Vietnam Travel blog - Ho Chi Minh, Hue and Hoi An

Hi Lovelies I just got back from an amazing trip around three cities of Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh, Hue and Hoi An. Our tr...








Hi Lovelies


I just got back from an amazing trip around three cities of Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh, Hue and Hoi An. Our trip to Vietnam was short, only 11 days; you could easily stay here for double this time if not longer and go up north to explore other popular tourist places like Halong Bay and Hanoi. Unfortunately we were just on a holiday this time but definitely if you are backpacking you should allow some extra time to visit these spots, we've heard only great things from other travellers along the way.



The Journey

We flew from Perth via Singapore and on to Ho Chi Minh, the flight took 5.5hrs to Singapore and 2.5hrs then to Ho Chi Minh. We stayed at 'Harmony Hotel' which was in a great location and our room cost $100 AUD per night which was an in between rate for the hotel costs in this city. Considering we were in district 1 (district 1-3 is the heart of the city so I'd recommend staying around here) and had breakfast included as well as spa facilities, I was very happy with this rate. For backpackers there are lots of hostels and dorms around on the Main Street for super cheap.



Interesting facts of Vietnam:

Population of Vietnam: 90,000,000


Population of Ho Chi Minh: 11,000,000


Motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh: 6,000,000


Largest exportation of rice, cashew nuts and black pepper in the world


Vietnamese traditional fashion includes floral robes and conical hats




Ho Chi Minh:

The first thing I noticed in this city was the amount of motorbikes everywhere! I was in awe of it snapchatting it loads! Our first night I was so scared trying to cross the streets, you have zebra crossing and traffic lights, but no one obeys by them, it was very frustrating but I soon discovered that you just have to be confident and walk out onto the road with your hand up (this signals the drivers you are crossing) and they will stop. It surprisingly becomes fun after a while playing the game of trying to cross the road ha!

Motorbikes everywhere - Ho Chi Minh



Useful Tips and information:

Currency is Vietnamese Dong (VD). 1AUD = 16,000VD e.g if something is 200,000VD divide this by 16,000 to give you the Australian dollar conversion - $12.50AUD


Take the white 'Vinasun' taxis and not the green 'malikis' taxis - they are cheaper and more reliable as they use a meter and won't rip you off (we learnt our lesson after taking a green one even after been warned)


It is the law to wear a helmet on a motorbike (as it should be).


Crossing the road hold your hand up so you are most visible to drivers


Be careful of pick pockets especially in the evenings. Wear a cross body bag and hold it in front of you. If you have one with a chain this is better as I've heard stories that people have cut off the straps going past on motorbikes (thankfully we did not experience this).


Save about $5-$10 pp per tour by booking on the street rather than through your hotel


Haggle on everything in the markets. Offer a 1/3 of the price they tell you and go from there ;-)


A local beer can cost anything from 5000-25000VD (30c- $2AUD) and a cocktail will cost approx $3AUD



Traveling To Vietnam Tips:

Jetstar offer a connecting flight from Perth which means your bags go all the way through to Ho Chi Minh hence a short stop over in Singapore too and if your flight is delayed you still won't miss your connecting flight.

Booking.com offer pay on arrival for most hotels which is great if your travel plans change or you want to upgrade/downgrade your room.

If you shop a lot like I did, make sure you prebook extra weight going home to your booking, Jetstar were weighing all hand luggage and charging everyone at the airport, and it cost me only $47 to prebook an extra 5kg as opposed to $150 at the airport (be smart with your money)



Shopping:

Ho Chi Minh has the best shopping of all the places we visited, the night markets in the city are great, also don't forget to haggle on everything. Offer a 1/3 of the price they tell you and go from there ;-) you can buy replica designer handbags and purses, football jerseys, sportswear, handmade clothes/suits/shoes and souvenirs. I'd highly recommend to do all your shopping in Ho Chi Minh its not the same anywhere else and they have the best of quality there too.
Shopping - Markets 

Shopping - Markets 

Shopping - Markets 

Shopping - Markets 

Shopping - Markets 

Making incense sticks and conical hats

Getting my haggle on
Do I look like a local yet?

