Vietnam is exotic and beautiful place if you know the right spots, especially in the north. North is rich in historic events, tea plantations and King Kong Movie locations.
Hanoi- Is a vibrant, historic and architectural heart of Vietnam.
Time to visit: Not Summer (+37, humid and dusty)
The flag raising and lowering ceremony at Ba Dinh Square at 6am and 9pm
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed for repairs. However, right in front, you get to enjoy the march of the guards in white raising and lowering Vietnamese Flag.
The event is sharp at 6 am and 9pm, get 10 min early to get a good photo spot.
tHE NARROWEST TRAIN RAILWAY-RESIDENT STREET
Dangerous and nerve-wracking railway prolongs in-between the residential houses, where within 1 metre away from the doors of the locals the train runs.
The train runs twice a day, from the West between 3pm- 3:30pm (sometimes its late so be there 3pm sharp) and from the East at 6pm.
Fruits and food
Is sold on the streets. Always negotiate 50% price, as they will mark it up for the tourists. And only buy the whole fruits, so you can wash and cut at your house. It will save you from any problems.
The National dish that you can only get in Vietnam is worth trying is a soup with crab, Bun Rieu Cua. Usually, they have it for breakfast, so be ready to try it before 11am !
Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay
Infamous lagoon with beautiful rocks in the water. You can get there by tour cruise. For me, the place is crowded with tourists and the tour is expensive. The water colour is exactly like on the picture- dirty green, therefore I wasn’t been able to submerge into promised “magical atmosphere“. See the post on the right, Ninh Binh is a magical substitute and offers even better, natural views. (and costs 50% less)
Ninh Binh- Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest Pagoda in Southeast Asia.
Ninh Binh is just 1.30 min drive from Hanoi (bus go directly to Ninh Binh city), there you can take a quick 20 min motorcycle drive (negotiate with hotel) that will bring you closer to the nature and all attractions. (see the post below on amazing single villa for 20$)
The complex is large and is worth the visit. There, it is advisable to walk (it will take around 1 hours) but will leave you with lots of cultural impressions. Every building is different and Pagoda is worth the climb to see the view (above).
It is 20$ per single villa with air-conditioning with shower accommodations inside of the villa. it is a sweet place located in the middle of the forest and surrounded by tall rocks. They have a magnificent breakfast (at additional cost): eggs, bacon, fruits and tea. They have motorcycle and bicycles for hire (very cheap). And if you can’t drive, you can hire motorcycle driver - reliable.
Ninh Binh- Mua Cave Drive
On the way to Mua cave, make a stop to the little enclosed lake which you can enjoy from the mountain temple. It feels magical.
Ninh Binh- Mua Cave Hills
Over the caves, you climb (20min) to the beautiful view spot with dragon on the top. From there, you can enjoy the view of the lake and mountains.
Ninh Binh- Mua Caves
I have seen bigger caves, but these 3 amazed me with its secluding and small sizes (in some places you would have to crawl). Furthermore, most of them are filled with the water.
Ninh Binh-Trong An Valley- Movie set for Kong:Skull Island
Take a boat a long a Trong Valley, not will it only amaze by its view and serenity, but you will also get a chance to explore one of the movie sets for King Kong movies.
The mystical, cleaning cozy european-looking town with admirable streetlights along each street and Italian gondolas strolling at the river. The night market is full of tasty and musical surprises.
The streets are lighted with Vietnamese lamps and vendors offering traditional cheap snack from the wheeled booths outside, the whole town is alive from 6pm to 10pm every night with bars, clubs and vendors. The streets will be full of people, so it is more advisable to explore the sights during the day and come for relaxation at night.
The Banana Pancakes
Is the hit of the market. it cheap, filled with bananas and delicious. Yummy!
Thanh Van 1 Hotel
On the picture, you can see the open roof right over the swimming pool and decorated with fresh flowers. The place has single rooms with air-conditioning and located in the centre of old town Hoi An. It is just 30$ if booked online, or negotiated.
For fresh/ vegetarian / modern food lovers. This place is the middle of the urban tiny streets with unique, organic atmosphere, comfortable seats and natural products. The smoothie bowls come with variety of fresh fruits; the omelets with Avocado toasts; and organic desserts. Yummy and brings you back home ;)
Accessible by bike (20min from Old Town Hoi An. It is worth seeing - the sculptures of sights around the world made in terracotta traditional clay.