Vietnam Travel Blog

 › entry 28 of 30 › view all entries

March 23rd - We were up and checked out by 7am and Glyn, the owner gave us a lift to the airport. Our flight was at 8.35am, back to Bangkok! We arrived there about 9.30am and then had about a six and a half hour wait. We had to spend the first couple of hours in the front part of the airport before we could check in so we had some breakfast. We then checked in for the next flight about midday and then made our way through to the departure lounges. Luckily the new airport in Bangkok is really nice so we managed to find things to do to pass the time. There were loads of shops to look around etc. Our flight to Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam was at 3.55pm and we arrived there by 5pm. We got our bags quite quickly and made our way to immigration. Neil had his passport checked first before Emma but once we were both through we realised that our passports had been stamped saying we had to leave the country by 16th April and we're not due to fly out until 21st! Basically we had been badly misinformed by the guy in the Vietnamese embassy where we got our visas in Laos.

We tried to speak to the guys at immigration but there was nothing they could do. We were both very annoyed! We then caught a taxi to the guesthouse we had booked which was nice. We had a walk around the area which was great, buzzing with life and had a really good feel to it. We had mexican food for dinner. 

March 24th - We got up and first stopped off in a travel place and asked about our visas and we were told what we already knew, that we would have to get a whole new 30 day visa even though we only needed another 5 days. We then decided to go to the immigration office but when we turned up it was mahem. There must have been about 300 people in there waiting so we decided that for an extra $10 each we would pay one of the travel agents to get them for us.

So that's what we did, we went back to one of the travel agents and paid them $30 each to get a new visa and we could pick them up in 3 days. We spent the afternoon chilling out before going out in the evening for a few drinks.

March 25th - We decided to do the Walking tour out of the Lonely Planet. The first stop on the walk was a cafe that specialises in Pho Bo was is a Vietnamese popular dish, it is noodle soup with Beef and then chilli's etc, but it can come with seafood or chicken. Emma had Beef and Neil had chicken. This place was made famous when Bill Clinton had lunch there in the 1990's and then were photos of him all over the walls. The next stop was Ben Tranh market which is a very famous indoor market, it was massive and they sell everything from clothes, souvenirs, food etc.

Outside of the market is a massive roundabout that shows the 'real Vietnam'. There are thousands of mopeds and bikes all the time and the traffic is the busiest we've seen anywhere, this was where we first tried to cross the road and it was a scary experience but after a while you get used to it. They say that the population of Ho Chi Minh is between 9 & 10 million and there are more than 5 million motorbikes. We then walked and saw some other buildings before going to the Museum of Ho Chi Minh was was ok before e went to the War Remnants museum that was very interesting and eye opening, we both learnt a lot about the war there. By the time we came out of there it was about 5pm so we walked back to our guesthouse before chilling out.

March 26th - We decided to have a lazy day and stayed local around District 1 which is the backpacker district of Ho Chi Minh. We love the buzz around there with loads of cafes, restaurants, beer halls etc. We found a great little cafe-bar that was very cheap and sold Mango Shakes which Emma has really got to love in Asia. Neil loved the very cheap beer there as well. In the eveing we booked our 2 day, 1 night trip to the Mekong Delta followed by the boat to take us to Phu Quoc island, we got a really good deal for the trip. We also booked open bus tickets to take us all the way up north of Vietnam to Hanoi stopping at about 5 places on the way.

March 27th - We paid $5 each to go on a trip to visit the Cu Chi tunnels. We left on a bus about 8.30am and after an hour made a stop at a Crafts factory where all the workers are handicapped, it was set up after the war to give these people jobs. They make handicrafts etc. We then drove for another hour before arriving at the Cu Chi tunnels. Cu Chi is a district about 70km outside of the city and during the war, the Cu Chi people built over 200km of underground tunnels where they lived during daylight hours as it was a main spot for American bombings. The tunnels are still there today and at first we watched a video followed by a talk from one of the duides. You are then shown to one of the tunnels and are allowed to go down and have a look. The tunnels are tiny but a few people went down.

