Once you have settled in Hoi An, although it is still a wonderful city, it might become a bit quiet in contrast to the busier and more populated cities in Vietnam. Furthermore, Vietnam is much more than simply the tranquil city Hoi An. Due to this, many students traveled during our stay, and particularly when the course was over. Some were short-distance traveling, such as weekend trips or day-trips, and others were much longer. During our long-weekend during week 5 and 6, some explored cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, while others, such as myself, decided to travel outside Vietnam’s borders. I ended up in Kuala Lumpur with some friends, and decided to explore more of Vietnam after we had turned in our Group Exam. This resulted in beautiful adventures and even greater friendships. During your time in Vietnam, there will be plenty of time spent studying, but weekends and the long weekend offer time to get away and a chance to explore Vietnam further. In this post, I will show some of the best places I visited during my stay, which hopefully will inspire some of you to travel during your time there as well.
After flying from Hoi An to Hanoi, my friend Joan and I traveled to the mountains to explore the beautiful city Sapa. I mean, WOW, it’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Vietnam. Our first day was quite confusing as we initially had booked a guided trip for two days, and were given no information while being dropped off at our final stop. It ended up being a really good trip, and although the fog and disappointing weather our last day, we met a lot of really nice people, had a really sweet and informative guide, and saw a very different Vietnam that I had seen previously during my stay. I really recommend a trip to Sapa, either for a few days or maybe even longer. Be prepared for mist, mud, steep hills and walking for several hours, but also for amazing scenery, interesting culture, extremely nice people and and unique aspect of Vietnam.
Halong Bay has become quite popular the last decade, particularly after becoming a UNESCO Heritage Site. This is with good reason of course, as Halong Bay is a majestic and incredibly beautiful place. Due to this, you need to book a trip on beforehand with a guide to be able to access this beautiful area and it is quite pricy. I should confess that although I loved the area and it was an amazing experience, I was very skeptic to the idea of traveling here. With the huge tourist wave coming in every year this results to much waste and trash polluting the water and nature, and the big masses often cast a shadow of the beautiful sites Halong has to offer. Still – it was a really nice trip. We hiked up a mountain (not a long hike at all, so don’t you worry), went kayaking and explored a beautiful cave.
This is definitely an interesting city. With 7,58 million people strong, Hanoi is one of the most populated cities in Vietnam. This might be no surprise as it is also Vietnams capital. I went to Hanoi shortly after I had turned in my Group Exam with one of my friends, and spent a few days there in total. As I primarily used this city as my base while visiting Sapa and Halong Bay, I didn’t see as much as I would have wanted here – BUT I still deeply recommend visiting this city. Its chaotic, over-populated, colorful, multi-cultural and huuuge. This is the place where a Vietnamese sim-card and Grab(transportation-app similar to Uber) really come in handy, as different cultural sites are spread all over the city and walking will take a long time if you want to do sight-seeing.:
Main Sites to visit: Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Imperial Citadal of Thang Long, and the many different pagodas spread around the city.
Museums: Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, the Women’s Museum and Vietnam Military History Museum.
Ba Na Hills.
Well this is an interesting tourist site. Primarily built as a vacation spot for French colonizers, it serves now as a place for tourists all over the world to visit, and being located about 1500m above sea level it offers quite a view. It takes about an hour to drive here, and you can buy tickets at the entrance. You will have to take a cable car up to the main attractions which consists of gardens, the famous giant hands holding up a bridge, a huge Buddha statue, old French mansions and a giant arcade below ground. It is a weird, interesting, fun and beautiful tourist spot, which I really enjoyed!
I didn’t spend very much time in Da Nang, but this is a place really suited for a weekend trip as it is only about 40 minutes away from Hoi An, and offer Supermarkets, Pagodas and (apparently)interesting night life. During my first week in Hoi An, some friends and I traveled here, and many went here further into our stay. We found a really nice cathedral, the beach (which was very windy) and markets. I must say that I preferred Hoi An above Da Nang, but if you are craving some big City vibrations, Supermarkets and nightlife, this is the place to go – haha although I can’t supplement with any examples on where to go as I didn’t find a supermarket or went out during my trip. I will leave it up to you to find it yourself 😉
There are, of course, many more interesting places worth visiting in Vietnam which I didn’t manage to visit, that I hope you will be able to see. Some of these are for example Ho Chi Minh, Hue, Dalat and Cham Islands. I hope you dare to travel outside of the borders of Hoi An! It is truly worth it.
Until next time,