I have no idea why — but the thought of visiting Vietnam never turned me on. Probably because when I think of vacations, I think of white sandy beaches, fascinating ruins and breathtaking mountain views. However, when I would think of Vietnam, I would think of rice fields, flat land, jungles and rain. I knew that my perception had been skewed a bit from watching movies about the Vietnam war. Those images stuck in my mind — no matter how much I tried to convince myself that Vietnam had great things to offer. I wanted to go there to erase my limited viewpoints once and for all. Fortunately, my hubby and I had a chance to visit Vietnam to see the country for ourselves. We had a three day vacation weekend in June, and the flight schedule to and from Vietnam was decent, so we decided to give it a go.
Once again, our time was limited, so we could only visit three areas while we were there: Ho Chi Min City, Nhatrang Beach and the Meekong River.
We arrived in Ho Chi Min City first and stayed there for the first night. We stayed at the SILVERLAND SAKYO HOTEL & SPA, which was a very lovely Japanese themed hotel. Our accomodations were very nice, the staff members were extremely helpful and the food was totally incredible.
I had done some online research before booking our trip and realized that the nice beaches were very far from Ho Chi Min City. Therefore, we decided to take a plane from the city to Nhatrang Beach for our second day in Vietnam instead of using the roads. The flight was affordable ($150 per person on Vietnam Airlines) and was only a one hour ride. Other famous beach areas like Halong Bay and Danang Beach are 6 hours away from the city (by bus/car), so we decided to travel to the closest beach instead by plane.
We wanted to visit the other places, but we simply didn’t have enough time. If you have plenty of time, I would highly recommend traveling to all these places by plane. You could take flights to Nhatrang, Danang and Halong Bay if you have a couple of days to spare. We went to the airport to buy plane tickets in person, but you could also book your flights online. You could even skip Ho Chi Min all together and just fly directly to Halong Bay or Danang Beach.
Nhatrang was a very nice beach area. We relaxed there for a bit and also took a private boat ride out into the ocean ($30). We tried our first Ostrich burger for dinner and found a decent place to sleep near the beach for just $8.00 per night. Yessss. $8.00 per night!!!!
We woke up early the next day and had two choices. We could take a plane from Nhatrang to Danang Beach, or we could take the plane back to Ho Chi Min and visit the Meekong River before leaving Vietnam. Since we already spent one day at the beach, we decided to try the Meekong River route.
We got back to Ho Chi Min in time for an early lunch and some pool time before heading out to the river. We found an outstanding traditional Vietnamese restaurant across from our hotel, and it was the perfect lunch choice. We enjoyed an exquisite four course meal for just $30 ($15 per person). The portion sizes were small, but everything was perfectly filling and satisfying. The restaurant is called Hanoi — located directly across from the SILVERLAND SAKYO HOTEL & SPA.
After lunch and the pool, we booked a private driver through our hotel to take us to the Meekong River and then to the airport ($40). We spent 2.5 hours in the car to get to the River. The drive over was nice, because we could enjoy the changing Vietnam landscapes through the window. We went from the loud, crowded city areas to the serene, flat river delta regions. We also went from sunny, blue skies to dark, cloudy skies.
Unfortunately, when we finally arrived at the Meekong River, we were in the middle of a rain storm. Lol. Our guide warned us that if the weather didn’t clear up, then we couldn’t do the river tour. We waited for an hour for the weather to change, but the rain just kept pouring. We decided to go ahead and head back to the airport early. We were quite disappointed, but now we have a running joke between us. Whenever it rains hard, we are reminded of our Meekong River experience. Lol.
We had dinner at the airport and boarded our plane back to Seoul. Vietnam is a four to five hour flight from Seoul, so our trip wasn’t over yet. We also had to take a three hour airport shuttle bus back to Jeonju from Seoul, which made the total travel time pretty long.
We enjoyed our quick trip to Vietnam, even though there were a few disappointing parts. Here are some things you will need to keep in mind if you decide to visit Vietnam:
1) If you are American — you will need a visa. I bought an emergency visa for $125 at the airport. However, I would recommend that you buy one in advance for $20-$30 instead. As far as I can tell, you can buy one online or through the US Embassy.
2) There are tons of scooters and wild drivers in Vietnam. This leads to constant honking, traffic and speeding. Be extremely careful but aggressive when crossing the street in Vietnam — you just have to go for it. After the first day, all the honking can become irritating. Drivers use their horns to alert other drivers of their presence — especially when they are speeding around and overtaking a person in front of them. Honking the horn is used as a safety precaution, which is good. However, we spent several hours in different cars for three days, and hearing all the constant honking became very annoying.
3) Vietnam is also extremely spread out — much more spread out than I imagined. I think having four to five days there would have been better for us. Three days was not enough to get around. It may have been better for us to go directly to Han Noi or Halong Bay for our short trip. I think travelers can enjoy Vietnam more when they have time for backpacking or traveling around to the different areas.
4) The weather was gorgeous on the first day but super rainy on the second. The second day looked like all the Vietnam war movies that I had seen. Lol. Remember that the weather in Vietnam can be very rainy, so it’s best to prepare for that. This is another reason to book a four or five day trip, just in case you are rained out for a day or two.
Here is another great blog post about visiting Vietnam (and a few other places):
And – Another great blog post that specifically compares Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City:
Our budget for this trip was $1,500.00. The emergency visa and the airplane rides were a bit more expensive than I anticipated. However, the food, taxi and hotel costs were extremely cheap.
For more pics visit my Instagram: @koreankream