Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well.
Today I’m following on with the fourth account of mine and my best friends backpacking trip from last year. This post will be all about the South region of Vietnam – if you haven’t yet read my blog post about the North, I would suggest reading that first!
As I stressed in my previous blog post, Vietnam is a country not to be overlooked; it’s extremely diverse, full of interesting history and extremely budget friendly (I’m talking hostels for less than £2 a night in places, and meals for under £1.) If it’s not a country you’ve considered exploring before, I would highly recommend it!
Without further ado…
1 – Hoi An
Although not strictly ‘south’, I had to split the destinations we visited into two blog posts, so let’s just pretend, okay? There’s a lot to cover here!
Hoi An was without a doubt our favourite place in Vietnam. Yes, I know it’s tourist central, but it just had such a magical, beautiful feel to it that we didn’t experience anywhere else – probably due to the iconic, colourful lanterns everywhere you look. It was also where we hit the first beach of our entire backpacking trip, so it certainly felt very special!
As said, this was the first beach of our travels and it was well-needed after a multitude of cities and landlocked towns! Although not very ‘hidden’ or secluded as the name suggests, it’s a gorgeous white sand beach with very cheap sunbeds, and supposedly a lot quieter than it’s neighbouring An Bang Beach.
Future Clothing Stall
Hoi An is famous for its handmade clothing tailors, so it would have been rude not to buy something. The ladies at Future were so sweet and hilarious, and even massaged Megs head with tiger balm when she came to pick up her new garms still half-cut and suffering an intense headache.
I couldn’t recommend the Tribee Hostels chain in Hoi An enough – I think there’s about 5 of them; some really quiet and chilled, some more lively. They all have amazing free activities every day such as bike tours and cooking classes – they had a really sociable, friendly vibe, so if you’re travelling solo, I would urge you to stay in one!
Although Vietnam wasn’t our favourite country food-wise, we had some bloody good scran in Hoi An (rhyme not intended.) Some restaurants I would highly recommend are EVillage, Minh Hein and Rice Drum.
2 – Da Lat
Da Lat, a much cooler area of the country in Vietnams ‘highlands’, was a welcome break from the humidity we were used to. I wasn’t expecting too much from this place as I hadn’t heard masses about it, but I absolutely loved it.
Mr Peace Backpackers House
This was a brilliant hostel – cheap, sociable, and the owners put out delicious ‘family dinners’ each night for everyone to enjoy together. It felt really homely and welcoming!
This was such a gorgeous place to walk around and breathe in the fresh air (and get sprayed by the falls.) If you’ve been here before, then you’ll know about the notorious ‘Alpine Coaster’ to get there – essentially a bob-sleigh going down a slightly treacherous rollercoaster track, however it often reached quite alarming speeds and I feared for my wellbeing multiple times that day.
As it says on the tin, this is a rather unusual bar in which you have to find your way around a maze before you get to the watering hole on the top floor. Novelty and definitely worth a visit if you’re in Da Lat… it’s the done thing!
Me Linh Coffee Garden
Although I’m not a coffee drinker, this was a fabulous place to stop and drink in (literally) the stunning views on our ‘countryside tour’. Look at all that lush greenery!
3- Nha Trang
Nha Trang definitely wasn’t a highlight of the trip at all – in fact, I’d say if you’re short on valuable time and rushing through your 15 or 30 day visa, give it a miss altogether. There’s not a great deal to do there other than hit the beach, so if you happen to get unlucky with the weather, you’ll be a bit stuck for ways to fill your time (exactly what happened to us.) There’s plenty of much better areas with nicer beaches in Vietnam, so it’s definitely not a destination you must add to your list in my opinion.
Surely it’s a universal rule that if the weather is shite, there’s only one thing to do; get drunk. If you’re looking for a fun night out with delicious cocktails as big as your arm, I would suggest Tiki-Tonga!
4 – Ninh Van
Where do I even start with this. The only reason we travelled outside of the city of Nha Trang to the desolate village of Ninh Van, was to spend a few days at the notorious ‘Ninhvana’ backpackers hostel. This, my friends, was a mistake. I’m all for getting sloshed, playing drinking games and letting my hair down, however… Ninhvana was like no other. Imagine going to the Malia strip, but the forcefulness, cringiness and tackiness has been turned up by 100%, and the promoters are even more so in your face… if that’s possible. That’s what the staff (and most of the clientele) were like at Ninhvana.
Despite proudly offering ‘jungle trekking’ as a free activity in the hostel, the staff seemed shocked and surprised when we asked if we could take them up on the offer – it seemed as though every other person was there to blow their backpackers budget on warm beer and spend all day basking in the piss-stained pool. This hike was a very welcome break from the terrible music and paralytic teenagers. I’m sure you totally get my drift by now.
5 – Mui Ne
Beaches and sun go hand in hand, so we had a really relaxing time in Mui Ne (which was necessary after the trauma that was Ninhvana.)
The Fairy Stream
Not the most interesting of places, but the fairy stream was undoubtedly beautiful; walking along the orange creek, barefoot through the sandy water provided a moments bliss in the scorching sun that day (until a rather large and aggravated cow decided to charge through and swap the relaxation to pure alarm.)
The Sand Dunes
Mui Ne is known for it’s white and red sand dunes; a lot of people go there for sunrise, but we decided to go for sunset and we just about made it. On the white sand dunes we got on the back of a quad bike and the driver drove at about 100mph; I genuinely thought this may be the end and I gripped so hard on the back of the bike that I had severe cramp afterwards. Thankfully I made it to the end in one piece and I would recommend this if you’re up for an adrenaline rush (and a moments concern for your life.)
6 – Ho Chi Minh City
As cities go, for me, Ho Chi Minh was definitely a highlight. It was packed with culture and history, and we learnt so much about Vietnam there that we’d never known before.
War Remnants Museum
We were told what to expect in the Vietnam war museum, however nothing could have prepared us for how deeply moving, shocking and horrifying it really was. If you don’t know much about the Vietnam war, then I urge you to visit here if you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh City; it’s a tough experience, but I think it’s extremely important to educate ourselves on the horrors of what the Vietnamese people went through. We left sombre, quiet and dismayed but with a heightened respect and appreciation for the country and its people.
Cu Chi Tunnels
Another very interesting, historical place we visited were the Cu Chi Tunnels just outside of the city; a ginormous network of underground tunnels which were built during the Vietnam war as hiding spots and even living quarters. Another very fascinating yet humbling day, I would definitely suggest visiting here with a tour guide if you’re in the area.
I believe that wraps up my Vietnam travel posts! If you didn’t have a chance to read the first part about the North of Vietnam, check that out too!
Catch up soon
Love, Dayna x
Read about my other travels through South East Asia: