vietnam travel blog Vietnam is one of the most fascinating and diverse countries I have ever visited. From the stunning natural scenery to the rich cultural heritage, from the delicious cuisine to the vibrant nightlife, Vietnam has something for everyone. In this Vietnam travel blog, I will share with you some of the highlights and experiences of my amazing journey through this incredible country.
How I Planned My Trip to Vietnam
I have always wanted to visit Vietnam ever since I learned about its history and culture in school. I was especially intrigued by the Vietnam War and how it shaped the country and its people. I also heard many positive reviews from my friends who had been to Vietnam before and raved about its beauty and charm. vietnam travel blog
I decided to plan my trip to Vietnam for two weeks in March, which is considered one of the best times to visit the country. I did some research online and found a reputable travel agency that offered a customized tour package that suited my budget and interests. I chose to visit three main regions of Vietnam: the north, the central, and the south. I also opted for a mix of accommodation options, ranging from hotels to homestays, to experience different aspects of Vietnamese life. vietnam travel blog
What I Saw and Did in Vietnam
My trip to Vietnam was full of amazing sights and activities that left me in awe and wonder. Here are some of the highlights of what I saw and did in each region:
The north of Vietnam is where I started my trip. I flew into Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, and spent two days exploring its attractions and culture. Some of the places I visited in Hanoi were:
- The Old Quarter: This is the historic and lively heart of Hanoi, where you can find narrow streets lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, and vendors selling all kinds of goods. You can also see many examples of French colonial architecture and traditional Vietnamese houses. The Old Quarter is a great place to wander around, soak up the atmosphere, and try some local delicacies such as pho (noodle soup), bun cha (grilled pork with noodles), and egg coffee (coffee with egg yolk and condensed milk). vietnam travel blog
- The Hoan Kiem Lake: This is a beautiful lake in the center of Hanoi, where you can find a red wooden bridge leading to a small island with a temple dedicated to a legendary turtle. The lake is also surrounded by a park where you can see locals practicing tai chi, playing chess, or flying kites. The lake is a symbol of Hanoi and a popular spot for relaxing and taking photos. vietnam travel blog
- The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum: This is a monumental building where you can see the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam.
- The mausoleum is open to visitors from Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday to Sunday from 8 am to 11 am. You need to dress modestly and follow strict rules when entering the mausoleum, such as no talking, no photography, no hands in pockets, etc. The mausoleum is also guarded by soldiers who perform a changing of the guard ceremony every hour. vietnam travel blog
- The Temple of Literature: This is a temple complex that was built in 1070 as a center of learning and education. It is also known as the first university of Vietnam. The temple consists of five courtyards with various pavilions, halls, statues, gardens, and ponds. You can see many stone steles that bear the names and achievements of scholars who passed the royal exams. The temple is a place of worship for Confucius and his disciples, as well as a place of cultural and historical significance. vietnam travel blog
After Hanoi, I took a bus to Ha Long Bay, one of the most famous and scenic destinations in Vietnam. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features thousands of limestone islands and islets rising from the emerald water. I joined a two-day cruise that took me around the bay and allowed me to enjoy its beauty and activities. Some of the things I did in Ha Long Bay were:
- Kayaking: This was one of my favorite activities in Ha Long Bay. I rented a kayak from my cruise boat and paddled around the bay, exploring its hidden caves, lagoons, beaches, and fishing villages. I also saw many wildlife such as monkeys, birds, fish, and squid. Kayaking was a great way to get close to nature and appreciate the bay’s tranquility. vietnam travel blog
- Swimming: Another activity that I enjoyed in Ha Long Bay was swimming. The water was clear and refreshing, perfect for cooling off from the heat. I swam near my cruise boat and also at some of the beaches that we stopped at. I also had the opportunity to swim in the dark at night, which was a thrilling and magical experience. The water was bioluminescent, meaning that it glowed with tiny plankton when I moved. It was like swimming in a sea of stars.
