Here you have our latest article on Vietnam! We present our report with all the important information: itinerary, expenses, what surprised us, what we liked …
Our itinerary in Vietnam
Red River Delta, North and South Central Coast, and Southeast
Different modes of transport
Within the cities we travel on foot and by bicycle, as they are not very big cities. We used the bike a lot to get around, especially in Tam Coc, Hue and Hoi An.
To cross half the country (from Hanoi to Da Nang) we caught a flight with Jetstar (about 30 euros per person).
To move between the center and the south of the country we took a train (they are more or less comfortable and liked them better than the buses and they move much less … and after having seen several accidents we decided to take the train). From Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh City we took a bus because it was the only transportation possible.
Our expenses in Vietnam
In blue, food and drink. In red, hotels or hostels. In orange, transport (within the city or between cities). In green, activities and visits. In violet, miscellaneous expenses (commissions of cash change, etc.).
With the help of the travel planner of our A-Contresens colleagues (planificateur.a-contresens.net), we had planned a daily budget of € 22 per day per person (including hotels, etc.). At the end of our Vietnam trip, our actual budget was € 23 per person per day!
Diseases in Vietnam
An indigestion for Anaïs (two days in Hoi An and on the train to the south, yeah!).
What surprised us in Vietnam
- The slowness of transport (800 km of train in 15 hours!) … Change the AVE, right?
- The stifling traffic of big cities (scooters, bicycles, cars, taxis, buses, peddlers, pedestrians … all on the same road and without sidewalks!).
- Incessant claxons in the cities (especially in Hanoi).
- The large number of traffic accidents we saw, and of which we were involved in two!
- The Vietnamese pick their noses all the time!
- Pollution and dirt! It seems that the Vietnamese are not very sensitive to the environment, we often find trash thrown everywhere, even in nature, which spoils the whole landscape!
- They love pepper!
- There are no sidewalks to walk around, you have to walk constantly on the road!
- Vietnamese people are close and tactile people, when you create a small bond with someone (for example with the receptionists of our guesthouse in Hanoi) have a tendency to touch the arms or hips as a sign of affection … quite rare in Asia!
- Everyone is called Nguyen!
What we liked the most in Vietnam
- The friendliness of the local people (probably the friendliest of all the people we have met in all of Asia so far: China, Thailand and Japan). The staff at the places we slept was super friendly !! Even several of them made us gifts (packets of coffee, souvenirs, etc.).
- The beauty of the landscapes (Tam Coc or Hoi An).
- There is always somewhere to eat nearby!
- The locals always have a smile on their mouths.
- The beautiful city of Hoi An, where you can walk without bikes or cars!
- It is a country that has marked us, we were sorry to have to leave!
Important point: hoaxing and swindles
Before we started our tour of the world, we read a lot about Vietnam. We had read on several blogs (even in too many, we think) that it is normal to deceive and cheat tourists everywhere: in transports, in hotels, in Halong Bay, in restaurants … We had even read articles that said that in Vietnam it is common for them to sell you tickets for buses or trains that do not even exist! Buses that stop in the middle of nowhere and force foreigners to get off, stolen rental bikes … Terrible!
However, we would like to take this conclusion from our Vietnam trip to say clearly that our experience was far from all of these stories … quite the opposite! They never attempted to scam us in the 26 days we spent in Vietnam (except our first taxi). On the contrary, the Vietnamese were always super friendly. They gave us gifts, discounts, gave us fresh fruit juices and free breakfasts, helped us find the way we needed… And all we asked for in exchange was a smile! How many smiles we had there! It was mostly thanks to the friendliness of the local people that we felt so sad to leave.
Vietnam is a country that marked us. Not for the beauty of its jaw-dropping landscapes (Halong Bay, Tam Coc), nor for the boiling energy of its cities (Hanoi), nor for the delicious local cuisine, but for the simple and direct contact with local people. For the time being, it is the Asian country of our trip around the world that best memories has left us concerning the locals. And although the cities of the country are not extremely beautiful (except Hoi An), we fell in love with the charm of its inhabitants!