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Ho Chi Minh City
We landed in HCMC or Saigon as it is more popularly known late morning on Christmas day. Booking a prepaid cab (first mi...
We landed in HCMC or Saigon as it is more popularly known late morning on Christmas day. Booking a prepaid cab (first mistake) from the airport we set off for our hostel in District 5. The place was a proper boutique hostel called 'The Common Room Project' and was situated in a quiet lane far from the blaring horns and loud pub music. Beautifully set up with probably the most comfortable bed I would have on the trip, it had everything one needs to take a break from a hectic vacation. Only problem was that this was the start of our vacation, and a break is not what we wanted at all. So we dumped our backpacks and immediately took off to explore the city. The sights and smells of Saigon are vaguely familiar to India with lots of street food hawkers, not too many high-rises and lots and lots of two-wheelers on the streets. However, the key difference was the level of cleanliness which was far better than any Indian city. Our first stop was The Reunification Palace which had been the seat of the South Vietnamese government before the North Vietnamese army stormed the walls and forced their surrender effectively ending the Vietnam War. For a history buff like me, the perfectly preserved ballrooms and conference rooms, and the American Huey on the roof was utopia. Quite naturally, our next stop was the War Remnants Museum a short walk away which was full of American tanks, helicopters and fighter jets, along with photo galleries of anti-war protests from around the world, and unexploded ordinances. The museum takes a dark turn as you visit the exhibits on Agent Orange and War Crimes and the mock-ups of the South Vietnamese torture chambers. With both of us visibly shaken and needing a drink, we headed off to Bui Vien Walking Street and went to a couple of pubs and got drunk through the evening. Returning to our hostel, we socialized for a bit with the people there before calling it a day.
Most of the place you visit there are either linked to or remind you of the brutality of the wars faced by the country over the years, notable are Cu chi tunnels, Presidential palace, fine arts museum etc. Other notable places of tourist interest are Ben Thanh market, Notre Dame Cathedral and central post office opposite to it.
After two days in Vung tau, I was back in Ho Chi Minh city. I didn’t take more than two days to experience the daytime buzz and nightlife charm of the city. There are various cafés and restaurants spread around the old town of Saigon to try the special Vietnamese coffee and local delicacies. Nightlife is best enjoyed by chilling out in the Bui Vien street which is the main backpacker hub, with Saigon special beer in one of the many street bar cafés.
The city of Ho Chi Minh offers an array of food to its locals and tourists. They use fresh, simple ingredients to create complex flavours. A food trip to the city of Saigon ( as many people refer to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) can turn into one of the most memorable ones if you know what to have and where to have it. Here are some of the most popular Vietnamese food that must try:
Taxi to Ho Chi minh city: 4hours, $100
2 nights in Grand Silverland Hotel
Where: VietnamFormerly known as Saigon, the largest city of Vietnam is a living and flourishing symbol of the resilient Vietnamese spirit. Despite several phases of conflict and political turmoils, Ho Chi Minh City lives on and how!Weather: Average temperature remains a comfortable 30 degree Celsius throughout July. But the minimum temperature drops to a pleasant 24 degree Celsius at night.
Feb 10: Day 1: Saigon/Ho Chi Minh CityComplete your visa and immigration formalities at the airport. Dont forget to exchange your currency to Vietnamese Dong before you step out in their land. Around 50 - 100 USD is good to start. You will also find many exchange centers all over Vietnam. Also make sure you have the Visa stamped correctly and keep your passport safe.Outside of the airport you will see City Bus. Ask anyone (who might speak English) for bus# 152. Mostly it would be there right in front of you waiting for you. This bus takes 5000 VND and will drop you at the hostel zone / Ben Thanh market. From here its your choice how you travel to your hostel / hotel. PS: This is District 1Also, from the airport you can hire the taxi. It would be no where close to 5000 VND.I stayed the night at Himalaya Phoenix Hostel. Good place, will give you a quiet sleep. Helpful reception.Take a city tour on a Xe Om or rent a motorbike. This city! trust me is very beautiful. I didnt expect it to have such good cathedrals, pagodas, palaces and glowing skyscrapers.. If you plan to do it on Xe Om, make sure you decide the hourly price first and also remember the places he mentioned. This is just to avoid any cheating/confusion. Next on your target: Ben Thanh market. Its huge!!! I think you will find everything here and with good bargaining skills you will get what you want. I stayed just 1 night in Saigon. I had no plans of cu chi tunnels or mekong delta. Leave those to the people who plan to stay long and who like touristy places.
After landing to ho chi minh city, We felt the drastic change in the panorama of the city. It is a metropolitan city, commonly referred as Saigon. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam.On July 1976, It was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh. It is a hub of various companies. It took us an hr to reach the hotel from airport. After check-in, we went out in search of food. To my surprise, our hotel was in one of the famous streets of Ho Chi Minh city, "bui vien street", full of restaurants, nightlife, roadside pubs, discos. After having brunch, we headed towards the War Remnants Museum. It was a takeaway experience. After going to every floor, our minds were so lost, thinking of the sufferings, sacrifices and compromises of the vietnam. The history of vietnam is very deep, full of war and the support from the world. Then we visited various attractions like Jade Emprorer Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Saigon Opera House, Nguyen Hue Street, Ho Chi Minh squares and the famous Ben Thanh Market. Next day, we planned to visit Cu chi tunnels but unfortunately, it rained heavily. So, we missed it. But anyways we enjoyed the city very much. Vietnam is indeed a beautiful country.... Hence proved..
Cruelly made infamous by the American intervention in the late '60s, Vietnam is a mystical land that deserves to be navigated by every serious backpacker. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the capital and largest city in Vietnam, making it the melange of everything the now stable country stands for. With its high-octane energy on the streets, the finest hotels alongside, and the most expensive of boutiques at the photogenic squares, HCMC spoils tourists and changes their perspective about the country forever.Famous for: Food and art.Things to do: Visit the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts. Nibble on street food.Weather in January: Average temperature is 30 degrees celsius, but remains pleasant all though the day.Average budget per head for 5 days (excluding flights): Rs. 46,000For more details, read this.
I landed in Vietnam starting at Hanoi and this is how Part 1 of the itinerary turned out:...
Hanoi and food kind of go hand in hand. The street food culture is amazing and to really understand the local vibe and culture you need to eat your way through it! Be more than a tourist. Be a traveller. It started with me trying to find a little food joint called Banh Cuon Gia TruyenThis little place had gotten some great reviews about their Vietnamese Rice Pancakes and I for one was dying to try it. The place was small and unfortunately quite unappetizing as it was very unclean. I wish the tables were not dirty and had less waste on the floor, but I found myself liking the translucent rice crepes (mine were stuffed with little shrimp). Was it the best place to grab lunch? Probably not. But the food was a thumbs up in my book.
Feb 19: Day 10: HanoiI had plans to go see the Halong bay. But the cave had taken the most of me. I slept more. I stayed at hotel Hanoi Graceful. 27 USD, last day so spend a little. Then went out for lunch at Namaste Hanoi. Very good Indian food. Next stop: The Train street. Yeah, this is quite famous amongst people travelling to Hanoi. Google about it. The train comes at 3.30pm. I have it in my video.
Hanoi is famous as the Food capital of vietnam. We tried endless veg varieties in vietnamese cuisine and it was too perfect. You can see countless roadside restaurants with great dim light ambience and vast varieties for seafood lovers. We stayed hanoi for 4 days and on 3rd day we had a tour to "Halong Bay".
