DIY: From the Mekong Delta to Phnom Penh

There are Mekong Delta tours advertised all over Ho Chi Minh, but they're pretty pricy. If you're looking to get from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh, can it cost around $75 USD for a three-day, two-night tour. That seemed pretty steep, so we opted to do it on our own because we prefer to go on our own timeline. Plus, we would rather choose our own accommodation and food. 

Before we start, you need to understand that there are a few cities in the Mekong Delta: My Tho, Vinh Long, Cao Lanh, Can Tho, Soc Trang and Chau Doc. You'll need to research and figure out which cities you want to visit, but if you need to make it across the Cambodian border, your last stop must be Chau Doc. From here, you can take the speedboat to Phnom Penh. 

Given our limited time, we decided our route would be Ho Chi Minh - Can Tho - Chau Doc - Phnom Penh. It took three days and two nights to make it to Phnom Penh. We spent one night in Can Tho and Chau Doc. 

How to get from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho

You have two options: book a bus ticket with a tour agency or buy it on your own. If you book with a tour agency, make sure that they arrange a taxi ride with the price of the ticket. Our friends got it for 160,000 VND. 

If you want to get there on your own, you have to go to Mien Tay bus station. At Mien Tay station, you'll find different bus companies offering tickets at various prices. Tickets will range from 72,000 dong - 150,000 VND. The two most reputable companies are Phuong Trang (Futa) and Mai Linh. I'd probably stick to a company selling tickets in the mid-range for around 100,000 VND.

Since we tried to travel near Lunar New Year, most buses were booked solid. So, we ended up having to buy an inflated ticket at a smaller company for twice the cost. 

The bus takes around 4-5 hours to get there with a rest stop for a food and washroom break. Once you get to Can Tho, you should get dropped off at the bus station. Unfortunately, we were dropped off at the side of the road near a mall. From here, you can grab a taxi to your accommodation.

We stayed at Mekong Delta Inn, which is a small family-run hostel. Dorms are $7 USD. We liked it since they take you out to dinner and give you a city tour. We got a hot pot dinner for 45,000 VND, but we didn't really enjoy it. Although, we heard they switch up the nights and the other restaurants were quite good. Since it was close to Lunar New Year, we ended up going to visit the flower and candy market, and then trying a soursop smoothie. You only pay for the taxi ride and dinner costs. 

Day 2: Floating Village Tour and Chau Doc

To see the floating villages, we ended up booking a 6-7 hour tour with our hostel for $10 USD/person. You can also try to go to the dock at Hai Ba Trung and bargain a price for the boat, but we heard that it would be pricier that way. Our hostel also offers 3 hour tours for $15/boat. Both tours leave at 5 a.m., so get ready for an early morning.

We went to see Cai Rang Floating Village Market, which is the biggest one in the Delta. It takes around an hour on the boat to reach the market. The market opens early in the morning and closes mid-day. You'll see boats filled up with produce and buyers bargaining prices with the vendors. Some boats will sell drinks, food and snacks. It's amazing to be right in the middle of this chaotic market. 

After visiting this market, it'll be another hour boat ride to reach the second floating village. This one is much smaller and I cannot remember the name of it.  From here, you'll start to go through the canals before reaching a restaurant for a short break to grab some food or drinks and relax a bit. We had the chance the walk around the garden of the restaurant and see tropical fruit trees. 

After the break, you'll wind through more canals before reaching the main river. Your last stop will be a noodle factory where you'll see workers making Hu Tieu noodles. Just note that at the noodle factory, you're expected to give a small donation.

Once your reach the dock, where you'll need to arrange your own way back. You might need to ask someone to call a taxi, because there aren't many around. 

Once you get back, you need to take the 2:30 p.m. bus to Chau Doc. It takes around four hours to get there with a break in-between. We booked from our hostel which cost us 140,000 VND including the shuttle to the bus station. In Chau Doc, you'll get dropped off at the bus station. We lucked out, and got a shuttle to our hotel. 

We stayed at Trung Nguyen Hotel which was 13 USD for a double room. It's right in the centre of town, so there's tons of places to eat. Try Bun Ca at a local stall for 15,000 VND! 

