A Travellerspoint blog


Saigon, Can Tho, Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi

overcast 27 °C

November 01 - 11
Days. 30- 40

We flew Singapore airlines from Bali to Singapore with a two hour connection to continue on to Hanoi. Great airline, wonderful staff, lots of leg room, good food and pretty much on time.

After arriving in HoChi Min city, ( Saigon) we got some cash from the ATM and grabbed a cab to Solex Hotel in district 1, not far from the airport. The hotel is not near anything but it is just a place to sleep for the night and squeaky clean, affordable and just fine with us.

The included breakfast in the morning was so,so. We arranged for a driver to pick us up at 8. He was not there by 8:20AM so I phoned and he had been sitting outside since 7:30 and not bothered to come and let us know. He did not speak English or even attempt to communicate which made for a very long 3 1/2 hour drive

Our destination is Can Tho, in the south of Vietnam on the Mekong river at a small homestay called Green Village Mekong. The driver stopped the car and pointed to a long path and gestured that we take our luggage and walk the rest of the way.
I don’t think so buddy.
I gestured for him to call the homestay and in less than 2 minutes Thy (pronounced Tea), our hostess, was there to greet us. He ended up maneuvering the car down the small road/path to drop us in front.

Tea is the most enthusiastic bubbly woman I have ever met. Her English is perfect and her sense of humor wonderful
An ice cold glass of lime juice is there to welcome us and was so very appreciated. There is a main thatched building, two stories which houses the kitchen dining area, reception and lounge. Upstairs is their own living area I think. She has a very cute young daughter around four years old but she was not feeling well so rather unhappy. Another young boy around 7 is also there, it is a family run business.

Our cabins are spacious, thatched roofs and walls, with a number of gaps to the outside, a veranda over the river with chairs and hammocks to relax
Rustic and charming

A lunch of fried rice and vegetables was served and then relaxing on the veranda until four when we set off down the river in a small wooden boat to explore. Another young couple from Barcelona joined us

Everyone on the water is so friendly, smiling and waving as we pass, young and old alike.

So much garbage though. It is heartbreaking
These people are quite poor, if your house is on the water you don’t pay the taxes you pay if it’s on land.
We see people bathing in it, getting water for dishes etc , washing clothes and fishing in it. Some have gardens in the water out front of their homes growing water vegetables. Not only is there lots of garbage in the water, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sewage from these homes doesn’t go here too. Makes me feel so blessed to have been born where I was.

A gas station on the water
We cruised for two hours and watched the sun go down
Our driver stopped at a park and got us each a freshly pressed sugar cane drink which was quite sweet but good.

Dinner tonight was a hot pot on each table with vegetable broth and fresh vegetables to add to it. There was rice and pork on the side. Meals are included here as there is not much close by.

Our second day at 5:30AM we make our way into the boat again for our morning adventure just as the first light is showing. The couple from Barcelona joined us again

Every morning farmers come from the areas around with fair sized boats to this part of the Mekong to sell their fruits and vegetables to people on smaller boats who buy for their restaurants mostly. They hang what they are selling on a large pole.
Potatoes , oranges, pineapples,mangos and so many vegetables are in large bags waiting to be sold. They arrive at 5AM and usually sell out by around 10.

Our boat pulled into an area where there were many other tourist boats all huddled together. We just push our way between them to get to this small boat with a young couple selling a soup to everyone for breakfast. He would make the bowls of broth, meat , noodles and vegetables and she would hand it to the patrons and then collect the money. Sometimes the bowl is passed from boat to boat to get to the customer. They do a thriving business it was very busy. I did not have any as it was a meat stock, but the others enjoyed it, somewhat.



Next stop is on land at a rice noodle factory. It was very interesting how they made them and let us participate. Some are dyed with plants to be pink, green, purple etc.

Last stop was a huge land market where our guide, Peter, walked us through explaining many things. Peter is a high school biology teacher who loves his job but also loves guiding a few days a week. We really enjoy his wit and incredible knowledge

There are lots of variety of meat hanging for sale, god knows what some of it is. It was a tough go for me for part of it. Lots of fish, frogs, snails snakes.
Most are alive until you want to buy them.

But lots of fruit and vegetables too, Peter bought quite a few different fruit to eat on the ride home. Some new ones for most of us and very tasty.

It was a great morning, and we were back just after 10:30AM. We just relaxed the rest of the day. The skies opened up in the after noon so we had great timing.

Hoi An. November 4-6. Days 33-35

The little girl liked to sit on our big suitcase while we were waiting for our transfer to the airport. When we walked out to the road to meet the car she laid on it for a ride. I said to Thy that her daughter may have to come with us. She said “ Yes please”. Ha ha. It had been a rough couple of days

After our one and a half hour flight from Can Tho to Da Nang an arranged car was there to pick us up which worked out well. Immediately you saw a difference here, roads were better, buildings in better repair and less traffic. A large new divided highway with two lanes each way almost the entire 40 minute drive.
We had to walk a bit when we arrived as the road in front of the hotel is being redone. All streets in Hoi An are being raised a foot and a half or more as there is much flooding here every Fall. A few weeks ago they were under a couple feet of water, people took boats down the streets to get around. Typhoon Nori struck.
Another one was supposed to be here now but thankfully diverted. This part of the trip was always up in the air, weather dependant. Glad it worked out for us. Some years the water is 6 feet inside the buildings. People move everything up to the second floor.

