I have already written about preparing for a trip to Vietnam in a separate post, so here I will share our route, which I hope will help you when planning a trip to this remarkable country.
Our trip took place on October 26, 2019 – November 16, 2019, and we are very glad that we still gave the country three weeks instead of two. I’m also glad we started the trip from the North, where we spent about half the time, and then we went down and returned from the South. This helped us feel the considerable diversity of the country, as well as saving time by not having to go back to the starting point. We flew out of Vilnius on October 26, then had a few hours at Moscow airport, and then overnight flight to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi. We started traveling around the country on October 27th.
1 st day – Hanoi. Early in the morning at about 8 a.m., we arrived in Hanoi, immediately passed through the border checkpoint as we already had e-visas. We couldn’t call a taxi at the airport via the Grab app (there were no cars available), but we accidentally found out about a local bus that takes to almost to the Old Quarter and the journey takes about 45-60 minutes, we only had to walk about 20 minutes from the stop. We stayed in the Old Quarter and it was very convenient as we walked almost everywhere. On that day, some of us fell asleep at the hotel for lunch and still managed to walk around the entire central part, inspecting the Old Quarter itself and a number of objects around it. Overnight in Hanoi.
2nd day – Hanoi. continued to walk around Hanoi. Everything is quite close to the center, we visited several museums and around the area. By the way, since it was Monday, some of the museums were open only from the outside. As many knows, one of the “landmarks” in Hanoi is the train street, which attracts tourists because people live nearby the rail and while the train is not running, the action takes place on the rails, in some places the streets are so narrow that the train seems to be barely fit between houses. As the street has become so popular, we have read that it is closed for the safety of the tourists. When we saw this section of the street for the first time, it was like that – the policemen were standing nearby and did not pass the tourists (although the locals walked quite freely). It was possible to see the street from the side through a small crack, which had apparently been “occupied” by other tourists for several hours. In fact, it turned out to be a bit funny – we wait for the train now and run over each other to see it? Enough of those trains, Aurimas said, the rails must go in more than one place. We turned around and walked on. And what do you think we crossed the rails at least 10 more times that day, only in different places. Not everywhere were the houses so close to the rails, but in some places, there were even cafes where you could sit and wait for a train passing several times a day, so all that was left was to rejoice in your decision not to cram into one place at that time. Overnight in Hanoi.
3rd Day. Hanoi – Ha Giang. We also planned to spend this day in Hanoi, we also booked a hotel, but we decided to leave earlier because we realized that there was enough time for Hanoi. In the evening, we booked a VIP bus (8 people) to Ha Giang through the hotel, and we were already there at about 2 p.m. During that half-day, we organized scooters for a 4-day trip around the North, the so-called Ha Giang Circle.
4-7 Days. Ha Giang motorbike Loop. While still driving in a circle, we corresponded via Whatsapp with guys renting scooters who helped us book a night bus to Cat Ba Island. Returning after the trip, we showered in a hosted of the same chain as the scooter rental for a small few Eur fee and already at 8 p.m. we moved towards Cat Ba island in Ha Long Bay. We spent the night on a night bus. Although the whole trip lasted 12 hours, we had a great sleep and we were glad that we not only managed to relax but also saved time for the ride (there is no flight from the North because there is no airport in Ha Giang).
8th Day. Cat Ba island. Early in the morning at about 8 a.m. We were already there. A nearby hotel booked by us in advance agreed to check us in early, so that day we organized a day trip around Ha Long Bay for the next day and we still had a good lunch on the beach. In fact, we really enjoyed Cat Ba, it’s quiet but not too quiet, there are a few beaches, plenty of places to dine. Overnight in Cat Ba.
9th Day. Boat day-trip around Ha Long Bay with lunch. Great daytime entertainment. I know a lot of people are spending the night on a boat and I think it’s very romantic to watch the sunsets and sunrises from the beck, but this time we agreed that one day would be enough for us (and it was really enough). Overnight in Cat Ba.
