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Friday, April 24, 2020

Vietnam Travel Guide ( Under 60 K per Person ) : Part 1 - North Vietnam Itinerary & Must see places

Travel opens your heart , broadens your mind and fills your life with stories to tell !

This is our story from Vietnam and in short  its memorable  and a very versatile one as Vietnam has so many  things to offer . 
Variety of things to  see & the food  is usually what makes us zero in on our destination and Vietnam has been on our mind since sometime now  so we decided to go in November, 2019

When we told people we are off to Vietnam , many  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 through the many food and travel shows we watch , the more we researched to form our itinerary more we wanted to go there . 
After  10 full days there 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 .

Why you should read this  Blog Post : 

We did a lot of research ( a aaa Lot - read tons of blogs , watched a lot of videos and of course the many culinary shows we always watch  ), planned and booked it fully on our own for that perfect holiday with a bit of everything . So This blog post will surely help you plan your trip to Vietnam as it has lot of tips in there, So read on .

Big question :How Many days to plan?

Let me start of by telling you that 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 as ours but 11 – 12 full days would be ideal and  comfortably  paced for your 1st trip to this wonderful country .
However since we had 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 : What is the Budget?

We ended up spending 60 K per person for everything . 
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 walk  able and yet most of our stay(All airbnb & Homestay/small hotels) 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.

Our Itinerary : Versatile Vietnam in 10 Days

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 people  who want to check out the highlights as well as do a bit of the - off the beaten path sights.

Day 1 : Arrive in Hanoi early morning , explore the Neighborhood & go on a food tour in the evening   (Highly Recommend a Food Tour In vietnam ).

Day 2 : Hanoi Sight Seeing

Day 3 : Hanoi – Explore Street food , Coffee Culture &  shopping in Old Quater

Day 4 : Halong bay cruise

Day 5 : Halong Bay city  to Ninh Binh Provence
Day 6 : Ninh Binh Siteseeing , Overnight Train to Danang
For Central & South Vietnam Itinerary , Stay Tuned to Part 2


 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  ears & mostly how warm & friendly the people were.
Architecture & culture influenced by Chinese & French due to colonization in the past .
A city we could live in !

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 walk able  to the central Hoan Kiem lake .

Our  Airbnb Link : ( Well Equipped , Perfect Location )

5 Must see / Do:

1. Hoan Kiem lake – In the early morning as well as in the evening 

Calm yet buzzing , well maintained , The old quater is around the lake , Beautiful Ngoc Son Pagoda is in the center of the Lake not to be missed either very early morning or during sunset.Try to stay walk-able to the lake (within a km )

2. Temple of Literature 

First national University of Vietnam and dedicated to Confucius .Go here early Morning or Evening to avoid large travel bus crowds

3.Tran Quoc Pagoda and West Lake Area 

Beautiful Pagoda , Go by Sunset and spend your evening by the many hip cafes restaurants there facing the lake or stroll along the lake

4. St josephs Cathedral 

Such a beautiful cathedral , Perfect for a evening stroll in that 
neighborhood to explore  the shops and cafes

5. Shopping & Eating in old quarter 

Food Tour (Highly recommend you to take one - Perfect for the 1st day ,  
( we chose Secret Food tours -  a local guide will walk you to  local hot spots in the 
Old quarter and have you try many specialties .Its not a fixed route or dishes so its fun .
Surely one of the highlights since we got to experience a lot of local unheard of places 
with great food , you will be stuffed with goodness and you get to meet other 
travelers so check them out )

Bier Street - what a vibe plus just the place to find good nibbles with your local beer.
Dont miss it

Night Market  - if you   are there over  the weekend- i have heard the old quarters 
fully transformers into a vehicle free zone and you can do some souvenir shopping 
and eat from street stalls (You can do that on other days too but the shops are  a 
bit spread out and mostly active in the evenings )

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

The cruise company you choose will pick you up early from Hanoi  and get you on the cruise ship 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.
  • Ensure you Cruise takes you for a Cave Visit and all the activities is included in the price .


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

Vietnam's 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 we deliberated a lot
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 . It was surely our most memorable & favourite day in Vietnam . we really wished to have stayed a day extra ! So we would recommend you to make it 2 days . 

Our Airbnb Link : (Wonderful Host & Family  , Cafeteria Available , Very close to Trang An)

Must Do :

Trang An  boat ride - Early morning this place is so scenic and whimsical . The most scenic place i have ever been to
Hoa Lu Citadel
Bich Dong Pagoda - Dont Miss this Pagoda , One of a kind spread across three different levels 
Ride around the area -stopping at rice fields and other scenic spots , Ninh Binh Has many !

If Time permits Hang Mua caves & Bai Dinh Pagoda

To Summarise :

This draws 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 .

Part 2 will cover our itinerary and must do from there Central & South
Stay Tuned

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

You can Get Rs 3025 Airbnb Credit  by signing up  Via this link here 
Happy Travels

Till the Next time , 
Love , 


Happy to hear from you!