Omg! I'm finally done updating about my Vietnam trip! Jumping with joy now!
It took me quite awhile to do so. Hats off to all the bloggers out there! I never intend to be a blogger and i don't consider myself as one. There are so much more work to be done in order to be considered as a true blogger, i don't think i have the energy for it. I started this blog because i wanted to force myself to consolidate all my travel experiences in a more organise way, so that it can be useful for others. There were a couple of occasion previously when my friends came to me asking for advise about a country that i've been. I wasn't able to share much then because i forgotten most of it. I felt a little ashamed for not being able to help, so i decided to start recording everything down as i travel - pricing, timing, hostels etc. I truly hope my little effort will be useful for your planning and please feel free to ask me anything. :)
A lot of my friends asked me this question. I feel that every city is unique in its own way, but if i really have to choose, it will be:
They are basically cities that have plenty of things to do and see. Click on the individual city if you would like to find out more. :)
Most Memorable Experience:
That's all i have for now. My next trip will be JAPAN! Till then my friends :)
I had my fair share of fun at Mekong Delta. In my opinion, there isn't much to do, but is a good place to step away from the touristy area into a more local scene.
I took a bus from Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho for $6. It takes about 3 hours.
I stayed at Nguyen Shack, a lovely place away from the town that has excellent service. $12 per night. I spent most of my time chilling at the hostel. I had a private room with balcony because it was low season so they upgraded me from the dorm. Woo Hoo! It felt so good to finally have my own private space. The food there is awesome too but it's quite expensive. I made lots of friends there at Nguyen Shack and we went to check out an English class organised by the Nguyen Shack's tour guide. It was a fun-filled night mingling with the locals.
I went on a boat tour the next morning to see the mekong river. It cost me $18. Honestly, i dont find it impressive at all. But you should still visit it if you are in Can Tho, because there aren't much else to do. haha. Some of my friends went on a bicycle tour, i didn't because i wanted to save money, as usual. But i think they had a great time cycling around. You can also rent a bicycle for free to go around on your own, but i was too lazy and the hostel is too comfortable for me to leave. haha
Ben Tre wasn't in my plan at all. I wanted to head back to Saigon after Can Tho but i met a group of awesome people who were going to Ben Tre and i decided to join them.
We took a bus from Can Tho to Ben Tre for $4, it took us about 2 hours.
We walked around for quite some time looking for hostel and we found a very decent and cheap place called Khach San Phuong Hoang which cost only $3 per night. Cheapest hostel i've ever stayed in Vietnam! Unfortunately, the owner couldn't speak english at all. It was sign language all the way.
There was basically no other tourist in Ben Tre except us when we were there. It's so funny in a way. We spent the first day walking around the little town and we went for another boat tour on the second day. I'm not a fan of boat tour but i felt the one we took at Ben Tre is pretty nice. We saw fire flies, a beautiful pink sky sunset, and also visited the well-know Ben Tre coconut candy factory. We had a hard time bargaining the price for the tour and we managed to get it at $14 per person.
The best thing that happen at Mekong Delta is the wonderful friends that i've made there. We are still in contact today and i really hope to see them again soon. ^^
I've visited HCM before, many years ago, on a school trip. So i've already seen the Cu Chi Tunnel. Even though it has been years, I can still remember clearly how i felt about that place. It left an impression which means it's definitely worth going to. I didn't intend to do much in HCM. It's just a city and i am not a city person. But the trip turns out pretty well thanks to the friends that i've met.
I took bus from Mui Ne to Saigon for $8, it took about 4 hours.
I stayed at Saigon Friends for $7 per night. Great location, comfortable beds, but the toilet is quite dirty because there are only a few toilets and many people are sharing it.
Just a few places to recommend in HCM:
I'm sorry that i don't have much to recommend for HCM, it was towards the end of my trip where i got a little tired of researching and moving from one place to another. I basically had lots of fun talking to my friends at the hostel, hanging out at some bar, walking along the street, drinking coffee. I had a great time, it wasn't as bad as i expected. :)
Mui Ne wasn't in my original plan, i added it in because it was highly recommended by some of the travelers i met. Magnificent indeed. It was my first time seeing sand dunes and it's so beautiful!
I took a bus from Da Lat to Mui Ne which cost $10 and it took about 3 hours.
