Feet to move, places to roam
Ahhh, starting to write again after a month on the road through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand is making me want to book the next flight out of China to relive the beauty of Southeast Asia once again. Over the years, the buzz around these three countries has grown immensely and more young people have started to save nickels and dimes to experience the madness for themselves. From Full Moon Parties in Thailand, boat rides around Ha Long Bay, Vietnam and learning about the history that surrounds Cambodia and Angkor Wat itself. Months prior to departing on my trip, I asked friends and Facebook for suggestions of what to do, where to go and what to see. After reading through countless inboxes and comments, all that was left was for me to see it for myself! Over the next few weeks, I will be putting together my guides for the three countries I wandered through. First, Vietnam!
As a Canadian citizen (make sure you check your countries visa requirements!), I needed to get myself a visa for entering the country. I did my visa process prior to arrival, however you do not have to do so and can simply do it at the airport. I chose to do it beforehand to avoid the possible waiting around in queues which arriving in a major airport like Ho Chi Minh, is very likely to occur. I paid $35CAD for my one month, single entry visa. Now that we have that all out in the open, let’s go!
HO CHI MINH CITY:
WHERE TO STAY: Sunland Hotel – A rooftop pool, free buffet breakfast, and a rooftop bar that offers a clear, panoramic view of Ho Chi Minh City!
For more information on booking into Sunland Hotel: http://www.sunlandhotel.vn/home/
For a cheaper backpacker option: The Hideout – Hideout Hostel. You can find this hostel here: http://www.hostelworld.com/
WHERE TO EAT: Go for it, try the street food. Don’t let the food poisoning rumors scare you because as I learned the hard way, food poisoning is inevitable if it is in a superb restaurant with fancy food or made on the sidewalk in front of you. If street food still does not appeal to you, Ho Chi Minh City is filled with restaurants on every corner offering a wide variety of cuisine. Trust me, you will not starve.
WHAT TO DO: No matter if you stay in a hotel or hostel, the staff will have many suggestions for you to choose from during your stay. I recommend taking a day trip to the Mekong Delta which is a 2 hour drive outside the city. Once you step off the bus, your guide will have the day set for you to visit 3 individual islands where you can meet locals. You will take a rowboat ride down the canal, say hello to the bee’s on a bee farm, taste local tea and lick your fingers with fresh, homemade honey. Also witness how coconut candies are made and munch on lunch at Dragon Island next to some crocodiles!
While in Ho Chi Minh City, other options for activities are trying the Cu Chi Tunnels, local pub crawls and hiring a tuk tuk as a leisurely way to view the city!
To discover more details on Mekong Delta Tours: http://vietfuntravel.com/mekong-delta-tours
MUI NE, VIETNAM:
WHERE TO STAY: Mui Ne Backpacker Village – This accommodation is an easy 5 stars for solo travelers. A small and chilled out hostel located 5 minutes from the beach, cheap hostel bar drinks, food and a pool right in the center of all dorm rooms.
Find more information on Mui Ne Backpacker Village: http://www.muinebackpackervillage.com/
WHAT TO DO: Do you like to wake up early? Or watch the sunset? If you answered yes to either one, take a trip to the red and white sand dunes of Mui Ne. The sunrise tour will depart at 4:00AM and sunset will leave between 1:00-3:00PM. Hostels and local travel agents will arrange a tour and car for you to get out there. During your tour, you will visit the Fairy Stream where at the end of the walk will see a beautiful waterfall as well, you can choose to ride an Ostrich if that is your style. Once you depart from the Fairy Stream, you will head onward to the White Sand dunes. Here, you can decide if you would like to rent an ATV to drive down the dunes! Afterwards, conclude the evening at the Red Sand Dunes. Children will ask if you would like to rent a crazy carpet to slide down the sand. You can buy from these children or adults, it is okay! Once you have enjoyed your multiple rides down the furry, red, sand, find a place to get comfy and watch your peaceful sunrise/sunset.
DA LAT, VIETNAM:
WHERE TO STAY: Tiny Tiger Hostel – Family dinners, friendly staff, and a great location to the main city and plenty of restaurants. I cannot say enough good things about the staff and their hilarious children who own the hostel. Within seconds of my arrival on the hostel property, the owner assisted me with my 20 kilo luggage up the stairs to my dorm and reserved a spots for me on the tours I was keen to get on.
To reserve a spot at Tiny Tigers Hostel: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Tiny-Tigers/Da-Lat/92595
WHAT TO DO: The primary reason I stopped in Da Lat was because of the buzz surrounding repelling down waterfalls that I had to get on board with. Highland Sport Travel – Adventure Tours was the company that provided me with this absolutely thrilling adventure that I will continue to rave on about for years to come. I was blown away with the safety precautions that the guides took and this put me at ease as I repelled down 3 waterfalls that day. Even if you are someone who is terrified of heights, I promise you these guys will throw your fears away! Safety gear, lunch and transportation is included in this tour but make sure you bring proper footwear!
One thing you will notice also about DaLat is the immediate European – French vibe it gives off from dozens of simple coffee shops scattered around the city and pleasant, friendly locals. One thing I loved about the area I explored was I did not once see any fast food chains which was refreshing! I recommend taking a country side tour to get a true feeling of what DaLat is really like. Witness Elephant Falls and try some Weasel Poop Coffee while visiting DaLat.
Never heard of Phu Quoc? If you have not yet, you will soon enough! The island isolating Vietnam and on the tip of Cambodia is developing rapidly with smooth cement roads and pearly white houses just outside the main city center. As of right now, the island has been lightly sprinkled with tourism and Hostelworld featuring more hostels as the number of tourists is sure to rise over the next several years. The poverty is still evident on this island as piles of rubbish are stacked along the streets away from the resorts and several homes do not even have a door. If quiet island life however sounds appealing to you, I would head over to Phu Quoc ASAP before the rest of the world discovers Vietnam’s little secret.
WHERE TO STAY: Canary Hostel – This hostel does not have a rowdy, social atmosphere so if you are truly looking for peace and quiet, book yourself a bed here! A small pool and free breakfast are provided for you here! A variety of restaurants are located nearby.
For more on Canary Hostel: http://www.canary-hostel.com/
WHAT TO DO: It is an island, relax! Snorkeling and boat tours can be found at any local travel agent. A majority of Phu Quoc Island is apart of Phu Quoc National Park which provides travelers with hiking trails and wild life to see. For a more exhilarating experience after being relaxed and pampered, venture out to Vinpearl Land Adventure Park that has a theme park, water park and aquarium! Vinpearl is open from 9:00AM – 9:30PM.
For more information on Vinperal Land: http://vinpearl.com/en-US/Vinpearl-Resort-PhuQuoc/vinpearl-land-phu-quoc-1067/2016/Vinpearl-Land-Phu-Quoc-1334
For any further information on your future trip to Vietnam and more details on what I did, please contact: sarah-alexandra23hotmail.com