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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Versatile Vietnam in 10 Days - Under 60,000 Rs per person (Part 1 - North Vietnam - Itinenary & Must sees )

Travel opens your heart , broadens your mind and fills your life with stories to tell  isn’t it !
This is our story from Vietnam and in short a beautiful and a very versatile one as Vietnam has so many  things to offer . 
Variety of things to  see & food  is usually what makes us zero in our destination and  Vietnam has been on our mind since sometime now  so we decided to go this year .

When we told people we are off to Vietnam , many remembered the Viet – US war and some asked how come you choose Vietnam with a mild surprise on their faces ?
That’s when we realized Vietnam is not very popular with the Indian tourists as much as  Thailand , Dubai or Bali but for us we had fallen in love before we even went to Vietnam , the more we researched to form our itinerary more we wanted to go there .

After our return we can safely say it was better than what we expected .
We surely left a piece of our heart in Vietnam  & can’t wait to go back already .
And I would like to give a bit of credit to myself for the obsessive amount of research and planning I did which resulted in a very smooth and unforgettable holiday .

This blog post will surely help you plan your trip , so read on !

Big question :How Many days to plan?

Let me start of by telling 10 full days  is very less to explore the length & breadth of Vietnam as it’s a long country with lot to offer
Same itinerary but 12 – 13 days would be ideal & good paced for your 1st trip to this wonderfull country .
However since we have never gone on a holiday for more than 9 days , we were a bit skeptical so decided to kept it to 10- 11 days and cover the highlights.

Next : whats the Budget :

One  can easily cut down the expenses if you stay at  cheaper airbnbs & homestays , we did not compromise on location  as that was the key for us . we wanted to be near  the buzz so its easily walkable and yet most of our stay costed 1500 Rs per night which is so less compared to India.
Also if you can sacrifice some luxuries like Private airport transfers , first class train travel  , 3 star overnight cruise in Halong bay, few fancy meals & Spa it will work out lot less ,  but I wouldn’t recommend it as 60,000  is a very reasonable  price for a comfortable international  trip  with some luxuries thrown In. You can always stay in nice hotels if that’s an important part of your travels but since ours was a fast paced trip we didn’t see it wise to splurge there as we would be out and about most of the times without much room to enjoy a luxuries property and stay .

Our Itinerary :

We Started from North & Ended in the south , you can do other way round as well but Hanoi is a wonderful start to this country & if you start at north you can keep moving forward easily without having to return to any place to travel to the next major destination .
10 days itinerary is perfect for people with less time on hand, for ppl who want to check out the highlights as well as do a bit off the beaten path sights & want a slightly fast paced holiday .

Day 1 : Arrive in Hanoi , explore the Neighborhood &  go on a food tour .
Day 2 : Hanoi Sight Seeing
Day 3 : Hanoi – Explore Street food , Coffee Culture & shopping
Day 4 : Halong bay cruise
Day 5 : Halong Bay city  to Ninh Binh Provence
Day 6 : Ninh Binh Siteseeing , Overnight Train to Danang
Day 7 : Danang to Hoi an
Day 8 : Hoi an Ancient Town
Day 9 : Hoi an Ancient Town , Spa & Shopping
Day 10 : Fly from Danang to Saigon,  Saigon Site seeing
Day 11 : Saigon Shopping & Food in the morning  ,  Fly back to India in the early evening

We wanted to explore both the northern city of Hanoi -the capitol & southern city Saigon , now called ho chi minh city  known for its  food
Had to Explore the world heritage sight Hoian Anicent town which is in central Vietnam & also visit scenic landscape of karst mountains in halong bay .
However during our research came across Ninh Binh and I fell in love instantly , changed our itinerary quite a bit to accommodate this place & so glad we did as hands down its our favorite part of our travel to Vietnam .

We also wanted to visit the Terraced Rice Fields up north but that would require you to return to Hanoi and would take more time . But if you have the time include Sapa in your Itinerary .

Destination 1 - Hanoi – Min Recommended 3 Days .

Capitol of Vietnam . One city in that country you should not miss
Hanoi is charming , dotted with lakes & greenery  , quaint old worldly & modern Vietnam coexist so beautifully .You will hear no honking even in traffic ,what a pleasure it was to our Indian ears & mostly how warm & friendly the people were.
Architecture & culture influenced by Chinese & French due to colonization in the past .

 I expected Vietnam to be like India chaotic & colorful with concrete flyovers & structures standing out  but pleasantly surprised how different it was from what I read on the western blogs & website .
A city we could live in , that’s how in our wild dreams Bangalore could be .

Recommend you to stay in the old quarter or French quarter in Hanoi to experience the local vibes & be near to all the action.
We chose a airbnb at the edge of French quarter & end of old quarter as we wanted to stay a bit away from the busy old quarter yet easily walkable  to the central Hoan Kiem lake .

5 Must see / Do

1.        Hoan Kiem lake – In the early morning as well as in the evening
2.        Temple of Literature
3.        Tran Quoc Pagoda & West Lake
4.        St josephs Cathedral
5.        Shopping & eating in old quarter – Bier Street , Night Market if you are there in the weekend .

Destination 2 – Ha long Bay – Must do a 1 night Cruise. If possible 2 Night .

Thousands of Towering Limestone islets  rising from emerald green waters of Gulf of Tonkin .
Pick a 3 star and above Cruise for a nice cruising experience .
 The price for a one night can vary between 10,000 – 30,000
We chose Swan Cruise .
 The cruise company you choose will pick you up early and get you on the boat by noon .
Don’t expect to relax on the cruise it is pretty packed but you will have a experience of a lifetime .

Must do :
Don’t miss the 15 min tai chy class in the early morning  while cruising by the islets , the early morning sun shine adds a charm ,
Try kayaking if you are gutsy.

We chose Swan cruises for the below reasons

Cruise Route :
Bai Thu long bay , less crowded than Halong bay
Pricing is more affordable , may not have the luxuries like bath tub or big rooms like modern boats but it’s a traditional junk boat
4 course set meals & all the activities like other boats

Destination 3 : Ninh Binh  - Recommended 2 days

Vietnams First Capital .

We  contemplated for the longest time if we should go to sapa rice terraces or Ninh binh . as Ninh binh is similar to halong bay , its called halong bay on land .
But  Since I heard about the place I just couldn’t get myself to give it up . Still did a lot of research and rearranged our plans to accommodate  ninh binh as I felt we couldn’t be satisfied with the  beautiful karst mountains by 1 busy day of cruising , so we deciced to go to Ninh Binh for a day and  glad we did . this was surely our most memorable & favourite day in Vietnam . we really wished to have stayed a day extra . We will do a separate blog post on our 24 hrs  there .

Must Do :

Trang An  boat ride
Hoa Lu Citadel
Bich Dong Pagoda
Hang Mua caves
Bai Dinh Pagoda

This drawns an end to our Northern Viet experience .
What a memorable one and surely a big chunk of your time in Vietnam you should alot to this region .
 You can choose to add Sapa up north  from Hanoi or follow our itinerary but spend more time in Halong bay/ninh binh . Since we wanted to cover the central & southern parts we moved ahead and couldn’t stay longer to explore the North .

Part 2 will cover our itinerary and must do from there .
Stay Tuned

You can also find day wise stories in our Insta Highlights #beinvietnam


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