My friend and I started the trip with Hanoi, Vietnam's Capital. It's a busy city that wakes up early. Life begins at 7 am here. You'll find the city buzzing with horns of cars and motorbikes (common mode of transport). Every shop/business establishment has a Vietnamese flag. The driving (left-side) and traffic are similar to that in India, where no traffic rules are followed and you can cross the road whenever you wish to. However, the population density per sq.km is very low. One of the most noticeable things about Vietnam is the number of women driving bikes.
Ha Noi, the capital of Vietnam! The oldest city in the country, where every nook and corner oozes with culture!Either you'll love the city or hate it - there'll be no middle ground.Hanoi was my last stop during a breezy trip to Vietnam, a country which has been on my to do list for the longest time.I first visited Ho Chi Minh, followed by Nha Trang and then finally stopping in Hanoi. Initially, I thought I would pen down my experience in Ho Chi Minh and Nha Trang. However, by the time I got onto the flight back to India, I was in love with Hanoi. I wish I had lost my passport and would never have to leave the city. Unfortunately, for me, my friends dragged me onto that flight back home (damn!)Hanoi, as a city, is influenced by South East Asian and French architecture. And it is exactly this mixture of architecture which makes it so beautiful. A city which, bustling with activity has a quaint old charm attached to it, providing the warmth for a travellers heart. Where the modern culture seamlessly blends with the old school charm. Where you have cafes on (literally) every street, and look at the world passing by (while sipping on the best coconut coffee you would have ever tasted).As a tourist, you will be restricted to the Old Quarter of Hanoi, which is a beautiful chaotic mess of narrow streets and numerous cafes, within walking distance from the Hoan Kiem Lake. Besides the Lotte Towers, which offers a breathtaking view of the city, all the touristy attractions are within walking distance (if a kilometre or two isn't much of a walk).Having said that, we only visited the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, since we already had our overdose of the Vietnam war whilst in Ho Chi Minh.But anyhow, coming back to The Old Quarter. Every street is demarcated by the merchandise it sells. From fresh vegetables and fruits to artefacts, you have a street for each.Hanoi is also a city known for its art. If you have the slightest interest in a pretty looking canvas, the various art galleries in the narrow lanes around Haon Kirk Lake are a must visit. While some are original oil paintings by upcoming local artist, most of them are imitations of famous painters. And trust me, even a novice like me, managed to pick up some "art" from Hanoi.The food in Hanoi is worth mentioning too. The French and Vietnamese cuisine here are taken very seriously and flavours are much more distinct than the rest of Vietnam. (I am a strict vegetarian, so follow my advice and optimise your use of google translate. Just type out, "I'm vegetarian, no meat, no sea food. Please help" and show it to your server. Trust me, the hanoian server will go out of his way to serve you an excellent dish). DO NOT miss out the bakery products and road side baguettes and noodles! You would have never tasted simpler but better tasting food in you life (even if your vegetarian!).The place to be at night is the Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets of the Old Quarter, where you can see a pool of people sitting out on plastic stools sipping away on their bia hoi (draught beer) and slurping away on their noodles. While the streets shut down by midnight and the city is literally dead by midnight, the pub owners on the streets will hustle you inside for the underground party scene, which is so energy driven, while shutting down the outside area. The insides turn out to be even more vibrant, cause you end up sharing your table with other travellers and enjoy sharing experiences while enjoying the local bands playing away some amazing music. Also, be mindful of the fact that the Vietnamese like their cocktails to be pretty stiff. So if you think you have the capacity to drink 5 cocktails in a night, my friend, you will be wobbling away with the second drink.If you have two days in Hanoi, like I did (and I regret not having more time) do not bother going to the museums, since you will do enough of that in Ho Chi Minh. Just kick off your shoes, get a book, get inside a cafe, get some Vietnamese coffee or a drink and look at the world pass. The images of the beautiful Architecture with the beautiful hanoians walking by will last you a lifetime of pleasant memories and leave you with a feeling of wanting to never leave.
I skipped through a lot of country from Hanoi to be here, by way of two weeks spent helping a thankless invalid. I might have been on my way to Cambodia, as originally planned. But who sticks to an original plan these days? I hopped over going to mountains in Sapa, or running through caves in Ninh Binh, and stopped for a walk through Hue’s old war- ravaged citadel, on the way to historic Hoi An. The Viet 'Cong' (the American label for the guerrilla troops of South Vietnam and Mekong who fought alongside the the North Vietnamese), had given the yanks too much credit in assuming that they wouldn’t desecrate these momentous temples of Vietnamese religion and culture, in their bid to chase down Communism.Holy places have a habit of making me wistful. I began to mull over whether I could ever leave Asia. Imagining myself another life where I am ‘settled’ requires decoding of the word itself. ‘To settle’. The verb defined in the Oxford dictionary with more than three meanings. Here are the top three: to reach a conclusion or agreement to a problem; to reach a decision; to come to a dissatisfactory acceptance.To ‘settle down’ is to accept an unrealistic and bogus idea of existence. Even those who think their life is mapped out will find surprises, whether good or bad. And those whose definition of adulthood is based on ownership of some form (cars, careers, mortgages and kids for instance) are only defining their experience of the world through MONEY and possessions.I don’t think that the Cham emperors of the past, when building their red mortar worshipping grounds, would have ‘settled’
The day I arrived at Hanoi I had 7 days to go with absolutely no plan, a number of backpackers (going from north to south) suggested going to Sapa and Ha Long bay one can easily spend 2 nights at both these places. After 2 days of exploring the city me and two other backpackers (who I had met in Phong Nha) decided to go to Cat Ba Island by ourselves.Reaching the island:
The strange thing about the oldest part of Hanoi where we were staying is that each street is dedicated to the specific trades/businesses that are based there…e.g. China bowls street (Bat Su), roasted fish street (Cha Ca), silver or jewelries (Hang Bac), women accessories (Cau Go), shoes and sandals (Hang Dau), silk (Hang Gai), mixed fruits (To Tich), combs (Hang Luoc), jars (Hang Chinh), tour services (Ma May), candies and dry apricot (Hang Duong), fried/roasted sour pork hash (Tam Thuong lane on Hang Bong Street), bamboo products (Hang Buom), etc.After the madness of the old town, we decided to wander the other direction which was actually still mental, but much easier to walk around without fearing for your life every two secs. On the way, we passed two stalls… Whole dogs baked in the oven and piled up on top of one another a table, ready to be sold as meat….
It’s totally insane walking around Hanoi; It’s like the Saturday before Christmas every day. Pavements are filled with mini plastic chairs (think first day of school), parked and moving motorbikes, open fires for cooking, barbers using cut throat razors, beauticians attending to peoples toenails with paint scrapers, welders throwing sparks on your flip-flops and bamboo ladders… The roads are for lorries, jeeps, cyclos, motobikes, ‘pope-mobiles’ filled with Chinese and women carrying and selling fruit, donuts or sticky rice and they’re all moving in whichever direction and speed they like! That just leaves the gutter above the sewers for the pedestrians.. And even there you’re definitely not safe! They’re all obsessed with face masks to stop smog and germs which feels a little weird when they’re cooking and eating on the pavements in what can only be described as…You can’t walk two steps without hearing ‘madame Madame!’ from the women trying to sell us food or clothes and the guys just hoot, ring the bell or just whistle or yell hey hey to try to get us on the back of their motorbike/taxi! Really missing the tuk tuks round Hanoi, all they have is cyclos -bicycles with a scooper on the front or getting on the back of a motorbike. We had to go for the cyclo option one night, which was absolutely terrifying! Some old guy cycling really slowly while we sat in the front like a couple of babies in a push chair, being pushed out into traffic. Words cannot convey how terrifying it is to attempt to cross the road in this town! They don’t stop even at pedestrian crossings. Traffic lights are ignored and driving on the footpath, across a park or the wrong way down a one way street is totally acceptable!
