Hello Everyone! So this is my first blog ever, might be a little amateur but I am sure it will be extremely helpful to people thinking of travelling to Vietnam. And I wish after reading my Blog many many people get inspired to travel there. Oh buoy! What an unexplored beauty it is! It stole a little piece of my heart forever 🙂
I got motivated to write a blog on Vietnam because it took me nearly 2 months of planning and gathering information from various sources to be sure about this place, and trust me I had jitters even while I was on board that it better be a nice place and not a disappointment. And trust me it was BEAUTIFUL! EVERYTHING was just BEAUTIFUL!!
The Country is so rich in its diverse cultures, geographic locations that every place had very different things to offer and each made me fall in love with it. Also, the service industry in Vietnam is beyond words. They are extremely helpful and courteous people, anything and everything you want is arranged by them. Even though the language was an issue, they would always be ready to help.
Coming to certain backdrops, where I possibly see people not exploring Vietnam (trust me you are missing out on something too mesmerizing) is language and food. Most of the people in Vietnam do not understand even basic English except in Hoi An, hence it became very difficult for us to communicate to the locals or ask any questions or be able to shop. However, with google maps and using translators it was manageable. Also, the Hotel staffs do understand English and are very helpful with booking Taxis or guiding you through the city.
Food – What do I say about it!! Vietnam is known for its food! It’s a food blogger’s paradise! But for a vegetarian like me it wasn’t the best of food, but a vegetarian version of all the Vietnamese food like Veg. Spring rolls, Pho, Bahn Mi are available. You can try them but can’t really depend on those for long. We did manage to find American restaurants for Veg. Pizzas and Burgers which were lip-smacking. And the Indian tummy by the end of the trip did crave for some Indian food and we found some amazing Indian restaurants across the country to make us food happy. Oh the Vietnamese coffee and the Egg coffee are definitely a must try.
I’ll give you a brief of my Itinerary and what all we covered, we had planned an 8 day trip starting from Hanoi to flying out of Ho Chi Minh City. So basically we travelled from North of Vietnam and went down to the South. People generally travel from South to North, but you can choose according to the weather conditions in both the parts of the Countries and plan accordingly. But I’d highly highly recommend on planning a minimum of 11-14 days trip to cover all the places we did. I have attached my Itinerary at the end of the Article.
Hanoi – Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and is a usually a crowded place with a lot of hustle and bustle in the city. The main attraction of Hanoi is the old quarter. The place is crowded with vegetable and fruit vendors wearing their traditional Vietnamese caps. It is filled with some amazing amazing Cafes, like you can’t get over the ancient look the old quarter gives you with so much colour and hustle and the noise. We had booked our hotel near the Hoan Kiem lake, close to the enchanting Old quarter yet a little away and peaceful. I’d recommend staying near the lake. The lake looks beautiful at night, where you can just walk around or cycle around with some people dancing on the streets or playing some music.
Huan kiem lake and the temple there
Prisoner’s museum- goes back to the French colonial rule over Vietnam and the American Prisoners during the 1975 war. It is very disturbing to go back in the history, but it’s a must see.
Temple of literature – it is the first university of Vietnam
Tran quac pagoda – It is a religious place so make sure to wear something that covers your knees and shoulders or you can even take a scarf along.
Train street in Hanoi: A railway track passes through a narrow lane surrounded by houses, It actually passes through a colony of Houses.
All these tourist destinations are open only until 5:00 PM, so make sure you plan your day accordingly. For the evenings and nights, we loved loved the Bia’s corner, it is a narrow street with so many beer Cafes where you get Beer for so cheap. It is such a happening street of Hanoi with really really good food and some nice fancy Cafes too. There is music, people dancing around, vendors selling Vietnamese food, oh you must go there when in Hanoi, it just gets your energy to some next level.
Halong Bay/Bai Tu long Bay – Paradise is the word. I’d not be able to express it in words to describe its beauty and its serenity. The green waters and the beautiful limestones! Oh it’s actually out of a fairytale. I think it is an experience that you should take to feel Halong Bay. But it is a must visit in your Vietnam trip. A must visit. We had taken a 1 night 2 days Cruise with Athena Elegance Cruise. They are very luxurious and the services are also great with vegetarian options available on demand. Oh Boy! The view!! It’s just spectacular which takes your heart away. It cruises amidst 3000 limestone islands and the view outside your balcony or on the deck of the vessel is constantly picturesque when on board. They also have a day cruise, but I’d recommend on taking an overnight cruise to explore the caves and go kayaking.
The cruise also has a lot of planned activities throughout the trip with great breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were taken to the interiors of Halong Bay in the local boats and through even more beautiful milestone islands; you can even go Kayaking or just decide to swim around. Then they also had arranged the Vietnamese cooking classes – a very famous concept in Vietnam which was also a lot of fun, and you can just chill by the deck and enjoy some great cocktails in their happy hour, see the sunset and probably chill harder than you can party. The best part about the Cruise is that it is a small cruise, so you get a lot of your space to just chill and listen to music and dance on the deck. And then I can’t decide whether the sunset and chill night was more beautiful or the morning Tai chi session – the local Vietnam exercise session with a sunrise? And if that was not enough, we were taken for a cave exploration on one of the islands and a short visit to a nearby beach with the best possible view! It has to be one of my most favorite places in the world.
Just a little information, so there are two bays where the cruise takes you, Halong Bay which is more famous and a little more picturesque but highly crowded and then there is Bai tu long Bay which is less crowded and unexplored. You can decide which one you want to take because both would be equally breathtaking.