They are so narrow and the people said they were pitch black and they had to crawl along on their stomachs, it wasn't until they all came out that they realised there were bats down there as well! We were then shown around some of the traps that were set up during the war to injur Americans on the ground. From there we were shown to a shooting range where you could buy bullets to try out guns that were used in the war. We both shot an AK47 which was so powerful, we loved it! We were then shown to some tunnels (more for tourists) that were a bit bigger than the others, the section was over 100 metres long but had exits at every 20 metres in case people wanted to get out. Although these tunnels were bigger they were still very small and we both didn't like them much so we got out as soon as we could! This was the end of the tour and we were given some tapioca to try which was great.
The bus then took us back to Ho Chi Minh and we arrived back about 2.30pm. At about 5pm we went and picked up our passports and new visas. In the evening we went to book our bus tickets to Muine where we were going to go for a couple of nights before our Mekong Delta trip. The accommodation there sounded expensive and we couldn't book anything online so we decided against it. We then went and had a look around a few other guesthouses and decided to change rooms the next night for a change.

March 28th -  We checked out and walked round the corner to the new guesthouse. Neil wanted to have a look at some more tailors as he was thinking of getting a suit made. We asked at the reception of our guesthouse and they told us about a place around the corner but they must have misheard us as the place was more like a posh mall.

We then decided to go for a walk around and found a duty free which sold DVDs, we got 5 DVDs, all fairly new films for 50p each. We then carried on walking and saw the cathedral in the centre of the city and the very old post office building. That night we had Pho Bo in a recommended restaurant which was good, followed by a few drinks and then back to our room to watch the England international friendly.

March 29th - As it was Sunday we decided to have a lazy day and stayed in bed til about 2pm! We then went out and walked around a few tailor shops as Neil was still interested in getting a suit. We found a nice tailors where the two women working in there were very friendly and Neil ended up getting measured up and ordering a suit and arranging to pick it up in a weeks time when we were back in Ho Chi Minh.

The suit was plain navy blue and in high quality material. We had a few things to buy etc so just spent the afternoon locally before walking to Ben Thanh market in the evening for some street food and a look around the market (we seperated for about half an hour so Neil could do some birthday shopping!) We then walked back to the guesthouse and a bit of TV.

March 30th - We got up and walked back to Ben Thanh market where the main bus terminal is. We caught the number 11 local bus to Dem San which was about half an hour away. We had decided to check out the water park for the day and had picked a really good day as it was very hot. We arrived there about midday and were both really surprised at how good the park was. There must have been about 12 different water slides, a wave pool, swimming pool, lazy river, rope swings etc.

All the slides were very different and some you went down in rubber rings. There was one that was enclosed and pitch black where we both went down in a double rubber ring but we somehow got thrown out halfway down and came down and out the end in a heap! The day was excellent although we both had a few bumps and bruises by the end as some of the slides were very fast. We caught the local bus back into the city and luckily had timed it right as it started chucking it down, funny to see from the bus as all the locals pull over to the side of the road and put on their ponchos. We stayed local again that night.

March 31st - We were up early and made our way to Sinh Cafe just around the corner as our bus left at 8.30am for our 2 day trip to the Mekong Delta.

