Vietnam – January 2018

Hi Friends ❤ I haven’t been this excited to write a blog post in ages! As many of you know (If you follow me on Instagram, you couldn’t have missed it), I’ve been in Vietnam for the last month and it’s possibly one of the best months of my life. Vietnam is truly magical, I can TRY to show you some of its beauty but no photo will ever do it justice. If you ever get the chance to go, take my word for it, it’s not to be missed!  So here it goes, I’ll try to include as much information as I can without making this post super long and boring.

(Everything is based totally on my opinion and how my friends and I prefer to travel, so you might want to consider other places/activities if you’re into different things)

Places We Visited

  1. Hanoi
  2. Hạ Long Bay
  3. Ninh Bình
  4. Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng
  5. Huế
  6. Hội An
  7. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
  8. Mekong Delta
  9. Phú Quốc

I suggest you go around winter (December-March) because it’s when they have the best weather since in summer it can get REALLY hot and humid, which causes a monsoon season where it rains on most days. We did the trip North to South because we wanted to end with the place we were most looking forward to: Phú Quốc island. It’s also colder in the north so we wanted to end the trip with the hottest place before going back to wintery Malta. Anyways, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City (the still-in-use old name is Saigon, which I figured out a week into the trip and was mind blown) but flew directly to Hanoi upon arriving.

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Hanoi – (1 day)

Hanoi is a bit overwhelming once you arrive since it’s really busy! Be prepared for craziness when crossing the streets, I honestly think that street crossing in Hanoi should be an Olympic sport. A zebra crossing is just a street decoration, it does not in ANY WAY mean that the motorcycles and cars will stop. You just have to cross fast and with confidence, and hope to make it to the other end ❤

What we did:

  • Hỏa Lò Prison Museum
  • Temple of Literature
  • Hoàn Kiếm Lake – nicest in the evening
  • Ho Chi Minh Museum

As I said, terrifying..

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But worth it ❤

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Ha Long Bay – (3 days)

AMAZING, simply AMAZING. The views are indescribable. We went on a three day two night cruise around Hạ Long Bay. I would definitely recommend booking something similar, do not miss the opportunity of waking up to the view of Hạ Long Bay! We booked the cruise with a company called ‘Galaxy Cruises’, the staff were really friendly and they offered a pick up service from our Hotel in Hanoi (Hanoi to Hạ Long Bay takes around 4 hours).

What we did:

  • You can find the full cruise itinerary here

My favourite was definitely the Kayaking! I literally felt I was in a film or in a travel inspiration Instagram post ❤

The staff also booked a taxi for us from Hạ Long Bay to Ninh Bình.

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The view from our room ❤

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Ninh Binh – ( 2 Days)

Ninh Bình is quite a poor area and the centre is very chaotic so we chose to stay on the outskirts at a resort called ‘Tam Coc Rice Fields’ .

What we did:
Day 1:

  • Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex – boat ride
  • Bái Đính Pagoda
  • Hoa Lư temple
  • Múa Cave (also known as Hang Múa)

Totally recommend the boat ride, it was BEAUTIFUL! It’s a 2 hour boat ride which takes you to Tràng An Cave and many others, in which you’ll keep saying ‘omg is this real’ over and over again.

Day 2:

  • Cúc Phương National Park – A LOT of trees, I think you can skip this one to be honest

From Ninh Bình to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng we traveled via a night bus. It’s a VERY eventful 8 hour journey on a sleeper bus. I only managed to sleep for around 3 hours because our driver was insane and the horn was his bff (you’ll learn all drivers and their horns are bff’s). It’s a cheap option and you get to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng at around 5am so it saves you a night at a hostel and you don’t waste a day travelling, so it’s a good option to consider.

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Tam Coc rice Fields Resort

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Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng – (2 & 1/2 Days )

One of my favourites! Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng is so beautiful and altogether different from the previous places we had visited. It’s quite popular so you’ll find a lot of young people backpacking there which was nice after a week of not seeing many people our age. We stayed at a hostel called Easy Tiger. I’d definitely recommend this as it has a nice chill atmosphere and they have live music playing most evenings where many people from all around Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng gather for a fun evening so it’s very easy to make friends and meet many people from different countries.

Day 1:

  • Boat ride to the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng Cave (AMAZING)

Day 2:

  • 8 Ladies Cave (Hang Tám Cô) & War Martyr Memorial
  • Paradise Cave (Thiên Đường)
  • Dark Cave for zip-lining, kayaking, swimming and a mud bath
  • Full tour details here.

