With golden temples, jade green waters, yellow rice paddy fields & coloured silks, Vietnam is an explosion of colour. Yanela Espinosa recently travelled to this beautiful country with Contiki Holidays and shares her highlights from each city with us:
My overall experience with Contiki in Vietnam was amazing. I spent my first few days in Saigon, formerly known as Ho Chi Minh, a very crowded city in the south, where you can become submerged in the Vietnamese culture. After the third day my group and I flew to Hoi An, a tiny city by the cost, in the mid section of the country where you can find tailor shops in which they can make you clothing in a day. After a couple of days in Hoi An we made our way to Hanoi, the Capital of Vietnam where we you can get the vibe of the modern city. Finally after 2 days in Hanoi we took a 2 hour bus ride to the incredible Halong Bay, where the mountains rise out of the sea like a beautiful sunset. Here are some of my highlights:
My 1st day in Saigon I explored the surroundings. I felt so happy to have finally made it, and it felt as if my heart was exploding with excitement. For the first time I was walking through places I did not know. I had to stop and get directions and the people were kind and helpful. I went to a restaurant called Alez Boo, a rustic little place with amazing food.
On the streets you can find all kinds of souvenirs but my main goal was to visit the famous markets, where you can find a unique variety of products being sold, and best of all you learn how to bargain. The highlight of Ho Chi Minh included the under ground tunnels of Cu Chi where the Vietnamese lived when they were at war.
After the 3rd day in Saigon I was ready to move on and explore other parts of the country. We flew into Hoi An, which is a features a little village on the mid coast of Vietnam. A beautiful place surrounded by sandy beaches and a refreshing breeze. Our tour guide Luke took us to a tasty cheese cake shop called Cargo Club. My favorite was mango cheese cake. If you are ever by the area you absolutely have to go. As the days passed, I fell in love with Hoi An. Our group did a biking tour through the town and later that night we had a fun Vietnamese traditional cooking class. I wish I could have spent more time here and I would definitely go back some day.
Leaving behind Hoi An was sad for me but the experience I gained and the people I met are unforgettable . Hanoi was definitely different from Saigon and Hoi An. This city is vibrant, full of life, and most of all very modern. As we entered the Capital we went to see the Temple of Literature, which used to be a University for all those worthy of knowledge. There we walked through its lush gardens, and learned about its history from our native guide. The next day we spent in Halong Bay but we finished our tour here upon our return from Halong and spent our last night as a group gathered at a local restaurant and celebrated the unforgettable experience in Vietnam.
After the 2nd day in Hanoi, we drove through the country side, a 4 hours bus ride from the city to Halong Bay. As we approached the bay I felt breathless, my eyes could not believe what I was seeing. It was one of those moments when you stop and realize how lucky and blessed you are be given the opportunity to be looking at a UNESCO World Heritage. The rock formations are mind blowing. The boat cruise during the afternoon hours as the sun went down being served delicious seafood made this day an unforgettable moment in my life. Alone the way we saw little fishing villages and the people who lived there waived at us as we past by. After a couple of hours we docked on a bay where we had the opportunity to go snorkeling, swimming or visit a cave.
I can say this beautiful country is an undiscovered jewel. The food, the people and weather make this country an exquisite destination. Thank you Contiki Holidays for giving me the experience of a life time!
Looking for more information on travelling to Vietnam with Contiki Holidays? Yanela is an International Travel Consultant at our Mill Woods Town Centre location in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached by e-mail or calling 1-877-430-3248