South Vietnam

Vietnam Travel Blog

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Happy to have left Saigon, Daniel and I made our way south to the Mekong Delta, where we found the city of Can Tho.  Other than the few tourists that visit on day trips to cruise the river and see the floating markets, this region is untouched by tourism.  We rented motorbikes and were off to see the Delta.  The area is quite beautiful with a system of waterways that seemingly never ends.  Life along the delta is slow, laidback and the people are down to earth.  We stayed in Can Tho over a week and explored the surrounding area extensively via motorbike.  We were also lucky enough to visit the property of a new Vietnamese friend and enjoy the many fruits from their orchards.  Afterwards, we watched a catfish harvest from their fish farm (its one of those things you must see once in your life).  The same day we were also fortunate to take in a cock fight.  Check out the video....Unfortunately, our friends' rooster was on the losing end of the blade and was therefore served up for sunday dinner...

We departed Can Tho having enjoyed our first Vietnamese experiences outside of Saigon.  Next, we arrived to the cool climate in the hills of Dalat.  Dalat had less character than I had imagined, to be honest.  We again rented motorbikes and ventured out to the chicken village and other surrounding hill tribes.  Nothing too crazy to report other than running over a puppy..... my first kill in Vietnam (LOL).  Had a good time otherwise, but I wouldn't classify Dalat as a 'must see' destination on your trip thru Vietnam...Nice change of climate, as its at 1400m and very cool at night...

The road north next stopped on the coast in Na Trang.  The sky is blue and the water too, but the feeling you get there is very strange.  There is a small area of the city that is completely for tourism, separate from the rest of the city.  We found this to be the case in much of the country.  Luckily we rented motorbikes most of the time and were thus able to stay where we wanted and access local life as it exists without tourism.  Na Trang is another place I wouldn't classify as a 'must see' destination...  You can find better and more secluded beaches further north at China beach.

We took the overnight bus north to Hoi An.  Overnight buses in Vietnam are interesting to say the least.  They stick you in a small area, enough for an Asian to fit into, for sleeping.  This cocoon is where you sit/lie for the 12 hour bus journey.  Its a convenient and cost effective way to travel because you get to travel at night, which saves your days to see places of interest and it saves you money, as the bus costs the same amount as a hotel room.  Essentially you are travelling from place to place for free when you consider the cost of accommodation.  However, the sleeping nook can be really small and uncomfortable, depending on which bus and which 'bed' you get...  My first one was too small, but this one was a much better fit.

We arrived in Hoi An, which is actually a very beautiful village, with great architecture and a rich history.  It was largely untouched by the bombs of the Vietnam War (American War as they call it).  This made the town a major tourist destination.  Again, we were saved by the motorbikes, as we covered the areas outlying Hoi An for 5 days, including China Beach, which we found to be the best beach in Vietnam.  The water is clean and there are vast stretches of beach with no people at all. 

Next, we took a short bus trip further north to Da Nang.  Very few tourists go to Da Nang, as it is simply a city with relatively little tourist infrastructure.  This was perfect for us because we prefer to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants where they see little to no tourists at all.  We find that we are treated better, have a more authentic experience and do it at half the price.  Why people want to stay in tourist hotels, in sections of cities specified for tourism I'll never understand (rant).  We had a great night in Da  Nang and that's all I can write about our evening there....LOL

The next day we took the train (Reunification Express) north to Dong Ha.  We had heard how wonderful it was to take the train, so we thought we'd give it a shot, especially because this section of track runs high along the coast, overlooking the South China Sea.  As we boarded the train, we quickly realized that it wasn't going to be the most comfortable of journeys.  We sat in the train for 30 minutes with the windows shut and power off.  This turned our train into a steambath.  Not a good start.  Then, I noticed a few small critters around my feet.  Before I knew it, they were around my seat too and they weren't so small.  So our costal train ride quickly became a cockroach-infested steam bath.... only without the bath.  However, as proceeded up the coast, the views were actually stunning and it did cool down when the train got full power.  I'm happy we decided to take the train for just that one stretch of coast line.  The next stop was a place very few tourists visit in Vietnam.....Dong Ha.
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