Best Places To See in Vietnam

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best places to see in vietnam

Best Places To See In Vietnam

Lonely Planet PathfindersWelcome back to my Blog! On this blog post I’m going to let you know the Best Places to see in Vietnam. Of course I’m going to miss somethings, Vietnam has so much diversity that even in a 3 week trip it is difficult to chose what to visit.

If you do a trip like this, its probably worth investing in a travel guide. I always recommend to most complete one that will give you all the information you need to plan your trip. Lonely Planet’s Vietnam Guide is great!

The Trip to Vietnam

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.

Before I get started, let me tell you that we travelled to Vietnam in August, which is the last month of the rainy season. Although the climate is more relevant in the South than in the North, you might want to consider this alternative, cause things can get pretty cheap as its low season.

Our 3 week route included: 

  • Ho Chi Minh
  • Hoi An
  • Hanoi
  • Halong Bay 
  • Phu Quoc 

We landed in Ho Chi Minh city, or Saigon as the locals call it.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh, was the name of the President of Vietnam who led the war against the Americans and the south Vietnamese. After the war in 1975, the city of Saigon in the south, was re-named to Ho Chi Minh City. But, if you talk to the locals, they will tell you they live in Saigon as they were fighting the North Vietnamese with the Americans.

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This important part of Vietnam’s history, has an impact on tourism as you can imagine. In Ho Chi Minh, there are many museums dedicated to that era. War museums that illustrate the view of the people from the south. 

We visited a Museum called War Remnants Museum. In this museum you will find tanks, guns, planes and lots of pictures showing the disaster…definitely one of the best places to see in Vietnam.

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Another place that is worth the visit, is the Independence Palace. This is one of the most iconic sites in Ho Chi Minh city, and its amongst the top 10 cultural sites to visit in Vietnam. 

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After you’ve explored the city, ate great Viet food, you might want to enjoy a great cocktail at the best rooftop, The View Rooftop Bar. This place is amazing to get a full view of the city, and the barman’s there are very experienced!

Where to sleep in Ho Chi Minh?

If this is your first stop in Vietnam, and you’re a bit scared of the hygiene you’re going to find, I recommend you start off in a decent hotel, while you get used to the Vietnamese life.

Infinity Edge Pool View Hotel, Ho Chi Minh, is the place where we stayed for 3 days. The name of this hotel says it all! It has an amazing infinity pool with views over the city, and a good gym too. Food is continental, so you don’t have worry. But, it’s best if you stroll around the hotel and find a local place to save some bucks 😉

If the price doesn’t fit you, here are other suggestions you can explore:

Booking.com

Hoi An

From Ho Chi Minh we grabbed a plane to Da Nang, it is the closest airport to the beautiful city of Hoi An. It’s only an hour away and the local airlines are very cheap.

Hoi An is a city with over 120.000 people living there and a UNESCO site. The city has the biggest seaport of South East Asia. The river practically splits the city in two, which makes it even more photogenic.

In Hoi An there is great gastronomy with lots of options to choose from. There are a bunch of little restaurants next to the river that offer from Viet food to fresh Italian Pizzas. But one thing you have to visit is the Night Market. 

The Night Market in Hoi An, is a complete feast for your senses. Lots of different smells, nice art craft jewelries, traditional lanterns and many more! Dedicate 2 hours in the afternoon and then go have dinner to one of the cute restaurants next to the river.

Hoi An

Only 10 min away from Hoi An by car/uber (Grab in Vietnam) you’ll get to the Beach of An Bang. It’s where locals and tourist go to the beach so, if you want to avoid crowds, it’s best if you consider going there early morning.

The old town of Hoi An is one of the prettiest places we saw in Vietnam. Little streets where you blend in with traditional houses, local shops and the daily activity of a typical South east Asian town.

Where to sleep in Hoi An?

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 is 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!

