Hanoi is a big and annoying Asian city. There is huge traffic of cars, motorbikes and bicycle. Drivers use horns all the time and they ignore any traffic regulation, including pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians seem to risk their life when they try to cross a street. Go very slowly with the same speed to avoid accident.
The Temple of Literature used to be a university center. It was found in XI century. There are plenty of stone turtle steles with ancient Chinese engravings.

Ha Long

Ha Long is the most famous touristic attraction of Vietnam. The best way of visiting the bay is to buy two days tour. There are tree options available:
  • up to 50 USD
  • from 60 to 100 USD
  • over 100 USD

In a tourist agency I was told that the price depend on food and standard of a boat. In my opinion it is not a true. All boats look more-less the same. On my boat there were people who paid from 55 to 150 USD. All people had the same conditions. To get the best offer check a few agencies and negotiate the price.
I visited Surprising Cave, the most beautiful cave in the bay. There were so many tourist inside that I could not take a picture without a people. Vietnamese colorfully illuminated some parts of the cave. The cave is huge and full of stalactites and stalagmites.

Bac ha- local market

Sunday local market is the most important event in small town. Bac Ha is situated in the north part of Vietnam next to Chinese border. There were plenty of mountain people on the market. Men were dressed in ordinary clothes but ladies looked gorgeous. They had colorful dresses, skirts and blouses. Most of the people were Chinese minority in Vietnam.
It is fantastic place to take a pictures and see mountain people. I recommend the market.


Sapa is the most famous mountain town in Vietnam. It is surrounded by villages and mountain with the highest Vietnam's peak Phan Xi Pang 3143 m asl.
I was not prepared to climb to the roof of the Vietnam but I trekked to the local villages around Sapa. When I entered the villages many ladies and children approached to me. Most of them wanted to sell me souvenirs.
I visited a village of Dao minority. Ladies are dressed in traditional and colorful costumes. They shaves forehead and eyebrows to be more attractive for husbands and boyfriends.
If you have time it is good idea to stay in the village for a night and 'taste' local life. The home-stays are not expensive.
There are two waterfalls nearby Sapa. Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall) is the highest waterfall in Vietnam. The view on the waterfall is impressive. I spent there almost one hour watching the views and listening the water falling down.
Love Waterfall is not as spectacular as Thac Bac but peaceful and scenery is very romantic.
You need to rent a motorbike (3USD+2USD for fuel) to get to the waterfalls. The road is steep and twisty. It is better to have some experience to drive a motorbike in the mountains.
In Sapa I slept in Green Valley Hostel : 3 USD for bed. Entrance fee to Thac Bac: 3000VND.

Tam Coc – Ha Long Bay on rice fields

Tam Coc is a sister of Ha Long Bay. It is not as famous as Ha Long Bay but it is very nice and worth to visit.
Instead of big motor boat I explored Tam Coc by small rowing boat. The boat was driven by local lady. The lady was rowing it by legs. It was very impressive. You can watch it on the movie:

Tam Coc is very picturesque. From time to time we cross by narrow and low caves.
  • Accommodation in Ninh Binh - 5 USD (single room).
  • Tam Coc- boat for two people: 80000 VND

Hoi An

In a bus to Hoi An I had very nice chat with local lady. She offered me accommodation at her house. The price was very competitive: 7 USD and I accepted it. It really hard to find cheaper accommodation in Hoi An. I hardly checked-in and my host invited me for a dinner. There were chicken, sea food, salads, beer and wine. It was delicious meal. I had it with big family of my host. We were talking about Vietnam and Europe. It was very nice but I wanted to visit UNESCO's World Heritage Site. I said goodbye and left the home-stay.
Japan bridge is the most famous attraction of Hoi An. It was built in XVI century. It is very picturesque.
Hoi An has been a town of Chinese minorities. Most of the historical sites was built in Chinese style. We can divide it for three groups temples, assembly and resident houses.

