We took a local bus from Da Lat to Nha Trang and I can safely say that we won’t be doing that again! It was our shortest journey so far at 3 hours, but with no air con and a driver that thought he was Lewis Hamilton I surprised myself I didn’t chuck!! I stayed with my head on the seat in front the whole journey as I gathered a surprise plummet to my death was better than watching it happen!! Fran on the other hand was able to read her book, much more hard core than me, or was it a distraction technique?
The shade of green I turned quickly disappeared as soon as I got my two feet on the dusty ground. I was more than thankful we only had to endure 3 hours in that mini bus!
Anyway we made it to Nha Trang and were looking forward to beautiful sandy beaches and scorching hot sunshine. Unfortunately that’s not what greeted us on arrival. The roads are overtaken by tourist shops, noisy bars and cheap tacky restaurants. Not at all what I expected.
We settled ourselves in our dorm room at a hostel called True Friends Inn and decided to head out for lunch with a group of Irish friends we were bunked in with. We shared stories of where we had been so far and where we are going, which I love to do because you find out the best tips and tricks! However they kinda filled us with fear when they told us a story about how one of them had his tablet stolen from between his legs while he was asleep on a night bus. We’ve heard Nha Trang is a pretty dangerous place so I was a lot more weary than I normally am!
I feel like this city and I had started off on the wrong foot and was determined to find something I liked about the place. Thanks to trusty Trip Advisor I came across a company called Vietnam Active so we headed down to their shop to investigate.
In no longer than 10 minutes we had booked ourselves up for a cycling tour for the following day that would take us out of the bustling town and to what they call ‘the real Vietnam’. PERFECT!
Were we geared up with helmets, headbands and gloves, we looked the part and were ready to head off on this adventure.
The journey took us a long way along the coast and up some pretty steep hills that felt like we were cycling through mud thanks to the heat. I loved it and it felt good to do some exercise. A sweaty back has become a common feature I hate to say – it’s not a good look! The views we were awarded with after these steep climbs were mesmerising – THIS is what I expected Vietnam to look like!!!
We got to taste sugar cane juice along the way (a local favourite), had a feast cooked for us and rock climbed our way up to the top of a wonderful natural waterfall. May I add that superwomen Fran and I jumped into one of the pools at the bottom of the waterfall from a rock about 20 feet high – that’s right!! Incredible feeling 😉 Something I’ve always wanted to do and can now cross off the bucket list 🙂
We found a restaurant called Lanterns that we visited for dinner twice and lunch once during our 3 day visit. It’s one of the nicer looking spots around this area and the food was deeeelish!!
We usually stay in every new place for 3 nights but for Nha Trang we decided to cut our stay short to just 2 nights. We felt as if we could of been on the strip in Zante and that’s not what we wanted out of a visit to Vietnam.
We booked an over night bus to Hoi An for the 11th April at 7pm. This allowed us to spend the day at the beach. And you know what, it’s actually very nice! The beaches stretch on for miles, the seas nice and warm and the palm trees that line the parade make for a nice shelter from the scorching sun. It’s not such a bad place after all, but we were still relieved to be leaving! Sorry Nha Trang.
The bus to Hoi An was another sleeper bus with tiny seats and no room for movement, but we squished ourselves and bags on and settled in for the 13 hours ahead of us!! I’d said on the previous sleeper bus that I could totally be able to travel serious distances on one of these buses!! Oh how wrong I was. After just 5 hours the size of the bed becomes seriously annoying and you just wana stretch your legs out, no chance, and I’m only 5’5. I was immensely jealous of all you shorter people!! Happy as Larry you lot!!
Anyway we made it to Hoi An safe and sound as always and jumped in a taxi to the hostel.
We knew we had chosen well as soon as we stepped foot on the driveway! It was our first experience of a home stay, which is where you live alongside a local family and get involved in their daily life.
They have added beautiful rooms with stunning gardens around their own house for their guests to stay in. It seemed a bit posh for us but nothing is expensive in South East Asia so we can justify it!
Fran and I quickly realised we were about to fall in love with this place so we set off on our push bikes to explore.
Hoi An is an old fishing port that has been left untouched from its heyday. It has a seriously vintage feel when you are walking around and I felt as if I had stepped back in time to the Vietnam I imagined. Narrow streets are lined with small shops and quaint restaurants that are bustling with people. If that’s not your scene (I can’t imagine why) you can head down to the busy fresh food market where you can buy ANYTHING. There’s so many photo opportunities there, I was in my element. It’s incredibly crazy but dazzlingly colourful.
Everyday we have hired bikes from our homestay and spent hours walking around the old town and markets.
On our first visit, within 10 minutes we were approached by a tailor offering us to have clothes made. It was on our wish list so we went with it and within the hour we had chosen what we wanted made and been measured. I’d never been so excited, two personalised items each will be winging their way to us in less than 24 hours!! How is that even possible.
Apparently it is, and the clothes were ready for us the following day and were beautiful. Such talented people! However I do now have a maxi dress and play suit I have to try and fit in my bag – what’s getting thrown away ?
For our first evening at the home stay we were invited to their daughters first birthday party. What. An. Experience. Around 50 members of their family celebrated with us. The food was incredible and was never ending. Every spare moment they made sure their western guests were okay and we didn’t need anything. It was so lovely to see such a big family get together like this and made me pine for my own family get togethers! That was an experience we will treasure for life 🙂
We extended our stay to four nights here almost straight away – but I know I still won’t be ready to leave this charming town when we have to.
Eating amazing food, lusting over wonderful trinkets and gifts and admiring the local women that wander the markets has been a true delight of Hoi An, and so far is the biggest recommendation I can make of Vietnam.