Category: Vietnam

Nha Trang Street Food Tour

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Nha Trang may not seem appealing at first, with its tower blocks, but delve a little deeper, and this tourist hotspot has more to offer. Close to the sea, Nha Trang is a great place to scuba dive and is actually one of the best places in Vietnam to learn.

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Nha Trang

I didn’t want to scuba dive, but I did end up going on a night out, and somehow got caught up in some deep flood water.

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I stayed at Mojzo Dorm, which offered a street food tour every day at 3.30pm, for 200,000VND.

Somehow, I’d found myself disappointed with Vietnamese food so far, so I hoped I’d find some good Vietnamese food.

I was not disappointed.

The Tour

I was the only person who signed up for the tour on that day so I had a tour guide all to myself. My tour guide drove me around the stops on a scooter, but she said usually if there are more people they would walk.

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At the first stop, I ate a dish made from eggs. My guide told me that it’s a popular choice for breakfast. The restaurant made 6 in total, 2 from chicken eggs, 2 from quail eggs and 2 with meat. They were all delicious and I was hungry enough to eat them all but decided not to in order to save room for the rest of the food tour.

It was fun to pick up the eggs using chopsticks and try to dip them in the dip and successfully get them in my mouth.

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Time for my favourite dish of the day  – fresh spring rolls (GỎI CUỐN). Honestly, I could’ve eaten them all day. They came with a delicious dip and I ended up putting a couple in a bag to take home and eat later.

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Fresh spring rolls

Next up was  Banh Cuon, a dish made from a base of rice flour batter and pork. Again, another delicious dish.

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Banh Cuon

Banh beo – steamed rice cakes topped with pork were the next stop. By this point, I was so full and was surprised the the portion sizes were still so huge. Again, another delicious food.

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Banh Beo

Snacks loved by Vietnamese student

Finally a smaller portion! Banh trang trung is a crispy, eggy kind of pancake which is popular for young people to eat. My guide told me that she often eats this when catching up with friends. The dip is a mix of ketchup, chili and mayo. Again, the food was great and I managed to convince my guide to share some with me.

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Banh Trang Trung

Chen trung nuong – another dish my guide said she eats when catching up with friends. Honestly, I wish all of the portion sizes of the day could’ve been like this one. Another eggy dish – this was served at the same time as the banh trang trung.

 

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Chen Trung Nuong

Dessert

The last stop was for dessert and I got to try 2 Vietnamese desserts. First up was Kem Chuoi – banana ice cream, or more accurately, squashed frozen banana on a stick. It had been sweetened in some way. The other dessert was Che khoai tim – coconut milk & purple potato. Again, a yummy dessert.

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Kem Chuoi

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Che Khoai Tim

I had a great experience trying many different types of Vietnamese food. This tour also made me more confident to try other Vietnamese food as I continued my journey north. I actually discovered that Vietnamese food was some of my favourite in South East Asia.

Getting sick whilst travelling made me anxious about trying new food, so this food tour was a great way to start eating different food again.

For more on Vietnam check out:

 

 

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Don’t Forget to Visit Crazy House

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Dalat is such a great city. It’s a welcome break from the humidity of the rest South East Asia. I spent a lovely few days in the mountains of Vietnam, but the highlight was definitely Crazy House.

Crazy House

Crazy House is an amazing guesthouse in Dalat. If I wasn’t on a backpacker budget I would’ve 100% stayed there. It’s like something out of a fairytale. The architect who created the building, Đặng Việt Nga, was inspired by Gaudi, but I personally thought it felt like a Disney creation.

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The day I visited was quiet, so I almost had the place to myself. The whole house felt like a woodland and in some parts looked like odd-shaped trees.

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I loved how many staircases there were and how easy it was to get lost climbing up and down the stairs with all the twists and turns.

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From the top of Crazy House it was possible to see stunning views of Da Lat.

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The guestrooms were open for viewing (although you couldn’t actually go into the rooms). This room had a carving of a bear. crazyhouseguestroom

And this one had windows that looked like spiderwebs. The woodland feel of the place felt so unusual for South East Asia, yet fit in nicely with the cooler climate of Da Lat.

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And of course, here’s a selfie I took. It was nice to take a selfie where I’m not looking sweaty from the humidity.

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How to get to Da Lat

Fly – It’s possible to fly directly to Dalat from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.

Bus – Get the bus from Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang or Hoi An.

Other Activities in Da Lat

Crazy House was my highlight, but there’s plenty of other things to do in Da Lat. Most backpackers do canyoning as part of a day tour. There’s also a tour which involves driving around the local countryside on motorbikes. Like most places in South East Asia, these are available to book in every hostel on arrival. I stayed at Mr Peace Backpacker’s House which I enjoyed. The staff were really friendly and there was a family dinner each evening.

What’s the most interesting building you’ve seen whilst travelling? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

For more on Vietnam, check out my posts about Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne and the Mekong Delta.

 

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A Jeep Tour Of Mui Ne

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Mui Ne is a small beach town in Vietnam, around 5 hours drive north of Ho Chi Minh City. Many backpackers miss this place out when travelling through Vietnam, opting to stop in the larger resort area of Nha Trang, a few hours north. I personally preferred Mui Ne to Nha Trang – it’s quieter.

There’s a lovely beach in Mui Ne, which has pretty good surf, so there’s usually a few surfers out on the water. There are businesses offering kite surfing and regular surfing lessons along the beach. Like I said before, it’s quiet in Mui Ne so if you’re interested in learning either of these, it’s a good place to learn.

I stayed at La Casa Del Latino Hotel because it had been recommended by some backpackers I met in Ho Chi Minh. It was such a nice, chilled out hotel/hostel with a pool. The staff were so friendly and the food in the restaurant was delicious.

