The North and South of Vietnam

It was what the Vietnam war was all about, the North vs. the South. But since it ended in 1975, the local people have forgiven and moved on however you can still very much see differences between the top and tail end of this beautiful country. Traveling through Vietnam is best seen with time, but if you don’t have it we recommend you try not to squeeze too much in. After living and traveling throughout the country we have covered from top to bottom anywhere between 6 days right through to 28 days. Fly, train, bus, motorbike, cycle or boat, whatever transport you choose Vietnam will never disappoint.
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Image by Sarah Reid
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THE NORTH
Hanoi
The capital of Vietnam, many of the buildings still standing are old colonial French buildings and are absolutely incredible. Intermixed with the now modern, traditional, skinny, no-window, tall standing townhouses really makes this town unique. Walking around the streets of the Old Quarter is busy, noisy, always a tight squeeze and an amazing experience in itself.
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Image by Paula Harrigan
Go see:
Hanoi Hilton Prison
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & his house on stilts
Temple of Literature
Water Puppet Show
Walk around Hoan Kiem Lake
St Joseph’s Cathedral
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Image by Paula Harrigan
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Ha Long Bay
The famous and gorgeous Ha Long Bay is about a four hour drive from Hanoi. The drive is along a hectic highway, but eventually you will make it to the shipping docks to set sail on your junk boat cruise. We recommend spending at least 2 days/ 1 night aboard the boat to ensure you see the best of the bay, get to discover Surprise Cave and really enjoy the peace the bay brings in the evening.
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Sapa
Travel on an overnight train further north to experience the mountains of Vietnam. Up here there are many incredible treks and the ethnic people are beautiful. For a more traditional experience, head further out of town and trek in the not so common areas. Trekking ranges from easy to hard but make sure you have good shoes on no matter what you choose. Also, treat yourself to a stay at Topas Eco Lodge. We promise you won’t regret it.
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 Image by Paula Harrigan
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THE SOUTH
Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a beach town we have heard some describe as a small Asian “Gold Coast”. It has small but pretty beaches (but be careful of pickpockets) and is famous for taking people out to sea for a day of snorkeling and relaxing upon a local junk boat. There are also some local hot springs and mud baths for an afternoon of relaxation. In the evenings, head down to the Sailing Club Nha Trang to treat yourself to some fresh cocktails and a very tasty dinner with the sand right underneath your toes.
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Image by Krista Routledge
Dalat
Dalat was the mountain escape for the French back in the day as it always a few degrees cooler and an easy getaway. Check out the palace, the markets and the Crazy House. Many of the restaurants in this area have a brilliant taste for French and local Vietnamese fusion.
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Image by Krista Routledge
Ho Chi Minh City
Still known by the locals as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is metropolitan and changing every day. From the ever growing shops, cafes, restaurants and bars it’s hard to keep up with the buzz of this city and all its motorbikes. Just make sure you look left and right a few more times than you usually would before stepping foot out onto the street.
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Go see:
Cu Chi Tunnels
War Remanants Museum
Day trip to the Mekong Delta
The Post Office (sending a package home is an experience in itself)
Reunification Palace
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Phu Quoc
A little island in the South of Vietnam (about an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City) this place is gorgeous. Enjoy cheap massages on the beach, crystal clear water, great food and amazing sunsets. This is the place to come to relax. We’ve stayed multiple times at Phu Quoc Sea Star Resort (right on the beach) and it hasn’t failed us yet.
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