Day 3: Chau Doc to Phnom Penh

Here's to another early morning. We booked our speedboat with Hang Chau Tourist for $25 USD. It leaves every morning at 7:30 a.m. They'll pick you up at 7:00 a.m. in a rickshaw from your accommodation. Just note that they expect a small tip. 

On the boat, they'll give you forms to fill out your visa information. You'll hand over your passport as well as $34 USD for the visa to the employees and they'll take care of the process. It takes about half an hour to reach the Vietnam border. Since they have your passport, you can take the time for a washroom break, grab food and exchange your VND to US dollars. 

You'll get back into the boat for another 10 minutes before you reach the Cambodian border. This process takes longer. You'll get your passport back and then wait in line to get stamped into Cambodia. Since we had to wait for everyone, we got delayed an hour here. This is your last break, so use the washroom if you need to. 

From here, it's a few hours to Phnom Penh. The speedboat gets pretty warm since the windows need to be closed or you'll get splashed. Otherwise, the journey is fine. You'll dock near the centre of town, where tuk tuks will ambush you to take you to your accommodation. 

Happy Travelling! 

Travel Guide and Tips: Ho Chi Minh

Located in the south, Ho Chi Minh (originally Saigon) is Vietnam's largest city. 

Things to do

War Remnant Museum

Located in District 3, the museum has exhibits from the Indochina War as well as the Vietnam War. Although there's hints of anti-American propaganda, the museum offers tons of information about the wars and the impact it had. It's very eye-opening to learn about what happened during the war as well as the aftermath of it. The museum is mostly pictures, but also has war artifacts, historical armoury and vehicles. There's an entrance fee of 15,000 dong. 

Cu Chi Tunnels 

Head to either the Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc tunnels. These tunnels are located away from the city and takes around 2 hours to get to them. They're definitely worth to visit if you're interested in learning more about the war. There's an entrance fee of 90,000 dong. 

Original tunnels.

Modified for tourists.

Ben Thanh Market

Head here if you're looking to get some shopping done. Just note that the vendors can get really aggressive, so only go if you're going to buy. It's hard to window shop there without feeling pressured to buy something. During the day, the market is indoors where there are tons of stalls selling clothing, trinkets and food. At night, the market is outdoors. 

Please note that the coffee and tea sold there may be fake. If you're looking to buy coffee, it might be better to go to a reputable coffee shop like Highlands Coffee or Trung Nguyen. It's pretty affordable too. 

Saigon Square

If you're looking to shop for clothing, head to Saigon Square. It's just a few minutes from Ben Thanh Market. It offers more westernized clothing that you can wear on an everyday basis. 

Notre-Dame Basilica 

Located downtown, Notre-Dame Basilica is a French-built Catholic Cathedral. Head here if you're interested in neo-Romanesque architecture.

Central Post Office 

Located across from the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Central Post Office is worth a look for it's architecture. It can easily be mistaken for an old train station. Drop by if you're looking to send some postcards home! 

Where to Eat

Bui Vien Street

Located in the backpacker's area, Bui Vien Street has tons of restaurants, cafes and bars. If you're looking for something more local, head to one of the side streets along Bui Vien. There will be stalls in the alleyways offering delicious foods. 

5KU Station

Meat + BBQ = Happiness. If you're looking for a place to grill your own meats, head to 5KU Station. Order different meats off the BBQ section. There are some exotic meats if you're adventurous. You'll have a small coal BBQ at your tables so you can grill your own meat. It's a fun way to spend the night. It was 125,000 dong for one dish of meat. It doesn't come with a carb dish, so we ended up ordering fries to fill us up. 

Where to stay

Saigon Inn

We didn't stay here, but we went to their rooftop bar. But they have pretty good reviews. They offer private rooms as well as dorms. It offers free breakfast as well. It's $8 USD for a dorm. 

If you're interested in the rooftop bar, you need to pay 100,000 dong in advance and it sorta works off the tab. Draft beer was 25,000 dong. 

Happy Travelling!

DIY Cu Chi Tunnels, Local Style

Cu Chi Tunnels were the underground network created by the Viet Congs during the Vietnam War. These tunnels were dug by locals and soldiers and used as a place to live, train and fight the enemies (Southern Vietnam and American soldiers).

