Monochord of Dan Bau

 Monochord or Dan Bau, or single stringed instrument,  has long history of thousand years, and unique in the world. Dan Bau is national heritage. The instrument is performed at small party or amusement to royal events in the past. The sound of Dan Bau include long sweet smooth to high and low sad sound, for it's owned structure. 

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The structure of Dan Bau includes body, sound box, 1 string, rod of handle, turning key. The body is made of wood that is flat at the bottom and has oval shape on surface. One end of the string is connected with a point in the middle of sound box, and the other end with a roller. While the right hand of  artist is playing Dan Bau, the left hand control moving the handle flexibly for creating nice waving sounds. 

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Dan Bau may be played solo or together with traditional or modern instrument. The sound of Dan Bau is attractive, soft feeling and emotional that suits personal narrative. Nowadays there are Dan Bau that combines with electronic device that help intensify the sound. 

Travel to Vietnam you can enjoy the sound of Dan Bau at traditional shows like Water puppet, Tuong and Cheo drama, Hat Van.... 

Worship ancestor in Vietnam

 Vietnamese culture is mix of local beliefs and the interference of religions and philosophies from foreign counties like Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Islam. But ancestor worship is very dominant in culture practice in Vietnam. 

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In every household in Vietnam there is ancestor altar that is set in the most solemn place like in the mid-compartment or top floor of the building. Vietnamese people believe that when a person passes away the dead body is destroyed but the soul still exists so that the souls of our ancestors are still alive. 

Our ancestors just live another world and keep watch our activities in this world. Vietnamese people often burn incense sticks to pay respect to ancestors whenever they have sadness or joyfulness, on dead celebration for ancestors, full moon day and 1st day of Lunar month, New year holiday....The smoke of incense sticks and agar wood is the mean of communication between descendants and their ancestors. 

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To depend on home economy they design luxury or humble altar for ancestor. Normally the altar is 1 m 95 long, 90 cm wide carved by precious wood with traditional motifs of bird, dragon, tortoise, phoenix, flowers...On the altar there are 2 candle holders made of copper which stand for sun and moon, ceramic incense burner in the middle, ancestor's portrait, 2 vases of flower, agar wood burner made of copper, pair of flamingo standing on tortoise both made of copper, 2 incense sticks holders on 2 sides, 5 cups of water and wine, 5 ceramic bows and pairs of chopsticks. On two sides of the altar is pair of couplet with nice wishes for family and clan. If the house is small like a studio room in a flat the altar may be small hung on a wall side, just 40 x 60 cm but no matter, the major thing is our faith to ancestor. 

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When ever we wish to invite our ancestor returning home for family celebration we just burn incense sticks and call their name or title. Several times a year we come to clean and repaint ancestor graves, especially before Tet holiday (Vietnamese Lunar New year). Pay respect and gratitude to our ancestor is moral practice for every Vietnamese people.

History of Buddhism in Vietnam

In Vietnamese culture there are numerous religions and local beliefs. In general our culture are mix of local beliefs and ancestor worshiping, and 3 philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Catholicism, and Islam.

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According to documents and folk tale, Buddhism was first introduced in Vietnam in 3rd century BC. It is marked by story of Chu Dong Tu and Tien Dung princess, the earliest story of Buddhism in Vietnam. The philosophy reached the prominent during Ly dynasty ( 11 - 13th century) then continue during Tran Dynasty, but the signs of decline from later Le Dynasty ( 15 century). Most of famous pagodas in Vietnam were built during Ly dynasty, even the whole members in Royal family were flowers of Buddhism.

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Buddhism was introduced first by Indian traders who practiced Buddhism when they came to trade in Vietnam. Later on there was interference among Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese Buddhist philosophy. So that in Vietnam there are different branches of Buddhism, but you see 2 main Buddhism of Mahayana and Theravada. In the North Vietnam people practice Mahayana Buddhism while in the South they do Theravada.

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Nowadays the followers of Buddhism is over 70% of population. There are over 18,000 pagodas across Vietnam. The oldest pagoda is Dau pagoda in Bac Ninh province, the mid of Red River Delta, where the Indian monks came and preached the religion.

