The Beauty of Halong Bay

POST BY JEREMY

Halong Bay is a popular tourist attraction about three hours outside of Hanoi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and between the green waters and massive limestone pillars appearing right out of the sea, it was one of the most beautiful places we have visited so far. We were very lucky to have seen any of it as our trip nearly didn’t happen. The planning was in the works for a while. Almost all of our travel buddies who had been to Vietnam said a trip to Halong Bay was worth doing and if you were going to do it, then do it right. Essentially this means, don’t let this be one of the activities you decide to penny pinch on.

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Hue and Hanoi

Our next stop on the Vietnam tour was the city of Hue located a few hours north of Hoi An and would serve as a few day stopover before taking an overnight train up the country to Hanoi. Perhaps it was the fact that we had such an amazing time in Hoi An or the fact that the heat index was 112 degrees the entire time we were there, but Hue paled in comparison to our last stop. We were told by other travelers that Hue was a nice city to spend a few days, but we felt a bit trapped in the city whereas I think a lot of other travelers shell out the money for a tour of the nearby countryside or rent a motorbike. But with our tight budget and still nursing our wounds from our moped fall in Cambodia, our plan was to walk whenever possible…

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Baby Mustard Cooking Class in Hoi An

One of the things I was most excited to do in Vietnam was take a cooking class. Hoi An is known for having some of the best food in Vietnam and since we were here for a few days we thought it would be the ideal city to do this. I ended up finding out about Baby Mustard through a blog I’m a fan of called The Kitchen Paper. Mary and her husband actually lived and traveled through Vietnam for almost a year and her post about Baby Mustard convinced me this was a perfect class for us. We really loved our lesson because it was very hands-on and just the two of us. Our instructor, Chef Nguyet was so sweet, patient, and extremely knowledgeable about fresh, local Vietnamese cuisine and walked us step-by-step through each recipe.

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Hoi An- Our Favorite City in Vietnam

After a surprisingly painless overnight bus from Nha Trang, we arrived early in Hoi An and luckily our guest house was nearby and they had a room ready for us. This was probably a good thing as the Xanax hadn’t fully worn off and I needed your typical 7 am nap. After a quick doze we easily walked to town and began quickly knocking off items on our Hoi An to do list. Hoi An was frequently listed among the travelers we met as their favorite spot in Vietnam due to its walk-ability, beautiful scenery, food and history. Plus, it’s been ranked by travel magazines as one of the most romantic cities in the world.

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Beaching it Vietnam: Mui Ne and Nha Trang

After a hectic few days in Ho Chi Minh City we were pretty excited to spend some time in two of Vietnam’s beach towns, Mui Ne and Nha Trang, along the East coast of the country. Before planning our trip we’d never heard of Mui Ne, but one of our friends who’d toured Vietnam this past winter told us it was a spot we shouldn’t miss. We were also lucky enough to run into a mom and daughter traveling together who recommended a great budget hotel to us called Mui Ne Hills. After arriving via our first sleeper bus experience (even though the drive was only a few hours), we were pleasantly surprised at the huge size of our resort-style room, and the two big and clean pools at the hotel.

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A Hectic Welcome to Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City

We had been warned that our arrival into Vietnam via Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) would feel overwhelming after the slow pace of Kep and Kampot. In fact, the manager of our hotel even suggested that when we get off the bus in the city it would be easier to walk with two large backpacks instead of getting caught up in the scams of the moto taxis vying for your attention. Luckily it was just a short walk from the bus stop to our hotel but with no real sidewalks and swerving drivers it was certainly an experience.

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