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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Mooncakes & Mid Autumn Festivities

If you are in the mood to experiment local celebrations, don’t miss the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival!

Called “Tết Trung Thu” in Vietnamese this festival is coming soon. Held on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month it will fall this year on October 4 the same day as the full moon!

Dating back more than 2000 years ago in Southeast Asia it was at the time a post-autumn harvest celebration which was devoted to thanking the gods for the good rice collected.

It was as well a time when the parents made the most of this festival to spend quality time with their children because they were too busy before with the harvest to take care of them.

It is still a very popular festival in Vietnam. People simply gather with their parents siblings and children to eat mooncakes and drink tea spending time with each other. Children remain the main focus. They play together, eat a lot, sing, carry animal-shaped paper lanterns around and watch or even join in dance parades on the streets enjoying the full moon light.

Mooncakes are traditional pastries offered to family and friends during the festival. They can be rectangular but most of the time they are round with the Chinese sign for longevity or the Vietnamese lotus flower on top. Filling is various it could be beans lotus seeds sweet potato green tea taro fish chicken and much more. The only one thing every mooncake has in common is one egg in the center.

You can buy mooncakes in all the major bakery companies in Saigon but also in trendy cafés or upper class hotels with the focus made on the beauty of the packaging. Price of mooncakes can be exorbitant depending on where you buy them so be ready!

To soak up the festive atmosphere, you should go to Lưỡng Như Học street in District 5. There you can admire various kind of colorful lanterns and feel the real excitement of this festival. You are even also likely to see lion dancing in the same area.

If you want to explore more of Cholon in an interactive way do not miss our daily tour.

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