Vietnam – Travel Log: Hoi An and NHA Trang

I am getting a bit behind on the Travel Log posts – but only because each and every day is so busy! In addition, we have been so fortunate in terms of weather during our time in Vietnam. While up north it is cool and raining, we had managed to miss all of it. Moving into the sunny south, even clouds are becoming a rarity. With such perfect conditions, every day traveling is being taken advantage of.

Hoi An, Land of Tailors

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Chinese lanterns at the night market in Hoi An.

Last I left you all, we were making our way down the coast of Central Vietnam – beach hoppers, more or less. Hoi An was the next stop on our list, about half an hour by car to the south. An extremely popular backpacker stop, Hoi An is great because it has a small river town feel, with a definite European influence – but you can still get to the beach.

After settling into the new digs at the Greenfield Hotel, we headed down the street looking for Duna Tailor. Tailoring services, and generally the ability to have anything you could want custom made. I repeat: custom made. For a great price! For the extra tall, the extra small or the extra somethings among us, it can be a very exciting experience.

And so our time in Hoi An was structured around daily visits to the tailor’s. The boys had 3 piece suits and dress shirts made. I decided on a fitted summer dress and a blouse! First day you decide on style, fabrics and have measurements taken. They are very quick, so when you return on the second day, it is to try on the ‘first draft’, make adjustments and affirm the style. The last day is to finalize, try on and ship home. While some tailors may promise faster work, the days are worth it to ensure the best fit.

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Site of the only ATM in Hoi An where you can take out 5 million VND. We searched for this guy. Look for Songs Bank on the opposite corner from the MB ATM.

Beyond looking fancy, Hoi An is a great place to shop/bargain, visit the night market on the river, hit the beach or play drinking games that revolve around rat sightings. Being a smaller town, renting bicycles (15,000 to 20,000 VND) is an excellent way to see the city and one which we opted for. If you want to visit the ancient My Son ruins, the motorized scooters are the way to go. If you’re visiting the beach, head out Cu’a Dai Road (Street?) but keep left at the ocean. Right means resorts – left you will have the beach all to yourself.

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All of the backpacker bars in Vietnam after outrageous Happy Hour specials on already rock bottom prices.

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Outgoing and sometimes pushy (not this guy) promoters line the streets, trying to entice you in to their spot.

NHA Trang, Beach Town

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First impressions of Nha Trang, early in the morning.

After Hoi An we jumped to NHA Trang for a night and a day. The city is central for Russian tourists, as is evident walking around in the city. It seems like a pretty well off and developed city. Along the main beach stretch restaurants and accommodations can be pretty pricy, but heading back into the city you will find the street food deals and Vietnamese restaurants that backpacker’s love.

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The main beach in Nha Trang.

NHA Trang has a decent beach, the nearby Cham Towers to visit, and the relatively modern Long Son Pagoda – home of a 79ft Buddha and boasting great views of the city. Afterwards, enjoy views of the local shanty town directly beside it! There are also 19 islands to explore, some of the best snorkeling in Vietnam and the Vin Pearl Resort (home to the largest swimming pool in South East Asia). Also in NHA Trang, we discovered Lotteria – cheap, delicious Korean fast food that is apparently the devil. Korean McDonald’s?

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The 79 foot likeness of Buddha that overlooks Nha Trang and is the focal point of the Long Son Pagoda.

Next up: Dalat, motorbike adventures in Mui Ne and wrapping up in Ho Chi Minh City.

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The road to Dalat - always beautiful scenery from the window of a Vietnamese bus.

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