My time in Vietnam is now over… Why!? Vietnam is a country that is easy to love. I really adored Vietnam, however, if I was going to revisit Vietnam there are a few places I would probably not go back to. In this blog post I’m going to present my best 2 weeks travel itinerary for Vietnam. This plan will of course be after my own personal preference, and as we all know “preferences are like the ass; always divided in two” (haha, I just had to translate that Norwegian saying!), so please don’t kill me if it doesn’t fit your taste buds. You can read more in detail about my 3 weeks in Vietnam in my previous blog posts:
Before we break down your 2 weeks in Vietnam (lucky bastard!), let’s have a look at some key information for this country:
It is easy to find good affordable accommodation most places. Our budget was about $10-15 per night for a double room, and we had no difficulties what so ever finding places. A couple more bucks will give you an air con room.
It is so easy to get around. Sinhcafe Travel is a reliable bus company that have very good prices and can take you to most places around Vietnam. Remember to book your ticket 1-2 days in advance to avoid disappointment. You can also travel by train, but this tend to be double the price and not be necessarily faster or more comfortable.
Traveling within Saigon and Hanoi, Uber is definitely the best transportation: Cheap, safe, and fast!
Tuk tuks can also be a cheap way to get around in the cities (be prepared to bargain like a maniac!).
Hallelujah! Don’t worry, you will eat like a king. Even the non-Vietnamese food can be extremely tasty. This country will scare any diets away; so enjoy. Please have a look at my previous blog posts from the different cities to find out which restaurants you should not skip.
You can pay for anything in Dong and dollars.
Keep in mind you can get some really good deals, but put away your shyness and bargain on EVERYTHING!
English is generally well spoken and if not there is always an eagerness to communicate with signs and sounds.
Criminality is low for tourists, but thefts do happen (like in most other places), so keep an eye on your stuff and don’t be naive.
Most people are very service minded and super friendly. However, in the more touristy places you do get the feeling that they just look at you as a wallet. Vietnam is what Thailand used to be; the country of smiles. The people of Vietnam are probably one of the main reasons why I adore this country so much.
Despite the busy tourist areas there are some really beautiful hidden pearls. It is actually possible to get away from the crowds and just enjoy the view all by yourself, you just have to be willing to walk 100 extra meters away from them. Wherever you are, it is wise to ask a local or an expat where you can find a quite spot; in this way you get to experience something a bit more exclusive and unspoilt.
Vietnam is the home of some of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen! By now you should know that I often judge a country based on its menu of nature. Words can’t describe the beauty of Vietnam.
Again, personal preference: I think the North is the best starting point as most of the places I’ll recommend are in the north and down to the middle of the country.
One of the few big cities in the world I actually really like. I’m a country girl at heart (well, not really, but I like to think so), so it takes a lot for me to like overcrowded places. “Colours, lights, smells, music and traffic will position your mind in a stage between overwhelmed and totally high. You will forget your own name and the roads will continuously surprise you with new knowledge”, just go back to my Hanoi blog post to read more. Hanoi is the place where you let go; you let go of planning and you go where the traffic takes you. You will walk into new streets all the time and then you will never find them again…
We stayed in Lucky Guesthouse 2, which was okay enough (clean, good bed, and super helpful staff).
Remember to try the famous Vietnamese sandwich: Bahn Mi. You can find them all over the city, and often the best ones are also the cheapest ones (look for stands along the road).
For a nice coffee break, try the Note Cafe.
The kingdom of rice paddy fields… This is a wonderful place for hiking, and it gives you a nice break from the crazy city life. It is very easy and cheap taking a bus from Hanoi, and the journey is about 4-5 hours. Personally I don’t think you would need more than 2 nights here, as except for hiking there is not really anything else to do. Get away from the main Sapa centre and try to stay closer to the actual rice paddy fields. We stayed at Sapa Volunteer Homestay, which was extremely basic, but literarily in the middle of the paddy landscape. Remember to bring a torch in case you do not get back from your hike before it gets dark. The temperature in Sapa can be quite chilly so bring layers and good shoes.
Take the bus back to Hanoi in the morning. Whatever you do, do not take a bus when it is dark; the roads down from the mountain can easily be your one-way ticket to death.
There are several options of getting to Hoi An from Hanoi. What we did was getting a cheap ($20) flight from Hanoi to Danang and then a taxi to Hoi An. You can also take a 24-hour bus journey or 19 hours by train. This is actually one of the places from my entire backpacking trip that I wouldn’t mind spending a full month in. It is the home of relaxation and temptations. You can easily spend a lot of money here, and this is not because it is especially expensive, it is just so much tasty and beautiful things to consume everywhere. I really recommend this affordable guesthouse, Thu Bon Riverside Homestay, run by the cutest lady ever.
Food vice; there are so many great options! The Morning Glory Restaurant and The Cargo Club Restaurant have to be on your list.
There are great tailors all over the city and you can get ANYTHING made personally for you. If you are looking for cheaper options I would go to the market and have a talk with some of the less fancy stalls. Remember to bargain like you are a local, and don’t be scared to walk away (they will come running after you).
Do you wanna try living the island life with locals? Get in touch with one of the organisations that are directly in contact with some of the families on the Cham island. We used the Homestay Bai Huong company, but there are several others to choose from. The guest family you stay with will most likely not speak English so it is good to have someone in advance to plan everything for you. The only thing you will have to do is getting there by boat from Hoi An in the morning. We paid about $25 per person for 2 days; including lunch, dinner, snorkelling, fruit and drinks all day, boat trip with fishing, beach drop off, and breakfast. Keep in mind this is the real island life, so forget about electricity (sleeping in such heat is a challenge). Get the boat back to Hoi An the next morning.
From Hoi An you can take a bus or train to Nha Trang. We took an overnight bus. This is an okay option if you can handle the active road dance in combination with sleep. Personally, I would not do this again as the next day was kind of ruined after my crappy sleep. Flying might be a better option.
The city in itself is not seen as classically ‘beautiful’. However, give it some time to show you its bubbly soul. You will not be bored! Everything from beach walks, flying yoga, mud baths, and rooftop dancing will put a satisfied grin on your face. Read all about it on my blog post from Nha Trang.
One thing you just have to do is eat at this Greek restaurant: MIX. You will thank me!
If you fancy a physical challenge try flying yoga with Victoria. ‘Hard workout’ will get a complete new level!
We did our mud bath at I-Resort, which was what I would call a ‘unique’ experience. It might remind me more of a waterpark than a spa, but it was definitely worth the splurge. Nha Trang will be the perfect ending on a hopefully already successful holiday through the wonders of Vietnam.
So what are you waiting for!? Get on that plane and explore Vietnam!
Quote Of The Day:
“To belong nowhere is a blessing and a curse, like any kind of freedom.”
― Leah Stewar