There are two different tunnel displays: Ben Dinh and Ben Douc. Ben Dinh is geared towards tourists whereas Ben Douc is geared towards locals. We heard how the Ben Dinh tunnels were crowded and not as authentic (enlarged to fit tourists), so we opted to visit Ben Duoc. The biggest different between the two are that Ben Duoc has a temple and is less crowded. 

How to bus to Ben Duoc Tunnels 

If you want to visit these tunnels without a tour, get ready for a long and less comfortable ride. It takes about 2.5 hours to get there using two local buses. 

Step 1: Get to 23/9 Park Bus Station. It's the bus station near the backpacker's area off Pham Ngu Lao street. From here, you need to catch bus 13 to Cu Chi. It will cost 7,000 dong. It's about an hour and a half ride. You'll need to get off at the bus station at Cu Chi. 

Step 2: From Cu Chi bus station, catch the 79 bus to Ben Duoc. It will cost 6,000 dong. It takes around 45 minutes - 1 hour. Make sure to let them know that you want to see the Cu Chi Tunnels at Ben Duoc. They'll let you know when to get off, but if not, keep a lookout for the signs. 

Head over to the booth for information on where to catch the bus. 

Cu chi Tunnels

Once you get to Cu Chi Tunnels, you'll need to make your way down the street. It's confusing because there's no signs or markers explaining where to go. There should be a ticket booth on the left side selling entrance tickets for 90,000 dong. It's a little pricy, but you're paying for two different entrance fees as well as an english guide for the tunnels. Keep walking down the road and you'll eventually see temples. 

Go through the area by the temples, keep walking down the road. Eventually, you should hit another ticket checking area. From here, a guide will help you since you're not allowed to see the tunnels on your own. 

You'll start with a black and white movie explaining the history of the tunnels before the guide takes you down. He'll start by showing you the original tunnels with a trap door that you can try to fit into. Then he'll show you the ones enlarged for tourists that take you underground. 

Booby trap with bamboo spears.

Happy Adventuring!

Transit Guide: Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is Vietnam's largest city. It's a busy city with a lot of history. 

How to get there

We booked a bus from our hostel for 149,000 dong. The are several buses leaving at 12:30 a.m., 1:00 a.m. 8:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. It's a sleeper bus that's quite comfortable. It takes around 5 hours to get there. The ride isn't too scenic since you're mostly going through different towns and cities. 

There's a rest stop along the way for a washroom and food break. The scenery around the rest stop was pretty nice. You'll get dropped off in District 1 on Pham Ngu Lao street which is within walking distance to the backpacker's area. 

Happy Travelling! 

Travel Guide and Tips: Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a small town on the coast of Southeast Vietnam known for its long stretch of beaches, sand dunes and water sports. It's a perfect getaway for locals and tourists looking for a place to relax and catch some sun. 

Things to do

Fairy Stream, Fishing Village, White Sand Dunes, Red Sand Dunes

These are the top attractions to see for Mui Ne, which can be done in a tour or on your own. The Fairy Stream takes you down a small stream to beautiful geological rock formations and red clay cliffs. The Fishing Village is filled with colour boats and tubs. It's interesting to see how the fishermen use the tubs. The white and red sand dunes are a fun visit. You can rent an ATV or Jeep to ride the dunes. 

Kite Surfing

Kite surfing is all the rage in Mui Ne. You can take kite surfing lessons and make your way out into the sea. If you're not interested in trying the sport, just heading down to the beach to watch is quite entertaining. It's crazy to see how hard it is to get up. Yet, these kit surfers make it look so easy. 

Hang out at the beach

There's a long stretch of beach near the city centre, but you'll need to walk through a resort or restaurant to get to it. The waves can be quite strong, so be careful if you're not a strong swimmer. It's better to go in the morning while the tide is low. By evening, the waves are quite rough. 

Where to Eat

Lam Tong Quan Family Restaurant

We ate here everyday. It's an affordable restaurant that serves a mix of western and local foods as well as seafood. They have western breakfast options as well. They're right by the beach, so you can eat with a beautiful view. Try the squid spring rolls and the fish with lemongrass and chilies. 

Banh Mi

There are a few Banh Mi stands within the city centre. We tried the one near the ATMs, but we didn't really like it. Apparently if you walk further, there's one stand that offers chicken Banh Mi that's really good. 


