Vietnam: Our Three Week Backpacking Itinerary

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Vietnam was my first experience traveling anywhere in Asia and it was such a great country. It's really inspired me to see more of Asia in the near future. In August 2015 I spent three weeks traveling with one of my closest friends from North to South, flying into Hanoi and finishing off in Ho Chi Minh City.

I found three weeks the perfect amount of time to spend in Vietnam. It allowed us enough time to fully experience every place on our list whilst still having some time to relax.


Hanoi (4 nights):
When we first arrived in Hanoi it was a complete culture shock. The initial taxi ride to our hotel was insane as you're surrounded by so many scooters and motorbikes all using their horns and weaving in and out of each other. The best place to stay is in the Old Quarter where the majority of the backpacker hostels and hotels are located. The street food is a must and the local beer can be as cheap as 15p!

Hanoi has plenty to do, including walking around Hoan Kiem Lake, visiting the Temple of Literature and catching an evening performance of the Water Puppet show.


Halong Bay (3 days / 2 nights):

By far the easiest way to visit Halong Bay is by booking a tour in Hanoi. You can choose from a couple of options - we opted for a 3 day / 2 night tour where we spent one night staying on a junk boat, and the other on Cat Ba Island. For each tour you're picked up and dropped off at your hotel in Hanoi. The other option is a simple 2 day / 1 night tour where you only spent overnight on the junk boat.

Most tours have a very similar itinerary including kayaking, visiting a cave & seeing the floating villages.


Hoi An (5 nights):

Halfway down the country is the beautiful town Hoi An. It was by far my favourite place that we visited and I really wish we could have stayed for longer. Whether you stay here for one night or one month it's definitely time well spent. Hoi An is most famous for tailoring and handmade clothes, so leave a couple of days if you plan on getting anything made. You can either take along a photo of what you'd like, or each shop has plenty of examples.

I highly recommend hiring bikes to explore the town and all of its many cute side streets. There's also the beautiful An Bang Beach which is only a 20 minute bike ride away.


Mui Ne (3 Nights):

Mui Ne is a popular beach resort that unfortunately looked slightly like it had seen better days. Now full of hotels far too close to the beach it was hard to find any traditional Vietnamese culture. If I was to visit Vietnam again I'd definitely only stay here for two nights.

However it's not all bad. It's a great place to spend some pool time, there are sand dunes and a place called Fairy Stream with a small waterfall at the end.


Ho Chi Minh City (5 nights):

We stayed in District 1 where everything was in walking distance, including the War Remnants Museum and Ben Thanh Market. It's a more westernised city than Hanoi and famous for it's rooftop bars. We visited The View Rooftop Bar twice during our stay where cocktails are less than £3 and beer is around 50p. The music isn't too loud so it's a great place to hang out with friends.

Tours for outside of the city are also incredibly easy to book, including trips to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta. The trips are far cheaper if you wait and book them once you reach Vietnam rather than pre-booking them before you travel.

Vietnam is such a beautiful country. Full of wondeful people, culture & amazing food! I would recommend the country to anyone, even for first-time travelers like myself. 

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