Travelling throughout Vietnam

While I was in Vietnam I got from destination to destination by bus, airplane, taxi, boats and scooters. On the map below highlighted were the destinations I went. The red is where I took bus/night bus and the purple is where I flew. The routes aren’t accurate as to exactly how I got there I just joined the departure and arriving cities. (Ie. Not the correct flight path or correct bus route). 

There are many  ways to travel about Vietnam. Personally I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. Many people are weiry of the night bus, but I had good experiences when I took them. (Mui  Ne to Hoi An, and Da Lat to HCMC). Make sure to do your research and do what’s most comfortable for you. I ended up taking a bus from Hanoi to Sapa versus the train because it was on that date cheaper and quicker. I’ve heard a lot of good and bad about the night trains, just as I had about the night buses so I just did what felt right, sent a few prayers to the universe and was just fine. I had no problems with transportation in Vietnam and would happily do it all again. Even going on a scooter in HCMC!

Here’s a bit of information for travelling within Vietnam:

  • Often on buses your required to take your shoes off. Wear shoes that can easily slip off, and for night bus you might be more comfortable if you pack some socks to stay warm. They provide a blanket but it can get cold on bus. You’ll also want some good ear plugs. There’s two levels on the bus, I liked being on top personally. Because I’m short I found the night buses to be comfortable. I could see it being crammed  if your on the taller side as your in a “pod” see picture below. 
  • The first time I took bus was a bit daunting. I  found someone that spoke English to make sure I got on right bus, and that I got off in the right place. Make sure the driver or employee on bus knows your travel plans so you get dropped off at correct hotel, or correct station. I didn’t know that I was assigned a seat, so I just sat anywhere, and was quickly corrected. If your not sure, just ask someone. I was lucky to always find helpful travellers, employees or locals.
  • The bus from Mui Ne to Hoi An was about 16-17 hrs with a one hour stop in NHA Trang. I’m sorry I can’t remember the exact amount of time, however most of the trip is overnight and with some good ear plugs I was able to get some sleep. 
  • The bus from Hanoi to Sapa was about 5-6 hrs (if no traffic stalls) and it has lots of winding roads. If you get motion sickness I recommend some gravol before travel. The scenery is well worth it.
  • The night bus from Da Lat to HCMC saves you about 2 hrs versus going in the day, but the road had a lot of twists and turns and I didn’t sleep at all. It took about 5 hrs, during the day it can take up to 8. You can also fly in between those destinations.
  • My flights were easy and straight forward. I checked one bag (my backpack) and had my carry on as well. They were not delayed and both flights were good experiences with good customer service. I’ve heard a lot of other opinions, but I had very positive experiences both with Jetstar and Vietjet.
  • Most buses have wifi but there is no plug to charge your phone. Charge your devices before you go, pack ear buds or bring a good book!
  • Most of the night buses have a toilet but check when you buy ticket. Normally there is 1-3 stops at bus stations that has a toilet. 
  • If you get picked up from your hotel usually they give you a 1/2 hr window of time. I usually was ready 15 minutes before that. If bus is behind quite a bit, it seems to be normal. Don’t panic, your hotel or hostel can call to double check for you. I waited about an hour in Mui Ne for my bus, and called them. They were late but they didn’t forget me!
  • When going to Sapa and Ha Long Bay I would recommend packing a smaller backpack instead of taking all of your gear. It’s common practice to leave luggage at your hotel in Hanoi and pick it up when you return. In Sapa you’ll likely be trekking with what you take with you if your going to a homestay. In Ha Long Bay it just leaves you more room especially when on tender boat to get you around the harbour. Pack light, most likely your doing a two or three day trip. 
  • Hand sanitizer and tissues will be your best friend while in Vietnam. I was impressed how many western style toilets there were, and most I didn’t have to pay to use. But occasionally there is no tissue offered, and you have to adapt to other cultural ways. It’s just nice to have some familiar options when needed. 
  • There are many great travel tour companies such as VK tours that can help book different excursions, tours etc.  There are also many destinations and things you can do on your own! I did a tour in Sapa and Ha Long Bay. Do some research and have a blast!
  • In travel things are bound to go wrong… You might miss a flight, get sick and stay in one place longer then you intended, or wind up like I did often hopelessly lost. So be lost. Enjoy the moment knowing that your exactly where your meant to be. Get so lost that you find yourself. And then maybe find where your trying to go. Ask for help, but be willing to go with the flow. Because when it comes to travel, plans change, or things go wrong. Don’t take it as a negative. Find the good in every situation. When things go a different way, they often lead you to a great adventure, or a unforgettable night, or to somewhere even better then you could imagine. There is no right way, or perfect plan when it comes to travel. Only your way, whatever that may be.