10th Day. After breakfast, we got a transfer to Ninh Binh. We scheduled it the same day and at the same street agency when we arrived in Cat Ba. After the 3-4 hour trip we are already in Tam Coc town (there, by the way, is the most fun). The bus brought us to one of the agencies where we rented a scooter and also booked a night train tickets to Hoi An for the next day. On the same day, we took scooters to the Hang Mua observation deck, which offers a wonderful panorama of the surrounding area. There is a lot of cycling in Tam Coc, but since our accommodation was a little further from the center, scooters were much faster. Overnight in Tam Coc. We are very happy with the location of this hotel and the hostess, who allowed us to stay longer for free while we wait for the night train, of course, we left her tips for that.
11 d. Boat trip along the Ninh Binh River, Bich Dong Pagoda. Very close to our hotel, we saw women rowing a boat on their feet and sailing on a river between the mountains. This was one of the planned activities at Tam Coc. Actually, it is possible to take a boat trip from the city center, as I understand it, sailing from there, the trip itself takes longer (but also more boats), as well as more beautiful views. Our swim took about 1.5 hours, after which we also visited the nearby Bich Dong Pagoda. Later, we realized how well we did that we visited the pagoda early because only when we got out of it, buses of tourists started to flow. In the evening we returned to the local agency from where we rented scooters and after dinner from Ninh Bing, we took a night train to Hoi An.
12 d. Hoi An. About noon by train we arrived at the train station near Hoi An, from where it is about 10 Km to the center. We accidentally met a couple who were on their way, so we shared the cost of a taxi with them. Public transport is also possible, but you should go to the bus station and in fact, sharing the cost of four taxis was a little more expensive, and we saved a lot of time compared to riding the bus. We stayed a few hundred meters from the night market, so on the first day, we explored Hoi An old town. Overnight in Hoi An.
13 d. Relaxing on the beach near Hoi An. The beach is about 4-5 km from the town, so this time we decided to go both back and forth by taxi, which, like the whole trip, we called via the Grab app (similar to Bolt or Uber, only Grab, i.e. the Asian version). The beach is not something very special but wanted a bit of quiet rest after a fairly intense trip of almost 2 weeks. There are a number of cafes along the coast where sunbeds are provided free of charge when ordering food, so the day went just great! Overnight in Hoi An.
14 d. Arrival in the Mekong Delta. On the domestic flight we bought a few days ago, we flew to Can Tho, i.e. one of the largest cities in the Mekong Delta. there we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. On the same day, we agreed on a very early private trip to the local floating market at the hotel the next day. We planned to fly to Phu Quoc onwards, but we were late to buy tickets, so we had to stay for another night because there were no more flight tickets. If there had been an opportunity, we would have preferred to go to Pho Quoc earlier, but on the other hand, the Can Tho night market was a great compensation. The host of the hotel we were staying at was very helpful and spoke English quite well, and I really liked the hotel itself, a very good option in terms of price and quality. Overnight in Can Tho.
15 d. Floating market in Mekong delta. At 6 a.m. in the morning, we had already cycled towards the pier, where we were waiting for about 2-hour paddling to the local floating market, followed by a lunch break at the hotel. The same day after the market on the water, we had another swim along the other canals of the river. Overnight in Can Tho.
16 – 19 d. Rest by the sea in Phu Quoc. We arrived on the island by bus and speedboat. The transfer to Phu Quoc was arranged and booked by the hotel administrator in Can Tho, and since we stayed at Phu Quoc Hotel for 4 nights, they provided us with a free transfer upon arrival on the island and departure to the airport. We planned to rent scooters and ride around the island, but we enjoyed the environment of our hotel so much that we spent virtually all days enjoying the beautiful beach and crystal clear water.
20 d. Phu Quoc – Ho Chi Min. We flew to Ho Chi Min on the domestic flight and stayed at the Chinese Quartet. On the same day after walking around the city, we went up to one of the tallest skyscrapers to see the panorama of the city. Overnight in Ho Chi Min.
21 d. Trip home.