Vietnam was one of the most diverse and beautiful places I've ever visited… From the culture, to the landscapes and its people, everything was just amazing!!!
The journey started a few months ago, with some web research and a desire to experience an exotic, cultural and fulfilling holidays. Vietnam came into consideration after hearing about the breath-taking views of Halong Bay and its thousands limestone islands. After a thorough search, I was sold! But there were so many wonderful places spread out over the country, how to choose where to go? That was the real conundrum…
After a few days of endless website navigations and youtube video watching, I planned out a route and tried to squeeze, as much as I possibly could, all the places I wanted to visit, in 9 days… I know what you are thinking, that I am crazy, right? And I probably was, but I had a time frame I had to follow, so I thought that I would just try to make the best of it.
Starting from Hanoi and finishing up in Saigon, covering a few cities in between: the ultimate journey through the coast of Vietnam, by train. At least that was the plan…
The two days spent in Hanoi were phenomenal, I loved the people, the streets, the energy, the landmarks, everything about it was completely exhilarating and different from what I've ever seen or experienced.
Once in Hanoi, we couldn't help but take a trip to the country side, where you could linger your eyes on the rice paddies and the take in the fresh air of the mountains. A beautiful bike ride, in Tam Coc, allowed us to awe over the mountains, imponent limestone mountains, which are considered to be the Halong Bay on land. We still had time, and energy, to row a boat through the river that passed through amazing caves, with several dozens of metters long. Wow, that was something else!
Halong Bay was everything we thought it would be, and more! Not even the rain or the foggy weather were enough to stop our dazzlement. We spent one night aboard one of the many cruises that navigate those waters, and were able to engage in many activities such as visiting caves, beaches, kayaking and spending a relaxing time on board!
Going down, we adventured into the night train, which is an interesting experience in itself, I'll tell you that much…
After a 14h train ride, we arrived to Hue, where we visited the wonderful Citadel and explored the town, waiting for our next train which would take us to Danang. And Danang had a lovely beach, with white sand and a beautiful calm sea. There, we also visited the Marble Mountains and couldn't miss out the opportunity to visit Hoi An, one of my favorite memories of this trip.
Hoi An, a small traditional village, full of tourists, but they seemed to add even more mystic to the place. A lot of shops, restaurants, old houses and, of course, the well known traditional Jpanese Bridge. Everything about that place felt magical, specially at night, as the sun would fade in the horizon, and the town would light up, with the gentle glow of paper lanterns.
Continuing our journey south, we decided to take a direct flight from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and skip the train this time. FYI, the plane ticket was cheaper and only one hour (we were looking at 17 hours by train).
Arriving there felt like a rush to the head with all the traffic and crzyness of a big city. We booked ourselves a tour for the next day to check out the mythical Mekong river, where we got to observe the real life style of the people that live by that river, and some, never set their foot on land, we were told. Those brownish, muddy waters are crossed by several boats, some are floating markets, and there are actual villages built on the water, where people made their homes. It is an unforgetting site and an unparalleled way of living.
Vietnam was an intense experience, full of memorable days, delightful people and has a return sign all over it!!!