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Vietnam

Curious what backpackers do in Vietnam? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • After breakfast today we got a cycle taxi (which Solana loves!) across the river to the old Citadel. Hue was once the capital of Vietnam and had it's heyday during the 1800s-mid-1900s during the reign of the Nguyen Emperors, who lived in the Imperial Enclosure of this citadel. Today, the citadel is a mixture of ruins (bombed in WW2 and in the Vietnam-American War) and beautifully restored palaces, halls and gateways. We all quite enjoyed exploring the site on foot - even Solana (who we had feared might get a bit bored). Solana tried her hand at taking a few photos with our camera for the first time - with results not too bad (the photo of me & Laura included here was taken by Solana!). Solana's favourite bit was feeding the koi carp fish in the palace moat - there were loads of them and the looked ravenous, clambering over one another to try to get to the food! On our way in to the citadel we saw a military training exercise; Solana tried to join in the marching - we feared she may be arrested but she emerged unharmed. We got another cyclo back into town, enjoyed a big lunch of local speciality dishes (plus calamari for Solana), then spent some time planning the next leg of our journey, helping Solana to make another "puppet" and enjoying the bath in our hotel room (the 1st bath we've had in a hotel room either here or in Costa Rica - it made Solana happy).Read more

  • Tonight we got the overnight train South from Hanoi. The train left Hanoi station at 7:30pm and took 13.5 hours to reach Hue just before 9am. The journey was fun and felt like a bit of an adventure in itself. We had 3 bunk beds in a cabin of 4 - 2 bottom bunks and a top. We loved seeing the world go by outside our window as we went along - city life in the evening and rural life in the morning. We liked the train toilets significantly less - but needs must.... A random Vietnamese man was in the other top bunk for part of the journey - his phone kept ringing during the night, so we were happy when he got off at 1:30am! Solana slept pretty well - from 8pm until 5am. We slept less well, between the ringing phone, waking up each time the train stopped and worrying that I might fall out of the top bunk! In the morning we borrowed the train guard's kettle and made cups of tea and noodle pots for breakfast. £81 for all 3 of us to travel by sleeper train approx. 400 miles in 13.5 hours - not quite Shinkansen speed or perfection but a fun way to travel, see some of the country and saved us a night's hotel accommodation too.Read more

  • We travelled to Hoi An yesterday by train and taxi; the journey went smoothly and we enjoyed travelling by train again. Today we did a cooking class in Hoi An. It started with a visit to the local food market to buy ingredients. We then went to the class with our teacher Vi Am. We did lots of chopping, crushing, rolling and cooking and managed to concoct four reasonably authentic looking Vietnamese dishes - fried spring rolls, beef pho noodle soup, Vietnamese pancake and chicken with lemongrass. Solana enjoyed joining in too. We then all enjoyed the fruits of our labours for lunch - and it was delicious (if we do say so ourselves!). A fun and tasty day was had by all.Read more

  • The first night we went to a restaurant that our hotel recommended; it has no menu, just serves everyone the same dish - BBQ pork kebabs, with prawn spring rolls, Vietnamese pancake, salad, herbs and kimchi and you roll the things up in rice paper, dip in a tasty sauce and eat - delicious! We find that we're eating meat with more meals here than we do at home - but the amount of meat served with meals here is much less than at home - which, if you're going to eat meat, is probably the way it should be... As it is the new moon tomorrow, people don't eat meat for 2 days. There were also celebrations for the start of the first month after the lunar new year, with people burning incense and papers and placing fruit and flower offerings in front of their shops - interesting to see.

    Last night we spent the evening down by the waterfront and discovered that the town is even more colourful by night than by day, when all the lanterns are lit. We treated ourselves to a mojito cocktail and Solana also had a "cocktail" (aka watermelon juice!). The owners of the restaurant had a little girl a similar age to Solana and the 2 girls enjoyed playing together. Solana was enjoying having a little friend so much that we thought it only polite to stay at the bar longer than intended and avail ourselves of the extremely cheap draught beer (only 18p per glass)! Afterwards, we bought a paper lantern from a little old lady and floated it off down the river - Solana enjoyed watching it float off down the river. We then went to see the night market - lots of lantern and jewellery stalls, before heading back for a sound nights sleep.
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  • Today we went to the beach about 5km from Hoi An - An Bang beach (great name!). We had originally planned to spend a night or two staying at the beach but the weather is not great at the moment - cool, cloudy and showers, so we changed our plans. When we got to the beach today, it reinforced our decision - it was pretty windy and actually a bit chilly! The sea was also quite rough. Our swimming costumes did not come out of the bag but we did have a walk along the beach and a brief paddle in the sea. We also saw some of the caracol round fishing boats (think this is the ones you were talking about Wendy). The beach stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions - it is at least 30km long. We took the opportunity to pay a visit to one of the seafood restaurants for lunch whilst we were there. We had a delicious seafood meal including clams, tamarind prawns, crab and calamari. I also tried a Vietnamese white wine from Dalat - it was a bit ropey but at least I got to try it and the glass cost less than £2.

