3 weeks in Vietnam

My Vietnam itenary and what I wish I’d known in advance

Contrary to my expectations Vietnam turned out to be a controversial place for travelling. After weeks and weeks of research prior to my trip I was more than excited about going there.All the right ingredients for a great trip were present. Rich culture, spectacular landscapes , plenty of history and tasty food!

However there were certain aspects I failed to anticipate and perhaps because of that and my already high expectations I was left a bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful country and definitely worth a visit, but have a realistic expectation and you’ll be better prepared.

I like travelling independently, choosing my own mode of transport. I like taking as long as needed in each place I visit and for that reason organised group tours are just not my thing. There’s nothing better than talking to local people and getting a sense of the place for yourself without being rushed around by a tour guide.

And so, here is how Vietnam was a bit of a challenge for me. Independent travel is made virtually impossible in most of the popular tourist places, nowhere more so than when you head to Halong Bay. Unless you’re willing to skip your visit there altogether, you’re left with no choice, but to join an organised group onboard of one of the many competing sailing ships.

Halong bay

After arriving in Hanoi I spent a day walking around town, looking at different options on how best to see Halong Bay. And the reality is, I was given a list of travel companies that offer pretty much the same cruise options on ships ranging from the budget /party boats aimed mainly at gap year travelers to mid-range, to luxury vessels focusing on retired western tourists and newlywed couples.

So with a very limited choice I had to join one of those ships. Our time onboard was planned with military organisation and while some people may enjoy the activities organised by the tour companies, a lot of travellers found themselves having to explain to the guide time and time again why they do not want to join certain tour or cooking class and prefer to just sit and enjoy the view. If you enjoy experiencing a place for yourself you may struggle.

To me it was the definition of a tourist trap with literally nowhere to escape. The view from the top deck is spectacular and Halong Bay is not to be missed but be prepared for what’s in store while on board.

I was later told of an alternative way to see Halong Bay, it will probably take longer to organise the logistics but it sounds like a lot more authentic trip for those who like to take the road less traveled.

 

Cat Ba

Make your way to Cat Ba first ( that’s  the largest island in Halong Bay) From there you can organise trips to see Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay which is just as beautiful and not as crowded.   Cat Ba Ventures came highly recommended. http://www.catbaventures.com

I reached Cat Ba on the afternoon of our second day on board and luckily had planned for a couple of nights there to explore by myself without sticking to any schedule. There are jungle hiking routes and plenty of kayaks to rent if that’s more your thing. One of the biggest water settlements is right by the island and so I rented a kayak and went there to see it for myself. Floating villages fascinate me and

I spent a couple of hours on the kayak exploring.You can also ask a local to show you around for a small fee.

 

Heading to Hoi An

 

After a week exploring Hanoi and Halong Bay ( and the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had from a meal on the cruise ship)  my next stop was Hoi An.

 

 

I have to say, it is The place in Vietnam I would happily go back to. This ancient town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can get pretty busy at times, but walk around the narrow streets before 11am and it will feel like you have this beautiful town full of history and atmosphere all to yourself.  It’s only at midday when busses full of tourists arrive for the afternoon that the place gets very overcrowded. And this is when it’s best to just rent a bike and go exploring the area around. There are beautiful rice fields and herb farms around, not to mention Au bang beach, all accessable by bicycle. The place is small enough to explore on foot or by bike and that’s what I liked about it.

Another trip not to be missed is a visit to the nearby Coco Palm Forest. Again this can get quite touristy but if you like the idea of a fun afternoon, try it.

I also loved spending time in Tra Que Herb Village on a late afternoon. It’s lovely and peaceful there and you’ll come across some great friendly characters .

Next stop,  Mui Ne and the red sand dunes

As I’m always in search of sun and sea, this was an obvious stop for me.  The beach itself is nothing spectacular here but the place is popular for windsurfing and there are plenty of places to stay offering surf hire and lessons.

If you make it to Mui Ne, do visit the small fishing village with it’s many  traditional round fishing boats. A short ride nearby you’ll also find an area with red and white sand dunes. Most people tend to visit early morning and at sunset and if you’re after some good photography moments you’ll have to get pretty creative to hide and avoid the spectators.

Photographers are always  told to avoid midday sun but here it can be a great time to get some dramatic shadows and play with contrasts.

For an independent way to get around you can rent a motorbike or if you prefer not to be in the driving seat, get in touch with  http://www.easy-riders.net

This is a great place to contact independent local guides and get a ride to any place you like. It’s also a good way to talk to a local and find out more about trips and destinations you may be thinking of.

Can Tho floating market

I am fascinated by people living on water and the close bond they have with rivers or the sea and so I had to make Can Tho my final destination.