Chef Dat picked me up from my hotel on the morning I was returning to Saigon from Nha Trang. He had plans to take me to ...
Chef Dat picked me up from my hotel on the morning I was returning to Saigon from Nha Trang. He had plans to take me to the local markets and countryside and then a cooking experience at his country house. Talking to Chef Dat, you immediately realise he is not in this for the money. It's all about great passion and a calling to help those less fortunate. Chef Dat has worked in Nha Trang tourism since 1994, he has fantastic English and owns a local cafe, Same Same But Different Cafe. He often hosts home-stay guests who assist him to educate local village children who cannot afford education. I immediately connected with him and looked forward to an amazing day.Over and over again Chef Dat told me, the real Vietnam is at the back, not at the front. He was referring to the tourist centers that sit at the front of the cities where you can get lost just in that world. The truth is though, if you explore more outwards you will start to see the real Vietnam. And it certainly is a sight and experience to behold.
Nha Trang is a very standard beach town with nothing much in terms of tourist value and I would recommend anyone to give it up in lieu of an extra day at Hoi An. However, here we were checking into a pretty little hostel called Mojzo Dorm which was walking distance away from the beach. We did find one boutique cafe called The Living Collective from where on one random recommendation on Lonely Planet we headed to an art gallery of a photographer called Long Thanh, who apparently was one of the biggest names in Vietnam and is internationally acclaimed with exhibitions all over the world. However, we found a locked door on arriving but a signboard that said 'Open'. Trying our luck, we rang the bell and truly enough a girl came and opened the door, switched on the lights and put some music for us. Turns out she was Long Thanh's daughter and this was his home. As we were chatting, Long Thanh himself came down to greet us and what followed was a guided tour of his exhibition by the artist himself which included a peek into his study and dark room. With our minds blown at what we had just experienced, we headed back to our hostel for a shower and nap and proceeded for a swim in the beach. In perhaps, the only instance of bad luck on the trip, the sea was way too rough so we settled in for a few beers, had a traditional vietnamese dinner at the hostel and watched the moon rise over the ocean as we bid goodbye to this beautiful country
After completing my diving course I decided to stay one more day in Nha Trang to venture outside the town, as there are some pretty interesting places around. I rented myself a bike from the hostel and headed north. Just outside the new town after crossing the Cia river, Ponagar was my first stop. An ancient Hindu temple complex which is still actively being worshiped by the locals, these temple towers would definitely leave you awe struck. Sitting by the riverside there you could also see the fishing village on the river and an array of boats lined up which will surely be eye catching. After another quick stop in Hòn Chồng which you may or may not find interesting (has some nice rock formations along the beach side and very photogenic), I headed further north to Ba Ho waterfalls.
I was allowed to carry my go pro only during the fourth dive on day three, by the time which I became pretty comfortable and confident underwater. Be reminded that you should have some basic swimming skills for taking this course.
My next stop was Nha Trang, a beach resort town in south Vietnam and a much preferred holiday destination both for locals and foreigners. I took the sleeper bus from HCMC to arrive at Nha Trang in the morning hours of next day. My purpose there was to take scuba dive course, as I read it is the cheapest place in whole south east Asian countries to get your open water dive certification. After enquiring around all the dive centers in the town, I registered with Sailing Club which is located in the southern side of the beach. They quoted 300$ for the three day course which include both theory and practical sessions. Day one includes theory session with video tutorial and pool session to familiarize with scuba gear and under water breathing. On day two and three you venture into open sea where you get to dive with a personal instructor who teaches you all diving skills underwater.
Feb 11: Day 2: Nha TrangEarly morning I got up to catch my train to Nha Trang. I found a Xe Om (motorbike taxi) outside on the main road and bargained with him to go to the railway station for 50,000 VND.This SE6 train starts at 9.00am and reaches Nha Trang at around 4.30pm. You can see some real good landscapes (as seen in the video) if you book a soft seat. Its also cheaper than soft bed.Saigon was hot. Nha Trang was cold with drizzles and cloud cover for almost the entire day.The Nha Trang beach is one of the best I have ever been to. (I've used the word 'been' and not 'seen'). I was in Nha Trang for some 2 days. I went to the beach "6 times". Even once at 5.30am to catch the sunrise. Si Si.. Vietnam has an east coast. No sunsets.
So, Next destination was Nha TRang, A coastal city and capital of Khánh Hòa Province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It rains a lot in south asia in winters. So, we encountered a good amount of rain in nha trang, so strong that i have never experienced. The building of our hotel was shaking ( we were on 14th floor) and when we reported at the front desk, the receptionist calmed us down that it's quite normal here. We immediately made up our mind to either change the hotel or change the room to the lowest possible floor as we wanna end the trip on the sweeter note not with any bad experience. So, we shifted to 2nd floor and felt too much relaxed. It was sunny also sometimes. The storm comes in intervals, full of heavy rains and very strong winds that it was sometimes difficult to walk also. So, there was no point of exploring the city till too far off, we decided to cover the nearby places only like Long son pagoda, Sailing club, Po nagar cham towers. We didn't take any risk of carrying cameras along due to rains. The beaches were clean and peaceful. The food was too awesome. Till now, I had started loving Vietnamese cuisine. We stayed here for 2 days and headed towards our last destination Ho chi minh city.
Nha Trang is probably the cheapest place in the world to pick up your PADI, but admittedly the underwater scenery is a bit depleted and underwhelming. Regardless, the prices are amazing and you can save a lot to get your Open Water PADI here for less than Rs. 16000, including accommodation.
We took a public bus to the scenic location of Nha Trang. Resembling Waikiki in the 70's, it is a Mecca for local tourists and foreigners alike. We had a quiet New Year's Eve as it started raining about 10 pm and we skipped the outdoor stage and entertainment along the beach. The next day, we decided to hike along the beautiful beach, over the bridge, through narrow alleyways and ended up at the Po Nagar Cham Towers. The Po Nagar Cham Towers are located on a small hill overlooking the Cai River. We were impressed at the restoration effort. The place is still used by Buddhist worshipers praying and lighting incense, each inner temple was cloudy with smoke, as it has been for centuries. Later, we visited the Long Son Pagoda, presided over by a 44 ft high sitting Buddha. We then set out to explore out favorite haunts. Buying fruit in the market, stopping for a refreshing coconut, having a plate of Com Chay or strict vegetarian Buddha food as it is referred to here, followed by a dish of our favorite street food, bananas in leaves roasted over coals, topped with a rich, hot coconut tapioca cream.
Day 14 Nha Trang boat trip & mud bathing (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. This morning you will make a boat trip to visit Nha Trang Bay. This is a chance for you to discover the beautiful islands of Tri Nguyen, Mun island for snorkelling. Pm: In the afternoon you spend your time at Thap BA Hot Spring to take a mud bath. Overnight at hotel. Day 15 Nha Trang – Da Lat (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. This morning you leave Nha Trang for Da Lat. En route you have more chance to admire the spectacular sights and visit Dantala Waterfall. Arrive in Dalat, check in hotel. Have lunch at restaurant Pm: You will make a half-day city tour to visit Dalat city to the Flower Garden, Crazy House, Tuyen Lam Lake and Truc Lam pagoda by cable car and enjoy more of Dalat city. Free to have your own dinner. Overnight at hotel
There’s a lot to see in Hue, so it’s worth spending a full day here exploring the surroundings. Firstly, there are t...
