I have two weeks of leave from end October to early November. Having leave in my industry is a really big deal. We almost never get to take leave besides our office shut down in December. I was determined to not let this leave go to waste! The solution was to fly away on a fancy holiday to Vietnam!
Problem with a fancy holiday? They’re expensive and I have learnt in the last couple of years that money does not grow on trees. Still disappointed about that and not quite over it. Therefore, we chose a holiday by elimination.
Anywhere with the dollar, euro or pound was out. Therefore we said “see ya” to North America, Europe, Australia and the United Kingdom. We were left with South America, Africa and Asia.
How to pick an affordable holiday?
We finally settled on Asia – specifically South East Asia for its fantastic affordability. Here you can visit countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Loas, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
We have both spent a fair amount of time exploring Thailand and as such wanted to try something new. We were between Philippines and Vietnam for a full weekend of debate. But finally decided that we should leave the Philippines to the honey moon’ers and have a Vietnam adventure.
We are both not keen on organised tours or tour guides so decided to do as much planning as possibly on our own. I thought I would share what we are up to and where we are staying in case someone was looking for a little self-guided inspiration for two weeks in Vietnam!
We are flying with Emirates – Cape Town to Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City and back again. Cape Town to Dubai is about 9.5hours and Dubai to Ho Chi Minh is about 7.5hours. We have pretty quick layovers in Dubai so it is mostly painless.
Here is the outline of our itinerary:
Day 1 to Day 3- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
We are staying at Townhouse 23 which is number 5 on Tripadvisor for Specialty Lodging. Townhouse is a highly rated hostel and we have booked a private room with a private bathroom – and comes with wifi, aircon and breakfast for roughly $15 per person, per night.
We are excited about:
- All the crazy motorbike traffic
- Wandering the giant markets
- Jade Emperor Pagoda
- Sending a letter from the old French Colonial Post Office
- Eating Bun Cha
- Com Nieu Sai Gon where they throw rice in clay pots around the place
Day 4 to Day 8 – Hoi An
We are staying at Thanh Luan Homestay which is number 1 on Tripadvisor for Specialty lodging and is roughly $10 per person per night. Jono booked the double room with the balcony for lazy gin and tonics and I am so excited! We’re really close to the old town but if we’re not up for walking they have complimentary bicycles to borrow. (If you know me at all you will be laughing about the bicycles.)
We are excited about:
- Exploring the old town. The Hoi An Old Town is a UNESCO heritage site and is a “well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century”. By banning motorised vehicles during most of the day the Old Town has been protected and preserved. I found a great self guided walking tour here!
- Hoi An is known as the foodie capital of Vietnam and we have about six meals a day planned. Yes, I know! The following are places I am most excited about
- Banh Mi Phuong – best Banh Mi in Vietnam according to the pros.
- Nu Eatery – appears to be fusion of Asian and Western flavours and is highly rated
- The Hill Station for wine, cheese and tapas boards in an old French Colonial building
- White Marble for tapas and affordable wine drinking
- Reaching Out Teahouse– they employ speech- and hearing-impaired servers who would struggle to find employment elsewhere. They serve beautiful teas, coffees and sweet pairings with everyone in absolute silence. It sounds very special.
Day 9 to Day 13
We are staying at Hanoi Brother Inn which is number 2 on Tripadvisor for Speciality lodging. We booked into a private double room and is roughly $10 per person per night. Brother Inn is super central in the old quarter and a quick walk to the night market!
We are also doing an over night stay at Halong Bay on the beautiful wooden boats.
We are excited about:
- Xuan Xuan Restaurant – this is touted as the best Vietnamese Barbeque. Everything is brought on a large platter and you barbeque your own dinner over a small gas burning stove.
- Hanoi’s Food Streets (Tong Duy Tan, which runs from Dien Bien Phu to Tran Phu, and Cam Chi, which runs perpendicular) which serve tons of delicious Vietnamese street food!
- BBQ Chicken street is famous for their babequed chicken served with baguettes which are flattened, coated in honey and toasted and honey roasted sweet potatoes.
- Giang Café for the original egg coffee recipe from 1946. Egg coffee is a Vietnamese drink which is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee.
- Phu Tay Ho – a beautiful temple on the lake dedicated to the mother goddesses.
Day 14 to Day 15
We are back at Townhouse 23 as we fly out of Ho Chi Minh city again.