On our trip to Vietnam we covered four amazing spots; Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa and Hoi An. Hanoi was a busy city and a lot bigger than I was expecting. The locals mainly use motor bikes to get around and the sound of honking is loud and never ending. We took a walk through the city to be greeted by vendors selling pretty much anything you could imagine, and stopped to relax at the old city Hoan Kiem Lake. I must say, it was busy, smelly and very hot, and we were ready for water and less people! Ha Long Bay was a breath of fresh air – literally! We boarded our boat with eight other people and set sail into the beautiful green waters, surrounded by hundreds of limestone haystacks.
Our tour included a one night stay aboard our vessel, sea kayaking and cave exploration. It was so nice to finally kick start our adventure in sun and good living!
Next, we left the coast and headed up north on an 8-hour night train to the Sapa region, where we were greeted by the local villagers. This was by far a major highlight of the trip as the people were so unique with their clothing, stories and exuberant personalities. It was nice to chat and get to know different cultures and villages. We hiked through the mountains on a trekking experience, and withstood the heavy rain, mud and steep hills.
To end our Vietnam experience we headed south to Hoi An. This is the place to go if you want custom clothes made, and boy did we do just that! I had shoes, shorts, a dress, and pants made all for $50. We also found Hoi An to have the best dishes, and took advantage of the locally made food from street vendors.
But our adventure didn’t truly end in Hoi An! Because we loved Vietnam so much, we headed back for round two the following year to cover even more ground. This time around we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City with little knowledge of what to do or what to expect. We were instantly blown away by the architecture and cleanliness of this busy city. The highlight of Ho Chi Minh was going to the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels. We also enjoyed walking to the nearby day and night markets and eating Pho straight from the street vendors.
Only two days later we headed north to Nha Trang and hit the beaches. I love the simplicity and relaxing of this place, but coming all the way back to Vietnam we knew we had to go back to Hoi An, our absolute favorite!
We chose to go back to Hoi An mainly so we could stock up on tailor made clothes. At night, the town lights up with lanterns, and the people make up the hustle and bustle of the streets. They put on local celebrations and concerts, which are truly magnificent!
- If you find yourself in Hanoi and need a break from the city, we suggest visiting Hoan Kiem Lake in the old city.
- For an eye-opening and educational experience in Ho Chi Minh, take a few hours (or more!) to explore the War Remnants Museum.
- Also in Ho Chi Minh, the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels are not to be missed.
Kayla Beiler is a Vancouver, British Columbia wedding and portrait photographer. Much of her time building her photography career has been spent traveling the world and capturing life as she sees it. Helping those around her pick and choose the ultimate destination is what she strives to do.