There’s a lot to see in Hue, so it’s worth spending a full day here exploring the surroundings. Firstly, there are tons of hot springs around Hue including the My An Hot Springs and Elephant Springs. Other natural attractions include the Nhi Ho Waterfall and Tam Giang Lagoon.In the main city of Hue, you’ll find the ancient Imperial City. This is a UNESCO heritage site and was the previous imperial capital of Vietnam. From here you can check out the Thien Mu Pagoda, and the two Emperor Tombs.
Getting to Hue from Ninh Binh will take around 10 hours. If this is too long to drive for, you can stop somewhere closer to Hue instead of Ninh Binh. But if you’re taking car, you will have to do a large chunk of driving either from Sa Pa southwards, or then towards Hue.Given that you reach Hue today, it will be too late for you to do much. Nonetheless, you can wander around the walking street at night, or catch some nightime waves at Ham Rong Beach. You’ll be able to find whatever you need in Dong Ba market.
Recommended by one of my hostel mate, I too decided to join the walking tour the next day. Organized by two young enthusiasts who likes to interact with travelers and to refine their English speaking skills, the tour was both informative and fun. We finished the tour with having lunch in a nice local restaurant recommend by them. After the lunch I parted from the group to visit the Royal palace, which was not covered in the tour.
Hue was the former capital of Vietnam until 1945 and also was the seat Imperial Kings of Vietnam. The city is also linked to the history of Vietnam’s freedom struggle against the French which I came to know through the walking tour later. The main attraction there is the Citadel or the Imperial city which slightly resembles the forbidden city in China. Best way to spend the evening in Hue is by taking a stroll along the Perfume river and visit the night market nearby Truong tien bridge which itself is lit up colorfully in the night giving a spectacular view. Phạm Ngũ street considered as the backpacker hub there is also great place to hang out in the night with few bars and restaurant. Gecko pup in there is the meeting point for the free walking tour.
Stay tuned for the second part that will cover my itinerary for the enchanting central Vietnam. Follow my instagram handle for more travel chits – offbeat_wkndragnflySpread love, share, hit like or leave a comment. Keep exploring because Travel is the best investment in yourself. Happy reading ☺
Danang City is developing into a venue for Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE). Large hotels, casinos and wedding halls line the coastal roads and excursion to UNESCO Sites like Hue, Mỹ Sơn and Hoi An are close by. The cool months of December is a wonderful time to visit and we certainly wouldn’t mind returning for more exploration.
Next place on the itinerary can be Hue which is the ancient capital of Vietnam and also the seat of their last Monarch. Through the city one of the cleanest and most beautiful river flows named the perfume river. Along the bank of this Perfume rivers is an ancient Pagoda (Buddhist temple) that is worth the visit.
After breakfast at your hotel and you are free till airport transfer. Today, you will have a flight to Hue city and stay overnight at the most touristic area of Hue.Day 5 Discover Hue by boat and Car (Meal: B,L )07.45 Am, We will pick up you at your hotel & transfer to Visit 04 famous sites: Minh Mang Tomb Khai Dinh Tomb Tu Duc Tomb Conical Hat Making Incense Making Village. After having lunch, visit Imperial capital during Nguyen Dynasty: the Royal Citadel, Forbidden City, Hue Royal Museum and the seven – storey Thien Mu Pagoda on the riverbankAfter you visit Thien Mu Pagoda, you get on the boat for a sight-seeing along the Perfume River. After the tour, the boat will drops off you at the Hue River Bank in the city center.Here, you walk to your hotel.The tour ends at 16.30
Hue is a historical place located towards the Center of Vietnam. It was the Center of the country during the rule of the Minh Dynasty. It is also not very far away from the DMZ, which was the line dividing North and South Vietnam during the war. I took the night bus from Phong Nha and stayed at two different places in Hue. First was a beautiful resort called the beach bar. This was located half an hour away from Hue on Thuan An beach. This is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Hue. Be sure to find people from the bus to share a cab with (it can get expensive doing so alone). Second was the Hue backpackers hostel located on Pham Ngu Lao ( This is the main backpacking district in Hue). Hue has a lot of historical places. Unfortunately a lot of these have been destroyed during the war and are under restoration. The most important out of these is the Imperial City and the tombs of former emperors. The tombs are a little far away from the city so you probably need to rent a motorbike to see them. All in all I would say, if you are short on time, this is one place you could skip.
Huế is the capital city of Thua Thien – Hue province, located in central Vietnam. Huế is well known for its historic monuments, which have earned it a place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Today, little of the forbidden city remains, though reconstruction efforts are in progress to maintain it as a historic tourist attraction.
Day 16 Da Lat – Cat Tien National Park (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. Leave Dalat for Cat Tien National Park at 7....
Day 16 Da Lat – Cat Tien National Park (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. Leave Dalat for Cat Tien National Park at 7.30 am. On the way you stop to see Chicken village and Pongour falls for more admiration of beautiful landscapes. On arrival, cross through Dong Nai River to enter the Cat Tien National Park for beginning your wildlife experience. Arrive at the Nam Cat Tien National Park, check in and follow by lunch. Pm: In the afternoon you start walking 8km along the ecologic route: sites of Lagerstroemia Ovalfolia (BangLang), Tetrameles nudiflora (Tung), Cycas rumphii (Thien Tue), Ancistrolandus Tectorius (Trung quan), Afzelia cyclocarpa (Go). After that you are back to the center for having dinner. Overnight at the park. (Optional: You can take a night safari to see the diversity of wild animals and their lives at night) Day 17 Cat Tien NP - Ho Chi Minh (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. This morning you will continue your journey on 9km transfer by jeep inside the park to a junction. Then you go on trekking 5km to the Crocodile lake station. You have a short break at the lake before trekking to the main road again. Jeep picks up and transfers back to the park center. Check out the room. Have lunch at the park Pm: In the afternoon you leave the park, take the ferry across the river, then head back to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, check in hotel. Free to have your own dinner. In the evening you are free to walk around the city and explore. Overnight at hotel.
Da Lat was the welcome speed-breaker in my hurtling journey through the country. A reclusive town embraced within the Langbian Plateau, it was a complete departure from the coastal, tropical Vietnam we had witnessed prior to setting camp here. Till date I have never been able to put a finger on why I loved this caffeinated little town so much. Everything about it was just there. From the little coffee shops to the wafty bakeries. And lazy, winding streets to hidden, pristine lakes. I remember DaLat in the unplanned sojourns into dormant villages and the evening breeze kissing us as we rode into the hills. And in the impulsive change of routes that led us to melancholy graveyards and abandoned warehouses. It slowed me down and brought me back to a way of travel I was beginning to forget.
Bust to Can Tho: 7am-7pm. (I wouldn't recommend it, they try to squeeze as many people on it as possible, some people ha...
Bust to Can Tho: 7am-7pm. (I wouldn't recommend it, they try to squeeze as many people on it as possible, some people had to sit on luggages.)
Can Tho is a place where traditional Vietnamese food and street foods are available in plenty and with English language meagerly seen or heard in these parts, experience the ecstatic adventure of trying to figure out the food on the menu, enjoy playing volleyball and conversing in English with the students at Can Tho University and simply wandering around the streets and market place relaxed.
Can Tho surrounds it's life along a river and is widely known for its floating markets. The first market was Cai Rang, which was a conglomeration of small vendors bumping up against larger boats buying their precious harvest of fruits and vegetables, by the ton. An hour upriver found us in the middle of the Phong Dien Floating Market. A smaller version of the first market, we should have taken the shorter 4 hour ride instead of 6, skipping Phong Dien.