Is the biggest city of the Mekong Delta, located on the south bank of the Hậu River, the bigger branch of the Mekong River, 3 hours drive from Ho Chi Minh city.

Again, this is a great place to explore by bicycle, especially if you are looking to get away from the city centre and see more of the quieter life along the canals and narrower river branches. Around Can Tho you’ll find beautiful countryside, rice paddies and sleepy villages where time seems to have stopped. I would recommend doing a homestay in one of those places and enjoy the atmosphere.

To see the floating market, get ready for an early start. It is at it’s liveliest between 6 and 7am and will be pretty much over by 8am. Most hotels and homestays will be more than happy to organise your personal boat ride, just make sure you ask them to sail at a slower pace with plenty of stops around the market boats if you want to take your time while taking pictures.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Palm trees, ocean breeze, salty air, sunkissed hair. Holiday time at last! ☀️☀️🌊🏝🐬🐠

. . . . .
#holidays #travelphotography #travelpgotographer #seaside #beachlife  #frenchriviera #sailing #cannes #wanderlust #passionpassport #instashot #traveltheworld #natgeo #oceanbeach
Palm trees, ocean breeze, salty air, sunkissed hair. Holiday time at last! ☀️☀️🌊🏝🐬🐠 . . . . . #holidays #travelphotography #travelpgotographer #seaside #beachlife #frenchriviera #sailing #cannes #wanderlust #passionpassport #instashot #traveltheworld #natgeo #oceanbeach
11 months ago
View on Instagram |
1/9
Seaside moments of stillness 
#shabla #beachlife #beachday #seaside #serenity #beachphotography #2021
Seaside moments of stillness #shabla #beachlife #beachday #seaside #serenity #beachphotography #2021
11 months ago
View on Instagram |
2/9
Happy Birthday!
A voice of reason, always 🙏✌️☮️🌈🎈🌸
. . .
#dalailamaquotes #dalailama #inspiration #kindness #truelegend #tibet #freetibet #buddhism #mahayana #maitreya #altruism #londonbuddhistcentre #tibetanculture
Happy Birthday! A voice of reason, always 🙏✌️☮️🌈🎈🌸 . . . #dalailamaquotes #dalailama #inspiration #kindness #truelegend #tibet #freetibet #buddhism #mahayana #maitreya #altruism #londonbuddhistcentre #tibetanculture
11 months ago
View on Instagram |
3/9
The caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation 🐛🦋 .
Two months of staying at home in a new reality where social distancing has become the norm.
A time for reflection and re-learning to be present in the moment. A chance to observe and notice the little details. See the beauty in the shape of a flower, listen to the bird's songs,  get lost while watching the clouds changing in the sky, hear the tree leaves shake as the wind blows.

For all of us who are lucky enough to have our health, a roof over our heads and the security of knowing that our loved ones are all ok and safe this is a chance to take a step back and evaluate priorities on what matters in life. Be creative, learn and be grateful  for all we already have. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #grateful #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #flowersofinstagram #staysafe #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #flowerstagram #natgeodailyshot #thoughtoftheday #macrophotography #macrophotographer #lookclosely #orchids #photooftheday #dailyart #dailymemes
The caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation 🐛🦋 .
Two months of staying at home in a new reality where social distancing has become the norm.
A time for reflection and re-learning to be present in the moment. A chance to observe and notice the little details. See the beauty in the shape of a flower, listen to the bird's songs,  get lost while watching the clouds changing in the sky, hear the tree leaves shake as the wind blows.

For all of us who are lucky enough to have our health, a roof over our heads and the security of knowing that our loved ones are all ok and safe this is a chance to take a step back and evaluate priorities on what matters in life. Be creative, learn and be grateful  for all we already have. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #grateful #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #flowersofinstagram #staysafe #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #flowerstagram #natgeodailyshot #thoughtoftheday #macrophotography #macrophotographer #lookclosely #orchids #photooftheday #dailyart #dailymemes
The caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation 🐛🦋 .
Two months of staying at home in a new reality where social distancing has become the norm.
A time for reflection and re-learning to be present in the moment. A chance to observe and notice the little details. See the beauty in the shape of a flower, listen to the bird's songs,  get lost while watching the clouds changing in the sky, hear the tree leaves shake as the wind blows.

For all of us who are lucky enough to have our health, a roof over our heads and the security of knowing that our loved ones are all ok and safe this is a chance to take a step back and evaluate priorities on what matters in life. Be creative, learn and be grateful  for all we already have. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #grateful #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #flowersofinstagram #staysafe #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #flowerstagram #natgeodailyshot #thoughtoftheday #macrophotography #macrophotographer #lookclosely #orchids #photooftheday #dailyart #dailymemes
The caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation 🐛🦋 .
Two months of staying at home in a new reality where social distancing has become the norm.
A time for reflection and re-learning to be present in the moment. A chance to observe and notice the little details. See the beauty in the shape of a flower, listen to the bird's songs,  get lost while watching the clouds changing in the sky, hear the tree leaves shake as the wind blows.

