Vietnam: In 26 days.

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Phong Nha- Ke Bang

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Sapa rice terraces

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Hoi An Ancient Town

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Road to Hue

A beautiful country filled with amazing landscapes, history and delicious food. I never anticipated being blown away by the beauty of Vietnam… but it happened. The sights to behold are truly phenomenal and there is so much to see.

How to travel Vietnam:

Most people either start in the north and travel south or vice versa and its a great way to see the country.

If you have time to travel the length and breadth of this country at leisure then you can either buy a motorbike for $190-$300 and just drive yourself (and then sell it after). 

Another alternative is to get buses up and down the country which are great for the budget. You can either buy tickets as you go along or buy an open bus ticket which you just email in dates and destinations of travel in advance. I personally just booked bus tickets as I went along as I preferred having the freedom. I also ended up getting 9 buses in Vietnam.

You can book bus tickets through your hostel/hotel for a higher price or find a cheaper alternative at a booking agents. Strangely booking a bus at the bus station is far more expensive in Vietnam,

If you’re strapped for time then flights are your best option as they’re frequent and cheap.

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Phong Nha- Botanical Gardens

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Cat Ba Island

Where to go: 

 

 

Ho Chi Minh City (and Mekong Delta tour)

A great starting city to check out the War Remnants Museum and learn about the history of the Vietnam war. The museum has many aircrafts and tanks on display outside but the real highlight for me was to see the truly epic war photography that is on show inside the museum; from photographers such as Malcolm Brown, Larry Burrows, Nick Ut and Robert Cappa just to name a few.

The photography on display depicts a horrific truth about the atrocities that happened.

 

Other points of interest:

Cu Chi tunnels

Saigon opera house

Mekong Delta tour

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Da Lat- Crazy House

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Xuan Huong Lake- Da Lat

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Da Lat- Crazy House

Da Lat

A pretty place that could easily be confused with a european town, with french inspired architecture and structural layouts. The city boasts of a lake and a crazy house that is worth a look if you have the time.

Da Lat is also surrounded by wonderful landscapes that are worth exploring if you manage to get out of the city.

 

Other points of interest:

Elephant Falls

Da Lat Market

Countryside Tour

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Hoi An

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Hoi An- Ancient Town

Hoi An (and My Son temple is an hour away)

A french colonial inspired town filled with colourful lanterns, beautiful faded yellow buildings and streets filled with tailors.

Hoi An is the place to go to get things made and boy are they fantastic! How often do you get the chance to design clothes, choose the fabric and have it made to fit you perfectly?

 

Other points of interest:

Walk around ancient town

An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach

Central Market

Cam Nam Island

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Road to Hai Van Pass

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Road to Hai Van Pass

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Road to Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass

An epic ride through the mountains. Hire a scooter, motorbike or an easy rider to see the best of the pass. You will pass by many beaches, mountains and towns which are all worth a look.

 

Points of interest en route:

Marble mountains

Lang Co Beach

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Hue

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Hue- Forbidden City

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Hue

Hue

A cute little spot with its very own citadel and some tombs.

 

Other points of interest:

Cycling around

Abandoned waterpark

 

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Phong Nha- Ke Bang

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Phong Nha- Ke Bang

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Phong Nha- Ke Bang

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Phong Nha cave

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Phong Nha

Phong Nha- Ke Bang

A magnificent mountainous landscape filled with greenery and plant life. This is also the home to the many famous caves that people visit and also the largest cave in the world.

 

Other things to do:

Botanical Gardens

Dark Cave

Paradise Cave

Phong Nha Cave

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Ninh Binh

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Biking

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Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

Another beautiful spot with a national park, smaller caves and boat trips. But the best thing to do is just to hire a motorbike or scooter and just ride around enjoying the views.

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Ha Long Bay

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Ha Long Bay

Ha Long city and Bay 

There isn’t much going on in Ha Long City and most people only stop there to visit the Bay. The highlight for many is to take a boat tour to Ha Long Bay to see the stunning limestone formations and Islands in the water. Just don’t look down into the sea as it is filled with trash. 

 

Other things to do:

Bai Dinh Pagoda

Mua Cave

Tam Coc

Boat tours

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Cat Ba Island

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Cat Ba Island

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Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Island

Once a hidden gem but is now pretty overrun with tourism. The national park is still worth a visit but the beaches are pretty packed and a little dirty.

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Sapa

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Sapa

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Sapa

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Sapa

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Sapa

Sapa

Sapa itself is under construction due to severe gentrification. But if you’re still looking for a beautiful place tucked away in the mountains and amongst the rice terraces head to Hau Thao which is 8km away. You will find beautiful villages, tribal people and lots of homestays.

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Hoàn Kiếm Lake- Hanoi

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Womens Museum- Hanoi

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Womens Museum- Hanoi

Hanoi

The place to eat and drink. Hanoi is a buzzing city and what it lacks in traditional culture, it makes up for with a variety of culinary finds from around the world. There are many museums and tours you can do in order to fill your time but the real highlight is the night market in the Old Quarter that takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday

POPULAR things to eat and drink: (there are many more but I can’t list them all here)

Banh Mi- A baguette sandwich filled with meat, veg and sauce

Pho- A delicious noodle soup

Goi Cuon- fresh spring rolls

Egg coffee or Coffee- they do it so well!

Sugarcane juice

Beer

Happy water (rice wine)

Food in general is quite delicious here but just be aware that they use fish sauce in pretty much everything.

General Experience:

I genuinely didn't expect to like Vietnam, mainly because it's in Southeast Asia and I already felt that this part of the world is too touristy, but I fell in love with it. The landscapes in this country are some of the best that I have seen and I truly enjoyed exploring each place.

Before arriving in Vietnam I had been warned that the people here are quite rude and unfriendly... but that hasn't been the case. The vietnamese have a way about them that is quite forward to us westerners; they don't hold back, they speak their mind and will tell you if they like or dislike something. It's actually quite refreshing once you get used to it (but I can also understand why people dislike their behaviour).

Would I visit again? Honestly, yes. There are many places that I have visited in the past that I wouldn't return to, but Vietnam is definitely a place that I will keep on the list, as it truly is wonderful.

K x


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