Đinh Lễ , the “book street” in Hanoi

If you are in the mood for a different stroll in Hanoi old quarter, you can go to walk on Đinh Lễ street, better known in Hanoi as the “book street”.

It is located south of the Hoàn Kiếm lake and is open all day from 8:30 in the morning until 6pm. Probably the best time to go would be at the end of the afternoon before twilight, when the light is golden and when passers-by are busy walking around the area and entering book shops. At that time, the activity in Đinh Lễ is in full swing and gives great opportunity to take pictures.

The first bookstore “Nhà sách Mão” (“Mão bookstore”) opened here in this street in early 1990’s. Located on the 2nd floor of the house #5 on the street, it is kind of hidden in a narrow alley. Mr Lê Luy is the owner and the shop is named after his wife’s name, Mrs Pham Thi Mão. They both worked in the publishing industry before and they opened their first shop when they got retired. The growing popularity of their shop soon attracted others to set up in the street and start selling books as well. Later in the early 2000’s, the street got known as the “book street” and became quite famous. Mr Lê Luy is now in his eighties and remains on his own as his wife Mão passed away last year. He still wants to keep his business in memory of her and as long as his health will allow him to do so.
Entering his shop makes you feel being in an “Ali Baba’s cave” with book shelves everywhere.

In the book stores, people of all ages walk around, families with children, students, couples, young adults as well as older people. They all have a look at the books, browsing them, sometimes sitting to read bits and pieces, finally buying them or not. It is quite a lively place.

The area is now closed to vehicles during the week-end so you should park your bike somewhere not far and come by foot to Đinh Lễ.

If you join our mystery adventure tour in Hanoi, you would visit “Mão bookstore” as it is on the itinerary of our scripted tour.

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2018 Certificate of Excellence

We are so happy to have received this email from Trip Advisor this morning.

We have just been awarded a 2018 Certificate of Excellence for our Urban Tales Cholon tour based on the extremely positive reviews and feedbacks we have garnered on line!
Thank you so much to all our visitors and to all our staff to work tirelessly to give the best experience possible to our guests.

Certificate Excellence 2018
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The Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine

If you are interested in traditional Vietnamese medicine, you should not miss the FITO Museum in Saigon.

This small museum is the first one in the country devoted to traditional Vietnamese medicine. Founded in 2003, it opened to the public in 2007. In our opinion, it is really worth the visit.

Traditional medicine is part of the cultural heritage of Vietnam and was at the time based on interactions between the two well-known schools of Chinese & Vietnamese medicine.
Historical evidences indicate that from the second century BC, during the Hung Vuong dynasty, Vietnamese people knew how to use hundreds of plants for medicinal purposes. According to the Ministry of Health, there are now 1,800 plants in Vietnam used for medicinal purposes.

The museum is laid out in a Vietnamese house decorated with gorgeous carved wooden interior. It presents many documents, books, ancient drawings and old utensils, tools (medical herb slicers & boat-shaped grinders), wine jars and pots. You can find on display nearly 3,000 items dating back to the Stone Age.

At the beginning of your visit, you can watch a short documentary about the history of medicine.

As a reminder, the greatest Vietnamese scientists Tue Tinh (14th century) and Hải Thượng Lãn Ông – also known as Le Huu Trac – (18th century) are considered as the medical founders of Vietnam’s traditional medicine.

They set the standards and in some diseases, identified the cures and the principles of care that in some cases are still in use today. For example: chewing betel could prevent tooth decay, eating ginger can act as an anti-cold and flu treatment, and “linh chi” mushroom (lingzhi) is still known and used as a longevity booster.

You can visit the FITO museum after your Urban Tales adventure in Saigon, as it is not very far from the location where the game ends. It takes approximately 15mn by taxi or motorbike to get there.

More info on the museum: http://fitomuseum.com.vn/
Opening hours: 8:30am to 5pm. Entrance fees: 120,000 VND
Address is: 41 Hoàng Dư Khương Phường 12 Quận 10 HCMC

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Do you know what KH Cắt Bê Tông means?

You must have seen them already along the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

These colorful stenciled wall inscriptions, mixing letters and numbers are usually very eye-catching by their apparent repetition and uniformity. Some of you may wonder what these strange letters and numbers mean and what are they here for.

These signs are advertisement for demolition companies that drill, cut and break down concrete and houses. They do not bother to use posters or brochures to advertise their service. Instead they simply create their own stencil with their mobile phone number and stamp it everywhere.

K or KH are abbreviations of Khoản which means drilling in English
C is for Cắt which means cut in English.
B is for Bê tông which means concrete in English (it is derived from the French word “béton”).
So KCBT = “Khoản Cắt Bê tong” which means “Drilling and Cutting Concrete”

Locals usually find those signs degrading and really annoying, as they cover the walls of their neighbourhoods. However for visitors or foreigners, those coloured signs can look like local graffiti or street art, giving some city walls a fetishist or hieroglyphic identity. On top of that, the effects of the natural factors such as rain, sun, heat and wind would bring another artistic touch to the signs, making them partly fading away….

If you are into taking photos, you will definitely be delighted by the KH C BT displayed on the walls of the city.

If you are interested in discovering Vietnamese cities, you can learn more about our tours in HCMC and Hanoi.

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Buddha’s hand

It is this time of the year when we can see everywhere this typical fruit in the streets of Hanoi.

This fruit is called “phật thủ” and literally means “Buddha’s hand“. It is an unusual fruit as it is rarely eaten. Rather it is a traditional temple offering and a New Year’s gift. According to tradition, the Buddha’s hand fruit is a symbol of happiness, longevity and good fortune.

Also called “lemon with fingers,” this oddly-shaped fruit is much appreciated for its sweet floral fragrance and mild zest.

It is as well used for decorative utility in local homes. The number of “fingers” on the fruit is directly proportional  to the family’s luck!

If you want to see and buy some typical fruits like this one, do not miss our interactive daily tour in Hanoi old quarter which will immerse you in the local daily life.

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