Suggestions for Theo
Vietnam Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
OK Theo, here's my advice on Vietnam:
Halong Bay - A must-see, like being in a pirate movie, just stunning. Did a 2 night/3 day tour from Hanoi which included RT trans, 1 night boat, 1 night hotel, all meals, tours to cave, kayaking, hike. I booked it through my hotel in Hanoi (Blue Star) for about $42 total. You can spend a lot more if you want to go fancy, I found the $42 trip to be really great and doubt that you could do it much cheaper on your own. Magical.
Hanoi - Stayed at Blue Star Hotel (21 Bat Dan) had a great single room with bath for $12 night. Free internet. Spent most of my time walking the city or taking cyclos, saw the water puppet show (kind of cute), went to the central market (mostly just household goods). It was Xmas so we spent a lot of time drinking in local bars and clubs (felt totally underdressed among the high fashion Hanoi kids) .
Hoi An - Hoi An is so charming, I only stayed for the day and wished I had spent a couple nights. Fantastic cafes, shops, old world architecture. A lot of people getting suits and clothing made here, shoes as well. Enchanting.
Nha Trang - Great touristy beach town with gorgeous beach, fun bars, cool restaurants, good shopping (bikinis for $7!), lots of activities (2 tank scuba diving for $36 but not the best visibility). Spent 4 nights at the best value hotel I have ever found, (Nice Hotel, 6D Quan Tran). $8 single room with private bath, fridge, cable, AC, wifi. The top floor rooms share a gorgeous ocean view balcony. Sailing Club on the beach rents comfy lounge chairs for a couple $ a day and has excellent microbrew draught beer (you will appreciate this after drinking the generic stuff). They also offer good massages for $6 hour.
Saigon/HCMC - This city is chaotic! Be prepared for loud, bustling insanity. I stayed in the backpacker district, Pham Ngu Lao, and paid $12 night for a crappy single room in a guesthouse. The best part of Saigon for me was sitting in the little Bia Hoi shops and drinking beer for 15 cents a glass (these are the sidewalk places with the tiny little plastic tables and chairs that only serve the local made beer). I did a pretty cool day tour to the Mekong Delta for $8, including RT trans, boat, canoe, live music, coco tour.
I skipped Sapa and Dalat because I was on my way to spend a few weeks in the mountains of Laos. Friends had a great time in Dalat doing the canyoning adventure tour and renting motorbikes. I would have gone to Sapa, but it was December and it was literally freezing there. I didnt stay long in the Mekong Delta because I had already been on the rivers in Cambodia. In Vietnam, I found it best to book any tours or transportation or hotel directly with the operator. There are thousands of "tour agencies" that will book for you and charge 20-100% more than the actual cost. And also sell you something that turns out to not be what you paid for. They can be very crafty.
Let me know if you have any more questions. Have a great trip.