Our first travel far from home together was one month backpacking in Vietnam. With starting point Hanoi and the final destination Ho Chi Minh City, we traveled from the North to the South of Vietnam. A fantastic trip with stops in Sapa, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Hue, Hoi An, Mui Ne, and Phu Quoc Island. Our main way of transport in Vietnam was the sleeping (night) bus which is a fantastic way of traveling through Vietnam.
Hanoi is an overwhelming city with motorbikes, cars and everything else that moves, accompanied with their constant traffic noise and cars using their horns. Crossing the roads here was a big challenge to us Dutchies. The walking tour through the old quarter (Lonely Planet) is nice to do and if you are an early bird, it is nice to walk around Hoam Kiem Lake in the morning, where you can see young and old people doing different kinds of exercises.
From Hanoi we took the night train to Sapa, where we did a three day trekking tour, through the mountains and rice paddy’s. The best part was the homestay, especially when the electricity went off and we made spring rolls with our non english speaking owner of the guesthouse.
After Sapa we travelled via Hanoi to Halong Bay and booked a two nigh boat trip. It is really nice to float between the limestones and to see the floating village. Afterwards, one of the crew members helped us getting on the local bus. Because that is a little less organized the we used to. Even the prizes may differ (the german guy who got on the bus a bit later, payed twice as much for the same ticket). But it is a exciting way of traveling.
When we arrived in Ninh Binh we did not plan to take another tour and wanted to take some rest, but after somebody told us about a motorbike tour to and through the National Park including a homestay, we decided to take some rest later. This was the best decision ever, we have seen some of the most authentic parts of Vietnam during this trip!
Our next stop was Hue, but we where not this impressed with the city. We did the standard walk thru the citadel and rested a bit. Maybe it would have been better if we rented a motorbike because the surroundings of Hue are supposed to be really beautiful.
Hoi An is a blessing after the mayhem which we experienced in the cities of Vietnam. The old centre of Hoi An is still authentic and it is forbidden to drive a motorbike here. Walking at the streets with his old french colonial houses, is one of the highlights of Vietnam. At night the streets and waterfront are decorated with beautiful lights. Next to the cheap tailors in the city, Hoi An is also a good starting place to take a tour to My Son.
We spend new years eve in Mui Ne. And this is nothing special, because the Vietnamese only celebrate Chinese New Year. On New years day we rented a scooter and drove up to the White sand dunes (which is very nice!) and took a stroll through the Fairy Spring.
HO CHI MIN CITY
One of our last stops in Vietnam was the City of Ho Chi Minh, from here we booked a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. We had big expectations about these tunnels, bit it was a big disappointment for us. Maybe it was the the guide who spoke poor english and the lack of enthusiasm, or because it was crowded, but we did not like this tour. We heard other people booked a tour with a old Vietnam fighter and loved it.
Because our trip almost came to an end, we decided to go to Phu Quoc Island for the last couple of days of our holiday. This was a good choice and with a bungalow on the beach our Vietnam Experience ended here.