After Halong Bay, our next mission for overnight trips from Hanoi was to get to Sapa. We checked out all of the packaged tours, but didn’t see any offering the type of trip we were craving. We wanted to get off the tourist trail and have the most authentic experience we could, so decided to go with a highly recommended private guide who was a native Black H’mong. We spent 3 days traveling around Sapa with him, learning about the culture and landscape of the region, and got a chance to sleep in his native village. Definitely worth it. Even if we had to eat weasel…
Archive for Vietnam
From Hanoi there are two side trips most everyone does: Halong Bay and Sapa. We didn’t want to let the weather stop us from seeing these highly touted sights, so we booked a 2 day 1 night tour of the islands. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but we had an interesting trip none the less.
Our brief visit to Hanoi gave us a snapshot of an enigmatic city with a lot of potential. Although it seemed as busy and bustling as Saigon, we thought it lacked a certain spark. It’s a quality that was hard for us to define, and part of that might have been due to the crappy weather we endured during our time there. However, we still tried to make the best of it and see what Hanoi had to offer, although not always with a smile on our faces.
Hoi An is a beautiful town in central Vietnam that we decided to rest in for a few days to recharge our batteries. It’s full of old, historic buildings, lantern lined canals and it’s claim to fame – tailor shops. After reading countless reviews from harsh critics on Lonely Planet forums that the tailors are tourist shams, I was a little apprehensive, but decided to go for it anyways.
For our second day trip out of Saigon, we went about 4 hours north to a beach town called Mui Ne. The town is famous for the windswept beaches that make it a haven for kite surfers from around the world. However, the main draw are the giant red and white sand dunes that push right up to the edge of the ocean .
Our friends suggested we get out in the Mekong Delta region for a few days, so we connected with a guide they knew and headed out to Ben Tre. The rivers and canals we went to explore were the same ones war boats traveled through at the start of the Vietnam war. The trip was definitely an adventure and we learned some valuable lessons along the way.
After a few days of heat, stress and manic tuk-tuk drivers in Phnom Penh we jumped on a bus and headed to Saigon for some much needed R&R with our friends Shauna and Randy. Shauna and Randy were the ones who convinced us to teach in Korea in the first place. They had been in Saigon for about 7 months after finishing their contracts in Ulsan. We were excited to see some familiar faces and have a few lazy days with no sightseeing, maps or guidebooks.