Duration: 1 month. Budget: Backpackers / Cheap cheap cheap ! Solo traveller.
May 2015, occasional thunderstorms
Good to know: The Vietnamese sleeper buses are comfortable and great to save time ! Warning though, the drivers have the reputation to be rude with tourists and some people “lost” a few things during the night trip (I always kept my small bag between my legs with a small lock).
Ho Chi Minh City
- Recover from the jet-lag, and get used to the motorbikes, everything is buzzing, noisy, smelly – a lot to take in !
- 23/9 Park, nothing super special but a bit of greenery in this crazy world , nice to meet with the locals and talk to local students
- Bon Thank Market local food market – have your first the Bo Bun there 🙂
- Visit the War remnants museum to understand the Vietnam war
- Stay : Madam Cuc 127, nothing special but it was nice to have my own room for the first night.
Can Tho, Mekong Delta
- 4h of local bus from HCMC
- Stayed at Hotel Xoai , nice terrasse on the top floor
- The hostel organised a food tour – try to find a food tour there as the place is not as touristic as the rest of Vietnam so it will be a “local” experience
- Cai Rang & Phong Dien Market – not to be missed ! l would advise to find someone / a tour the day before and do really early in the morning.
- Try the typical Hot Pot in a local restaurant – special but great !
- 8h of night bus from Can Tho – Mui Ne (and Nha Trang) are both party places, really touristic sites and the beaches are not amazing. I would definitely skip these cities if short of time
- Stayed at Mui Ne Backpacker Village, the pool was a nice thing to have but it was a party hostel. Dorms were busy and noisy.
- White and Red sand Dunes tour – it was cool day but not great, it is touristic and if you have seen dunes before you won’t be really impressed.
- I loved this mountainous “french colonial” feel of the city, people usually go there for the canyoning.
- Stayed at dalat friendly fun, nice family-owned hostel, the canoeing tour they organise is great. Also, the family cooked dinner for people from the hostel.
- 12 hours of sleeper bus from Dalat- 1 quick stop at Nha Trang
- Wouldn’t recommend my hostel (Sac Lo homestay, too far from the center). Others stayed at Central backpacker – supposed to be nice and quite central.
- Super cute city (day time as well as night time) – but REALLY touristic
- A lot of people buy tailored clothes / suit / dresses there – you will need to plan at least 2 days to have it made though.
- My favourite thing was to rent a bike cycle around. I went to An Bang beach – quite far away but going through local sceneries and this is a long white-sand nice beach away from the crowd (is it still the case? Not sure)
- I met 3 woman on An Bang beach (they had a small stall selling food) , they invited me in the evening and cooked for me (for free!) – I know they now have a BnB located in Cam Thanh village (tuấn trần , email@example.com).
- Did a great cooking course (in a remote local village) with Hoian Eco Coconut Tour.
Phong Nha national park,
- Can be used as a stop between Hoi An to Hanoi. I arrived in the afternoon, did the tour the next day and got a bus directly after the tour to Hanoi. You come here to see the caves, and this is really touristic.
- Stayed at Easy Tiger Backpacker, apparently the best hostel in Phong Nha to meet people – and it was indeed a really social hostel with a nice terrasse, easy to meet people.
- I did the Park tour organised by the hostel – great to visit the caves, do some zip-lining and mud-bathing, day full of fun.
Cat Ba Island
- Went there to see Halong Bay in the “local” way, it takes time and Cat Ba is not a pretty town, but the views of Halong Bay from that side are gorgeous.
- Organised a tour of Halong Bay with Kayaking from one of the agencies on the sea front.
- Stayed at Cat Ba guesthouse , nice guesthouse.
- it takes time to get there, but once there, it is incredible.
- Stayed at mountain view hostel – great hostel (but check now, because the reviews seem to have changed…)
- Did a 3 days trek with one of the traditional woman (I had a recommendation and phone number from someone I met previously. Try during your trip to talk to people who did it, they will share numbers).
- Bac Ha market – local market, 3 hours from Sapa but it was worth it. It wasn’t really touristic then, but now? The different tribes go to do their shopping / trading there.
- I LOVED this city and it is worth taking a few days there.
- Stayed at Hanoi Rocks – not recommended, it is a party hostel with a night club…
- Stayed at Central Backpackers Hotel in the old quarter – really nice, friendly and social (big dorms)
- Went to the Beer Corner (apparently one of the 7 places in the world where you HAVE TO go to drink a beer once in your lifetime) and Nola caffe
- Took time to walk around the city (walk walk walk a lot, even to remote random areas), drank coffees (a lot) on small stools in the street from early morning when city gets up, talked to students near the lake, go to street food stalls
- Only take the blue and white cabs called ‘taxigroup’ the others will try to scam you.