When I decided to our I expected a second round of what I’d already seen during my Thailand and Malaysia trips. What I got in Vietnam was an amazing, eye-opening experience. The country is so rich in culture, as well as beautiful beach resorts.
Hanoi: History And A Hopping Atmosphere
Booming cities in South-East Asia aren’t for the faint-hearted, but you get used to the mopeds pretty quickly. I was after something more than a mad rush hour and neon signs, though. For me, Hanoi was the answer. I found so much authenticity in the Old Quarter’s French and colonial architecture, and 36 streets here are named after the shopping you’ll find in them.
The food scene is really impressive here. Street stands get going early with steaming pho bowls and omelettes, but it was the French influence that surprised me the most. Banh Mi baguette sandwiches and croissants were the last thing I expected to find in a Vietnamese city, but they were fantastic.
I did a half-day tour of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, before opting for a rickshaw ride around the streets which was a really nice way to see local life. The highlight for me was definitely the Halong Bay Cruise which took us past limestone rocks, caves and some much-welcomed calm. Back in the city, there’s also the Hoan Kiem Lake which tones down the district’s buzz, you find locals hanging around here on a weekend. The locals were some of the nicest I’ve ever met. Most of them speak some English and unlike other destinations, they don’t expect money in return for helping with directions.
We stayed in the Tirant Hotel which is in the Old Quarter. The rooms are really quirky, the views are great and it’s one of the only hotels in the area with a pool.
Next Stop- Ho Chi Minh City
I flew from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, where the feel was definitely different. Ho Chi Minh is really cosmopolitan, so it’s more about fusion cuisine, big wide streets and tall buildings than Hanoi’s narrow alleys. Still, there’s a lot of deep-rooted culture here. Ho Chi Minh was formerly Saigon, and it was great to do a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels which are now easily reachable from Ho Chi Minh by boat. The Delta is also meant to be magical, with floating villages, pagodas and nice views of rice paddies but unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore this part of the country, however my colleagues say it’s definitely worth visiting.
Again, food here is a big deal. You’ll find everything under the sun at the Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Street Eats tour, but I was more about picking what I fancied as I found it. A word of warning about museums here, though. Vietnam has its fair share of traumatic histories, and the country doesn’t exactly hold back when it comes to displaying them. While some of the Imperial exhibits were a bit gruesome, the rest of the city was fun to explore. We stayed at the Liberty Central which is right by Ben Thanh Market and a 10-minute walk from both the Saigon River and Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Hoi An’s Lanterns And Beaches
My schedule meant I had to skip Hue, so it was onto Hoi An, the picturesque town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was nice to switch up bustling cities with a relaxing beach setting, although Hoi An has quite a lot going on. You’ll see Chinese, Japanese, European and Vietnamese architecture here, lots of lantern-lit spots, antique stands and the nice Old Quarter.
Market haggling is something you get used to anywhere in Asia, but Hoi An is famous for whipping up made-to-measure clothing for bargain prices. Some of the people in my group came home with tailor-made dresses and suits.
Despite dreading the Hoi An cycling trip, I ended up loving it. I got the once-over of village life, local culture, pretty rice fields, crops and wildlife. Hoi An definitely isn’t a wild party zone. Most bars here close before midnight, and while there are some backpackers, they’re not the rowdy type. An Bang Beach is popular here, and for coastal views, Lang Co or the Marble Mountains are stops I often recommend, although I didn’t have time to visit them.
When You Somehow End Up In Hong Kong
As I was flying from Manchester, the best flights went via Hong Kong and as I’d never been it seemed daft not to have at least have a brief stay, so I wrapped up my trip with 36 hours there. While I definitely felt I was in a 21st-century mega-city, it was great to see one the largest seated Buddha statues in the world, a Kowloon light show and the Victoria peak. You can also get around easily with a 24-hour public transport tourist card.
For me, Vietnam was a beautiful blend of East meets West, unique cities, fantastic food and something I just hadn’t experienced before. To experience it yourself, take a look over our or get in touch directly for a tailored quote.
Why choose eShores?
One to One Service
Our experienced personal travel consultants will ensure you find the most suitable holiday, whilst taking care of every last detail. Everything from start to finish will be effortless.
100% Tailor Made
We can use any hotel, in any destination, so we will craft an itinerary to suit your exact needs. Also, as we can provide any itinerary, the only holiday we'll offer, is the one that's right for you.
Our ATOL bonding provides you with the financial protection you need and as a member of the Travel Trust Association, you'll have 100% financial protection. Covering you for any eventuality.
As a tour operator & travel agent, we'll search the market to ensure that we find you the best price. Also as an online business, we can ensure our prices are as competitive as possible.
We have recently returned from a multi centre holiday in Thailand. Everything went smoothly as planned, the hotels were all lovely. We would definitely recommend eShores and would book through them in the future. Thanks to Laura who organised the trip for us.Posted 4 weeks ago
Been using eshore for several years,always come up with requirements we need.Always happy to rearrange. Staff are very knowledgeable and we always use Leanne as our point of contact. Experts for multi centre holidays.Posted 1 month ago
I booked two holidays in 4 months with Dave at eshores. First one a 16 day trip around Vietnam north to south which included numerous flights and taxis. My second holiday was in October traveling around Vietnam again and Cambodia. Every hotel in both countries was spot on, every transfer went smooth with no problems. I'll Definitely use eshores again and thanks to Dave who arranged everything, a fantastic experience 👍👍Posted 1 month ago
Recently booked a four centre holiday to Asia. The process was straightforward and seamless. Rob, the agent who dealt with our requirements was extremely helpful and not pushy. He was very easy to talk with and seemed genuinely interested in our plans. He managed to put together exactly what we wanted and at a great price.Posted 1 month ago
Andy at eshores has been great, he worked hard to meet all our needs and went the extra mile for us! We're looking forward to a great Honeymoon!Posted 1 month ago
As always Michelle mainly but with some help from Leanne have once again booked an hopefully (as not yet travelled) amazing customised trip to America next September with our family this time.Posted 1 month ago
First time I have used eshores and it won't be the last. Emma was so helpful in booking my 3 centre holiday to Portugal. Really pleased with accommodation selected and the overall cost. Emma was very quick to respond with different options and I'm looking forward to our holiday next year. I highly recommend this companyPosted 1 month ago
We have just booked a trip to the Far East having previously used this company twice, Vietnam/Cambodia and a Road Trip in the USA. Both trips were problem free with all aspects going to plan. Easy to talk to and never pushing for a decision. A lovely company , thank you Dave for your time and assistance.Posted 1 month ago
We booked what appeared to be a busy holiday to South Africa and Mauritius. This consisted of five different fights and hotels with the various transfers included. Rachael organised the holiday for us and every aspect of the trip went well. Took a lot of the stress out and allowed us to have a fantastic holiday. Friendly,Professional service with professional staff. Will use them again.Posted 1 month ago
All went well on our recent NY trip booked through Matt at EShores. Worth noting: -Newark Airport and Train Station great with transfers on the NYP Train (about 1 hour) to and from Penn Station/Airport Terminal (easy!) -Sanctuary Hotel great location and staff! Room and breakfast spot on. -Brooklyn Bridge walk back great, 1 stop over on subway as suggested. -United Airlines great - direct to and from Edinburgh! Recommended -weather spot on, temperatures just like here. Thanks for all your help and advice. Julie and Georgia (21st birthday girl!)Posted 1 month ago