All in all we ended up spending three weeks in Vietnam, traveling from the South to the North. Overall we didn’t really like Vietnam, although we met lots of people who were really enjoying their time there. It seemed you either loved it or hated it and unfortunately we fell mostly into the latter. We met some great people along the way and saw some beautiful places. We are happy we went, but can’t imagine going back anytime soon. The biggest issue we had was the people, with the exception of a few, they just were not friendly. At times we really didn’t feel that safe or wanted. Here is our route:
Ho Chi Minh (Saigon): 2 nights
We really didn’t like Saigon. It was far too busy and WAY too loud for us. The hotel we stayed at was terrible and the service was non-existent. The people looked at us like they wanted to jump us and it definitely wasn’t a place to walk around alone.
Mui Ne: Day bus, 2 nights
Went for the sand dunes, but really weren’t impressed. Ran into some problems when we rented a motorbike. Again the hotel service was terrible. We could have skipped this stop.
DaLat: Day Bus, 4 nights
WONDERFUL! We loved our time in DaLat. The weather was amazing, cool enough to walk around in the middle of the day. The mountains and landscape were beautiful. The owners of our homestay were extremely friendly and helpful. We could have stayed longer! We did a day trip around the countryside and highly recommend it.
DaNang: Flight, 2 nights
We splurged and stayed in a nice hotel for 2 nights where we really did nothing but catch up on the blog and get a good night sleep.
HoiAn: Bus, 6 nights
Originally we booked a homestay in HoiAn for just 2 nights, but ended up extending. The homestay was excellent and really made the trip to HoiAn memorable. We were able to visit the owner’s school one night and also learned to make spring rolls with the family. We enjoyed exploring the city by bike and just wish it had been a bit cooler. Many come for the tailors, but there is much more to the area. We stayed on An Hoi island and recommend it, the foods much cheaper over there.
Hanoi: Flight, 2 nights
We stayed in Hanoi before heading to Ha Long Bay for our cruise. The hotel was awful! Again no hospitality at all and the staff was very rude. The area was close to the cathedral (a bit too close) and to a row of very expensive restaurants. We enjoyed walking around the lake and visiting the small pagoda.
HaLong Bay: Bus, 2 nights
Amazing, tranquil 2 nights on HaLong Bay. The cruise was perfect and the staff very friendly and professional. Highly recommend a 2 night cruise!
Hanoi: Bus, 2 nights
Back to Hanoi for 2 nights before heading to China. We met up with a family from the cruise and saw a water puppet show. We splurged a little and stayed at a nicer hotel close to the lake for a good nights sleep. For a big city Hanoi was much nicer than Ho Chi Minh. The students around the lake wanted to practice their English with any foreigner they saw and it seemed to be a bit friendlier as a whole than other cities in Vietnam.
Our route was pretty good for the time we had. We originally planned to hit Hue and go up to Sapa, we also considered spending some time on Cat Ba Island in HaLong Bay. We also thought we would do some train travel, but when it came down to it a flight was much easier and nearly as cheap! Eventually we decided it was better to just move on, rather than risk wasting time in a place we may not like. We are happy with the decision to leave after 3 weeks and probably would have been happy with 2 weeks.