Mai Chau Aerial Footage

Recently, Jeff Nesmith produced a stunning video/soundtrack of Mai Chau, in the Hòa Bình Province, northern Vietnam. He has captured the essence of Vietnam with his brilliant use of aerial videography and choice of soundtrack. The music is “At Rest – Romance – Kevin MacLeod”

For more of Jeff’s outstanding creations go to

Inexpensive Souvenirs to buy in Vietnam

Inexpensive Souvenirs for your holiday in Vietnam. Vietnam is rich in Culture and Tradition and you will come home with some lifelong memories of your travels. Bring a little Vietnam home to share with family.

Lacquer Ware Souvenir Vietnam

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you are hurrying around the shopping centres in search of inexpensive souvenirs for friends and family on the last few hours of your holiday. This was me but no more, thanks to the “Note” app on my iPhone.

Souvenir shopping need not be a chore if you begin a list of names who you want to buy for and some souvenir ideas.

Be on the look out for souvenirs on day 1 and add the item next to a name as  you buy it. So simple but amazing how much more enjoyable it makes your holiday time knowing that you have things under control.

Here is some of my favourite inexpensive souvenir ideas.

Non La  (Vietnamese Conical Hat)

photo of Non La Hats in Hanoi
Non La Hats in Hanoi

A  Non La is the traditional Vietnamese conical hat that you will see all over Vietnam. They are hand made from palm leaves and bamboo and are available in markets everywhere for a few dollars. Maybe not a bad idea to wear while out on a day tour as the tropical sun in Vietnam has got a bite to it.

Silk Fabric

Silk Fabric

Silk fabric is available in countless colours and beautiful designs. It is of high quality and you could spend hours looking through all that is on offer. You can find Silk fabric in Street Markets, Tailor shops and the larger under cover Markets. Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City  has a huge range in many stalls and English speaking staff. Tan Dinh Market in District 1 has more but little to no English is spoken as it is wholesale style market catering mainly to local traders. Don’t be put off by the lack of English as the traders use a calculator and body language to communicate their price. So if you are feeling adventurous go out and enjoy the haggle. After all, the goal is to buy some Vietnamese Silk Fabric at a great price.

Ao Dai

Photo of Ao Dai
Vietnamese wedding in Traditional Ao Dai

An “Ao Dai” (pronounced “ow” as in cow Yay. Ow Yay) is Vietnam’s Traditional dress.  Usually a colourful, tight fitting silk top worn over contrasting silk pants. It is most commonly thought of as only a dress for girls and women but Vietnamese men usually wear an Ao Dai on their wedding day and special occasions. You can have an Ao Dai made in 24 hours at any of the hundreds of Tailor shops found everywhere in Vietnam. When buying tailored clothes I would recommend doing business with an established shop who are happy to provide basic business practice such as a receipt for your deposit.

Lacquer ware

Vietnamese Lacquer ware is really popular with overseas tourists because it is relatively small and light weight. It is distinctively Vietnamese  and is quite beautiful. There are different grades of lacquer ware depending on where you buy. The better the quality the higher the price. Having said that, it is still an inexpensive souvenir and won’t break the bank.

Water Colour on Silk

Water Colour on Silk

In Vietnam, painting on silk is very popular and Vietnamese artists have developed some unique techniques to create artworks that capture the essence of  Vietnam.

Of course the paintings you buy at the markets are inexpensive but they make great souvenirs. Take a look in the art galleries around Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi for works by Vietnam’s famous Silk Painters. Dang Tin Tuong and   Nguyen Phan Chanh.

Chop Sticks

You will find Chop Sticks in decorative boxes in the souvenir shops along Le Loi Street in Ho Chi Minh City, the Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Square and Pham Ngu Lao Street. In Hanoi you will find all the same souvenirs in the Old Quarter. Take care to check the quality as there is lots of cheaper products all over Vietnam.

Sketch on Bamboo and Paper


Photo of tailored jacket souvenir
Vietnamese tailors will make to order.

Over the years I have had several business suits made and lots of silk shirts. More recently I have gravitated to a favourite Tailor in Pham Ngu Lao St in Ho Chi Minh City where I have had everything from pyjamas, shirts, pants and suits tailor made.

Although Hoi An is renowned for its  Tailor made clothing I have found the Tailors there to be a little more expensive. Perhaps because Hoi An is such a popular tourist destination and the Tailor shops have more heads through the door, they are able to charge a little more.

Painted Silk Envelopes

These are just a few ideas. When you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City you will find an Aladdin’s Cave of souvenirs at the Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Square or Hanoi’s Dong Xuan Market

I hope you have picked up something from this, If so you may also like;

The best Pho Ga in Vietnam

Online Visa for Vietnam

Motorcycling in Vietnam

Motorcycle Riding in Vietnam


Motorcycle Transport

About 90 million people, including me, think that riding a motorcycle is the best way to get around in Vietnam. Motorcycle and Scooters of 110cc and less are the most prevalent but there are all sorts of other motorised two and three wheeled contraptions transporting all sorts of things such as panes of glass, heavy loads of house bricks, 6 meter lengths of construction reo rod. Everything and anything is transported by motorcycle.

