Beautiful Vietnam

After seeing Korea and Taiwan, I visited my homeland for 2 weeks. Visiting Vietnam leaves me great memories with the country I grew up in. I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I became a US citizen 5 years after my family moved, but I consider myself very attached to the Vietnamese culture and customs. Vietnam is still a developing country, but I find myself amazed every time I come back since there’s always something new to see. 


I mainly used my time in Saigon to visit my family members/friends and to eat lol. I took my boyfriend and friends around District 1 for some sightseeing at Cho Ben Thanh (Ben Thanh Market) and the Bitexco Financial Tower. Here are some views of the city.


After a few days in Saigon, we landed in Da Nang in the afternoon and we planned to spend the rest our evening at Hoi An. It took around 35 to 40 minutes to get from Da Nang to Hoi An by taxi. The town has a warm and vibrant atmosphere, filled with food stalls and restaurants. Hoi An is popular for its unique yellow-painted walls, but these are only visible during the daytime. If you google Hoi An, you’ll know what I am talking about. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to stay in Hoi An and see it fully. Hoi An is beautiful during both daylight and night time, so the next time you visit, make sure set aside at least 1 day here. 

The next day we bought our tickets to Ba Na hill.  I suggest planning at least half a day in Ba Na since the cable car takes a while from its base to up the mountain. The view and the architecture of the bridge was amazing. It can get very crowded on the bridge, so you should either be there early or close to their closing time for some nice shots.

The third day in Da Nang we rented scooters to ride around the city and saw Marbles Mountain and Linh Ung Pagoda. The heart poles are the signature feature of the Love Lock Bridge, looking across from the famous Dragon Bridge. We got to the Marbles Mountain around noon. This area is known for the numerous marble quarries that surround the area. We took a quiet hike up to the Marbles Mountain overlook for some nice views of the city and beach.

After climbing up the Marbles Mountain, we rode our scooters to see Ling Ung Pagoda on the Son Tra Peninsula. This pagoda contains the biggest Lady Buddha statue in Da Nang, along with a charming mountain landscape and amazing view of the ocean. We enjoyed Mi Quang so many times when we’re in Da Nang and I recommend that to everyone.


Ha Noi is popular for its dishes such as bun cha, pho, bun dau mam tom, cha ca, ca phe trung, etc. The first night there we had Cha Ca La Vong (107 Nguyễn Trường Tộ, Hà Nội, Vietnam). This restaurant is popular in both Vietnam and abroad for their fried fish paste and fermented shrimp paste (mam tom). The next morning, we had pho for breakfast before leaving for Huong Pagodas. The only pho place that I recommend to everyone is Pho Ly Quoc Su (the main store is on 10 Ly Quoc Su, Ha Noi). 


Day 2 in Ha Noi: TRANG AN, NINH BINH

Trang An and Ninh Binh are must sees if you are in Hanoi, Vietnam. It took around 2 hours to drive from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. We first visited Bai Dinh Temple which consists of the old temple (which you cannot visit) and the newly built complex. After lunch, we headed to Trang An Scenic Landscape

Ha Noi had a bad storm the next couple of days so we could not go to Ha Long Bay (another reason for me to go back to Vietnam next time). Ha Long Bay is also another must see location if you ever visit northern Vietnam. We instead met up with my middle school friends, played card games, and chilled at coffee stores around Hanoi.

? Budget:  

  1. 1. Trang An/ Ninh Binh: $81 including lunch
  2. 2. Perfume Pagodas: $42 including lunch
  3. 3. Hotel/Accommodations: ~ $200 for 2 weeks
  4. 4. Food: ~ $150 for 2 weeks
  5. 5. Taxi/Transportation: ~100
  6. 6. Flights within Vietnam: ~$300

➡️Total without accommodations: $673

➡️Total with accommodations: $873

? Must Eats: 

  • Any Vietnamese food that you can find, AND DO NOT GO FOR FUSION!!!

