30 April 2015

Good Morning Vietnam

Vietnam has grown into a backpacker haven, therefore I felt it apt to look at some of the popular destinations to visit and all the places I have visited and would recommend.


Firstly, Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam and a city where you can really see the true hustle and bustle mixed with the calmness of Vietnamese life. The city is what I would expect from a South East Asian metropolitan, with little markets, hundreds of mopeds and the Vietnamese locals sitting out on the porches of their shops throughout the night. Hanoi is a great city to start in if you’re backpacking through Vietnam, as firstly it’s accessible by plane, but it also then gives you the distance to travel to the other popular destinations. There are plenty of hostels at crazy cheap prices, with cheap drink and food to match. You’ll find tonnes of knock-offs and fakes on the streets and might even be lucky enough to find the whole James Bond boxset for £8 like I did.

Halong Bay

One of the contenders for the Seven Wonders of the natural world and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Halong Bay can only really be accessed by boat but that’s easy enough to do from travel agents/boat trip shops in Hanoi which is where I booked my trip a day in advance. There are different levels of trip but all differ depending on what standard of room you want, if you want food included etc etc. We were lucky and for some reason got upgraded to a better boat for free. A few hours drive from Hanoi (usually included in the boat trip package) you board the boat and set sail on to some of the most outstanding sights and waters you will ever see. Expect pirate style ships, kayak trips, and caves which you are allowed to explore. Then to top it all of have a few beers on the deck at night and sleep under the stars.


Sapa isn’t on everyone’s agenda but I really enjoyed this place and I would recommend it. Sapa is north of Hanoi and we took an overnight sleeper train which took about 8 hours. Be sure to book these trains at least 2-3 days in advance to guarantee a soft sleeper bed. It isn’t much more money, but they go fast and they are completely worth it! Sapa is a town filled with waterfalls, rice paddy fields and extremely friendly locals. My trip consisted of a small hike over one of the waterfalls, walks around the fields with a local guiding us and £4 massages for a whole hour! At prices like this you can’t argue against places like Sapa where the views are one of a kind, and the prices to eat, drink and shop are crazy cheap.

Hoi An

When I travelled through Vietnam we didn’t have enough time to visit Hoi An, which many backpackers said was their most favourite place (screw them...) Hoi An is a backpacker and tourist town with plenty of bars, hostels and restaurants, hence its popularity. The city is more ‘old-town' than the capital, so it’s a great place to rent a bike and not be scared that you will die by moped. The town is definitely more traditional with more temples and more authentic Vietnamese architecture than previous cities you may have visited and a great place to have your tailoring done. I’ve heard of many people who buy a few suits in Hoi An, which may seem odd but you won’t be able to find cheaper prices for the quality anywhere else.

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh is probably the most western of any of the cities mentioned, but it still has its Vietnamese charm. The city is great to explore more about the Vietnam War, so taking a look at the History Museum and War Remnants Museum is worth doing. The main sight I can recommend seeing is the Cu Chi Tunnels which is a fun but also educational trip. You get to climb through the tunnels yourself and even fire a gun if you’re into pretending to be manly. Apart from the wartime sights, you can also visit the magnificent palace which is a spectacle. After being cultural, you can get drunk and eat in Ho Chi Minh really cheaply. Be sure to try some local Vietnamese beer, which I believe is actually called Saigon. This city is definitely worth a visit, even if just to see how different Vietnamese culture can be from city to city. This country has a great deal to offer any backpacker.

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