Here are other suggestions for you:

Booking.com

Hanoi

Hanoi! The city that never sleeps (literally). The capital of Vietnam and an explosion of culture! We had lots of fun in this city. Night life here is so intense, you’ll blend in with the locals without even noticing 🙂

As you can imagine, Hanoi is an over populated city with an intense activity all day long. Many people say that if you survive driving in Hanoi, you’ll survive anywhere in the world. 

We decided to split our time in two different type of activities: cultural sites and fun.

One of the top sites you have to visit is the Imperial Citadell of Thang Long. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an intriguing relic of Vietnam’s history and, signifying its historical and cultural importance, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 40 metres high, the central flag tower is the most recognizable feature of the Imperial Citadel and is often used as a symbol of Hanoi. 

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, as you’ve probably guessed, is a huge monument dedicated to the General that led the independence of Vietnam and the unification of the south and the north during the famous vietnam war. It’s worth seeing given the size of this place and the military avenues around it.

Vietnam

Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of its kind! It’s the oldest pagoda in Hanoi. Although it’s now set on an islet within West Lake, the pagoda was originally located on banks of Red River before its relocated in 1615 due to the river’s encroachment.

READ MORE HERE

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The Hanoi Opera House is amongst the best things things to see in Vietnam given its Parisian architecture and the ivory colored columns. A must visit in Hanoi for a quick snap shot!

These are some of the top places we visited in Hanoi and we loved it! After all this hustle, you might want to experience Hanoi’s night life.

The old quarter in Hanoi offers many possibilities for a great time. Big discos or small bars with very competitive prices, your choice.

We picked a place called 1900’s. The music was good, the ambient was incredible and the drinks weren’t too expensive.

Where to sleep in Hanoi?

In Hanoi there are a lot of options to choose from, but we decided to blend a bit more with the local culture and other travelers and we stayed at the best hostel of Hanoi.

Cocoon Inn Hostel, Hanoi

This hostel is in the middle of Hanoi and really close to everything. You might feel you’re in the center of humanity at some point, but you’re just in the city center of the most crowded city in Vietnam.

Great people there, great atmosphere, great attention and lots of opportunities to explore! My favorite place in Hanoi!

From Hanoi, we went to Halong Bay. There is a 3 hour ride by bus but it’s really comfy!

Halong Bay

This place is definitely one of the best places to visit in Vietnam, and a must! Ha long Bay is part of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World by UNESCO. Over 1900 little islands, most of then inhabited given the singularity of the natural formations, this place will leave you speechless.

Probably, most pictures you’ve seen of Vietnam have a front cover with a Ha Long Bay photo. One of the best places to see in Vietnam for sure! When we were in Hanoi, we heard many people doubting about visit this place or not. Don’t make the same mistake…VISIT HA LONG BAY!

We went on a party cruise called Oasis Bay Party Cruise. For us, the best option if you’re looking to meet great people and have lots of fun. 

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On board there are several activities you can do: swim on a jacuzzi, do beer yoga, learn Viet cooking style and of course, party!!

The cruise takes you on a 2 night 3 day tour. The first night you spend it traveling to Halong Bay, and the second night we stopped at the Freedom Island! A little island that you can go kayaking, listed to music, do water sports, play volley…lot and lots of fun!!

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Best places to visit in Vietnam

Believe me, this experience will change your life. You’ll meet amazing people and you’ll have great memories.

I recommend you book this cruise at the Cocoon Inn Hostel in Hanoi. There are some scams around and it’s best if you hire a trusted company like Oasis Bay Cruises.

In case you want to explore other cruises in Halong Bay:

Booking.com

Back to Hanoi, we flew to Phu Quoc Island in the south for our last visit.

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is one of the best places to see in Vietnam! Those places, that once you see it, you’ll think twice if you’re dreaming. White sand beaches, palm trees, amazing resorts and the smell that something great is going to happen.

La Veranda

The tourism in Phu Quoc is very high all year long, but, during the months of July and August its like rain season, so the tourism lowers a bit. We went there in August and we only saw rain 1 day. Even though, I still think Phu Quoc is one of the best places to visit in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, Phu Quoc used to be used to hold prisoners of war. Due to this reason, there is a prison museum you can visit, it’s called The Coconut Prison. It’s quite impactful to see how the prisoners use to live and all the installations. Also, some prisoners escaped through a tunnel which can be seen. The entrance is free, so it’s worth the visit.

