I traveled to Vietnam in October 2015 along with my colleagues. After a lot of research, we managed to narrow our trip down to Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay (all of this in one week). The country truly surprised me with its landscapes, hospitality and simplicity. If you’re traveling to Vietnam or planning to soon, check out the list below for some trip planning inspiration.
Ho Chi Minh City – Having only 24 hours in HCMC, we wasted no time; quickly dropped our bags at our hostel (more on this later) and left to explore the city. We visited Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Office, had lunch at Pho Le, District 5 (which was amazing btw!) and managed to squeeze in a tour to Củ Chi Tunnels. I particularly loved that the city has so many gorgeous cafes. We were lucky to try out a couple before our flight to Da Nang. Highly recommend Lui’sine Cafe in District 1.
Where to stay: The Common Room projectis a luxury hostel located in District 5. It was my first hostel experience and would highly recommend this place for young travellers.
Da Nang – My Khe beach in Da Nang is named as the 8th most beautiful beach in the world. Lucky for us, it was just a 15 min walk from our hotel. Compared to all the other places we visited in Vietnam, this was definitely the town with the least amount of tourists. Da Nang is a great place to relax, drink some good local beer and devour fresh (+ inexpensive) seafood by the beach.
Things to do: We chose the My Son sunrise tour which leaves as early as 4:30 am. Unfortunately, we missed the sunrise even though our journey began fairly early. On the plus side, we escaped the tourists and managed to get this UNESCO world heritage site all to ourselves. These impressive Hindu themed ruins feature many beautiful stone sculptures, temples and towers. A must visit for those who appreciate history. After the My Son tour, we drove up to Hải Vân Pass. The view, as you can see, was simply breathtaking.
Hoi An – Hoi An is magical. This beautiful little town stole my heart and is undoubtedly my favourite place in Vietnam. We visited during the full moon festival (takes place every month end – make sure to check the dates before traveling) and let go of floating lanterns in the river. It gets particularly busy during this time but I would highly recommend experiencing this at least once. Old Town is charming with an abundance of bougainvilleas, quaint little cafes, souvenir shops, boutiques that sell tailor made suits and beautiful dresses.
Hanoi – We did not have enough time to explore Hanoi but we did try out as many local restaurants as possible. Safe to say I will be (still am) off pho for a while. lol!
Ha Long Bay – This was definitely the highlight of my trip. I had seen so many pictures of this natural wonder on Social Media and hoped to get here eventually. I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations! We chose Carina Cruise for a 2 day – 1 night stay and paid approximately 185$ USD per person. I can’t recommend Carina Cruise enough! Everything from our accommodation, food, itinerary and tour guide was perfect. They even taught us how to cook traditional Vietnamese spring rolls on board.
- Get familiar with the local currency.
- Always keep an eye on your belongings especially on crowded streets.
- Bargaining is expected at outdoor markets & with street vendors.
Learn a few phrases or words when traveling to make the most out of your visit.
- Hello – Xin chào
- Thank you – Cảm ơn
- Goodbye – Tạm Biệt
- Please – Lam Ơn
- Yes – Vàng
- No – Không
- I’m sorry – Xin Lỗi
If you have any recommendations/travel tips on Vietnam, do share them in the comment section below.