?Must Sees: 

  • Di San Van Hoa Trang An (Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex)
  • Bitexco Floor 52 (Bar)
  • Hoi An (during the day and night)
  • The Golden Hand in Ba Na Hill  

Thank you for reading and HAVE A GOOD ONE!


4-Day in Taiwan

Day 1: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Lungshan Temple, Guangzhou Night Market 

We landed in Taipei around noon. After getting our rooms at Finders Hotel, we went out for lunch (beef noodles soup) and started exploring right away. Unluckily, we visited the National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall on a rainy day, but it was still nice. We got to watch the last Changing of the Guard ceremony for the day. We then took the MRT to Taipei 101 for gift-shopping. The admission fee to go up Taipei 101 was too expensive so we passed on that. Just looking at the building from outside was already impressive enough.

We then walked to the Lungshan Temple. The temple was filled with the scent of incense, flowers, and visitors praying during Dharma Day which celebrates the Buddha’s first teaching on the full moon day of the 8th lunar month.  We then walked to Guangzhou Night Market next door for dinner. My friends and I got to try various Taiwanese street foods, and eventually settling for hotpot as the main course.  

Day 2: National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, Taiwan National Palace Museum, Fish Market, Shilin Night Market

The Beef noodle soup was amazing yesterday so we got it again, except at a different place. I also bought a kumquat tea before we started exploring. We visited the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine and Taiwan National Palace Museum on our second day in Taipei. We got to watch another Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the shrine. The palace is famous for its jade bok-choy. I must say Taiwan National Palace Museum is one of the biggest museums I have ever visited. The museum is huge and I leave it you to grasp its size for yourself when you visit.

In the afternoon, we had a small meal at the Taipei Fish Market (臺北魚市). You can buy anything ranging from boxed sushi rolls to king crab. I ordered a grilled king crab and scallops. The seafood was so sweet and fresh. If you’re like me and love seafood, you can literally spend a day here to satisfy your seafood craving. 

At Shilin Night Market, I tried the ice cream burrito, intestine noodle soup, and beef buns. The ice cream is very similar to what I had in Vietnam with a different twist- the cilantro is in the ice cream. I bought a small cup of the intestine noodles soup and the added spiciness made it very delicious. Lastly, the grilled beef bun was crispy on the outside and savory in the inside. 

Day 3: Kaohsiung (Fo Guang Shan), Tiger and Dragon Pagodas, Rueifong Night Market

We took the high-speed rail to Kaohsiung for our third day. Kaohsiung is known for Fo Guang Shan which is the site of a huge Buddhist temple. I love the scenery and the interior of the main hall. One thing I remember from a lady preaching there is the phrase “Having everything also means having nothing.” We then took the taxi to the Tiger and Dragon Pagodas in downtown Kaohsiung. 

We enjoyed dinner at Rueifong Night Market. The pictures below were some events happening at the market. I adore these people for the effort they put into their work each night at the market. Going to the night markets in Taiwan every night gave me a unique perception of the people here. They are spiritual, friendly, and hard-working. 

Day 4Ruifeng, Jiufen Village, and Raohe Night Market

Our group opted for a simple and cheap Taiwanese breakfast on our last day here with fried egg, fried dough fritter (油條 yóutiáo), and hot soy milk (豆漿 dòu jiāng). The portion was small so we got to order 2 of everything at a cheap cost.

To get to Jiufen we had to take the train to Ruifeng  which took around 40 minutes. We then caught the bus to Jiufen Village. On the way to the bus stop, we tried the 85°C bakery’s coffee (85°C is from Taiwan), which I like very much back in the U.S. We explored Jiufen Village amidst the summer heat. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes since the village involves a lot of walking up and down hills. This picturesque village inspired the theme for the movie Spirited Away. If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli, then this place is a must-see. I loved the architecture and surroundings of the village.  