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The Tour

There’s a jeep tour which can be booked through hostels in Mui Ne. The tour includes stops to the white sand dunes, red sand dunes, fishing village and fairy stream. The tour runs at either 4.30am or 1.30pm. I chose the 4.30am tour because I’m slightly mad. Just kidding, the 4.30am tour includes seeing the sunset over the white sand dunes. Also, I wanted to go Da Lat the same day so doing the 4.30am tour meant I could get the afternoon bus to Da Lat.

The jeep picked me up at 4am, along with a couple of other people from my hostel. Whilst my day was starting very early, there were plenty of people in the bars along the Main Street.

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We headed towards the sand dunes, in the pitch black, but by the time we arrived at the white dunes, sunrise was imminent. I paid an extra 200,000 to get a quad bike to the top of the dunes, where there I saw the most amazing views of the sunrise. See for yourself:

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Once the sun was up, it was slightly surprising how quickly the temperature rose. We got back in the jeep and went to the red sand dunes. The red sand dunes felt really touristy and honestly were not as impressive as the white sand dunes.

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The next stop was the fishing village. Fishermen and fishmongers were going about their daily business, paying no mind to the tourists around them.

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Fairy Stream

The final stop was the fairy stream. It’s a nice walk up the stream to see some beautiful rock formations. There was also an adorable puppy at the beginning of the walk which made it all the more worthwhile.

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Mui Ne was such a relaxed part of Vietnam. I enjoyed the tour and I’m surprised so many people miss out Mui Ne, when it’s almost halfway between Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City. If you have a 30 day visa for Vietnam it’s definitely worth stopping by.

 

 

 

 

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Learning about the Vietnam War in Ho Chi Minh

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The Vietnam War is a dark period in Vietnamese history. From 1955-1975, the country was under attack, first from France, in an attempt at recolonization, and then the USA, in their war against communism.

The Vietnam War was taught to me at school, so I had some background knowledge of the conflict before I visited Vietnam. (Unlike in Cambodia, where I ashamedly knew very little about the Khmer Rouge regime until I got there.)

The War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants museum is a great place to learn about the tactics and weaponry used by the USA against the Viet Cong during the war. Much of the content is distressing so be prepared for that when you go into the museum. Particularly upsetting are the sections about the War Crimes committed by the Americans and the effects of Agent Orange. IMG_8074

I thought the museum was very one sided and did very little to explain the world political situation at the time.

The Cu Chi Tunnels

In the afternoon I went on a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. There, I learnt about the tactics used by the Viet Cong during the war against the USA, and also how villagers lived during the war.

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It’s interesting to see how resourceful the Vietnamese people were against the USA’s powerful weaponry.

The details of the traps the Viet Cong set to catch Americans are gruesome and it’s easy to see why so many US veterans of this war went home with mental health issues.

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There’s one part of the tour where you can pay extra to fire guns, such as AK-47s. The Americans left a large amount of weaponry and bullets behind when they left in 1975. The bullets fired are the same ones left behind by the Americans, and there’s still plenty more for tourists to fire in the future.

I hated how loud the guns were. If you’ve never heard a gun fire in real life, it’s actually really surprising how loud they are.

At the end of the day, we ate tapioca with peanut dip, which is what the people living in the tunnels would’ve eaten during the war. It didn’t taste too bad, but it was pretty bland.

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Learning about the Vietnam War was interesting, and I honestly think all visitors to Vietnam should take the time to learn about the history of this country. I think it’s important to learn about the history of a country when visiting, as it gives some insight into a country’s current state. Neighbouring Cambodia has also had a bloody history from the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

If you’re short of time in Ho Chi Minh City, definitely visit the Cu Chi tunnels and War Remnants museum instead of doing a day tour of the Mekong Delta.

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A Day Tour Of The Mekong Delta

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Ho Chi Minh City is situated close to the Mekong Delta, the end of a river which flows through 6 countries. (These countries are China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in case you were interested). It’s possible to do a day tour to the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh, which is exactly what I did.

It took 2 hours to get to the first stop. The bus stopped for a toilet break after an hour, but I suspect that the reason for the stop was less for guests comfort, and more so people could attempt to sell sunglasses to us.

We arrived at the first stop after 10am. Typically, a torrential downpour began as soon as we got off the bus. This was a place when honey was produced. We were given some honey tea and a small plate of fruit. There was also a photo opportunity with some bees.

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Once we’d had some honey tea and watched a traditional Vietnamese folk performance, we got in a small paddle boat. We were provided with traditional Vietnamese hats and the boat took us to a coconut candy factory.

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We were shown how the coconut candy is made and given free samples of the different flavours. They were delicious, especially the fresh ones!

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There was the opportunity to hold a boa constrictor, although it seemed a bit randomly placed at the coconut factory.

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We then got on a large tourist boat and floated along the Mekong. Most of the the other boats on the river were tourist boats – there didn’t seem to be many local people around. Which makes sense as it was the hottest part of the day.

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We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant. We were split into two groups – those who had elephant fish for lunch and those who were given pork and rice. The elephant fish looked good, but I had the pork and rice, which unfortunately wasn’t that great.

After lunch, we got back on the large boat and were dropped off at a point where the bus collected us.

We went to a pagoda which had an enormous statue of Laughing Buddha and Reclining Buddha.

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We returned to Ho Chi Minh City and arrived there around 6pm.

Overall, the tour wasn’t particularly amazing. It did kind of feel like the stops were simply to sell the products to us. I’ve spoken to other tourists who went to the Mekong Delta and stayed overnight and it does sound as though the overnight tours are much better. There’s an opportunity to see the floating markets and experience some of the food of the Mekong Delta.

Check out my other experiences along the Mekong, on the slow boat in Laos and kayaking to see Irrawaddy Dolphins in Laos

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