In Vietnam, the Buddhist day or Buddhist festival is on 8th April, Lunar Calendar. Vietnamese normally go to pray in pagoda on full moon day, and the 1st day of lunar month, or whenever they have sadness of joyfulness. We burn incense sticks and bring offerings of flower, fruits, cakes when pray in pagoda. In Mahayana pagoda there are many statues of Buddha like three lives of Buddha, Buddha at birth, Buddha enters nirvana, Amitabha Buddha, Bodhisattva, Medicine Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva....

Travel to Vietnam you are introduced to visit famous pagodas built in wonderful landscapes, and learn more about Vietnamese culture.

Hue Court Music

 Hue Court Music has been popular in Vietnam for a long time, since early 19th century, under Nguyen Dynasty. It is a treasure of Vietnamese Culture. On November 7, 2003 Hue Court Music was recognized as World intangible Heritage. Hue Court Music is called Nha Nhac in Vietnamese.  

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UNESCO appraised Hue Court Music in the following terms: It represents an elegant and refined music. It deals with the music performed in the imperial courts and on different anniversaries, religious festivals, and also on such particular occasions. 

Actually, the Court Music was applied since 13 century, but the art was renovated and got the peak improvement during Nguyen Dynasty in Hue capital city so that we call Nha Nhac Hue or Hue Court Music. 

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According to old document there are 12 different ceremonies with particular music styles and instruments. There are six groups of music instruments, of which there are over hundred traditional music instruments. Nowadays, Hue Music Academy is the place preserves and teaches Hue Court Music. 

In fact, Hue Court Music was introduce to the world from 1950s by Vietnamese musician like Mr. Tran Van Khe, Mr. Nguyen Huu Ba. It is fantastic to have chance to enjoy Hue Court Music when you visit Hue city, especially at right time of festivals. Vietnamese people are proud of this UNESCO Heritage. 

Nha Rong or Rong House

Nha Rong or Communal House has spectacular architecture, where is the place for cultural gathering of Banar ethnic community. Rong House does not only help unite the villagers but also protect them from animal attack and flooding.
Rong Houses are seen in South Central Highland of Vietnam. The House function is similar to Viet's communal house in Northern Delta but Rong House is not the place for worshiping. Rong House is the place keeping village's treasures, and passing down village'codes for younger generation. It is also the place to discuss the village's affairs. Only men are allow to sleep overnight in Rong House.

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Rong House is the proud of Banar community. It is the highest building in the village with the height of 12 m, the width of 8 m, and the length of 12 m. Some Rong Houses are even 18 m high. The huge thatched roof is supported by hard timber poles. All the beams and pillars attached by strong ropes that help the House stay firmly in storm or strong wind.

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Kon Tum province in Vietnam is home to numerous Banar villages. There are 260 Rong Houses in 260 villages in the province. Banar people preserve Rong House as the village's treasure because it is the heart of community culture. Travel and home stay in Banar Community you should not miss the chance to visit Rong House.

Vietindo Travel help you explore authentic Vietnam including home stay service and Adventure tours.


Drink Bia Hoi Hanoi

Walking along streets in Old Quarter Hanoi you often see "Bia Hoi Hanoi". It means Draft Beer, especially in hot season (May - October). The first time, the appearance of Bia Hoi was in 1890 in Hanoi from a French Brewery - the first one in Hanoi. At that time the capacity for Bia Hoi was only 150 liters a day.

                                Eric & friends drink Bia Hoi in Hanoi - Photo ST Internet

That first Brewery has been renovated and the name is changed for Habeco with the capacity of over 200 million liters of beer/ year. The head office of Brewery is at 183 - Hoang Hoa Tham street - Ba Dinh District - Hanoi city. The name Bia Hoi Hanoi is one of products made by Habeco, which is considered the best Draft beer at the moment.

The taste of Bia Hoi is fabulous and tasty, especially in hot season. Normally we see men only in beer shop, not women. Vietnamese love to chat with each other so that draft beer is not only a kind of drinks but also the reason for friends gathering. Bia Hoi is cheap and delicious, and also popular. Simply, we drink Bia Hoi and order snacks of dried or steam bean nuts, fried tofu, grilled dry squid....

                                 Mr. Le Huy Van, designer Bia Hoi glass in 1975 - Photo ST Internet

We like to enjoy Bia Hoi at open-air spaces like on street pavement, local market corner. The Beer glass is place on a plastic chair, and drinkers are also seat on low plastic chair.It is so fun. The time for drinking Bia Hoi is at noon time and late afternoon. It may last 30 mins - 3 hour, depending on short or long stories. At the moment of writing, one glass of Bia Hoi ( 300 ml) costs 45 cents or 10,000 VND.