    We're spending this afternoon in our hotel room, sorting our stuff, catching up on the blog and photo sorting and planning the next part of our trip. We had intended to travel from here to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) but we have decided to give another big city a miss and instead we've just booked a flight South, down to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. We're hoping that this will give us an opportunity to see some of more rural Vietnam, and also to travel into Cambodia by river rather than by road. Hoping we've made the right decision....
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  • Once we'd recovered from the overnight train (mainly comprising a hot shower each), we went out for lunch - a very in-Vietnamese pizza! In our hotel we bumped into a Canadian couple that had been on our boat in Halong Bay (the man who was in the kayak with Laura in the Halong Bay photos and his wife) - they turned out to be staying in the same hotel as us, in the room opposite! We then headed down to the Song Huong (Perfume River). We managed to "charter" a dragon boat for a couple of hours for around £11, for a tour along the river. We got to see some of the countryside, including (domesticated) water buffalo lounging around in the river. We stopped to visit Thien Mu Pagoda and Buddhist temple - pretty impressive. On the way back, we went past a fishing village; we only saw one boat out fishing but it was interesting to see. We rounded off the day with some local noodle/rice dishes for dinner, then retired to our nice comfy beds for a (hopefully) better night sleep....Read more

  • We have enjoyed wandering around the town of Hoi An. Part of the town is pedestrianised and provided a welcome relief from dodging all the cars and motorbikes and running the gauntlet of road crossings! We had a lovely hotel with a pool, where we paid £32 per night including breakfast and we were upgraded to a very big family room with a big bathroom & bathtub. Breakfast was great too, with plenty of both Western and Vietnamese options on offer - I'm enjoying eating pho noodles for breakfast! Unfortunately, they had no availability for tonight so we've had to move accommodation but luckily the hotel next door had space - it is not quite as nice but certainly good enough and even cheaper.

    It was raining the day we arrived - the first rain we've seen since we arrived in Vietnam, so we can't really complain. The rain seems to have cooled the temperature down too - it is around mid-20s now, and cloudy - actually more pleasant than we were expecting now we're further South. The waterfront here is lovely - very colourful, with lanterns everywhere, lovely architecture and pretty bridges. All in all, a nice place to just wander and soak up the atmosphere.
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  • After Cai Rang market, we went further along the river and visited the smaller Phong Dien floating market. Most of the selling boats here were smaller and each boat tended to sell more of a range of items, rather than specialising in one thing only. It was good to see the contrast between the large and the small market too. We also then went into some of the smaller waterways and got to see a flavour of life living along the river. Unlike in Costa Rica, where the life of interest was other fauna, here it was mainly human life - the rivers here are the lifeblood of the area and many people still live along them, making a living from farming and fishing. We also visited a noodle factory, where we had a go at making rice noodles in the traditional way. All in all, a great day trip and so far we're glad we changed our plans to spend some time in the Mekong delta.Read more

  • Before returning our rental moped we decided to do something a bit more adventurous and took a ride on the scenic Hai Van Pass. This popular costal road winds through the mountains and offers some amazing views of Vietnam's natural beauty. It was fun hanging on to Mitch as he took the sharp turns and passed other mopeds doing the same thing as us. We stopped several times for pictures and eventually made our way down the other side of Hai Van Pass where we stopped at a roadside restaurant for a quick seafood fried rice lunch before making our way back to Danang.

    Once we got into the city of Danang we drove around quickly to visit the Dragon Bridge before returning the moped and making our way to the airport. We thought we'd be late but instead it was quite the opposite since we had another 7 hours to spare due to our flight being delayed! This airport delay was the most memorable yet because not only did we wait forever to board, but once we did we didn't take off for another 2.5 hours because passengers had snuck onto the flight at the gate and they didn't have an accurate flight manifest. This resulted in multiple recounts, showing boarding passes multiple times and eventually a roll call of all 180 passengers on board! We were more entertained by the lack of management onboard while others were just flat out angry. Oh and I got to make friends with the Vietnamese lady next to me who didn't speak any English but kept talking to me, we even took a selfie together which I think was her first ever!

    We finally made it to Ho Chi Min City at 2am tired and exhausted from the really long day of adventures!
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  • Today we made the 1,100km trip from Hoi An in the centre of Vietnam to Can Tho in the South by plane, taking only one hour. The same journey would have taken about 21 hours by road/rail, so it was a no-brainer. However, because we changed our plans and ended up booking the flight only yesterday, it has cost us more than 3 days budget in just one day today. It is lucky that we are surrounded by rivers, as I think we'll be fishing for our supper tomorrow! We arrived at our £21 per night hotel and were upgraded to a "penthouse" room, with a big balcony (including a mini fishpond - Solana enjoyed feeding them, see pic). We wandered down by the riverfront - the river is really wide and laden with boats of all shapes and sizes - interesting to see. There are not as many tourists here, so Solana was even more popular than usual - as you can see in the pic of her with a group of local schoolgirls, they whisked her away for cuddles and photos, much to her bemusement! On the riverfront we came across a statue of Ho Chi Minh - every town/city seems to have one but this was a particularly impressive specimen. We ate catfish for dinner at a riverfront restaurant - tasty, if a bit bony. Tomorrow we are going to see the local floating markets - a 5:30am start, so we're off to bed shortly...Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

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