The bus journey to the first place was 3 hours but it stopped halfway for a break. Then we arrived at Cai Be where we walked to a small port and boarded a boat and taken out on the river to see the Cai Be floating market. It was 11am so most of the market activity had finished for the day but there were still plenty of boats there to see. Ecah boat has a long bamboo sticking up at the front and off the top of that they hang a watermelon, cabbage, coconut etc so other boats know what they are selling. From there we carried on on the boat and pulled up outside the coconut candy factory where they made coconut candy, rice paper, rice wine. The candy was excellent and we had plenty of free samples.
The wine they were selling looked vile, it was in glass bottles with pickled snakes and birds in them, for added flavour!!! We then walked for 5 minutes along the river banks to another small factory where they made popcorn and rice cakes, we were shown exactly how they were all made before getting to try them. The process is so basic but very effective. From there we carried on on the boat for about an hour before stopping for lunch on an island. The food was included in the rpice of the trip and was good. We then had half an hour to walk around and have a look at the small island, Neil fed the crocodiles. Then the locals put on a show of traditional music. After that the boat took us back to the port and we got on the bus and were taken to Can Tho town where we stayed in a hotel for the night.
We walked to the river front area of the town in the evening and had a few drinks and some food.

April 1st - We were up and having breakfast at 6.30am as we left on the bus at 7am for a short 10 minute trip where we picked up a small boat (like a very long canoe which sat one person each side with about 8 rows) and went down the river to the Can Tho floating market, it was brilliant. There was so much more activity than at the floating market the day before with loads of boats weaving in and out and locals selling their produce to each other. As our boat was thin we were able to go right through the middle of it all which was great to see. There were also small canoes with mums and their kids in them floating up to our boat and selling drinks. We spent about an hour in that area before then going off further down the river and floating down smaller canals off the river where we saw loads of local people living on the side of the river and lots of children running out to wave at our boat and say hello.

We then made a stop at a fruit garden for about an hour where we were shown around the garden and all the different fruits and were then able to taste some of them. After spending some time there we made our way back on the boats to the bus and were driven to a restaurant for lunch. After lunch we were dropped back at the4 hotel where we had left our bags and waited there for a local bus. We were picked up first by a minibus and then taken to the bus station where we got another minibus. We then had a 3 hour journey in this minibus to Rach Gia. We arrived there about 4pm and were taken straight to the hotel which again had been paid for as part of the trip. Rach Gia as a place was not very nice, it was quite dirty with not a lot going on, it was a typical port town.
We found a place in the Lonely Planet Guide where we went for dinner.

April 2nd - We checked out of our hotel and got a taxi to the port for our 8am boat to Phu Quoc.  The boat was fine, we were expecting much worse as we had been warned about the choppy water. We got there at 10.30am and organised a mini bus.  It took a lot of bargaining as they were going to charge us a fortune but in the end agreed to drop off the whole mini bus at one place to make it cheaper. Everyone  got out at Saigon Phu Quoc resort and then Neil told Emma that this was where we were staying as a surprise! We were so lucky as well that it was the place they dropped us off.  Emma was so surprised, what a fantastic birthday present surprise.  We checked in and was amazed at how lovely the place was.

  It had palm trees everywhere and little walkways and different bars and restaurants and places to relax. The porter took us to our bungalow and it was fab! It had a massive balcony and the room was huge with a lovely bathrooom and shower with a jacuzzi.  The resort had  its own private beach and big swimming pool with lots of really comfy sun loungers, it was really 5 star luxury.  Emma was very excited about staying in luxury for her 3 day birthday! That afternoon we went for a short bike ride with the free bikes on offer and went in the pool and sat by the beach before playing some of the games on offer like petanque, golf and table tennis.  It was great. That night we sat on our balcony over looking the sea drinking beer and gin and tonic and then went across the road to get some food as it was too expensive in the hotel!

April 3rd - We got up for the huge breakfast buffet on offer and really enjoyed it.

 You could chose either the continental restaurant or vietnamese and we chose the continental. We ate lots of salads, nice bread, meats... We then snuck out some cheese and bread rolls for our lunch  - we were still poor backpackers even though in a posh resort!!! We then walked around the town which was quite small for a while and stoped off for a fruit shake which we both seem to be addicted to and walked back to our pool to cool off as it was very hot. We lazed around the pool and beach all afternoon and then again sat on our balcony for a few drinks before going across the road to have some food. We were both loving the resort as it was so much better than the normal guest house or hostel.

April 4th - Emma's Birthday!! We woke up quite early and Neil surprised Emma with some presents to open.