The glass used for drink Bia Hoi is still the same style as in 1976 when it was first designed by a Vietnamese designer who graduated from an art school in Germany. The glass looks humble but durable and convenient for drinkers. It is also unique for drink Bia Hoi, not others. Drink Bia Hoi is an interesting aspect of Hanoi Culture. Foreign travelers also love to try Bia Hoi when they visit Hanoi.

                                     President Barack Obama drinks Hanoi Beer in Hanoi city 

Ethnic Markets in Far North Vietnam

Travel to Far North Vietnam, the immense mountainous area, you are not only attracted by spectacular landscape of mountain and valleys, lovely authentic foods, music and dances, terrace rice fields... but also interesting colorful local market gathered once a week
Ethnic groups normally gather in the market once a week, from Thursday to Sunday, depending on each district. They wake up early in the morning (3 -4:00 am) then the family including husband, wife, and their children walk to the market. They may use horse, or nowadays some use motor bike. It is so fantastic for them to see friends, relatives, and trading partners there.

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They all dress up, choose the best home tailored clothes to show them off in the market, especially the teenagers who wish to look for life partner there, so that's why there are some love markets also. While ethnic women are fond of buying and selling products, men are excited to chat and eat with friends and trade partners. Children gather in other place for chatting or help mother sell home products. Self-sufficient is particular in mountainous regions so that weekend markets are ideal places for goods exchange. The followings are prominent ones we recommend.

Bac Ha Sunday market in Lao Cai is rated as one of top 8 attractive ethnic markets in South East Asia. Can Cau market in Lao Cai is gathered on Saturday, Dao San market (Lai Chau province ) on Thursday and Sunday, Dong Van Sunday market in Hagiang, Love market of Khau Vai in Ha Giang once a year (27 Mar, Lunar Calendar), Ta Sin Thang in Dien Bien province (once every six days), Coc Pai sunday market in Ha giang, Meo Vac sunday market in Ha giang.

Vietindo Travel help you explore colorful culture of ethnic groups and wonderful landscape of Far North Vietnam.


Stew pork with eggs

 Pork and egg are common food daily in Vietnam. There are several tens ways of cooking food from pork meat. In this article we are glad to introduce Stew pork with eggs. You can do it at home or order from local Vietnamese restaurant.

Ingredients for this dish include pork meat that not much fat, chicken or duck eggs, coconut juice, sugar, fish sauce, caramel, seasoning, salt and pepper. If you are familiar to spicy food, please add some chili and lemon grass. 

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You boil eggs, stew pork with fish sauce, and others for 30 mins till well-done, then ladle out the food onto the plate, then serve hot. The pork is soft and delicious with spices. 

Travel to Vietnam, normally, tourists eat food in Vietnamese restaurants, and they are served with several dishes called set menu. But when you need just a humble meal you choose a local food stall call "Com Binh Dan" or popular Vietnamese food, then you can find authentic Vietnamese daily food. 


Hat Xam folk songs

 Hat Xam or Xam Songs has a long history, since XIV century, under Tran Dynasty. It is said that the founder of this art is a royal prince who wish to express his tough life and admire beautiful ways of living and tradition. We take the day of 22 Feb Lunar Calendar as Hat Xam day. 

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In the old day Hat Xam was normally performed by the blind who join in group of 2 - 5 persons gathering by local market, boat wharf, festival places, or crowded residential areas . People are fond of Hat Xam, for it has an emotional tunes that are in harmony with joyful rhythm of the percussion instruments and sweet sounds of string instruments like Bau and Nhi in Vietnamese. 

                                  Lady Ha Thi Cau, artist and master of Hat Xam - Photo Internet 

In the past people sang Hat Xam for making their living, like troubadours. Since XIV century to the mid of 20th century. Today professional artists, Hat Xam lovers, and clubs practice Hat Xam for their passion and preserve traditional  Folk art of Vietnam. 

Vietindo Travel can arange tour with Hat Xam show and holiday in Vietnam. 



