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Planning A Vietnam Trip, Advice From Friend

Halong Bay
Halong Bay in the North of Vietnam, close to Hanoi

Q. Can you whip me up a quick travel guide to Vietnam? I know the basics, but anything you did, saw, ate, good places you stayed, etc which you recommend? Thanks!

Hanoi

We started in Hanoi, at the new hanoi backpackers inn (there are 2, 1 new, 1 old). it is run by australians, and is supposed to be one of the best in hanoi. i was extremely drunk one night and paid a taxi (biker) to take me back, and he took me to the old one. it looked cool, but the new one was nice also.

This is where we booked our trip to see halong bay and i did the snake adventure. this is the only place you can book the tour to guarantee you will have an all young traveler type trip. other people we talked to that booked from travel agents paid half as much but were stuck on the boat with old asian familys with tour guides that didnt speak english. cost is about 120, and talk to them to see how many people have already signed up for the trip. they have a couple boats, try to plan the trip when the boat is almost full. the larger boat has 32 people i think, our trip combined both boats (we got lucky). we spent one night on the boat and one on an island by ourselves. it was fun, but expensive. bring a cheap bottle of alcohol in your bag, because you have to buy alcohol on the boat and island.

I personally didnt like hanoi all that much, so i wouldnt suggest staying there too long outside of the tour to halong. There is another tour to sapa that i did not go on, although i heard people that enjoyed it. with a limited amount of time, im not sure if i would go although i plan to do that tour when i go back to vietnam.

Hoi An – known for its food and tailor shops

This is a smaller village that is best known for its french influences. This is where i found the best food in Vietnam. They have an assortment of classy western food restaurants if you are sick of asian cuisine at this point that are all reasonably priced. $8/great meal. I however went to the same small hole in the wall vietnamese restaurant almost everyday. vietnamese specialties in hoi an are the white rose and cau lao, which i think are only properly made in hoi an. hard to describe, but there is a street that runs parallel to the river that has a fair amount of small places to eat. this one in particular sells beer, probably about 8 ounces for 3000 dong (about 20 cents). the other food i really enjoyed was a seafood (or any other) hotpot.

We stayed a ways out of town, so we had to get taxis most of the time. there are places that are closer in, but no guest houses are in the center of town. We went out to one of maybe 2 bars in the whole town. cheap happy hour drinks, and pretty cool vibe called before and after bar.

Hue

My least favorite place we visited in Vietnam. everything seemed too spread out. didnt really meet any new people. it is known for its temples and pagodas, but i was not really impressed, maybe because i had already been to angkor wat. sorry, dont have a lot to say about this place, i likely wouldnt go back again.

Nha trang

This is the place i would say is the most social. It doesnt really matter where you stay, as long as you are near the center because thats where most of the activity is based. we started at why not bar (i think) most nights (watched soccer and drank at happy hour then went to sailing club twice, its expenisve but on the beach). The beaches are nice and an easy walk away. there is diving, the weather was shit so i didnt do it (although it was cheaper than thailand because of weather).

Nha trang is the only place i saw someone get robbed, although i heard other stories. 2 people on a bike drove by and grabbed some chicks purse. one guy in the group with the girl grabbed the person off the bike and there was almost a big fight. the thieves stay in groups. also, there are hookers that walk the street that are good pickpockets, i heard it happened to a few people, they were really drunk.

Mui Ne

This is again a smaller fishing village that is based right along the coast. this is mainly known for its kite surfing. this is also where we did the tour to the sand dunes. it takes most of the day, it was fun but not amazing. wasnt too wild at night, but very relaxing. woudnt stay here too long, depending on time.

Central Highlands

One of the 2 things i most regret not doing while i was in vietnam, but its because it is my kind of tour. it is done through the easy riders, which is 50/day (i know expensive) but everything else is so cheap. that is the more authentic vietnam i would have liked to see.

Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City

Most of my time spent here i was sick. have to go to war museum and tunnels, i only did the museum. i was sick to begin with and more sick when i left the museum. the locals are easy to interact with here when they are sitting out on the street eating and drinking. it is definitely the most friendly place i experienced in vietnam. im sure there is lots to do, but i just sat in my bed with a fever.

Sorry in a rush, if i can think of anything else, i will let you know.

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