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Another great thing to visit is Ham Ninh Fishing Village. A town where fisherman trade their fish and select it for the best bid. The fisherman are also known to dive for pearls or sea cucumbers. Recently, due to the increment of tourism, they even hand-craft fishermen ornaments for tourists.

Looking for a relaxing beach? Bai Sao is definitely the one! White sand, palm trees, and even an instagrammable spot with a swing hanging from a palm tree.

Where to sleep in Phu Quoc?

Depends if you visit Phu Quoc as a backpacker or as a luxe traveler, in Phu Quoc there is room for both types of tourism.

In our case, we decided to fully relax after our long journey through Vietnam. Consequently, we chose two of the most amazing resorts I’ve ever been to.

 

La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc – MGallery by Sofitel

This amazing hotel, is a unique Oasis in this paradise island. If you’re looking for something premium with excellence attention and service, this is your place.

La Veranda Phu Quoc

Also, it is so unique, I wrote another post talking about it!

READ HERE

Salinda 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!

Alright folks, this was it on this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. 

Most importantly, it would be great to know what you think to help me improve on future posts!

Another tip, I recommend that you go during mid season: June, September. Tourism is not too high during these months and you’ll be able to explore everything without crowds.

Finally, if you want to keep the budget low, you can book hostels the same day, with no need to rush in advance. Or even home-stays really cheap (2$/night). In 3 weeks I spent around 500$ and I went “All-In” on drinks, you know what I mean 😉

On my next post I’m going to talk about the most amazing experience I had in Ha Long Bay!

Thanks for reading,

Cheers,

Ivan

“Traveling to Find Cool Cultures”

La Veranda Resort – Phu Quoc

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La Veranda Resort - Phu Quoc
Booking.com

La Veranda Resort – Phu Quoc

Welcome back dear readers! Today I’m going to talk about the beautiful hotel La Veranda Resort, in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.Many travelers come to Vietnam and decide to go either from South to North or the other way around. In our case, we went from Ho Chi Minh city to Hanoi ad then flew back down to Phu Quoc Island.

La Veranda Resort - Phu Quoc
La Veranda Resort – Phu Quoc

La Veranda offers 3 different ambients where to enjoy your meals

The Pepper Tree restaurant is a fusion between Vietnamese and French gourmet cuisine. Fragrant Phu Quôc Pepper and the island’s prized angy fish sauce inspire an artful blend of authentic local and French cuisine – enjoyed with spectacular ocean views.Don’t forget to taste my favs:

Tomato Tartar, Earth Parfums and the Vegetables Roulaf!

Le Jardin, here you can relax in the casual lawn setting or beach deckand indulge in all-day al fresco dining, offering Mediterranean and Western favourites, Vietnamese classics and sumptuous themed buffets.And the glorious

Le Bar, A place to enjoy the best cocktails with a nice breeze coming from the ocean and live music from 8 to 10 pm that will pump you up!!La Veranda Resort - Phu QuocIf all this excitement hasn’t get you considering booking a trip to Phu Quoc yet wait to see what activities you can do at La Veranda!

ACTIVITIES

La Veranda offers a guided tour through the island that takes you some amazing scenes like the Fish market! A typical location where all the fish men gather to collect and sell all the fish caught during the day.

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After a 4 hour tour, you can do a cooking class at La Veranda with the amazing chef Sin! He will make you discover the best about the Vietnamese cuisine and after that, you’ll taste everything! We prepared amazing Vietnamese dishes that surprised us a lot!

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There are so many different sauces and spices that you can use. But the one I remember the most, is the famous Fish sauce they use for almost everything. It’s produced in the island, and you can visit their factory as well. Although i recommend you avoid going there if you have a weak stomach 🙂

Not to mention that before you do the cooking class, it’s best if you don’t have a strong breakfast. Chef Sin will feed you till you have to un-button your trousers haha!   

