From romantic sunsets to hidden treasures, a short trip from central to south Vietnam
So after working as a teacher for six months in the busy Ho Chi Minh City, I finally got some air, and what better way to spend it than travelling the country. Vietnamese food has not only been one of my favourite cuisines, but also the country has so many beautiful landscapes to offer. I got to see some of them, and really hope to be able to come back and see mor
For a two week trip I tried to plan a little bit of everything, so for the first step I took a flight to Dong Hoi, and a one hour bus to Phong Nha. This rather small town is charming by itself, with many rice fields and green mountains it gives a calm atmosphere and few tourists are around. The reason I came here was to hike to the third largest cave in the world. The Hang En cave. But not only the hike was on my list, but also to spend a night camping inside this amazing place. Who could say no to that?
The hike to the cave itself was easy and didn’t take us much more than 3 hours. We went from the green forest, crossed the river quite a few times and finally got to the mountains to find Hang En hidden in between. It also has a small lake inside, perfect for a morning swim, just before seeing the best sunrise ever shining on the tents. One of the best views of my life.
You probably heard also about the Song Doong Cave, which is the world biggest. But this tour would take about 4-5 days and cost about 1000$, while Hang En would cost you around 300$ and only take two days. Depending on your budget, you can choose here what to do. Oxalis is the only agency that is allowed to do tours there, so try to make a reservation in advance with them.
After an amazing cave journey, the bus took me to Da Nang, a surfer spot in the center of Vietnam. But the real reason why I came here was the small town of Hoi An, which many say is the most beautiful in Vietnam. And let’s put it this way, it was, beautiful colors, charming old houses and the river passing through. But…you might have guessed, I wasn’t the only one here. During midday it was already pretty good visited, but after 5pm this place just got overcrowded and forced me to flee as soon as 7pm. As there are so many people wanting to visit this place, and it has become more a tourist attraction than a place to life in, the prices are much higher than in any other place in the country. It still is a place worth visiting, especially if you are into photography, but be prepared for the masses.
Dalat is one of those little towns between valleys that give you peace. Forest, waterfalls and cold at night. A week here was a perfect stop to relax and recover. If you rent a bike here, you will be able to drive around a discover a lot of cool places. One I highly recommend is Tuyet Tinh Coc, a blue lake in the middle of nowhere, but be careful here, the road is really tough, and if you’re not experienced on a scooter or motorbike, you should stay home. But if you do try this little adventure, you won’t regret a second. And even though it’s so beautiful, when I was there, there was no one else.
My last stop was Mui Ne, another small town by the beach with lots of Russian tourists and expensive hotels. But what you find here, you don’t find it anywhere else in Vietnam: sand dunes. They call it a desert, but it’s not really that big. Still, the experience is amazing if you go see the sunset. And again, if you rent a bike you will be able to drive a little bit out of town and find beaches for yourself, as I did.
My tips for travelling this beautiful country:
- Always rent a scooter, it allows you to see so much more than just the touristy spots.
- Eat the local food, it is delicious, I never got sick in 6 months, and it can be as cheap as 0.80$.
- Take the sleeping bus for long journeys. They are not like your bed at home, but still pretty comfortable, and a cheap alternative to flying (a 7 hours hourney can cost you 8$).
- Learn the basics. Vietnamese is hard to pronounce, but with a little bit of luck people will understand you. Body language is not a thing here, and English is mostly only spoken in very touristy areas. In smaller towns or even in the city most of the people don’t speak it.
A video of this trip will be on youtube soon so don't forget to check it out. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCODzIx4Fl57VcObl7qCIKgg?view_as=subscriber
You can also follow my travels and photos on Instagram @robwandering and @robert_mikoleit