Vietnam celebrates their new year, which they refer to as ‘Tet,’ or in other countries, commonly known as the Lunar New Year. Throughout this holiday, we got the time to explore outside Ho Chi Minh City. Let me say, in this past week, I have had some of the most amazing experiences of my life (I’m not even being corny).
Friday – Hellooo Hanoi
Thursday night after work, a few of us caught a flight up to Hanoi. Oh my goodness, the city was beautiful. The influence of French colonialism in Vietnam is apparent in the architecture. The buildings reminded me so much of Europe, cramped together in the most perfect way. However, the influence of China is also demonstrated, as the presence of Buddhism is strongly felt. Small buddha souvenirs are found in every other stall, and the city is dotted with beautiful pagodas and temples. The combination of Buddhism and French architecture makes the city so unique and engaging to the eye. We had a tour of the city, explored Tet markets, had the famous egg coffee (which gives tiramisu mixed with meringue energy) and saw amazing temples. We finished the day at train street – an overall top-notch first day to start the holiday.
Saturday to Monday – Bon Voyage! Off to Ha Long Bay
My o my, Ha Long Bay was an EXPERIENCE. The next three days were spent on a cruise around the beautiful northern islands of Vietnam (a couple of hours north of Hanoi), and oh my goodness, it was fun. Picture this, four broke students, wining and dining like kings and queens on the most luxurious cruise you can think of. We would start our days with some morning Tai Chi before enjoying gorgeoooous buffet breakfasts. From there, it was go go go, kayaking, visiting different islands and exploring jaw-dropping caves. Lunch and dinners were five-course meals (I KNOW!?), and of course, we also had live music (the hosts were great flute players). After dinner, it was straight to the jacuzzi, where we chatted the night away under the stars with our new friends we met on the boat (shout out to the Americans and Aussies!). My time at Ha Long felt like a movie. Being able to experience something so incredible with my friends left me feeling so blessed and grateful. That cruise is going down in the books.
Tuesday to Thursday – Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’ in Ha Giang
After the cruise, we jumped on an overnight bus to Ha Giang, where we began my most favourite part of the trip -the Ha Giang Loop! If you are ever considering traveling Vietnam, you MUST, I mean, MUST do this activity – a three-day motorbike ride exploring rural, northern Vietnam – how good! It was such a magical and exciting experience – it is hard to put into words how much fun it was.
There were about 30 of us doing this loop; we were all young travellers, which made the energy of the group very upbeat and friendly. You could choose to ride the motorbike yourself or have an easy rider – either way, you were set to have a good time. We rode for four-five hours every day, stopping in different villages and lookouts. The scenery was unlike anything I had ever seen -my jaw was permanently open in awe.
My most favourite part of this experience was the people. The local people from these communities were all so friendly and beautiful; it was honestly humbling to meet such kind people. Also, the group we did the loop with were so cool. Everyone came from such different backgrounds and were all so open and kind. I made new friends from the Netherlands, Chile, France, Canada and more. Everyone was awesome. Lastly, the Vietnamese riders were so fun! Singing karaoke and dancing with everyone each night in the hostels are memories I will forever treasure.
Friday – Views on views at Ninh Binh
The day trip to Ninh Binh was gaaawgus. Learning about the rich history of Vietnam while exploring the insane scenery produced a perfect day. The views were unreal – Highly recommend!
Saturday- Sunday – Darling Da Lat
We ended our Tet Holiday in the beautiful town of Da Lat. I really enjoyed this final part of the trip. The town gave us the feeling of a Vietnam’s Queenstown. Found in the Vietnamese highlands, Da Lat was a beautiful place to explore. My favourite part of Da Lat was visiting the astonishing temples and pagodas. The colours and architecture I had never seen before – I was left speechless.
One of the most beautiful, exciting and enjoyable weeks ever. Happy New Year, Everyone!