- Visiting a floating village: One of the most interesting and unique experiences in Ha Long Bay was visiting a floating village. A floating village is a community of people who live on boats, rafts, and houses built on stilts on the water. They make a living by fishing, farming, and tourism. I visited one of the floating villages and learned about their lifestyle and culture. I also interacted with some of the locals and children, who were very friendly and curious. I even got to try some of their fresh seafood, which was delicious. vietnam travel blog
After Ha Long Bay, I took a train to Sapa, a mountainous town in the northwest of Vietnam. Sapa is known for its stunning landscapes of rice terraces, valleys, waterfalls, and ethnic minority villages. I spent two days in Sapa, hiking, biking, and homestaying. Some of the things I did in Sapa were:
- Hiking: This was the main activity that I did in Sapa. I joined a guided tour that took me to some of the most scenic and authentic places in Sapa. I hiked through rice fields, bamboo forests, streams, and bridges. I also visited some of the ethnic minority villages such as the Hmong, the Dao, and the Giay. I learned about their culture, traditions, and crafts. I also saw some of their colorful costumes and jewelry. Hiking was a great way to exercise and immerse myself in the nature and culture of Sapa. vietnam travel blog
- Biking: Another activity that I did in Sapa was biking. I rented a bike from my homestay and rode around the town and its surroundings. I saw some of the landmarks of Sapa such as the church, the market, the lake, and the cable car. I also biked to some of the nearby attractions such as the Cat Cat Village, the Silver Waterfall, and the Fansipan Mountain. Biking was a fun and convenient way to explore Sapa and enjoy its views. vietnam travel blog
- Homestaying: One of the most memorable and rewarding experiences in Sapa was homestaying. A homestay is a type of accommodation where you stay with a local family in their house or farm. You get to share their meals, activities, and stories. You also get to experience their hospitality and warmth. I stayed with a Hmong family in their wooden house on a hill overlooking the valley. They were very kind and generous to me. They cooked me delicious meals with fresh ingredients from their garden. They also taught me how to make some of their handicrafts such as embroidery and batik. Homestaying was a wonderful way to connect with the local people and learn from them. vietnam travel blog
The central region of Vietnam is where I continued my trip after Sapa. I flew from Hanoi to Da Nang, a coastal city that serves as a gateway to many attractions in the central region. I spent three days in Da Nang and its surroundings, visiting its beaches, mountains, bridges, and museums. Some of the places I visited in Da Nang were:
- The My Khe Beach: This is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Da Nang. It has a long stretch of white sand, blue water, palm trees, and resorts. It is also known as China Beach because it was used by American soldiers during the Vietnam War as a rest and recreation area. The beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, or just relaxing. vietnam travel blog
- The Marble Mountains: These are five limestone hills that are named after the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. They are located about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) south of Da Nang. They are famous for their caves, pagodas, statues, and views. You can climb up the stairs or take an elevator to reach the top of each mountain. You can also explore the caves that contain altars, shrines, and Buddha images. You can also see some artisans carving marble souvenirs at the foot of the mountains. vietnam travel blog
- The Dragon Bridge: This is an impressive bridge that spans over the Han River in Da Nang. It is shaped like a dragon that breathes fire and water at night on weekends and holidays. The bridge is 666 meters (2,185 feet) long and 37 meters (121 feet) wide. It has six lanes for traffic and two sidewalks for pedestrians. The bridge is a symbol of Da Nang’s development and prosperity. vietnam travel blog
- The Cham Museum: This is a museum that displays artifacts from the Cham civilization that ruled central Vietnam from the 2nd to 15th centuries CE. The museum has over 300 exhibits of sculptures, statues, reliefs, and inscriptions made of sandstone, terracotta, bronze, and gold. The museum showcases the art, culture, and religion of the Cham people, who were influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism. The museum is a great place to learn about the history and heritage of central Vietnam. vietnam travel blog
After Da Nang, I took a bus to Hoi An, an ancient town that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoi An is one of the most charming and picturesque places in Vietnam. It has a well-preserved old town that features a mix of architectural styles from different periods and cultures. It also has a vibrant and colorful atmosphere with lanterns, flowers, boats, and festivals. I spent two days in Hoi An, walking, shopping, and eating. Some of the things I did in Hoi An were:
- Walking: This was the best way to explore and enjoy Hoi An. I walked around the old town and admired its buildings, bridges, temples, and markets. I also walked along the riverfront and watched the boats and the sunset. I also walked to some of the nearby attractions such as the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, the Tan Ky House, and the Quan Cong Temple. Walking was a relaxing and delightful way to experience Hoi An’s charm and beauty. vietnam travel blog
- Shopping: Another thing that I did in Hoi An was shopping. Hoi An is famous for its tailor-made clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories. You can find many shops and stalls that offer these services at reasonable prices. You can choose from a variety of fabrics, styles, and designs. You can also get measured and fitted in a matter of hours or days. Shopping was a fun and satisfying way to get some souvenirs and gifts for myself and my friends. vietnam travel blog