Photo of a pig on a motorbike
Pig on a motorcycle

Continue reading Motorcycle Riding in Vietnam

Visa for Vietnam

It is a requirement of the Vietnam Government that travellers to Vietnam have a Visa, whether it be for holiday, visiting friends or business.

There are exemptions if you are from a country with whom Vietnam has an agreement, for example Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and UK nationals can enter for 15 days without a visa. Phillipines 21 days, Laos and Indonesia 30 days.

Photo of Japanese Bridge
Japanese Bridge in Hoi An

Continue reading Visa for Vietnam

New Ambulance Service for HCMC

Did you know that Ho Chi Minh City now has a new World Class Ambulance Service. Dial *9999.  When travelling overseas on holiday or business I always make it a priority to have good quality Travel Insurance and now I keep  this number in my wallet too. I have never had the need for an ambulance personally but I like the peace of mind of having access to this great service.

I don’t know how many times I have seen an accident where the injured person is bundled into a taxi to be taken to hospital. This is a concern to me because as I have done a Senior First Aid Course and am aware of the importance of first response care. When a medical crisis occurs, seconds count, first aid knowledge can be crucial and can often be the difference between life and death.           Keep this number handy when in Ho Chi Minh City. (*9999)

EMR *9999 New Ambulance

Continue reading New Ambulance Service for HCMC

The Best Pho Ga in Vietnam

Pho is said to be the national dish of Vietnam and popular Vietnamese writer, Vu Bang said “From a great distance one can detect the special aroma of pho which is so alluring that one can’t help but to trace it out. Indeed, to some, pho can be as addictive as opium”.

Pho Ga in Ho Chi Minh City
Pho Ga in Ho Chi Minh City

Pho is a rice noodle soup which includes either beef (pho bo) or chicken (pho ga) and is served with asian basil, rau om, coriander, bean sprouts, thinly sliced onion and lime juice. Continue reading The Best Pho Ga in Vietnam

Sight Seeing in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is located on the western banks of the Saigon River and is surprisingly compact with an average diameter of  approximately 15kms. District 1 is the city centre and commercial hub of the city. It is packed with restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and plenty of sight seeing opportunities. If it is in Vietnam, you will find it somewhere in District 1. This area makes a great base place to stay and is the ideal base for Walking Tours around the city, Day Trips to the outer areas of the city and also trips further afield to Vung Tau, My Tho, Can Tho and Cu Chi.hotel-majestic-saigon Continue reading Sight Seeing in Ho Chi Minh City

Jim, Vietnam Veteran returns to Vietnam

I am a Vietnam Veteran and was Born in Daylesford, a lovely little town in country Victoria Australia where I spent my school days in the 1950’s. In those days I believed most of what older people told me and most of what the newspapers printed, and in those days it was about the ”Cold War” and “The Communist Threat”

Jim and Cuong.

Continue reading Jim, Vietnam Veteran returns to Vietnam

Macca’s Place in Vung Tau

I was working hard in Ho Chi Minh City and was long overdue for a break away, so I decided a few days in Vung Tau would be a perfect way to relax.

photo of hydrofoil
Petro Express Hydrofoil to Vung Tau

Sometimes Vung Tau can be busy on the weekends but it was Sunday morning and I reckoned the weekend holiday crowd would be returning to Ho Chi Minh City as we were heading down on the Hydrofoil. Continue reading Macca’s Place in Vung Tau

Rob and Jess move to Saigon

My girlfriend Jess and I recently relocated to Saigon, Vietnam to teach English. Jess is from the UK and I am from the States.  We decided to get certified as English teachers and live abroad together for a while rather than deal with the politics of settling in one another’s countries.  We chose Vietnam because of the fact that you can arrive in the country with just a tourist visa and no job and find a job once you arrive.

photo of ho chi minh city
Ho Chi Minh City

Continue reading Rob and Jess move to Saigon

Jessica’s Saigon

Jess and neighbourhood kids

1) Shopping can be quite a challenge. Buying well fitting clothes can often be a tad difficult and you will feel like a bit of a giant. As a UK size 10 (the national average) it is both depressing and hilarious to be considered an XL in another country.

2) You may want to pack a selection of shoes. Girls with bigger feet beware- you will not find shoes here. I have literally been told by shop owners that they do not sell a single pair of shoes that will fit me, and was then politely pointed in the direction of the men’s shoes. Continue reading Jessica’s Saigon

Travel in Vietnam