I get emotional when I talk about Vietnam because that is how much I love it! I spend all my time daydreaming and reminiscing about our time in Vietnam.
Even going through my photos to load for this post made me smile. I hope they bring you joy too.
I hope that I can do Vietnam justice in my next run of blog posts, where I will be dedicating an individual post per city/town we visited! Vietnam touched me (not inappropriately I should add HAHAHA), I literally CRIED when we left and am counting the days until we can go back. Again. Soon. If I get my way, it will be very soon – I can practically taste the food in my dreams.
So this is just a general Vietnam post, getting you ready for the onslaught of Vietnam photos and to do lists and tips and ramblings. Then the next posts will be about Hanoi, Hoi-An and Halong Bay and maybe some others so I can draw this out and show you millions of photos!
Why Vietnam? So I love Asia and we had heard such great things about Vietnam, and how beautiful it is, how amazing the people are and the food. OMG. That probably needs its own post. Yum Yum. And affordable? Of yes. Vietnam is a place that you can really feel like a king on the ZAR. And if you love coffee? What are you waiting for – they put condensed milk in their coffee! or egg.. so its like custard but we can chat about that in another post.
Make sure you have strong leg muscles if you want to sit on their little chairs – see the photos below – you sit close to the group, its hysterical but fun too.
The local people are amazing, the food is out of this world, beautiful cultural experiences, shopping and chilling. The sights and sounds engulf you and make you love it even more!
So we headed to Vietnam for 3 weeks at the end of 2016 – arriving in Dec and leaving in January 2017. We popped across to Cambodia for a week which I will also do a little post on as that was also such an incredible experience, going to Angor Wat.
How did we book and plan?
- We used Skyscanner to book our flights this time round. We flew with Kenya Airlines as they fly into Hanoi which was perfect – was exactly where we wanted to be and other options like Cathay Pacific etc required a much more lengthy trip (in time and distance) and vastly more expensive.
- We used Booking.com to book all of our accommodation – easy and simple and best prices. We stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels and all included brekkie and were in perfect locations to explore everywhere on foot. The hotels were all clean and staff friendly and helpful wherever we went. And we never spent more than R750 a night on a hotel room! Bargain.
- Additional excursions? We used Tripadvisor and Googled tours and day trips etc and that’s how we made our list of what we wanted to see and do and booked what we could before. So our Halong Bay cruise we booked and paid for weeks before (because I like to plan and book everything before a trip!) BUT if you are brave and willing to do it all when you get to Vietnam – that’s totally possible to. Most of the hotels have “travel agents” sitting at little tables at the hotel reception to help so they can book it all for you OR once you step out of your hotel, you will find little travel agencies in every 5th or 6th little shop along the road, that sell bus tickets, tours etc and you can book through them.
What to look out for? SCOOTERS! The locals use their scooters to carry EVERYTHING. Awesome photo opportunities at every turn.
Just look at my photos as as a sample of what we saw.. ! I took 1000s of photos of their fruit baskets, mobile plant nurseries, mobile florists – often their merchandise or even their cargo was bigger them them and their mode of transport!
Things to know:
You are going to buy your weight in clothes while you are there so take minimal clothing. Having your clothes washed is cheap and simple – so don’t bring lots with you, rather wash when you need. Keeps the bags empty for all your purchases. We came home with 6 leather bags.. 4 new pairs of takkies.. 4 rain coats (colour options obviously!).. 8 work shirts (four for him, four for me), 3 pairs of pants… 3 scarves.. 2 pairs of shorts for him.. 3 embroidered clutch bags.. and that’s off the top of my head.
Eat on the side of the road, eat from little side alley restaurants – we did and were fine! And let me tell you, Vietnamese food is flavoursome and delicious and whether in a a 5 star restaurant or eating on the pavement – you will love every bite! Their food is delish and cheap, so take advantage and try all sorts of new eats and drinks. Don’t be scared!
Walk. We walked all over. We walked around 10km a day. Be open to exploring and walking, it helped us keep the weight off as we were eating and eating AND EATING! So wear comfy shoes please.
The people are so friendly, they will talk and help you if you need directions or anything. Sometimes you may even find they are overly friendly but they really take customer service to another level. They are so hospitable – we found people sitting next to us in restaurants wanting to share their food with us so we could get a taste of new and exciting Vietnamese foods – we turned down the deep fried baby birds but were humbled by their generosity and openness to share with us.
Keep your eyes open.. you will see things that you have never seen before!
I felt immensely safe in Vietnam and saw lots women travelling alone and that makes me happy – knowing that its the kind of country where you still can do that! Would I go alone if I wanted to go again? Definitely.
Be aware when you cross the roads – there are hundreds of thousands of people on scooters and they just DRIVE. I don’t want you to be hit by a scooter, so always keep you eyes out, as they fly around corners and often even drive on the pavements! Its chaos, but beautiful in its own way.
Vietnam is beautiful – Halong Bay is actually a World Heritage Site and stunning beyond words! The rice paddies, the sea, the landscapes, the people – all beautiful – we even found the bustling cities to be gorgeous and picturesque in their own way.
So lets start this series of articles and PLEASE let me know if you have questions. I’m pro Vietnam and really would love to convince millions of travellers to head to Vietnam’s beautiful cities!
How are these telephone wires?!