Jul
29

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Top 4 Reason’s To Vistit Bangkok

bangkok photos, September 2010

Top Four Reasons to Visit Bangkok
There’s good reason why Bangkok attracts so many visitors from around the globe. Magnificent temples, lively street markets, wild nightlife, scrumptious Thai cuisine and endless shopping… to name but a few.

1. Go For the Food
Bangkok known for its food-culture caters to every pallet, from French to Traditional Thai. Thai cuisine integrates five essential flavors: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Immersing yourself in Bangkok’s culture is a great way to explore traditional food.
Street food is quick, tasty and inexpensive. At night, the streets are abuzz with locals and tourists alike. Here you will experience some of the best noodles, curries and stir-fried meat available in Bangkok. If you’re a foodie, then Bangkok is where you need to be.
2. Get Spiritual
Spirituality is the heart of Bangkok. Known as the city of angels, Bangkok has over 400 Buddhist temples. The Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn is the most spectacular. According to Tibetan Buddhism, the mystical temple represents Mount Meru, the center of the universe. Wat Arun sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. In spite of its name, Temple of Dawn, it’s best viewed during sunset, from the east side of the river and make sure to wear pants and a shirt to your elbows if you want to come inside to view the temples (temple rules )
The Wat Phr Kaew or the Emerald Buddha temple, is the most important and visited temple in Bangkok. It sits adjoined to the Grand Palace and consists of more than 100 vibrant buildings, golden spires and glittering mosaics. The tiny Emerald Buddha said to be the cause of many wars, found a permanent home in Bangkok in 1782. When visiting, keep in mind that a strict dress code applies. No short pants, sleeveless shirts, or taking photographs are permitted within the temple.
Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha is the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok. It’s also where to get a traditional Thai massage! Built 200 years before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand, the reclining Buddha depicts Buddha’s passing into nirvana. This impressive wat also contains the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand.
3. Go For the Nightlife
You’ve probably heard about the crazy Bangkok nightlife – it’s all true! However, the rowdy Bangkok nightlife has progressed over the years to include sophisticated rooftop bars and cool jazz clubs.
Bangkok, always a tolerant city, indulges the gay community as much as it does the straight community. For a little R&R and a great meal, hop on board of a luxury cruiser or teakwood rice barge and experience Bangkok’s temples at night!
Bangkok, a popular stopover for party-hearty travelers, caters to anyone in need of unforgettable fun. Whether you prefer Bangkok’s EDM club scene or sipping cocktails on rooftop bars, there is something for everyone.
4. Go For The Shopping
Bangkok shopping scene can excite even the most diehard shopper. The massively sized Chatuchak Weekend Market offers a huge variety of tempting merchandise.  There is plenty to see and do here, so plan to stay a full day and arrive early to beat the heat and crowds.The eight-story high MBK Center is also very popular with both tourists and locals alike. The shopping mall has 2000 shops and outlets, and sells everything from mobile phones to designer handbags and everything in between. Hungry shoppers will enjoy a variety of restaurants and an expansive food court on the sixth floor.
Bangkok night markets allow travelers to shop after-dark. The centrally located Patpong Night Marketis a great alternative for the fashion forward. Other nighttime markets are popping up all over the city. So, Shop until you drop!

 

Jul
21

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Touring Halong Bay , Vietnam

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Touring Halong Bay , Vietnam

Today, adventure travelers from around the globe, visit Halong Bay to explore more than 2000 islands rising from the Gulf of Tonkin.

Getting to Halong Bay from Hanoi will take you approximately 3.5 hours by car. Halong Bay is home to stunning grottos, caves , rock formations and hidden ponds. The unusual rock formations are something you must see . All over rocks just pop out of the water and actually have been given names by the locals. These rock formations are stunning and beautiful.

Halong Bay has two seasons: April to September, which is hot with intermittent rain, and October to March, which is cool with chilly winds. March, April, September and October are the best months to visit.

Hundreds of licensed boats float around the bay offering daily tours  from good reputable companies to not so good companies , so be careful with who you choose don’t just go with the cheapest . Safety standards in Vietnam are a little different then back home in North America . It is not uncommon to be on a boat with no life jackets and 20 people so keep an eye out for things like this . Visiting Halong Bay, when vacationing in Vietnam is a great time something you must do once here   – its well worth the trip.

Jul
7

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Noi Bai International Airport – What To Expect On Arrival

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Noi Bai International Airport, the largest airport in northern Vietnam, serves the capital city of Hanoi, and is located 45 kilometers from the city center. With the recent addition of terminal two, and a number of Vietnamese and international airlines flying in and out, first time visitors might find the experience a little daunting – but, have no fear.

Personally, I find Noi Bai International Airport a comfortable size to navigate. Unlike the larger international Airports such as London’s Heathrow Airport or Toronto’s Pearson Airport that take a long time to get from one end to another to retrieve your luggage, Noi Bai International Airport is quick and relatively pain-free.

Taxi from Noi Bai International Airport to Hanoi City Center

Metered taxis can be found on the arrival levels at both domestic and international flights. Fares are charged according to the taximeter – just make sure they actually use the meter once you get into the cab. A taxi ride to the city center will take approximately 30 minutes, depending on traffic, and set you back 320,000 VND or Vietnamese Dong (National Currency of Vietnam) – which equates to approximately $15 dollars in US currency.

Most taxi drivers or Vietnamese citizens in general, don’t speak English. To combat this, I found that pointing at the rate card or meter works well – and again, making sure the driver turns on the meter, lets him know you’re not a newbie-traveler visiting Vietnam for the first time. Also, be very specific with your hotel address before you get into the cab. Some drivers may take you to a hotel of their choice and try to deceive you into thinking it is the correct one. To avoid confusion, have the hotel address on a map-printout beforehand. Hanoi has street signs visible on both ends, which helps you distinguish where you are.

I sometime’s choose to pre book my taxi prior to arriving in cities like Hanoi. Speak with your hotel, or find a taxi company online. The driver will greet you at the airport, holding a sign with your name. You will pay more for the service, but it ensures you get to where you want to go, hassle free.

All things considered, I have never had any real issues taking taxis in Vietnam; although, I have been driven around the block a few time or taken on a longer route, which can happen in most cities. Truthfully, taking a taxi in Hanoi is actually better than other cities in South East Asia. For instance, it’s almost impossible to secure a taxi in Bangkok at night, because drivers refuse to turn on the taximeter.

Getting around Noi Bai International Airport is relatively easy; but for some, the experience can be overwhelming. As always, use common sense when travelling, to ensure your journey to Hanoi and Vietnam will be a memorable one.

Quick Tips:

• Once you arrive, many drivers will approach you for a taxi. Use your best judgment – and, choose a licensed and metered taxi.
• It’s common for taxi drivers to tell tourists they can’t make change. So, carry different denominations of the Vietnam Dong to avoid paying too much for your cab ride
• If you’re driver is honest – thank them and tip them well. Ask for their card and call them again – good drivers can be hard to find. Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to encourage ethical behavior.