After experiencing a rather painful previous first day on our Mekong Delta Tour, our hopes weren’t exactly high for day 2. Initially, we had pictured the Mekong Delta Tour to be enriched with history, culture, and a raw glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the surrounding villages. Unfortunately, the sights that we saw and things that we did were gimmicky and made solely for the purpose of tourists, which was something we wanted to completely avoid. Here’s what you can expect on day 2 of this tour..
A popular thing to do while in Ho Chi Minh City is a one or two day Mekong Delta tour. Essentially a large area of multiple rivers, lush greenery, houses on stilts, little villages, and floating markets, the Mekong Delta claims to be a breath of fresh air from the hectic streets of Ho Chi Minh. However, after organizing a two-day trip around the Mekong Delta, the tour was far from what we had anticipated. While we had high hopes of this being one of the highlights of our trip to Vietnam, it unfortunately turned out to be a disappointment mainly because everything we did was incredibly touristy and did not feel genuine. If you’re debating whether to go on this tour, keep reading for my full Mekong Delta Tour review and itinerary of day 1.
Ho Chi Minh City is a mess of people, motorbikes, and pedestrian unfriendly streets, making it rather difficult to source out and navigate your way to basically anywhere in the city via foot. I stayed in District 1 on Pham Ngu Lao Road, which was close to a lot of action: restaurants, bars, “clubs”, and the like. I was particularly close to Bui Vien Street, which is a bustling street filled with tourists (without sidewalks, of course), and on my first night of wandering around to find somewhere to eat I spotted a queue outside of a restaurant. My foodie-senses instantly turned on and I had to check it out. Thankfully I did, as Bun Cha turned out to be one of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.
When I told friends I would be making a quick stop in Ho Chi Minh City during my Vietnam travels, one of the first suggestions I received was to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Having nothing else pulling my attention in the city, I decided to make the day-long trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used during the Vietnam War as a means for Viet Cong soldiers to hide in during battle. The tunnel system covers a large area of Vietnam and was critical in helping the Vietnamese soldiers fight against the Americans. While I do find the history behind the Cu Chi Tunnels incredibly interesting, the tour lacked authenticity, making the experience rather dull and overwhelmingly “touristy”.
While it’s likely you haven’t heard of Da Lat before, it would be a shame to pass through this city on your way to the south of Vietnam without stopping. Unlike any other city I’ve visited in Vietnam, Da Lat (ironically) offers tourists a bit of an escape from most things “Vietnamese”. While there is still a lot going on, its structures (thanks to the French) and movements feel different. Da Lat is also considered a wealthier part of Vietnam due to its export of flowers and coffee. There are lots of things to do in Da Lat: many travelers rent motorbikes to explore the surrounding countryside, but there is also plenty to see within the city center if you’re not wanting to risk your life maneuvering through the hectic streets.
Da Lat might be one of Vietnam’s best kept secrets. Viewed as a city unlike others in Vietnam, once you arrive in Da Lat, you won’t really feel like you’re in Vietnam. Though it is still a relatively busy city, Da Lat has a very laid-back vibe as it resides in a more open area with many hills. The Countryside Tour in Da Lat is a great way to learn and see a lot about the history and culture of the city, however, you’d be better off doing this tour on your own if you’re comfortable riding a motorcycle or by going on a private tour.
Hue, a 2 hour train ride north of Da Nang, is a lesser-known city in the middle of Vietnam that is increasingly becoming popular with tourists. A visit to Hue is best utilized as a brief (2 – 3 night) stopover along your travels up to the north or down to the south of the country. Though there aren’t a tonne of tourist attractions, there are a handful of interesting things to do in Hue that will fill your days with food, pagodas, temples, markets, and fun!
Hue, a two hour train ride north from Da Nang, is quite the hidden gem in Vietnam. Most people fly into Da Nang and head straight to Hoi An, but skipping out on Hue would be a big loss. As it’s still in the process of developing its tourism sector, there isn’t a large list of things to do in this city, however, the few things Hue has to offer are well worth the trip. Among these is a visit to the Imperial City in Hue: a former walled palace and fortress that was once the capital of Vietnam. Much of the Imperial City is still currently under construction, but you’ll be surrounded by temples and structures, and a rich history throughout.
In case you didn’t know, Hoi An is well-known (though apparently not well enough, since I had no clue until I arrived!) for its custom-made leather goods and clothes. All throughout and just outside of Hoi An’s Ancient Town is where you’ll find dozens of these leather and tailor shops, lined up along the streets. The only problem with too much choice? Not being able to make a choice. Thankfully, with some careful research and personal experience, I’ve narrowed the exhausting list of custom-made leather goods stores down to two.
Hoi An is home to some fantastic regional dishes that you’ll only find there, and offers visitors a wide range of restaurants to choose from. From cheap and local to mid-range and charming, Hoi An really does have it all. Now that you know all about the foods to eat in Hoi An (check out my last post on The 7 Types Of Local Food You Must Try In Hoi An), you’re probably wondering where you can find them. Look no further than this all-encompassing list of the top 5 restaurants in Hoi An that you just have to try.