If you love adventure, the Dark Cave is a must! You start by zip-lining over an amazing view, then swim and walk through the cave to a mud bath. We found the journey to the mud bath hilarious because we got lost from our group and we were convinced we were gonna die alone in this cave (doesn’t sound funny but when you’re walking alone in a dark cave wearing nothing but a bikini and an ugly helmet on your head, it’s funny). You finish by kayaking back out of the cave, it is really beautiful!

We traveled to Huế by bus, it was around 4 hours and the bus station is next door to the hotel.

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Mud bath at the dark cave!

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Huế – (1 day)

To be honest I don’t remember much about the places we visited because it was raining a lot and we couldn’t stop laughing at how ugly we looked in our silly purple raincoats. What I remember most is that at the Citadel we paid around 2 euro to change into royal outfits and take royal pictures which was the highlight of my day. Oh, and we stayed here for the night.

What we did:

  • Tomb of Minh Mang
  • Imperial Citadel
  • Boat Ride on the perfume river – I wouldn’t really recommend this

The hotel booked a van for us to go to Hội An, the trip was around three and a half hours.

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Royal photos – my life is complete!

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Hội An – 2 & 1/2 days

We stayed at Christina’s and it was beautiful, inexpensive and the staff were really lovely. As soon as we arrived in Hội An, we went to the centre to get tailor-made swimsuits. Hội An is known for tailor-made clothing so you’ll find a lot of shops that offer this service. They usually take around two days to finish, including an adjustment, which is why we booked them ASAP.

What we did:

Day 1:

  • Exploring Hội An, there are many historic buildings you can visit whilst walking around.

Day 2:

  • Daytime: Visited Cham Island. The journey there was very strange, we somehow ended up on a merchant boat on a broken plastic chair where we contemplated life for an hour and a half. If you’re interested in going there, get the speed boat!
  • Evening: Boat ride in Hội An. This is really beautiful and very romantic. Hội An is known as the lantern city and the city is filled with lanterns which light up the entire city in the evening. On the boat ride, you can buy a candle lantern to make a wish and leave it on the river meaning the river is also filled with lanterns, I repeat BEAUTIFUL!

To travel to Ho Chi Minh City, we got a flight from Hội An airport.

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Ho Chi Minh City – (2 days)

Ho Chi Minh City is even crazier that Hanoi. Street crossing was at this point almost impossible. Also, this is when the temperature got really hot and humid! We stayed at Christina’s because it had a very central location.

What we did:

Day 1:

  • Went around the city
  • War Museum – very emotional!
  • Watched Netflix and slept at around 8:30 pm (wild night)

Day 2:

  • Củ Chi Tunnels
  • Rice noodle production
  • Natural rubber extraction.
  • Full Tour Details

I really recommend this tour, we traveled on motorbikes (in a crazy city!) which was possibly one of the scariest moments of my life but after accepting your fate, it’s VERY fun!

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Mekong Delta – (1 Day)

We didn’t actually spend a night in the Mekong Delta, instead we booked a day tour from Ho Chi Minh City, which left at around 7:30am and returned around 5pm. I would recommend this as there isn’t much to do in the Mekong Delta.

What we did

  • Floating Markets
  • Land Markets
  • Factories

To travel to Phú Quốc, we got a 1 hour flight from Ho Chi Minh airport.

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Phú Quốc – (5 days)

The final destination! Phú Quốc is extremely chill compared to the other places so I’m glad we left this one till the end so that we got to really relax before heading back to Malta (and work). We stayed at this amazing resort called ‘Lahana Resort’.

What we did:

Day 1:

  • We went fishing at Pineapple Island (Hòn Thơm in Vietnamese) – I caught a fish, so proud!
  • Swam at Fingernail Island (Hòn Móng Tay in Vietnamese)
  • Went snorkeling around Dầm Ngang Island
  • Chilled and became lobsters on May Rut Island
  • Full Tour Details here

Day 2:

  • Sim Wine factory
  • Fish sauce factory
  • Pepper farm
  • Cửa Cạn river 
  • National park 
  • Vũng Bầu beach
  • Full tour details here – this tour can get a little boring haha, I think I would recommend just visiting another beach

Day 3:

  • Bãi Sao (bãi means beach in Vietnamese!)

Day 4:

  • Long Beach

Day 5:

  • Chill by the pool and cry because we’re going back home

I absolutely fell in love with Phú Quốc! It was incredibly magical and too beautiful to be true ❤️

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I hope you enjoyed this post and found this summary useful ❤️ If you’re planning to go and have any questions feel free to ask 😍

Also, make sure you travel with amazing people because you’ll be spending 24/7 with each other for a very long time! I can say that the mixture of our loud laughs and acceptance of each others weird habits made us the perfect trio ❤

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