If you walk around the city centre, you'll come across a few gelato places. They usually sell a small scoop for 25,000 dong with a waffle cone. It's pretty good if you're craving sugar. 

Where to Stay

Mui Ne Backpacker Village

For budget accommodation, staying here is actually quite nice. They have about six different mixed or female dorm rooms as well as private rooms. The dorms are good since they're not bunk beds plus they give you a towel. They also have an outdoor pool to cool off in. The bar offers Happy Hour from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. where you can get 2-for-1 on certain drinks. The washrooms are always pretty clean.

They also offer a breakfast for 35,000 dong, but we heard it wasn't that great. They also offer the Sand Dunes tour for $5 USD as long as there are 6 people going. 

Happy Travelling! 

Transit Guide: Da Lat to Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a beach resort town known for its sand dunes, beaches and hot weather. It's a great place to chill out and relax in the sun. 

How to get there

The best way to get there is with a bus. It takes about 4 hours total to get to Mui Ne from Da Lat. It was a scenic ride, with views of the countryside and mountains. There's one rest stop along the way to use the washroom and grab food and snacks.

There's a few tourist companies you can purchase from, including your place of accommodation. We booked with our hotel for 130,000 dong for a bus ticket with An Phu. We regretted this decision because it was such an uncomfortable ride. The buses were run-down, old and lacked suspension. The whole ride was quite bumpy because of it, since the roads are in good condition throughout Vietnam. We got dropped off at the tourist office in Mui Ne, which is in the city centre. 

If you can, it's best to book with the Sinh Tourist. Their buses are much better and more comfortable. 

Happy Travelling!

Travel Guide and Tips: Da Lat

Located in southern Vietnam, Da Lat is a city surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and lakes. The city has moderate temperatures all-year round, which makes it a great place to escape the heat. 

Things to Do

Pongour Falls

This cascade waterfall is located away from the city, so it's less travelled by tourists. You can get there by motorbike or taking the Bao Loc local bus for 20,000 dong. There's an entrance fee of 10,000 dong. 

Elephant Falls

This powerful waterfall is about 30 kilometres away from the city centre. It's a little tricky to get down to see the falls, because the path is quite rocky, slippery and challenging. However, if you have average fitness, you should be fine. Once you reach the bottom, there are boulders you can climb for a better view. There's an entrance fee of 10,000 dong. 

Crazy House

It's more like a huge maze with pathways that lead all over the place. This unique attraction is actually quite fun to spend an hour or two. There's an entrance fee of 40,000 dong. 

Liang Biang Mountain

If you want to get a full view of the city and surrounding areas, you can make your way up to Liang Biang Mountain. You have two options: you can hike up or take a jeep to the top. The hike takes 4-5 hours round trip. The jeep costs 50,000 dong per person. 

Datanla/Prenn Falls

This is the smallest, but closest waterfall to the city centre at 6 kilometres. It's a pretty waterfall, but not as impressive as the other two. There's an entrance fee of 10,000 dong. 

Da Lat Market

This market is located within the city centre. From clothing, produce to trinkets and plants, this market is often visited by travellers and locals. We heard that you shouldn't eat at the market because food is overpriced. 

Swan Boat Ride around the lake

If you're feeling romantic or just want to entertain your kids, you can go for a swan boat ride at the lake in the city centre. It costs 60,000 dong/hour for the swan boat, which can fit two people. 

What to Eat

Everything, really. The food here has a lot of flavour and tastes delicious. Here are some of the things we ate:

Banh Xeo

Savoury fried crepe with bean spouts, green onions and meat (pork, chicken or shrimp). It eaten by cutting it up into slices. You're given a bunch of greens and rice paper. Wrap it up like a spring roll and dip it in nuoc mam (sauce).

Banh Cuon

It's rice batter with ground pork and mushrooms with a side of bean sprouts. Sometimes it comes with cha (processed pork sausage) and thit nuong (grilled pork).  

Banh Mi

Stands usually sell these for 10,000 dong. These are the types of meat that stands usually offer:

  • Cha (Processed Pork Sausage)
  • Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork)
  • Xiu Mai (Meatballs)
  • Op-La (Fried Egg)

Banh Beo and Banh Bot Loc

Small rice pancakes with dried shrimp as well as clear dumplings with shrimp. It's eaten with nuoc mam (sauce). 

