In late 2016, we hit a work wall and needed something different. So we got engaged and booked our first ever overseas trip together, ending up in Vietnam. From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh it was spectacular!
In two weeks we visited Hanoi, Healing Bay, Hoi An and finally Hi Chi Minh City. In this post we’ll share our suggested itinerary and highlights of each destination. We’ll then do separate posts for each to share more details and Daniel’s spectacular photos.
It was a long mission to get from Wellington, New Zealand to the start of our trip in Hanoi, Vietnam. Wellington to Canberra to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi! Following that slog we had a long sleep before waking up to explore.
From Hanoi we went on an overnight cruise of Halong Bay. This included a bus to and from Halong Bay. We then flew to Da Nang and got a taxi from the airport to Hoi An. Our final internal trip was to fly from Da Nang to to Ho Chi Minh, where we then departed from.
In each city we did lots of organised day trips and tours. You can book these at small kiosks around each city or your accommodation can point you in the right direction. I think it would have been pretty easy to just hire a scooter and independently head to the main attractions.
Vietnam’s Capital is vibrant and teeming with people and scooters. It is busy, noisy and full of unfamiliar smells. We spent three days here and wish we had longer. Our Hanoi highlights were:
- Walk around the Old Quarter to get an idea of the culture. At night they have a market selling food and all sorts of goods.
- Walk around the Lake of the Restored Sword and see locals taking a morning stroll, working out at lake side gyms or watching the water. At night families are often out around the lake with kids running all over the place.
- Eat lots!
- Book a city tour to take you to the city’s main pagodas, including Tran Quoc, the oldest pagoda in Hoian. This was a wonderful way to learn about the history of the city and its people.
- Vietnam Military History Museum.
- Book an overnight cruise to Halong Bay. This World Heritage Site is spectacular and the cruise makes it luxurious. The cruise included a range of activities including kayaking, cave tours, tai chi, amazing food and stunning views.
Hoi An was our favourite spot in Vietnam. We only had a few days here and it was not enough. You could spend weeks in this charming little town. A few standouts for us were:
- Walk around the old town, another World Heritage Site. This is particularly special at night as the streets are strung with lanterns and closed to motor vehicles.
- Buy a pass to explore some of the old buildings in the centre of town.
- Get amazing clothes tailored incredibly quickly. Daniel had his wedding suit made and got the coolest pants ever.
- Take a day trip to My Son temple, yet another World Heritage Site!
- Try the local Vietnamese savory pancakes.
- Be in the city for the Full Moon Festival.
- Get a massage or other pampering.
Ho Chi Minh City
We spent way to long here and wished we had used that time for Hoi An instead. The upside was that there was time to get a tailored wedding dress! Things we enjoyed about Ho Chi Minh:
- Mi Kong River Tour. This was a very long and hot day where we visited all sorts of local industry, learnt a lot of history and held a snake.
- Cu Chi Tunnels tour. This was an interesting and at times harrowing day. You can go through some small sections of the war tunnels, try the food eaten during the war and shoot machine guns if you choose.
- Wander the city at night. In the evening the locals put their best clothes on and head out.
- Visit Ben Than markets to stock up on gifts before you head home.
- Visit War Remenants Museum to see the horrors of the Vietnam war.
- Get a taste of Paris and visit Notre Dame Cathedral.
- Have the best meal at ….. We went three times!
- Visit Pasteur Street brewery for a pint or two of specialty beer.
We loved Vietnam and would love to go back one day. It is different from New Zealand in every way and provided us with a warm and very diverse trip. I’ll get more information up soon about each location we visited.
Get booking those flights!
Chloe and Daniel