Water puppet show in Vietnam

 Water puppet show is a Vietnamese folk art which has a long history of over one thousand years from the Red River Delta . It reflects wet rice civilization because it gives out the rural activities and folk tails concerning rural life also. It must - see show when traveling in Vietnam. 

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The art of water puppet was born under Ly Dynasty (1010 - 1025) in Northern Vietnam. It is also called drama on water of which puppets are characters that are made of jack fruit timber. The artists who control puppets stand half-deep - body in water behind bamboo curtains. They use bamboo poles and strings to manage the puppet games. The games includes cultivating rices, harvesting rice, flooding rice field, fairy dance, phoenix dance, fox catch ducks, Le Loi King's story and holy tortoise...

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The most outstanding puppet is Chu Teu, which has round face and funny smile giving humorous saying to audience. The waster puppet art is performed in the theaters, on the villages ponds and lakes at special occasions like village holidays or New year festival. 

Travel to Vietnam you can enjoy water puppet art in big cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city, Halong, Danang, or villages in countryside performed by artists or farmers. The ticket price is from 5$ - 10$ depending on class ranges. 


Travel Vietnam and it's neighboring countries

 Nowadays Vietnam is like one of the gates to South East Asia and Asia. There are about 10 international airports along Vietnam connecting to Vietnam's neighbors like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, China and it does not take long by air with direct flight  to Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka ....

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When you travel in Vietnam, then wish to take more time for holiday in Asia you should ask for visa permission from Embassy Offices located in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city. It is quite easy to do it by yourself or the help from local tour operators if you don't have much time. 

You can travel from Vietnam to it's neighboring countries, normally, by air, or cross the border. or by international cruises. For example, from Hanoi capital city, by air, it takes 1h40 mins to Bangkok - Thailand, 3h00 to Singapore, 1h 45 mins to Yangon - Myanmar, 3h15 mins to Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia, 4h15 mins to Bali - Indonesia, 4h15 mins to Seoul - South Korea, 4h35 mins to Tokyo - Japan, 3h35 mins to Beijing - China, 4h00 Ho Chi Minh city - Bhutan, 3h20 mins to Bangladesh, 45 mins to Laos, 40 mins from Ho Chi Minh city to Phnom Penh - Cambodia. 

Vietindo Travel helps you explore charming Asia. Contact us for more in details. 


Lithophone or Dan Da

In Vietnam there are many kinds of ancient and traditional musical instruments that are unique.  Lithophone or Dan Da in Vietnamese is stone musical instrument set. Dan Da is a set of stone slabs of different sizes and shapes. 

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These stone slabs are found in South Central and South East Vietnam. A set of Dan Da consists of 3 - 15 slabs. The age of these slabs are dated back to 3,000 - 10,000 years. 

The first set of Dan Da of 11 slabs was discovered in 1949 in Ndut Lieng Krak in Dak Lak, and now are displayed in a museum in Paris. 

During 1980s and early 1990s we discovered more 200 stone slabs in provinces of Dak Lak, Dong Nai, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, Phu Yen. 

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Stone slabs are well kept as family's treasure, and played at grand ceremonies. The sound of the stone slabs is far resounding as the sound of forest and waterfall. 


Smoking Viet's tobaco or Thuoc lao

 Being different from cigarette, Vietnam's tobacco or Thuoc Lao has been become common drink for a long time. Thuoc Lao is widely planted in lowland and midland in Northern Vietnam. The farmers pick the leaves then slice into thin fibers, dry under the sun, then preserve in dry and cool place. 

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Traditionally Vietnam's men like to smoke Thuoc Lao as the start of telling a story when they meet each other and at joyful time. It is still uncertain why we call the tobacco Thuoc Lao. It may comes from Laos or planted first by a man named Lao few hundred years ago.

Normally, for a smoking man, he smokes 3 - 5 times a day. He smokes right after he wakes up in the morning, after meals, or chatting time. 

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He use a small piece of Thuoc Lao, places on smoking pipe made of bamboo or ceramic smoking bow. Inside the pipe or smoking bow there must be certain amount of water that help soften strong tobacco. Because of the inside water it makes funny bubbling sound when he smokes.

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Vietnamese women chew betel nuts and plant they also add a small piece of Thuoc Lao and lime paste. Nowadays smoking is not encouraged in Vietnam but traveling to countryside, remote villages, it is common to see bamboo smoking pipe in each family.   


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