  She wasn't expecting anything as Neil had already surprised her with the amazing accomodation. She got presents from her mam and dad, more presents from Neil and some off her grandma, which included 2 rings, neclace, pj's, vest, flip flops. Neils family had treated her to a night of the accomodation which were all fantastic presents, she loved them all and very very grateful. Then Neil brought out lots of cards from her and Neils family which was such lovely surprise and she loved them all and put them up on the dressing table straight away! They had been sent from England and luckily arrived the night before just in time! We then went for breakfast, which was again fantastic especially as we sat outside overlooking the beach.  We then went for a long walk to the end of the beach which is called Long Beach.
  Ours was definitely the best hotel on the island! The beach was so nice and the sea clear, when we got back we went straight in to cool down as it was very warm even at 10am.  We sat around the pool for a while and then the beach for a couple of hours.  At 3pm Emma then got another birthday present from Neil (she was very spoilt) as we both went for a massage on the beach.  It was a full body oil massage and was so relaxing, it was fantastic. Neil really enjoyed the massage too after all the planning he had done. It lasted an hour and then Emma got her feet done and nails painted which she absolutely loved as her feet had never looked so nice! After our pampering we went back to our bungalow and had a drink on the balcony and then got ready to go out.
  Everything was a surprise so Emma was just told to wear a dress, so she did and we then went to our cocktail bar on the beach for a cocktail.  Somehow luckily Neil had won 2 beers at the hotel so he had them! While we were drinking there was a thunderstorm so it was really exciting seeing lots of lightning all around us while we were under cover in a hut.  We then got a taxi to La Veranda restaurant which is the best restaurant on the island, a complete surprise for Emma was a meal from her mum and dad.  Fab! The restaurant was amazing and very swish! Our table was the best in the house overlooking the sea. We ordered some wine and decided what to eat.  It was great to have wine as there isn't much avialable in south east asia, thats nice anyway! Emma ordered steak and Neil pork and starters of soup and salad.
  The food was the best that we've had the whole trip, it was so good.  Apparently the restaurant has a top french chef.  The meal took a long time and was a fantastic change as normally we go to places that want you in and out as quickly as possible.  Before our starter we also got some bread and another dish that we still don't really know what it was but it was great.  After our main meal a lady put a knife next to her and was very confused and then about 4 people came out with a chocolate cake singing happy birthday.  Emma loved it! The cake was from her grandma and it was so tasty as it was more of a chocolate torte.  All in all all the food and wine was so good, we've never tasted so good! Afterwards we were so stuffed we got a taxi back to the resort and went back to our room for another drink and to watch some football.
  Unfortunatley Newcastle lost though! Emma had the best birthday ever, Neil had spoilt her rotten and so had her family.

April 5th - We got up for breakfast and then ufortunately had to check out and catch our flight back to Saigon.  The flight was at 11.55am and took about an hour.  When we arrived we checked into the guest house we were in last time and then went to collect Neils suit he had had made.  Luckily it fit perfectly, and looked great when he tried it on with a shirt and his free tie.  We left the shop and both got in a cyclo to take us to the post office so he could post it back to England.  The cyclo's were fun and the men were excellent at English, one of the men had been riding his cyclo for 30 years and seemed quite old to be cycling big Neil along! After posting the suit which should take 2-3 weeks to get home and cost 12 pounds we had a wander.

  As Emma still had some birthday cake left she said it was still her birthday so we went for an ice cream at Fannies as we liked the name! We then went for a quick shop to change some dvd's we had bought as we couldn't hear the voices when we tried them in Phu Quoc and Emma bought some wrinkle cream as Neil kept telling her she was old now as 2 years older than him!! That night we skyped both sets of parents and grand parents and then went for some pho bo at the street cafe near our guest house...a bit different than last night!

