Category Archives: VIETNAM

We Are Off To Da Nang

We organised with our hotel in Hue the train ticket and taxi journey to the train station, costing us a total of £5 each pp. The receptionist at the hotel printed the train ticket for us and the next day sorted out our taxi journey for us. Our train was due to arrive at 9:50, and the Receptionist decided she would try and hail a taxi at about 9:20. With only a 10-minute drive we arrived at the train station and jumped on the train.

Throughout the 2.5-hour journey, we saw the most incredible views, with the most beautiful untouched beaches.

After an enjoyable train ride, we arrived in Da Nang. As there was no public transport from the train station to our hotel, we hopped in a taxi, for a 25-minute journey, it still only cost us around £4.00.

We made it to our hotel, surrounded by other hotels overlooking the beach. We paid out a lot more money for this hotel as we were celebrating our 2 years together. It was worth the money. When checking in, the Receptionist told us they had upgraded us free of charge to a bigger room with another bed (might come in handy when James is snoring). It was a fantastic view we almost felt like we were on the train again!

img-20170416-wa0001

We settled into our spacious room and then began our search for somewhere to eat, after a fair amount of walking we found street-food/restaurant where we both had noodle dishes – it wasn’t great if I’m honest, but it done the job and kept us full for a while, it was also VERY cheap because the man messed up the money charging us 80,000VND (just under £3) instead of 130,000VND. We went back to the hotel and chilled around for a while as it was too hot to go to the beach at that time.

It got to about 16:00 and we began our 10-minute walk to the beach, it was then that we realised we were the only Westerners we’ve seen the whole day. We shade-bathed for a while and sat in a bar. We saw a few westerners in the bar so we felt a bit closer to home, and then this man got out a tightrope kit – it was so random! He tied it between 2 palm trees and then began his performance, people got involved and it was great entertainment!

We were there for a while and then started to head back so we could shower and get ready to go out for some dinner. We discovered a restaurant called Burger Bros, and it was the nicest burger I’ve ever eaten, it was heaven. We finished up and walked back towards the hotel and discovered an interesting looking bar with several electronic dart boards which we could use.

We had fun in there whilst James’ horrendously beat me. We went back to the hotel and had another nice early night which was needed.

More Tales To Tell In Hue

We woke up ready to attempt our journey to the Pagoda again, had some breakfast and began our journey. Just the heat alone was a killer, let alone trying to ride a bike in it. We arrived at the Pagoda and slumped on a wall in the shade for about 15 minutes, everyone else that was there looked all glamorous and touristy, but us? No! Whose stupid idea was it to ride a bicycle in the hottest part of the day? Mine… (but James can happily take the blame).

Anyway, we cooled down and then started to look around, whilst it was a fantastic building, it definitely wasn’t worth the bike ride!

As we continued to look around, we went into a building where there was a Buddha, and bear in mind you are supposed to respect their culture, take your shoes off etc. I turned around to see James stood by the fan with his t-shirt pulled up! I instantly burst out laughing but then told him off and pulled his t-shirt down.

We were walking around and some Vietnamese students collared us asking if they can ‘interview’ us to practice their English for a project they are doing, so we did. We had finished wandering around and then decided because of how the sun was shining, the trees provided a little bit of shade on the side of the road we would be riding – survival techniques aye?

The hottest part of the day, both wearing our hats and stopping for multiple drink break, it seemed to never end. We were pouring our cold water inside our hats to keep our heads cool!

We made it home and I jumped in the ice-cold shower to cool myself down whilst James went to get us more drinks. He did the same when he got back. We laid on the bed and just laughed, anyone else surely would have learnt from the first incident that it was a ridiculous idea, but it created us with memories and something to laugh about forever.

After our days’ adventure, we had no energy to do much, we went out for some dinner, came back to the hotel and had an early night ready for our train journey the next day.

Havoc In Hue

Before we arrived at Hue, we agreed we would increase our budget for accommodation a little as we started to feel sorry for ourselves because of the previous hostels and the trauma they had put us through (only joking- but they were shocking!). Our Hue hotel was £35 for 3 nights for 2 of us – such a bargain for such small money. We have a proper shower and a floor that we can walk on without resulting in black feet!

Polaroid CUBE

From the second we arrived the staff were so helpful and provided us with a free drink after our trek. They then told us that tea and coffee were free for our entire stay, anytime we want one we can ask and they will provide for us. We walked into our room and both just looked at each other and smiled. This is just what we needed, it boosted our moods instantly. After not showering for 24 hours and being on a sweaty train we didn’t smell too good so we had a shower straight away and got ready to explore Hue.

We popped out and grabbed some lunch in a family run restaurant and then headed out and visited the Citadel. The Citadel (also known as the Imperial City). is a large city where the Emperor of Vietnam ran the country as Hue was the Capital of Vietnam until 1945.  It was very humid and started to rain, so we got out our rain macs and continued to explore!

This cost around £5 each. Whilst we aren’t crazy about History we still wanted to check it out. We were there for about 1.5 hours, but it was a massive attraction we could have easily spent 4/5 hours. We decided to head back to our lovely hotel and relax for the rest of the afternoon.

