Well, nearly 12 and a half months since I left on my trip, I’ve finally made it to Vietnam. According to my original itinerary, it was one of the must-stop places for me, which has miraculously held true. Plenty of other countries and sites I wanted to see were cut here and there. Things change and that’s just how it is.
The past month or so of travel, since Songkran in Bangkok has been incredibly fun, crazy, hectic, comfortable and confusing. I basically left Thailand for Cambodia, not knowing how much time I’d spend there or where my very little planning would take me. Cambodia was an incredibly beautiful country and was just what I needed to get out of a travel rut and inspire a bit more in me. By the time I left Cambodia a few weeks ago, I wasn’t really quite ready to go, but knew I needed to move on. And so here I am—in Vietnam.
Saigon wasn’t nearly as crazy as I thought it’d be, but really, I only spent two nights there. But I’m definitely going back. It seemed like a really fun city, but as I’m now traveling with two of my friends I met in Cambodia, compromises had to be made.
While in Saigon, I did go to one of the main tourist sites—the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was interesting (to say the least) to hear the Vietnamese government’s perspective on this part of the war in Vietnam. It definitely felt awkward at times being American, but knowing that the information our tour guide was giving was one-sided, the tour was okay.
Mui Ne was nice, simply because of the swimming pool I found across the street from our hotel, but other than that, there wasn’t much to the city. The sand dunes were picturesque, but it was windy and a bit painful on the eyes. The city was also fairly expensive, especially for Vietnam.
Lots of fun! The tour to the islands was touristic, and a bit awkward at times (being the only Westerners on our boat, we were picked on occasionally). But all in all, it was an excellent day trip.
Nha Trang itself is definitely prime location for backpackers. The main city streets where all the backpackers hang out were full of cheap drinks and buckets, making nighttime there a lot of fun. Dancing, drinking, parties on the beach. A nice contrast from the relatively peaceful Mui Ne.
I’ve just arrived in Hoi An yesterday and will continue moving up north the coast. Hoi An is where many tourists get suits and other clothing tailor-made, so that’s definitely on my agenda. I’ve been in Vietnam almost two full weeks now, moving a bit quicker than I normally would but having a lot of fun.
Generally speaking, travel so far in Vietnam has not nearly been as hard or difficult as many people have said before. A lot of travelers here tend to note how hardened the people are here, but honestly, I just haven’t seen it. From meeting a Vietnamese guy who used to live in Houston, Texas and now runs a “Texas Burger” restaurant in Nha Trang, to the woman who worked at a swimming pool bar/restaurant in Mui Ne, the Vietnamese have been nothing but friendly. The food has been absolutely delicious (the biggest disappointment being the famous Pho Bo, or beef noodle soup). And things have generally been cheaper than some of the other Southeast Asian countries.
Anyways, I like Vietnam.
Trust that I’ll be hanging on your every word now Adam, as I’m headed to Vietnam (to live) in about 4 months.
And yes, it bears repeating that one best take what other travelers say about a place with a large grain of salt. Folks likewise had nothing but grumpy to say about Morocco, while I (a solo travelin’ lass) found it to be among my favorite countries. Lovely people at every turn, and the alleged harassment no worse than… Rome, or Cape Town or Bali, indeed… no worse than anywhere else I’ve traveled.
Yeah, Morocco wasn’t as bad as I thought either. Vietnam has been truly amazing! I think you’ll like it here!
Ah, Vietnam! I didn’t find the travel there hard at all, although I prefer the train to the open tour buses. If you’re in Hoi An try to see My Son and the museum in Danang. It’s best to see My Son by car early in the day before the tours get there, but of course it is more expensive. Give my love to Hanoi. Are you doing a Halong Bay cruise? (It’s not worth a day trip.)
I’m taking the open tour buses – haven’t tried the trains. Will get to Hanoi in another day or two!
I really liked Vietnam, enjoying your posts so far.
Thanks Kris. Hope you’ll continue to follow along!
It’s a good thing I can live vicariously through you through your blog. On a side note, that sand dune photo reminds me of the Boyz to Men ‘Water Runs Dry’ video. Weird?
I really, really liked Hoi An and Nha Trang. Mui Ne I didn’t see. I didn’t know the Vietnamese have a rep for being hardened and that travel in Vietnam is considered difficult. I didn’t think it was. Of course, immediately before Vietnam I’d spent a month in Cambodia, so what could be hard after that?