April 6th - We checked out and then got a 7.15am bus to Dalat which is in the mountains.  The views on the way were fantastic as we were driving through the countryside.  We arrived at about 2.30pm and were hassled straight away by different touts from hotels.

  We went with a lady that seemed the cheapest and the room was ok.  As soon as we got there we were approaches by 'Easy Riders' which are a group of men that take you on trips around the'real Vietnam' on the back of their motorbike.  Dalat is renouned for the easy riders and there are lots of people imitating them but guide books say you should go with the real ones as they are better at English and can have access to all the right places.  We heard the guys sales pitch and read all their reviews from past customers (although you never know if its real people that write the reviews!) and went away to think about it for a couple of hours as couldn't decide how long we should go with them for.  We went for a day trip as cheaper and thought that would be enough to see the countryside and 'real locals'.
  After letting the men know we walked into the centre of town where there was a bustling market and then went to Peace cafe for some drinks and food.  It also seemed to be the place where the Easy riders hung out which was quite funny.

April 7th - The men met us at our guest house at 8.30am.  It was one same man as yesterday called Sinh and another who we had not met before (and can't remember his name).  Neil was on the other mans bike.  The bikes were really comfy, much better than a moped.  We rode straight into the mountains looking at the farms on the way as Dalat is famous for all of its fruit and veg as it is a lot cooler there there are a lot more. The english of both the guides was fantastic and we learnt so much from them.

  We stopped off at many places, the first was a Pagoda where Sinh taught us more about their religion, then we went for a short walk up a hill to look at the fantastic views of the area.  It was great to be away from the cities and on the heart of Vietnam.  We rode to Elephant waterfall which has a rock the shape of an elephant so they belive that it is sacred as the elephant is sacred in their religion.  We looked at a coffee and tea plantation, Dan Nhim lake, another pagoda which had a massive Buddha outside with a room in his tummy, but we didn't go in it.  The bikes stopped at a mushroom farm, which was fascinating as they grow thenm so different to us and also look a lot different to ours, 'Chicken Village' which has a massive statue of a chicken.
  The village is very poor and they were making scarves and material and trying to sell it to us but we didn't buy anything.  Emma had a go on the weaving machine though, which was very hard.  We looked at the school and nursery and learnt that most children don't go to school for very long there as they need to go out and work.  The men then took us to a silk making factory which was fascinating as we didn't know silk came from larvea, and these horrible insects were everywhere! The last stops were another pagoda where they made the insense sticks which they use a lot when praying, Emma had a go at making one and it looked terrible! We also went to a home where they made rice wine.  We tried it but it was horrible, and we were both amazed that some people drink a litre of the stuff on a night out! We then went back after a fantastic day and went for a drink and some food at the Peace cafe again.
  Neil much preferred beer to the rice wine!

April 8th -  We got the bus at 8am to Nha Trang which took 6 hours.  We checked in at the hotel where the bus stopped as it was cheap and near! We then went for an explore.  Nha Trang is a beach resort where lots of Chinese and Vietnamese come and we thought it was very built up with lots of massive hotels in the process of being built so it was a bit too touristy for us.  We walked along the beach and had a shake but it was also more expensive than other places so we only had one! We looked around and booked a boat trip for the next day as that is what most people do here.  That night we had some food and quite an early night.

April 9th - We got picked up at 8.30am for our boat trip and unfortunately it was chucking it down! The boat was very old and rickety but was fine and there was 14 of us on the trip.  Luckily it stopped raining once we set off.  We stopped off to go snorkling after about 30 mins but the water was very murky and you couldn't see much, also as soon as Emma got it she felt as if she'd been stung so she got straight back on the boat!  Unfortunately she'd been stung by a jellyfish (we think) and she also found out that its true what they say cures the sting! we had lunch on the boat at 10.45am which was a bit early but thats when they brought the food out! Then each nationality on the boat had to sing a song at the front.  There was 5 english but only 3 got up and it was only Neil that was singing into the microphone 'Yellow Submarine', ot was funny.

