Nha Trang – Saigon’s getaway.

Nha Trang is a perfect beach destination for anyone who wants to escape the busy city life in Ho Chi Minh.  Located 450km north from Ho Chi Minh, my friend and I, flew VietJet Air for USD 70 (2-way) as we were on a time crunch. For cheaper means of getting to Nha Trang from HCM, you may consider bus (12-hour journey) or train (8-hour journey).

Flight gets you direct to Cam Ranh International Airport, which is 45 min – 1 hour taxi ride to Nha Trang town. The journey costs VND 350 000 (USD 17). DO NOT TAKE METERED TAXI! They are much, much higher priced – nearly double! There is a mini-bus option from the airport, which I reckon, brings you closer to Nha Trang town. As we arrived late at night at the airport, we decided to just take a taxi straight to our hotel. We spent 2 nights in Nha Trang – 1st night at Michelia Hotel and 2nd night at Sheraton. Highly recommend Sheraton, despite the slightly steep price, for the pool and awesome breakfast buffet spread.

  

Things to do:

1. Grab a beach chair and soak up in the sun. For drinks, I recommend the Sailing Club.

2. Water activities – Scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing etc.

3. Thap Ba Hot Springs – the mud claims to have some sort of healing powers.

4. Four island boat trip

5. National Oceanographic Museum

6. Vinpearl Land – amusement and water park

7. Po Nagar Cham Towers

8. Local shopping at open air Cho Dam Market

9. Waterfalls – Fairy Spring or Ba Ho Falls

10. Walking around Biet Thu Tourist District at Night

Truth to be told, I did not visit any of the attractions or do any activities listed above. I was content just doing nothing and bumming around between Sailing Club and Sheraton. On hindsight, the Four island boat trip might have been an awesome experience. You can read Alex In Wanderland and Adventurous Kate‘s adventures and decide if booze cruise is your thing 😉

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Halong bay, Vietnam.

Choosing a decent cruise to enjoy Halong Bay is by no means an easy task, I must say. You have easily at least 15 options to choose from for an average, 3 star cruise options. I decided to not go ahead with online booking for my 2D1N cruise as the online prices were such a rip-off. Glad to have heeded the advice of friends who have visited Halong Bay before. Especially since prices have gone up in the past couple of years, don’t bother advance booking online.

Streets of Old Quarter on a gloomy afternoon

Usually, the hotel you are staying put will have some cruise options for you to choose from. Alternatively, you can wonder into any of the other hotels or travel booths littered along the streets of Old Quarter to book your cruise.

After a bit of walking around and comparing between companies, my friends and I went ahead with Carina Cruise (also known as A Class Opera Cruise). We managed to slash the prices down to USD 120 per pax for a triple room.

Tip to note when booking a cruise would be never always go with the cheapest offer you get. Often, you get lousy quality, old junks, tiny rooms etc. Sometimes, it pays to spend a bit more to get a decent cruise.

Itinerary wise most cruises are quite similar. The usual floating village tour, cave experience, swimming/kayaking (weather dependent), tai chi classes in the morning, cooking classes etc.

Hang Sung Sot (Cave of Surprises)

Making of vietnamese spring rolls in progress

Halong Bay is definitely an experience worth having once in a lifetime. Given my bad luck, in terms of weather condition, my visibility was quite poor (as you can tell from the pictures). But, it definitely did add a nice misty effect to my pictures.

I do not recommend a day cruise to visit Halong Bay as the travel time from Hanoi city to Halong Bay itself is about 4 hours. So, a 2D1N cruise will be sufficient for you to spend your money’s worth relaxing and having a peaceful cruise.

Fellow adventurer and I.

 All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Hoi An on 2 feet.

Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An

I’ve been always meaning to make a trip to Hanoi, specifically Halong Bay, and last month I managed to squeeze some time amidst work for a trip.

Flight Matters

Flying in to Hanoi from Singapore isn’t specifically cheap, if you compare a return flight that is, so I decided to fly in to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and catch a domestic flight to Danang. Spent a night in Danang, or rather Hoi An, and I flew up to Hanoi. Works out cheaper and you get to see Danang/Hoi An, so why not? For domestic flights, I flew VietJetAir which costed me about USD 40. Nothing fancy, basic, fuss-free 1-hour flight journeys.

Dollars and cents

Hotel, cruise, tour payments can be made in USD. All other small expenses, street food to bike rentals to taxi rides can be paid in Vietnam Dong (VND).

I didn’t spend much time in Danang apart from just flying in to the city. In my opinion, there is more to do in Hoi An, as compared to Danang, so I caught a motorbike ride to head down to my villa for USD 10. Just about a 30 minute ride away.

Danang and Hoi An are both peaceful and quiet towns perfect to get away from the hustle of city life. Very different traffic situation as opposed to Hanoi traffic i.e. madness. I specifically loved Hoi An for it encourages cycling around. It is a common sight to see locals, school kids and of course, tourists just paddling away on their bicycles to explore the town.

Apart from being known as a cycling town, Hoi An is known for being a city of lights when the sun sets. The city transforms into a magical town, perfect to stroll down just before a hearty dinner.

 Common sight of lanterns hanging along the streets

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We stayed in a villa room (facing the swimming pool and river) at Pho Hoi Riverside Resort which costed us USD 80 for 3 pax. Just a 2 minute walk from shops which was perfect and yet, quiet enough for us to just relax by the pool.

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”

Street vendor who ended up chit-chatting with us rather than pushing sales

My Son Sanctuary tour

 Beauty in destruction

Hoi An, was a perfect pitstop for me being continuing the rest of my journey to Hanoi. Other common areas to visit around central Vietnam would be Nha Thrang (further South) or Hue (just North above Danang).

Keep on reading for my updates on Hanoi and, of course, Halong Bay.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.