Our Easter break was fast approaching and we knew we wanted to get away from Dubai for a couple of weeks. We were considering going to either Far East Asia or Africa. In between we also considered Cyprus. After looking at our budget, travel time and child friendly options – we decided on Vietnam.
We quickly made an itinerary, booked our international & domestic tickets, and hotels and viola we were there. Once we landed, we went straight to get our visa stamped. The process took about 30 minutes. We had to fill out a form and provide one picture to them. If you don’t have a picture no problem, you can pay USD 10 and get a picture done. The cost of the visa stamping is USD 25 (single entry) in addition to the visa approval fee of USD 17 which has to be paid before entering the country.
Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh City where we stayed for only one night. We stayed at the closest and most reasonable hotel possible. Ibis was our home for the night and we walked from the airport to the hotel which took us about 7 minutes. Though the hotels did provide free shuttle service to and from the airport. We were not aware of it till we got to the hotel. Its always best to call the hotel in advance and check the services they offer specially the free ones. Right next to the hotel was a small mall that had a decent food court specially for meat eaters. We are vegetarians so the options for us were limited. We ended up eating in the hotel which surprisingly was really nice.
The next day we flew down to Danang (South of Vietnam) and the flight was only an hour long. We landed and our complimentary shuttle from the hotel was waiting. We sat in the bus again for an hour and a half which was a bit tiring but considering we were going to be there for four days and mostly relaxing by the pool and beach gave me a peace of mind. The best part of this trip was the hotel we chose Angsana Langco for the first two nights and Banyan Tree for the next two nights. Both the hotels belong to the same group and were literally next to each other. Both the hotels have the beach, pools, shared kids club, lots of fun activities (snorkelling, sailing or windsurfing session. Kayak, jetski, waterski, trampoline and much more) for the kids and adults to choose from. They also had a separate area with foosball, board games, video games and pool table for adults. Trust me they have enough to keep you busy for few days without having to go out for entertainment.
First day, we enjoyed some of the activities including biking, board games and pool table while our son went to the kids club. Second day, we had a complimentary shuttle to Hoi An. It took us around 2 hours to get there and we spent almost 6 hours there and thought we could have spent more. Hoi An was amazing with lots of shops selling replica shoes, sarongs and souveniers. They also had a few shops selling beautiful handmade bags and other nick nacks. The streets were filled with lovely restaurants and bars. It was a well lit town filled with tourists. Beside the market, there are few museums that you could visit.
Next two days we were mostly in the hotel enjoying our room with the pool and few indoor activities. We couldn’t do much as it was raining most of the time. Though April is the perfect time to visit this place, but as they say “you can never trust the weather in Asia”. Sadly, we also fell sick and wanted to come back home.
Though we were supposed to go to Hanoi next, we had to cancel and come back to Ho Chi Minh City. We stayed in the city for two nights at Silverland Sakyo – a boutique hotel not too expensive yet very beautiful and service was excellent. It was in the Japanese town that had lots of shops, restaurants and massage parlors around. During the day we were out for just a couple of hours to get some fresh air and to see couple of malls (Saigon Square and Ben Than Market). Honestly, I thought the markets were really bad compared to other Asian countries. The items were not good quality and prices were too high. I wouldn’t really suggest shopping in Vietnam. Though we only went to two malls but both equally bad.
Some things that I would like to emphasize on about holidaying in Vietnam:
- Get your Hepatitis A&B and typhoid shots before going to any Asian country
- Vietnam is very cheap so make the best of everything
- Get massage and nails done as they are super cheap
- Try vegan and vegetarian food – there are some lovely cafes in Hoi An
- If you have the Entertainer vouchers, check for hotels in Vietnam and use them to get a night free
- Drink as much booze as you want since its super cheap
- Taxis are cheap
- Be aware of pick pocketers – keep your bag and phone close to you
- Two domestic flights to pick from Vietjet and Jetstar. Be careful with Jetstar as they keep on changing the flight timing and the gate number. Though they are flexible and will try to offer you another time or a refund.
- English is not widely spoken and its quite difficult to understand. So, make sure you have your google translator with you at all times.
- Get a SIM card from the airport as soon as you exit. It’s just USD 10 for unlimited data and 10 free local minutes
- Get currency exchanged from the airport itself and they offer a good exchange rate
- In Hoi An get yourself a Chanel Espadrille in whatever color, design and style you want. They will custom make it for you in a couple of hours and they look so real, it’s unbelievable 🙂
- Get a tailor made suit as its super cheap as well
I hope you enjoy your trip to Vietnam. It’s a beautiful country with lots to see.