We journey through Vietnam with Imaginative Traveller team member Nathan, as he travels from north to south on the Vietnam Southbound Express (ITVSF).
I arrived in the early hours of the morning in Hanoi and had booked a city tour first thing so I could get my bearings and see a few sights before I could check-in to the meeting point hotel.
After the city tour which proved to be quite informative and gave a good grounding for my visit in Hanoi, I went to meet the group for the tour. It was only a small group, just five of us and our local tour leader, Khao. We all went for a group dinner to get to know each other and then for a few Bai Lao (locally brewed beer) in the backpacker area of the city.
The next morning was a short bus journey to Halong Bay where we hopped on our own private junk boat and sailed off into the bay where we eventually moored up for one evening floating amonsgt the massive granite pillars. We had the option of kayaking around part of the bay and we all decided to go for it. It certainly turned out to be a good work-out for the arms but was indeed worth it as it gave you a great perspective of the sheer size of some of the rock faces you were paddling past.
It was then back to Hanoi were we had a few hours before our overnight train to Hue, which is a relatively small city in the middle of the country where we enjoyed a boat ride down the famous Perfume River.
Charming Hoi An
Our next stop was Hoi An, once a major international trading port during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. You have two days to explore the beautiful cobbled streets of this charming town and stock up on any souvenirs. Make sure you visit the numerous markets and world famous eateries in these quaint streets, maybe even book a cooking class when you are there.
The Capital and the Delta
We then had our short flight to the capital of the country, Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival we made our way to the hotel and settled in. The next day was our tour of the waterways of the Mekong Delta, it was a 2 hour journey to the delta where we then spent the rest of the day touring the islands and narrow waterways of the area, learning about the culture and history of the locals.
Our final day in Ho Chi Minh was sadly the last day of our tour. I filled my morning with a food tour that I booked independently and then met up with the rest of the group for a goodbye drink before we all headed our separate ways.
This tour may have only been 10 days in duration but it really gives you a feel for what Vietnam has to offer and it shows what a diverse country it is, both in scenic and cultural terms. I'd recommend anyone to make the journey if they get the chance to!