When I was chalking out my Vietnam itinerary, Hoi An and Hue were not a part of it. After extensive research, I bumped into Nha Trang, Ninh Binh, Hue and Hoi An. These places topped my list as against Sapa and Hanoi (Ha Long Bay). With limited time at our disposal, I had to choose between Hoi An, Hue, Nha Trang and Sapa.
We had booked our stay and planned our 5-day travel in Vietnam. Saigon, Hue and Hoi An made the cut to the travel map and Vietnam marked the 10th country that I would be visiting. The day had come and my excitement was at its peak 😀
We met few travelers in Siem Reap who had taken the regular packages of Cambodia and Vietnam. These packages suggested places like Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh, Sapa and Hanoi. The travelers were not aware of Hue and Hoi An or they believed the other cities were better in comparison. I wore my purple devil mask as on one side, I was ready to explore what most of the regular travellers didn’t. On the other though, there was a fear within me that these places were not great to visit.
When the day dawned, I was upset that we planned only for a day at Saigon. We stayed in Hotel Elios which is close to the backpackers street. The experience that you can gain from this place in under 30 hours is so useless. This place needs more time – about a week at-least to enjoy and experience Vietnam first hand. You can read more on Ho Chi Minh and my experience here. From Saigon, we took the flight to DaNang (another beautiful town to explore) to reach Hue.
Phong Nha Caves / Paradise Caves / Dark Caves
This is for all you adrenaline junkies and families who loves adventure. These caves near Hue were recently found and is not too popular – yet! It is nestled far away from the hustles and bustles of a city. Get ready to zip-line through fresh waters, walk through muddy and dark caves and get awed by some of the biggest rock formations inside these caves.
TIP: You will need two-three days to do it all. We did a mistake by returning the same night as we did not know these caves are not close to each other. We only got to do the Phong Nha Caves while I would have loved to explore the other two as well.
Hue (pronounced as Huey. Listen here)
A cute little town which had a lot of prominence in the olden days, Hue was the capital city of Vietnam. It’s central location helped the Emperors control both North and South Vietnam, however the more clever part was to prepare for invasion if in case they do come that far.
The thing I noticed about Vietnam and it’s history was the people. They were clever and meticulous in planning everything. Right from the houses, the kingdoms, the place of ruling, winning the war over USA, their mausoleums etc etc etc. They left me thinking what went wrong for this country to be in this position that it is in right now.
Anyway, back to Hue. You will see beauty everywhere in this crowded town. The Citadel got damaged during war, yet it looks amazing even today. The Thien Mu Pagoda, a cute Japanese Bridge (Thanh Tuon) amidst the greenery which was once flooded, the Perfume river – everything has a nice feel that will definitely makes you WANDERLOST. This was the time I was also watching the Marco Polo series, so you can imagine how my thoughts would have wandered 😀
Places to cover:
Imperial City – The Citadel – The imperial capital of Vietnam (in pic)
Truong Tien Bridge – Oldest and the most landmarks in Hue
Ming Manh Tomb (elaborately laid out), Khai Dinh Tomb (don’t miss the porcelain and glass designs inside), Tu Duc Tomb – All these tombs are the resting places of Emperors
Thien Mu Pagoda is tha tallest religions temple.
Thanh Tuon Bridge is the Japanese small Bridge. (in pic)
Ride down the Perfume River. (in pic)
Between DaNang and Hoi An – there are two beautiful places to explore. Do try to include them. One is the Hai Van Pass and the other is the Lang Co Beach. We made it to the beach but as we departed late from Hue, we couldn’t drive all the way up to soak ourselves with the view.
This was paradise for me. I have never imagined I can lust to be such places – forever. Again, a small and quaint little town in Vietnam, this place is for your sure to brighten up your soul. The streets in the night makes your soul filled with brightness. This little paradise is all about small streets where vehicles are not allowed, french style houses, many talented tailors who give a super fit suit in under 24 hours and amazing blue beaches.
Places to cover:
An Bang (more preferred) and Cua Dai Beach.
Hoi An Old Town
and ofcourse the Central Market to shop.
Hoi An nights are the most beautiful which will take you to a dreamland. You can rent bikes, cycles to go around this place.
To conclude, add these cities when you plan your travel to Vietnam. Ping away if you have any queries.