Travels

HCM: Cu Chi tunnels

2 ½ h NE Chaing Mai

51mins from HCM. The 75-mile-long complex of tunnels at Củ Chi has been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and turned into a war memorial park Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. Visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. Ben Dinh site, closer to Saigon, has tunnel reconstructions and some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of Western tourists.

Nha Trang beach

HCM 6-8 hours. Is a stop on the main railway-line connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. St is close to the cathedral in the northern part of town. If you want a soft-sleeper (the highest class available on Vietnamese trains), book your train ticket directly at the train station as far in advance as you are able. Don’t book with agents they rip you off! Soft sleeper rooms are 4 berth, hard sleepers are 6 berth.

Hoi An – Central

2h South Hue This fishing-village-turned-tourist-attraction. 16th century, winding lanes, chinese-styled shops. Venice of Vietnam because of the narrow canals that cut through part of the town. Hoi An Central Market

TRAVEL: Open top tour bus: Hué - Hoi An £3, 4h.
Train: 2-3h £3 Stops at Danang. Hoi An has no station taxi £4-£7  30mins journey
Hoi An - HCM £7.70

Food: By eating at street stalls and markets you can get a bowl of pho or a rice dish for 60p. Sit down restaurants are also inexpensive at around £2.

Hue

3h south of Song Dong/ 2h 12mins from Hoi An

Dong Ba Markets The largest market place in central Vietnam

The Imperial Tombs, forbidden city 17mins from Dong Ba Hue’s greatest attraction. These 7 tombs.

Thuan An Beach – 1min walk from Imperial tombs

Thủy Thanh Japanese Bridge 1½ h from the beach

Tu Duc Tomb – 1h 20 from the beach

Thien Mu Pagoda

– Perfume River – 1h from Thuan An Beach

1601 Tallest pagoda in Vietnam. On the banks of the Perfume River. Hue is a city, with bridges, lakes, moats and canals.

TRAIN: Hanoi - Hue 11–16h, Soft sleepers (1st class) £14 Book at the train st days in adv.
Hue - HCM £9
Open top tour bus: £14 HCM – Hué

Hoa Lu, Tam Coc

2h South Hanoi £20 day tour from Hanoi. In Ninh Binh Ancient royal complex. Explore the caves by sampan 3h boat ride. Main building of the Hoa Lu is a pagoda. TRAVEL: Regular buses from Hanoi's southern bus terminal (Giap Bat) leave every 15min or whenever full £1.90 2h. Buy a ticket in the ticket hall not on the bus its cheaper.  drop passengers off upon request (Ninh Binh is not a regular stop)

Ha long Bay

3h north of Hoa Lu/ 3
½ h from Hanoi
UNESCO comprises 2 smaller towns, Bai Chay and Hon Gai: Bai Chay where the hotels, tour agencies and restaurants are located. Weather can be cool and drizzly. Visit monkey island Cat Ba. Similar to Vang Vieng in Laos Travel:  Halong – Cat Ba – tourist boats £2, 5h £3.32 bus from Hanoi 5h. 10am depart arrive in time for last ferry at 3pm. From Kim Ma bus station on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, you can take Hoang Long express which departs every 15 minutes from the station. It will take about 3-4 hours to reach the pier. Cost £1.66. There are plenty of cruise operators that you can choose from to hop on. Train from Hanoi to Halong and return: Starting from Gia Lam Railway Station, Korea- invested train, USD20/single ticket. It arrives at Halong Train Station. The station is 4 km away from the Bai Chay Tourist Wharf.

Hanoi

3h West of Ha long Hoan Kiem Lake At the heart of old Hanoi (Lake of the Restored Sword), after a sacred weapon that helped repel a Chinese attack in the 15th century. The lake supports a large population of turtles. Old Quarter 7mins walk from Hoan Kiem Lake Best way to see it is on foot, inc Dong Xuan Market. Temple of Literature 24mins walk from Hoan Kiem Lake One Pillar Pagoda 25mins walk from Old Quarter (Chua Mot Cot) 1049, said to have miraculous healing powers. Tran Quoc Pagoda 17mins walk from One Pillar Pagoda Hanoi Night market spreading from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market creates a busy and crowded walking street. TRAIN: Hanoi - HCMC 30h - 41h £14

Son Đoong Cave

4h North of Hue/ 8h south of Hanoi Located in Son Trach, Bo Trach District. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park - Mountain River Cave. World's largest cave can fit a skyscraper. Jungle, Fast-moving underground river. 6h for explorers walking through 10km forest path from Truong Son Highway to reach the mouth of Son Dong cave. TRAVEL: Night train to bus from Hanoi to Dong Hoi  8h then take taxi to Phong Nha, Son Doong is not open for popular tourist yet as it is very dangerous to go there without proper equipment, only allow organize trekking tour Hang EN (Swallow cave) - Tour is 2-3 days. Sept – Oct is flooding season so it is not recommended to do this kind of tour. £1,500 for guided tour

Cu Da (Vermicelli Village)

30mins south Hanoi A little hard to get to, and hence, no tourism. The road into the village was made for bicycle traffic, not vehicles, and even a small car has trouble navigating itself through to the village centre, particularly early in the morning when the local market is in full swing.

Sa Pa Terraces

5h NW of Hanoi Muong Hoa valley between Sa Pa -Fansipan Mountain. Market: hill-tribe handicrafts, visit Sat & Sun mornings. TRAVEL: Hanoi - Sa Pa - £7 9h AC overnight train, £11-14 for a bed, final 50mins from Lo Cai to Sapa shuttles outside the st £1.80. https://vietnam-railway.com/train/touristtrainstosapa

Ban Gioc Falls

5h 20 North of Hanoi
Public bus from My Dinh bus station to Cao Bang then from Cao Bang get local bus to Trung Khanh. Then a taxi for 20km. There is a large cave called Nguom Ngao which is worth a visit as well. December is good time.