I was in Vietnam for 10 days. It’s a country with different mentalities and landscapes from other countries in the far east I visited, and the whole experience was very special and interesting.
Our trip started in the capital, Hanoi. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel in a perfect location in the heart of the old city- The Chi Hotel.
Recommended restaurants nearby:
- Yamamoto matcha cafe– A coffee shop where all the desserts and drinks have Matcha- green tea. In Japan it is very common to combine Matcha with sweets and this is a unique opportunity to taste the flavors that are not as common in western countries.
- Pizza 4p’s– This Italian restaurant is the guilty pleasure you don’t want to miss- right in the heart of Hanoi. The first time we were in the restaurant we ordered half a pizza with prosciutto and mozzarella burrata – a cheese stuffed with cream dripping from it when sliced. and yes, it’s as good as it sounds. The other half of the pizza we took with Camembert cheese, ham and truffle. For dessert we ordered an apple and mascarpone sweet pizza. Obviously we had to come back to see if the pizza tastes as good on the second try (it does), and this time we ordered half a pizza with cherry tomatoes and a burrata and a half with 4 types of cheese. These are by far the most special pizzas I have ever eaten, and probably the most delicious.
- Highway 4– Authentic Vietnamese restaurant with excellent traditional cuisine. We took meatballs served to the table on fire, stir-fried rice with vegetables, shrimp salad and fried Nams.
After spending 3 days in Hanoi, we drove for 5 hours by car to North Vietnam – an area inhabited by tribes who live as they once did in undeveloped villages. We visited the town of Sapa but the foggy rainy weather did not allow us to see the spectacular views there. So learn from my mistakes- if you plan to visit the area, make sure to check the weather in advance. In our case, the long drive was superfluous and we couldn’t enjoy the place at all.
On the other hand, we had a great time visiting the town Bac Ha. It has a huge, colorful and lively market where you can learn a lot about the special culture of Vietnam, and of course buy handmade souvenirs at ridiculous prices.
The next stop on the trip was Halong Bay – one of the Seven Wonders of the natural World. It is the most famous tourist site in Vietnam and consists of 3000 small islands, cliffs, caves, beaches and beautiful green-turquoise water.
We took a two-day cruise on the luxury cruise ship of Orchid Cruises. As part of the cruise program, tours were organized in small boats to a magical cave and a stunning beach. Our room was very nice, and on the first evening there was a cool cooking class on deck where we learned to make a Vietnamese Spring roll.
After the cruise we returned to Hanoi, and from there we flew to Ban Me Thout, where we met two local motorcycle drivers who picked us up from the airport. From that moment we started a crazy two-day motorbike trip between mountains, villages, rice fields and breathtaking lakes, until we reached the tourist town of Dalat (a few hundred kilometers). The trip was an incomparable experience. We visited primitive villages where all I could eat is white rice, but in this unique way we were able to see and feel the real, raw Vietnam. We visited coffee, cocoa, rice and vegetables fields, as well as silk factory make from Silkworms. I highly recommend this trip and I think it is a must for anyone who wants to experience a true Vietnamese adventure.
We arrived in the town of Da lat on the afternoon of our second day and visited a place called The Mad House – a strange and charming structure reminiscent of Gaudí’s mad houses in Barcelona. It was built by a local architect and filled with strange rooms in the form of caves, animals and cobwebs. From the upper part of the building there is a breathtaking view of Dalat and the surrounding area.
We ate dinner at One More Cafe, a cute and homey cafe with good food and amazing desserts. We only had Desserts (because who really need normal food when you can have cake?) we ordered carrot cake with a glaze of lemon cream and a crazy pavlova with mango and banana.
The last stop on the trip was Hoi An – the coolest city in Vietnam. We stayed in an amazing resort called Silk Marina Resort and I highly recommend it.
Apart from a stunning pool, a great spa and a perfect breakfast in the hotel, this is one of the only resorts in Hoi An located within walking distance of the old town – the main attraction. The streets of the Old City are scattered with colorful lamps that create a magical and unique atmosphere, even during the day, but especially when they are lit at night. All this magic is located on the banks of a stunning river that can be sailed in wooden boats. The Old City is full of restaurants, boutique shops, stalls, cafes and markets.
One particularly recommended restaurant: The secret garden– an amazing restaurant located in a small alley, and truly gives a sense of a secret garden you’ve discovered. Since we loved it so much, we came back three days in a row. Every day I ate a different meat, each accompanied by a more special sauce than the other. This is really one of those restaurants where you can’t go wrong- no matter what you order.
There are a lot of tailors, seamstresses and shoemakers in Hoi An, and I highly recommend to come up with ideas for clothes or examples of clothes you have and want to make a replica of them. I especially recommend a taylor named Nhung who has sewed for me 15 stunning and special clothes. After you explain to her what you want by using a picture or a garment that you already have, you will be taken to a huge fabric store where you can choose the desired fabric. The next day, Nyong will invite you to measure the garment she sewed overnight and alter it at your request. We came for 4 measurements until we were satisfied with the clothes, and she had patience for every request. Through Nyong we reached her brother, a shoemaker, who had made for me four pairs of sandals made of genuine leather and a stunning leather bag. Both are exceptionally talented and offer fair prices.