That evening we went across the road to the same family restaurant, I ordered Satay Chicken and rice and James had Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs. The waitress warned me that my dish was slightly spicy, but I felt brave so I still had it. It is fair to say the lady was right, it was spicy, and when they say ‘slightly’, they don’t mean slightly. My mouth was on fire, so I just had to wash it down with a nice cold beer!

That evening we were quite tired so headed back to the room to get a good night sleep so we could make the most of our next day in Hue.

Our first day

Our first full day in Hue was nothing but a failure, but still enjoyable and created memories. I’m not too sure where to even start?! We thought it would be a good idea to hire a bicycle (less than £1 each for the whole day) so we could ride to the Pagoda which we were told was only a 20/30-minute cycle. We hopped on our bikes, and considering I haven’t ridden a bike in about 10 years it didn’t come naturally, to say the least. I rode it more like a scooter! With the rush of motorbikes and cars, we got 20 minutes away and I heard a massive bang – turned around and James’ tyre had completely burst. We didn’t know what to do, until a man in a van passing us realised what happened and pointed us in the way of a tyre shop. We walked our bikes to the shop and he tried ripping us off, so we said no and started to walk back to our hotel.

What was a 15-minute bike journey turned out to be a 45-minute walk back! Eventually, we made it to the hotel at around 13:00 sweating through our eyes and explained what happened and the hotel staff couldn’t apologise enough.

We decided as we were shattered from the long walk and heat, that we would attempt to ride to the Pagoda the next day. That evening we walked further into the town where we ate at a slightly more expensive restaurant. I ordered Chicken Stir Fry and James had Crispy Fried Beef Noodles.

20170414_200256

We also ordered some frozen Strawberry Daiquiri which went down a treat.

As we were walking around in the town we were handed a leaflet to a club called Brown Eyes Bar, the TripAdvisor reviews were brilliant so we thought we would try it out. We walked in and although it was very quiet, we still enjoyed our time there because the staff were just so friendly and welcoming. I was taught how to make my hands look like crabs, that’s everyone’s goal in life, right?

We played pool and then James played with another traveller from The Netherlands. We got ourselves a vodka and coke bucket for less than £5, and as drinks were flowing we started to dance with the locals and we made some more friends from Australia.

 

That night will definitely be a night that we will look back on and remember for the rest of our lives. At this point, I felt like I was properly travelling and felt truly grateful I could experience it.

Our Journey To Hue

We had various options to get to Hue. We could have gone back to Hanoi, then get a sleeper train or a bus from Ha Long City to Hue taking us about 16 hours, or the option we chose was to get a 5-hour coach journey to an area called Ninh Binh, and then get the sleeper train at 22:30.

This journey wasn’t too bad, the 5-hour bus journey flew by considering we weren’t even sat together and the person I was sat next to was half on my seat spread out soundo with her mouth wide open the whole journey. The bus journey ended up stopping at Tam Coc which is where we waited another 4 hours. We got some dinner, (pizzas) and just chilled in a bar until it was time to leave.

It was now time to make our way to Ninh Binh train station, we jumped in a taxi and 10minutes later we were there. We waited some more, and then our train arrived.

We were quite snobby as we did book 1st class which meant we had a cabin to share with 2 others and we had soft beds. This cost us around £26 each and we booked it via 12go.asia, one of the biggest online transport websites in Asia.

We both had mixed feelings about this, both dreading it but a little bit excited at the same time – unsure what to expect, it turned out to be a breeze! The toilets were something else though, I think it would have been more hygienic to pee my pants to be honest, but needs must. Our long 12-hour journey came to an end, we stepped off the bus and was instantly slapped round the face with humidity. We were then faced with a fog of taxi drivers in our faces.

We chose to walk to our hotel as it was only a 20-minute walk from the train station, but this was a bad decision. With our massive bags on our back and our small bags on our front, there was no room for our skin to breathe, meaning our arrival at the hotel was a sweaty one!

Viva Las Ha Long

My first impression of Ha Long City is wow. The views are incredible, however, it is very commercialised. We liked the area, but there isn’t a huge amount to do and we were literally the only Westerners. In the evening, there are dazzling hotel lights and fountains and it looks amazing.

I almost felt like I was in Vegas!

On our first full day in Ha Long City we wandered around searching for something to do, we checked out the half-built theme park but this wasn’t open until 3 pm and we decided against it because it was slightly out of our budget. So instead we took a long walk to the beach. It was probably only about a 30-minute walk, but when it is scorching hot and your back is dripping with sweat, the walk just seemed to never end. Eventually, we made it to the beach, and it was so worth the tiring walk! With palm trees scattered all down the golden beach, and no-one but us, it was so peaceful.

We stayed for a couple of hours just enjoying the weather and views and then we headed back. We began to start walking back in the hottest part of the day with the sun blaring down on us, we had our caps on and towels over our heads looking like we were trying to survive in the desert. We stopped off for a well-deserved ice cold soft drink and bite to eat, and then decided we would definitely get a taxi back to our hotel.