For all of us who are lucky enough to have our health, a roof over our heads and the security of knowing that our loved ones are all ok and safe this is a chance to take a step back and evaluate priorities on what matters in life. Be creative, learn and be grateful  for all we already have. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #grateful #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #flowersofinstagram #staysafe #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #flowerstagram #natgeodailyshot #thoughtoftheday #macrophotography #macrophotographer #lookclosely #orchids #photooftheday #dailyart #dailymemes
The caterpillar grows wings during a season of isolation 🐛🦋 . Two months of staying at home in a new reality where social distancing has become the norm. A time for reflection and re-learning to be present in the moment. A chance to observe and notice the little details. See the beauty in the shape of a flower, listen to the bird's songs, get lost while watching the clouds changing in the sky, hear the tree leaves shake as the wind blows. For all of us who are lucky enough to have our health, a roof over our heads and the security of knowing that our loved ones are all ok and safe this is a chance to take a step back and evaluate priorities on what matters in life. Be creative, learn and be grateful for all we already have. . . #bepresentinthemoment #grateful #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #flowersofinstagram #staysafe #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #flowerstagram #natgeodailyshot #thoughtoftheday #macrophotography #macrophotographer #lookclosely #orchids #photooftheday #dailyart #dailymemes
2 years ago
View on Instagram |
4/9
CREATE! 
With all the time we have available now, there are no excuses! Write that poem or story, paint a picture, play your guitar,  experiment with photography or any other medium. 
#bepresentinthemoment #2020 #lockdown2020 #createeveryday #quoteoftheday #stayinspired #artquotes #artgoals #instaquote #inspiremyinstagram #passionpassport #travelwithoutmoving #bigmagicbook
CREATE! With all the time we have available now, there are no excuses! Write that poem or story, paint a picture, play your guitar, experiment with photography or any other medium. #bepresentinthemoment #2020 #lockdown2020 #createeveryday #quoteoftheday #stayinspired #artquotes #artgoals #instaquote #inspiremyinstagram #passionpassport #travelwithoutmoving #bigmagicbook
2 years ago
View on Instagram |
5/9
Lockdown memories
Feeling lucky to live close to nature and be able to enjoy the sunshine by the river.
Yes, travelling to remote parts of the world is not possible right now and that will probably be the case for a while.
But when life gives you lemons, you make a lemonade. So I'm using the time to rediscover places closer to home. 
Find the right book, and you can be back on adventures as far away as your imagination will take you. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #booksofinstagram #traveltips #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #humanityshots #natgeodailyshot #read #bookrecommendation #booklover
Lockdown memories
Feeling lucky to live close to nature and be able to enjoy the sunshine by the river.
Yes, travelling to remote parts of the world is not possible right now and that will probably be the case for a while.
But when life gives you lemons, you make a lemonade. So I'm using the time to rediscover places closer to home. 
Find the right book, and you can be back on adventures as far away as your imagination will take you. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #booksofinstagram #traveltips #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #humanityshots #natgeodailyshot #read #bookrecommendation #booklover
Lockdown memories
Feeling lucky to live close to nature and be able to enjoy the sunshine by the river.
Yes, travelling to remote parts of the world is not possible right now and that will probably be the case for a while.
But when life gives you lemons, you make a lemonade. So I'm using the time to rediscover places closer to home. 
Find the right book, and you can be back on adventures as far away as your imagination will take you. .
.
#bepresentinthemoment #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #booksofinstagram #traveltips #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #humanityshots #natgeodailyshot #read #bookrecommendation #booklover
Lockdown memories Feeling lucky to live close to nature and be able to enjoy the sunshine by the river. Yes, travelling to remote parts of the world is not possible right now and that will probably be the case for a while. But when life gives you lemons, you make a lemonade. So I'm using the time to rediscover places closer to home. Find the right book, and you can be back on adventures as far away as your imagination will take you. . . #bepresentinthemoment #lockdown2020 #dailyphoto #booksofinstagram #traveltips #passionpassport #reflections #photoeveryday #capturedmoments #britishsummer #humanityshots #natgeodailyshot #read #bookrecommendation #booklover