Shopping - Markets 



Food and Drink:

Vietnamese food is so delicious, rice is the main food here and they eat it with every meal. Local foods include rice paper rolls, different flavoured soups, vegetables, seafood and rice noodles, they eat a very healthy diet to be honest. I loved the spring rolls, we had them with almost every meal. Most restaurants sell western foods too if you don't like to eat the local food. A Tiger beer in a bar cost 25,000VD (less than $2AUD) and is even cheaper in the supermarkets. Lots of happy hours everywhere too, it's ridiculously cheap. Cocktails being the most expensive at a max of $6AUD and again offer buy 1 get one free happy hour prices. A pizza and chips would cost the equivalent of $10AUD and local food would be less than $5AUD.





































Things I recommend to do in Ho Chi Minh:


Ho Chi Minh city half/full day tour. We done a half day (1pm -5pm) and it's plenty time. Our tour cost $25pp and included the national war remnant museum, former presidential palace, Chinese pagoda (Buddhist temple), national post office, lacquer work shop where they made hand made art out of egg shells which was pretty beautiful and the Ben thanh market (where I bought my handbags). The time we had to stop here on the tour wasnt enough as the market was huge, so we came back another day. It closes at 6pm (its indoors) then pours outside for the night markets until about 10-11pm I think. I recommend trying to get to the day market though as when we went back to the night market there wasn't half the stalls that was in the indoor market.

Eat and drink/party on the main backpacker district, it was super busy and bustling, exactly like Khao San Road in Bangkok for those that have been there.

Half day afternoon tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels cost $25pp - includes the full history and watching raw footage film from the war, can shoot real AK 47 guns (bullets $3 approx), eat local food for lunch, can get into the tunnels and crawl through them.

Full day tour to Mekong Delta cost $40 and was great fun. It's a long drive 2.5hrs I'd recommend taking a book). We stopped off at the Mekong Rest stop and looked around the Lotus gardens which are beautiful and the Mekong pagoda (Buddhist temple). We then took a boat to unicorn island, honey farm and coconut island and watched how they make handmade coconut candy and tasted it. We then took a horse carriage ride through the town to the river and took a paddle boat ride down the Mekong Delta which was great fun (smelly but still so worth it!). Lunch was also included which was local foods , spring rolls, soup, fish, rice paper rolls and vegetables.

War Remnant Museum

War Remnant Museum

War Remnant Museum

War Remnant Museum

Daragh going into the Cu Chi Tunnels (trust me I did try and trap him in there :P)

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels 

Pagoda

After a few drinks in a busy Ho Chi Minh City




Lotus Gardens

Cu Chi Tunnels

Lotus Gardens

Ex Presidential Palace
Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta

Making coconut sweets

Making coconut sweets

Making coconut sweets

We then flew from Ho Chi Minh - Hue (1hr) approx $75AUD pp including checked luggage.



Things I recommend to do in Hue:

Visit the Citadel - Where the emperors lived in the C.1800-1900s
The tombs of the emperors
The Pagoda (temple) we didn't do this as we saw many already)
Rent a bike or get a lift around on a rickshaw
Get a massage (full body approx $10AUD)

Hue isn't a big city, you could definitely do all of these in one day. We stayed here for two days - I was sick for the first day and did all the above in the second so it's definitely doable so I wouldn't recommend staying any longer than 2-3 days in Hue. I would really only use it as a stop over between travelling to other cities.

We stayed at the Midtown Hotel which was average - great hospitality all the same and location was right in the heart of the city, but was quite old - although this whole city is old but its what makes it beautiful.

Citadel

Citadel

Citadel

Emperor Tombs

Citadel

Drinks with our local tour guide 

Emperor Tombs guided tour

Citadel

Citadel



After Hue:



We took a private car to Hoi An which cost $65AUD booking with the travel agents on the street. The drive is 2.5hr direct or you could do what we done and stop off along the way at scenic tourist locations such as Marble Mountain, the Elephant Springs and The Hoi Van Pass, and an oyster pearl shop - you can take as long as you like stopping off at each of these places too. There is also the option to do it cheaper and go as part of a group on a bus.


