Vietnam 2011Author: Jack vee
Date of Trip: October 2011
Well it is over, we are back from our latest trip to Vietnam and being fellow travellers I thought I would tell you all about it and if you are interested in some selected pictures let me know.
We flew with Singapore Airlines and payed the extra $50 to get an emergency exit seat so I could stretch my legs. A direct flight from Adelaide to Singapore got us there around 5.30 pm local time so booked into the hotel which was great. We stayed at the Peninsula Excelsior which was a reasonable rate and walking distance to everywhere. Across the street was one of those hop-on, hop-off busses which with your Singapore Airline ticket was actually half price (S$6) great value and for an extra S$2 you got to change busses and that took you to Santose. So we did the round trip and got off/on as required to see stuff, paid the S$2 and went to Santosa and eventually go off at the Singapore Flyer (the big Ferris wheel) well worth it, excellent views. Had dinner at the new Satay Club at Lau Pa Sat hawker centre. Very nice and enjoyed it but all things were expensive including the hawker centre. If you are thinking of bargains don't go to Singapore. Weather was good only rained on night.
We then flew with Singapore Airlines to Ho Chi Min City (HCMC) Saigon for the rest of us where we were met by the company Mary booked us in with for our Vietnam experience. I will give you the details as all went like clockwork and he made our trip in Vietnam hassle free so thank you Mr.Long. (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you feel the need. I have some brochures packs for you all at the travel club if you want one. We were booked in the Golden Central Hotel. The location was great, it was within walking distance of all attractions that one needs to visit including the re-Unification Palace (the tank that went through the gate us oldies can remember on TV in the 70's is still there), the War Museum, very confronting, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office and all the shopping and eating particularly the Ben Thanh Markets. The river is close by if you wish to tour the Mekong Delta. As we had visited Saigon before we were only there for 3 days and moved onto Hoi An with Vietnam Airlines.
Again we were picked up by one of Mr.Long's team at Da Nang yes Hoi An is about 45 minutes drive south of Da Nang where the airport is. During the drive you drive along China Beach (made famous by the movie) into what is basically a resort town of Hoi An. Here we stayed 5 nights planning to relax and relax we did. Although the motor bikes are as crazy as Saigon one can still relax. We both got some leather shoes made, 2 pair each and a pair of leather sandals all up AUD$200. We generally strolled around Hoi An at our leisure and relaxed. We took a side to Hue (pronounced Way) via Hai Van Pass which still had the American bunkers from the war years there as this was part of the DMZ to Hue where we visited the royal tomb, the Imperial Citadel and the Pagoda. All very interesting but don't do this in one day like we did it is a long way, I suggest an overnight. We also did a day trip to My Son (pronounced Me Soon) which is a Hindu temple ruins. We felt this was not really worth it go to Anker Wat in Cambodia much more interesting. As mentioned we stopped on China Beach and had a look at the little round canoes and I am sure a popular place as the beach is about 20 miles long with various cafes etc on it to each. This place like Saigon is great for shopping and my favourite pass time bargaining. Good deals are to be had but you need to be touch otherwise they will rip you off. We also met Mary's sister's friend here Ly (pronounced Lee) who showed us around, had dinner with us and took us to her home which was very nice and enjoyable to see how the locals live. Ly works at the Hoi An trails Resort which we also visited and was very nice. Although it was a little way out of Hoi An it had a free shuttle to the town and I think the beach. Mention Jack and Mary and they will give you a good deal. From here we flew to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines.
Hanoi we stayed in the Old Quarter in a hotel called Maison D'Hanoi also organised by Mr.Long. Pick up from the airport to the city which took about an hour, not that it was far but the traffic was horrendous, motor bikes by the millions. We finally got in and it was a small hotel but nice and again right in the middle of the action. Wall to wall shops, people sitting on the streets eating local fare and motor bikes parked on the footpaths. Footpaths for walking on don't be silly. We walked around to get our bearings and had a look at the Lake which was very pretty and as we arrived on Saturday it was packed with families relaxing. The lake has temples in it and is certainly worth a look. The water puppet theatre is also on the street across from the lake. This happens every night and weekends. The weekend market was also on so we walked up and down that but the prices were nowhere as good as Saigon or Hoi An so if you ever go start your trip in Hanoi and buy everything in either Hoi An or Saigon. It was expensive (relative speaking of course) and they were not interested in selling you anything, they didn't even get out of their chairs or look up from their paper they were reading. A day or so in Hanoi is enough and luckily that's all we had as we were picked up at 8 am to go to Ha Long Bay a 3 hour car trip but when you get there and onto the boat it is just so worth it. We were on the Jasmine Ha Long and did an overnighter with lunch, breakfast and brunch included. They take you to caves, fishing village and a beach were you can climb a hill to overlook the limestone islands, just beautiful. The meals were excellent and plenty off it. If you are keen get up early and see the sun rise over the outcrops. Sorry didn't make we slept like logs as we had a late night with another Aussie couple from Perth.
We had another night in Hanoi before we had to put a hald to the wonderful time we had in Vietnam. Singapore Airline flight back to Singapore than Adelaide. Home via REX and boy we were tired.
I know I am sounding like an advert but I do want to thank Mary and Mr.Long from Charms of Indochina for organising this trip. We had a wonderful time.
Till next time.
PS if anyone from the Travel Club wants more information happy to discuss, just let me know.
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