Banh Trang Nuong

This reminds me of a pizza. It's rice paper with cheese, egg, green onions, dried shrimp and other seasonings. They cook it over a grill and serve it with tamarind sauce and hot sauce. 

Hu Tieu

This is a rice noodle dish. You can eat this either "kho" (dry) or with the broth. If you eat it dry, it's just like eating noodles. You'll get the broth on the side. If you get it with the broth, then it's like eating a noodle soup. Both ways are quite tasty. 

Where to Stay

Hai Long Vuong

This budget hotel is located away from the city centre, but at a walkable distance. It's quite affordable at 11 USD for a cozy double private room. There's quite a few restaurants and food stands located a short walking distance away. They also have dorms here as well, which were empty most of our stay. 

Da Lat Backpackers Hostel

We didn't stay here, but it has a lot of good reviews. It offers mixed and female dorms for 5 USD. It also come with free breakfast and water refills. 

Happy Travelling

DIY: Getting to Elephant Falls in Da Lat

Elephant Falls (That Voi) is a powerful waterfall located about 30 kilometres from Da Lat. It's a popular waterfall that is often visited by tourists and many tour groups. I overheard one guide say that there's a way to see the falls from behind, but we didn't look for it. 

How to get there

You can get there by taking the green local Phu Son bus to Nam Binh Village. It costs 20,000 dong one way. Just make sure to tell them that you want to get off at Elephant Falls or That Voi (pronounced Tuck Voy). You can catch the bus at the stop inCentre Market. But ask your place of accommodation which stop is closest to you. 

It takes about 40 minutes on a scenic bus ride to get to Elephant Falls. When you get dropped off, there will be a sign that says it's another 100 metres before you reach the entrance. There's an entrance fee of 10,000 dong, but near Tet (Lunar New Year), the price doubles to 20,000 dong. 

Elephant Falls

It's quite fun to get down to the falls. And by fun, I mean it's a rocky, slippery and challenging journey down. There's metal railings at certain parts to help you out. Once you reach the bottom, there are big boulders you can climb to get a better view. But be very careful, since they're difficult to climb. 

We went in dry season, so we didn't get splashed by the water when we climbed the boulders. But in wet season, you might want to bring a rain jacket or poncho. 

Once you make it back to the top, you can wash your hands with the outdoor water tap at the restaurant closest to the stairs. 

Happy Adventuring!

DIY: Getting to Pongour Falls in Da Lat

Pongour Falls is a cascade waterfall that reminded us of Albion Falls in Canada. It's about 50 kilometres from Da Lat, so it's more secluded than the other waterfalls in the area. 

How to get there

We took the orange Bao Loc bus which costs 20,000 dong each. At the side of the bus, there's a price range based on how far you go. For example, it costs 20,000 dong for 20 kilometres, but 25,000 dong for 40 kilometres. 

It takes about an hour and a half to get there. Make sure you tell them to drop you off at the intersection for Pongour Falls. From here, just follow the signs. It's another six kilometres before you reach the entrance. 

Now you have two choices: you can walk the hour and a half along a paved road with cars honking at you, or hire a motorbike taxi (xe om). There's a few stores at the intersection that can help with calling one for you. If not, you can start the walk and there will be some that pass you.

The restaurant displaying an ad for Xe Om (motorbike taxi).

Follow the sign to the waterfall.

Time to walk! 

We attempted the walk, but along the way, we got chased by angry stray dogs. Thankfully, about halfway through, a local man asked us if we needed a ride, to which we obliged. On the way back, we ended up taking a motorbike taxi to the intersection for 60,000 dong total. 

Pongour Falls

Once you get to the entrance, there's a fee of 10,000 dong each. Head down the path to the left and you'll end up at a restaurant. Keep left down the path and you'll pass by more restaurants before you reach Pongour Falls. 

Keep left.

Just note that there's a sign that says "No Climbing" in Vietnamese. But, do so at your own discretion. 

There's rocks at the bottom you can climb, so you can get a better view of the falls. We went in dry season, so the water flow wasn't too heavy. But, it was beautiful nonetheless. 

Happy Adventuring!

Transit Guide: Nha Trang to Da Lat

Da Lat is a colourful city located in Southern Vietnam. It's known for its cooler weather, pine trees, lakes and waterfalls. 

