On the 17th of March 2015, I embarked on a journey through Vietnam starting from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) up through Hoi An, Phong Nha, Ninh Binh and ended my trip in Sapa. I was not there to simply learn about the Vietnam war, but to embrace the nature, the caves, the culture and, my god, the coffee and the food. Vietnam delivered in all fronts very well, and that is why I am here today to show you what it is like in Vietnam.
Given my previous outstanding success of the "Follow Me" post of New Zealand, where I would take you through a series of photos of me and my backpack using the background as a canvas to show off stunning sceneries of a country, I decided to continue with my photographic experiment and do the same for Vietnam. With posts like these, it allows to create an overview of my trip before diving deep into each location with the usual Solo Traveler's Journal photo essays.
Without further ado, let's follow me through Vietnam!
Looking for a complete travel guide and itinerary for Vietnam? 2 Weeks Itinerary for Vietnam.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
First thing on my agenda was to visit the War Museum in Saigon to learn more about the history from both sides. The experience was so overwhelming I had a headache at the end of it.
Hoi An is one of those place you wish you could stay longer. The Ancient city lights up with beautiful lamps every night where both the locals and foreigners come out and mingle.
Not to mention, Hoi An has one of the best and cheapest Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) in the country. Make sure you check out Banh Mi Phuong before you leave!
I rented a bike and took it for a spin to one of the many rice fields in the area. Tranquillity is everywhere here.
Good Morning Vietnammmm!
The next day, I went on a little tour to one of the historical sight near Hoi An, the MySon temple. It is one of the remnants of the revered Champa Kingdom that still stand today.
Not as impressive as the Angkor Wat but still quite interesting to be able to observe the similarities.
Phong Nha is the place where the biggest cave (Hang Son Doong) in the world was discovered as recently as in 2008.
I would love to go explore the Hang Son Doong but it would cost me 3,000 USD for a 6 days excusion. I decided to explore another different cave instead. The Paradise Cave was a much cheaper option and yet still rendered me speechless.
It was a 7 KM hike inside a dark cave. There were several caverns that could hold a sport stadium within it!
After several hours of hiking, we were rewarded with a gigantic cavern with a humongous hole in the middle of it.
The cave was so big it has its own clouds!
It was raining lightly that day, which made cave exploration the more fascinating. There were stream of rain falling from the cave's ceiling forming a beautiful line of droplets.
Me and a couple of friends I met on the train rented a motorbike and explored the rice fields and green hills of Ninh Binh. Five minutes in we were lost.
We climbed to the top of a mountain with a view of the Tam Coc caves and Ngô Đồng river.
It was a little foggy and rainy but the view was still mesmerizing.
River streams running through green rice fields are a common sight in Vietnam. I couldn't get enough of.
I took an overnight train from Hanoi to Sapa, met Anna, Rolando and Delphine along the way and we decided to go on a hike to the Cat Cat Village.
Anna looking at the H'mong children playing in the village.
We hiked further hoping to see Mt Fansipan, the highest mountain in Indo China which stood at 3,143 metres (10,312 ft) high.
Unfortunately, the summit was hiding behind thick clouds all week and all I could do was imagining where the summit was supposed to be.
It was raining in the morning the next day so we decided to take a taxi to one of the many waterfalls in the area.
There I was, stood in the face of mother nature.
Wouldn't it be nice to climb to one of the rocks up there?
And so I did!
That was the furthest I could go without slipping to my death. My shoes weren't built to climb slippery rocks.
The sky was clearing in the afternoon so we got ourselves a map and rented 3 motorbikes.
Do you trust your life with an Asian on a motorbike? Apparently, Delphine did. :)
Not to mention, the views were much more impressive down there. Endless fields of rice terraces as far as the eye could see. No wonder why Vietnam is the number one exporter of rice.
Even though the rice terraces are man made, we were still fascinated by it. The Vietnamese really make the best out of what they have.
Anna overlooking the valley at the end of our trip before we turned back.
I thought I have seen enough rice terraces in my life to not be fascinated by it, but no rice terraces can compete with the ones in Sapa. It stretches out so far you can not even see where it ends.
We are the mountain riders!
In case you are wondering, this is what I looked like on a motorbike. :)
Further Reading about Vietnam
Are you looking for more information about traveling in Vietnam? Here are a few more articles that can help you with your trip in Vietnam:
- Looking for a complete travel guide and itinerary for Vietnam? 2 Weeks Itinerary for Vietnam.
- Ho Chi Minh City is a great place to start your journey in Vietnam and you can read more about Ho Chi Minh City here: 3 Days In Ho Chi Minh City
- Looking for things to do in Hoi An? Be sure to check out an article I wrote about my experience in Hoi An here: The Colorful Lanterns Of Hoi An's Ancient City
- If you are looking for an off-the-beaten path destination in Vietnam, do not miss a chance to explore the caves of Phong Nha National Park.
- Ninh Binh is a great alternative to Halong Bay if you are not so keen on sleeping on a boat for a few days and having to deal with cheap tour agencies and drunk tourists. You can read more about my experience of Ninh Binh here.
- I have written about my experience traveling to Sapa by train, hiking and exploring the mountains and hills of Sapa on a motorbike.
- You can see all my Vietnam related articles on my Vietnam Travel Guide page.
Do you enjoy this type of photography? Check out the one I did in New Zealand. If you have any suggestion on what I could improve, do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below or tweet me here: @peachananr
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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