From Hanoi we went to Halong bay on one of the ‘2 day, 1 night’ organised sleeper boat tours. We paid $69 USD each for this. It included; bus transfers to and from Hanoi, one night on the boat, one breakfast, two lunches and one dinner, entry to the cave, pearl farm and kayaking. The boat we were on was called ‘Golden cruise’ and was classed as deluxe. The quality of the boat and food was ok, it’s hard to tell without having seen the other boats! But we would advise go for the best standard you can and then try and haggle to the price you want. Looking back we may have paid a bit too much but we would do it again, it’s a really fun trip. Try and get to know the people on your boat, and take advantage of the free beer! We got chatting and completely forgot and then the free beer hour was up.
The kayaking was my favourite part, we went through a little archway into a secluded bay and saw a load of monkeys 🐒 swinging from the trees 😄.
Back on the boat we also did a mini cookery lesson, making spring rolls :).
We arrived back in Hanoi about 1800 and went straight back to our travel agent to book a tour to Sapa. We’d heard some good things from other travelers so wanted to fit it in.
Next bus journey took us to a little place called Dalat, we stayed in a hostel called ‘Dalat Green’, the owners were lovely; we had nice breakfasts and a free dinner one night. However, it was very small so quite difficult to meet people and was far away from the town (we would advise to stay near the lake). The main thing we did here was rent a scooter and enjoy a proper tourist day going to; Pongour waterfall, Elephant falls, a silk factory, a temple with a huge laughing Buddha and a coffee plantation (worst coffee we’d had in a while!). It was a beautiful day and quite easy to fit it all in as all fairly near each other…Pongour is just a bit further away and be prepared for about 500m of a bumpy scooter ride down a dirt track.
So after our busy day we had a good nights sleep and in the morning got the bus to Mui Ne. To be honest the only thing we would recommend here is the sand dune sun rise tour which was pretty stunning even though our driver got us there late and we missed the first part of the sunrise….also our jeep didn’t actually drive on the sand which we thought it was going to so check that out when you book, we paid 70,000 dong so maybe you have to pay a bit more to get a better service. After the sunrise we also got driven to the red sand dunes where you can surf, to the fairy stream which is a stunning little walk, then finally to the fishing village which is quite sad as they don’t know anything about conservation and throw away scraps they don’t want and leave the poor little fish to die on the sand instead of putting them back in the water. We are not sure what/if anything we can do about this so if anyone knows or works in this area please tell us!
From Mui Ne we took the us to our final destination in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon, we found they were both used interchangeably).
Our first stop was Hanoi. From the airport to our hostel we got an uber and paid 265,000 dong which was much cheaper than the taxis outside the terminal. It took about 40 minutes for us to get to the old quarter, where we stayed at ‘central backpackers-old quarter’. The hostel was fine for the money. The biggest bonus was the free cocktail, beer, walking tour and the staff were really friendly. There was also a restaurant which did food really cheap and was yummy. Much cheaper than any restaurant we found on the street!
Hanoi is a great city, imagine manic markets, scooters and people everywhere. Lots of bars and nightlife, seemed to be street entertainment and happy hour somewhere every night! You could sit in the road and drink beer 🍻 from a keg for 5000 dong a glass (that’s 20p).
One thing we did in Hanoi was go to the Musileum, which also had an information centre, this was really interesting and we got to know a lot more about the history of Vietnam.
The second main thing we did was go to watch a water puppet show, this was on the recommendation of Laura who we’d met in Fiji and gave us a tonne of tips for Asia, thank you Laura!
And then last but definitely not least…….Hanoi was where we fell in love with Egg coffee, life will never be the same! and if anyone knows where we can get it in the UK. Please tell us!!