  The guide then picked out names for single people to either sing, dance or jump offf the boat.  Neil was let off but Emma got picked and decided to dance to la la la bamba.  After this, the captain then jumped into the water with a rubber rind round him that had been made into a bar shouting for us all to join him. Neil was one of the first in and tried the mans 'fruit wine', Emma then joined him. The wine tasted horribel and more like tequila! he kept topping up our glasses and giving us pineapple.  It was great having a floating bar and the man was mad and kept shouting 'Yo!' all the time.  After drinking quite a bit and also sneakily putting some of it on sea we got back on the boat and went to a fish farm then an aquarium, although we didn't go in as it looked rubbish.
  The boat then took us back to shore and we went back to our hotel for a shower and chill out.

April 10th - We got up and checked out and then went for some lunch and to the beach for a couple of hours. The beach was really nice and not very busy.  It wasn't that hot so we could sit in the sun.  We went on the internet for a while and then had a shower before going for something to eat before our bus to Hoi An.  The bus was at 8pm from our hotel and the first sleeper bus we'd been on in Vietnam. Emma seat was good as she could stretch out her legs and lie down but Neils  was shorter so he could only have his knees bent and not lie down.  we decided to have 2 hour stints on each bed so we both could try and get some sleep as Neil could lie down on Emma's easily.

We both got a bit of sleep.

April 11th - We arrived into Hoi An about 7.30am and got dropped off at the Sinh cafe which is the company of the bus ticket. We met a lad who was looking for accomodation and Neil went off with him to find us somewhere while emma looked after the bags. It was really hard to get somewhere cheap but eventually found somewhere that even had a swimming pool and aircon, so it was brill! We checked in and went straight to bed for some more sleep! we then got up and had a wander.  The place was totally different to when we forst arrived as it was bustling.  Straight away we loved the place as it was very colonial, with pretty little street full of tailors and cobblers.

  There was also lots of small bars and restuarants near the river.  The town had so much character. We had some lunch and a drink and after looking round the market Neil found the beer for 18p!  We then stayed in a small restaurant people watching for over an hour with Neil loving and taking advantage of the very cheap beer! We wandered around for a while again on the way back Neil ordered some smart dark brown shoes from a shoe maker to be made, which would be ready in a day. we were quite worried what they would turn out like but only cost $20. That night we found some street stalls, where there was about 2 tables belonging to different families selling all teh Hoi An specialities.  We decided to go to Mr Linh's and met him and his family and tried Cau Lau which is a noodle dish with lots of different leaves (!) and wontons which were fried and covered in beef and herbs and noodle soup.
  All was excellent and so tasty and luckily very cheap too. We then went to a bar which was full of westerners and was good but felt like a bar in London as was snazzy compared to what we're used to.

April 12th - We hired bikes this morning and after dodging all the mopeds in the town we headed out to the beach.  It was only about 4km and on the way rode past rice fields and a lovely river with loads of  trees hanging over it and small bars on the edge with locals in.  It didn't take that long and we then parked up adn went on teh beach which was so nice, much better than the one in Nha Trang. We had our lunch o the beach which meant we got a sunlounger and stayed there a couple of hours reading our books.  We then rode back, stopping off at one of the bars on the river on the way before going back to pick up neils shoes.

  They were so much better than we thought and smart so Neil was pleased. We dropped our bikes back and then went back tothe hotel.  Later on it was chucking it down so we didn't get very far, just to a nearby bar where Emma got quite drunk as the gin and tonics were buy one get one free.  We met some other travellers who had been up north already so we learnt where to go and what to do.  It was a good night and we staggered home.

April 13th - We wandered around again and saw some of the sights including a Japanese bridge, all the other sights in the Old Town we had to pay for so we didn't go in any but could see them from the outside, which we were happy with! Then we got bikes again and cycled to the beach for a couple of hours.  We then went back to the hotel, gave the bikes back and both had a swim.

