If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you’ve come to the right place. I had a chance to chat with my friend Amy who is an experienced world traveler about her trip. Here is Amy’s great advice if you’re traveling to Vietnam:
Amy did you have any expectations of Vietnam before visiting?
I recently read Vietnam Now which I highly recommend before visiting the country.
Tell us about your trip…
The people are very welcoming and warm and the cities are very walkable. We signed up for several local boat tours during our days and the tour guides were very knowledgeable and pleasant. One observation from speaking to the locals is some still refer to Ho Chi Min as “Saigon”.
The first part of the trip we visited the southern region and the city of Ho Chi Min. This region is full of fabulous fruit and outstanding coffee. We then flew to Hue in the middle of the country for a few days and then flew to Hanoi. We took a train from Hanoi to Sapa in the northern region, where there is a bit more congestion in this region.
Geographically, Vietnam lies on the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula and looks like an “S” in shape. China borders it to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west and the East Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the east and south. Hanoi is the capital and three quarters of Vietnam’s territory consist of mountains and hills.
Did you have any favorite local customs?
- Coffee presses –fabulous drip coffee everywhere!
- Local markets filled with native vegetables and fruits, fish and meats.
- Locals are seen “squatting” which is a relaxing position.
- Most transport is by motorcycles!
- Hammocks along the highways “rest areas”
What were your favorite memories of your trip?
- Sitting with my friend on plastic chairs along the street side watching the locals.
- We hiked for several hours in the northern region of Sapa which was beautiful.
- We took a cooking course in Hanoi that was really fun and we learned a lot about local ingredients.
- We hired a guide on a motorcycle to give us a motorcycle tour around Hue, very beautiful landscape of country!
Where did you stay?
In Sapa, we stayed at the Victoria Hotel http://www.victoriahotels-asia.com/eng/hotels-in-vietnam/sapa-resort-spa which has it’s own train to Hanoi—great recommendation!
In Hanoi, we stayed at the Hanoi Elite, www.hanoielitehotel.com.
In Hue we stayed at the Orchard Hotel, www.orchidhotel.com.
In Saigon we stayed at The Majestic Hotel, http://www.majesticsaigon.com.vn/
What would you recommend as a day trip?
The Mekong Delta, as a region, lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi Minh City, and is described as a ‘biological treasure trove’. There is a massive outdoor eatery where we sampled Elephant ear fish..really good white fish.
Halong Bay is a fabulous day trip that can really be experienced in one day.
Were there any interesting and fun food and drinks that you tasted?
One of my favorite things was the fish and shrimp spring rolls that I sampled throughout the trip. We found a local restaurant in Hanoi where only one dish is served, a dish of fish and greens with noodles—quite a large bowl to share! I loved the limey chicken dish that we sampled in Hue, I will be making this at home! We drank a lot of local beers, 333 in Saigon and some Hanoi beers.
Amy’s Travel Suggestions:
- Always take your passport with you in a safe pocket purse that hangs in front of you and be aware of it at all times.
- Clothing to pack—the temperature can range from 30 degrees to 80 degrees in this country, so pack with comfortable hiking shoes and clothes that you can layer up!
- Medical- you can get most basic necessities, but some things like contact solution, are not found in local pharmacies.
- Do not drink the water, even brushing your teeth.
- Try new foods!