I went to Vietnam on my own, as a first time solo traveller and I would recommend it to everyone. Solo travel is an adventure that I wish everyone experienced at least once in their life. You learn a lot about yourself, how strong you are and how much you can accomplish. I felt safe and comfortable and had great freedom.  I didn’t plan too much in advance, and even skipped some of the places I had intended to go, as I found others I didn’t want to miss. So many people along the way were there to help me, and  I couldn’t have enjoyed myself anymore. Take chances, enjoy new experiences and most of all be kind. All the best on your travels!!!

    Unforgettable nights 

    I spent a total of 3 nights in Hoi An. I could have stayed for weeks biking around, exploring, laying on the beach, and of course eating.  Hoi An is known for its culinary excellence and there’s no end to the cooking classes offered.

    Hoi An is a world heritage site recognized by UNESCO. It’s a city full of flavour and romance. I posted about it once but I have to continue as so many wonderful things happened. 

    I stayed my last two nights in Hoi An at the Lilac Villa. It is a wonderful place with a big hearts. I became good friends with Oanh who works there. She was so helpful, kind and always had a bright smile on her face. If you want to feel right at home, and a part of the family you should stay here. Plus they also have a pool and a nice big shower! 

     Oanh and I  

        
        

    The Lilac Villa    

      
      

    My second night I wandered again around the night market and somehow got hopelessly lost on way back to my villa. One thing that’s given me some insight these last few days is you can walk or bike  up and down the same streets everyday but once you cross the street you see a completely different view. A new perspective. I like that. Sometimes taking a step back and seeing a different perspective is exactly what we need. However, it seems to be a contributing factor in me losing my way to my villa. The thing is I’ve enjoyed so much losing my way that I don’t try to change it! However this time was late at night, and the back alleys cast giant shadows and my mind started playing tricks on me. Using the app maps.me helped me find my way back. It’s a free app that’s awesome for traveling. You can find information about it at this link maps.me I was very happy to find my bed that evening. ☺️

     My friend Steph that I met through trip advisor arrived in Hoi An on my 3rd day.  Her and I met at the very beginning of my trip in HCMC so I was thrilled to see her again. The world brings people together that are like minded at the right time. As wonderful as solo travelling is, it was the perfect night to have a friend. She is a kindred spirit and beautiful soul.

    After I enjoyed some time at the beach I met up with her. We wandered through ancient town, bought some artwork, took in the sights and enjoyed each others company as well as a few refreshing drinks. I got to be her culinary guide enjoying the street food. Chicken fried rice, soup, Cao Lau, Banh Mi (Vietnamese sub) just to name a few things! We had a blast together and some very memorable conversations. Steph I’d be happy to travel again soon with you !

     Local artist. He let us try our hand at painting. Lol lets just say he’s the expert.  Quote in one of our restaurants we stopped at. 
    Choosing some art to bring home. 

      

    Steph and I.
        
      Night market 
    Enjoying the night market and a visit with Mr Thanh at booth 34. He insisted we try his dinner. It was delicious 😝  
       

    I spent the rest of evening dancing with friends and wandering the streets and meeting some of the people living in Hoi An! Vietnam stays up late and it was nice to visit and take in the nightlife. The bar was packed but I met some fellow Canadians and some lovely girls from France. We danced til late in the night and then walked back to hotels. Along the way we even enjoyed some “happy water” shots with some locals.

    The next morning I booked my trip to Halong bay and Sapa. It has been a longtime dream of mine to go to Halong bay. No words can explain how grateful I am that this trip is actually happening !!! 

     I then went to the beach knowing that Northern Vietnam is a bit chilly and I’ll miss the ocean and sun. After I enjoyed the beach for awhile, it was back to villa to pack up, say goodbye for now to my wonderful host Oanh, and start my next adventure!!!

