We waved Japan goodbye and boarded our flight to Vietnam.
I didn’t know what I expected but when I arrived I had the wide eyes of a lost child. Driving through this unique place.
We arrived about 1.30 am, we were picked up from the airport so we had no trouble getting a car.
Once we hit the road the first thing I noticed was the buildings, some tall with tarps covering them, some tiny shacks, no cover at all. It was late and dark but we could tell we were not in Kansas anymore.
Out the window we saw what looked like a small bush, driving past us on a moped, somewhere within that small bush I assume there was a human.
Then as we got closer to the city more and more mopeds appeared, some with one person, zooming in front of our van. Some with up to 4.
Then even though it was the middle of the nights, all of a sudden we were surrounded and there were mopeds everywhere beeping their horns. Weaving in and out of each other.
Many of them carrying mountains of things tied to the back of them. How they balanced we will never know.
We got to our hostel. City Backpackers and we were greeted by the sweetest guy. This hostel was awesome. You can read more about it in our Top Hostel Picks.
We hit the sack as we were pretty tired.
When we woke the next day it was time to explore Hanoi. If we thought the traffic in the night was crazy, when we stepped outside we soon realised that that’s just how it is here. The roads have no rules and there are cars, mopeds and pedestrians all over the place.
I’ve come to the conclusion though that it must actually make for safer driving in a bizarre way as we have yet to see any type of collision as you must be constantly wary of everyone.
Within hours of being there I was inspired to write A place for a poem.
We checked out a food joint directly opposite our hostel and unfortunately we didn’t grab the name but it was there we realised what a treat we were in for with Vietnamese cuisine. It is absolute delicious.
This little place opposite City Backpackers does have the best spring rolls in the world. Vegetarian too.
I’ve taken up being a vegetarian since being in Vietnam and I have sampled some of the most delicious foods I’ve ever tasted.
After a feast we headed out to see what Hanoi was all about. It’s a busy place, and at first the traffic was a little bit daunting. After a while though after watching so many old folk just walk out into on coming traffic and it always avoiding them you get the stones to do it yourself.
We headed down to the lake, there is an area down there that is just for people on foot so it’s nice to go take a walk around the lake without fear of being hit by a moped.
The lake itself is surrounded by tropical trees and has a lovely green colour to it and all around you will find street performers and things to do.
We noticed a stage being set up and figured this was the area to come of an evening. So after taking a stroll we headed back for a nap.
In our hostel between 6-7 they served free beer so we took full advantage of that before heading back out.
We were not wrong. The area was alive with music, dancing and some form of live video game being projected on the big screen.
The lake was lit up beautifully and the whole area looked stunning. We knew already why people Love Vietnam.
Our hostel helped us out with tickets to go to Ha Long Bay. So that was our next destination. One we were extremely excited about.
So we got picked up and set off on a 4 hour journey. Again, not gonna lie… 4 hours on the roads here was a pretty scary thought but the more we witness the chaos the more we have realised it just works and there’s nothing to be worried about. You just get used to people driving head on towards you only to veer off at the last possible moment.
We arrived at the docking area and boarded our home for the night with Cozy Bay Cruises.
The boat was lovely and our host Lee was great. Very funny and had everyone laughing. The boat ride towards the islands was beautiful. One by one more and more little islands appeared surrounded by the turquoise waters. The sun was dipping in and out so the colours around us kept changing. It was so stunning.
There was about 12 of us on the cruise and every was so friendly and nice. For the evening we all made spring rolls together before having the first feast set out by the staff.
The food on the cruise was amazing.
We all tucked in and chatted away. Then we had a great evening on karaoke. Lots of fun.
The next day was incredible, we got up bright and early and set off to The Pearl Farm. It was so interesting to see how the pearls are made. Interesting and bizarre. We would like to know who the first person was to think ‘I’m going to make this oysters shell into a little ball and then wrap it’s membrane around it’ very curious indeed but it was fascinating.
We then all went out kayaking. It was a gorgeous morning and getting to kayak in an area that beautiful was lovely.
It’s hard to try and describe just how beautiful this place is. It’s one you really have to go to see for yourself.
So after kayaking it was time to check out the caves. We took another little boat over to them.
