We just spent another couple of amazing weeks in one of our absolute favorite countries: Vietnam. This time we were accompanied by Michael’s children, Masja and
Marc. We plan the travel itinerary such as to have a mix of action, culture, food, beach, wildlife, and nature.
Here are our top 10 highlights:
#1 - Mekong Delta on bicycles. A great way to get close to the Vietnamese daily life, see them growing rice and fruits, bringing it to the markets and also witness their celebrations, like a Sunday morning wedding
#2 - Floating market of Cai Rang near Can Tho. Up early and on a boat to be close to the biggest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta. Trade starts as early as 5 a.m. and traders flock to sell and buy their vegetables and fruits. Magnificent colors and a very special vibe.
#3 - Wooden Sampan boat trip. Like on bicycles you get close to the actual way of people's living. The boat took us through the small waterways on our way to our guest house on the small Binh Hoa Phuoc island.
#4 - Wild Gibbon Trek in Cat Tien National Park. By far the highlight of our visit to this natural reserve. We had the priviledge to follow a gibbon family (parents and 4-year-old baby) in the early morning, where their characteristic song and beautiful swing in the trees filled the sky. We spent more than one hour following them – a truly unique experience.
#5 - Visiting the local markets, where meat, fish, vegetables, flowers, fruits, spices are being traded in a noisy, smelly and colorful atmosphere. We must admit that not everything smells or looks good, but we get one step closer to the source up to the food chain.
#6 - Vietnamese food is just delicious. We had a lot of tasty experiences. Our favourite restaurant in Saigon was Hoa Tuc, where « soft shell crabs in green rice » was one of many delights. We came here twice, which we normally try to avoid as we want to try as many different things as possible.
#7 - The beautiful town of Dalat. Placed in the mountains, 1,500 meters above sea-level, this town is different from other Vietnamese places. The air is cooler but still nice during the day and the city center is decorated with lots of flowers (no wonder the nickname is « City of a Thousand Flowers »).
#8 - Beaches on Phu Quoc Island. We spent three relaxing days on the island, close to Cambodia, and were lucky to have a bungalow right on Long Beach, the most popular long stretch of beach. Facing west the sunsets here were absolutely unbeatable. Our favorite beach though was the more rough and unspoiled Sao Beach, a must should you visit the island, that we reached by renting motorbikes.
#9 – Cu Chi tunnels. This immense network of connecting underground tunnels was the location of the Viet Cong's base for the Têt Offensive (50 years earlier to the day!) and served more generally as hiding spots during combats, routes for supply, communications, food, and weapon caches. It was of a great importance in their resistance to American forces and ultimately winning the war. Life in the tunnels was extremely difficult, air, food, and water supply were scarce and tunnels were infested with ants, scorpions, spiders and vermin. Soldiers would spend the day in the tunnels working or resting to only come out at night to fight or harvest. Our visit included a crawl in tunnels that were enlarged for the public (and are still very tight!) as well as a demonstration of terrible handmade bamboo traps that were rightfully terrifying the American soldiers.
#10 - Sky bar in Saigon. There is always something special in sipping a drink while watching things from above. Saigon offers plenty of those options. We chose the highest location, the EON Heli Bar on the 52nd floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower.