Vietnam...once you go you never forget
What a surprise Vietnam was......So good in fact that we are researching our next trip there..
This was our first time in Vietnam and what a surprise....fabulous beaches, amazing food, the infrastructure was world class. I can see why Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. For a country ravaged by war not long ago be able to bounce back like it has and particularly Danang, to a modern, clean, orderly city is absolutely amazing.
As Australians we had to apply online for a 30 day tourist visa and that cost about US$25
At the present time you can only stay for 30 days. There are some countries that don't need to apply for a visa.
We arrived in Danang around midnight and it was all happening...so much atmosphere.
I had a collaboration with the beautiful Chicland Hotel that is right on the beachfront with a rooftop pool. It was a perfect location as you could walk to everything, plus the amazing roof top pool and bar was an added bonus.
The hotel had a very unique minimalistic style and our oceanfront deluxe apartment was just gorgeous and felt like a home.
We just used the phone app Grab to book the 30 min taxi ride from the airport and it was only AUD $12
There are so many options to eat in Danang and what I loved about Vietnam is that you can safely eat at local restaurants and the food will be just delicious and perfectly safe.
We had two nights in Danang, but I could happily stay a week as a lot to do and explore.
We really enjoyed the time just before sunset, as all the local families would come down to the beach, swim and picnic. What I did notice throughout our time in Vietnam, is how well the Vietnamese ladies dressed...At restaurants and just walking through the town they always looked so lovely.....hats off to them.
From Danang we moved south about 45 mins to Hoi An.
Hoi An is a mesmerizing UNESCO World Heritage site, with beautiful 16th-century architecture that celebrates its origins as a trading port that long welcomed merchant ships from China, Japan, and Europe.
The Old Town on the Thu Bon River has so many interesting things to do and see
These include the covered bridge, also known as the Japanese Bridge, gorgeous riverside French-colonial buildings, traditional merchant shop-houses, historic pagodas and temples, ornate assembly halls where Chinese immigrants would congregate.
Of course there are tailors and shoe makers where you can go crazy at incredibly good prices. But the greatest joy of Hoi An comes from wandering around it's beautiful streets. There is just so much to see from the traditional markets to the beautiful shops and restaurants.
The town centre is car-free and such a pleasant place to walk, especially at night, when it's lit by red lanterns strung on the exteriors of buildings.
The restaurants are really nice and very inexpensive.... I must admit though the best food we had was out of the old town and eating at restaurants where the locals eat. Vietnam is totally safe to eat street food. I just love to sit on the little red stools outside local restaurants and enjoy a great meal.
A huge meal for 2 with about 6 beers will only set you back about AUD $12 or US$8
A large beer is roughly about AUD$0.60...now that's a good thing!
A really good Banh Mi is about AUD 0.80 cents, a bowl of the most amazing local soup with noodles is around $1.00.....and its huge, plus a separate plate of all the fresh local herbs.... to die for.
We hired a motorcycle to get around and even though it was on the wrong side of the road for us, it was easy to get around and so much more enjoyable than Bali to ride. We were even able to navigate through the busy city of Danang without a map. A bike was about AUD$5 per day.
We did a fantastic 2 hour bike ride from Hoi An through the Hai Van Pass, which was made famous by the TV show Top Gear. They classed it as one of the best motorcycle rides in the world. You were riding past the most beautiful coastline scenery and the prize at the end was deserted beaches and the most amazing seafood restaurants right on the beach....heaven . There was lots of places to stop all along the road to enjoy a coffee or cold drink.
About 10 mins from Hoi An was some of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen. Our fave was An Bang beach. We would love to ride there and you could sit under a huge umbrella and 2 lounges. As long as you ate in the restaurant there was no charge. We would always go to Chiens and order a yummy seafood noodle soup that was so good. Two soups, 2 large beers, a fresh juice and a coconut would be about AUD$12 and with the best view thrown in for free.
You could also park your motorcycle or bike here all day for about 20cents.
Whilst in Hoi An we would love to get up around 6.30 and go for a walk up around the rice fields. There was also a traditional market that you could buy fruit, fish , meat etc or just enjoy a yummy breakfast sitting on a red stool and table..... They have some incredibly good coffee shops in Hoi An and our fave coffee was a coconut coffee...died and gone to heaven. I really think you find the best food and unique places to eat by just walking and getting lost.
I really enjoyed the vintage fashion shopping in Hoi An. I found some great places with the most beautifully displayed fashion. Most items were around $2.50. There was also many places to buy thrifted clothes also.
There are so many interesting to do and see, but here are a few things that we did and really enjoyed.
We went to Marble Mountain just outside Danang on the road to Hoi An. Marble mountain as the name suggests, is full of marble and all around the area you can buy marble statues in all shapes and sizes or anything made from marble.
The most interesting thing was that the mountain is full of caves and some are HUGE. One on the top of the mountain was used by the Vietcong during the war as a hospital and also to spy on the American troops on the beach.
There is quite a bit of walking involved and a lot of steps but so worth it. There is also so many large Buddhist temples throughout. I would suggest going early in the morning before the heat gets up. There is plenty of seats to sit down if the walk is a little tiring.
Another interesting day trip we did was to Bana Hill about 1.5 hours form Hoi An. It's very difficult to describe but imagine a cross between Disney’s world, a French mountain resort, a huge Buddhist mountain retreat, plus jam packed full of fabulous restaurants , bars and fabulous live music. It has the longest cable car in the southern hemisphere. It is very overwhelming at the start and very orderly even though it was busy with domestic tourists. Bana Hills is so unique and full of surprises. This is also the home of the famous Golden Bridge ( “Hand Bridge”), a 500-foot long pedestrian bridge that lies between two giant stone hands.
We got there around 9am and the bridge was jam packed and not fun...just to busy for me. I recommend getting there around 11am as it was relatively quiet then.
We really enjoyed doing our own thing either by walking or on the motorbike taking paths through the rice fields and just getting lost. We would find amazing little restaurants for a coffee and cake and just have the best time. You are seriously spoilt for choice with coffee shops and restaurants, the décor is simply amazing.
I can highly recommend Vietnam for a holiday and our next trip will be longer and maybe head to some nice islands and check out a big city. We also want to do a coastline train journey. Vietnam is suitable for any age group and easy to get around. Its also very friendly on your budget.
So, my friends put Vietnam on your bucket list as I can highly recommend it.
Yours in travel, fashion and fitness,
Call Me A Gypsy