Day 18 Ho Chi Minh – Mekong Delta – Cai Be floating market (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. At 08.00 am you leave Ho Chi Minh City for a fascinating drive through rural Vietnam to Cai Be. As you leave the bustling city of Saigon, the scenery changes to the lush rice paddies, which is locally known as the 'rice bowl of Vietnam'. You will take a boat for a trip to CAI Be floating market. See the larger boats in the market, each selling mostly one product, this is truly a different experience and one you will remember. Then you continue on the boat to Vinh Long, the journey takes one hour and along the way will stop to visit some of the picturesque islands that lie in the center of the Mekong River. Stopover at Binh Hoa Phuoc Island and see more charming and specialties of tropical fruits such as Logan, Sapodilla, and Durian whilst also sampling these exotic fruits. Have lunch on island with special dishes Pm: This afternoon you cruise the back and experience on 'Monkey Bridges', small rickety structures that looks easy to walk on but are harder than you think. The driver transfers you back Ho Chi Minh City. Free to have your own dinner. Overnight at hotel. Day 19 Ho Chi Minh departs (B) Have breakfast at hotel. You have more free time to explore Ho Chi Minh City. Then the driver drops you off the airport for taking fight departure Ho Chi Minh to next destination or back home. Say goodbye Indochina Legend Travel Vietnam & see you again!
Today will be a full day of travel as you make your way down South again towards Hue and Hoi An. You’ll most likely ne...
Today will be a full day of travel as you make your way down South again towards Hue and Hoi An. You’ll most likely need to stop overnight somewhere, before reaching Hue the next day. You can stop in the coastside town of Ninh Binh, which is around 6 hours from Sa Pa.The journey will be full of rolling rice terrace views and cute local villages. The scenery across the whole of Northern Vietnam is beautifully lush and green. When you reach Ninh Binh, there are plent of things to do including catching the sunset over the Bai Dinh Pagoda and exploring the night market.
Tam Coc and Bai Dinh Temple – We began our guided tour to the Ninh Binh province and headed to Hao Lu ancient capital. Before Hanoi was the capital city, it was Hao Lu from where the Emperors ruled on the country. You will find temples dedicated to the dynasty. This part is also referred to as ‘Ha Long on land’ due to its similarities of karst mountains and expansive scenery. Next, Tam Coc which means 3 caves. In this tour you will be taken in a manual sampaan boat through the river and 3 caves (takes about 2+ hours). The whole experience is placid as you pass through karst mountains and the beauty surrounding it. You will be able to sight the Bai Dinh pagoda in your tour. It is also regarded as an attraction in this province housing one of the biggest pagodas requiring a vehicle to drive through. Tam Coc lets you choose to stay a night to enjoy the sunset in the picturesque backdrop.
Located about 2 hours drive from Hanoi, Ninh Binh offers some peace from the hustle and bustle of the cities, you can sail down the river in Tam Coc and visit the old capital while taking In the beautiful views that surround you in the county.8- Try some of the unusual street foodVietnam, like most of the Asian countries is known for its street food. While I stayed away from the dog and cat meat which is everywhere in the town we lived, we eat street food a lot and even tried some of more unusual dishes such as frogs and birds. You can also have some of the insects, however after trying them in Thailand, once was enough for me!9- Visit Uncle Ho in Hanoi
We continued our journey towards the South and this little town of Quy Nhon was a delightful stop along the way. Miles o...
We continued our journey towards the South and this little town of Quy Nhon was a delightful stop along the way. Miles of beachfront provided hours of walking along the surf. From high atop the bell tower of the cathedral in Quy Nhon we spotted a rooftop statue of Quan Lin. Like a treasure hunt we followed the narrow streets until we found these resident nuns, who welcomed us in for over an hour; serving us tea, explaining the different statues and how to light incense, then bow. We were welcomed once again into the Vietnamese culture.
Chau Doc, on the Cambodian border is a hodgepodge of markets, boats and shacks lining the Bassac River. We jumped at th...
Chau Doc, on the Cambodian border is a hodgepodge of markets, boats and shacks lining the Bassac River. We jumped at the chance to stay in a funky room right on the shore. From our windows above we watched the beehive of activity and listened to the variety of motors powering boats along the river. We even put up with the occasional speed boats, making so much noise that we had to pause our conversation.
On the other hand, Cat Ba Town is not commercially exploited yet. So, choose a place in the town that gives you views of...
On the other hand, Cat Ba Town is not commercially exploited yet. So, choose a place in the town that gives you views of the mountains around. Meanwhile, we got back to Hanoi in the same way. Hopped onto a ferry with the locals, experienced rain along the way in the bay, got to Hanoi Railway Station to catch an overnight train to Dong Hoi. This was a not-so-comfortable train journey. Yet, we managed to get to Dong Hoi, the waterfront city. We chose Dong Hoi because we registered for the Hang Va Cave expedition which in the Phong Nha National Park, 45 mins from Dong Hoi. That whole day was spent in walking around the city, exploring the Dong Hoi local market, talking to the locals, exploring cafes and randomly sitting at the waterfront. This has been our most favourite city during our Vietnam visit.
Ho Chi Minh-staden
We then booked shared airport transfer bus that made us a bit nervous as it stopped in a lot of Hotels while going to Da...
We then booked shared airport transfer bus that made us a bit nervous as it stopped in a lot of Hotels while going to Da Nang Airport. Luckily this airport isn't that big and it doesn't take very long to get to the plane. We then took the plane to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) . From the airport we shared a taxi to French Quarter with some people from the plane. Again we stayed at a very good capsule bed place named Eco Backpackers Hostel for 7$ you get 1 beer a day and a cool rooftop terrace. Ho Chi Minh City is quite modern but the traffic is crazy, there is scooters everywhere and except from parks and squares there isn't very nice walking streets so for a trip of only 15 days I recommend not staying more the a day. Except if you take the bus to Ben Tre 1,5h 70 000 dong to take a boat trip on the river.
tp. Hội An
4. Ancient World Heritage Site Hoi AnHoi An, Vietnam was an important trading port from the 15th to the 19th century and has had a major harbor since the 1st century. "Ancient" is really a more apt description than "old" for the town, but it still has a feeling of being incredibly cosmopolitan and bustling. The town reflects influences from Vietnam and from all of the different cultures that have been coming together there for trade for the last couple thousand of years.There is a decidedly unreal feeling you get wandering around the streets of the Ancient city. A feeling I found to be more dream-like than Disneyland, and the people who live there seem to take pride in how beautiful and well-preserved the town is. The yellow houses and shops were really giving an artistic perspective to the town. The streets near the river were full of creative minded backpackers and travelers from around the world. Everyone there looked peaceful and happy, gazing the exquisite scenic beauty of Hoi An.A photo posted by Nitin Bothra (@indian.excursionist) onA photo posted by Nitin Bothra (@indian.excursionist) onA photo posted by Nitin Bothra (@indian.excursionist) onA photo posted by Nitin Bothra (@indian.excursionist) on5. People of VietnamAccording to me, if you want to judge a place, you have to consider two things, food and people. Some countries have really reserved people and they don't love to interact or even smile in return.But Vietnam was completely different. People were happy and had a curious mind towards tourist. Vietnamese are hard working and always give a cute smile, if you make an eye contact with them. The young Vietnam is completely influenced by the western culture and loves to party a lot, but on the other hand they never sacrifice their work for entertainment. They are, what you call the type of people who believed in, "Work while you work and Play while you play."I would recommend everyone to park their doubts about this small, yet beautiful country and just travel through every part of it. We didn't have enough time to explore Sapa, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Saigon, but I still regret about not extending the trip. But anyways, I will come again Vietnam, till thenThis blog was originally published on 'Indian Excursionist'
Read my next blog to know about how i get to Hoi an.#vietnam #solo #trip #Tet #saigon #mekongdelta
I had already booked my flight from Hanoi to DaNang. Hoi An is 30 minutes from Da Nang and is a village famous for lanterns, super-quick stitched suits and pubs. I was there for 4 more days.On the first day at Hoi An, I decided to hit the pub. The best thing about backpacking is, you meet fellow travelers every now and then. We left from our hostel to Tiger Tiger, the famous bar in Hoi An and to our luck they offered us 1 vodka bottle & a sheesah per 4 people. And yes, we were 10+ by the time reached there. It was hell of a night.
