Vietnam - North to South

07/22/2013 - 08/09/2013
by Andy

Day 1 - 3 Hanoi

We arrived to Hanoi on a direct flight with Air Asia from Singapore. From airport we took bus to city center and from there we walked to our hotel (not easy to find), small local hotel just opposite of small local market, where they sold everything starting from desserts all the way to fried dogs.  In the first few days we enjoyed the city on foot, walked through the beautiful Hanoi Old Quarter, aroun the lake (where they have many restaurants serving pho), visited Hoa Lo Prison, which was great experience, admired the St. Joseph Cathedral and later took a longer walk on which we visited Lenin park and nearby Hanoi Citadel, which was almost deserted with nice views from the top, on the way back we stopped at the One pillar pagoda and nearby Ho Chi Minh mausoleum (just make sure they are open) and before returning to our hotel we spend an hour in the Temple of Literature, which was beautiful and quite, quite the opposite of the streets in the city.

Day 4 - 5 Ha Long bay

We got up early in the morning for our pre arranged trip to Halong bay on Paloma cruise, the picked us up at the hotel and drove to Halong (about 5 hours with stop at local craft shop). We boarded the boat and set off. The bay is really nice and we were lucky that the weather was pleasant. On the boat the served amazing food, we tried to make our own spring rolls were fishing, swimming, kayaking, we even visited a local village on water which was also nice and a pearl farm. The next morning we woke up to discover that the boat was already in motion and just after breakfast we visited nice cave and then had time to relax on a private balcony at the front of the boat (I really recommend booking the best room on the boat, the privace and views are worth it). After lunch we left the boat and were taken back to Hanoi. Since accommodation in Vietnam is cheap we just left all our bags in the hotel over night and went on this cruise with just a small backpack, which I reccommend.

Day 6 - Tam Coc Cruise

The day after we got back from the beautiful Halong Bay we went on another "cruise" this time on Tam Coc, which is nicknamed and Halong on river. As usually we got picked up from the hotel and drove to the area, where we first visited old temple, walk around the rice fields had small but great all you can eat lunch and then took a small boat on the river (just the two of us and lady who paddled). Since it rained a bit we used our raincoats. The whole experience was great and pleasant, the views were amazing, we went through several small caves and at the end there were boat sellers trying to sell us water or other things for our captain, as we expected it, we gave her our own unoppened water and try to sell them our stuff, just for fun, they did not expect it at all, but we all ended up laughing and joking about it.

Day 7 - 8 - Hoi An

It was time to get moving so we took a flight to Da Nang from where we took a local bus to Hoi An, fast and cheap way how to get to the city center. Hoi An is really different from Hanoi, it is much smaller coastal town, with beautiful atmosphere, nice buildings, good restaurants along the river, nice beach close from the town, just really nice place to spend few days. It is also a great base for some nice daytrips, for example to The Marble mountains or My Son Sanctuary, but this time we just enjoyed the city atmosphere and relaxed a while on the An Bang beach. Great way how to get around is to rent a scooter, it is cheap, fast and gets you anywhere you need to go. Just beware people tend to steal the rearview mirrors.

Day 9 - 13 Nha Trang and Dalat

After Hoi An we took another plane, this time to Nha Trang, with a layover in Saigon. In Nha Trang we wanted to relax a bit, enjoy the beach, enjoy the sea, which was really great after 7 weeks of travelling. The beach was nice, mostly clean, cowered with locals in the early morning, almost deserted later, very long, good for beach walks and with beautiful views of the island. We found a great place to play bowling so we played almost every evening and after couple of days we decided that we wanted to visit Da Lat, nearby town in the mountains. So we rented a scooter downloaded maps to our phone and early in the morning hit the road. It was a bit struggle to navigate and drive on the left side but once we got out of Nha Trang we just followed the road uphill. When we were in the middle we got a flat tire, with closest city around 20 km away. Fortunately some local guys stopped buy and helped us to repair the tyre with a glue, they were very nice and because of them we made it to Da lat. Nice town in the mountains with beautiful lake, nearby waterfalls and great atmosphere. The next day we drove back to Nha Trang and got another flat tire (this time we needed to change the tyre completely), but again very nice locals helped us, took us to the nearest garage and helped us comunicate. After riding for more than 350 km in two days and two flat tires we were really glad we did this trip and got a chance to meet locals.

Day 14 - 16 - Mui Ne

From Nha Trang we took a direct bus (with sleeper beds) to Mui Ne, at first we were a bit scared about the beds, but we managed to get the beds all the way in the back and found the trip to be very comfortable. In Mui Ne we visited the gorge and Sand dunes closer to the town, as usually on a rented scooter. The place was OK, but if we would compare it with Hoi An or other places in Vietnam, we agreed that next time we could skip this place. The beach was not very nice with strong winds and city the same.

Day 17 - 19 - Saigon and Cu Chi

From Mui Ne we took a train to Saigon, the journey was comfortable and relatively fast and cheap. Saigon was another big city, completely different from Hanoi, more modern, less historical, with really humid climate during summer and frequent strong showers. It was a great base for trip to Cu Chi, where we decided to go without the tour, which meant taking local bus with a connection, but we saved a lot of money and since we had time and did not mind travelling and meeting locals we really enjoyed it. The tunnels were interesting, in order to enter them we had to watch agitaging movie from the Vietnam war. Since we were here during the rainy season we did not go to the Mekong delta, it just rained to much to enjoy it safely. But all together we have to say that Vietnam was very nice and suprising country which we really enjoyed and would gladly come back.

Create your own travel story

Try out our travel diary to keep your memories alive! Easily associate photos and videos with places you visited and share them with your friends or public.