- Eating: The last thing that I did in Hoi An was eating. Hoi An has a rich and diverse cuisine that reflects its history and culture. You can find many dishes that are unique to Hoi An or have a local twist. Some of the dishes that I tried and loved in Hoi An were cao lau (noodles with pork and herbs), banh xeo (crispy pancakes with shrimp and bean sprouts), banh mi (sandwiches with meat and vegetables), com ga (chicken rice), and che (sweet soup). Eating was a delicious and enjoyable way to taste Hoi An’s flavors. vietnam travel blog
After Hoi An, I took a train to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. Hue is a city that has a rich and complex history, culture, and architecture. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features many monuments, tombs, temples, and palaces. I spent one day in Hue, visiting its attractions and learning about its past. Some of the places I visited in Hue were:
- The Citadel: This is a large complex that was built by the Nguyen Dynasty as their royal residence and administrative center. It consists of three concentric enclosures: the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City, and the Inner City. The Citadel has many gates, walls, moats, gardens, pavilions, halls, palaces, temples, libraries, museums, etc. The Citadel was heavily damaged during the Vietnam War but has been partially restored and preserved. The Citadel is a place of historical and cultural significance. vietnam travel blog
- The Thien Mu Pagoda: This is a seven-story pagoda that is located on a hill overlooking the Perfume River. It is one of the oldest and most iconic landmarks of Hue. It was built in 1601 by a Nguyen lord who followed a legend of an old lady who predicted that a lord would build a pagoda on this site for the country’s prosperity. The pagoda has a distinctive octagonal tower that houses a large bell. It also has a courtyard with statues, steles, bonsai trees, etc. The pagoda is also associated with some political events such as the self-immolation of a monk in 1963 to protest against the South Vietnamese regime. vietnam travel blog
- The Tombs of the Emperors: These are mausoleums that were built by or for the Nguyen emperors who ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. There are seven tombs in total, each with its own style, design, and location. Some of the most famous and impressive tombs are the Tomb of Minh Mang, the Tomb of Tu Duc, and the Tomb of Khai Dinh. The tombs are not only places of burial but also places of worship and reflection. They have many structures such as gates, walls, temples, pavilions, lakes, gardens, etc. The tombs are also decorated with sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and mosaics. The tombs are a showcase of the art, architecture, and philosophy of the Nguyen Dynasty. vietnam travel blog
The south of Vietnam is where I ended my trip. I flew from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the largest and most modern city in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city that has a mix of old and new, traditional and contemporary, east and west. It also has a lot of history, culture, and entertainment. I spent three days in Ho Chi Minh City and its surroundings, visiting its museums, markets, churches, and tunnels. Some of the places I visited in Ho Chi Minh City were:
- The War Remnants Museum: This is a museum that displays exhibits and artifacts related to the Vietnam War and its consequences. The museum has eight themed rooms that cover topics such as the causes and effects of the war, the atrocities and crimes committed by both sides, the anti-war movements and protests around the world, etc. The museum also has an outdoor area that displays military vehicles, weapons, and equipment used in the war. The museum is a sobering and eye-opening place that reveals the horrors and tragedies of war. vietnam travel blog
- The Ben Thanh Market: This is a large and lively market that sells everything from food to clothes to souvenirs. You can find many stalls and vendors that offer a variety of products at bargain prices. You can also haggle and negotiate with them to get a better deal. You can also find many food stalls and restaurants that serve local and international dishes. The market is a great place to shop, eat, and experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. vietnam travel blog
- The Notre Dame Cathedral: This is a Roman Catholic cathedral that was built by the French colonists in the late 19th century. It is one of the most prominent and beautiful landmarks of Ho Chi Minh City. It has a neo-Romanesque style with two towers that reach 58 meters (190 feet) high. It also has a statue of the Virgin Mary in front of it that is said to have shed tears in 2005. The cathedral is a place of worship and a symbol of faith. vietnam travel blog
- The Cu Chi Tunnels: These are underground tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong guerrillas during the Vietnam War as hiding places, communication routes, supply routes, hospitals, living quarters, etc. The tunnels are located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. They span over 200 kilometers (125 miles) and have multiple levels and branches. You can visit some parts of the tunnels that have been widened and lit for tourists. You can also see some traps, weapons, and exhibits that show how the guerrillas lived and fought in the tunnels. The tunnels are a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the Vietnamese people. vietnam travel blog
What I Learned and Felt in Vietnam
My trip to Vietnam was one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences of my life. I learned so much about Vietnam’s history, culture, people, and nature. I also felt so many emotions such as awe, joy, sadness, anger, gratitude, etc.