2 years ago
View on Instagram |
6/9
Laguna Colorada, 4270m altitude
A place that hypnotises you with its striking colors, quietness, thin air and the sight of hundreds of pink flamingos gathered on shallow water.
.
.
Read full story on my blog at
https://www.martegallery.com/bolivia-travel-photography-uyuni/
.
.
 #passionpassport #theglobewanderer #earthpix #natgeotravel #wanderlust #travelphotography  #awesome_earthpix #theglobewanderer #getlost #instatravel #dreamdestination #collectmomentsnotthings #dreamchasers #inspireyourself #uyuni  #wemadeit #bucketlist #beautiful #colorful #onceinalifetime #wondersoftheworld #welivetoexplore #lagunacolorada #surreallandscape #surrender #surrealphotography #saltflats #wishiwasthere @nassum.travel #amazing_captures #landscapephotography
Laguna Colorada, 4270m altitude A place that hypnotises you with its striking colors, quietness, thin air and the sight of hundreds of pink flamingos gathered on shallow water. . . Read full story on my blog at https://www.martegallery.com/bolivia-travel-photography-uyuni/ . . #passionpassport #theglobewanderer #earthpix #natgeotravel #wanderlust #travelphotography #awesome_earthpix #theglobewanderer #getlost #instatravel #dreamdestination #collectmomentsnotthings #dreamchasers #inspireyourself #uyuni #wemadeit #bucketlist #beautiful #colorful #onceinalifetime #wondersoftheworld #welivetoexplore #lagunacolorada #surreallandscape #surrender #surrealphotography #saltflats #wishiwasthere @nassum.travel #amazing_captures #landscapephotography
2 years ago
View on Instagram |
7/9
Laguna Colorada, 4270m altitude
A place that hypnotises you with its striking colors, quietness, thin air and the sight of hundreds of pink flamingos gathered on shallow water.
.
.
Read full story on my blog at
https://www.martegallery.com/bolivia-travel-photography-uyuni/
.
.
 #passionpassport #theglobewanderer #earthpix #natgeotravel #wanderlust #travelphotography  #awesome_earthpix #theglobewanderer #getlost #instatravel #dreamdestination #collectmomentsnotthings #dreamchasers #inspireyourself #uyuni  #wemadeit #bucketlist #beautiful #colorful #onceinalifetime #wondersoftheworld #welivetoexplore #lagunacolorada #surreallandscape #surrender #surrealphotography #saltflats #wishiwasthere @nassum.travel #amazing_captures #landscapephotography
Laguna Colorada, 4270m altitude A place that hypnotises you with its striking colors, quietness, thin air and the sight of hundreds of pink flamingos gathered on shallow water. . . Read full story on my blog at https://www.martegallery.com/bolivia-travel-photography-uyuni/ . . #passionpassport #theglobewanderer #earthpix #natgeotravel #wanderlust #travelphotography #awesome_earthpix #theglobewanderer #getlost #instatravel #dreamdestination #collectmomentsnotthings #dreamchasers #inspireyourself #uyuni #wemadeit #bucketlist #beautiful #colorful #onceinalifetime #wondersoftheworld #welivetoexplore #lagunacolorada #surreallandscape #surrender #surrealphotography #saltflats #wishiwasthere @nassum.travel #amazing_captures #landscapephotography
2 years ago
View on Instagram |
8/9
Laguna Colorada, 4270m altitude
A place that hypnotises you with its striking colors, quietness, thin air and the sight of hundreds of pink flamingos gathered on shallow water.
.
.
Read full story on my blog at
https://www.martegallery.com/bolivia-travel-photography-uyuni/
.
.
 #passionpassport #theglobewanderer #earthpix #natgeotravel #wanderlust #travelphotography  #awesome_earthpix #theglobewanderer #getlost #instatravel #dreamdestination #collectmomentsnotthings #dreamchasers #inspireyourself #uyuni  #wemadeit #bucketlist #beautiful #colorful #onceinalifetime #wondersoftheworld #welivetoexplore #lagunacolorada #surreallandscape #surrender #surrealphotography #saltflats #wishiwasthere @nassum.travel #amazing_captures #landscapephotography
Laguna Colorada, 4270m altitude A place that hypnotises you with its striking colors, quietness, thin air and the sight of hundreds of pink flamingos gathered on shallow water. . . Read full story on my blog at https://www.martegallery.com/bolivia-travel-photography-uyuni/ . . #passionpassport #theglobewanderer #earthpix #natgeotravel #wanderlust #travelphotography #awesome_earthpix #theglobewanderer #getlost #instatravel #dreamdestination #collectmomentsnotthings #dreamchasers #inspireyourself #uyuni #wemadeit #bucketlist #beautiful #colorful #onceinalifetime #wondersoftheworld #welivetoexplore #lagunacolorada #surreallandscape #surrender #surrealphotography #saltflats #wishiwasthere @nassum.travel #amazing_captures #landscapephotography
2 years ago
View on Instagram |
9/9

Say hello