We ended up taking the easy route and booked a bus from our hotel. It ended up being 135,000 dong which we had to negotiate down from 158,000 dong. When we researched it, most places say it should cost between 100,000 - 135,000 dong. So make you they don't take advantage of you! 

The bus picks you up from the hotel, which is very convenient. The ride takes around 4 hours total, once everyone has been picked up. There's one stop along the way to grab food, drinks or use the washroom (with a fee). 

The ride there was actually quite scenic. You'll go through the countryside with lush green fields, which eventually turns into a mountain range before it turns into a winding road through pine trees. 

When we got to Da Lat, we got dropped off in the middle of no where as a marketing scheme. The moment we got off, there were many people asking if we needed a place to stay. We had to walk down the street until we reach the main road and tried to hail a taxi from there. 

Happy Travelling! 

Travel Guide and Tips: Nha Trang

If you're looking for a beach getaway, while still being in a city with great night life, Nha Trang is the place to be. Just a few minutes walk away from most hotels, is a white sandy beach. 

Things to do

Nha Trang Beach

If you're looking for a quiet and isolated beach, you're going to be disappointed. This beach is located beside a busy street in the city. But if you're just looking to relax a bit, catch some sun and swim in the waves, then it should do the trick. The beach has chairs and umbrellas that are priced at 35,000 dong for the day. 

Since this is an urban beach, it's usually filled with tourists and can get pretty crowded. If you walk down the path beside the beach, you'll come across exercise equipment and a beautiful French-inspired garden. 

Vinpearl Land

If you sit on the beach, you'll notice a sign across the water that says "Vinpearl." It's actually an amusement park and resort island that's quite popular. To access the park, you'll need to take the cable car, that owns the Guinness world record for longest sea-crossing cable car system at 3,320 metres. 

The park costs 600,000 dong to access, which includes the cabe car ride. It has rides, a water park, aquarium and shows. It's perfect for the family or if you're a kid at heart. Note that the water park closes at 5:30 p.m., so head there first.  

Po Nagar Cham Towers

Located within Nha Trang, and potentially walkable (depending where you're staying), are these four brick towers built by the Cham civilization. You can enter the towers, but make sure to dress appropriately - shoulders and knees covered. There's an entrance fee of 22,000 dong. 

Where to Eat 

Hai San (Seafood) Restaurants

If you walked down the street by the beach, you'll notice a bunch of restaurants selling live sea creatures from eel and shrimp to oysters and clams. It's priced by weight, so you can pick and choose a variety of options. Just be careful as we've heard of people upping the price when you pay. We heard the best restaurants are on the other side of the bridge, close to the fishing villages. 

Since it's fresh seafood, it's priced a little high for someone on a budget. But it's definitely cheaper than what you'd pay back home. 

Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa

Nem nuong is grilled pork sausage which is eaten by wrapping it in fresh greens and rice paper. Essentially, you're making your own fresh spring roll. Start by order one "phan" or portion (40,000 dong/portion) and go from there. It comes with fresh vegetables, rice paper, nem nuong, fried rice paper for the crunch and an orange sauce.

If you walk down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street for about 5 - 10 minutes, you'll find a big restaurant on your left side. 

This was one portion. 

Banh Can

This street food is a mini savoury fried pancake made from grilled rice flour. Usually there's a quail egg in it and it's eaten with nuoc mam (sweet and salty dipping sauce). 

If you walk down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street you'll find vendors selling this little treat. 

Nuoc Mia

Sugar cane juice! This is a delicious drink made with pressed sugar cane and lime. It's usually sold for 5,000 dong if you walk down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street. 

Com (Rice)

For a tasty rice dish, look for a restaurant that has BBQ meats on display. You can choose your meats and they'll make a dish for you. There's a local restaurant on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street that offers this. I got com suon, op-la (rice with pork chop and fried egg) which comes with a small soup for 30,000 dong. 

Where to Stay

Mojzo Inn 

We originally wanted to stay here because it had good reviews. It's a backpacker-friendly place with also offers free breakfast, just minutes away from the beach. Unfortunately, it was fully booked. 