Now like with any beautiful place, it is pretty busy and it seems the boats haven’t figured out a rotating system just yet so everyone kind of rocks up at the same to time to everything.
Exploring the caves though, you never waited for too long, it’s a steady pace walking through.
Inside them is absolutely incredible. We’ve never seen anything quite like it!
A Guadiesque vision, like the walls are melting around you but in to the most beautiful, intricate patterns you’ve ever seen. They have been beautifully lit with small lights to guide you around and it is a magical experience. Again, one you just have to see for yourself.
After exploring the caves we went off to a see the beach. Another beautiful site. It really is like paradise around there. Although we do feel they should limit the amount of boats that go out there because it does take away from it a little when there are so many boats around expelling fumes into such a beautiful setting.
But we were there, as tourists, being part of the problem so…
But the area is incredible. We took some snaps from within the caves.
And then we climbed the mammoth hike to the top of one of the islands for what we knew would be an incredible view.
We like to think that since ditching the bikes we are still getting some exercise from hiking up hill to see all these views!
But, like it always is… it was so worth it!
And one of our snaps became our new main image for the blog.
We sat at the beach to watch the sunset and it was a beautiful sunset. However I always write honestly about our travels and there was a bit of a downfall to the beach that evening.
Always on the look out for a good insta shot, I suggested Mel come take pictures of me in the water as the sun was setting. So off I went to a quiet spot to frolic in the sea and no sooner had my toe touched the water, a dead rat floated towards me.
Safe to say, we didn’t get the picture.
But I did get a gorgeous picture of this woman in a very good outfits the spot I had been eyeing up.
The whole trip was fantastic and we would definitely recommend it to anyone travelling to Vietnam.
Just look at the colours!
So back in Hanoi, we continued to explore the winding streets. We had received a message on Instagram from a local man name William who owned a little restaurant and he invited us to visit.
So we made a point of doing so before we left. So glad we did. This guy was so sweet.
On arrival he comes and introduces himself and then he showed us a little post it note that ‘thank you. You save my life’
Well, that was me crying.
He tells his story of growing up on the streets and how he wanted to make a life for himself through cooking and hospitality and we are so happy that he has.
He made us a feast and it was delicious. When we arrived, my heart sank a little because it was only Mel and I there and I feared he didn’t get much business but it soon filled up and judging my his Ingram he gets plenty of travellers going through there.
So please pay him a visit if your ever in Hanoi. You won’t regret it.
We took a trip to view Ho Chi Mins mausoleum, an impressive building but my shorts were too short to go inside 🙈
We also visited the prison museum. A very interesting but upsetting one.
Then in the flash of an eye it was time to move on to our next destination of Hoi An.
We took an overnight train to Hoi An but we got bottom bunks so it wasn’t so bad.
The place is amazing but we did use much of this trip to relax after the many early mornings we had in Hanoi.
We stayed in a beautiful little villa costing is just £20 for 3 nights. We enjoyed having a the big spacious room and huge bed after being in bunk beds for so long and the place also had a pool.
We spent our evenings in The Old Town. It’s just pure magic down there. Every inch of it is lit with lanterns and beautiful stalls and restaurants.
It’s very romantic and just a beautiful site. The lake is full of boats, all with their owns lanterns lighting it up.
Not a single picture we took does it justice.
So we had lazy mornings, then evening treating ourselves to the most delicious foods. As it’s just so cheap everywhere.
It was a lovely relaxing break that we needed and in the most idyllic location.
It was here we first sampled egg coffee and now we are both addicted. It’s actually the best thing ever.
We should of tried it in Hanoi where it originated but we, like most, thought, egg coffee? Grim.
How wrong we were. Like I said, best thing ever.
Driving back to the train station through Danang we are pretty upset we didn’t pencil in a few days there. The place looks amazing. It was booming! So it’s now on our list for the future, should we ever be lucky enough to visit again.
Last night we had another overnight train but we were not luckily enough to be bottom bunkers again, so we didn’t have the best nights sleep and it genuinely felt like we were on a rollercoaster the whole way.
But we have arrived here in Ho Chi Min. Our final destination for Vietnam.
So far the place has been nothing short of amazing and we don’t think our last stop will be anything different ❤️