I loved The Elephant Springs, it was lovely to cool down and refresh half way through the journey. You can stop at the beaches too which we did just to look at but to be honest they're nothing special, there's nothing on them and the water looked filthy but definitely recommend The Elephant Springs. The Hoi Van is 20km long (10km uphill and 10km downhill) also an amazing spot to get some great landscape pictures. We stopped at a pearl shop where we learnt all about the different colours and shapes/sizes of pearls, how they're farmed, and how to spot the difference between a fake and original pearl. Daragh even surprised me and treated me to a fab pair of earrings. The costs were so cheap in comparison to anywhere else as they are sourced and made right there, for example a pair of earring ranged from anything from $20 - $100 a pair, depending on quality and size (so cheap compared to anywhere else in the world for real pearls). We climbed the marble mountains and got some amazing pics of the view. It only takes about 5-10mins to climb all the steps (approx 300 - I lost count).
Elephant Springs

Hoi Van Pass

Elephant Springs

Marble Mountain

Marble Mountain

Elephant Springs




Hoi An:

We spent 5 nights here at Hoi An Beach Resort, which was honestly fab! We booked the Grand Deluxe Sea View room with spa included and was offered an upgrade to the river view as when Daragh booked he mentioned it was for our Anniversary so a little tip for ya ;-). The hotel recommended the river view was nicer, which it was and we were happy for the kind upgrade. The room cost $170 per night with the spa included (free 30min massages each every day) which was bliss! A full buffet breakfast was included too which we had every morning followed by our massages and then chilling by the pool. My kind of holiday :-) it's was amazing! The hotel also had its own private beach across the road (the beaches here though aren't amazing so we stuck to the pool). The resort had two large pools (an infinity pool overlooking the
river and a large lagoon pool). There was lots of staff on hand constantly to take food and drink orders by the pool (although the menu was expensive compared to the local restaurants across the street - it was really good food and still a lot cheaper to Australia).

We hired bikes from the local travel agents (by the way these are everywhere don't worry you will see them). The bike cost $3AUD for a half day hire and we cycled around exploring. The Ancient Town where all the bars are is very beautiful, and has a Chinese/Japanese feel to it. At night the river and bridge is all lit up and you can buy candle lanterns to put in the river.

Ancient Town Hoi An - River Bridge
There's a strip of bars and restaurants offering local and western foods and drinks and everything shuts down at midnight. There's lots of day trips on offer here but we had already done lots that we just wanted to relax for the second half of the trip and make the most of the fab resort we booked. You can even cook your own meal and do a cooking lesson for approx $15AUD pp, and even get the full experience by catching the fish to cook, and buying the veg from the markets.

I didn't come across any other fab resorts like ours nearby, the rest seemed to be closer to the airport which was almost 40 minutes away so we definitely got lucky with choosing our hotel, I highly recommend it. They run a free shuttle bus all day to the Ancient Town too (10mins by bus, 30mins cycling).

Each city was completely unique in its own way. I loved each of them and would recommend all. I checked my bank account on the last day and I'd spent a total of just under $1100 AUD over 11 days, Daragh spent the same as we just put our money together so a total of $2200 for both of us. I was very impressed with this because like I said earlier, we came on holiday, we were not back packing and we were ordering room service and eating western foods and drinking cocktails which is always more expensive, getting private tours/taxis as opposed to cheaper group tour options and buses and even spent around $200-$300 of that amount on shopping in Ho Chi Minh so Vietnam is definitely a great budget holiday and perfect for backpackers who wish to even do it cheaper, at half this cost easily!

Hoi An Beach Resort - Breakfast Restaurant

Hoi An Beach Resort - Breakfast Restaurant

Hoi An Ancient Town Japanese Bridge

Hoi An Beach Resort - Lagoon Pool

Ready for a night out in Hoi An

Hoi An Beach Resort - Breakfast Room Service

Hoi An Beach Resort - Spa

Hoi An Beach Resort - Infinity Pool

Hoi An Beach Resort - Infinity Pool

Hoi An Beach Resort - Spa

Hoi An Beach Resort - Spa


Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An Beach Resort - Grand Deluxe

Hoi An Beach Resort - Grand Deluxe River View

I would like to go back to Vietnam one day to visit the North especially Hanoi and Halong Bay but until then, Vietnam it's been amazing.


Another country ticked off that never ending bucket list :)



Have you ever been to Vietnam? Is there anything else you would like to add? Or is it a place on your bucket list too?
Leave me a comment below.



If you actually sat through all of that, thank you for reading, and if you found this helpful for your own travels or know someone heading to Vietnam in the near future please feel free to share and let me know so I can thank you.









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1 comments

  1. It looks like you had a superb holiday Jen! You included lots of great little tips for anyone traveling there too! Xx

    Kez | acaciasdreams.com

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