       
     
      Did I mention it includes a motorbike and climbing countless steps up a mountain before a plane ride to Hanoi? Life is good! And it’s a grand adventure 😎
    Hoi An you have a piece of my Heart. I’ll make sure to visit again soon ❤️

    My ❤️ belongs to Hoi An

    I recently updated my status on Facebook to this “Sometimes your heart isn’t longing for a person, but it’s homesick for places it’s never been… Hello Hoi An. My ❤️ is 🏡.”

    Let’s start from the beginning. I took a bus from Mui Ne to NHA Trang, and transferred to another bus that would drive through the night to Hoi An. I’m not entirely sure the whole journeys timeline but it was about 16 hrs. Sleeper buses in Vietnam are pretty comfortable your in like a chair/pod that you lay down in and is separate from everyone, unless your put in the back where it’s like a big bed. I had requested my own and luckily it all worked out. It’s a bit unnerving travelling at night on the highways as I’m mentioned there’s very little rules on the road, or so it seems from my standpoint. Lots of honking seems to be the way vehicles and scooters communicate. But my stomach illness held up without causing problems and I slept surprisingly well through the night. I recommend some good ear plugs when travelling. It can make the difference of a night with no sleep or a restful sleep. I arrived in beautiful Hoi An around 630 am on the 13th. It was my favourite day so far!!!

    I checked into the most beautiful homestay called golden bell homestay, that I’m sorry I only booked for one night. The hosts were incredibly gracious and brought me to have breakfast even though my check in wasn’t for hours. After breakfast I relaxed for a bit and updated my journal a bit. Then I took a walk around to explore my surroundings.

    You can view then here: http://hoiangoldenbellhomestay.com 

    I headed back to check into my room. Take a look: 

       
     
    It was gorgeous and included a balcony overlooking homestay with open roof. And their dog Happy is pretty cute!

      
    The homestay gives free bikes out to get around as there’s so much to see and do here.

    I took a bike and headed to the beach! The day was hot, and the beach was loaded with people but sadly no cows 😉

       
      
    I wasn’t in the mood to just lay down so I continued biking along as I wanted to get to the Tra Que Water wheel . I’m so glad I did.

    Tra Que Water wheel  is located just outside of Hoi An on the way to the beach. They farm their own herbs and vegetables, offer cooking classes, let you garden with farmers and offer many other hands on activities as well as have a great restaurant. I had one of the best meals I’ve had so far. Do yourself a favor and check out their website and go visit them if you are in Hoi An. http://traquewaterwheel.com/

       
        
    Bunh Xeo and Papaya salad with a lemon ginger drink. First meal now that stomachs better and I indulged big time!

       

      
    The food and staff were spectacular and I’ll be going again before I leave to partake in some of their activities. 

    From there I just enjoyed a bike ride and took in some sights like this 

     

    After returning back to homestay I showered and took a nap! It was well deserved. The homestay recommended another place for my next few nights in Hoi An so I biked over there and it looks perfect. The Iris Villa. And it even has a pool!!

    Hoi An is famous for their good food, and a special dish called Cao Lau. It’s a pork and noodle dish that you can only get here! I was looking forward to enjoying it. 

    They are also famous for tailored clothing, French influenced architecture, and their night market. And my goodness it is spectacular. I had the best evening wandering the market, talking to locals, eating Cao Lau (so good!), and indulging in a coconut donut!

    The market here has many desirable things compared to other markets, jewellery,  artwork, clothing, and many trinkets etc. If you go here which I hope you all do, go visit Mr. Thanh at booth 34. He has a “no pressure/no bullshit policy” that was refreshing. Fair prices and fair negotiating. Plus he’s wickedly funny, and happy to speak for a long time. He also told me where the best Cao Lau is at the market! We took a selfie together and he gave me a bracelet when we parted ways telling me to visit him again tomorrow to let him know how I enjoyed my dinner.

    The lanterns were spectacular at the market and the lights, and energy surrounding the place made it the most magical evening here.  
     My friend at stall 34!  
      Thao Nguyen you made some delicious Cao Lau

        
        
      Me living the dream. Can’t express what a lovely night I had. 

       
       
       
        
      
      
    Get to Hoi An. You’ll be glad you did.

    Sending love and light to family and friends back home 💜💙

    Xo – Vanessa