This is one of my very favorite places in the world. Yes, it is filled with tourists, but I still loved it. With art galleries, lanterns, custom made clothing shops, beaches, beautiful nature, and back roads to get lost on, I said from the first hour in that I could happily live there. I'm still thinking about it! Just have to find a job...
Hoi an is a small European town, also located in the Center of Vietnam. It has the feel of an old French town. This was another highlight of my trip. I stayed at Dk's house but I would advise doing a home stay here. There is no direct transport to Hoi An. You have to go via Danang, which is a short bus/train/motor bike ride away from Hue. Danang to Hoi An is a half hour cab ride. The motorbike is highly recommended for anyone who is comfortable riding a bike. The hai van pass is one of the most scenic roads you will come across. I would not recommend taking the bus since it does not go via the scenic route. I took the train just because I do not know how to ride a motorbike. The train route is also very scenic but the only thing is that you don't have the option to go at your own pace. The train goes until Danang. From there you need to take a cab to Hoi An. A lot of people are looking for cabs to Hoi An, so try to find people to go with. Hoi An has a lot of pagodas and heritage houses. You need to get a pass for 120000 dong to see them. Just rent a bicycle and roam the streets. Apart from that it's got a vibrant night life, great food and awesome tailors. Yes, I said tailors. You can get anything stitched/customised for cheap prices (USD100 for a suit). Just select the design, fabric, lining, buttons and they will stitch it for you in a day. There are some great places to eat. Out of all, I really loved the Bazar Cafe. Try the chicken curry there.
Day 12 Hoian – Tra Que village (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. In the morning you will spend your time walking around HoiAn ancient town. Visit old houses of Tan Ky, Phuc Kien Hall, Ong pagoda, Sa Huynh Museum, Japanese Bridge and enjoy traditional music show at old house. Have lunch at restaurant. Pm: This afternoon you will cycle around the village and beautiful sights to visit the Tara Que vegetable village. Local farmers use traditional methods to grow without pesticides and fertilizer. Free to have your own dinner. Overnight at hotel. Day 13 Hoian – Da Nang – flight to Nha Trang (B) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. You have more free time to walk around Hoian ancient town. Hoian is a good place for shopping and tailoring clothes at reasonable prices. Free to have your own lunch Pm: This afternoon the driver drops you off the airport for your flight to Nha Trang. On arrival, guide and driver welcome you at the airport and transfer you to downtown, check in hotel. The rest of the time is your free time to relax at the nice sandy beach of Nha Trang. Free dinner & overnight at hotel.
There’s plenty to do in Hoi An, so I would recommend three nights here. Ms Vy’s cooking course (as featured on Gordon Ramsay’s “Gordon’s Great Escape”, May 2011) is fantastic. It lasts six hours, but the time flies by as it includes a tour of the local market, starting at 8.30am.Another really good outing is the Hoi An countryside bicycle tour, which shows you another side to the town, including the beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge where the Quiet American (starring Michael Caine) was filmed.
We explored the shops, villages, and ancient Chinese and Vietnamese Temples along the Thu Bon River. From a lively vegetable market to in-vogue French bakeries and restaurants, this town is a fun place to relax for a few days. The earliest evidence of human habitation in Hoi An dates back to over 2200 years ago. From the 2nd to 10th centuries, this was the center of the Kingdom of Champa. An interesting way to look at this ancient Champa civilization is to take the inexpensive tour to My Son, passing through the countryside and up into the mountainous jungle where the ruins are located. Catch the seductive Shiva/Kali dance near the first ruin and opt for the boat trip back to Hoi An, stopping to see woodcarvers and boat builders along the way.
If I ever want to describe the word 'charming' to someone, I'll do it with a picture of Hoi An in my head. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that has preserved much of its quaintness since the 15th to 19th century when it served as a port town that absorbed every cultural influence that came its way, the Hoi An Ancient Town is a surreal little world of pale distressed yellow walls tucked around the muddy Thu Bon river. You can spend several days just soaking in the atmosphere on a bicycle, spending evenings walking by the river and nights marvelling at the fairytale beauty of the riverfront that is lit up with a million lanterns every night. And if you find the time, head out to the surrounding countryside, where the backwaters crisscross with paddy fields and tiny huts. Nothing in Hoi An is less than a picture postcard.
Hoi An Ancient Town
After catching the sunrise in Hue, you can make a short trip down to Hoi An. The journey is just under three hours and y...
After catching the sunrise in Hue, you can make a short trip down to Hoi An. The journey is just under three hours and you can reach there before lunch. Hoi An is arguably the most authentic and picturesque towns in Vietnam and the entire Hoi An Old Town is a UNESCO heritage site.
A lot less crowded but equally stunning, Hoi An is Vietnam is one of the best destinations for backpackers to travel to in the world. It offers an incredible opportunity for backpackers to explore this scenic place whilst also being able to enjoy delicious food and cheap accommodation. You’ll be able to book a three-star room for less than $30 a night. Crowned the clothing capital of Southeast Asia, Hoi An offers awesome shopping opportunities as well. With the French influence still alive, you can hope to enjoy some of the most delicious French cuisines here at the most reasonable rates.2. Queenstown, New Zealand
Taking another sleeper bus (this one at 5 am) from Phong Nha, we arrived at the UNESCO world heritage town of Hoi An. This was NYE and we had booked our stay at the Sunflower Hostel, famous for its parties. Quick nap later, we rented a motorbike and set off to the old town, and boy were we in for a treat! During the all-encompassing US-Vietnam war, Hoi An was left untouched via mutual cooperation and walking into it, one immediately sees why. Old French buildings with the most charming shops and cafes lining the riverfront filled with wooden boats. We had dinner and bought our passes which permitted us entry into any of 5 of its 80+ historical landmarks. Getting lost in the busy streets, we stumbled from one pretty ancient building to another till we settled into a cafe for the evening to have some dirt-cheap Bia Hoi by the riverfront while a singer played acoustic versions of popular songs. Dusk had another surprise in store as all the store-fronts and streets filled up with multi-colored lanterns. There were lanterns in the boats on the river and the whole place seemed prettier than any Indian town on Diwali. It was all we could do to not visibly keep gushing at the sheer aesthetic experience we were having. One more walk through the streets later, we found our motorbike and went back to our hostel for a evening of drinking and partying to ring in the new year.
Later I spent the second half of the day roaming around the Old town of Hoi An which was very scenic at the back drop of the rain clouds. Once a bustling trade hub of mainly Chinese settlement, the Old town of has now been turned into a commercial tourist center just like Malacca, in Malaysia. Most of the buildings have either been turned into a heritage site or shops and restaurants as all the local population have been moved to the new town outside. Almost all of the attractions in there are ticket-able including the Japanese bridge which makes one of the entrance into the Old town.
