Verdant patchworks of rice paddies, pointed lampshade-style hats, natural beauty, ethnic culture, and imperial history; Vietnam is a place that welcomes visitors to their country with open arms and friendly smiles. Our Flightie Carly Sywulych shares her experience travelling through Vietnam with Contiki Holidays:
My first impression of Vietnam was the heat. Hot, dry, sticky heat- incomparable to the fresh warmth and cool breeze we take for granted in Vancouver. The first stop on my 10 day Contiki tour of Vietnam was Ho Chi Min City, the capital city of Vietnam. It was much as I’d expected having been to Bangkok and other large Asian cities; motorbikes everywhere, weaving around pedestrians and one another at top speed, bustling with bright city lights. For anyone looking for slower paced Vietnamese culture I recommend only a short stay in the City. However a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels is recommended. They’re an incredible reminder of how tough the Vietnam War was. Tunnels us Westerners could barely fit through housed groups of soldiers for days on end.
Our next stop was Hoi An where I began to take in the spectacular fusion of culture Vietnam has to offer. The French Colonial influence is evident here in the cafes, architecture and design of the streets. I had a dress and coat made at a local tailor and love them. The price was right and they were made to fit in just days. The seaside location of the town gives it an idyllic feel; the locals were very friendly and the overall vibe was far more peaceful than that of the big city.
Our last stop was Hanoi (with a side trip to Halong Bay), the second largest city in Vietnam. It had many of the same City elements as Ho Chi Min but far more character in its history and quirky markets. I enjoyed the markets here a lot although they were driving a tougher bargain than I’d expected! Purses, clothing and tickle-trunk trinkets were in every booth with enthusiastic sales people convincing us we couldn’t leave without a visit to their stall. The city is very picturesque as it’s situated around Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake which connects two rivers. The highlight of my trip was when we spent a night in Halong Bay. We went for a walk through the lime stone caves and then went in a double kayak aroun the bay. My partner and I rowed our kayak through some caves where we were completely alone, surrounded by rocks and clear blue ocean. It was so serene and like nothing I’ve experienced before.
All too quickly our tour was up and it was time to head back to Vancouver. Despite only being in Vietnam for 10 days, I felt the Contiki tour went at a great pace and really allowed us to get a feel for the cities we visited. Without the organization and easy set up that Contiki offers I don’t belive I would have been able to have seen and do as much as I did. Vietnam certainly has a rich history and although there is always more to learn I feel like I was able to get a good feel for their culture as well as experience lots of sites and cuisine. With all that Vietnam has to offer a Contiki trip is the best way to see the most, do the most and get the best bang for your buck!