by Chloe Marshman
When I think back to my time spent in Vietnam, I remember complete mayhem on the streets of Hanoi, stunning scenery within Halong Bay, the quaintness of Hoi An and some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten.
Hanoi – hectic but surprisingly tranquil!
My journey began in Hanoi, the country’s capital which sits in the northern region of this incredibly long country. The moment I arrived into the suburbs of the city, the noise began and with over 3 million motorbikes it was very loud!
Within the city’s old quarter, narrow streets intertwine and everywhere you look there are people going about their daily lives, completely unaware of the chaos that surrounds them. There are many sights to be seen within the vicinity of this ancient city and our tour began with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh complex.
Halong Bay, a water wonderland
After bustling Hanoi our tour moved onto Halong Bay, which can only be described as a natural phenomenon. After the fast pace of Hanoi I really appreciated the peace of this water wonderland. After boarding our wooden junk boat, we began sailing through the bay, passing the huge limestone outcrops that protrude from the turquoise waters. Sailing for two days meant we merely scratched the surface of this natural wonder.
Within the bay there are a total of 1,696 islands, islets and rock formations, of which 989 have been given imaginative names by the locals, derived from their perceived shapes. Our wooden home for the night pleasantly surprised me; the cabins were comfortable, well-equipped and spacious. The rooftop deck provided a great sun trap as well as a view point whilst sailing. The real highlight for me however, had to be the food. Predominantly seafood, I was a little hesitant as I have never been a great lover of the cuisine. After leaving the boat however, I was converted!
Prepare to be charmed by Hoi An
I thought Halong Bay would be hard to beat but i have to say Hoi An is totally enchanting and has to be my favourite destination in Vietnam. This town oozes charm as well as history and even though it is now a tourist town, it has still managed to retain its cosiness and is without a doubt a spot worth lingering in.
Whilst in Hoi An I walked around the pedestrian friendly Old Town, visited the ancient sights such as The Japanese Bridge and Silk House, swam in the waters of the South China Sea, hired a bike and rode aimlessly around the perimeter of the town and had some trousers tailored and delivered straight to my hotel room. I was only in Hoi An for one night, however I could have easily stayed an extra two or three, simply to soak up the atmosphere of this delightful town.
Saigon, a fascinating city
Back to the rat race! Saigon or otherwise known as Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam at its most dizzying! The drive from the airport to our hotel took longer than anticipated as we fought our way through the millions of motorbikes that buzzed and beeped around us. Ho Chi Minh City is a far cry from the nation’s capital, both in distance and appearance. This city is modern with large department stores, wide boulevards and a certain sense of grandeur. A must-see for anyone that visits Ho Chi Minh City are the Cu Chi Tunnels, located around a 90 minute drive from the centre of Saigon. This network of underground tunnels, some 200km long, provided sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, hospitals and other social rooms for several military campaigns during the Vietnam War. An area of the tunnels has been widened to allow visitors to crawl through and experience the life that once was, I must say it was an experience!
Experience Vietnam yourself on a Bunnik Tours small group tours. Click here to view our full range of tours to Asia.