My favourite country so far, and here’s why…
Good to know: 100,000 VND (Vietnamese Dong) = £3.31. For us Europeans, we get a 15 day visa for free so plan your trip wisely if you are not willing to pay for extra days!
Home to the affluent French Quarter where you’ll see whitewashed and clean apartment buildings, higher class restaurants and security manned designer stores. Take a walk around the beautifully French influenced streets and freshly cut gardens.
Nearby you can find Hó Hoán Kiém lake to take a walk around, you’ll see many street sellers along the way selling fruits and drinks if you get hungry or thirsty. Spot the turtle tower and enter the Ngoc Son temple on water for a cultural experience.
In contrast, take a walk through the Old Quarter where you’ll find men welding on the side of the street with sparks flying everywhere, crowded pathways of women carrying fruits and chaotic roads crazier than Thailand! We stayed in the Old Quarter and found a lovely five storey restaurant called ‘Lifted’. They served mouth watering dishes and refreshing fruit juices, we ended up eating there for every day that we stayed.
In the Old Quarter you can find many street restaurants with small stools situated out on the pavement, this is a great way to eat like a local. Try the beef noodles, they’re my favourite and absolutely wonderful.
Join the locals in a sports bar! We were well looked after; a group of Vietnamese men force fed us shots of god knows what, grapes and scrumptious cake!
Take a walk along the Hó Hoán Kiém lake for some night entertainment. You’ll find groups of people singing familiar songs and friends dancing the night away.
Ha Long Bay – meaning the longest dragon
Touring Ha Long Bay means hopping onto a boat for a of couple of days. We chose to go with the company Fantasea Cruises spending one night on the boat and the other on an island in a beach hut.
This tour was perfect for seeing the most of Ha Long Bay, we started out by hiking up to a viewpoint where we could see a lovely panoramic view of the stacked islands. There was also a nice beach where you could swim before getting back on to the boat. They do however warn you about jellyfish…
The food provided for us throughout the trip was spectacular! I was expecting to go hungry at night but breakfast, lunch and dinner did not disappoint.
Kayaking with a view…
Exploring cool caves…
We were taken to Cat Ba island where we battled through pouring rain and steep hills for two hours to feast our eyes upon a mountainous skyline.
Drive by the floating village…
We were then taken to our accommodation for a night on the island, some opted for a hotel but we chose to stay in a beach hut overlooking the bay. Unfortunately we went to Vietnam during rainy season so the journey back to the mainland proved quite difficult. The rain was everlasting! Streets were covered in water enough to ride an inflatable unicorn down the street of running water!
After safely touching upon on dry land we took a 6 hour bus ride to Tam Coc. If you’re thinking of going to Ninh Binh I recommend that you stay in Tam Coc instead, a small town next door. It’s much nicer and easier to get around. We were dropped off right outside a place called the “Tam Coc backpacker hostel” where we chose to stay in the hotel opposite for the duration of our stay.
Rent a scooter: scooters and petrol are dirt cheap here so rent one to make your way around the town.
The first stop on our list of things to do was to buy a Vietnamese hat and fan – you’ll need it!
We then made our way to Hang Mua temple where we climbed 500 steep steps to the top, but it’s totally worth it to see the breathtaking views of what the locals call “Ha Long Bay on land”. This is because it literally looks like Ha Long Bay but in the middle of the country…
We then ventured out onto a 10 minute ride to Trang An where we hopped onto a bamboo boat manoeuvred by a friendly lady through the green stacks and low caves. The way this woman managed to take us through the caves without crashing into the rocks needs an award!
After exploring multiple temples and caves we were taken to a small island where Kong: Skull Island was filmed.
This was my favourite activity in Vietnam, we sat in the small boat wearing our Vietnamese hats, wafting our fans, helping the driver paddle while taking in the glorious views of the sun sinking behind enormous temples and rolling hills.
We also visited Bich Dong. This place of worship consisted of three temples all increasingly higher above ground than the other. We preferred the one at the very top, you could see beautiful views of the countryside and a nice place to sit down alone for a while…
Next stop – Danang
A city reaping the best of both worlds; a bustling city nightlife with a white sandy beach as its’ close neighbour.
Take a ride on a scooter to Lady Buddah. Locals believe that she guards the city from danger of zsnami striking. You can normally walk to the top of her but we arrived on a national holiday so many places were quiet and often not open.
Ride through the smooth roads around the mountains taking in the deep blue landscape of the ocean.
We also rode our scooter to the top of Son Tra mountain where you’ll spot monkeys and witness a beautiful view along the way. When you reach the top you’ll see the most magnificent perspective of Danang. You definitely need to see this for yourself…
Dining in Danang. Well, as meat lovers we were craving a juicy steak by this point so we sniffed out ‘Olivia’s Prime bar & grill’. We ate like royalty sharing a fillet minion and a fillet steak cooked to perfection (medium rare), peppercorn sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, garlic broccoli and garlic bread. Can you tell we like garlic?
If you’re planning a stay in Danang then make sure you’re here for the weekend as there’s a cool fire and water show at the Dragon Bridge where a dragon breathes fire and spits water at 9pm on a Friday and Saturday night! There’s also loud music thumping and people dancing in the streets.
Pay a visit to the marble mountains for views of the city. We were there to witness the sunset with lightening bolts hitting the ground!
Last stop – Ho Chi Minh City
Food: ‘The Hungry Pig’ is cheap but delicious. You can literally create any sandwhich you want!
I chose a baguette with ham, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onion, avocado and mayo toasted to perfection.
With only one night here we explored the city centre, found a camera shop to take my passport photo for Cambodia and caught a pink sunset.
Love Thy Traveller