That night we went back to see Mr Linh and his family and had more fantastic food.  This time Emma tried wonton soup and Neil had 3 dishes as he was hungry!

April 14th - We got up early for our 7.45am bus to Hue which took about 4 hours. On the way we stopped at Marble Mountain which was a big cave and also a beach resort. When we got there we got harrassed by so many hotel touts but we fought our way through them and found one ourselves opposite the bus station which was fine, especially as we were only staying one night.  We went for lunch at Thru the tunnel where we met the owner who was really nice and sold us a bike tour for the next day to take us around the area.  After paying for this we went to the Citadel which is the historic quarter where we looked round the sights for a couple of hours.

  They were fascinating and ruins from when the chinese ruled Vietnam. We then got a cyclo back to the hotel as we were being lazy, but this time both in the same cyclo instead of separate ones like in Ho Chi Minh.  That night we just had some food at a great Indian restaurant Omah's which was packed with westerners probably as it is in the Lonely Planet Guide but the food was very good, we then went and watched a film in the hotel.

April 15th - We went to meet our guides at 8am and got on teh back of the mopeds.  Neils spoke good english, Emma's knew none! They rode us straight out the city and onto dirt tracks through small villages, it was great.  We loved how there wasn't many tourists about.  We stopped at Khai Dinh and Tu Ducs ancient tombs and a pagoda where there was some monks praying and chanting to buddha, it was quite fascinating to see.

  We also stopped at a local market which was great as lots of women in straw hats were just all sat in rows on the floor selling fresh veg, herbs, and fruit.  Near the market was a Japenese bridge, where workers used to come after working in the fields all day for some shade and some sleep.  It was the original bridge with no restorations, and the guide seemed very proud of it. We rode up to a great viewing stop on dirt tracks weaving through trees which was fun, it took us to some bunkers from the war and overlooked the river. The guides then took us back to Cafe on Thu Wheels for dinner and then that afternoon we just went on the internet and wandered around until our bus at 5pm to Hanoi.  It was a sleeper bus again, but this time Neil had requested both seats to be at the side so both had a lot of leg room, so we sat behind each other.
  Emma wondered if he just wanted some peace and quiet!

April 16th - We arrived into Hanoi at 7am after both of us managing to get a few hours sleep this time.  We walked to Kangaroo Hotel which we had booked on the internet the day before.  The hotel was ok but quite grubby with very old furniture and bed linen in our room, we were happy for a bed though and chilled out for a while watching a film.  We then got up and wandered around the maze of small streets in the old quarter.  It was absolutely bustling and so many mopeds weaving around you. Each street sold a particular item like toys, material, or metal and is also the street name which we found strange as there was so much competition as everyone sold the same on each street! It was great walking around, with such a good atmosphere.

  While we were wandering we were also looking for our boat trip to Halong Bay at the same time, which was quite hard as everyone offered different things at different prices.  We also were looking for Sinh Cafe which is who we booked other trips with and our bus so thought they woud be good but there was about 30 Sinh cafe's which were copying the name.  Neil then was on a mission to find 'the real Sinh cafe' which took a while but when we got there we weren 't that impressed with their trip so in the end we went to the first place we went (always happens)paid a little bit extra so we didn't have rats on the boat as it mentions this in Lonely Planet and decided on a 3 day 2 night trip from tomorrow. This cost $86 each so not too expensive as some trips were way more than that.
  We also liked the company as they said it was an independant company with its own boat, bus etc and also on the second night we'd be on an island in a bungalow which we liked the sound of.  That night we looked around for a restaurant for some cheap food and found a busy place and sat down.  Then Neil looked at the wall and saw a rat scurrying up it so we left quickly even though it was packed and found a cheaper place that wasn't as nice inside but could see no rats! We then went back to bed.

roamingduck says:
I love Vietnam. Reading some of your entirs really makes me want to go back. I only saw mid to south Vietnam so can't wait to get back and explore the North.
Posted on: Apr 23, 2009
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