Vietnam is one of my favourite South East Asia Country. The first time I travelled to Vietnam was with my sister back in 2014 where we travelled to Ho Chi Minh, or also known as Saigon. My second time was during my first solo travels in which I explored the northern part of Vietnam. And my third time in mid-2017 in which in explore Central Vietnam down to the Southern region.
One of the reasons why I love Vietnam is for the amazing food. Most people would be familiar with the famous ‘Pho’ but I honestly do not like it that much as it tasted pretty normal. The amazing part about Vietnam is they have different local delicacies in each cities.
As I am writing this, I am sort of reflecting on my entire experience here in Vietnam throughout the past 3 times I was there. From places I have been, my thoughts on the place, the people here, things I love and regret. Sort of a personal journal I would say but this would be a good read if you are travelling to Vietnam anytime soon.
Places I Have Been
Vietnam is the 3rd biggest South East Asian country by population size. Though it is not as big as Indonesia, there is so much to explore here in Vietnam. Here are some of the places I have been and also the common places that travellers would recommend in general.
Hanoi is the 2nd largest city in Vietnam after Ho Chi Minh. If you were to ask the locals, they would certainly tell you that Vietnam’s true culture originate from the Northern region. As such, Hanoi is one place you would not want to miss. There are many things you can do here in the city itself with some prominent site to visit such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Opera House, Hoa Lo, Dong Xuan Market, Night Market and exploring Old Quarters.
Generally, it is a nice place to chill. You will certainly meet lots of travellers here and most of the hostels in Old Quarters are party hostels. Those that travel to Hanoi will make a trip down to trek Sapa.
Things to try: Bia Hoi (local draft beer) which can be bought at VND5,000 (USD0.25) and Bun Cha Ha Noi which happens to be a popular dish in Hanoi.
Sapa is located north of Hanoi which is a popular stop for travellers in the Northern region. There are many ways to get there and it all comes down to your research skills and budget. You can read more on my 3 days 2 nights trek in Sapa. It was one of the best trekking experience in Vietnam that you will have to witness yourself. The view is just spectacular and to be able to be around nature, that is something you do not get every day.
Further in the central region is this small city called Hue where the Imperial City is located. It happened to be one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which is why it is one of the common stops for travellers. The attractions do not only end there. Located in between Hue to Hoi An are lots of other places you might want to check it out. Read more on the best way to travel from Hue to Hoi An so you do not miss any of those places.
Things to try: Bun Bo Hue (local dish)
Getting Around: Renting a bicycle, motorbike or by foot depending on where you are planning to go
This is my second favourite place after Hanoi. The only reason why I do not like this place as much as much as Hanoi is how touristy Hoi An can be. Ancient Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is located here as well. You can truly experience the ‘heritage’ vibe here in Hoi An. If that does not excite you, you can always cycle down to the beach nearby.
Travelling to Hoi An soon? You can read more about things you should know and do in Hoi An.
Things to Try: Mi Quang and Cao Lao (local dishes there) and Banh Mi Phuong (recommended by Anthony Bourdain)
Getting Around: Bicycle which is available for rent or provided for free by most hostels.
Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam after Saigon and Hanoi so expect a city vibe. Most travellers only stop over for a couple of days before heading to Hue or Hoi An as most tourists would have flown directly into Da Nang. You can always visit the dragon bridge when you are there which have a spectacular fire and water show every night at 9 pm.
There are also other attractions such as the Marble Mountain which is on the way to Hoi An. You can read more about how I visit those attractions here.
Getting Around: Grab is widely in use here in Da Nang and it is ridiculously cheap.
Well known for their amazing beaches is this city located in between Saigon and Hoi An. There are mixed reviews about this place as well. Some tourist seems to enjoy this place a lot whereas some do not particularly like it. Personally, I do have a mixed feeling about this place. But I never dislike places I go as each new place we go allows us to learn something from it.
One thing about Nha Trang that shocked me is the number of Russian tourists there. You can read more about my travels in Nha Trang here.
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh or better know as Saigon is a very popular stop here in Vietnam. It is the biggest city in Vietnam and also the capital of Vietnam. Saigon happens to be the first place I travel in Vietnam and I would say I do not like it as much as Hanoi. But it is still a place to visit. There are lots of places to visit such as the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Cu Chi Tunnel and even the National Post office itself.
Getting Around: Grab and Uber is widely used here.
Things I regret not doing
The biggest regret I had is not visiting some of the places here in Vietnam. I will definitely be back again if I have the chance but probably not so soon. The first two places I regret not going is Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh which is in the northern region. To be fair, I was having a tight schedule so I would not be able to make it anyway.
I have also heard good things about Da Lat which I did not go. I would probably not go again as I would not go back to the Southern region for this one place. But if you happen to travel in the Southern region, do stop by here.
Have you been to Vietnam? Which part of Vietnam do you love most?
- Travel to Hoi An: Things you should know and things you can do there
- Best way to travel from Hue to Hoi An in Vietnam
- Nha Trang Travel Guide: Why are russian everywhere and should you go?
- 3 days 2 nights trekking Sapa, Vietnam
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