Jungle Explorer in Vietnam

If you follow me on my main Instagram account, you’ve been seeing all my photos and #latergrams from Vietnam.  I had an absolute blast with my best friend with an absolutely packed 2 week schedule that included hiking, caving, motorbiking, kayaking and fattening ourselves up with a 5 hour food tour.

This will be a long post mostly of pictures and reminiscing, but I am working on a full destination guide for my trip!  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of those posts, but I honestly loved this trip too much and have to share the itinerary and my favourite spots to check out!

Hanoi

Starting off in Hanoi, my first craving was Pho, so after settling down in the hotel we went out and found a street vendor, sat down in those short plastic chairs and chowed down on a bowl that cost us $1 USD and it was amazing,

After that we had a wander around the market and the bar area before heading back to a hotel to have a good nights rest before starting the real adventure.

Side note – we decided to start off our trip in the Lotte hotel as after a long haul flight, it was nice to just settle in. We got at an amazing deal for it and is probably the nicest hotel we stayed in the whole trip, so totally worth it!

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We decided to have a lay in and started our day with lunch at the famous Bun Cha place visited by Obama and Anthony Bourdain called Bún Chả Hương Liên, a must visit if you are Hanoi! Bun Cha is essentially a plate of pork, noodles and veggies with a dipping sauce / soup.

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Afterwards we found our way to the very Instagram famous train street, where we sat down for a coconut at the cafe and took a billion pictures while we waited for the train to pass. I probably have the most amount of pictures from this single place!

Pretty chilled after that with a wander around the old town grabbing some pearl milk tea before going back to a hotel for a rest before our overnight train to Sapa!

Sapa

In an attempt to maximise all our time in Vietnam we took an overnight train to Sapa by way of Lao Cai, which surprisingly was nice despite looking like we travelled back in time!

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When we arrived and changed to a bus to Sapa and onto our overnight tour with a homestay! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves here.

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We stayed an extra night in Sapa and had a day to explore the city and made our way up Ham Rong Mountain for an unexpected amazing view of Sapa from above.

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A long bus ride and we were back in Hanoi for a night where we got drenched by the rain going to get dinner…

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Ha Long Bay

An early pickup from from our hostel took us to begin our overnight tour with Indochina Junk on the Dragon Legend!  The all-inclusive tour (minus drinks) was a great mixture of relaxing and some activities, but I’ll let the photos show you what we got up to.

Phong Nha (Tu Lan Caves Tour)

If there is one thing I would do less of, it’s the overnight buses.  The bus ride to Phong Nha was by far the worst of the trip.  It wasn’t just full, but people were put on the floor in the aisles to sleep and we then had to switch buses (which we did’t know about!) and awkwardly sit with all our luggage on the steps at the front of the next bus.

On the bright side, we had so much time to kill at the pick-up point that had the cutest sleepy puppy hanging around.

On very little sleep, we went onto our next tour exploring the jungle and the amazing caves in Vietnam.  Honestly one of the unique and fun experiences I’ve had.  I mean how many people get to say they swam into a one of the world’s largest cave system.  My GoPro did flood, but still worth it!

We spent the night “camping” by one of the cave entrances, where I got absolutely eaten alive by mosquitoes.  I had managed up to this point to not really be bitten too…

Second day was a longer version of the first, with even larger caves and eventually circling back to where we started.  We were then dropped back off in Phong Nha where we stayed an extra night in a proper bed.

Hue and the Abandoned Water Park

The next morning, we were off to Hue with some stops in the previously DMZ: famous Vietnam tunnels, North-South line, and a war museum.

Of course once we arrived in Hue, it started to rain hard, so we checked into our hotel and waited it out a bit.

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Learning to motorbike!  We really wanted to go see the Abandoned Water Park that is just outside Hue and rather than grab a taxi, we decided to have a trial run on a motorbike before our tour the next day.

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Unfortunately, there was a guard who wouldn’t let us into the park, so instead my best friend gave me a mini lesson on the motorbike.  That was until we noticed a little dirt side part that seemingly led to the park?  Exploring we went!

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We didn’t actually make it in as it was getting late and we worried about finding our way back and then riding the motorbike back in the dark, but I sent my drone over and got some epic shots!

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Dinner & more bubble tea before passing out for the night.

Hue to Hoi An on a Motorbike

Probably one of the biggest highlights of the trip for me was getting to motorbike from Hue to Hoi An.  It was my first time driving a scooter, so it was a mix of scary, fun and beautiful.  Since it was my first time, my best friend and I took turns driving.

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We took a path that brought us through parts of the Ho Chi Min Trail with beautiful sights of the ocean and countryside.

We finished off doing a little boat tour in Hoi An of the coconut tour on some round “coconut” boats.

Hoi An

Once we settled into our hotel and had some time to rest up, we wandered out into the town to see the old town in Hoi An and all the famous lighted streets.

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Ba Na Hills

Recently there have been tons of photos of this beautiful golden bridge being held by two hands with a beautiful view.  Turns out this place is actually inside a theme pack called Sun World in Ba Na Hills.

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The ticket is $35 to take a 20-min gondola ride up the hills and into the park, where the first thing you can see is the bridge.  The theme park is kind of like a mini Epcot centre where you can experience different cultures in one place.

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Saigon

Sadly our last stop was Saigon and we didn’t have much planned except to chill and eat.  This was the one and only hotel that we stayed more than one night in and it was so nice to not pack and unpack within a day.  We stayed in a great hotel called Fusion Suites that had an amazing inclusive breakfast.

We did last minute booking for a VIP food tour that included 5 hours of a personal local tour of food experiences in Saigon.  I think we ended up hitting 7 places, all with full portion sizes and was pretty much ready to burst by the end of it.

The last day we hit up a spa before heading to the airport and saying our goodbyes.

Sorry for the long post, but this blog has really made me appreciate curating my photos of all my trips.  Hope you enjoyed the photos! (one last photo of the best Banh Mis I had)

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From LA to London and a recent LBS MBA, I'm blogging my love for anything beautiful.

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