Ho Chi Minh City
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.
Often cited as one of the world's great food capitals, Hanoi is the birthplace of many quintessential Vietnamese dishes, such as pho and bun cha. There's a plethora of options in Hanoi for those who want to eat like a local. A street food lover's paradise, dishes in Hanoi often feature fish sauce, chilies, lemongrass, cilantro and other fresh herbs.Things you must try:Bun cha – Pork patties grilled over hot coal and served with tangy vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime and eaten with rice vermicelli.Pho – Fragrant rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs.Bun rieu cua – Tangy tomato soup prepared with round rice vermicelli and topped with deep-fried tofu and pounded crabmeat.Suggested stay:
Right now my "plan" (I say "plan" because I have no idea what I'm doing tomorrow haha, nothing is ever set in stone) is to live in Vietnam until the mid of April, then travel Laos for a month, then maybe head off Indonesia for a couple of months.Other than my blog, I also started a marketing agency as that's what I love doing! Being completely honest I’m already making more money than I would have had I graduated engineering and got the best job possible! But it’s never been about the money for me, it’s about the freedom. The freedom to live life on my own terms. I care little for material goods, that's why everything I own fits into a single 30 liter backpack now after I gave away my winter gear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
Hoi An Ancient 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.
tp. Hội An
Day 6 private car Hai Van Pass to Hoi An town (meal: B)After breakfast, about 9.00 am our car and driver will come to pick you up for moving to Hoi An Town. on the way we will top on HAI VAN PASS - the most beautifull pass in center of Vietnam.The distance from Hue to Hoi An is 145km, it takes you about 3 hours by Hoi An private car. On the road from Hue to Hoi An, there are many famous heritage places in Vietnam that Foreigner are interested in, such as: Lang Co beach, Hai Van Pass, My Khe beach, Marble mountainDay 7 Hoi An - My Son day tour (Meal: B,L)7:30 – 8:00: The bus and tour guide pick you up at your hotel 8:30 : Leaving Hoi An for My Son HolyLand.9:30: Arriving in My Son - the Holyland surrounded by the marvelous mountains, 48km west of Hoi An. My Son was chosen as a religious center, built in the late 4th century under the Cham’s King Bhadravaman. It is a huge religious complex with over 70 towers and temples of different architectures. Wander through the elaborate carvings and sculptures of the Cham people, tourists are welcomed at the Old Tower of the Cham.Spend 2 hours to enjoy and discover the beauty of Ancient buildings at of the Champa Kingdom with our tour guide.12.00: Leaving My Son for boat station and taking a boat trip on Thu Bon river. You could visit the living of the local people and feeling the fresh air. You will have soft lunch on the boat and see the beautiful views along the river13:30: The boat trip will finish at Bach Dang Boat station. Our driver will pick you up to local restaurant for lunch. Back to your hotel after lunch & End your trip!.Day 8 Hoi An - Airport transfer - Flight to HCMC- Pick up- check in Hotel (Meal: B )After breakfast at your hotel and you are free till airport transfer. Today, you will have a flight to Ho Chi Minh city and stay overnight at the most touristic area of Ho Chi Minh City.Day 9 HCMC - Mekong delta - Cai Be Floating Market - Vinh Long tour (Meal: B, L )08:00 Picking up from hotel/stay.08:15 Starting drive to Cai Be. Short time to take photos at Tan An town over the flat rice fields.10:30 Start the motorized boat to visit the Cai Be Floating market, experience how people exchanging goods, fruit and many other commodities on their vessels. Visitors then roam into the small villages to visit the orchard, fruit plantation. Keep cruising to Vinh Long through small canals to enjoy the charm of the Upper Mekong Delta. Visit some handmade family business products such as the coconut candy mill, the crispy rice popcorn.Arrive in Binh Hoa Phuoc village the green pearl of Vinh Long town where you can indulge yourself into the nature.Have lunch with fresh river food served in the heart of the garden. Enjoy the southern Vietnamese traditional folk music. Take a nice walk through the bonsai garden, in Vinh Long. Head home to Ho Chi Minh City.18:30 Arrive in your hotel. Day 10 HCMC - Airport transfer - end the trip (Meal: B )This day you are free to visit Ho Chi Minh City and shopping for souvernirs until transfer to Tan Son Nhat airport for your flight back home. Trip ends.
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 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.
Vietnam was next and I fell in loved the moment I stepped foot off the plane in October! By the time I reached Vietnam my blog was making enough money that I could stop building websites and could spend more time and efforts in growing my blog. I explored South Vietnam for 2 months before heading off to Cambodia as my Visa was expiring.
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.
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.