Before I travelled to Vietnam I had been living in this very quiet desert town for about a year. I was used to the empty streets and the intermittent silence. It was quite a shock when I landed in Hanoi, Vietnam two years ago but I instantly loved it. I loved it so much that the very first day I swore I would come back some day! I’ll be telling you why Vietnam is my favourite country, what are the best things to check out while you’re there and giving you some tips to have a smooth trip.
Why is Vietnam my favourite country?
- I fell in love with the craziness of the streets of Hanoi. There are people everywhere, cars, mopeds, bikes, tuk tuks, you name it, it was there and it was all over the place. Despite how crazy the streets are I always felt safe to walk around with my friends or alone. We spent most of our time in Hanoi in the Old Quarter which is a backpackers dream. Endless markets, cafes and street food vendors. You could spend hours just strolling around getting lost in this part of the city. You’ll come across other backpackers and tourists around this area which makes it the perfect place to meet new people.
- The locals. They are so friendly. Like unbelievably friendly. One example, we were staying in a hostel up in the mountains in Sapa. It was a small hostel where the owner, with his family, stayed as well. It was the season finale of Game of Thrones and we didn’t wanna miss it. He helped us set up some speakers to his old desktop and let us watch it in the common room while his family ate dinner!! Amazing. So many locals helped us along the way and when offered a tip they would refuse! It was an amazing atmosphere to be in.
- The scenery. From the mountains in Sapa to the beaches of Halong Bay, Vietnam has to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Before I went there I thought no other country could be as beautiful as my home country of Ireland. But Vietnam is definitely up there!
What should you check out in Vietnam?
- Hanoi. We stayed in Golden Time Hostel 2 in Old Quarter. The staff there were very friendly and the rooms were as good as hotel rooms with two single beds and a private toilet. While in Hanoi you should also go see Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s a very beautiful lake in the heart of the city. There is a little island, Jade Island, with a temple, Temple of the Jade Mountain. You can pay to go into this temple and you get to cross Huc Bridge which is bright red and stands out beautifully over the lake. On the island you can see people praying at the temple and even burning money at the shrines! Close to the lake is the Temple of Literature which is another interesting temple to check out.
- Sapa. Sapa is a great place to go trekking through the mountains with local tribes. You can even do a homestay with these local tribes! We travelled from Hanoi to Lao Cai by night train which was surprisingly comfortable and reminded me of Harry Potter for some reason. A private bus took us to our hostel in Sapa from Lao Cai, make sure you haggle to get a decent price. We did a hike through the mountains with the local Black Hmong tribe who were very friendly. The views of the mountains and the rice terraces were amazing! Definitely worth the train ride.
- Halong Bay. Think gorgeous turquoise waters and loads of tiny islands dotted around a bay, that’s the paradise that is Halong Bay. I would recommend doing an overnight cruise to get the full experience. We were the luckiest girls on earth and managed to bag a five star cruise for about half the going rate! Mostly because the weather was terrible but who cares when you’ve got a five star cruise! It was called Golden Cruise and I couldn’t recommend it more. We were served the most amazing and fresh seafood for lunch and dinner. We went to a tiny beach island, explored an amazing cave and took a bamboo boat ride while on the cruise! We really didn’t want to leave the cruise at all.
My tips for a smooth trip.
- Haggle! You have to haggle, if you don’t you will be ripped off. Haggle for water, clothes, tours and transport, everything! You’ll regret it if you don’t because it all adds up. The Vietnamese are quite fair when it comes to haggling too. It’s not hard to knock it down a dollar or two so take your time to do it, it’s all part of the fun anyway!
- Keep your wits about you. As I have mentioned I believe that the Vietnamese are some of the friendliest nicest people in the world. But it is a very poor country and if they see an opportunity they will take it. My phone was stolen by a taxi driver after I handed it to him for directions. He drove off with it before we had even paid for the taxi (Which is why the picture quality is less than normal). Another time we were walking back to our hostel and some women were trying to show us the way. They attempted to hug us and were trying to get their hands into our bags! I also witnessed mothers sending their small children into nightclubs to steal from the tourists. So just keep your belongings close and don’t get too drunk because they are ready to strike!
So these are all the reasons why Vietnam is my favourite country. Have I convinced you to go? Have you been there yourself? I know I want to go back to visit Hoi An and Hue, these are two places I regret not visiting. Hope you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my other travel and outfit posts. Find me on bloglovin’ here.