When you think of Vietnam, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Rice fields? Conical hats? and maybe lots of motorcycles? Yes, I thought the same before going there, but to our surprise, Vietnam was the ultimate paradise to do tourism in many different ambients.
Allow me to recommend you to visit Lonely Planet’s website to get the best tips before traveling to an exotic destination like Vietnam. Either you have the book or via the web, you’ll get the most out of it 😉
We went to Vietnam during the first 2 weeks of August knowing that it was probably going to rain, and so it did most of the times. But, it was the type of rain that you can easily take. No big thunders or huge floods.
I’m writing this blog post to let you know why people love Vietnam so much. I mean, have you ever heard of someone that came back from Vietnam that didn’t have a good time? I know for sure, that anyone who has been there has had some type of life lasting memory!
So here is what I found out…
Arquitecture & Archeology
Most of the architecture you will see in Vietnam comes from the french colonization the previous 200 years. But, you need to have your eyes wide open, because you’re going to see temples that date back to the 1st & 2nd century during the Chinese dynasty.
There are so many culture related activities to do in Vietnam! In Hanoi You can visit the oldest temple in Vietnam, that dates back from the 6th century. This is the Tran Quoc Pagoda, an amazing temple in lake Ho Tay.
In the south of Vietnam, close to Ho Chi Minh, there is the famous island of Phu Quoc. Besides from the paradise beaches and the good party times you will experience, there are places like the Fish market, the Coconut Prison or the Buddhist Temple that are worth the visit.
But of course not everything in Vietnam’s local culture has to do with war, you can also visit a Water Puppet museum in Hanoi, General Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh where the Southern army use to hide from the attacks.
Vietnam has one of the most rich cuisines in the world. The fusion of Chinese, French & Korean traditions made Vietnam one of the countries in the world with great food diversity.
It’s best if you get lost in Hanoi’s old quarter and enjoy a nice bowl of Pho, than go to the typical occidental restaurants. We tried both, and I loved integrating ourselves with locals and eating in the street.
Places I recommend to eat:
- Bun Cha 145 Bui Vien (Ho Chi Minh)
- Ciclo Resto (Ho Chi Minh)
- 33 De Tham Restaurant (Ho Chi Minh)
- Restaurant & Cafe Tuan (Hoi An)
- Nhan’s Kitchen (Hoi An)
- Firefly Restaurant (Hoi An)
- Tron (Hanoi)
- Hong Hoais (Hanoi)
- Bun Cha Ta (Hanoi)
- Causa Vietnamese cuisine (Hanoi)
I guess I could continue forever, but in case you have doubts, TripAdvisor is very well positioned in Vietnam and you can have a look at the app in each city and you’ll get a well recommendation 😉
History & War Museums
No matter which city you to in Vietnam, there will be a piece of history from Vietnam’s civil war during 1955 – 1975. Ho Chi Minh has one of the best ones called War Remanants Saigon Museum.
Depending on which city to choose to visit a war museum, you’ll be oriented towards their personal view of it. In Ho Chi Minh, they had a particular view on the tortures that the communist did to them. It was very interesting, but, be prepared to see and read impacting things.
The other good museums you can visit in Vietnam are:
- Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi
- Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi
- Vietnamese Woman’s Museum, Hanoi
- 54 Traditions Gallery, Hanoi
- Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh
Halong Bay has been named one of the World’s 7 Nature Wonders by UNESCO. This huge bay made out of limestone rocks has around 2.000 islets. The biodiversity is very particular, as it is home of 60 local species and many different plants.
Halong Bay is 500 million years old. One of the most ancient locations that remains similar to it’s creation. Tropical rains and floods have carved it’s way through the rocks, making them sharp and scatered.
One of the things you need to consider when you visit Ha Long Bay is the time you want to spent there. You have several options depending on your budget and time.
You can do a day tour with a private boat that will probably cost you quite a bit and you have the risk of scams. You can do a 2D1N tour that will show the basic and you’ll get a glimpse of what Ha Long Bay is. I believe this is a good option, and there are many companies that will offer you this tour.
However, for us, it was the 3 Day & 2 Night Tour with the people from OASIS BAY CRUISES.
Definitely, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Awesome people, lots of activities and of course, fun parties haha!
I’m sure by now you’re thrilled and you want to start packing right away 🙂 but wait, I need to let you some basic information like where is it best to stay? Where do we exchange money? How do we move around?
