It had it’s up’s and down’s let me tell you! Myself and Conor found out the previous year that we were invited to a wedding in the Philippines, and both being self employed, were lucky enough to be free to plan a prolonged adventure. Vietnam is somewhere I have heard endless stories about and I think we can all relate to seeing countless breath taking scenic snaps on Instagram. Since we only had 9 days to play with we decided to focus our travels to north Vietnam. I did my usual instagram research (see here how) and picked out 4 places which catpured my attention :
Ha Long Bay
Ninh Binh (Hang Múa/Tam Coc
This city was completely unexpected in every way. I had no idea what was awaiting us when we arrived and my mind was blown. Immediately I was taken by the speed and non stop movement of the city. On our taxi journey from the airport I sat with my forehead glued to the window. It took us over 24 hours to get used to the lack of pedestrian crossing and the realisation that the best plan was to not have a plan and literally throw yourself out in front of traffic and marvel as you watch the 10 oncoming motor bikes swerve to avoid you! For me the following activities were my highlights and the reasons why, in the end, Hanoi was my highlight of Vietnam:
Cong Caphe Old Quarter : oder the coconut iced coffee and watch the crazy world go by
Bun cha Huong Lien at 24 Le Van Huu street, Hai Ba Trung district : besides a set of bun cha including grilled pork and grilled slice meat, you should order one or two more Nem cua be (sea-crab spring roll) to serve together with bun cha
Pho Bat Dan - Duy Tan for a bowl of Pho
Cafe Giang for egg coffee
Eat at Chops for the best burger and triple cooked fries
The Hanoi Social Club for brunch
The Train Street : Enjoy a beer and get some awesome snaps at this unforgettable experience. The train speeds by this spot at 4.30PM and 7PM. Train street is situated between Le Duan and Kham Tien street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. It takes around 30 minutes to walk from Hoan Kiem lake. I recommend putting Ngo 224 Le Duan, the name of the street, into google maps and letting that guide you.
Get a snap with a wall of bamboo at the cross road of Hang Ga // Hang Vai
Brilliant food tour : streetfoodtourshanoi.blogspot.com // IG @vietnemesegod
Honestly if i were to return to north Vietnam I would leave Halong Bay out of my itinerary. Unless you're going at the height of summer or get a private boat to take you out for the day I did not enjoy being stuck on a boat with average foot surrounded by a view of other boats! It has become ridiculously touristy and I much preferred the ‘inland Ha Long Bay’ which you can include in your trip to Ninh Binh.
In one way I was a little disappointed by Sapa town. It was riddled with construction and dirty building work on every corner. One the other hand, in parts, it was the highlight of our trip! Below I have attached the link for Sapa Sisters where I couldn't recommend more you use when booking a home stay in Sapa and try if you can to chose Lah (and her little baby May) to be your hike guide.
Even though we ended up choosing a very poor tour guide this was one of my favourite places. Climbing to the top of Hang Mua for epic views, Tam Coc, and boating through Trang An were such memorable experiences. I have attached below which includes a very good guide company that a friend of mine went with.
We went at a time when the weather wasn’t the sunniest so some of the destinations I would have liked to visit would simply have been cold and pretty miserable! But if you happen to go during the warmer season here are some of the places I would have liked to visit :
Ha Giang - Dong Van
Thac Ban Gioc Waterfall
Mu Cang Chai
If you found this article helpful please comment with feedback and maybe places you plan on visiting so I can maybe squeeze in a visit and do your travel research for you!