Feb 13: Day 4: Hoi AnIn the morning, he came out with me, got me a taxi and waved bye-bye. I reached the station in some 40,000 VND. I slept till 9 in the train. Even this route is scenic. I had booked a soft seat again. (Oh, I had pre-booked my train tickets from https://www.baolau.vn) I reached Da Nang and found a Xe Om guy. He offered me to take to Hoi An for 1,50,000 VND. I had read earlier that 8$ would be a fair rate. So this was a fair rate. Hoi An was quite far than I had expected. Took around 40 min on that bike to reach my homestay.I had booked Chau Plus Homestay. This is a bit far (1 - 1.5 km) from the ancient town, but no worries. Free bicycles! There are many many other homestays near by. All provide free bicycles. The place is real good.I roamed Hoi An for more than 4 hours in the evening. The lanterns were everywhere. Its super cool. Many things to try (eat) at night market. You will see a lot.. a lot of Japanese people here.. Probably because of the Japanese bridge and the associated temple.
The next day, we decide to take a tour to the UNESCO Heritage city " hoi an". It is Prominent in the city's old town and the historic district, recognized as an well-preserved place for Southeast Asian trading port dating especially between china, portugal, Japan, Dutch and India, from the 15th to the 19th century. It is covered by "Japanese Bridge," dating to the 16th-17t1h century. We stayed there for 3-4 hrs. Our guide was very nice to answer our all questions and help us in exploring the beautiful town. It's always awesome to in evening to enjoy the city of lights. The next day, we decided to visit Novotel club on 36th floor which offers breathtaking city view at night. There was a dragon bridge which oozes fire on late weekends. We enjoyed every bit of moment there and each day, tried to enjoy to our best. Next day, We had our early morning flight to our next destination, "Da lat".
Hoi An, being a UNESCO World Hertiage site, one has to purchase tickets at the gate which allows entry into three of the many sites which need tickets. The colourful lanterns lining the street added to the festive atmosphere for the town, which I can’t decide if it beautifies the place or makes it fake.Chinese, predominantly the Hokkiens (where my ancestors originated) from Guangdong province descended here in 1600s, bringing with them their religions, customs, and architecture. thus, I see familiar temples and buildings as we walked along the streets. Most of the houses have been turned into souvenirs shops, cafe, art galleries, restaurants and handicrafts showrooms. Those that are not in the above categories are designated heritage houses where you can visit with your ticket.I went into three owned by merchants, one of whom traded in Chinese medicines. The long interior reminded me of my grandma’s house at Cuppage Road (which has been turned into a restaurant as well). The indoor courtyard allowed light into the otherwise dark terrace house. Narrow stairway leads upstairs to the what were bedrooms before but now a lantern workshop.We were told about the annual floods and how the heavy Chinese furniture had to be moved upstairs via a pulley system from outside the house. Marking of the floods are proudly displayed on the pillar, with the month and year clearly stated, with the most recent dated Oct 2013, merely a few days before we arrived. The town is situated next to a river which facilitates trading in the olden days, and these were the inconvenience living next to the flooding river.To really walk the complete town, one needs a few hours. A better way is to cycle as the whole town is closed to traffic. Most hotels in the vicinity provide free bicycles for guests. Unfortunately, my husband thought it too dangerous to cycle from our hotel due to the traffic outside the old town.One of the more interesting location for me is the market at the opposite end of the entrance. There, one could try local food for cheap instead of eating at the restaurants or cafes. Much like our hawker centres, one could choose to eat a wide variety of local food there. We chose to try a local noodle stalls. It was delicious. The stall owner had a menu with photos and we just pointed to her.Much like the wet markets in Singapore, this market also houses a dry area selling dried food, coffee powders and yes, souvenirs for tourists. Further in is the meat section which has been cleaned as business hour was long over.s we walked along, we see vendors selling snacks along the streets and river banks. I was excited to see a soya custard (served hot) seller on wheels and even though it’s not my favourite snack on a hot day, I wanted to eat it for nostalgia sake. This was probably how it was sold in the old days in Singapore as well. (Nowadays in Singapore, it’s retailed in pre-packed plastic bowls in chillers.) It tasted the same as in Singapore.As dusk approached, the lanterns were turned on and the whole town transformed into a fairy land.
Dalat central market is one other place not to be missed, with shops selling from clothes and souvenirs to mouth watering tasty meat grills and local foods. Hoi An is a city of UNESCO recognized world heritage center with French influence in architecture and food providing apple opportunities to get yourself lost in its exotic and rich architecture, central market, museum and mountains. Don't fail to taste the gourmet tasty local foods like pho, banh khot, bun bo, etc. at any cost to experience a glimpse of the eataholic Vietnamese. Beware! bicycles in Vietnam are specially made for the slim local people and if an overweight and stout foreigner hires one, it will end up ripping off and you need to fix it.
The People – Contrary to what I’d heard about the Vietnamese not being as friendly as some of their neighbouring countries….I actually found them to be some of the kindest people I met on my travels, who helped me out in many a sticky situation (well maybe with the exception of the grumpy travel agent we met in Hoi An….but I got the feeling he was having a bad day….don’t we all?!?) Generally always smiling and laughing, the Vietnamese really made an impression on me. So if you end up visiting – take every opportunity you can to get to know them.This post was originally published on where is noodles?
Hoi An – Of all the places I visited in Vietnam, this quaint little ancient town sitting peacefully on the coast, had to be one of my favourites. Once a major trading port, where Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Indian merchants once settled, the town boasts brightly coloured architecture and temples, influenced by a mix of these different cultures. Now converted into an array of stylish restaurants, wine bars and tailor shops all adorned with pretty hanging lanterns, centred around a charming little riverside, Hoi An has a unique charm and it’s easy to see why it has been labelled the “Venice of Vietnam.”The Diverse Scenery – Vietnam has some truly dramatic landscapes and I was continuously surprised by how different parts of the country looked. From beautifully secluded beaches to lush green rice paddy fields, magnificent limestone caves and winding waterways, Vietnam is blessed with an abundance of beautiful scenery that does not grow tiresome on the eyes. As for the cities and towns, they all have their own unique character, boasting a mix of imperial and modern architecture among narrow ancient streets. No matter where you go in Vietnam, its diverse scenery is bound to impress.
Here we landed Da lat airport. The view is so serene and calm but suddenly, a cool air banged, gave the feeling of reach...
Here we landed Da lat airport. The view is so serene and calm but suddenly, a cool air banged, gave the feeling of reaching a hill station. Da lat is southern Vietnam's Central Highlands, popularly known as the "City of Eternal Spring" for its distinctive temperate climate. It was developed as a resort by the French in the early 1900s, and many reminders of its colonial heritage remain.The hotel has arranged the cab to pick us. The city was 45 min drive away. The way was so beautiful surrounded by pine woods and colourful gardens. The route was somewhat a hilly journey. After check-in, We bought a city map and got all set to explore the city and its attractions. The city is around a beautiful lake and golf course, and surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls. We first visited the flower park. The park was neat, maintained and relaxing. It had huge variety of different species of plants and roses. It was a nice walk across it. We spend almost an hr or two and headed towards a cafe for a nice sip of coffee. Da lat is famous for its coffee and i have passion for it. "A perfect combination". There was a cafe just opp to our hotel "Len's cafe" where we spent a nice evening.
Elephant waterfalls, located about 40 km outside the Dalat city center, is one of the famous spots which offers exemplary scenic beauty and village experience along its 2 hours motor ride and don't miss to sip a hot vietnamese coffee at Me Linh coffee garden overlooking the beautiful lake and forest. Sign up for a one day adventurous canyoning and jungle trekking tour to experience the thrill and adrenaline rush of testing your bravery.
