My Vietnam Adventure
I was so excited to take my first trip to Vietnam. It was actually a business trip and one of the perks of my job at the time... How lucky was I?
All I needed to do was learn about the country, visit the hotels we were selling, take the tours and excursions and become a Vietnam guru!
So I spent a few weeks travelling the width and breadth of Vietnam. By plane, traditional boats, trains and even on the back of a scooter. I learnt about the local culture, history and religion and tasted some incredible dishes with local people in authentic villages and restaurants.
My Journey starts in Saigon
After a 12 hour flight, we landed in Ho Chi Minh, formally known as Saigon. No time to rest we were off to the Cu Chi tunnels to learn about the tiny hiding places underground that served the Vietnam army. The city is crazy with a deluge of mopeds and scooters hosting entire families balanced intricately with no helmets or safety fears. Crossing the road was heart-stopping, but amazingly no one seemed to get run over. The vibrant markets were cheap and welcoming and the street food was truly amazing.
Postcard from the Mekong
An early start from Can Tho and we were off down the river to see the floating markets on the Mekong Delta. The friendly locals adorned with bread, fruit and crafts swarmed the riverbanks and the trading was riveting. I could not resist the fresh bananas and melons for just a few Vietnamese Dong!
A tasty bowl of the local Pho is a must to try when in Vietnam and was my go-to dish throughout the trip.
Snapshot of Hanoi
Hanoi seemed more modern but just as busy as Ho Chi Minh. A highlight for me was the Vietnamese cooking class with an abundance of fragrant herbs and a chance to cook my own bowl of Pho for lunch.
In the evening we saw an authentic water puppet show before walking around the French Quarter of Hanoi and stopping to see the beautiful Opera House.
Phenomenal Halong Bay
Nothing could have prepared me for the awesome scenery found at Halong Bay.
The limestone karsts make this a natural wonder worthy of a World Heritage listing. I loved our old traditional junk boat with a comfortable cabin a pre-planned trip to some amazing caves as well as some yoga and tai chi classes at sunset and sunrise, this was truly my idea of paradise.
Da Nang & Hoi An
So after the incredible sights of Halong Bay, it was time to explore the beaches and hotels of Da Nang and Hoi An. Stunning hotels set on a glorious beach lapped by the South China Sea - why are we not swarming to Vietnam?
I have incredible memories of streets filled with lanterns and floating candles on the river banks of Hoi Ann as well as some relaxing treatments at the hotel spa and locally caught fresh fish for a superb evening meal.
Someone once said to me they went on holiday to Vietnam and came back slimmer. Actually, the diet and the lifestyle did seem to counteract my usual weight gain and I would fully recommend eating the local dishes.
The main tip is a good umbrella or waterproof in your bag and always good to have a few Dong handy for markets where credit card not taken but great souvenirs and bargains to be had.
When to Go
Vietnam is an incredible year-round destination and narrowing down the best time to go is sometimes a little daunting. With the country being over 1,000 miles long although not vast it's very diverse, so the weather can vary a lot from place to place which you may want to consider if you are taking a tour around the whole country.
I travelled in late March and although I saw plenty of sunny skies, I also had a few heavy downpours of rain!
Vietnam truly surprised me and I am truly passionate to inspire people to travel and experience this amazing country and I can't wait to return again sometime soon.
Written by Andrea King