We had soup dumplings (xiao long bao), stewed bamboo, and rice for lunch at the village. It was absolutely delicious. Xiao long bao is a must-try in Taiwan. We were traveling on a budget, but I heard Din Tai Fung had the most perfect soup dumplings. Besides lunch, I also tried the grilled snails which were also tasty!

We concluded our Taiwan trip with an amazing and beautiful day spent at Jiufen Village. The next day, we flew to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.

? Budget:  

  • 1. Hotel for 4 days: $250 for 2 ($125 each)
  • 2. Taxi from Airport to Hotel 1100NT for 4 ($9 per person)
  • 3. Meals for 4 days: 3000NT (~$100)
  • 4. MRT per day 200NT (around $13 for 4 days)
  • 5. High-speed tail to Kaohsiung: $50 one way, total $100. 
  • 6. Training to Ruifang total $5

➡️Total without accommodations: $227

➡️Total with accommodations: $352

? Must Eats: 

  • Beef Noodles Soup
  • Beef Bun
  • Tiger Fresh Milk Boba
  • Soup Dumplings

?Must Sees: 

  • Jiufen Village
  • Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
  • Taipei 101
  • Night Markets (as many as you can)
  • Fo Guang Shan



6-Day Korea Travel Guide

Hey there, hope your summer has been going well- no sunburn, lots of water, sleep, and great company. I spent my summer in super humid places in Asia this year. On this post, I’ll share with you my experiences in Korea and my tips for future travelers. I will share with you my budget, itinerary, and favorite dishes that are must-try if you go to Korea.  

Day 1 (7/15/2019): Our flight landed at 5:30 PM local time so we didn’t have much time for exploring besides visiting Namsan Tower that evening. It was not an easy hike up the mountain, but if you enjoy hiking and some exercising then go for it. Many people also take the bus up to the tower as an alternative to exercise. The admission price to go up to the observation deck is 11,000. After we saw Namsan Tower, I got a late night meal at a local noodle store on the way back to the hotel.

 Day 2 (7/16/2019) Changdeokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Namdaemun Night Market

For breakfast, we ate oxtail porridge near the hotel. It was plain, but many Koreans recommend it as a cure for hangovers so we gave it a try. We spent the first full day in Korea visiting Changdeokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village until through the morning till afternoon. We walked the majority of the time since the palaces were close to our hotel. We got lunch near the Bukchon Hanok Village. In my opinion, I ate my first authentic delicious Korean meal here.

Day 3 (7/17/2019) Jogyesa Temple, Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Folk Museum of Korea, Qwangjang Market, Myeongdong Cathedral, 2D Cafe

We visited Jogyesa Temple (조계사) on our way to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I was amazed by the arrangement of lotus flowers and colorful lanterns around the temple. This temple plays a leading role in Korean Buddhism and I noticed the large crowd coming here to pray often. The main hall of the temple holds 3 golden massive Buddha statues were awe-inspiring to gaze upon. We then continued on to Gyeongbokgung Palace, which served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty of kings that ruled Korea centuries ago. After, we went to the National Folk Museum of Korea which is conveniently free of charge and located on the palace grounds. After a long morning of walking around, we enjoyed lunch at the Netflix Street Food Featured Vendor at Gwangjang Market. It was delicious and the owner was very hospitable and welcoming. 

Day 4 (7/18/2019) DMZ tour, KBBQ, Myeongdong Night Market, and the Cheonggyecheon Stream

We spent our fourth day on a tour of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) – visiting the North/South Korea Border and getting to how Koreans make Ginseng. We got back around dinner time and we had Korean BBQ at a local restaurant that was recommended by our tour guide. After that we strolled around the Myeongdong Night Market and the Cheonggyecheon Stream. If you are looking for a good date location, Cheonggyecheon stream fits the bill. When I went, what stood out to me were the musicians playing music as ambiance, the numerous couples hanging about, how the skyscrapers rose above looming over the stream, and the orange aura that the lights provided.  This stream is a must see in Seoul and you will find that walking along it during the evening feels very relaxing.

