January Newsletter 2020


Happy Tet 2020 – Year Of The Rat

As Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is just around the corner, Saffron Travel would like to wish you, your families, and all your loved ones a very joyful, peaceful and prosperous Tet holiday.

We are welcoming in the year of the Rat – a symbol of wealth and wit – and we look forward to a new year full of good luck, great opportunities and inspiring journeys.

Many, many thanks for your continued support.


Travelling To South East Asia During Tet

The Lunar New Year – Tet – holiday will begin on January 23rd and end on January 29th. During these 7 non-working holidays, the Vietnam Immigration Department and Vietnamese Embassies will close their offices. We therefore suggest that any applications for visas to Vietnam should be submitted as soon as possible to avoid delays. Moreover, many museums, indoor exhibition spaces, galleries and local markets will be closed for at least 4 days, from January the 25th to the 28th. Saffron Travel modifies itineraries during the Tet season in Vietnam when and where appropriate.

Our office will also close from January 23rd to January 29th, however we will be contactable for emergency assistance on +84 (0) 903 144 881, or +84-28 3526 7771


Vietnam Extends 15 Day Visa-Free Travel For 8 Countries

Vietnam will extend visa waivers for citizens of Russia, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belarus until Dec 31, 2022.  The exemption is applied for the duration of stay which does not exceed 15 days.

New Year in South East Asia is a special time when people gather with their family members and celebrate together. Even though each country in South East Asia might celebrate New Year at different times, the people share the same spirit and look forward to the best things to come. Saffron Travel can organize unique experiences for travelers visiting Vietnam during this period to see and learn about the country’s culture and traditions.


The Ultimate Local Market Tour


This is not just another food tour. This is a cultural experience which only happens at a certain time in Vietnam as people prepare for Tet. Visit a Vietnamese home and learn how people are planning for this special occasion. The experience really is unique, and travelers will learn the reasons why Vietnamese people always buy certain goods at this time of year, plus the symbolic meaning behind each item. The tour continues with a trip to a local market where your host will show you “Tet shopping culture” as you develop deeper understanding of Vietnamese culinary traditions and discover the wide range of textures, colors, and flavors representing Vietnam. After some lively shopping, head back for home with decorations, flowers and ornaments which are bought earlier at the market. The host will then prepare a festive lunch together with some sweet treats. Enjoy the lunch and receive lucky money from your host as an auspicious gesture for the start of the new year.


Contemporary Culture In Cambodia’s Capital, Phnom Penh

If you would like to have a closer look into the contemporary culture of South East Asia, look no further than Phnom Penh. It’s where the mighty Mekong meets the Tonle Sap Lake and the sounds from the pagodas mingle with the hum of tul-tuks, motos and cars. Where the saffron-robed monks mingle with the street vendors and shiny high-rise building overlook tiny wooden homes. Saffron Travel can arrange an excellent guide and a knowledgeable architect to escort travellers to visit three of Molyvann’s most iconic and contemporary structures in Phnom Penh. Molyvann is a famous Cambodian architect and the foremost of a generation of the architects who contributed to the unique style of architecture in the country. Discover how he the mid-century trend of combining modern style architecture.


Hang Va Cave, Vietnam


Hang Va belongs to the Phong Nha caves system located in Quang Binh province, in the centre of Vietnam. It is home to fascinating cave formations spread along a passage that reaches a width of about 85m. There are more than a hundred calcite cones rising up from the Earth in mysterious ways. To explore this cave, travellers can embark on a 2-day expedition. To reach the rarest tower cone formations, the experience combines jungle trekking and caving involving some challenging activities such as: rock scrambling, wading through an underground river, bouldering and rope-traversing within the cave.


Discovering The Secrets Of Nong Khiaw, Laos

For a more laid-back destination, visit Nong Khiaw in Laos. Nestled on the Nam Ou River between Muang Khua in the north and Luang Prabang in south, there is little to do in Nong Khiaw except soak up the beautiful natural landscape and explore the surrounding area with its caves and rivers. It’s a perfect place to bike, trek and hike. From the high point on a nearby hike travelers can see the river wind its way through limestone karst mountains and scenic river villages – a truly uplifting experience which is well worth the sweat! Even though most of the accommodation here is basic, the views across the river from the bungalows will make any stay a very memorable one.


CHotel Of The Month: Amantaka Luang Prabang


Amantaka is located in Luang Prabang, Laos, a short drive from the airport, south of Mount Phousi. It features just 24 luxury suites all set in a lovely open-air French colonial building. The suites surround a shady centrepiece garden and expansive pool overlooking the temple-topped, mist-swathed Mount Phousi. The design and decoration is a tranquil combination of simple South East Asian wood furnishings, embroidered silk throws and black-and-white photography. Each room features a king-size bed and a private veranda.
Amantaka’s menu showcases both traditional Lao cuisine as well as some international dishes all made with local produce and choice ingredients from the resort’s organic farm. For unwinding and rejuvenating body and soul, Anantaka’s spa provides all the necessary space for doing so.



Restaurant Of The Month: Opera Garden House Hanoi

Opera Garden House Hanoi is a new restaurant located on Trang Tien Street, right in the heart of Hanoi. Its ‘Indochina’ design and spacious dimensions make it great for both private dining and family or group gatherings. The restaurant features modern Vietnamese delicacies and Western cuisine. Some of the signature dishes that we love are: Coconut Bud Salad, Traditional Grilled Fish, and Stir Fried Noodles Pho.

Vietnamese Sautéed Prawns In Roe/Tomalley Sauce (Tom Kho Tau Gach Do)

Vietnamese sautéed prawns in roe sauce (Tom Kho Tau Gach Do) is a quick traditional home cooking recipe that is sure to delight. It’s a sweet, savoury and a beautifully presented dish that goes wonderfully with steamed rice. The best part of this dish is that everything, from start to finish, takes about 30 minutes. This makes it my family’s go-to recipe after a long day at work and you want something quick on the dinner table.


  • 2 lbs prawns with heads
  • 2 teaspoons chicken powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 green onions/scallions
  • 4 garlic cloves (peel and mince)
  • 2 shallots (peel and mince)
  • 2 tablespoons annatto oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Peel the body of the prawns and devein. Trim off pointy spear at the top of the head, clip off eyes, whiskers and the little legs along the underside of the prawn. I like to keep the tail and head. However, you can remove both heads and tails if preferred. If removing heads, scoop out the head fat and transfer it to the small bowl.
  • Marinate prawns with chicken stock powder, sugar, fish sauce, whites of scallions, half of minced garlic and half of minced shallot for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a large skillet with a lid, heat annatto oil on medium high. Add remaining shallot and garlic. Sauté until fragrant.
  • Add marinated prawns and all its liquid. Add water or coconut soda and use a spoon to press down the head to release the head fat into the sauce. – If not using heads, simply add head fat here and mix it into the sauce. Cover skillet with a lid and cook the prawns until it turns opaque and pink (about 2-3 minutes)
  • Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with the reserved green part of the scallions and ground black pepper.

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