There are very few places on that compare to the amazing Vietnam, this is a country like no other. From arriving in the bustling capital of Saigon, devouring your traditional french baguette after absorbing the history of the war museum and cu chi tunnels to the stunning diving at Cham island off Cua Dai peninsula, to lazing on the spectacular sandy beach of Nha Trang, all while trying to keep your new tailor made suits from Hoi An dry. the heritage is rich, the food is amazing and the climate is accommodating any time of year. the list of activities and enjoyments is enormous and varied; but what is consistent is the warmth and heart with which you are greeted; the Vietnamese peoples.
Getting there it’s an absolute bargain with a return from all major Australian capital cities ranging from $600-$1200 and internal flights around $30 one way. For the best deals try
JETSTAR www.jetstar.com.au Each Friday Jetstar has Friday Frenzy which rotates between several major cities including Denpasar, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City. Sign up as this can get you a return flight for as cheap as $400
VIETNAM AIR http://www.vietnamairlines.com/wps/portal/vn/welcome/ a great airline that is perfect for not only getting there but internal flights. This will take you to ever corner of Vietnam for around $50 aus one way.
There is of course The incredible Ho Chi Minh (Formally Saigon) and the capital of Hanoi. But there’s 2 other places well worth checking out while there.
To say you will fall in love with Hoi An would be an understatement. This is a sleepy town so dedicated to peace that the roads are for for walkers and primitive vehicle users only (with signs to prove it). A town so dedicated to delicious food that every restaurant offers its own cooking school. This is the tailor capital of Asia, with over 500 splattered all over the tiny streets
There are many amazing things about Hoi an
1- The beach…… stretching as far as the eye can see littered with palm trees and lifeguard stands made out of wood. The water, although not ideal for keen surfers, is like taking a nice warm bath all year round. Bliss.
2- The Food. cue drooling…. There are so many amazing restaurants in Hoi An it’s hard to pick just a few, but it’s a crime to not pop into: Mango Rooms, Cafe des Amis, Good Morning Vietnam, Cafe 43 and Brothers Cafe. The excellent thing is most restaurants in Hoi an offer cooking schools and for as little as a dollar you can be learning how to whip up the most amazing meals.
The most famous is perhaps the red bridge cooking school. For us $25 you get a half day tour, a trip down the river to collect your own herbs and a 2 hour cooking class. Highly recommended. http://www.visithoian.com/redbridge/cookingschool.html
3- Tailors. This is literally the tailor capital of Asia with hundreds lining every street the majority of which are fantastic!! The best bargains can be found with coats and suits. My advice is to make a look book of what you want and/or bring some items with you that you want duplicated.. make sure you shop around for the best bargains and pay around $40-$80 for a suit, $10 for a basic work shirt, $40 for a winter coat. also allow around 3 days for tailoring.
Be aware of deals hotels have with specific tailors, they will drop you off at them without even asking. These people know how to sell, but you are not committed to anything. Nor do you have to get all of you pieces from the one tailor. The best idea is to shop around for the best prices, fabrics and people you feel comfortable with.
Hotels in Hoi An are also a bargain. You have 2 choices, either staying on the beach or in town. The beach is lined with brand new resorts who have just discovered this paradise and are starting to become a little pricey. If you are looking for a beach front location and to splurge a little have a look at
The Victoria Hoi An beach resort. http://www.victoriahotels-asia.com/eng/hotels-in-vietnam/hoi-an-beach-resort-spa
In town there’s a huge range of excellent places to stay. Do some research and try and get the best price, you will find treasures like the Cua Dai hotel. This is a fantastic place where for as little as $65 us you will get a beautiful, spacious triple room complete with pool outside and hot chocolate croissants.
Getting to Hoi An is cheap and easy. There is no airport in Hoi An directly, The closet airport is Danang, which is only around a half hour drive. You can of course go via road, but the flights are so cheap ($50 us one way) that unless you are on a very tight budget it’s crazy not to fly. From Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, the flight is around an hour. Vietnam air is your best bet with several flights a day. More information can be found at Vietnam airs website http://www.vietnamairlines.com/wps/portal/vn/welcome/
Ahh Nha Trang, just typing the words makes me want to set down the lap top and head straight to the airport and get there!! Set along the coast, around an hour flight north of Ho Chi Minh city this beach side town has allot to offer!! Even with a population exceeding 300,000 it has managed to maintain a small town vibe. There’s allot to do in Nha Trang and The highlights of Nha Trang are
THE BEACH: This goes without saying but I will say it anyway. Wether you want to sprawl along the long sandy stretch of sand, or hire a beach chair and umbrella from the sailing club it’s very easy to while away the says under the sun.
THE ISLANDS: Nha Trang is surrounded by 60 amazing islands which are very easy to get to. There’s a tour desk on every corner that will organize a tour for you and it’s a bargain!! Four as little as $10 US you get get a full day boat tour with lunch.
The closet and most famous island is Nha Trang is Vin Pearl, and it needs to be seen to be believed. It’s impossible to miss the giant Vin Pearl sign that can be seen from Nha Trang. You can jump on a speedboat and head over or use the very popular cable car that takes about 10 minutes. Once you get over there’s a full days worth of activities to entertain you including a water park complete with awesome water slides, a beach, a games room complete with dodgem cars, restaurants and even a bar aptly named ‘Club Exotica’
Nha Trang holds a vast array of food, from the delicious French Baguettes being baked in the street to upmarket, beach side seafood there’s something for every budget and every taste. Some not to be missed are
Cafe Des Amis: This cafe may not look like much, but the food well and truly speaks for itself. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for bargain prices. A chocolate crepe and beer will set you back about $3 US
Good Morning Vietnam. Also found in Hoi an, this Italian restaurant serves pizza and pasta that could hold its own anywhere in the world. http://www.goodmorningviet.com/about_us.html
El Coyote. This Mexican restaurant is fantastic with fantastic food, a fascinating character and owner with French, Vietnamese, Lao and Cheyenne Indian roots
Lac Cahn. This fantastic institution is packed all the time. With seafood picked by yourself and grilled at the table. For seafood lovers this is not to be missed.
Le Petit. This offers the best French cuisine and wine list in time. Superb.
Sailing Club. This Aussie run institution is filled with 3 amazing restaurants and much more. Unwind on the deck while sipping on a cocktail as the sun goes down. http://www.sailingclubvietnam.com/
There is a bar everywhere you turn in Nha Trang as well as English backpackers trusting pamphlets for 2 for 1 cocktails every 10 seconds. From swankier fare through to true backpacker style holes in the wall you will never be searching for long. Some top choices include: Crazy Kims, Red Sun Bar, The Shamrock Bar, Louisiane Brewhouse http://www.louisianebrewhouse.com.vn/