The second stop on our Asia trip and Vietnam went straight up in the ranks as one of the best countries I’ve ever visited! We planned to start at the top of Vietnam in Hanoi and work our way down, visiting: Huê, Hôi An and Ho Chi Minh City.
Keeping in the ‘backpacker’ budget, we booked all of our hostels through Hostelworld.com, however, some of these easily rivalled decent hotels – only with a more welcoming and homier feel!
A highlight of Hanoi was our boat trip around the World UNESCO site of Halong Bay. Spending the day, in the sun, sailing around the natural beauty of all of the little islands that make up the bay is so amazing. Some of the islands look so eerie and it’s great to see where James Bond and King Kong were filmed!
I think one of the most bizarre moments of the day was when we were having a nice relaxing sunbathe on one of the islands and a little Vietnamese girl seemed to take an interest in Poppy and I and she just started relentlessly covering us in sand – literally burying us alive. It was all fun and games until she literally would not stop. I swear I’m still removing sand from my hair to this day…
Also, I cannot rave about ‘Bun Bo Namh Bo’ restaurant. Full of locals, which makes me trust it all the more, and serves the tastiest bun bo namh bo I’ve ever eaten. This is a must when you’re in the city!
City number 2 was Huê and this definitely had a good buzz to it, especially the street that our accommodation, Why Not? Hostel was located on – great for a cocktail.
We booked a ‘Huê City Tour’ to see as much of Huê and its sights as we could. It’s a full day but, you get to visit: Tu Duc Tomb, Minh Mang Tomb, Khai Dinh Tomb, Citadel, and the Royal Palaces – my only criticism would be the amount of tombs you visit… however, a dragon-boat was unique transport for the day!
Now onto one of my favourite cities, Hôi An. This was by far the best hostel that we stayed in during the trip. The Lazy Bear Hostel is a boutique hostel ran by 2 sisters: the homecooked breakfast was delicious, our room was ace and even had a huge free-standing bath, and we were right in the centre of town – what more could we want?!
We just so happened to be staying in Hôi An for the lantern festival and wow, it was so beautiful! The Old Town was lit only by lanterns hanging from the buildings and the candle-lit lanterns that everyone was setting off down the river. It’s such a magical atmosphere and the Old Town was crowded with people. The food market is also a must for Vietnamese specialities – I just treat it like a lucky dip and pick something from loads of different stalls, ha.
I found the career that I was clearly destined for…
We also did my favourite holiday activity… a cooking class. We started the class by visiting the local food market to buy the ingredients and then we got to sail around in coconut-bowl boats whilst crabbing, I don’t think I stopped laughing the whole time. Well, until a crab nearly crawled on me and I about wet my pants… We then got to the cooking class and whipped up the following:
After hectic sightseeing, we were ready to just hire some bikes and ride down to An Bang Beach and waste the day away sunning and sea-ing.
Our last stop was Ho Chi Minh City and we knew it would be an interesting one when we saw an Iguana riding on the front of a motorcycle…
The War Remnants Museum is bursting with artefacts from the Vietnamese War and as you stand there and read the facts and figures about what the innocent people endured, it’s enough to make you want to cry.
Following the war theme, a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels is SO interesting! It’s mad to see the innovative boobytraps that the people thought of to attack their enemies – like some next level Home Alone ideas… The most impressive idea was the connecting tunnels that were built underground to live and hide in. If you’re not scared of enclosed spaces; then I’d definitely recommend taking a crawl through. However, if you are dubious, once you’re in, you’re in!
Final foodie comment, Benthanh Street Food Market is food heaven…
““I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Vietnam will always hold a place in my heart and I cannot wait to return!
Little Hanoi Hostel, Hanoi
Hostelworld.com – 9.2
Why Not?, Huê
Hostelworld – 8.9
Lazy Bear Hostel, Hôi An
Hostelworld – 9.4
Phan Anh Backpackers Hostel, Ho Chi Minh City
Hostelworld – 8.6