I have to start by saying what a fantastic country Vietnam is. It was our last country to travel through during our journey through South East Asia (SEA) and we had mixed feelings about what the country might be like.
Other travellers had told us it was their stand-out country during their backpacking adventure, but to some backpackers the country had left a negative impression.
However it’s all down to personal opinion and we ventured East from Kampot, Cambodia, to the Ha Tien border crossing and began our journey from Phu Quoc to the Northern city of Hanoi, stopping off at Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Mekong river, Cu Chi tunnels, Da Nang and Hoi An.
1. Cat Ba Island- We are not the type to go and party the night away so from what we researched, avoiding a tourist cruise on the Ha Long Bay with hundreds of other tourists was the correct decision. Instead we decided on Cat Ba Island just to the South of Ha Long Bay. A very quiet unspoilt Island with a night market, street food, cheap guesthouses and a great little harbour where you can pay for a whole day cruise to the Ha Long Bay and then Kayak through caves and grotos with a beautiful lunch of seafood, rice, vegetables and cold beer for around £20. This was a highlight of our entire journey through SEA and saved us a lot of money!
2. Hoi An- Wow! Located exactly halfway between the northern city of Hanoi and the capital of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), this picturesque town will steal your heart from the moment you arrive. We kept increasing our stay night by night because we loved it so much. Another chilled out and peaceful town where you can take in life as it passes by at its slow pace. The architecture here is very unique and a must see when in Vietnam.
3. Vietnam War Museum Ho Chi Minh- although the images on the walls and the stories told are very one sided towards Vietnam, the museum is definitely worth visiting to learn about the war between them and the USA. An eye opener with some disturbing images and real clothing and weapons from those involved during this period.
4. Cheap Beer- Everyone enjoys an ice cold beer and we enjoy them even more when they cost around 50p for a large Saigon. Everyone’s a winner!
5. Mekong Delta tour- Although this tour was very touristy we experienced a lot of cool things like how coconut candy is made by locals, how honey tea is made and what it tastes like, a trip down a tight estuary off of the Mekong river on a rowing boat and lunch included for around £8. A bargain and a highlight!
By Alan Bogle.