I stayed one night at Mui Ne Hills for $7, breakfast not included. It has a very nice pool which i'm sure you will love. I think the sand dune tour package that they offered is the cheapest in town, only $3! I took the sunrise tour which depart at 4am in the morning instead of the sunset tour. I'm happy with my choice because the sunrise view at the white sand dunes is sooo pretty! The white sand dunes is massive! I really love it.
We then went to the red sand dunes which is smaller than the white sand dunes but still as pretty.
Our guide then brought us to a fishing village where you can see the similar kind of coconut shaped boat that i saw in Da Nang and Hoi An.
Lastly, we went to Angle Lake, gorgeous as well. All these for just $3, most value for money tour ever!
We arrived back at the hostel around 9am and i left at 2pm to Saigon.
It was a short stay in Mui Ne but that's all you need. I'm so glad that i adjusted my plan to add Mui Ne in. Lovely place, perfect for photography.
Click here if you would like to read an overview of my 3 months experience in Vietnam.
Oh Da Lat, i love that place so much, especially the weather. After months of scorching hot weather, it's so nice to be in somewhere cooler. You will never get bored in Da Lat, there are so much thing to see and do.
I took a bus from Da Nang to Da lat which cost me $18. It's a 14 hours journey on a sleeper bus. My longest bus trip in Vietnam. Most people stop for a day or two in Nha Trang, which was also part of my original plan, but i decided to skip it in the end because there isn't much there beside beaches, which i have already seen a lot in Da Nang and Hoi An, and plus the weather was getting too hot, i just can't wait to get to somewhere cooler. I was there in early June btw.
I stayed at Brothers' Hostel which is about half hour walk away from the main city area. It's a very nice hostel with exceptional service. They provide FREE DINNER and it's delicious! How rare is it that dinner is provided. Family owned hostel and everyone of them are very warm and friendly.
I spent 4 days in Da Lat, though i covered all the places that i wanted to see in 3 days and basically chilled the whole morning and early afternoon at the hostel before heading off to Mui Ne.
I spent my first day walking around Da Lat main central area. The weather is so good that it makes walking extremely satisfying. I visited some temple and cathedrals and then i went to the Crazy House. Very interesting place that i think is worth going to. Entrance fee about $2. The house is designed by a local who wants to incorporate nature into architectural. I could relate to her intention and i felt that it was very beautifully designed. Some places at the house is rather dangerous though, like the roof area, which has a pretty view of the city, but you should be careful especially if you are with kids.
I walked around the Xuan Huong Lake. Chilled a little there before heading back to my hostel. Very peaceful.
I rented a bike on my second to go to Pongour Waterfall, the widest waterfall in Vietnam. Gorgeous place, with an entrance fee of a dollar. A lot of people chose to go on a easy rider tour in Da Lat. But I couldn't afford tours, so i did everything on my own. I must say, the direct route that you can find on google map to Pongour Waterfall is extremely dangerous! I think it's the most dangerous highway i've ridden in Vietnam. Lots of big trucks, road works, sandy paths. I got hit by stones every now and then, right onto my face, and my eyes were red because of the sands. If you plan to ride there on your own, which takes about 2 hours. I will suggest you to take the longer road that passes by the Elephant waterfall. It's a mountainous road and it is much more pleasant to ride. It will take you about 3 hours to reach, but i think it's safer that way.
I met some friends at Pongour Waterfall and we went to Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery together. You can take a cable car up to the monastery from the main city, but we rode there. The monastery has a nice view over the damns below and lovely garden of beautiful flowers.
I rented a bike again on my third day to visit the Elephant waterfall. I stopped by Me Linh Coffee Plantation for a cup of weasel coffee ($4). Beautiful place with a great view. The civets seems to be treated well there. I would say that they are an ethical organisation.
I got myself so wet and muddy when i was at Elephant Waterfall. The paths to the viewing point is extremely slippery. Muds everywhere, but it was definitely worth the climb! Entrance fee - $2.
I headed back to Da Lat central and visited the Flower Garden at Xuan Huong Lake. That place is huge! You should visit it if you love flowers, i got a little bored though. haha.
I went to 100 Roof Cafe after dinner with some friends that i met at the hostel. It's a very cool bar with many weird stairs and decorations. A little like crazy house. I also went to the night market, it's huge! I heard it's even better on weekends. You should try the "Vietnamese Pizza", grilled rice paper with egg and dried shrimps. It's delicious!
