Vietnam: Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Nga Trang, Mui Ne, Siagon

6 Mar

Our first 2 nights in Bangkok were nice. New Year’s was festive and although we stayed on Khao San Road which is very touristy, we slept the next day until 4.30 in the afternoon! It took me a week before I adjusted to the time difference so hardly slept at all after that.

Vietnam was quite scary because it was all unknown. But all went smoothly and the flight into Hanoi was simple enough although we flew with an Asian company and the food was very spicy! Hanoi was crazy! Worse than Saigon, I thought. There were so many motorbikes on narrow streets and the people were not very friendly. It rained non stop though so we didn’t get to see Halong Bay. We are trying to plan it into our itinerary for the end of our trip (which ends in Hanoi). We bought open bus tickets to Hue, Hoi An, Nga Trang, Mui Ne and then to Saigon for $40 and this meant we could hop onto the bus at anytime with only a days notice. It was a night time sleeping bus so everyone gets a bed. The first leg of the journey was great with pillows and blankets and a comfy bed to sleep on but after that the sleeping buses have been terrible. The drivers drive very fast, hooting every few seconds (even at 1 in the morning), the toilets stink or don’t work and the bus is so old that everything rattles and sways. We think we booked through the wrong company!

Hue was cool. We got to see some temples and we went to see tunnels from the war. They aren’t as small as the ho chi ming tunnels but they were less touristy than the chu chin ones so it was worth seeing.

We really loved Hoi An. We stayed outside the city centre and it was a quiet reprieve from the cities. Its old style buildings and small narrow streets felt very peaceful. Their big thing is making clothes and shoes and we got fancy suits made for quite cheap! The shoes we got made look great but don’t really fit. It’s genuine leather so the shoe maker kept saying they’ll stretch. We’ve too nervous to try them in case they blister badly and they take up a lot of space in our bags so while the idea was cool, it might not have been necessarily the best idea so early in the trip. We did hire a motorbike once and went to the beach but the weather was cold and rainy.

It did heat up as we went further South and although Nga Trang was warm, it still rained. However, we were determined to enjoy the beach so I lay on the beach in jeans and a jersey and read my book and Baden braved a swim. We tried to do a bit of exercise here, running on the beach and stretches but I think travelling exhausted me so much, that it wasn’t very fun!

Mui Ne was very cool. It was the first place that we didn’t have accommodation pre-booked and that was a disaster. Everything was so expensive and we walked up and down, up and down with our heavy backpacks, eventually settling for a very smart place which cost us $55/night. We were so grumpy and tired that we didn’t really enjoy the first day there. We’ve learnt it’s easier to find a place on the internet the day before – especially because most places pick you up from the bus stop. Luckily, the next day we finally saw the sun and it was beautiful – but taking clues from the other red-faced travellers in the town, we lathered ourselves with sun screen and hats so avoided any sun burning. We got to swim too which was awesome.

We caught our last Vietnam crappy bus to Saigon, arrived late and left early the next day. We got to see the city life and night markets but were running out of time since we’d spent 2 weeks in Vietnam so now only had 2 weeks for Cambodia and Laos combined.

We decided we were done with crappy buses so booked at $12 bus through to Cambodia which was a good thing because there was a tour guide who helped us with our visas! Border crossings can be quite hairy for independent travellers I think. Much later in our trip, however, we would find out that passport control had stamped one of the passport’s USED, despite it being a multi entry. This proved to be a massive problem when we tried to retry to Vietnam for our return flight!


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