While the biggest draw is the mysterious rock formations of Halong Bay, Vietnam’s markets, from those in the mountains in the north to the Mekong Delta in the South, are some of the best and most interesting in Asia.
This month long trip in February of 2011 started with a quick visit to Shanghai, China before arriving in Ho Chi Minh City. In Vietnam we traveled from south to north including a bicycle trip in the Mekong Delta and stops in Hoi An and Hue before arriving in Hanoi. From Hanoi we made two multi-day excursions, one to Sa Pa in the mountains near the Chinese border and the another to Ha Long Bay. On the way home we stopped in Tokyo for the weekend.
Twenty-four hours in Shanghai during Chinese New Year.
Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon – First Impressions
The on-line visa process, arriving in Saigon during the Tet new year’s festival, and review of the Lemongrass Restaurant.
Exploring the streets of Saigon with visits to the Ben Than Market and the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Review of Vietnam House Restaurant.
Biking the Mekong Delta –
Three day tour with SinhBalo Adventure Travel
Visits to a floating fish farm and a traditional Mekong Delta home. Lunch at a crazy outdoor amusement park. Spending the night an island home-stay.
Touring the back roads by bike arriving at Can Tho.
Boat tour of large floating market and the canals through local villages.
Hoi An – First Impressions
Visit to the Cham Museum in Da Nang, exploring the streets of Hoi An and a reveiw of Cava Restaurant.
Food Day in Hoi An
Bicycle tour plus cooking class with Lighthouse Restaurant and a review of Morning Glory Restaurant.
Sights in Hoi An
Visits to the Cham ruins of My Son and the merchant houses and assembly halls in Hoi An. Restaurant reviews of Morning Glory and Doa Tien.
Train to Hue
Restaurant review of Mango Mango in Hoi An, train trip to Hue and reviews of the hotel Villa Hue and Confetti restaurant in Hue.
A Day on the Perfume River
Chartering a boat on the Perfume River with stops at Dong Ba Market, the Minh Mang and Tu Duc Mausoleums, and the Tien Mu Pagoda. Review of the Garden Club Restaurant.
Visit to the Citadel, the imperial palace in Hue. Review of the Mandarin Cafe.
On to Hanoi
Reviews of Hotel Hanoi Elegance and Green Tangerine restaurant.
Hanoi – First Impressions
Booking a Ha Long Bay Cruise, exploring the streets of the French quarter and the old quarter including a visit to the Dong Xuan Market. Restaurant review of Cafe Five.
Sight Seeing in Hanoi
Visits to the Military Museum, Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison, most commonly known as the Hanoi Hilton. Restaurant reviews of Quang An Ngon and Green Mango.
Streetside Dining in Hanoi
Exploring the street food in Hanoi’s old quarter.
Sapa and Around
Train to Sapa and the Can Cau Market
Overnight train to Lao Cai, visit to Can Cau Market, walk around Bac Ha to the Pho Ban minority village, and a review of Confu Hotel in Bac Ha.
Bac Ha Market and Moving on to Sapa
Visit to Bac Ha Sunday Market and the Cat Cat minority village outside of Sapa. Review of the Sapa hotel Casablanca and the restaurants Sapa Rooms and Delta.
Trekking in Sapa
Guided day trek in the countryside around Sapa.
Three Day Two Night Cruise on Halong Bay with Paradise Cruises
First views of the impressive rock formations and a visit to a floating fishing village.
Day 2 and 3
Bicycling to Viet Hai Village on Cat Cat Island, kayaking in the bay and a visit to Thien Canh Son caves.
Chilling in Tokyo
Visit to the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa and the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. Korean restaurant in Akasaka.
Tokyo’s Ginza Shopping District
Visit to the Ginza shopping district, including the food department of the Mitsukoshi department store and the Ginza Sky Lounge. Ordering noodles through a vending machine in Akasaka and eating ramen in Ripongi.
Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market
A visit to this world famous market two weeks before the devastating earthquake.