Overall, i'm very satisfied with my experience in Da Lat. I could easily stay there for a couple more days. I love that Da Lat!
Hoi An, everyone's favorite. I think it's definitely one of the must go place in Vietnam. The ancient town has a great vibe. I was there only for 2 days though and i went to My Son too on my second day. It's only 2 hours away by bike.
My local friend from Da Nang rode me to Hoi An. :) There are buses available at only $2 and it takes about 45mins.
I stayed in at Trisbee Hostel which cost $11 per night. Hostels in Hoi An cost a little more, that's why i was only there for one night. I chose Trisbee Hostel because it's near the Ancient Town. There are also many nice hostels near An Bang beach, if you prefer a more chillax experience. I knew i would want to spend the night at the ancient town, admiring the beautiful lightings, so i didn't want to have to cycle all the way back to An Bang beach area after a long night. That was why.
On my first day in Hoi An, my local friend brought me to Thanh Ha Pottery Village - entrance fee $2. It's a pretty cool place with a lot of unique potteries. I love the world famous icon miniatures exhibition!
I spent the late afternoon and evening walking around the old town. The old town is exceptionally nice in the evening when the sun is setting. Go to the river bay for the perfect sunset view, then cross the bridge to the night market. By right, you have to buy a entrance ticket which cost about $4 to enter the old town. It includes entrance fee to 4 museums. I wanted to save money, so i didn't get it. I walked through the ticket counter as if i already bought the ticket. They don't usually check, they will simply ask "have you bought your ticket?", and i said "yes". haha. The rules about the ticket is still very unclear, so i just ignored it because i dont intend to visit the Museums.
I rented a motorbike for $6 on my second day to go places around Hoi An, which includes An Bang Beach and some coconut plantations. It nice to cycle too instead of riding, but i wanted to visit My Son too, that's why.
I had some issue with my bike on my way to My Son, thankfully i managed to get it fixed at $12. My Son to me, wasn't that impressive, probably because i've been to Angkor Wat and it is way better, of course. But it was still nice riding around.
There are lots of food to try in Hoi An, namely, chicken rice, a little similar to our Singapore Chicken Rice but ours is way better of course, lol. They use glutinous rice instead, still tasty. Cao Lau, Hoi An specialty noodle. Hen tron, which is made from many baby clams, and the locals eat it with rice crackers, delicious! You will be able to find them at the Local Market.
Overall, Hoi An is a nice place to visit. I definitely wouldn't want to miss it out. A lot of people go there to tailor suits and dresses, I was a little tempted to do so when I was walking along the row of streets of beautiful dresses. But i knew i didn't need them. I personally wouldn't want to stay too long in Hoi An though, because is very touristy, that's also why it's more expensive to stay as compared to Da Nang, for instance. Check out my experience in Da Nang, i love that place!
Hai Van Pass, one of the best route in Vietnam. Highly recommended! I started from Da Nang, rode to Hue and then rode back to Da Nang. By right it only takes 3 hours for one way, but if you include the time taking pictures, chilling, and having lunch, then be prepared for a 6hrs journey. But, I can guarantee that it will not be boring at all, and the road condition is pretty good too. Much better than Ha Giang. haha.
I followed vietnamcoracle.com very closely for all my route trips. This guy gave very detailed information and maps too which i appreciate very much.
I am pleased to have met another backpacker from China who was willing to join me on the Hai Van Pass adventure. We started off in Da Nang and headed straight to Hai Van Pass.
As you can see, the view from Hai Van Pass overlooking the ocean is gorgeous. But that's not all... Next up is Lang Co Beach:
Incredible isn't it? Before arriving at Hue, you will pass by Thuan An Peninsular, which is also spectacular!
On our way back to Da Nang from Hue the following day, we took a shorter route and chilled a little bit more. We went to the Elephant Spring, a well-known place where the locals go to for swimming. Free entry! Great atmosphere! I couldn't resist jumping into the water even without my swim suit.
We also chilled at Lang Co beach where we had our lunch. I was surprised at how little people there were. It felt like we were at a private beach.
