reminded me of a quote by Mark Twain: “I saw a startling sight today, a politician with his hands in his own pockets”. The Hanoi’s railroad has become an Instagram-famous street, where tourists come in hopes of a perfect picture with a unique background. I saw no politician there, but the increasing number of coffee shops with chairs sitting next the tracks are making it a startling sight.


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Hanoi Pastry Shops and Bakery Cafés

Hanoi Pastry Shops and Bakery Cafés

On my Hanoi food tours, I’m often asked “Where are the best pastry shops in Hanoi?”, which is a tough question. There are hundreds of pastries and bakeries in Hanoi, and it’s hard to whittle them down to just a handful of them. You can find both local Vietnamese bakery and foreign-chef owns bakery cafes in Hanoi, each has its own personality reflecting the neighborhood it’s located in.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?


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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.


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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.


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