So Vietnam.. I was quite excited and enthusiastic about travelling up through Vietnam, with it’s picture postcard beaches, insanely busy, cosmopolitan cities and deep and varied history, it seemed like a country that would really appeal to my sensibilities. And as it’s the most Eastern leg of our trip I thought I would get to indulge in my Eastern passions and embrace the Vietnamese culture, philosophies, religion and of course the food.
Unfortunately though these past three weeks have left a lot to be desired. We have been plagued by numerous con men, been subjected to intense flooding, been left stranded on the side of a dusty, barren road, been served copious amounts of meat despite ordering veggie dishes and on a personal note, I have been suffering from a Delhi belly since day one. And I say all of that with such a heavy heart. I wanted to fall in love with Vietnam like I did with Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia (oh Cambodia…) but I’m afraid Vietnam will have to go on my ‘Tried and Failed’ list, along with New Zealand.
Not everything has been awful though, I have managed to have some totally awesome days and devour some totally delicious food. And for anyone who is planning a trip to Vietnam I thought I would compile a list of things that should definitely not be missed in each city I have visited 🙂
Ho Chi Minh City
Visit the Ngoc Tho Vegetarian Restaurant in the backpacker district. We ate here on our first night in Vietnam and again on our second, third, fourth… It’s a great veggie restaurant that serves a variety of cuisines for great, low prices. The staff are friendly and attentive and there are a few resident dogs that are so incredibly sweet you might find yourself falling in love! You can grab a noodle dish for around 60,000VND, the soups are a little less, the western food is about 85-100,000VND and their selection of mock meats is yummy and authentic (apparently!)
Mui Ne is a beautiful beach resort about 4 hours east of Ho Chi Minh City. We decided to travel there via bus through the Sinh Tourist Travel Company. Word of advice, if you too plan on getting the bus, DO NOT opt for a sleeping bus!!! They are horrible, uncomfortable, undignified things and honestly should be avoided at all costs!
Something you should not miss while you’re in Mui Ne is sunset at the beach. This is one of my fondest memories of the past few weeks and it truly is glorious. The beach is stunning and lined by palm trees, the sand white, the sea… kinda brown, the horizon is dotted with kite surfers as this is a very popular water sport resort, and the setting sun glows orange. Grab a drink, grab your lover and embrace the beauty 🙂
Dalat has been my favourite place so far whilst in Vietnam, and actually, we ended up there by chance. I was reading about cooler climes as Kerry and I were both feeling the heat and thought a little respite might do us good. We made the right decision. Dalat is awesome, beautiful, a little chilly and totally worth the scary, edge of your seat journey up the side of a mountain. There are a couple of things I would recommend you do in Dalat, we were only there for a day so we couldn’t experience everything I would have liked, but we certainly made the most of it.
Spend an hour walking around Crazy House. It’s a maze of crazy architecture, weird designs and tiny staircases. It was a lot of fun and only cost 40,000VND
Hire a pedalow on the Xuan Huong Lake. So. Much. Fun. And only 60,000VND for an hour. Do it!
Get the cable car to the Thien Vien Truc Lam working monastery. I cannot express how amazing this is. The cable car depot itself is walking distance from the city, (about 20 minutes) or you can get a cab for about 50,000VND. You get the option of a single or return journey, the difference is 20,000VND so I would definitely suggest you get a return for 70,000. For that you spend a total of about 30 minutes gliding through the trees, marveling at the amazing views, and having the best experience of your life… (that might just be me!)
The monastery is beautiful too, has free entry (woo hoo) and is peaceful and tranquil and there are plenty of fantastic photo ops 🙂
Go to the vegan ‘chay’ banh mi stall. This is must for anyone who loves sandwiches! A delicious, jam packed Vietnamese baguette filled with a variety of mock meat, cucumber, carrot, chutney, pickles, soya sauce and other yummies! And all for 10,000VND you honestly cannot go wrong. Quick tip: get 2 🙂
Hmmmm, suggestions for Hoi An…. if anyone has any please feel free to submit them 🙂 I wanted to have an amazing time here but what with being constantly ripped off and the flooding of the Old Town, it was quite difficult. I did watch the Tooth Fairy though, oh and Empire Strikes Back, so it wasn’t all bad 😉
We have only been in Hanoi for 4 days and so far it’s been great. Incredibly busy, incredibly loud (I now know where the name Ha-Noise comes from) and quite beautiful. We haven’t done that much as money has been a little tight (flights to Barcelona and accommodation in Spain over Christmas has been a killer this week!) but what we have done has been very enjoyable.
Go and see the water puppet show at the Lotus Theatre. It’s 100,000VND, the show lasts 50 minutes and is very entertaining. There is English commentary, a bar and a gift shop. We had a great time!
Take a walk around the lake after dark. There are lots of lights, it’s really romantic, and the whole area has a cool, fun vibe. The pavements are wide which is very rare here, there are no mopeds whipping up and down and there are lots of bars and ice cream parlors dotted around to keep the hunger at bay 🙂
So these are my suggestions, if you have any you would like to add please comment below! We plan on visiting Halong Bay over the next few days, from what I hear this place will deserve a blog post all to itself! Keep your eyes peeled or check out Without_Cruelty on Instagram for up to the minute details ✌❤