Overall, I am overjoyed at my decision to go on this road trip. After the amazing rice terraces and mountain road in Ha Giang, i'm glad to have a different kind of coastal experience. I will recommend anyone who is keen on route trips to do both. Both are incredible and so different!
I have so much love for Danang. It gave me a very different kind of feeling. The wide and clean roads, the high rise buildings, the lighting at night, everything reminded me so much of Singapore. Being away from home for close to three months then and stepping into a city that resembles so much like my hometown in the most unexpected way, makes me appreciate my stay there so much. A lot of travelers tend to skip Danang when they visit Central Vietnam. I'm here telling you that you shouldn't miss this gem.
I took a bus from Hue to Danang, but i highly recommend you to take a train instead, because the train will pass by the gorgeous Langco Beach, whereas the bus takes you through a tunnel. My original plan was to rent a motorbike from Hue and then return it in Da Nang. But it was over my budget. The amount required doesn't quite make sense to me. What i did in the end was to use Da Nang as my base. I rented a motorbike in Da Nang for just $8 per day and i rode to Hue and back to Da Nang again. I think that was one of my best decision, because the Hai Van Pass is absolutely amazing, definitely a route not to be missed.
I stayed at Hachi Hostel which cost $8 per night. Great location! Value for money!
The best thing about Danang is the local friends that i met. They took care of me sooooo well. Bringing me to many interesting places and introducing me to so many delicious food! Can't be more grateful for them.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn't skip Danang:
I also visited the Cham Museum, but i wasn't that impressed with it. haha. Maybe you will. Entrance fee is $2.
I had lots of food in Da Nang - Che, which means sweet soup in english is my top choice! I ate it almost everyday when i was in Da Nang. I have very sweet tooth you see. My Quang, a very unique kind of Danang specialty noodles. Bo Kho, papaya salad with beef, delicious. Thit Heo Cuon Bahn Trang, "make your own healthy springroll" kinda experience, definitely a must try! Banh Nam, delicious side dish made from rice flour with shrimps and spices. The seafood in Da Nang is also very fresh and tasty! Mouth-watering...
Overall, Da Nang is over my expectation. Looking back at all my experiences in Vietnam, Da Nang is probably one of my top favorite city. Don't miss it!
If you like to have the "turn back time" kind of experience, then you should go to Hue, Vietnam's Ancient Capital filled with majestic palace and tombs, and also plenty of local cuisine to try. To me, two days in Hue is more than sufficient. I spent about 4 days there hanging out with my local friends :)
I booked a bus to Hue from my hostel at Phong Nha and it cost $10. It's only about 3 hours.
I stayed at Freedom Hostel, which i highly recommend. Find out more about it from my best hostels experience write up at the bottom of my overall Vietnam trip page.
Places and things that I would recommend you to go and try are:
Overall, I had such an enjoyable time in Hue thanks to my local friends and the very warm and friendly hostel owners. I don't think I will enjoy it as much if not for them. Very grateful.
Click here if you would like to read an overview of my 3 months experience in Vietnam.
You have to go to Phong Nha if you are in Vietnam. It's a place with many caves. The world largest cave Son Doong Cave is located at Phong Nha! I didn't go to Son Doong Cave though, because it's pretty expensive to get in. But i went to Paradise Cave which blew my mind. It is the most beautiful cave that i've seen in my entire life. Seeing such beauty makes me feel insignificant. It felt like i entered into another world. I love that place so much. You got to go see it!
I booked an overnight sleeper bus from my hostel at Ninh Binh to Phong Nha which cost me $18. I very sure you can find a much cheaper bus ticket. I felt cheated by the hostel staff. I arrived at Phong Nha around 4am (i really hate all the 4am arrival buses).
The entrance fee to Paradise cave is $16. I heard that Phong Nha Cave is also nice, it's similar to Trang An boat tour, that was why i decided to skip it. Dark Cave is also highly recommended if you are more adventures and would like to swim in the mud. I only went to Paradise cave and spent most of my time riding around Phong Nha area. I love it. I rented my motorbike for $6.
I stayed at Phong Nha Discovery Hostel which i highly recommend. It cost about $8 per night and i was there just for a night. Lovely staffs clean and comfortable place.
Check out my video on Paradise Cave:
My pictures and videos don't do this place justice, you really got to go see it for yourself. Phong Nha is a newly discovered place, so please go there soon before it gets too touristy. Have fun!