GUIDE / PHOTOS
where we stayed, where we ate and what we did…
Ho Cinh Minh
We flew in to Ho Cinh Minh City to start our Vietnam trip, everyone we met though seemed to start from the North and make their way down to South.. but I’m happy we went the other direction. Ho Cinh Minh wasn’t the greatest first impression of Vietnam for me, it wasn’t the worst but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. A very busy fast paced city is what was expected and that is what we got of course… we was planning on spending a night here but instead we went straight to the train station and booked our sleeper train to Da Nang. Our train wasn’t until the evening so we took the day to check out some highlights of the city.
Do - Ngọc Hoàng Pagoda
This was our first stop, it took a while to find and looked a bit run down considering it’s a place of worship. There were artworks in the pagoda such as paintings and statues made from wood, ceramic and card and it was dark inside. People also worship Kim Hoa Thanh Mau (a goddess taking responsibility for giving birth), locals go to the pagoda to pray for having a baby and luck for pregnant women.
Eat - My Banh Mi
First try of a banh mi and it was very good, I went for the beef and it didn't disappoint, the owner was very talkative, friendly and told us a lot about the city.
Do - Saigon Central Post Office
Went here for the building of course, designed by a French architect (Alfred Foulhoux) in the 19th century. We didn’t spend too long here as it was super busy and we were short on time.
Stay - Rom Casa
A hostel made out of shipping containers. It even has a container pool and a bar located across the street. We had a four person dorm to ourselves and felt super comfortable here.
Do - Marble Mountains
A cluster of five limestone and marble hills, they are named after the five elements: Kim, Thuy, Moc, Hoa and Tho. We paid to get the elevator up but we're sure you can get in for free maybe around 4pm via some stairs. It was nice to walk around, there were some caves and some stairs to really good view points looking over Da Nang. The marble rocks are really slippery though!
Do - Golden Bridge, Sunworld
We took the scooter to Ba Na Hills to the theme park Sunworld, the place is European themed. When you arrive you take a cable car to the top of the hill which was really enjoyable, amazing views. We mostly wanted to see the Golden Bridge so saw that first, it was pretty cool with all the fog. We got given some beer tokens so headed to get our free beer afterwards, then queued ages for a bob sledge ride.
Eat - Umm Banh Mi
Eat - Burgerbros
Such a good burger joint right next to the hostel!
Eat - Le Bordeaux Bakery
Got myself a little birthday cake. A coconut layered sponge cake, sickly but super tasty.
Stay - Vietnam Backpackers Hostels
This hostel was pretty modern and very reasonably priced, it has a pool and was very central. In between the beach and the old town.
Eat - Morning Glory
I went for the pho and we got some garlicky aubergine for a side dish, delicious.
Eat - AM Vegetarian
We got a beautiful feast here. Fresh spring rolls, mushroom porridge, vegetable noodles and some grilled aubergine.
Do - Old Town
The streets were filled with lanterns, all different colours. A lot of the shops were selling the same souvenirs, many people cycling and walking stopping to take photographs with the lanterns of course. We walked along the river, where the locals tried to sell you a boat ride and an opportunity to put a candle lit lantern in the water but we opted out.
Do - Coconut River
We rented a motorbike and drove around a little aimlessly for a while until a lady rode up beside us and asked if we wanted to do the coconut boat tour. Which we did and we got it for 100k dong each which was really good compared to what the tour places were asking. We rode to coconut village and got in a basket boat with her dad, he put the traditional Vietnamese hats on us and we set off. He also gave us these little things made from palm leaves, a ring and a prawn type thing for our fingers. He showed us some locals fishing for prawns and crabs and we even caught a crab. He took many photos of us and the whole experience was very relaxing.
Do - Hai Van Pass (Hoi An to Hue by scooter)
We rented a scooter and sent our bags separately as we thought it would be horribly uncomfortable with us and the bags on one scooter. We did the Hai Van Pass which is a pretty cool stretch of road winding around mountains from Hoi An and back through Da Nang. It was shorter than I expected but the journey all in all took 5 hours including a few stops. The weather wasn’t too bad although we did have to stop a few times to put our raincoats on!
Do - Abandoned Waterpark
Eat - Nook Cafe
I got the most delicious coconut coffee, they make it so special with like a scoop of coconut ice cream on top!
Stay - Tam Coc Bungalows
Right on the river, not the best dorm rooms but the location was perfect for us. The breakfast buffet was really good too!
Do - The Lying Dragon Mountain
Worth the 450 steps! 360 views of Tam Coc, breathtaking. The views were incredible, rice fields on one side and the lake on the other (the lake we had a boat ride on the day before).
Do - Bai Dinh
Do - Halong Bay
We got to Hanoi by bus from Tam Coc and we booked to do the Oasis Party Boat tour of Halong Bay, a great way to meet other travellers. Even though it was rather cringey, it was still enjoyable. We took kayaks out, ate food and did a small cooking class for £99.
Stay - Babylon Hostel
A very comfortable hostel, with a rooftop bar and an inside pool and right in the centre!
Eat - 4P’s Pizza
Drink - Loading T
Wanted to buy all of the cute ceramic mugs and saucers they had for sale here, perfect hidden away spot in the busy city.
Eat - Lifted
Eat - Banh Mi 25
Perfect banh mi!
Eat - Hanoi Social Club
Do - Tran Quoc Pagoda
Do - Train Street