Having bagged ourselves some cheap, spontaneous tickets from London to Bangkok (see Vietnam. An Accidental Adventure) we soon went about planning our next stop in the Far East. Having already backpacked Thailand in 2014 with the help of some friends, The Wife and I agreed it was time to look for horizons new.
From Bangkok the world is your oyster. BKK is a brilliant hub for all of Asia and you can get pretty much anywhere for a very low price when booked in advance. Our 2014 Thailand trip took us to Bangkok, Chang Mai, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan and it was unforgettable (the cities were same, same but different. If you’ve been you’d understand this hilarious reference, har har, best travel blog ev-er!). It was an epic journey that included high-rise happy hours, elephant trekking and island hopping to chase a lost backpack. However, in the name of adventure, The Wife and I had our sights on some place new. Vietnam.
With help from friends and family (plus a few bloggers and youtubers) we began to narrow down destinations for our 13 night Vietnam adventure (you’ll need a visa if staying 15+ days FYI) and below I will try to highlight where we are stopping, why and what to see at each point. These are by no means the only or best places to see in Vietnam but they are our own choices and take in the most talked-about cities, so it should provide an excellent launchpad for your own Vietnam plans. All of our flight were purchased direct from the airlines and well in advance, with all the hotels reserved via booking.com’s pay later facility – ideal for helping us to spread the costs. All in, I think we’re looking at spending about 1/5th of what a booking company would charge for a similar tour (I’m looking at you, STA ‘travel‘), so take note and book your own tour yourself using my handy blog!
Our adventure starts when we land in Hanoi, venturing to Halong Bay and back before flying onto Hoi An, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh. We then depart Vietnam for a brief stop in neighboring Cambodia before ending up with one night in Bangkok. So… Let’s crack on with the first stop of our self-labelled tour…
Touchdown in the capital city and become instantly mesmerised by Vietnam. Marvel as old, exotic Asia blends with the buzz of modern commerce and all it’s bright lights. Hanoi’s old quarter is a sight to behold and dates back over 1000 years so it’ll be amazing to compare and contrast it to our recent trip to Prague, built in the same era.
Hanoi has it all and is often described as an ancient, historical city with a modern outlook. It makes a great place to start out any Vietnamese adventure and in many ways it is the beating heart of the country. It is easily accessible by airplane from Bangkok with a one way ticket (all prices in this blog are with baggage) setting us back just £42/$60.
Whilst here, many tourists endure the 3 hour drive to Halong Bay to relax on a tradition Vietnamese Junk, often overnight, and are wowed by the unique, picturesque limestone columns that have become synonymous with Vietnam. We’ve booked ourselves a Junk tour with Bhaya Cruises and weather pending, shall enjoy exploring caves, kayaking, swimming and on board cookery classes with our own luxury, balcony cabin! Next stop is our £33/$48 1 hour flight to….
Often quoted as being Vietnam’s most atmospheric and delightful town, Hoi An is definitely a fan favourite from the backpackers we’ve spoken to. It boasts grand architecture in a unique riverside setting along with charm and colour like no other (and a little rhyme from time-to-time). Hoi An is famous for its dressmaking and tailors, so pop in to your local outfitter to be measured and then enjoy the rest of your day at one of the many beautiful beaches just a few km from the town centre before popping back for your bespoke garms. Then take your new, gnatty clothes with you as you fly to…
£40/$58 and a one hour flight later and you’ll find yourself in the bustling beach capital of Vietnam. ‘Loud & proud’ and ‘big & brash’ are the order of the day here and you can expect an in-your-face party town with late nights and cocktails by the bucket – literally. Besides the wild night life of Nha Trang it also boasts beautiful beaches and plenty of activities to suit the tastes of the swelling number of tourists that stay in this busy costal resort.
By all accounts this is a bit of a break from the cultural side of Vietnam, so let’s get back to the juicy stuff with our final £35/$50 flight to…
Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon)
One of the busiest, dizziest cities in all of Vietnam should be saved for last, after a bit of acclimatisation. A high octane city full of commerce and culture, HCMC has a limitless energy to it and will rival anything experienced in Bangkok. Watch the countless scooters fly by and visit some of Saigon’s ancient treasures. Revel in the French architecture (yes, French!) and find out who Ho Chi Minh was and why the Vietnamese love (or hate?) him.
That’s it, you’ve cracked Vietnam and enjoyed Dream Fly Discover’s very own Upside Down Heart tour! Email me and I’ll send you your very own Dream Fly Discover certificate, young traveller! You’re a superstar!! Where will this journey take you next? I suppose to complete the heart you’ve really got to hit Cambodia and Bangkok- can you handle it?
Also worth considering if you have the time:
Hue– the intellectual, cultural and spiritual heart of Vietnam
Danang– one of Vietnam’s fastest changing cities
Sapa– perched on a steep slope, overlooking a valley this is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the coastal towns.
Carl from the future speaking here: Now that I’m back perhaps you’d like to check out what I thought of each place. The following blogs are from my Upside Down Heart Tour; click until yours is content!
0.0 Vietnam, An Accidental Adventure
0.1 Planning Vietnam The Upside Down Heart Tour (You are here)
WITH THANKS TO:
M M (FEATURED IMAGE)
Where else would you recommend for a Vietnam newbie? Any gaping holes in our Upside Down Heart Tour? We’ve nailed it… right? Let us know in the comments below! Earned your Upside Down Heart Tour certificate? Let us know!!