Mui Ne and dunes

Mui Ne is very touristic town, full of Russian. There are plenty of hotels next to nice sandy beach. Sun-beds were booked for hotel guests. I spent a day walking down the beach, taking sun bath and swimming in warm sea.
I bought a 4RWD (10 USD) trip to Red Canyon and dunes. We were walking in very shallow stream along the canyon. On both sides of the canyon there were red and white rock formations. It recalls me Cappadocia in Turkey. Red Canyon was ended with small waterfall. Generally it's very charming site.
Next we visited red dunes. The endless folds of red sand looked fabulously.
It was breathtaking experience to watch sunset over the white dunes in Mui Ne. Sunset made white sand looked a little bit red.


Saigon is very busy city. There is never-ending line of motorbikes, cars and another vehicles on the streets. Crossing the street is much more difficult task than Hanoi's experience. Luckily I managed to it and reached beautiful Catholic cathedral in HCMC.
Next to the Cathedral there is post office. It was built in XIX century and it is still keep in retro style. Outside and inside it is very picturesque.
US Army tanks, planes, chops are exhibited outside War Remnants Museum in HCMC. Inside the museum there is a mix of anti-American propaganda with cruelty of war.
Fitness is popular in Vietnam. People do exercises in parks:

Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the most incredible episode of Vietnam War. Vietcong guerrillas excavated 200 km of tunnel system. The system was ended nearby Cambodia border where Vietcong was provided with food, fuel and military equipment.
Cao Dai is a temple of unique religion. It is looked like Christian church outside except a luck of cross on the top. A lot of people prayed inside. Men and women did it separately. They were dressed in special religious white ropes. Only church leaders had color ropes and hats. People were involved in praying and singing religious songs.
HCMC costs:
  • Accommodation: 5 USD for bed
  • One day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai temple : 6USD

Delta Mekongu

Mekong Delta has been one the most important area for Asian people. It has been inhabited since prehistory. Two days trip (770k VND) helped to understand the meaning of Mekong Delta for 17 millions people.

Useful advices

  • Crossing street in Vietnam. There is huge traffic of cars, motorbikes and the other vehicles in Vietnam cities. Drivers use horns all the time and they ignore any traffic regulation, including pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians seem to risk their life when they try to cross a street. People go very slowly with the same speed to avoid accident.
  • Ha Long - two days cruise package.. Tourist agents offer 3 types of tour packages to Ha Long. The cheapest one is up to 50 USD, middle prices 60-100 USD and top prices: 100 USD for two days. According to agents the difference depends on boat standard and food. In fact all boats looks very similar outside. The other tourists told me that all tour operators offer very similar standard and food. At my bout there were several people and they paid from 55 USD to 150 USD. The key is to get the best offer is to check some agencies and negotiate the prices.
  • Long Bay is smaller and not as popular as Ha Long. I can recommend to visit the site. You need only one day to see the bay.
  • Sleeper - night bus. I travelled in bus equipted with beds instead of seats first time in my life. There are three levels of the beds from the floor to the roof in the bus. The beds are very narrow and short. If you are big man it is not comfortable for you and it will be difficult to sleep. The bus company provides blanket and pillow. They are usually not clean and it is better to have sleeping bag. Open-tour ticket is available in Vietnam. It cost ca 50 USD (in 2012) and you can travel from the north to the south of Vietnam and you have a few stops on the ways. You need book a bus to next destination 24 hours before departure.
  • Firstprices are always very high in Vietnam. You need bargain everywhere and all the time. Be careful in restaurants. Sometimes they try to cheat on bills and change. Always check bill calculation and change. 
    Prices in 2012:
    • coconut: ok 20k VND
    • tea 10 k VND
    • coffee 15 k VND
    • soup pho, main meal eg. noddles with vegetables : 35-50 k VND
    • cigarettes 20 k VND
    • beer 5-20k VND
    • accommodation 3-8 USD for bed
  • Very good and cheap restaurant in Danang
    150 Trung Nu Vuong
  • Rent of motorbike cost from 3-7 USD + fuel. Automatic motorbikes are a 1-2 USD more expensive than manual ones.

  • Dunes in Mui Ne. In my opinion it is not good idea to rent a motorbike to visit White Dunes. They are far away from Mui Ne and it is take a lot of time to get there by motorbike. If you plan to visit Red Dunes and Red Canyon you can go there on your own by motorbike.

  • Vietnamese drink beer with ice.

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