It’s time to start talking about the beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc! At La Veranda you can take a shuttle to the most known beach in Phu Quoc, Bai Sao! This white sand beach is mostly known for an instagrammable spot with a swing, yes, we took the shot also 🙂

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Bai Sao Beach

This beach is mostly known to have a huge population of starfish under it’s waters. However, we went there during rainy season and we didn’t see any.La Veranda has it’s private beach also, which we enjoyed drinking cocktails and viewing those amazing sunsets!

La Veranda
La Veranda
 is definitely a place to come back! Our days in Phu Quoc seemed to last forever, but days were going by so fast!

Alright folks this was it! What did you think about this hotel?

Please leave a comment and stay tunned for the coming posts about Vietnam! If you like how I edited my photos, you can buy my Lightroom Presets for Mobile. They come with an easy to use and installation guide that will take your social media game to the next level!

You can also follow my adventures on my Instagram: @acecoolture

Thank you for reading and see you around!

Ivan

“Traveling to find Cool Cultures”

8 places you can’t miss in BALI!

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 Lonely PlanetIf you ever go to Bali, and you are not a lucky digital nomad or a famous Instagramer that can spend 30 days in the magical island, you might want to read this.

We decided to do a 7 days tour through the island, spoting Bali’s most iconic places and activities to get the maximum profit out of it. If by profit we understand amazing experiences and cool activities.

1. Sunrise at the Terrace Fields

Even you are not a morning person, try to get up at least one day at 6am and drive to Sideman, near Ubud. This location is perfect to enjoy the sunrise as there are several terrace fields that you can access pretty easy. This place is not as famous as the Tegalalang rice terraces, but one difference is that the Sidemen rice terraces aren’t as touristic as the Tegalalang and you can get amazing views like this one.

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 2. Get lost through the magical temples

Bali is full of temples, every single village has at least one and in most of them, you have to pay entrance or give some money just for charity. Usually, you are not allowed to go in with shorts or skirts, that’s why at the entrance you will get a very thin scarf to cover your legs. Here is a list of the 3 best temples you should not miss in Bali:

Tanah Lot Temple

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Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu temple

Semarapura Temple

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3. Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is an Island 45 minutes away from Bali. You get there by speedboat from a little town called Sanur. We hired a round trip with a local driver that takes you to the most iconic spots in the island which are mainly 3: Broken beach, Angel’s Billabong and Kelingking beach.

Broken Beach

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Angel’s Billabong

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Kelingking Beach

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4. Stay at the Best Villas

Bali has some of the most beautiful villa’s i’ve ever seen. If you want to have a place where you can relax after a hectic day, with your private pool at a good cost you might want to check out the villas from Berawa Beach State – www.villasdirectbali.com

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www.villasdirectbali.com

5. Have Lunch in a Trendy Cafe in Canggu

Canggu is the most beautiful town we saw in Bali (only our opinion 🙂 ). One of the things we enjoyed the most was the nice cafes and restaurants there. Lots of interesting gastronomic option for you to pick.

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I really recommend to visit:

Peloton Supershop

Nüde Restaurant

Milu by Nook

6. The Bali Swing

Next to Ubud, there is the famous Bali Swing. This place has several swings where you can take amazing pictures while you swing into “Da jungle”. I have to say I felt like a little kid and I would go there again anytime. However, take into consideration that this place is for wealthy moglies, as the entrance fee is 35 USD.

Bali swing
www.baliswing.com

7. Sunset in Balangan Beach

Bali has numerous beaches that you can enjoy a good sunset, but I found spectacular the one in Balangan Beach. The huge rock at the righ side of the beach and watching all the surfers surf on the leftside was just incredible.

I really recommend that you grab your scooter while in Canggu and go to this beach 2 hours before sunset to catch a good spot and have some beers!

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8. Handara Golf Resort, the famous gate

Handara Golf Resort is where the famous Balinese gate is located. Many instagramers visit this place in the north of Bali. I have to say it is spectacular. Definetly worth the ride!