We walked around the town, and then went for a late lunch early dinner at Morning Glory in the old town. It was just as great as I remembered it from five years ago. I had two appys, garlic eggplant and spring rolls which were very different from any I had had before. I licked the bowl.

Dusk meant that all the lanterns were lit on the shops and the boats on the water. It is quite magical. There are many couples dressed in Vietnamese matching outfits, wedding or engagement photos being taken. We walked through to night market. Block after block of stalls selling the same things. I had to have a banana pancake as we had done this before five years ago when I was here. It wasn’t as good as I remembered it but still fun to have. A crepe with Nutella, banana and coconut flakes.
There was a place on the river on the second floor where we had a cold drink and people watched for a half hour and then off home.

Doug and Lana spent the day looking at some of the heritage buildings and temples in the old town. I had done this before and woke up with a nasty cold so just hung out by myself most of the day.

There was a bit of a party in front of our hotel, lots of men eating, laughing and cheering. The residents and business on this block put on a dinner for the workers who fixed the road as a thank you. How nice is that?

We went back to Morning Glory for the same thing again for dinner


A car picked us up and we we drove for three hours on an amazing new highway with almost no traffic. The freeway took us through the Marble Mountains and it was very beautiful.

Tonight we will stay at Hue 1962 Inn, a small quaint place not too far from the citadel which is where we want to visit. Our arrival was around 2 so we figured we had plenty of time to grab a bite to eat and then start our sightseeing.

The young man at the front desk speaks virtually no English. He said there are so many resteraunts close by and gave us directions
We walked for over an hour, we never saw one place to eat. We don’t have wifi, cos we are Canadian and it is too expensive so we tried to ask people.
Nobody spoke any English and we don’t know any Vietnamese. When we gestured they would point, but it just meant we would keep walking
I saw a couple of older tourists and asked them. “ no there really are not any restaurants here, just street food.” And coffee shops but they don’t carry any food. Not even a croissant
I am getting really frustrated now, and Hangry!
We were now lost, no google maps and no Vietnamese
Finally I spot a pizza joint! I don’t care at this point , just feed me
We were able to get on wifi but by the time we were done and heading out to the Citidel it was going to be dark in a half hour and we were not sure how to get back.
We looked very lost, arguing about what to do, and having disagreements between ourselves when a man can and asked if we wanted to have a cyclo ride to the hotel. He said he would call another guy and take us and after some arguing between us and negotiating with him we were off
Doug and I in one and Lana in the other. These are basically pedi cabs.
We were actually not that far from our hotel after all.

I did not want a repeat of yesterday so last night I booked a car and driver to take us around to all the historic sights for the day. We went to a pagoda, three different tombs and finished off at the citadel. He even found us a place to stop for lunch which was appreciated


The buildings and architecture were amazing and the tile work and ceramics incredible. Most were from the 16 th century
We had a flight to Hanoi tonight which left on Bamboo Airlines, a new player in the Vietnam airline market. I thought they were great, but I thought all the flights we have taken have been fantastic and pretty much right on time
We arrived into Hanoi just before 10PM nd were met by our arranged transfer and then to our hotel in Old Hanoi

Hanoi November 8-11

Doug and Lana did a walking tour this afternoon. Unfortunately I am feeling very sick and so stayed back in the room. I have a terrible cold but really just feeling generally unwell. Thankfully I have done this walking tour before. I hope I am better tomorrow.


Halong bay cruise

Jane and I did a two night three day cruise here five years ago and it was one of the highlights of Vietnam for me. We did not have the time this trip so I looked into many options and found what I think was the best. Jade sails was a full day tour that had seven hours on the water, most only had three or four
We were picked up from our hotel at 7:30AM and taken by luxury 7 passenger van on the new freeway which only took two hours. The ship holds over a hundred guests but we were only 27 today which was great for us
The dining room inside is where we met first and the ship is very new and modern with floor to ceiling windows which was great. There are two upper decks as well.
We starting cruising around 10:30 AM


A buffet lunch was served at 11:30 and it was amazing. Lots of seafood and different delicacies but they really catered to me and another young woman who was also vegetarian bringing us lots of plates of fantastic food. I shared with Doug and Lana it was too much food but so appreciated. The staff were all young and enthusiastic and had a small amount of English language
Our ship mates are diverse in age and nationality.


A while later we stopped and some people who lived on the water in this area came by with wooden row boats. We were joined in our boat by a couple from England and thier son who has been living in Vietnam.

Our boatman rowed us through some tunnels into a bay that was so beautiful and peaceful. He asked if anyone wanted to try to row, looking right at Doug. Not sure if he gets many takers, none of the other boats participated, but Doug did a great job and rowed us for around 20 minutes. It is not as easy as it looks and I think the boatman was very impressed and sat back and enjoyed the relaxation for a bit


The next stop was for kayaking or swimming. Lana went kayaking for a bit but Doug and I are both now felling pretty crappy so stayed back. This was a followed by relaxation on the deck and then a cooking demonstration and participation class that Doug did well at making spring rolls. Another spread of fruit and spring rolls as we sailed back into the harbour and watched the sun set. They brought me some vegetarian ones


All in all I don’t think we missed out on anything from only doing a one day tour. It was the perfect amount of time and we were back at our hotel at around 8PM

Hanoi. Last day. It will be a low key day, I really hope we can shake this cold before we get to Cambodia
We fly tomorrow afternoon and start Tempelling the next day.

Posted by debbep 01:09 Archived in Vietnam

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