Vietnam - your 2 week travel guide for 2019
One of my good friends and I decided to book a last minute trip to Vietnam in October of 2018. I was lucky enough to chose where we were going after doing plenty of research. I chose Vietnam, a bustling yet developing Asian country that still holds its traditional customs, and with good weather most of the year. The Island is long so it experiences different weather across the country at different times. (Bring your rain coat & swimmers)!
The best time to travel Vietnam is between February to April during Spring. Particularly if you are wanting to see beautiful Phu Quoc.
The Vietnamese people are very genuine, humble people, particularly the locals in smaller towns; they are very happy, family oriented people who go about their own business. You will not be bothered by street beggars in Vietnam. Of course like any country, you need to be wise especially when it comes to catching taxi’s or negotiating $$$ (Vietnamese dong).
A few important things you’ll need to prepare yourself for;
Vietnam visa; get this before you fly out of your country. I applied for mine through a local Australian Vietnamese travel agency who completed my application all online. I booked mine through Sunrise Travel in Footscray, Melbourne and they took a few personal details, a copy of my passport and lodged my application. Within 5 days I was able to go into their store to have the Vietnam visa applied to my passport, all for $100 AUD.
I am SO GLAD I did this because when we arrived in Hanoi there were massive lines of people waiting to pay for a visa on arrival. Avoid at all costs.
Vietnam Flights; I did so much research on domestic flights within Vietnam. There were so many bad reviews of flight delays and cancellations so we decided to stick with the most reputable carrier, Vietnam Airlines. It’s a little more expensive, but well worth not being delayed. A price i’m willing to pay. We actually booked all of our Vietnam Airlines flights through Expedia because they were much cheaper than booking directly through the website.
Vietnam Taxi’s; unfortunately there are a lot of people posing as legitimate taxi operators, when in fact they are out to scam you. When you arrive at any airport look out for the Taxi signs. They are digital screens near the taxi ranks and they show the legitimate taxi operators names. ALWAYS ask for the meter to be put on before getting in the taxi.
Where to go in Vietnam?
Hanoi/ Ha long Bay
We flew into Hanoi which is the capital of Vietnam, closer to the Chinese boarder. We stayed one night before heading off to Ha Long Bay for a two night cruise with Era Cruises. It is a beautiful appointed, newly operating luxury cruise with stunning decor. You need to put a luxury cruise on your “to do” list along Ha Long Bay, very scenic and relaxing indeed. What I loved about Era Cruises is that they sail further south passing all of the other tourism operators to a quieter area of Ha Long Bay. We paid USD 165 pp for a Twin Terrace Suite with Jacuzzi and private balcony, inclusive of; all food and beverage, luxury private shuttle to and from hotel, daily activities, morning Taichi and more. A one or two night stay is recommended for Ha Long Bay.
In Hanoi it is best to stay at a hotel closer to Hoàn Kiếm Lake, there is so much to do and see, lots of cheap eats and 25 cent beers, why wouldn’t you!? I didn’t :P I was perched up on the rooftop bars, a few to name; Apricot Hotel, Twilight Sky Bar, and Diamond Sky Bar. Don’t forget to stop and see Train Street - very cool.
You must also pay a visit to the iconic red-painted bridge at Hoàn Kiếm Lake and try The Hanoi Social Club vegan eats close by, so delicious. The Hanoi Social Club is hidden away close to some cute boutique shops. I recommend spending between two and four days in Hanoi.
Otherwise known as “Lantern town” Hoi An has to be the prettiest little town I ever did see. Unbelievable! There is so much to do and see here. We were looking at staying in Da Nang, however there were two ladies we met on Era cruises who wished they had stayed in Hoi An instead; they spent every day venturing back into the little town. We stayed at Royal Hoi An, Mgallery By Sofitel which was located 5 minutes walk from Hoi An, Ancient town where all the restaurants and shops are located. Breakfast was very expensive at the hotel and there is not much open early in the morning, except one cafe worth walking to; Rosie’s Cafe located in Ancient Town. It’s certainly Bali vibes serving tasty smashed avo and delicious smoothies, the service is so good too.
This deserves its own line; you need to try “White Rose Dumplings” at Morning Glory restaurant. Amazing.
If you want to do the traditional rice fields bike ride try Heaven and Earth Bycicle, Hoi An. It was so much fun with a good group of people. We were able to learn more about Vietnamese handicrafts, history, and custom. This was actually located on another local island and we were taken via boat, all included in the cost of approx $35 USD.
A few great places to consider visiting are; Sun World Ba Na Hills, Marble Mountain & My Son Temple. We ventured up to Sun World, but it was raining so badly that we couldn’t even see 10 meters in front of us. It’s definitely worth considering though. We stayed in Hoi An for four nights, five days. You could even stay a little longer and never be bored.
Our last leg was in Saigon. To be honest, it was overwhelming with traffic chaos. If you were to ask me if I would go again, it’s a strong no. I found it to be just another large city, only in Asia. There are some amazing restaurants and Cafe’s and the shopping is good also, however it’s way to busy. Instead I would certainly put Phu Quoc on the list, via Saigon which was our original plan, however the weather was not the best for Phu Quoc at the time. I wouldn’t recommend any longer than one night in Saigon and if you do stay make sure you check out Glow Sky Bar or Chill Sky Bar in Saigon.
A beautiful small tropical island located in the gulf of Thailand. Also very well known for its white sandy beaches and luxury resorts. This is still on my bucket list and hopefully I will get to see it soon and when I do I plan on staying for at least four nights at the Salinda Resort Phu Quoc.
Apart from seeing a million lanterns in Vietnam you’ll notice bird cages everywhere, they are so pretty. Keeping songbirds is very popular among the Vietnamese. Cages are hung near restaurants and shops to encourage birds to sing to one another. It is also believed that in Vietnam, “the sight of bird cages paints the traditional picture of a rich man relaxing with his birds. Birds are expensive and time-consuming and those that keep birds do so to show that they are able to lead the life of a relaxed, romantic, rich man.” Read more here.
So there you have it, my 2 week travel guide to Vietnam. I hope you enjoyed the read and are able to take some things away to help you plan your trip to Vietnam.
Be sure to ask any questions, or leave your thoughts below in the comment box.