VIETNAM: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Ninh Binh, Phong Nha and Hue – 3 weeks, November and December 2016
*plan was to visit Hoi An for final week however for personal reasons I had to head back to the UK
I had always held off visiting Vietnam… I’m not even sure why now but I’m definitely glad I finally made the effort. Ok I hadn’t picked the best time to be there – weather wise – and the locals aren’t as openly friendly as they are in other parts of Asia. But the variety of tours to take, stuff to do, things to eat, history to learn and experiences to have is as varied and amazing as any other country in the region. And I honestly could live on rice noodle soups (pho) for the rest of my life!
I only had one month, and all knew in advance is that I wanted to visit was Hanoi (the place I flew into) and Ho Ann (the place many of my friends had recommended as their favourite place). I had no strong desire to visit Ho Chi Minh City and following advice from friends in Hanoi, I then decided not to spend my time rushing around too much but to concentrate my time in the north. Despite it being off season and the wet season hanging on too long in most places, I was lucky to enjoy some beautiful clear and sunny days in Hanoi during each of my 4 separate weekend visits. Alongside Bangkok, Hanoi is easily my favourite Asian city and I throughly recommend it! Crazy narrow streets alive with action, amazing street food as well as gourmet restaurants, tranquil lakes to wander around, coffee shops at every turn and an old quarter which buzzes each night with bars and markets stalls.
Using Hanoi as a base I took a two-day boat tour on beautiful Halong Bay, went trekking through villages in Sapa, cycled at sunrise then took an afternoon boat trip through caves in the stunning Ninh Binh region, and went zip lining, dark caving in mud and kayaking around Phong Na. With easy and comfy night buses between each destination, great hostels everywhere and did I mention the food? I can’t wait to return…
To read more about my time in Vietnam, click here