Day 5 (7/19/2019) Busan

We took a train to Busan on the fifth day. I was slightly concerned about how expensive the ticket fare was; however, the ride offered great views of the Korean countryside. The train from Seoul to Busan took 2.5 hours. If you want to spend lots of time in Busan, I suggest staying over night or leaving Seoul early. We got to Busan around noon welcomed by gloomy weather. The taxi driver took us from the station to Haedong Yonggungsa temple. Along the way, we saw the second longest bridge in Korea, Gwangan Bridge. We saw the beaches while we were driving along the bridge. Locals said that Busan is has many beautiful beaches and is a summer holiday destination. In order to get to Haedong Yonggungsa, there was a short uphill walk where the road was lined up local food and drink vendors. From the temple, we had an amazing view of the ocean.

After visiting the temple, our taxi driver took us to the world famous Jagalchi Fish Market. Some of you might enjoy the restaurant experience more, but personally I love going to markets where I can see my food being made. There is just something about being able to see your food, picking it, and witnessing it being cooked fresh. I indulged in the best crab of my life there. We got the freshly boiled snow crab, live baby octopus, fried fishes, and Korean pancakes (which is also my favorite). We did not have enough time to visit the highly recommended Gamcheon Culture Village as we had little time between the end of our meal and our train ride back. Instead, we walked around the market and bought some souvenirs. We got back to Seoul near midnight. Considering how late it was and how tired we were, we opted for some instant noodles from the local mart next to our hotel for a late meal. 

Day 6 (7/20/2019) Bongeunsa Temple, Deoksugung Palace, Han River, and Star-field Library

We started our last day visiting Deosugung palace. Before heading out, I enjoyed smoking hot bibimbap in a stone bowl at a restaurant near the hotel. As mentioned earlier, we visited several palaces all of which belonged to the Joseon Dynasty. When you go to Seoul, I recommend buying the palace bundle where you can get a cheap fare that allows for admission into all the palaces for one price. After visiting the palace, we had instant noodles by the Han river. Instant noodles are on a whole other level in Korea. You can cook your instant noodles in many convenience stores. I bought a shin ramen and kimchee packet. Ugh, it was such a good and cheap meal.

Afterwards, we headed to the Coex Mall in Gangnam. The Star-field library is a giant bookstore located inside there and is very popular place for both tourists and locals. Its unique architecture and giant bookshelves attract many visitors daily. It was the best bookstore I’ve visited thus far. While you’re here, make sure to capture some boomerangs of the escalators. We then walked to Sul-bing Dessert for some shaved ice.

That concluded our Korea trip, and we then headed for Taipei the next day.

? Budget

Flights to all 3 countries and back: ~ $1600 from 7/15 to 8/9 (plane fare fluctuates depending on when you travel):

  • 1. Accommodation in Korea: Center Mark Hotel. 6 nights of a single room for around $550 ($275 per person) 
  • 2.Train to Busan ~100,000₩, Taxi in Busan ~9,000₩
  • 3. Metro, bus, or taxi ~5,000₩ per day (taxi will be cheaper if you travel in a group) 
  • 4. Meals for 6 days
  • ➡️Total in Korea with accommodation ~$549
  • ➡️Total in Korea without accommodation ~320,000₩  ~$274 

I exchanged $300 into ₩ when I landed in Incheon Airport so that covered everything plus some gifts I bought for friends. 

? Must Eats:

  • Black Bean Noodles
  • Netflix Ahjumma Noodles and Dumplings 
  • Bibimbap in Stone Bowl
  • Soft Tofu Soup
  • Shaved Ice
  • Instant Noodles by the Han River
  • Fresh Snowcrab

? Must Sees: 

  • The Palaces
  • Jogyesa Temple
  • Qwangjang Market
  • DMZ tour
  • Cheonggyecheon Stream
  • Yonggungsa Temple
  • Star-field Library

Thank you for reading and HAVE A GOOD ONE!