That evening we went on a cable car (costing us around £10 each) which took us to what looked like a ‘fairyland’. When we got to the other side there was a giant Ferris Wheel (included within the price) which was all lit up, you could see over the city and the views were just surreal.

Whilst on this fairyland included within the price of the cable car we were allowed to go into a waxwork display. This was nothing but tragic, but did provide us with a lot of humour! (yes James decided to get a selfie with Vladimir Putin)

I’ll let the photos do the talking… still can’t work out if this one is meant to be the Queen or Helen Mirren?

17918782_1689959067686354_2129193165_n

After our cable car adventures, we went to a bar. We were both craving some Western food, so we both tucked into a burger and spaghetti Bolognese, it tasted so good!

17916561_1689966404352287_2132360744_o

Our final few days in Ha Long City we weren’t feeling too good, this wasn’t too much of an issue seeing as we had run out of things to do and see in Ha Long anyway. We just spent the day in our room and on the rooftop overlooking the City writing out our blog and reflecting on our trip so far.

The hostel we stayed in was the Halong Cheers Hostel and in terms of room quality, it wasn’t the best. It wasn’t that clean and we didn’t have any hot water! But, the staff were the friendliest people on the planet. Which is why they probably have such a good rating on Trip Advisor? Any issues we had they would help us sort. They even gave us access to the empty room across the hall from ours to use the shower! which made up for the issues with our room, but I guess that’s what you get when you pay £5 each a night?

Again, whilst we wouldn’t rush to go back, we enjoyed our time at Ha Long. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others unless they are near the area or need a pit stop after the cruises. It is different and wasn’t what we were expecting, but we are glad we did get to experience it.

Ha Long Bay

We woke up in good timing (too early if you ask me) and left our not-so-lovely hostel to begin our journey to Ha Long Bay. We travelled there with a coach full of people, and luckily both managed to re-charge our batteries. 4 hours later and we had arrived, we went to the port, got our tickets and boarded the boat.

17911068_1687518611263733_1628766642_n

We had lunch as soon as we got on and despite requesting something other than seafood, I was presented with a table full of seafood – lovely! I resulted in eating plain rice and about 5 chunks of chicken. I was soon distracted from thinking about my hungry belly because the views were just incredible.

Whilst on the cruise we got to see various attractions. The first attraction was the floating village where we got to go on a bamboo boat and go around the rocks. This was incredibly interesting as we were able to see the formation of the rocks. This was once classed as one of the 7 wonders of the world and I can completely understand why.

We then moved onto the next attraction which was ‘The Kissing Rock’

SAM_2354

These rocks have been facing each other for hundreds of thousand of years, and are actually a picture on the 200,000 VND currency note over here.

Finally, we went into the Thien Cung Cave, this was also amazing. Our tour guide was fantastic, explaining all the different ‘animal’ shapes inside the cave – although I’m still convinced she was making it up as she was going along, or maybe I just have no imagination whatsoever?!

And of course, the views at the top were simply breathtaking!

If you ever travel to Halong Bay then I would definitely recommend doing a Halong Cruise – even if you are on a budget like we were, do a 1-day cruise. I can guarantee that you wouldn’t regret it.

The best cruises can be found below:

Best Cruises In Ha Long Bay

At the end of the cruise, we picked up a taxi and was dropped off in Halong City. We freshened up and wandered around to find somewhere to eat.

Goodbye Hanoi, Hello Ha Long Bay

As we said goodbye to Hanoi, it was time to move onto our next destination, Ha Long Bay. We were going to travel to Ha Long Bay via bus which would cost us around £10 each one way. We were being haggled by people trying to get us to do a boat cruise to Halong Bay which made us think, that might not be a bad idea. There are many different types of cruises and eventually, we chose a 1-day cruise.

We would have loved to do an overnight cruise, but that was quite out of our budget so we opted out.We researched all over the internet where we could get a decent cruise from, and discovered a page on the internet explaining about scams. In Hanoi there is a company called ‘The Sinh Tourist’ – however, there are only a handful of ‘real’ shops.  There are many fake versions.

These two are the real offices in Hanoi.

 

Even our hotel was claiming to be one, we googled the address of the real shop and they had put a fake door number outside the property to mislead people. Fortunately, James clocked and we realised that actually, the real head office was just up the road from where we were staying.

Overall, staying in Hanoi was an enjoyable experience. The night life was great for us youngsters who wished to go out and enjoy the music and have a few drinks. The food was above average, I didn’t seem to have much luck with my meals but James enjoyed all of his thoroughly! Whilst we wouldn’t rush back, the city has a lot to offer and is definitely somewhere you will need to tick off your list.

 

Tip: when booking trips, I would advise to always book via The Sinh Tourist Office’s and look for the office on the contact us page. These are the legitimate offices in each city. If you are going into a shop, then always make sure that the email address and address match. DO NOT book with the centres that have a Gmail email address or if the centre is not listed on the above website as it is fake!!!