I don’t know if Vietnam has managed to find a place on your Travel bucket list, but it sure was on mine and so, I happened to check it off the list in the beginning of 2020, travel scenes, ever since, have been pretty disappointing as we know.
Let’s talk about Vietnam, shall we?
Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country and a popular tourist destination without a doubt. Though it receives less footfall compared to its neighbouring tourist hub Thailand, Vietnam’s tourism is on the rise nonetheless. Probably that became one of the reasons why I picked Vietnam over Asia’s most sought-after travel destination, the primary reason being Vietnam’s pristine beauty of course.
With its history embedded in a War, Vietnam is much more than just the post-war relics its known for.
When I was still in the phase of virtually exploring the place, I was bowled over by the diversity this country offers. Simply put, Vietnam has something for everyone. It boasts beautiful landscapes, fairytale like towns/cities, magnificent islands. It’s a visual treat if you ask me.
On top of that, it is tourist friendly, safe for solo travelers, and easy on your pockets too. Ask me, I spent 15 days backpacking across length and breath of Vietnam and loved every single moment of it.
Let me take you through my itinerary:
1. Hoi An
I know, some of you must be rolling your eyes!
But come on, you have to agree that travel scenes are still on! We just need to find the window that provides us with the right opportunity to plan, and with proper Corona protocols in place, we are ready to hit the road.
True to my purpose, I am here to inspire you to do just that – Travel. And there is a special place that I want to tell you about today.
My first stop was the town of Hoi An. A place that appears to have emerged straight from a dream.
Originally a port, this town is a beautiful amalgamation of south Asian and foreign influences. No doubt it is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site among several other places.
Hoi An is a synonym for festivity. With its enchanting roads all decked up with lanterns and graffiti, sparkling night pubs all neatly lined up on both sides of a canal, Hoi An is nothing less than a never-ending party.
There is a lot to see in Hoi An, starting with the French style cafes to the markets selling hip clothing, leather accessories, and traditional Vietnamese handicraft. My suggestion would be not to miss out on places like the Japanese covered bridge, Night market, Museums and Old town area. You’d find ATMs and small Banks in every nook of the place and so currency exchange is never going to be a conundrum.
How To Get There?
Hoi An doesn’t have its own airport or a railway station.
Flight: The nearest airport is DaNang airport, which is approx. 30km away.
Train: The closest railway station is also in DaNang (30km).
Bus: There are private shuttles that run between DaNang and Hoi An, which is another affordable traveling option for you.
Your best bet is to coordinate with the hotel and arrange for a cab to pick you up from DaNang airport and drop you at the accommodation. That’s what I did!
My next stop was the capital city of Vietnam – Hanoi.
Hanoi, just like any capital you’d find, is a busy city. Congested roads, overwhelming traffic, narrow lanes, great street food, Hanoi is all of that and much more.
Walking on Hanoi’s famous Old quarter roads can be challenging. Blaring horns, waves of motorbikes, the pedestrians briskly managing their way through the pavements, finding your way through that maze can be an intimidating experience for anyone. But once you get the hang of it all, you start to ease your way into the Hanoi’s way of life.
When in Hanoi, make time for places like Hoan Kiem Lake, Old Quarter, and Hanoi Art Museum to have an exciting day planned for yourself.
How To Get To Hanoi?
The fastest and most convenient way to travel from Hoi An to Hanoi, is by Flight, which will take around 3 hours.
A train or bus journey on the other hand, will take 17-19 hours respectively.
Take a flight,obviously.
After having a great time in Hanoi, I moved on to SAPA.
Located in the northwestern part of Vietnam, I remember SAPA as a Green Wonderland, and most coveted among trek lovers.
SAPA isn’t just insanely green, it is also clean and refreshingly soothing to you soul. I was enthralled by the hilly exquisiteness of the place the moment I got off the bus and the drive from the urban to the mountains was even better.
SAPA has some very cozy and hospitable homestays to stay in. The views are breathtaking and trekking is fun
It rains a lot in SAPA even during winters, go prepared.
How To Reach SAPA?
The distance between Hanoi and SAPA is around 250km. I’d recommend you take a bus, which will take approx. 6-7hours and before you realize, you’ll be in SAPA.
Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay:
It’s considered criminal to go to Vietnam and not plan a trip to Halong Bay and I am not even kidding.
The place is a living paradise with more than thousand islets to its kitty.
I was lucky to experience a pearl in Halong Bay’s jewel collection – Cat Ba Island – and it was nothing like I had seen before.
There is so much to do in Cat Ba, from a bicycle ride along the coastline, or experiencing the cruise/speedboat ride, to having a blast in the hip cafes. Even if you plan to stay indoors, most of the hotels are placed perfectly along the road, offering an absolutely gorgeous ocean view.
You’d love biding adieu to your day by sitting in the balcony of your room, enjoying the ocean and the setting sun in the background.
How To Get To Cat Ba Island?
There are multiple ways to reach Cat Ba – By Cruise, Shuttle, and Car.
I booked a shuttle from Hanoi to Hai Pong City and a speedboat from there to Cat Ba Town (approx. 4 hours).
For accommodations: I used Agoda and Booking.com
For flights and bus reservations, you may want to check -https://12go.asia/en.