Backpacking Vietnam (Part 1) (Episode 4)
Matt and I had the incredible opportunity to backpack throughout the country of Vietnam! During our backpacking excursion, we discovered how truly beautiful and diverse the country is. In this episode, we talked about our adventure, including topics such as:
- Where we went during the first half of our trip
- Where we stayed and links to our exact cheap AirBNBs
- Why sleeper buses sound fantastic in theory, but are actually the worst, especially if you're taller than average
- Mui Ne and why it completely blew us away with its beaches, food, views, and sporadic sand dunes
- Our bus ride from Mui Ne to Da Lat and why we were terrified for our lives
- The views from the horrifying bus rides
- Da Lat-- why it's one of our top favorite places in Vietnam and the many places and things it has to offer, such as The Valley of Love, the Crazy House, and much more
- Nha Trang-- the surprising subculture there, its beaches, and us running from a sudden storm
- Hoi An, one of the most popular places to stop in Vietnam
- Our homestay there
- Bicycling throughout the cultural, ancient, and gorgeous town
- Why Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An's most popular tourist attraction, let us down
- Da Nang, a place that blew us away and why it did
And much more!
If you'd like to learn more or see pictures, feel free to scroll down and see the blog post on this podcast! There's also a part 2 to our backpacking trip through Vietnam where we go to Hanoi, Halong Bay, and more!
Thank you for reading/watching! Cheers!
Wine: Don Romero - Tinto (Spain)
While living in Vietnam, Matt and I made the decision early that we needed to backpack throughout the country. We had never done truly backpacked before and felt it was necessary. We lived in both Thailand and Korea before this and never had the opportunity to see the entire country, which we felt pretty bummed about. Since we lived in Ho Chi Minh City, we made the fairly obvious decision to take buses up the country and stop at each key city and explore each one for a couple of days each.
Vietnam has specific types of buses called a sleeper bus. In sleeper buses, there are three rows of bunk-bed-like reclined seats. In theory, this sounds rather comfortable, but they unfortunately aren't! If you are over 5 feet 10 inches, you're in for a rough ride. Your feet will be crushed, your arms will be smothered, and you'll be dripping with sweat the entire time. I was never able to take an appropriate picture of a sleeper bus, but you can just look-up Sleeper Bus Vietnam.
Our first stop on our backpacking trip was a small city named Mui Ne. It was about a 4 hour bus ride. We left around 7 am and arrived in Mui Ne in the early afternoon. When driving through Mui Ne, we were surprised by how beautiful, clean, and quiet the city was. It was nothing like the bustling Ho Chi Minh City.
We booked our room through AirBNB. We stayed at the Papaya Guesthouse which was located right next to the beach. It was a lovely quiet hotel that was just fine for poor backpackers to stay for a night or two.
We spent our day on a tour of the famous Sand Dunes in Mui Ne, which was a wonderful sight to see (see below for some photos).
Overall, Mui Ne was a great city. We enjoyed some great food from our Airbnb host, some awe-striking views of sand dunes, and were able to relax on the beach.
Death Ride to Da Lat
The next city on our trip to was Da Lat. The bus ride to Da Lat is one we will never forget. We were put on a small bus that fits around thirty people. Da Lat is located very high up in the mountains of Vietnam, 4,900 ft. above sea level to be exact. For the entire ride, the bus driver drove around 70 miles per hour up and down steep mountain sides with cliffs only inches to our side. We feared for our lives the entire ride. He actually rear-ended another vehicle at one point, but didn't seem to think anything of it. We managed to miraculously make it to Da Lat without any injuries.
Da Lat was easily one of our favorite cities. Everything about this city was different from the rest of Vietnam. It was clean, green, and had very comfortable weather. It was a huge difference from the dirty, smelly, and obnoxiously loud Ho Chi Minh City.
We stayed at The Sunshine Room in Da Lat. It was a great place to stay because it was right in the middle of the city and everything we needed was within walking distance. Matt ended up breaking a huge ceiling lamp by trying to kill a bee, but our host didn't seem mind at all!
We went on a day tour throughout Da Lat city. The tour guide was able to show us most of the city in only a few short hours. We only planned on staying in Da Lat for one full day, so a quick tour of the entire city was a great way to see it.
After Da Lat, we headed down the mountains to the beach city, Nha Trang. Nha Trang was much more populated than Mui Ne and Da Lat. It looked like we were back in Ho Chi Minh City, but instead of Vietnamese civilians everywhere, there were tons of foreigners-- and a beach. We soon realized that many people residing in Nha Trang were from Russia.
We stayed at Truong Giang Hotel. It was a pretty decently sized hotel in the center of the city. There were restaurants, shops, and the beach all within a two minute walk. Our hotel host told us of a few cool places to eat and see at night. We ended up eating at Ganesh Indian restaurant, which ended up being some of the best food we have ever eaten.
We decided to only spend one full day in Nha Trang. We spent our one day at a tiki bar on the beach drinking cocktails for a few hours. While we were enjoying our drinks, we noticed some black clouds approaching. We didn't think anything of them until a huge wind storm began to blow all the umbrellas in the air. We ran as quickly as we could back to our hotel and made it right before the torrential rain hit. It definitely put a damper on our beach day!
We left Nha Trang at six the next night. Our bus ride to Hoi An was an overnight ride that took twelve hours. The bus ride was pretty tolerable because we both slept most of the ride, fortunately.
We arrived in Hoi An at six am. We jumped in a taxi and told him the address of the place we were staying. He ended up dropping us off nowhere near where we needed to be. We ended up walking around and asking for help. After about thirty minutes of searching, someone offered to take us on his motorbike to our accommodation.
This would be our first home-stay on our backpacking trip. We stayed at a woman's home which was named .Sake Home. Our host spoke absolutely no English. This didn't stop us from enjoying her delicious home cooked meals, though!
Throughout the day we explored Hoi An by bicycle. We spent time at the beach, ate some delicious sandwiches, and enjoyed some delightful Vietnamese Coffee. At night, we went to Hoi An Ancient Town, Hoi An's main attraction. When we arrived, the area was flooded with tourists. It was difficult to enjoy Ancient Town because there was so many people screaming, running around, and taking an absurd amount of photos.
We ended up at an all-you-can-drink bar for most of the night. We met three people from England who were exploring the entire country as well. We spent the entire night drinking, dancing, and playing games with them.
We headed out to Da Nang in the morning. Da Nang was a quick 45 minute bus ride. When arriving in Da Nang, we noticed it was a big, clean, beach city.
In Da Nang, we stayed in a studio apartment near the beach. (Tai's Place)
Matt and I explored the surrounding areas of Da Nang. We walked on the beach, ate some Vietnamese pancakes, and enjoyed the nice weather. It was quite a lovely day!
At night, our Airbnb host invited us to eat dinner with them by the ocean. It was me, Matt, Tai (our Airbnb host), and another Airbnb guest. They took us to a local Vietnamese restaurant, where we enjoyed local seafood and beer. We had some great conversations about Vietnam, America, and baseball.
Before departing from Da Nang, Matt and I went to the top of a hotel in Da Nang. This hotel gave us a great view of the entire city. We hung up there for a few hours before catching our bus to our next destination.
Wine: Don Romero - Tinto (Spain)
Be sure to check out Part 2 of Backpacking Vietnam!