Ok, so it’s January and myself and my friends are already setting dates to meet up and discuss this summer’s plans for adventures! What have you planned for this summer??
I spent a month in Vietnam two years ago and it has been one of my favourite trips so far. My sister and her husband have travelled a lot of the world so I asked her where myself and my boyfriend should go, and how long we should go for. She told us to go to Vietnam for one whole month! I was weary at first, and thought that we should maybe try and fit Cambodia in or Laos even. But she gave me great advice and said that you can go to other countries again. (The perks of being a teacher). She advised me to give Vietnam the whole month and to see it properly. That’s really my mantra for traveling from now on. If you see one place properly, you come back with such a huge understanding of the culture and you really, really enjoy it! It also means that you aren’t hopping on flights every few days and organizing different visas!
Ok so here’s my recommended itinerary for Vietnam.
We flew with Etihad through Abu Dhabi. There was an option to fly directly to Ho Chi Minh from here but we chose to stop in Bangkok as I had never been and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!
Bangkok, Thailand – 2 nights
- We stayed on Khao San Road which is a great location for sight seeing and for fun! We stayed in the D&D Inn – great value, clean and tidy rooms and a rooftop pool with a fab view!!
- Things to do in Bangkok – walk to the local palace, eat street food, see a ping pong show (but be weary of touts) and have fun! Two nights was the perfect amount of time to spend here.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – 4 nights
- We travelled here next and stayed in a lovely guest house on Bui Vien Street, I can’t remember the exact name of it.
- There’s a lot to do in Ho Chi Minh – amazing markets to peruse, especially the Cho Ben Thanh Market (buy your watches and bags here as they are the best you’ll find in the country) and the War Remnants Museum is well worth a visit. You can organise a trip to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels or to the Mekong Delta from here. The tunnels are a must do but I’ve heard mixed reviews about the delta trip. I suppose it depends on how much time you have. The street food scene is what makes Ho Chi Minh so special, so pull up a stool on the side of the road, have a beer and order some food! A word of warning though, my stomach didn’t handle the street curries too well, my boyfriend was absolutely fine though! So just be aware.
- A water dragon puppet show is well worth a viewing.
- The View Rooftop Bar on Bui Vien Street is a really lovely place to have a cocktail and get a good view of the city. Click on the blue writing to see a link to the top 10 best rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh.
Muine – 5 nights
- We travelled by bus to this sleepy sea side town that’s renowned for it’s surfing! This was our sun holiday part of the trip so we treated ourselves to a stay in a fabulous resort called Muine Bay Resort and Spa. The pictures don’t do this place justice. It has gorgeous private villas with sea views and an amazing pool with a cocktail bar attached to it. If you’re looking to chill for a few days, this is the spot. This resort is a bit out of the town but you can get a taxi easily into the centre. We rented a moped and explored the area on that. Muine is known for good seafood, surfing and for sand boarding on the dunes! The sand boarding is good fun and you’ll see it advertised in many different places if you travel a bit of the coast. We stayed here for 5 nights as I had gotten a bout of food poisoning in Ho Chi Minh. 3 nights is probably enough though if you want an action filled holiday!
- There’s a sign for a fairy stream in Muine. We started to follow it and thought that the water was a little dirty and that maybe there wasn’t anything at the end of it. We later found out that if you followed the little stream it was absolutely beautiful! So when you see the sign for it, follow it.
Da Lat – 3 nights
- Travelled here by bus. Da Lat is really, really different as number one, it’s quite chilly here in the summer, and number two, you feel like you’re in some Alpine town! The trees and design of the buildings are completely different to the rest of Vietnam. So if you are planning on going here, bring a warm jacket!!!!
- There’s only one place I’d recommend staying here – Villa Pink House! The guest house, rooms and food are pretty basic but it’s the ‘secret tour’ that the guest house runs that is the real gem!! I won’t give anything away, but book a room here, don’t listen to other tour companies and book a place on Villa Pink House’s Secret Tour. Even if you can’t stay here, you can still book the tour so do this as soon as arrive as spaces fill up fast. Also, put aside a day to do the tour.
- The Crazy House is worth a visit, plus a good karaoke bar and the night markets. If you’re a coffee drinker, Da Lat is a good place to get some coffee beans. Look out for the weasel coffee! Be weary of food here though, as in, maybe go for western food if you can. We got food poisoning in a restaurant here and I know of other people who did too and they ended up missing the Villa Pink House Tour. There’s also a beautiful lake in Da Lat and you can rent swan boats to row around it in. Lots of fun things to do!
