Have you ever had to rely on a less than 100 pound elderly woman to guide you through the mountains and make sure that you wouldn’t fall flat on your face? Well, I have.
Should I or should I not go to Sapa? That’s not even a question if you enjoy hiking, cooler weather, and a whole different experience from anything else that Vietnam has to offer. I spent a couple of days trekking through the hills in northern Vietnam toward the end of my two month trip. Although it was cloudy and rainy for the most part, it was still absolutely beautiful. It’s easy enough to do an overnight bus from Hanoi and be at the Sapa town center by morning. Be prepared for cooler temperatures. If you need any winter gear there are discounted North Face stores on every corner in the main parts of Sapa and Hanoi. I bought a jacket that I later forgot on the boat ride to Halong Bay – womp wommmmp.
A group of about 8 of us were going on the two day trek – I wish I had gone a little longer but that’s just more reason to go back. Each day we walked about 8-10 miles through little villages. After our first day of sightseeing we stayed in a village home-stay where they prepped us a fantastic meal. We were able to explore the village, get mulled wine, treat ourselves to massages, and enjoy these little lavender infused baths up in the mountains.
After the first night we continued our journey through the slippery terrain. The photos tell more than I can. But this was such a unique experience and I’m glad that I took advantage of seeing this part of the country. Don’t believe me or still a bit skeptical? Well good thing for Tripadvisor.
I got in trouble for jumping off of a boat on the way to Halong Bay. Ok, it was a bit of a MESS. Yes, it is BEAUTIFUL. But it’s a tourist trap so BE CAREFUL! We took a sunset boat out to Cat Ba through Halong Bay. It was gorgeous but our tour guide was ripping us off horribly and so I just drank wine and fumed inside. Not my best moment, but I had been traveling in SE Asia for four months and was at the end of my scam tolerance.
Anyways, there is a little place near Halong Bay called Monkey Island. I spent an afternoon climbing around, playing frisbee, and basking in the sun. The monkeys would LITERALLY come right up to you and sneak your beers. It was madness!
**It’s a lovely area of Vietnam, but if you go make sure to do the research before and make sure to negotiate prices and deals.**
I got to visit my buddy Long when I went to Hanoi. Once again, another city I am in love with in Vietnam. I met Long through my ultimate frisbee team in South Korea while he was studying at the university in Ulsan. We ate lots of Vietnamese BBQ, which is the BEST food ever. I love the night life and that everyone eats outside in the streets.
I biked around the lake, walked around the city, and prepped for Halong Bay & SaPa.
Make sure to drink the POOP coffee! Just kidding, it’s not poop, but Hanoi is famous for the Weasel coffee that does partly come from their…. well .
Hoi An is any gals dream. It is known to be the town that has tailors who create made to order dresses and clothing. I got sized and had a few dresses made for myself and my sister. I biked, explored, made pottery, went to the beach which had amazing waves, took an evening canoe ride, ate really good local food, stayed at the best home stay. We also rented motorbikes and went north to Danang for a day and explore that little town.
I’ve said it a lot, but this was definitely one of my favorite towns. I stayed over a week because there was so much to do and I had such a cozy place to sleep.
Dalat is a little town that is a MUST see. I spent about four days there exploring the area. From renting a motorbike and getting lost in the countryside, finding REALLY good coffee, buying some art, and cruising the night markets. Also, The Train Villa had AMAZING lasagna (yes, it’s OK to eat lasagna when you have been living in Asia for over two years).