The southern Ho Chi Minh and the northern Hanoi are often destinations for travelers in Vietnam. A ‘grand tour’ along the full length of the country gives the traveler the opportunity to move between the two cities on their own. A journey through historic cities, charming villages, crazy beaches and various population groups.
Stopovers during backpacking in Vietnam
Make no mistake: the distance between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi is more than 1700 kilometers. With endless bus rides on winding roads, your journey can usually consist of trips. Fortunately, there are also parts to do by train and plane. But unless you have months to backpack in Vietnam , you will have to choose. So set priorities! Which places between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi do you really want to miss?
1. Da Lat
A bus from Ho Chi Minh will take you to Da Lat within seven hours, also known as the most important hill town in Vietnam. The city, which serves as a first good stopover during the journey from south to north, used to be a French mountain resort which gives it a special atmosphere. You will find beautiful colonial buildings, various cycle routes through the hills and a market full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Rent a scooter for a few dollars and go on your own in this town that feels most like a French Alpine village. Do not miss the cable car to the Truc Lam monastery. A beautiful Buddhist temple complex where you can wander around the monks and gardens at high altitudes.
2. Nha Trang
After a short visit to the hills of Da Lat, there is a possibility to travel by bus in four hours to the larger and more lively Nha Trang. This city located on the south coast of Vietnam has a six kilometer long stretch of white sandy beach. Sincerely one of the most beautiful beaches you will see while backpacking in Vietnam, although you have to take the busloads to noisy Russians here for granted. Do not want to spend a whole day on the beach? No worries! Nha Trang has much more to offer than the beach. You will find many restaurants with delicious food and enough attractions such as the Long Son Pagoda. Tip: rent a scooter to drive the entire coastline. This way you get to places where most other travelers do not come.
3. Hoi An
This small city is seen by many travelers as backpacking in Vietnam as a highlight of their journey. Hoi An has many narrow streets full of shops and small studios with wooden facades and moss-covered roof tiles. The Vietnamese have therefore put a lot of effort into preserving the old charm of the city, and although it is quite touristy, they have succeeded. As soon as the twilight starts, the countless lights in the streets and on the banks of the river are the first things you notice. Anyone who wants to have a suit or other clothes made is also right here: the streets are full of very cheap tailors, who make tailor-made clothes for you in a short time. In addition, the city is known for the Japanese Covered Bridge, which has become the Hoi An logo.
From Hoi An it is less than four hours by bus to Hue. A city that is halfway the length of the country. In Hue there are still many memories of the past to see, making this city one of the most historic stopovers during backpacking in Vietnam . The biggest attraction here is the gigantic walled citadel from the 19th century: an imperial city with administrative offices, parks and dynastic temples, with the royal palaces of the forbidden purple city in the center. A place where you can easily walk around for days, so take time out! Where other Vietnamese cities are often the most fun and easy to view with a scooter, Hue lends itself perfectly to cycling!
With Halongbay as the last stopover, the journey through Vietnam can not end better. You end up here in a surreal fairytale world of countless limestone peaks that rise straight out of the water. There are an estimated 1969, in which many caves can be found that you can visit. In terms of sights it also stops at the caves, although the grand attraction is the amazing views.
You can enjoy this environment in many ways, including during a kayak trip or boat trip of 1 or more days. The latter is recommended, because an overnight stay on the water here is a unique experience and you will see just a bit more of the beautiful surroundings. From Hanoi various day and multi-day tours are offered, but there is also plenty of offer in Halongbay itself. Do you prefer to do it on your own? That is also possible and gives you the opportunity to bypass the large groups of tourists, but assume that you pay more.
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