Alas! I have found some time to write a blog post. The past two months at University have been extremely hectic, meaning that I’ve had to completely and utterly neglect writing about travelling. However, I have, amidst the gloomy shadows of the third year, booked backpacking for this summer and I am counting down the days! My next couple of blog posts will be on Vietnam. Vietnam is a beautiful and vibrant country and I was so lucky to travel there.
Before I start, I’m asked quite a lot how I plan my travels, work out my routes etc. It is a mammoth task and I am currently trying to plan a route for this summer. Therefore, have patience as it requires a lot of research! What I tend to do is firstly work out how long I want to go for (I personally wouldn’t want to travel for more than 6-8 weeks, although America was an exception…). Second, research things you want to do and see – do you like waterfalls? Snorkelling? National Parks? Or are you simply just going for the nightlife and lounging on a beach? Make a list of everything you want to see and where you want to go. Then choose a route. There are so many different routes you can choose. Travel blogs/ forums/lonely planet are great places to start to look for advice as you will get genuine advice from people and you’ll discover hidden gems! I know that STA travel and similar companies can look like a much easier option, but you will get charged SO much more than if you brave it and do it alone. I booked my whole trip through Expedia and Booking.com. For Vietnam our route was: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Bay, (back to Hanoi for flight), Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Throughout the next few blogs, I’ll include details on how we got around, where we stayed etc.
Where I got my Visa for Vietnam: (this looks dodgy but it’s legit as this is where the Gov.uk advice page takes you to!) https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/web/guest/trang-chu-ttdt
We decided to go to Hanoi because it provided easy access to the notorious Ha Long Bay (one of the new seven wonders of the world). However, I thought Hanoi was a beautiful city and I’m glad that Ben and I chose to go there. Would I go there if it wasn’t close to Ha Long Bay? Yes. Is there an awful lot to do there? I didn’t think so. So, I recommend no more than 2 days in Hanoi. We flew from Bangkok to Hanoi. The flight cost us around £40.00 each and took 1 hour and 45 mins.
We chose to stay at Eclipse Legend Hotel from the 28th June – 30th June. This cost £37… just over £9.00 per night each. The hotel was in a great location and the staff were amazing. You even get a complimentary orange juice on arrival…which, after a long bus from Koh Tao and a flight from Bangkok to Hanoi is… heaven in a cup. Breakfast was included in the price, although it didn’t look too appealing (mostly pho and fish), so I opted for some chocolate cookies from the convenient store next door instead.
Isn’t every backpacker supposed to rave about the food they ate on the tiny blue chairs on the Vietnamese streets? I cannot. I just couldn’t get myself to enjoy it. The smell of pho, lingered, and I really tried, I promise, to enjoy the delicacy. But, being vegetarian, it was pretty hard to avoid anything that didn’t taste of fish (despite claiming to be vegetarian). So, I did, I admit, live off dry sticky rice, and any pizza and pasta I could find throughout my time in Vietnam. However, I can recommend trying an egg coffee in Hanoi as they are delicious. My boyfriend, Ben, had a mocha and he also loved it. Oooo and I did master to eat every meal with chopsticks – do I live up to the backpacker stereotype now?
What to do in Hanoi
– Old Quarter
– Thang Long Water Puppet Show (I really enjoyed this and it was the highlight of Hanoi).
– Hoàn Kiếm Lake (especially at night!)
– Ngoc son temple
– Bach Ma Temple
– Try an egg coffee. I promise you they are lush. They taste like ice-cream. Go to either Giang café or to one of its neighbours.
– Temple of Literature (also check out railway on your way there- the picture above).
-Watch the bustling traffic from one of the rooftop bars with a cocktail or beer.
1. We got scammed 1269550.36 Vietnamese Dong (£40.00) in a 2 minute taxi ride. Ask your hotel how to spot a reliable taxi. This made our lovely £9.00 day (including dinner and a cocktails) turn into a horrendous over our budget £49.00 day.
2. LEARN the money. The money all looks the same. So, either learn the money, or rely on your boyfriend to learn it like I did, hehe.
Hanoi is, for most backpackers, a pit stop before travelling to Ha Long Bay. However, it is a stunning city with a rich history and it is well worth a visit! I hope you have enjoyed this short, but sweet, blog post. I hope to be able to blog more regularly from now on, despite the fact I’m drowning in Uni work…. third year why are you so hard??? Until next time!
(Check out my Gopro travel video a the bottom of this page!)