Visiting the beautiful country of Vietnam for the first time.
In November 2016 my boyfriend and I travelled to Vietnam. While planning our trip we had long discussions about the final destination because our actual plan was visiting Thailand. After talking with several people who had explored both countries and hearing their recommendations, we decided to travel to Vietnam. To be honest, I was a bit nervous the night before starting the trip because I had never been to Asia before and I didn´t know what to expect.
We arrived in Hanoi in the morning and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel located close to the old quarter. Our first impression was overwhelming – overflowing streets with countless scooter drivers and missing traffic regulations made me wonder how it’s possible that this kind of traffic actually works as it does. On our first day we explored the old quarter with its beautiful lake visited nearby attractions.
The next two days we spent on a boat in Halong Bay and even though we didn’t expect much, we were pleasantly surprised that our boat was in good condition and we had a great room including a bathroom. I do recommend to pay a bit more as it is worth it, because we also heard about other very cheap boat tours with rats on the boat! Halong Bay was one of my highlights as boating through all the lime rocks was very impressive and relaxing.
Arriving back in Ha Noi we flew down south to Da Nang. Driving with the night bus is a good and cheap alternative but domestic flights are also fairly cheap so we opted for that instead. In Da Nang we rented a scooter and explored the Monkey Mountain – although I was a bit scared of driving a scooter it was a very good decision. We stopped at the Lady Buddha statue and expected massive crowds of tourists, but instead we arrived at a very peaceful time with only a few other people. That´s one thing I liked most about Vietnam (besides the amazing food) – it is very easy to immerse in the culture as the places are not crowded with tourists.
Next, we drove by bus to Hoi An and I totally fell in love with this beautiful city – not only because of the tailors whose services and prices I totally recommend – but because the small city is surrounded by a special charm. The old quarter with all its small shops and restaurants is definitely worth seeing. We originally only wanted to stay for two days but extended for one more day and I could have stayed even longer. That´s what I really appreciated most about not having any fixed plans – you can always extend your stays when you really like a place or shorten your stays when you feel like it.
Our next stop was Hue and I need to say that I expected a small city like Hoi An and was a bit surprised after seeing the great amount of scooters again. We visited the Imperial City and underestimated the size of the site. It´s amazing how much it offers and a guided tour makes sense as otherwise you won´t get much information about its history. We drove by scooter to a beach as we wanted to spend a few hours on the beach at least once. It was amazing – it was very beautiful and there were only a few locals and dogs around.
After taking a guided one-day trip to the Minh Mang Tomb, Kai Dinh Tromb and a few other spots, we flew back to Hanoi. From Hanoi we booked a two-days trip to Mai Chau (booked at a Hostel in down town). We stayed with six other people at a genuine place of a Vietnamese family – they were very friendly and took good care of us. We did a bicycle tour guided by a local guy and I couldn´t believe my eyes; all the pictures of travel agencies showing locals working in rice fields were right in front of me. The landscape was impressive; after spending the time in big cities like Hanoi and Hue we really enjoyed the calm and pure nature.
All in all I highly recommend travelling to Vietnam. For example in Mexico or South Africa I often felt uncomfortable and insecure – in Vietnam I always felt safe and we met so many female solo-travelers and they loved it because travelling inside of the country is very easy and you meet other backpackers everywhere you go.
I can say that I absolutely fell in love with Vietnam and I cannot wait for our next trip to Asia.
Story by Melissa from @melleri_
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