Sunday, 10 April 2016

VIETNAM - PART 2

       HOI AN  - HUE - PHONG NHA - HANOI
                                                                             


HOI AN
Hoi An remains as a traditional vietnamese city which still has all the character of a time before us. Famous for its traditional market and cheap tailoring, you would be mad not to get a top, dress or even suit tailored here for very cheap prices. I didn't however get anything tailored, as Hoi An was near the beginning of our trip and carrying around a suit on top of the baggage I already had for a few weeks didn't sound too appealing to me. You will also need a good couple maybe three days in Hoi An if you are planning on getting something made as they need a day or two to make it.



Once we got off another night bus from Nha Trang we found ourselves amongst a big group of backpackers by coincidence and ended up all following each other to the first hostel which one of the group had booked for themselves. We didn't all expect to get a bed as there were a good 15 or so of us, but it was a good opportunity to get some bearings of the city. Since we didn't have a bed at the original hostel, we took the opportunity to use their wifi and use hostelbookers.com to find the cheapest accommodation nearby, which is when we found this beauty... 
And the best thing about this hostel was that it was under £10 a night!!

We were extremely lucky with this hostel considering we weren't expecting anything this unreal. We dumped our belongings in our rooms then jumped straight in to this amazing pool to cool off with the other backpackers we had met earlier. I would definitely recommend this hostel to anyone wanting to visit Hoi An as you can't go wrong for £9 a night! Its fairly central and the hostel offers scooter hire for a few quid a day. 

For more information about the Phuong Nam Hostel & Villa click on the above images.

We then spent the rest of that day hiring out scooters and getting a bit of practice on them as we were planning a 8 hour journey the following day to Hue so spent the few hours prep we had on them visiting Marble Mountain and a few close beaches. Marble Mountain from the very top looks down on the coastline and old town Hoi An. The view is magnificent from the top but do wear some comfortable shoes as it is a fairly steep climb and its good to have some grip for the way down. 
A little glimpse at some of the vibrant lanterns which are sold at the traditional markets. 

Top things to do in HOI AN:

  • Japanese Covered Bridge - a traditional little bridge which was constructed in the 1590's and still remains its beautifully handcrafted architecture.
  • Why Not Bar - one for the party animal - this bar opens late and finishes in the late hours in the morning. Drinks are cheap and the vibe is quite wild, although be safe and keep your belongings close to you at all times because it is known that theft happens quite regularly. 

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HUE - PHONG NHA
From Hoi An we hired out scooters and biked our way to Hue which took roughly around seven hours. Read about our bike adventure here. Unlike Ho Chi Minh, Hue is easy to make your way around on bike and riding the journey between Hoi An and Hue is a must!

Again we accidentally booked an amazing hostel using hostelbookers.com as the original hostel we wanted to stay at in the centre of town was overbooked (Hue Backpackers). Again down to luck, we didn't think too much of booking this hostel - obviously the fact that it has a pool this was a bonus, but we were knackered and just wanted to get too sleep.

The following day we then made a trip to To Mieu Temple Complex and Thien Mu Pagoda which are based in a beautifully historic temple where the tombs of the emperors lay. The grounds have been restored astonishingly and the lake at the bottom is incredible especially on a summers day.   




Top things to do in HUE:

  • To Mieu Temple -  an historic temple with some insta-worthy views. 
  • Thien Mu Pagoda -  The pagoda is an icon of Vietnam and is a potent a symbol of Hue as the Citadel. 

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PHONG NHA CAVES
From Hue we took a trip to the Phong Nha Caves and in particular the 'Paradise Cave'. As we were limited with time we weren't fortunate enough to visit the other three famous caves 'Son Doong', 'Tu Lan' and 'Tien Son'. Our fellow backpacker friends however managed to do a few of them and we heard nothing but raving reviews about these day trips, so definitely worth checking out. 


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HANOI
Ah Hanoi, home to possibly the world's best hostel. Vietnam Backpacker Hostels very own Hanoi Backpackers is the best hostel I have ever stayed in to date. Its not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing hostel, but its home to the most genuine and friendly workers, and full of like-minded young and fun backpackers. We stayed in the original Hanoi Backpackers - there is also a downtown version which isn't as good, so try and stay in the original if you are ever to visit. Each night the workers host  a different theme to get the backpackers to interact with one another, and I am yet to come across somewhere that brings people together like beer bingo does! 

We booked the Castaway Ha Long Bay tour with the hostel as well as a 3 day Sapa Trek which were both fairly pricey but definitely worth doing, and it was completely safe and trustworthy.  



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