Vietnam is home to gorgeous islands, vast mountains with caves, lush rice paddies, is on the ocean and is green for days.
Depending on if you’re a city person or not, (which I’m less of), you should head to the north of the country, where the land is plentiful. You can fly into Hanoi, and from there easily get to Sapa, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island and much more.
Because my time was restricted, I spent majority of it on Cat Ba Island. I used Hoang Long Bus Service to bus-boat-bus to Cat Ba Town. It cost $11 (USD) one way, and took about 4.5 hours. You’ll depart from Luong Yen Bus Station and remember to get here early.
I stayed in New Star Hotel, which was about $45 per night (cheap if you’re traveling with others). My room was right on the fishing port and hosted gorgeous sunsets. I would recommend staying there.
The next day we did a day trip to Cat Ba National Park, with a few stops along the way. We had a guide take us through the National Park, but I recommend you have a driver take you there and hike on your own. Our guide basically sprinted up the mountain, which didn’t help us enjoy the scenery. SO many pretty butterflies!
One of the stops along the way was to see Hospital Cave where the Vietnamese soldier’s hid-out during the Vietnam War.
Besides hiking and exploring, you should spend some time to relax on the many gorgeous beaches. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding them.
I decided to explore the Bay’s surrounding the island, so my friends and I hired a boat driver through a local bar/restaurant (you’ll see signs everywhere) to take us to Lan Ha Bay.
When we got into the Bay, we pulled up to this white house (see below) where kayaks were available for rent. A guide told us there was a cove not far away that we decided to kayak to.
After a long day in the sun, you’ll be ready for some good eats. I found these places quite alright:
Don’t forget to try Pho when you’re in Vietnam – you won’t be sorry.
When the sun goes down it’s time to rent bikes and cruise, or indulge in a brew…all $0.25 of it.
When my time came to an end in Cat Ba, I went to check out city life in Hue. I bus-boat-bused again to get to my destination. The bus to Hue was only going to take 17 hours…it’s called a sleeper bus and you get a bed to lay down on. It will feel like forever, so bring something to make you drowsy (dramamine) or to keep you entertained. Don’t expect any part of this ride to be glamorous. There are a lot of places in Cat Ba where you can buy ticket for this journey.
When arriving the bus station in Hue, I took a cheap cab to my hotel in the city center. It was only $30 per night (this rate is easy to find).
Watch out for the motor bikes…
Visit the market while you’re in Hue.
We also walked around to find a tour company that we could hitch a ride with to Paradise Cave, a massive beast in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The beauty and size of the cave was extremely hard to capture on my phone camera, especially with the dark.
I didn’t get to see nearly what I wanted to in Vietnam, I could have stayed for months. I flew out of Hue, on my way to Bali, Indonesia. I had a long layover in Singapore, and spent it exploring the city. You can read about it in my next blog, stay tuned.
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