Where to stay?
Vietnam has experienced an important increase in tourism lately, specially the past 3 years. More tourism means more infrastructures for tourists such as Hotels, Hostels, AirBnbs and all that.
Everything depends on the budget you’re traveling with, but if you want to do Hotels like we did I can recommend the following:
Infinity Edge Pool View Hotel, Ho Chi Minh
This hotel is pretty nice and close to the city center. Actually, you can walk to every spot in Ho Chi Minh from this hotel. Pool views are incredible and they have a pretty cool gym.
Royal Hoi An, Mgallery By Sofitel
Hoi An is the typical Vietnamese town with lots of tourists and local markets to visit. With all that crowd in the streets, if you’re looking for a relaxing hotel, with 2 pools and french-viet cuisine, this the place!
Located along Thu Bon River and just a short stroll away from the ancient town of Hoi An, a World Heritage Site, Hotel Royal Hoi An, MGallery by Sofitel is truly a perfect place to experience a refined luxurious sojourn.
Hoi An is home to an abundance of marvels such as Japanese Bridge, pristine An Bang Beach, Ancient Town, Tra Que Vegetables & Thanh Ha Pottery Villages. Be adventurous & partake in a Vespa tour, photography excursions or the world of rich cuisines.
La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa
What could be more relaxing than spending your afternoon at the pool after a long day of walking, sight-seeing and big noodle cups? This amazing hotel has you covered in every little detail you’re thinking of, to make your days feel like a king – queen!
This hotel is not like the massive resorts you have in mind, it’s more like a big boutique hotel, with all the little details taken care of. My favorite part was the black stone pool and the excellent bloody marys they prepare!
Cocoon Inn Hostel, Hanoi
Hanoi is full of surprises, the old quarter is simply incredible to ha a stroll and drink some beers!
We got recommended a hostel in the city center that did not disappoint us at all. The Cocoon Inn offers the basic accommodation services you can think of and a cool atmosphere with other backpackers.
La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc – MGallery by Sofitel
This amazing hotel in Phu Quoc, is a unique Oasis in this paradise island. If you’re looking for something premium with excellence attention and service, this is your place.
I wrote a complete blog post with all the different things you can do in this hotel.
Salida Resort, Phu Quoc
With a dedication to providing outstanding hospitality, Salinda Resort is a five-star boutique resort, located on the prime location on Phu Quoc Island with stunning views on romantic sunsets.
The resort features 121 luxury rooms, suites and villas designed in contemporary style with added local touch that creates an almost seamless transition from the inside out, all whilst being surrounded by the elegance and simplicity of the island’s natural environment. Surrender to the allure of island life at Salinda Resort!
How to move around Vietnam?
Like many other South East Asian countries, Vietnam is full of motorcycles everywhere. And trust me, it doesn’t matter if you have a motorcycle license. The way they ride is ruled by the ability they have to negotiate things with their eyes.
Inside each town, city, we found pretty convenient moving around with an app called GRAB:
It is actually a service owned by Uber, but with a different name. Also, don’t expect nice cars either, as this service is being operated by local cabs and local transport services.
Of course you can rent a bike/scooter, but as I said, unless you are in a small town, it’s better to use grab or to walk.
From city to city we chose the plane. For only 60$ you have internal flights in many different time frames. We had some complains about the airlines, but it was worth it.
Other travelers chose the bus. Which we didn’t have the chance to try but, I heard it was pretty good. Here’s a link if you want to check it out:
This reliable, punctual company operates clean, comfortable deluxe buses across Vietnam. Destinations covered include all main cities along Hwy1 between Hanoi and HCMC, Hanoi to Haiphong, HCMC to Dalat, and cities in the central highlands.By Lonely Planet
1 Euro = 26,500 VND (Dongs)
1 Dollar = 23,113 VND (Dongs)
These exchange rates are as of today, end of September 2018.
In our occasion, we found a bit more promising exchanging the money in Vietnam. We got 30,000 dongs instead of 26,000 we got at the airport.
AVOID DOING CASH WITHDRAWALS IN VIETNAM!!
Alright friends, this was it! I hope you found this post useful and even if it helps you a little bit plan your trip to Vietnam, than I will be more than happy.
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Lots of hugs to you all!
“Traveling to find Cool Cultures”