We also stayed at the resort, but I’m sure you can find cheaper options nearby that will suit your budget better.

Handara Golf Resort
Handara Golf Resort

This is it guys! If you have recommendations about Bali, feel free to write us a note and we will be very happy to explore them!

Please like and comment this post if you found it useful!

Follow me on Instagram: @acecooltureSee you soon!

Ivan

Bali, The Ultimate 7 day Guide

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Community_800px_filled_blueBali is the destination you’ve been waiting for if you’re looking for adventure, instagramable photo scenes, amazing temples and great food diversity. With this guide, I will explain what we did in just 7 days on our first visit to the “Paradise Island”.

You have to consider that your days will start at 7am (or ealier depending on your jetlag) and will probably end at 9pm.

Day 1 – Uluwatu & Balangan beach

Since you probably landed in Denpasar airport, it’s best to stay in the area of Canggu, as it has lots of great accomodations and it is also very close to some beautiful sites.

We stayed at a wonderful villa we found at Berawa Beach Estate. There we had a wonderful pool by ourselves and an awesome continental breakfast every morning!

www.villasdirectbali.com
www.villasdirectbali.com

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www.villasdirectbali.com

Our first day we rented a scooter as it is the most convenient and cheap way to move around Bali.

We headed to the south of Canggu, to visit the temple of Uluwatu.  This temple is located almost 1 hour away by bike and it is known to be one of the six most sacred temples in Bali. The place is fantastic as you can see the temple over a cliff near the sea and I can imagine the sunset is beautiful there!

Uluwatu
Uluwatu Temple view

In this place you can have lunch for only 2$ and it is pretty decent.

After visiting Uluwatu for 2 hours, we decided to go to Jimbaran beach to see the sunset as it was close by and they had really recommended this place on the Lonely Planet book of Bali. However, once we got to Jimbaran beach, we saw it was very dirty and full of abandoned boats like if there had been a huricane or something, but it hadn’t.

So, I looked on TripAdvisor other close sites to see, and we found Balangan beach. I can guarantee that if you see the sunset in this place you will absolutly enjoy it!

Balangan Beach
Balangan Beach

Balangan Beach
Balangan Beach

After a long day remebering how to ride a scooter again and fighting against jetlag, we headed back to our villa in Canggu to rest a bit.

Day 2 – Canggu & Tanah Lot

We decided to discover the beautiful city of Canggu as we were already there and we had realised there were many things to see. In Canggu there is a very active social life. Many cafes, restaurants and shops that you can experience, at this surfer’s paradise!

We had a good & healthy lunch in Nüde restaurant, then we drove to Tanah Lot temple. It is only 20 minutes away from the area of Canggu by scooter.

Pura Tanah Lot, as it is officially known, is one of the most sacred temples in Bali along with Uluwatu. This place is very well know for its temples built in rocks in the sea. It is very peculiar to see and it is even more spectacular to see the sunset there.

"www.nusapenida.com

Day 3 –

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Nusa Penida
www.nusapenida.com

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida
Can you spot me?

Nusa Penida

To go to Nusa Penida, its best if you book the fast boat in advance rather than the day before. This will avoid you paying extra money!

Not sure if you noticed, but I got a major sun burn on my neck, arms and legs!!

Pack some sunscreen!

After another peaceful night in our Hotel Grand Palace Bali the next day, was going to be a shopping and relaxing day in Canggu!

Day 7 – Canggu, pool time & shopping

Off course on every trip there has to be some relax. Our way of relax is simple, wake up late, eat a good breakfast, rest by the pool, siesta, and shopping in the afternoon!

Canggu is the perfect city for you to do all that, and more! As we mentioned before, Canggu is full of nice restaurants were you can eat anything for a few bucks!

Also, there are some really good clothes brands which I never heard about before, that I really like now. Atila & CO per exemple!

Not much left for this trip! If you have some questions, feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Also, you can find me on Instagram as @acecoolture go check my profile and follow my new adventures!

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Peace & out!

Adventure, Explore & Culture

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