Read Day 1 here - Ho Chi Minh City
Read Day 2 here - HCMC
Read Day 3 here - Mekong Delta
Read Day 4 here - Hanoi
Read Day 5 here - Hanoi to Halong
Read Day 6 and 7 here - Halong Bay/Departure
|Left: Overall trip - Right: HCMC travels|
Click to enlarge.
In this Vietnam trip Brittney, Sandrine and I covered Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Hanoi, and Halong Bay over 7 days.
Preparation to do before a trip to this country: check if you need a visa. Most countries need a visa to enter and we used this website to obtain our letter of approval. It worked and the letter was issued to us in due time but I disliked that they put 20 applicants' information onto one letter such that we could all see each other's information. I felt that it was a bit unsafe.
Our flight into HCMC arrived at 8am Vietnam time and we had to wait almost an hour before our visa was processed. We presented our approval letters and one passport photo to the officers who took our passport and application form into their office. We were told to wait until our names were called and then we paid USD$45 to the officers in exchange for our passports with the visa stamp inside. The process went smoothly but it just took time.
Be careful which taxis you take from the airport because taxi drivers know tourists are vulnerable. We waited until a trustworthy taxi company car came and then got on. We had good experiences with Mai Linh and Vinasun taxis which both use meters. The taxi ride from the airport to District one shouldn't cost more than USD$12.
We arrived at Yen's Hotel which is located on Pham Ngu Lao Street, a backpacker's central. The adjacent streets were filled with hotels, eateries and tour agencies all catered toward travelers.
[Note: I highly recommend staying at Yen's Hotel. It is not anything luxurious but it was the most comfortable hotel we were at the whole trip and the staff were very helpful. The ambiance of the hotel is cozy and clean, a place where you can relax and feel secure.]
|Recommend Yen's Hotel|
|Ben Thanh Market|
Nonetheless you should still visit Ben Thanh Market to get a feel for the atmosphere. There is a food area in the market with many food stalls that also have owners shouting at you to eat at their stall as you walk past. They stop yelling when you sit down at a stall which is a relief. I got a beef pho which didn't taste bad but was definitely much more mediocre than the things I will eat in the following days.
|Beef Pho VND 50,000|
|War Remnants Museum|
This tour is unique because we rode on the back of local people's motorbikes to various good food locations and indulged in 4 main courses and 1 dessert. The tour guides were young (in their 20s) and spoke conversational English.
This tour exposed me to some of the best food I had during this trip. My new favourite is banh xeo! It lasted till 10pm when we were dropped off at our hotel again. You can read Brittney's experience of the tour here.
|Tour guides and us|