There is no stopping us. The whirlwind tour of Vietnam must continue! There are just too many places to get to and things to see and do. And clothes to be tailored!
The stops that we made on the way to Ho Chi Minh City were: Hue- the old imperial city, Hoi An- where clothes are made, Dalat- where you abseil down waterfalls and the Mekong Delta- where you get slightly disappointed. Read on to find out more about each of our stops!
If you look at a map of Vietnam, you will realise that we had a lot of ground to cover, so even though we had roughly two weeks, it was going to be a lot to get to. And we also needed time to recover from the whirlwind that we had just emerged from. We were pretty exhausted!
We decided to spend only one night in Hue, but because we were taking a series of over-night buses (so bad, but so good- more on this later!) this still gave us 2 full days.
The old Imperial capital of Vietnam is a must-see in my opinion, and all of us were glad that we decided to stop here. After an extremely long bus ride (always add at least 2 to 3 hours extra onto the arrival time!) we decided that we would rent bicycles to explore the city. I highly recommend doing this because you can cycle all around the walls of the old palace, something you couldn’t easily do by walking. The palace complex is rather run down and over-grown, but I still felt myself comparing it to the Forbidden City in Beijing.
We also had our first night out since Hanoi here. Watch out for Vietnamese rum- it is dangerously good and deliciously cheap and meant we were bed ridden for most of the following morning!
Hoi An was the spot where we decided we would spend a couple of nights so that we could take a much needed break from sleeper buses and dirty clothes. And we did just that and didn’t even feel bad about doing nothing because it was rainy! Conveniently it is also the place to be if you want to get tailor made clothes.
As well as getting a couple of suits and dresses made we also managed to do a day trip to the My Son Hindi temple site which was heavily bombed during the Vietnamese war. It was strange to come face to face with the war like this. Our guide aggressively pointed out the destruction and I for one was glad that I was not an American that day.
The town of Hoi An is really lovely to walk, or bike, around and there are lots of shops and tailors and excellent restaurants to spend time in.
Dalat has been one of my favourite stops in Vietnam because it is so different. I don’t know what it is- the manicured lawns? The flower garden? The style the houses are built in? The pine trees? The fact that it is sometimes referred to as ‘le petite Paris’? Whatever it was, it was nice!
Aside from being known as a mini- Paris, Dalat is also known for the numerous waterfalls that surround it. So one of our days there was spent motorcycling through the country in search of the ‘Elephant Falls’. Although we got lost, ended up at a water sanitation farm, found our way, ran out of petrol, refilled the offending tank and then got stuck in a heavy downpour, we finally made it to the falls. After such an eventful day the falls did seem rather anti-climatic, but we were happy that we had actually made it and that we actually got to stand behind the falls.
But the main activity we did in Dalat, which is a must, was waterfall abseiling. It has been one of the most fun days of the trip so far! We spent the day in the company of very capable and well equipped waterfall-abseiling experts, who even managed to save my life after I slipped in a 25 meter waterfall. I cheated death! The day involves a couple of dry runs- getting the technique down before adding water into the mix, and then a series of descents into the river, a picnic lunch, a rock slide, the 25 meter through the water abseil (which nearly got me) and then a mini cliff jump into a murky pool. All very safe! It was truly a wonderful experience (even the part where I got stuck in the middle of a waterfall).
More on Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and Vietnamese bus rides in the next post!