VIETNAM AT A GLANCE

We booked our trip with G Adventures and we would definitely recommend this to all those planning their next vacation. If you are on a budget trip, Vietjet is a reasonable airline. We took the 1150pm flight from New Delhi. With an hour’s delay we arrived at Ho Chi Minh at 8.00 am. Immigration takes about 1-2 hours depending on the traffic at the airport. You can buy a sim card at the airport as there are plenty of options and all mobile networks are efficient in the cities. Wifi is available at all hotels and restaurants. Do not take private taxis from the airport. They are a scam. Download the grab app or use the Mai Linh and Vinasun taxi cabs. Vietnam has the best places for seafood. There’s nothing you don’t get there. ‘Pho’ is their staple just like the indian rice and curry. People are polite and friendly but do not understand English. Therefore it is better to have a guide through the trip if you wish to travel alone or even if you are in a group.

Day 1-2 HO CHI MINH : You can walk to the Residential Palace and War Museum as they are in the city and within reach from most hotels. A meal at the Street Food Market gives you a taste of authentic Vietnamese food. Those interested in shopping can visit the local Ben Tanh Market. It takes about 2 hours to reach the Cu Chi tunnels so atleast half a day is required for that. The evening can be spent on the Skydeck to get a good view of the city. The nightlife in Ho Chi Minh is good as there are a lot of bars and pubs.

A.War museum B. Residential Palace D. Street Food Market E. Cu Chi Tunnel

Day 3-4 NHA TRANG : An overnight train to Nha Trang is an experience not to be missed. A day trip to some of the beaches around, gives you time to do snorkeling. There’s ample of fish and corals in the water and later you get served with hot lunch on the boat. In the evening you can visit the night market where you can get Vietnamese antiques for fair prices. There’s a Ponagar temple on the banks of the Cai river which is still used for worship. Long son pagoda is a Buddhist temple built according to Taoist architecture. It takes 152 stone steps to reach the 14m long Buddha statue. If you have time, visit Christ the king cathedral. The church is built in gothic revival style and has stained glass windows showing episodes from the life of Jesus Christ.

Day 5-6 HOI AN: We took an overnight train to the city of Da Nang from where Hoi An is a one hour drive. It is a small peaceful town along the river. You can get an entry ticket to the city and visit any 5 places you wish. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and has a number of old preserved structures. There are a lot of museums and temples you can see without an entrance ticket. We did a cycling tour where the locals take you around the city and this ends with a bamboo boat ride. A noodle making class is conducted in many restaurants and is a fun activity, the money generated from which goes to teaching kids in Vietnam. The city looks beautiful at night with lanterns lighting up and music playing at all the bars and restaurants. The An Bang beach is close by if you want to go for a swim.

Day 7-8 HUÈ: We left early morning from Hoi An as it was a four hour drive to Huè. On the way there are mountains on one side and sea on the other. It’s a beautiful journey. After reaching Huè we did a bike tour of the city. The city is beautiful with a lot of good spots to see. You can go to one of the many spas as they are very cheap and worth your time and money. A visit to the forbidden city is a must. It is spread over a massive area and could take about two to three hours to cover.

The Forbidden City

Day 9 HALONG BAY: It took us a 14 hour train journey from Huè followed by a 4 hour bus ride to reach Halong Bay but it was worth the wait. The bay is made up of more than a thousand islands and is the most visited place in Vietnam. A sumptuous meal is served on the boat and if you are a seafood lover, this is the meal to look forward to. You can also do kayaking and take a walk in the caves.

Day 10-12 HANOI : It’s a four hour drive from Halong bay to Hanoi. As Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam it is a very busy city. There is no place for pedestrians on the roads. The traffic can make you lose your cool. The city houses the Hoa Lo prison, imperial citadel, military museum, Ho Chi Minh square and museum. You can also visit the train street where there are cafes on either side of the train tracks or sit by the lake. The night market is very popular where you can get local food, drinks and also souvenirs at the same time. A day trip to Sapa or Nin Binh is also a good option as it takes you away from the noise of the city. Canoeing through the Mua caves is an experience of a lifetime.

We took the 7:10 pm flight from Hanoi to New Delhi. There was no delay this time and we got home on time.

‘If you are looking for a beach vacation Vietnam should be on your list’

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