Vietnam, torn for years by the struggle between North and South. Nowadays a true backpacker’s paradise, because everything here is cheap. A country shaped by diversity, from culture to a real beach holiday, it is possible here.
That makes traveling through Vietnam so much fun! And the food is really delicious. Join the locals and get to know new dishes.
Things to keep in mind
In Vietnam, you can pay with the Vietnamese dong as well as with American dollars. Very often you see the price in US dollars at hotels or tours, but it’s up to you to choose. Most ATMs won’t give out more than 2 million dongs.
The Vietnamese dong only has notes: 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong. Very often the prices are displayed without all those extra zeros; So if you see something for sale somewhere for 200, it means that you have to pay 200,000 dongs.
Crossing the street in Vietnamese cities can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know what to do. There is so much traffic and they don’t stop so you have to start walking when it’s safe and keep that pace. People will find their way around you.
We took the train from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne and I think it was one of the most luxurious trains we’ve had. It might be smart to fly from the north to the south (or the other way around) if you don’t have a lot of time. Flights are cheap.
Our route through Vietnam - 1,5 month
Our first introduction to Vietnam is Hanoi. We have to get used to the crowds and noise and the scooters that shoot all around us. But after a food tour, we are impressed by this country. In connection with some needed rest, we choose to travel down. We stay in Mui Ne for over two weeks. From here we take the train to Ho Chi Minh City, a city with a lot of history. Through our hostel, we book a three-day tour through the Mekong Delta. We see how coconut candy is made, cycle through the jungle, and take a boat trip through a mangrove forest. Unfortunately, the weather has deteriorated so much that we save the rest of Vietnam for another time. We really want to go to Sapa, Halong Bay, and Hoi An.
Hanoi -> airplane (1,5 hours)-> Ho Chi Minh City -> train (4 hours)-> Mui Ne -> train(4 hours)->
Ho Chi Minh City -> Mekong Delta (Can Tho/Chau Doc)
Our 3 favorites things to do
A food tour is not only a good entry to Vietnamese cuisine but a nice introduction to the history as well. We did a food tour in Hanoi and wandered through all the small streets while enjoying small bites here and there. From Bahn Mi to Egg Coffee, you get to try it all. After this, we were less reluctant to eat from street carts and started to experiment a lot more!
If you’re into kite surfing or surfing in general, this is your spot. But even if you don’t participate in these activities it’s nice to just hang out at the beach. We just relaxed here for a week or two and just did whatever we wanted. But if you’re up for some activity go check out the dunes. There pretty awesome as well and there are a lot of tours that will take you there.
In Ho Chi Minh City you’ll find a lot of tours to visit the Mekong Delta, which you totally should do. But don’t just go for a day, take a 2- or 3-day tour to see more of this amazing area. We went for 3 days and you really get a feel of what life is like for these people. We visited a floating market, lots of local workers, and a temple as well. And don’t forget to try the coconut candy!
Where to stay
If you travel to Vietnam you have a lot of options of where to stay. From luxury resorts to simple hotel rooms and hostels, there’s something for every budget. It all depends on where you’re going.
Some of our favorites:
Located in the heart of the coastal resort town of Mui Ne, on top of a 300 m high hill, Mui Ne Hills Bliss Hotel features an outdoor pool, restaurant, and bar.
Hanoi Old Town is a hotel in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. A great way to really dive into Vietnamese culture and food. The rooms are modern and cozy.
This hotel is close to the train station in Ho Chi Minh City which makes it convenient if you have to catch an early train or come back late and you don’t want to hassle.
Ho Chi Minh City