Some of the things that I learned in Vietnam were:
- Vietnam is a country that has a long and complex history that has shaped its identity and character. It has been influenced by many cultures such as China, France, Japan, America, etc., but it has also maintained its own traditions and values. It has also endured many wars and conflicts that have left scars and wounds on its land and people. Vietnam is a country that has a lot of stories to tell and lessons to teach. vietnam travel blog
- Vietnam is a country that has a rich and diverse culture that reflects its geography and ethnicity. It has 54 recognized ethnic groups that have their own languages, customs, costumes, and beliefs. It also has a variety of religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, etc. It also has a vibrant and colorful art scene that includes music, dance, theater, literature, painting, sculpture, etc. Vietnam is a country that has a lot of beauty and creativity to share and appreciate. vietnam travel blog
- Vietnam is a country that has a friendly and hospitable people that welcome visitors with open arms and hearts. They are hardworking, resilient, optimistic, and generous. They are also curious, humorous, and sociable. They are always willing to help, chat, or invite you to their homes or meals. They are also proud of their country and culture and eager to show you around or teach you something new. Vietnam is a country that has a lot of warmth and charm to offer and receive. vietnam travel blog
Some of the things that I felt in Vietnam were:
- I felt awe when I saw the natural wonders of Vietnam such as Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Phong Nha-Ke Bang, etc. I was amazed by the beauty and diversity of Vietnam’s landscapes and wildlife. I was also impressed by the skill and craftsmanship of the Vietnamese people who built monuments, tombs, temples, etc. vietnam travel blog
- I felt joy when I experienced the fun and excitement of Vietnam such as kayaking in Ha Long Bay, biking in Sapa, shopping in Hoi An, etc. I enjoyed the activities and adventures that Vietnam had to offer. I also had a lot of laughs and smiles with the Vietnamese people who were always cheerful and playful. vietnam travel blog
- I felt sadness when I learned about the tragedies and sufferings of Vietnam such as the Vietnam War, the Agent Orange, the boat people, etc. I was moved by the stories and images of the victims and survivors of these events. I was also touched by the courage and compassion of the Vietnamese people who overcame these hardships and helped each other. vietnam travel blog
- I felt anger when I witnessed the injustices and inequalities of Vietnam such as the corruption, the poverty, the pollution, etc. I was outraged by the actions and policies of some governments and corporations that exploited or harmed Vietnam’s resources and people. I was also frustrated by the lack of awareness or action from some people who ignored or contributed to these problems. vietnam travel blog
- I felt gratitude when I received the kindness and generosity of Vietnam such as homestaying in Sapa, eating with locals in Hoi An, getting gifts from vendors in Ho Chi Minh City, etc. I was thankful for the hospitality and friendship that Vietnam gave me. I was also appreciative of the opportunity and privilege that I had to visit this wonderful country. vietnam travel blog
Vietnam is a country that has captured my heart and mind. It is a country that has inspired me, challenged me, and changed me. It is a country that I will always remember and cherish.
I hope you enjoyed reading my Vietnam travel blog and found it useful or interesting. If you have any questions or comments about my trip or Vietnam in general, please feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading my Vietnam travel blog!