Nha Trang – 1 night
- Na Thrang doesn’t always get the best of reviews. One night here suited us just fine. We arranged with our previous guest house, Villa Pink House, to cycle to Nha Trang and I’d really recommend this! I have a good level of fitness, but I’m no elite cyclist. The great thing about this is that a lot of the journey is downhill! With our tour company, we travelled outside of Nha Trang, left our bags in a jeep that drove ahead of us at all times and then got given our bikes. We had a guide who cycled with us too. We could stop whenever we wanted to, and you are free to sit in the jeep at any time too if you don’t feel like cycling anymore. We stopped outside of Nha Trang and then our tour guide dropped us to our hotel. It was fantastic, so many photo opportunities and a great experience.
- We stayed in La Paloma Hotel, a beautiful, small hotel located just outside of Nha Trang. I would highly recommend it. The food was fab and the staff were so helpful! The location meant we needed to get a taxi to the centre, but they are so abundant and cheap so it wasn’t a problem.
- You can visit a number of mud baths here. Your hotel/guesthouse/hostel will recommend one for you. They often have discounts for specific mud baths so go with that and read a review or two online. It’s good fun to do.
- We met some friends who were going snorkeling here, once more, look online or where you are staying for more information.
- There are lots of nice beach bars for food and drinks here. We ate in The Sailing Club Bar twice as it was so nice.
- Our hotel arranged our night bus to Hoi An for us. Night buses can be a stuffy but they’re an interesting way to travel and worth the experience!!
Hoi An – 4 nights
- Give yourself a good amount of time here as it is such a charming place. Once again, we decided that this would be a relaxing part of our trip so we chose to treat ourselves with our accommodation – Hoian Marina Resort & Spa. When I first arrived, I thought it was a little shabby. But the longer we were there, the more I was proved wrong!! We once more splashed out on a private villa (it’s so cheap!!!) and the rooms were incredible!! We had our own private hot tub looking over the river. There is a beach resort side to Hoi An but we stayed near the river side as it’s only a short walk to the town centre from here.
- Get yourself a cafe sua -da: a delicious, ridiculously bad for you Vietnamese iced coffee made with ice, coffee and condensed milk!! It’s sooo refreshing when it’s so hot!
- There are no cars allowed in the centre of Hoi An so it’s incredibly peaceful. You can walk or cycle about.
- I’d advise to do a cooking course here. We did one and it was a lot of fun! You are introduced to all sorts of local delicacies and get to make and eat delicious food.
- We did a Farmer to Fisherman’s Tour in Hoi An. I’d really recommend this one as you start the day with a bike ride and finish up having lunch on a boat out at sea!
- Hoi An is famous for it’s silver and for it’s tailors and shoe makers. If you’d like a dress that you’ve seen somewhere made, then bring a picture of it. Shop around though, the tailor’s are getting so popular
so find one that is the most reasonable.
- There are lots of restaurants to eat in here, have a wander through the streets and find one you fancy, you can’t go wrong!
- The night markets are famous here as well as the placing of lanterns in the river at night. It’s very pretty to see.
- Make sure you see both sides of the town though,
we almost didn’t see the
old, old part of the town until our last day! So get yourself a map and properly explore!!
Hanoi – 1 night; Mai Chau – 2 nights; Hanoi – 2 nights
- Night train from outside Hoi An to Hanoi.
- There’s only one place to stay here – Hanoi Serene Hotel. I read a review about this small hotel before I booked it and it said 3 star hotel with a 5 star service! And that is absolutely true! The staff are so lovely! And the breakfast in the morning fills you for the day. You can order as much as you want and it is delicious!
- We initially booked this for one night as we wanted to go to Mai Chau. The hotel very kindly minded our bags for us for the 2 nights that we were in Mai Chau and then booked us in for our last 2 nights. Best hotel service I’ve ever been in. Can’t recommend it enough.
- As this was our final destination, we did a good bit of walking around at our ease, eating delicious food and relaxing here. The night life is good with lots of good food and beers on the streets. There’s a lake in the centre of the city and you’ll see lots of Vietnamese people, especially old, exercising here in the evening.
- A visit to a museum or two is of use here too. Pick one that tickles your fancy. The market’s aren’t great here in terms of bags, watches etc, that’s why I’d advise buying your bags in Ho Chi Minh City.
- Hanoi is also known for it’s duck egg coffee. It’s worth a try!
Mai Chau – 2 nights
- We came here instead of going to Sapa as we didn’t have our malaria tablets. Mai Chau is malaria free and has been described to me as a ‘less touristy’ Sapa.
- We chose to do a 2 night tour here (book this through Hanoi’s Backpacker’s Hostel when you arrive in Hanoi).
- We did a home stay and it was great. It involved a motorbike tour of the countryside, a bike ride through the paddy fields, a visit to local chop stick museums, a dinner with a local family, bed, breakfast and dinner in your own home stay and a boat trip and swim! It was really good, we met lots of lovely people and I’d recommend it.
- Other things to do in Vietnam are to visit Sapa (have your malaria tablets) and to see Halong Bay. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, I hope that this helps!