Hoi An –It goes without saying that it is the cutest city in the world. The most beautiful town in the world. Oh I am in love with it. You can literally rent a cycle from anywhere in the town and just explore around. It is located in the central part of Vietnam, so whichever you choose whether North of Vietnam or South of Vietnam, Hoi an comes in the center and you have to see this picturesque ancient town. The ancient town is a Unesco Word heritage site. You can spend an entire day in the ancient town going around the streets, click lot of pictures at like every step, find cute corners, walls, flower walls and visit some monuments and the famous bridges.
We also took an eco tour in Hoi An. They take you fishing in a boat and then take you through a bamboo boat ride in between the palms with these traditional Vietnamese caps. It was an enthralling tour through the palms. One thing about the people, though they don’t understand English but they are extremely humble people and make you feel at home and so special. They served us the most amazing Vietnamese Vegetarian food there.
Rent a cycle and go around exploring the ancient town and around 4-5 km. away to the An Bang Beach. Again, a very peaceful place away from the ancient town. But if you are in Hoi An you should stay near the ancient town. Hoi An is also known for its Tailor-made suits and leather shoes, so if you are there for longer you can get these customized in any design you want, but make sure to bargain a lot anywhere in Vietnam for that matter. Hoi An was one place where we found a lot of people who knew English and lot of Vegetarian food was available.
But, the real beauty of Hoi An lies in its evenings and nights. Oh Buoy what a beauty the ancient town is! It is completely lit up with lanterns of different colors. The entire town is only and only lit up with lanterns. There is music, there is food, take a boat ride in the lake and light up a few more floating lanterns to beautify the lake. Oh, Stupendous is the word. I can’t get over that place. This town has to be in your bucket list. Trust me you will fall in love with it. The ancient town has tons of Veggie options try Nu eatery, Fiaffo coffee for an amazing coffee and view of the town, and also a lot of bars and dancing on the streets too 🙂 As I said the cutest town in the world.
Also, we did not get the time to go to the My Sons Sanctuary located an hour from Hoi An. It has great history and very nice ruins like the ones you find in Cambodia. It would take around 4-5 hours, so if you are there in Hoi an for longer, you can visit My Sons Sanctuary.
Nha Trang – If you are looking for a relaxing wellness retreat, stunning beaches running for miles, learn about the local culture and customs and super fun night life and to sip some fancy cocktails on a rooftop, Nha Trang is the place.
Located on the south-central coast of Vietnam, Nha Trang is farmed for its gorgeous beaches, thriving coral reefs and plentiful water sports. Nha Trang Bay is also considered by some as amongst the best bays and beaches in the world. As I said it is more of a relaxing and a chill place, we had booked a very fancy and a lavish hotel facing the sea. The view from the 18th floor of clear blue water and the breeze could just put in a frame of trance. Honestly, we did not explore much of Nha Trang as our intention was to just relax by the beach and party. But all of it was worth it.
We did take a tour to the islands and resort which started at around 9 AM until 4:00 PM where they took us fishing and then Scuba diving and Snorkeling and then to a coral reef island. They also took us to a 4 star resort where you could enjoy the resort, swim, eat and chill by the beach. But honestly if you ask me it was highly crowded, like highly crowded, so if you have booked a good hotel by the beach, you can surely skip this. Instead you can plan a trip to the Vinpearl Resort and amusement park and the Ho lao waterfalls which are beautiful.
And for partying, there are plenty of beach resorts and rooftop bars in Nha Trang so you can choose the ones you like. We had gone to the Skylight Rooftop on the 47th floor of Havana Hotel, and it has the best views of Nha Trang, you can see the entire skyline from there on a clear day. We did go to Casinos there, not the best of Casinos but if in Vietnam and you want to visit a Casino then Nha Trang is the place. All in all it’s a perfectly chill place to relax and enjoy some beautiful properties, read a book by the beach and endue the blue waters.
Ho Chi Minh City: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is like the Mumbai of India, the only place where we found a lot of Indians and a cosmopolitan crowd located in the southern part of Vietnam. We did not get a chance to explore the city because we were there for only a few hours, but their night life is amazing too. We did eat some amazing Indian food at a restaurant called Benaras! Haha we wanted some substantial tasty Indian food by the end of the trip. One thing about HCMC is that we did not find it too safe. There are pick pockets especially in the District 1 of the City which came across as the most tourist places.
From what I researched but did not get a chance to explore were the various museums in HCMC which gives you an in depth information about the Vietnam wars and their sufferings. Also, a day tour to the Cu Chi tunnels is a must if you are in HCMC. Until next time I visit there, that’s my little information on Saigon as they fondly call it.
If you are a Vegetarian carry a lot of food along with you. You cannot depend on their food for longer days. But to our happiness, chain of Indian restaurants are spread across all the cities. To name a few, Tandoor, Ganesh, Benaras, and they are not that expensive but not very cheap either.
The Tuk Tuk rickshaws are very expensive and they charge you very heavily, so please make sure to bargain well. I’d prefer walking and cycling over tuk tuk.
We were told about the Taxi scams but did not really face any such problems as they all run on meter but it is better to have maps downloaded on your phone to be sure you are going the right way and they don’t take you through a longer route.
And very importantly do study the weather of Vietnam properly before you plan your trip as it is a Tropical country and I am sure you don’t want to miss out on exploring any of the places because of Monsoons.