Hoi An

Different from the rest of the country, the Ancient Town of Hoi An is also a World Heritage Site. Hoi An was a former port, making it the ideal place for an intermingling of culture and art. You will find everything from French architecture to Vietnamese Tube Houses to Chinese shops and even Japanese signatures in its temples. Hoi An is also called the city of lanterns and the street décor easily distinguishes itself from any other part of this world.

To reach Hoi An, we took a flight from Hanoi to Hue. We had a pre-booked cab that took us all the way to Hoi An and making several stops.

 />

<div style=
Photo Credits: Hoi An - hoiannow.com
Photo Credits: An Bang Cemetery - nomadicmacs.com

An Bang Cemetery – City of Ghosts

When alive, we try to do our best to make ourselves known and our family and friends do their best to have us remembered. However, at the An Bang Cemetery, this is taken to a whole new level. Spread across miles, the cemetery is special for its unique tombstones. From dragons to phoenixes, there’s color and massive architecture, trying to stand up for the dead they represent. It felt like there’s a competition that is never ending. However, for every incredible grave, there’s another even more towering and it’s literally easy to get lost on the non-living crowd.

Photo Credits: An Bang - Madhumay Mallik
Photo Credits: Hoi An City - envietnamplus.vn

An Bang Beach

There’s nothing like staring at the distant horizon and seeing it change colors! The blue waters of the South China Sea roared towards the soft sandy beach, reflecting itself on the furious clouds on the sky above. Its good to feel overpowered and feel small when the elements are raw and pure! We stopped at one of the shacks to have the best seafood on the tour and talk of our adventures ahead.

Hoi An City

Being a World Heritage Site also requires living up to its name and fame. Hoi An perfectly manages to keep up its reputation. Day or night, the city is bustling, but as opposed to the clumsiness of Hanoi, there’s life in it. You see colors everywhere and it’s very refreshing. It’s a small town but it’s big on experience. You can explore the city on foot but we took a Grab to Cua Dai beach to spend our day. It had been a long tiring travel till now and it felt good relaxing with a glass of Whiskey Sour and some amazing seafood for company. The setting couldn’t be more beautiful.

Another getaway close to Hoi An is the Lang Cao beach. This is perfect if you are looking to indulge in some authentic seafood with a view! There are several shacks that offer a extensive menu.

Photo Credits: miniature French village - tourgolf.com
Photo Credits: jpninfo.com

Da Nang – Ba Na Hills

If you have Googled photos of Vietnam, you would certainly have come across the golden Bridge, with the iconic hands holding out a bridge. Well, we too were as much excited to see it in person. However, the Ba Na Hills is a completely artificial fantasy and now that we were there, everything seemed so overhyped. The entrance fee per head is about US$32 and it’s true that the theme park, set up on the hills does offer a lot of attractions. However, it’s not as much fun if you are just trying to squeeze Ba Na hills into your itinerary. The Golden Bridge with the rock hands look great on pictures, but in reality, not so much! Other than that, there’s a miniature French Village (buildings with French architecture) but it all looks are felt pretty plastic. There’s a lack of authenticity to the place and I wouldn’t personally recommend it to anyone.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The last leg of our trip, we were pretty tired by the time we had flown to Ho Chi Minh City from Da Nang. Apart from getting a wholesome Japanese dinner at Manmaru Restaurant, it was all about gossips and throwbacks to the last week of trip.

Mekong Delta

Our last on the list of place to visit in Vietnam was the Mekong Delta, that seemed highly recommended on several blogs. We had talked to a well known guide for a private tour and left for Mekong Delta by bus, early in the morning. It took 4 hours to get to our stop and another hour to get to the Delta part of the place. The top attraction here are the coconut processing factories that handle tens of thousands of coconuts every day, manually. However, having grown up in India, another coastal country, it wasn’t something special for us.

Photo Credits: canoeing at Mekong delta - viator.com
Photo Credits: Cu Chi Tunnel - winsuitessaigon.com

Canoeing at Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta tour too wasn’t exciting. It’s basically a boat ride on the backwater channels that are used to harvest and transport coconuts to the factories. In fact, it was a very bad impression of the state of tourism here. Debris, ranging from rotting meat to plastic bundles floating by as we cruised on our boat was not a pleasant experience. Added to it was the foul smell of the sewage that must be connected to the channels. The photos did come out good because the channels are completely surrounded by coconut trees. Well, at least it was an experience worth having and sharing.

We had also planned for Cu Chi tunnel for our last day in Vietnam but we opted to sit it out. Sometimes, you just need to stay put and imbibe in a place. After all this travel, we were a bit exhausted too and weren’t looking forward to a bus ride. However, if you can make it to Cu Chi Tunnel, it certainly will be worth the trip.

Coming back to India, we look back at the trip as an accomplishment. It took us more than six months to put the whole itinerary in place, right from booking the flight tickets to jotting down the restaurants and how to get to each place. That’s what travelers do I guess when not traveling! I hope you enjoyed reading the blog and that it will help you in making your Vietnam backpacking, a good one.

Photo credits: Banner Left: Hoi An – Toomas Tartes; Banner Center: Vietnam-guide.com; Banner Right: Saigon Central Post Office – atlasobscura.com Also visit: http://madhumaymallik.com/2017/12/10/temple-city-bhubaneshwar/