I’ve had Vietnam on my list since 2014 when I visited Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and missed out on it as I was pushed for time.
Therefore, I vowed on this long holiday that the big V wouldn’t escape me. I arrived in Ho Chi Minh city on 10 Feb and was amazed at how busy the city really was. Trying to wade through the frenzy of people on scooters, repeatedly beeping their horn was near on impossible. One simply couldn’t wait to be let across as that would never happen. Instead you had to make a mad dash for it and hope and pray that you would make it to the other side while the motorists swerved so as not to hit you at the same time. No one ever stops – ever.
Once you set all fears aside, you are able to navigate the city and see some of the sights. Desperate for a run, I took to the streets and visited some of the sites by foot, stopping to take in the scenery and a few shots.
I love running this way, when you have a mission and you are exploring something new for the first time. All you have is a map and an idea of what you want to see and then you take to the streets to explore the exciting new world that awaits you.
My sister Yasmin met me in Ho Chi Minh City and the length of time we had to explore was dictated by her work and how much time she was allowed off. Therefore, as she could only book 9 working days off, we knew it would be a bit of a rush.
We wanted to explore Vietnam and see as many things as possible within our short time span and decided to use overnight sleepers to help save time.
First of all, I must say, I was thoroughly impressed with the overnight sleepers as you actually get a bed instead of the reclining chair that I became accustomed to in Thailand. So already I was on to a winner there.
Our first stop was Mui Ne and my mission was to visit the Sand Dunes and see sunrise, which was lovely but don’t expect a nice peaceful and relaxing moment. This isn’t the Sahara and you most certainly will not be the only ones there. It’s a typical tourist hotspot and it will be packed and you will hear the mechanical outbursts of sound screeching from the 4×4 buggies that tear up and down the dunes.
Apart from the dunes and the beach, I didn’t see much of Mui Ne and almost felt like I had missed out on seeing some of the night life and experiencing some seafood delights along with a nicer beach. This is partly because we were staying in a hotel far away from the main stretch so we were fairly isolated and therefore there wasn’t much around as it didn’t warrant it I suppose.
Next stop was Nha Trang for the day where we spent the whole day at the Sailing Club. Now Nha Trang seemed really cool, the beach was lovely, the Sailing Club was ace (although more expensive than normal) and it had a really nice vibe. It was a shame we couldn’t stay a bit longer but our bus was leaving in the evening for Hoi An.
Now I fell in love with Hoi An – this quaint world heritage site was mesmerising in many ways. The lanterns lit up the sky at night, the colours were enchanting and the buildings so beautiful. I cycled, I swam (in the hotel pool) and ran around this ancient town.
I viewed luscious green rice fields and cows along the roadside, whilst breathing in the fresh air and admiring the river with its cute green coloured fishing boats. You could spend hours wandering around and visiting the little shops and idiosyncratic buildings and alleyways. There is also plenty of things to do and I did a few excursions such as visiting My Son Sanctuary and Danang’s Marble and Monkey Mountains which is a very short distance away.
It definitely is one of my top spots in Vietnam and will definitely be worthy of a stopover if I return.
After three days in Hoi An it was full steam ahead to Hue where it was a repeat of our Nha Trang visit and we had a day to spare before catching our onward overnight sleeper to our final destination – Hanoi.
We didn’t really have much time at all to explore Hue so we opted for one of the main attractions and visited the Citadel – another UNESCO World Heritage Site before boarding our last sleeper bus for our road trip onwards.
Hanoi is definitely another favourite, I pounded the pavement and saw the sites over the course of a seven mile run. The scenery is lovely, there is also a lot to see and do and the food is amazing. I visited Halong Bay, walked along Long Bien Bridge, through night markets, tried out local specialities (like Cha Ca and Bun Bo Nam Bo – amazing) dined like a local with some gorgeous bbq chicken (on Ly Van Phuc Street) and sipped on Bia Hoa (fresh beer for only 5,000 dong or £0.15) as well as took a cyclo ride.
Vietnam has been epic and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to see some of it. As I sit here typing in my hotel room. I look forward to a new adventure in the Philippines tomorrow.
I truly feel grateful that I am able to embark on this journey. The world is full of amazing delights and I am in awe at what I am experiencing on a day to day basis.
Life needn’t be a box but a playing ground where the different countries provide the laughter and joy that you once experienced as a child on the merry go-round or slides. I intend to make full use of this playground and will visit and experience as much as possible as I can within my lifetime.
There’s 196 countries in this world. 196 different playgrounds to play with. Over the course of 20 years, I’m going to make it my mission to try and visit all of them.