Monday, April 30, 2012


I started my trip to Vietnam in Hanoi, the country's capital city. Hanoi is a truly fascinating place and I hope to go back soon.

I only had one full day in Hanoi and spent the majority of it in and around the famed Old Quarter. The Old Quarter was a great introduction to the city and a good jump off point for visiting some of the city's main attractions.

The Temple of Literature was probably the most impressive of the major attractions we saw in Hanoi. It's one of the few remaining traditional Vietnamese style temples left in the country.

In my opinion, Hanoi's most interesting aspects lie within its smaller details of its daily life. People sitting on tiny plastic stools eating pho and sipping locally brewed bia hoi fill Hanoi's sidewalks. Women balancing baskets over their shoulders in scale like fashion shuffle through the streets and people riding bikes piled high with everything from bunches of flowers to wire baskets filled with live cats (really) make up Hanoi's relentless traffic flow.

What's more, Hanoi's cuisine is damn good. I didn't eat enough. I think I will go back just to gobble down more. When you go you must try the pho bo (beef noodle soup) and fresh spring rolls.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vietnam Part 1

I just arrived back from a two week stay in Vietnam. Though my time there was short I managed to see and do a ton of things. This first Vietnam post will give you a rough idea of what I did in during my trip. I will elaborate more in coming posts.

Check out my Vietnam itinerary and take note for your own trips!

Day 1: Hanoi full day and night in Hanoi. Stayed at Camel City Hotel in Hanoi's Old Quarter. The location was perfect but the hotel wasn't. The bathrooms and sheets were rather icky and the staff wasn't very accommodating.

Day 2: Early AM drive and boat to Cat Ba Island.
Afternoon and night on a PRIVATE boat in Halong Bay. We booked through Vietnam Eco Tourism ( This part of the trip was amazing. If you can afford a private boat I suggest you go for it. We booked a package tour that included hotel pick-up, 2 days and one night on a private boat, meals and a ride to Ninh Binh for about USD$200. Much to our dismay, drinks were not included but I'm sure you can get them included in your package with a bit of bargaining. 

Day 3: Morning on the boat in Halong Bay, short afternoon visit to a family-run fish farm, then a very long and bumpy afternoon drive to Ninh Binh in a rented car. Private drivers are expensive to hire in Vietnam since there are very few cars available (motorized scooters are Vietnam's vehicle of choice) but they do make traveling easy and convenient. Do NOT try driving yourself in this country without prior experience.

Day 4: AM boat ride along the river in Tam Coc (made famous in the film Indochine), noon visit to the ancient imperial capital Hoa Lu and an afternoon visit to the Trang An grottoes. We booked a private guide for the day and he was extremely helpful and knowledgeable. We planned on touring the area by bicycle but took a car instead because of the rainy weather. Overnight bus to Hue.

Day 5: AM arrival in Hue. Afternoon visit to the historical Citadel, evening ride to Hoi An. Night in Hoi An. 

    Day 6: Morning visit to My Son ruins, afternoon strolling through the streets of Hoi An's historical district. Night in Hoi An.

    Day 7: Sun baking and snorkeling at the pristine Cham Island, just off  the coast of Hoi An. Evening car ride to Danang. Night in Danang near airport.

    Day 8: Early AM flight to Dalat, afternoon and night in Dalat. We stayed at Dreams Hotel. It was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed at and the breakfast was AMAZING. Call ahead to make your booking (t:
    063-383 3748). They do not have a website. The website that you will find online is a fake. Beware.

    Day 9: Day ride to Cat Tien National Park. Late afternoon walk along a jungle river, night in a very rugged bungalow in the park (kinda scary for us city dwellers).

    Day 10: 5am gibbon trek through the jungle, afternoon car ride to Mui Ne, evening and night in Mui Ne.

    Day 11: Morning on the beach in Mui Ne and afternoon tour of the area's otherworldly sand dunes. Night in Mui Ne.

    Day 12: Morning massages, early afternoon swim and sunning, 3:00pm bus to Ho Chi Minh City. Night in HCMC.

    Day 13: Day of exploring in HCMC. Morning at the War Remnants Museum, afternoon at Reunification Palace and around.

    Day 14: Full day trip to the My Tho canals in the Mekong Delta. Night in HCMC.

    Day 15: Half day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels. Evening flight back to Hong Kong. 

    More information and many pictures to come!!