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  • Day16

    At the end of our Journey we reached Hanoi and finally have some time to relax, reflect and summarise things to give advise to people planning a trip to Vietnam.
    So, here we go. The list may be updated later if I forgot something:

    1. Use the sleeper Busses. Most of them are awesome and comfortable. If you have long legs check if you can make a seat reservation in a booking agency

    2. Always ask where the bus leaves to calculate total cost and ask where exactly the bus will stop. In our case we took the bus to Ninh Binh but it stopped in Tam Coc, 7 km away. At night. No chance to get a taxi to our Hostel.

    3. Booking.com is great. Compare prises with Agoda but take care about Service fees @agoda when booking

    4. Find out what time the Guided tours leave and then take a Motorbike or a Motorbike driver to reach the sight when there are only few busses there

    5. If the sights are not too far away, think about getting a rental bike. Esp. In Hoi An. Also check if Bikes are available in your Hostel / Homestay etc.

    6. if sights are further away see 4. Esp. In Phong Nha the Motorbike ride intensified the whole trip.

    7. See Paradise Cave! It's my favourite

    8. Take care of you belongings but never be afraid. We had absolutly no problem at all and never a bad feeling.

    9. Wild Dogs can be annoying. Esp. During night or in the evening they tend to protect their places. So do not walk around in the dark unless you know how to handle them. We don't but we did walk around and it gave us some bad moments.

    10. If you walk through Vietnam with a Smile most people will like you. We where never fooled or tricked. The change was always correct and we had great times with local families and even played with their Kids.

    11. Some sights are reachable via public bus. See our Tour to Cu Chi

    12. I would always recommend to check options to a tour first. We found - and many people we met - that a guided tour is nearly always worse then starting on your own. Overcrowded, limited time, awful busses, etc.

    13. Check Transportation at your Hostel / Homestay first and then compare prices. It can be a big advantage to be fetched directly at your Hostel and the price may not be too high.

    14. Most homestays give you the possibility of taking a shower even if you are already checked out. Ask for it. It feels much better to get into a Bus cleaned, then full of sweat after a tour day.

    15. Save you money for Halong Bay. I would recommend 1 night - since we did so. If you are lucky you can upgrade your room easily directly on the boat for a good price ( if rooms are free )

    16. When buying things: Haggle. Always. Never accept the first price ( unless it really says fixed price ). Always negotiate a better price. In our case we found that at least 1/2 is possible in many cases.

    17. Download Offline Maps on your phone to follow the routes of the taxi driver and mark your hotel / sight in the map to show them. In most cases we had to show them where we wanted to go and they realised that we now where he will be driving.

    18. Learn some basic vietnamese words. People will react more friendly and open to you.
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  • Day15

    As last activity for our holiday we decided to do a 2-Days boat trip in Halong Bay. It felt hard after so many days in Vietnam to be confronted with these touristic prices... but since there are only few choices we spend a lot of money and took the Royal Palace Cruise. The Tour included Lunch, Dinner, one night, Breakfast, Kayaking and a Cave visitation. It was an amazing time in an amazing landscape with really good food and good staff.Read more

  • Day14

    We looked for a way to get from Ninh Binh to Hanoi. Trains seats where booked out and train sleeping beds could not be booked on the Vietnamese Railway website since the payment was not accepted. So we asked in Ngoc Hanh Hotel and good a Shuttle Bus at around 5.30 pm for only 130.000 each. The bus was quite luxury and the ride very relaxing.

  • Day14

    This is actually the place where parts of the Blockbuster 'Kong - Skull Island' where taken. An amazing landscape as seen on pictures of the Halong Bay bit you can enjoy it with a really small boat and one of these old Vietnamese ladies rowing for you between the hills and through really low caves.

  • Day14

    Near Ninh Binh you can find a place called Hang Mua easily reachable via Bike or Motorbike.
    At this place you will find some caves and a trail up a small hill. On top of this hill you will be sweating as hell but you will also be rewarded with a great view to the 'Dry Halong Bay'.

  • Day13

    We arrived Ninh Binh after long 10 hours on the bus at 4am. Well stop... we did not arrive Ninh Binh but the bus stopped in Tam Coc. 7 km away from the City. No taxis at this time and we were really tired. So we took our luggage and walked through a dark Tam Coc. Interrupted by barking wild dogs on our way we slowly turned and stopped at a small Homestay where an old cleaning lady invited us to sit down. She started cleaning a room, the owner arrived in her PJ and offered a room for 16 $. At 5 am in the morning. And we said yes. Happy for some sleep.

    Again Vietnam surprised us. After we got up at 11:00 am - good sleep - the owner offered us to only pay 8 $ instead because we stood this short.

    After this experience we took a driver to the city and arrived at the amazing and brand new Golden Bell Hostel in Ninh Binh as their first customers ever. Awesome people, awesome style!

    In a walking distance we found a local market and once again we where the only non-Vietnamese people here and discovered interesting and disturbing things. Take care when taking a closer look to the pictures.
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  • Day12

    Taking a scooter is in our opinion the best way to get closer to the country and to the nature. Stop when you see something interesting, take small pathes and trails and enjoy the Impressions around you. So did we and the area around Phong Nha is really breathtaking. You feel like in undiscovered nature but with a street going through.

  • Day12

    Directly from the Center of Phong Nha you can rent a boat and enjoy a boat trip into the Phong Nha Cave. The cave is also a stalactite cave and was used by the Vietcong during war as hideout.
    In order to get a good price for the boat it is mandatory to gather some people and share the boat since one will always pay 350.000 VND per boat. We where lucky that day and found a nice German group just attaching to a family from the netherlands and so did we. Nogmaals bedankt!Read more

  • Day12

    New day new adventure. Today we visited the longest dry cave in the world. We left the hotel at 8:00 am after a sleepless night for Steffi since she found an information in her travel book 'Stefan Loose' that the Ho Chi Minh Highway is extremely dangerous. We decided to find it out on our own with a motorbike for 100.000 and in the end the street was excellent and the traffic was basically not existing.

    When we arrived at the caves we had to pay 250.000 VND each. 10 Euros are really expensive for Vietnam. But the money was worth it. After 570 meters walking up the hill we found our selves in front of the entrance to the cave that was discovered only 12 years ago in 2005.

    The atmosphere in there is amazing. A one of a kind experience one can not describe and one can not freeze in pictures. This was one of the most intense moments here in vietnam so far and therefore a MUST SEE in Vietnam!

    When we left the cave we saw that tourbusses over tourbusses where just arriving. So if you go there start between 7 and 8 in the morning by motorbike to get the best experience.
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  • Day11

    Another amazing graveyard is the tomb of Khai Dinh, the 12th Vietnamese emperor.
    The tomb is situated on a hill with lots of stairs and an amazing artwork made of Glas and Ceramics around his coffin. As our travel book says this emperor was amazed by the French architecture and art. This is why it reminds of French castles in many aspects, just like Herrenchiemsee in Germany does. Go there, It was really amazing.Read more

  • Day11

    Next stop in Hué was the Tomb if Minh Mang. A giant Graveyard just for the last rest of the second Vietnamese Emperor. We already asked google what to do, to get such a graveyard once we leave this world. Seems to be a little too expensive.