If you are hesitant to spend your travel days with locals rather than with tourists, Nha Trang and Mui Ne are not your preferable destinations with exception of the breath taking view of sun rise over the sand dunes (must watch). Dalat is a popular tourist hill station with cool weather all year round compared to the hot and humid weather condition of Ho Chi Minh city. The best way to explore Dalat is to hire a motorcycle and visit the number of waterfalls around the city. In addition to the beautiful waterfalls, the scenic view along the route to these waterfalls are astounding and breath taking embarking your rendezvous with nature and countryside.
The next place you can visit is Da-lat which is an hours flight from Ho Chi Min. It’s a hill station that was used by French colonist as their vacation destination along with the then king of Vietnam. It’s a very beautiful city with a scenic view similar any standard hill station. The French architecture, embroidery exhibition shop, the flowers exhibition and the vacation palace of the last king are the some of the places that you can visit and enjoy in Da lat. Especially the XQ- hand embroidery is a place that is pretty good and if you are interested in art and stuff you will find it pretty amazing. The embroidery that they have done is every detailed and exceptional. One thing that you can not miss in Da-Lat is the tribal show with the tribal dances and drinks. It was one of the most lively and audience participative programs that I have seen in my life. A must attend.
Stayed at the Moon Resort in my own private bungalow, but it rained the entire time. Met up with a guy that I had met wa...
Stayed at the Moon Resort in my own private bungalow, but it rained the entire time. Met up with a guy that I had met waiting at the airport and we rode around in the rain on a motorbike. We found this amazing waterfall where all of the locals swim and hang out which I would recommend finding for sure. The night market is okay, seemed like a pretty relaxing atmosphere. We grabbed some beers and sat on a bench up on a rock near the lighthouse and hung out. Unfortunately it only stopped raining at night, so I would go off of someone else's opinion of this place. I'm sure it's lovely but we didn't really get to experience too much.
Ha Long Bay- Oh! the poster boy of Vietnam. That red boat you see floating in the backdrop of beautiful limestone mounta...
Ha Long Bay- Oh! the poster boy of Vietnam. That red boat you see floating in the backdrop of beautiful limestone mountains is “Ha Long bay” meaning the descending dragon bay. This place deserves at least 2 days to do justice to the stunning nature. I was short on time and took the day trip. Include the Cat Ba islands on your 2 day trip to wake up to a gorgeous island morning and enjoy some kayak on the waters. The day trip included our Junk boat ride, visit to Thieng duong caves, kayaking into caves and open waters. We also enjoyed a sumptuous lunch on the boat and spent time clicking the bay views. You can choose to stay at the Halong city as well.
The legend goes that the people of Vietnam were born from the union of the dragon and the fairy. The dragon rose up from the sea and onto the Earth to unite with the fairy of the mountains. Together they created one hundred sons. When the dragon returned to the sea, fifty sons followed to live thousands of feet deep in the oceans. Once Vietnam became threatened by Chinese invaders in the North, the Gods summoned these dragons to resurface. They released jewels and jade from their mouths creating islands across the bay, forming a great wall of protection. As the mother dragon made her way onto the Earth, she fell so heavily that deep valleys formed and filled with water when she plunged back into the sea. The peaks left behind became the region known as Ha Long or “where the dragon descends to the sea.” For thousands of years ancient civilizations lived in these jungle covered limestone islands surrounding the bay. It is in this labyrinth of channels that the Vietnamese stopped invasions from its coastal neighbors. Many years later it was through these same waters that hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees fled Communist rule en route to Saigon. Today communities live on and from the sea in floating villages. A UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new Wonders of the World it has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in all of Southeast Asia. Tourists cruise across the bay snapping photos, passively observing the surreal beauty and foreign way of life.
Day 1 8.00: Leave Hanoi – Transfer to Halong Bay by Private Car/Van pick up from Hotel. Your heavenly journey across Halong Bay starts around noon on Tuan Chau Island at the doorstep of Vietnam’s most fascinating wonder. As the vessel sets sails, you will be greeted by Paradise Crew and Cruise Manager who will aim throughout your stay at providing you with the highest standards of service for a pure pleasure and utmost comfort onboard our luxury facilities in the stunning surroundings. Discover some of the treasures disseminated across the Bay of the Descending Dragon during the afternoon: fascinating caves, pristine beaches, picturesque floating villages, fantastic rock formations rising up out of emerald water. While on-board, you can take advantage of our Spa, Beauty & Massage services; surrounded by a stunning setting in motion, you will attend our chef’s cooking demonstration and try your skills in the art of traditional Vietnamese cooking. Defined to be one of the highlights of your Paradise stay, a highly refined, innovative and varied cuisine will be presented for Lunch and Dinner in the elegant dining-room, accompanied by a wide selection of wines and beverages from around the world. Important notes: Includes unlimited house wine, beer, soft drinks, mineral water, tea, coffee, fruits… A la carte menu: unlimited order! (Lunch, Dinner) during stay on board!!
Day 3 Hanoi – Halong Bay. O/n on board (BLD) At 8 am the driver picks you up at the hotel and transfers from Ha Noi to Halong city on the car about 3.5 hours to Ha Long City and have views simple, country side, rice paddy life. At 12.00, the junk crews welcome guests on board at Hon Gai Wharf. Enjoy welcome drinks and check in Deluxe cabin on Junk. Pm: Lunch with fresh local seafood while cruising into Halong bay. Then, start cruise program with a fantastic cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay and a traditional Vietnamese lunch. We visit Poem Mountain, the center market, Teapot islet, Goat’s head islet, Indochina film studio up to your imagination. You will visit Thien Canh Son Cave is a great time for exploring the hidden lagoons in Bai Tu Long Bay. Next, enjoy swimming in the crystal water of Bai Tu Long Bay. Have dinner and overnight on board nearby Vong Vieng Fishing village Day 4 Halong – Hanoi (BL) Am: Wake up early in the morning for a great sunrise and a breath of fresh ocean air. This morning you do a leisurely cruise through thousands of seemingly never ending islands. This is a chance to capture some amazing photographs, you stop to visit a floating fishing village and listen to some legendary stories of the fishermen’s daily life. Then take swimming somewhere in the middle of the bay to refresh. Then the junk cruises back to the Halong city pier & ashore the pier. Pm: The driver welcomes you at the pier and hit the road back to Hanoi. On the way back Ha Noi you will have chance to see beautiful landscapes. You arrive in Ha Noi at 16.30 pm. Free to have your own dinner. In the evening you are free to enjoy and discover Ha Noi city to get more experience of people here. Overnight at hotel.
Third Day Early birds can attend a Tai Chi demonstration on the sun deck at the break of dawn. Start the day enjoying some Paradise delights with a colorful buffet breakfast. Continue exploring Halong Bay sailing across its 2000 islets and visiting some of its major highlights. Your Paradise Cruise will come to an end on Tuan Chau Island between 10.30am and 11.00am.
First Day Your heavenly journey across Halong Bay starts around noon on Tuan Chau Island at the doorstep of Vietnam's most fascinating wonder. As the vessel sets sail, you will be greeted by Paradise Crew and Cruise Manager who will aim at providing you with the highest standards of service throughout your stay. Discover some of the treasures disseminated across the Bay of the Descending Dragon during the afternoon: fascinating caves, pristine beaches, picturesque floating villages, fantastic rock formations rising up out of emerald water. While on-board, you can take advantage of our Spa, Beauty & Massage services; surrounded by a stunning setting, you will attend our chef's cooking demonstration and try your skills in the art of traditional Vietnamese cooking. Defined to be one of the highlights of your Paradise stay, a highly refined, innovative and varied cuisine will be presented for Lunch and Dinner in the elegant dining-room, accompanied by a wide selection of wines and beverages from around the world (extra charge applied).