A year ago I went on my own for 3 weeks to Vietnam to cross the country from south to north. I know, most people do it the other way around, but I heard from other travelers that Hanoi is a much nicer city than Saigon. So that's why I decided to end my trip with a blast.
Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City
Temples, temples and even more temples.... I love to visit them and went from one to the other. I used the public bus to travel between them because it is so cheap (but sometimes a challenge to get to the right place ;-)
Do you like Indian food as well? Well... you can wake me up in the middle of the night for a good Dosa Masala... And I got a perfect one at Mumtaz Indian Restaurant! Not a romantic place to sit, but if you are craving for dal, samosa, biryani, butter chicken... just go :-)
During my travels I have seen many traffic jams but the ones in Saigon are the most impressive!
I made a daytrip to the Mekong Delta. This is is such a big contrast when you compare it to the hustle and bustle of Saigon. Here people seem to live on a slower pace and it is very quiet and peaceful.
In the afternoon I visited the Vinh Trang Pagoda, a temple surrounded by 3 gigantic buddha's:
I tried the snake wine with scorpion, but it was actually not my cup of tea...
This group of students interviewed and filmed me for a schoolproject, it was really nice meeting them!
I went as well on a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels from the Viet Cong and the Cao Dai Temple where they worship the Devine Eye.
At first glance I found Hoi An too touristic, but after a closer look I have to admid that I really liked it, so I stayed for 5 nights.
I rented a bike for two days and while cycling through the old, small streets and between the rice paddies I felt a littlebit like Elisabeth Gilbert from Eat Pray Love, hehe ;-)
When you cycle out of town you immediately find places like these where you can drink a fresh pineapple juice and enjoy the view in the meantime.
I totally fell in love with the food and look of Nu Eatery.
The restaurant is tucked away in a small street and not easy to find, but it was really worth looking for! In the evening I sat outside at their cute little balcony/roofterrace.
The day after I went to the tea shop May Concept on the other side of the street. Here you can drink a good cup of tea (the iced lemongrass tea was very good) in their lush garden. The food you order here comes from Nu Eatery, and looks like this:
At Son Slow Cooking you get a whole lot of jumminess in a jar. I ordered the Asia Smoothie:
What can I say about Coco Box? I liked every single bit of it!
Café, juice bar and farm shop squeezed alltogether into a beautiful interior.
Vietnamese people are so friendly! :-)
Hoi An's landmark is the Japanese Bridge which was first build in 1590:
My biggest recommendation in Hoi An is for sure Reaching out Teahouse.
This is such a wonderful place with a fantastic story. It started in 2000 with the vision of providing opportunities for people of disability to learn skills and gain meaningful employment. This social enterprise has now more then 70 employees and has a stylish Arts & Crafts Shop and a Teahouse situated in a old wooden building.
I tried the Vietnamese Tea Tasting Set:
Hoi An is crammed with beautiful temples:
I took the train from Danag to Hue. It was a 2,5 hour beautiful trainride (mostly along the coast) to Hue. Here I stayed at Huenino Hotel, by far the cleanest hotel I stayed at in Vietnam. But I have to say, the hostels and guesthouses in Vietnam are much cleaner than anywhere else in Asia. For little money you can sleep very well.
This is my 360° shot from the Citadel where the Emperors lived in the old days:
Don't forget to pay a visit at Healing the Wounded Heart Shop of the Spiral Foundation.
The store is run by disabled artisans who create beautiful items from recycled materials. The money they raise gets donated to help fund heart surgeries for people who are born with a heart disease.
During one morning I visited all the different Tombes outside of town. They are build according to Feng Shui rules.
The Tu Duc Tombe was my favorite because it had a great atmosphere.
At the end of the day I went to the Thien Mu Pagoda from where you have a fantastic view over the Perfume River.
In the city center I saw graffiti artist 1escv in full action:
I went to Halong Bay for 2 day's and booked a cabin on the Garden Bay ship, it was a great experience! I will never forget waking up, opening the curtains and see the sweeping view over the bay and the mountains.
And I was really surprised how they were able to prepare such good food on board of this ship in their little kitchen.
Sitting on the deck, writing in my diary, sipping on a cocktail.... Take me back pretty please!
Indeed, Hanoi is a great city and I am happy to end my journey here.
I took the night train from Hue to get there, and booked my bed beforehand.
I stayed at the old quarter and enjoyed the chaotic streetlife. There is so much to see!
And, don't forget to look up every once in a while :-)
In the Hoan Kiem Lake you'll find a temple on a little "island" which is connected by a red Japanese bridge. On the templegrounds men are playing games in the afternoon sun. All of a sudden you encounter a little piece of quietness in the middle of the busy city.
The Vietnamese Woman's Museum is worth a visit. This modern museum showcases women's role in Vietnamese past and current society.
Visiting the Ho Chi Minh Complex was quite impressive:
Next to the Temple of Literature there is a restaurant called KOTO where disadvantaged youth get the chance to get a job and run a good restaurant together.
The temple is dedicated to Confucius, sages and sholars.
And I was lucky, during my visit students were celebrating their diploma! :-)
I could talk about Vietnam for hours and hours, I had such a great time there!
It's clean, safe for female solo travelers, it has beautiful temples and nature.
So don't hesitate, just GO! :-)