Vietnam

Our 2 week adventure in Vietnam

JUNE 2016

hoi an old quarter ancient town vietnamHoi An Ancient Town

In June 2016, we spent two weeks visiting the highlights of Northern and Central Vietnam.

HANOI
Our adventure in Vietnam began in the capital, Hanoi, where we spent 4 nights in the city with a trip to Ha Long Bay in the middle. Hanoi is such a vibrant city with very friendly locals who are always up for a chat. When we first stepped out into the city, we were immediately approached by locals who wanted to practise their English. You’ll find most of these chatty locals around the Hoan Kiem Lake, located in the centre of the city. Couples, families, friends and tourists create a lively and energetic atmosphere around the lake which we found to be the highlight of our visit to Hanoi.

huc bridge red hoan kiem lake hanoi vietnam
Huc Bridge, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Some other attractions we visited that we would recommend seeing include the beautiful architecture of the Temple of Literature, the fantastic displays at the Vietnam Military History Museum and the well-known Water Puppet Show which is accompanied by beautiful music played by locals.

vietnam war history museum hanoi
Vietnam Military History Museum, Hanoi

TIP: If you need to fulfil a craving from something sweet, look no further then WannaWaffle? located at the northern end of the lake. If you choose to sit outside you’ll also be treated to spectacular views of the city!

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HA LONG BAY
A trip to Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without a visit to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay! We opted for an overnight cruise with Gray Line Cruises who we would highly recommend. The tour has a fantastic guide, great itinerary, beautiful boat and fun activities. A highlight of this tour was the visit to Titop Island where we had the opportunity to walk the 400 steep stairs to the top of the island. The panoramic views of this section of Ha Long Bay was absolutely breathtaking!

titop island panoramic view ha long bay vietnam
Titop Island Panoramic View, Ha Long Bay

Once returning to the beach of this island we relaxed with a swim in the water surrounded by the tall peaks of Ha Long Bay. This was a truly amazing experience and we had to pinch ourselves and realise where we actually were at this amazing moment. The boat anchored overnight in a very quiet area where a beautiful sunset surrounded us as we relaxed on the deck. The sun was quickly gone, but the stars came out with a full moon highlighting the peaks of Ha Long Bay surrounding us – an incredible sight.

ha long bay halong vietnam mountain peaks karst
Ha Long Bay

TIP: Be prepared that in the humid months your camera lens may fog up and ruin some photos! This happened to us when rising early to get some fabulous sunset photos. This was due to the camera being taken from the cool air conditioned cabin to the humid outdoors.

sunset halong ha long bay vietnam
Sunset at Ha Long Bay

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PHONG NHA-KE BANG NATIONAL PARK
We moved on to our next destination by catching an 11-hour train from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, the gateway to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which was a fascinating and interesting experience in its self..! Phong Nha was the HIGHLIGHT of our trip, therefore we’re writing a full post about it for you soon!

phong nha national park vietnam
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

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HUE
Our next stop was overnight in Hue. We visitied a few of the cities highlights, including the Imperial City which we had mixed feelings about. It has some amazing architecture, but lacked signage about the sights, therefore we didn’t understand what we were seeing. We stayed at Gold Hotel Hue which had a lovely pool with great views and a rooftop restaurant where we enjoyed dining and watching the sun go down.

sunset hue vietnam
Sunset over Hue, Vietnam

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HAI VAN PASS
Getting driven over the Hai Van Pass was definitely a beautiful way to get to our next stop, Hoi An. Our first stop in the blazing sun was the picturesque Lang Co Bay, well known from Top Gear Vietnam Special. You don’t want to miss this stunning photo opportunity spot, right along the pass.  Lastly, we stopped at the top of the pass for a spectacular view over the pass and the city of Da Nang.

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Lang Co Bay, Hai Van Pass
hai van pass vietnam hue da nang hoi an
Hai Van Pass

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HOI AN
Hoi An sadly marked the last destination of our trip – this beautiful ancient town is a true gem of Vietnam. The weather in Hoi An was so hot that it seemed like a ghost town during the day. This quickly changed as the sun went down and locals and tourists came out and created an amazing night life. Markets open up, foot path dining becomes popular and the town is buzzing!
Hoi An is known for its large number of tailor shops that produce cheap, high quality products super fast. We spent hours getting measured up and trying on suits and jackets that we ordered! The women who worked in these shops were some of the most lovely and welcoming people that we’ve met. Their skills to create what’s perfect for you is incredible.

Hoi An Ancient Town vietnam
Hoi An Ancient Town

Most of our time in Hoi An we spent enjoying wandering the streets of the Ancient Town, finding beautiful photo opportunities and indulging in delicious Vietnamese food. We stayed at the Little Hoi An Boutique & Spa which to this day is still the nicest place we’ve ever stayed – incredible rooms, delicious restaurant meals and absolutely beautiful staff members who were so welcoming, helpful and interested in what we were up to each day. All the staff remembered us by name and greeted us with a smile each time we saw them, going out of their way to make our stay the best possible. Also, a free shuttle bus to the beach is available, where a private section is set up with a restaurant/bar. We are still in contact with the lovely staff over Facebook!

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Vietnamese Lantern in Hoi An Old Quarter

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We only touched on the highlights of Vietnam in 2 shorts weeks, but would recommend this destination to anyone wanting to experience a different culture and environment with incredible sights, attractions and people.

10 Comments

  1. Your gorgeous pics brings back so many great memories of my Vietnam travels. Such an amazing country and the best food I have eaten anywhere in Asia!

    1. Hi Zoe. Thanks for your lovely words. It certainly is a lovely country with such friendly people. We loved the spring rolls in Hoi An!

  2. This brings me back to my short time in Vietnam (I was only in Saigon). I love your pictures. It really makes me want to go back. I found the people to be the most amazing part! What was the most unique experience you had?

    1. Hi Joe. Thank you for your kind words! We didn’t make it down to Saigon in this trip, but definitely next time. Our most unique experience was the 11 hour train journey between Hanoi and Dong Hoi, and the visit to Phong Nha Kent Bang National Park – it’s absolutely beautiful!

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  3. Your photos are gorgeous! I just love Vietnam and the culture there. I’ve been to all these places except for Hai Van Pass. Which place was your favorite?

    1. Hi Rachel. Thank you very much! Our favourite place would have to have been Phong Nha National Park as it was incredibly beautiful and very interested. But we loved everywhere we visited!

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