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.
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Fabulous service. I rang to ask about our short break to Istanbul and it was booked for us within the hour. You can’t get better service than that. Thank you Dave FeltonPosted 9 hours ago
Kelly arranged my recently booked multi centre holiday, having used eShores on a couple of occasions previous the usual high standards remain! They get an understanding of you requirements, pull together a proposed itinerary, and then happily amend/ provide alternative costings for different hotels/ flights as required once you get in to the detail of what you want (easier to do with their proposed itinerary!). Great service, and at a good cost!Posted 17 hours ago
Just returned from a trip to Singapore and Bali arranged by Andy had a brilliant time, couldn’t fault the service I had he arranged everything from flights accommodation and transfers. I would highly recommend eShores and would definitely use them again. ThankYou AndyPosted 1 day ago
Kelly from eshores listened and understood what we wanted from our holiday of which she was fantastic,very patient and set the whole holiday up. Very professional. Thank you.. Ste LeatherPosted 3 days ago
Used eShores to book a multi destination holiday for 4 days in Miami then 10 days Jamaica. Really pleased with the hotels chosen especially Shelbourne in Miami and the service received especially follow up call to check everything was ok. Whole trip when smoothlyPosted 6 days ago
We are looking forward to our 3 centre holiday in November to the USA, everything has been set up for us Chris was excellent in giving us all the details. We changed a few things after the first quote like you do but sorted it straight away. Excellent service, reasonable price and quick response just looking forward to the tripPosted 1 week ago
ANDREWand Caroline McKie
We recently travelled to Bali much delayed by covid restrictions but found eshores very good with excellent communication keeping us up to date with advice on travell restrictions as circumstances changed. Our holiday when we were able to travel was fantastic exceeding our expectations ,and we feel certain that we will be using eShores for our next trip .Posted 1 week ago
We have just returned from a fantastic holiday at the Habtoor Grand Resort in Dubai - all organised by Kadie. The location of this hotel is at the end of the beach, near to the Sky Diving school, and the new Marina. It's also close to The Walk which has many shops and restaurants. Staff and service at the hotel were 5* and we would reccommend the upgrade to Club Rooms. We have travelled several times with eShores to different regions all of which were organised by Kadie. From our initial enquiry we are always given options on where to stay, activities and excursions and any potential offers that are available. The service provided by Kadie and eShores is exemplary and we have never had an issue using them. Looking forward to our next adventure to Australia - organised by Kadie of course.Posted 1 week ago
I can’t rate eShores enough and Andy in particular. Not only did he find us the best package for the best value but he was also very supportive and reassuring when I needed to contact him before and even during the trip with a couple of questions. Everything was organised like clockwork and took all the stress out. Next time I won’t bother shopping around and will go directly to eShores.Posted 1 week ago
Matthew has looked after our holidays for several years and is very efficient and friendly. I always feel we have got the best deal and have never had any cause for complaint with E ShoresPosted 1 week ago