Saint Paul Hotel

Instead, we stayed at Saint Paul Hotel. It was $15 USD for a private room, which ended being the nicest place we stayed at so far. It came with two double beds in a spacious room and a very clean washroom. Although, the Wi-fi was a little spotty. It was in a good location just a few minutes from the beach. 

Happy Travelling!

Train Ride from Da Nang to Nha Trang

With the train station being so close to where we stayed, it's made the most sense to take a train to Nha Trang. It's also the safer, but more expensive option compared to a bus. 

Where to buy a ticket

We heard it's actually cheaper to buy the ticket from the station compared to online. The online prices are inflated. So, head to the station, take a number and wait your turn. There's four options for the ticket: hard seat, soft seat, hard berth, soft berth. The prices will range depending on the comfort of the seat. To save money, we opted for a soft seat at 320,000 dong per person. Remember to bring your passport when you purchase your ticket! 

Window on the left to purchase tickets.

Take a number and join the queue!

Getting on the Train

When your train comes, they'll call out the track number for it. If you don't speak Vietnamese, ask the attendants to see if your train is there. Your ticket will show the cabin and seat number. So, just find the correct cabin number to board. 

Your train should come around 15 minutes before it departs, so head there early! The station has Wi-fi to keep you entertained as you wait. 

The Train Ride

The train ride isn't too bad, but it takes around 10 hours to get to Nha Trang with a few stops along the way. Our cabin wasn't full, so many people ended up switching seats. There's a railing above you to put your luggage. 

The train will sell snacks, drinks and food, but it does come at an inflated price. You can also purchase snacks at the station before you board. 

Otherwise, it wasn't too bad, but we're getting pretty used to the long commutes now. 

Our soft seat cabin.

Happy Travelling

Travel Guide and Tips: Hoi An

Located in Central Vietnam, Hoi An is just 40 minutes south of Da Nang. It's a small town, filled with lot of personality. The moment you step into the Old Town, you'll be surrounded by small stores selling trinkets, tailor shops that sell leather and silk goods as well as a small river coursing through the town. The lanterns strung along the streets make it such a lovely place to walk around at night. 

Things to do

Shop til you drop

Honestly, there's so many shops to wander through it's a little overwhelming. Many of them are souvenir shops selling elephant pants and silk scarves, but there are also many tailor shops ready to design you a new suit or dress. Window shop a bit and make sure you're getting the best price and quality before you purchase. 

Visit the Old Town

If you want to see the Old Town, you'll need to pay 120,000 dong for a ticket that's valid for 10 days. But it's worth every dong. It gives you access to the museums, old houses, assembly halls and handicraft workshops. It's a beautiful place with a Japanese style bridge, a small river, old rustic buildings and endless shops. 

Boat ride along Thu Bon river

For all you romantics or just lonely people who want to experience this, it's best to see it at sunset. There are several tour companies that offer this experience. Head to the dock and negotiate wisely! 

How to get here

We got here from Da Nang by taking the local bus. It takes about an hour since there's a few stops along the way. It costs around 20,000 - 30,000 dong for a ticket. 

As a foreigner, make sure to ask for the price before you give them money. They're pretty sneaky and neglect to give you change unless you ask for it. 

Where to Eat

We never actually ate here. But there are many restaurants that line the street. Try Mi Quang if you can! 

Where to Stay

There are tons of guesthouses here that should be fairly affordable. We didn't stay the night because we realized we would spend too much shopping if we actually spent more than a day here. If you get something tailored, you should plan to spend a few days here to get the fit right. 

Happy Travels!

Travel Guide and Tips: Da Nang

Located in Central Vietnam, Da Nang is known as a commuter city among travellers. Most people don't usually plan to stay here long. They only stay long enough to figure out their next destination. 

Things to do

Dragon Bridge

The dragon bridge is an iconic part of Da Nang. To put it simply, it's a bridge with a dragon on it. I hear on weekends, it breathes fire and water at night. 

Marble Mountain

Marble Mountain is their biggest attraction. It's a series of limestone mountains in the city. Head up the steps to the top for a view or visit Huyen Khong Cave to see the big Buddha and temple. 

You can get there by taking the local bus to Hoi An for 20,000 - 30,000 dong. Although, when we passed by it, it was so underwhelming we didn't get off the bus. As as foreigner, always confirm the price and make sure you ask for change. We noticed that oftentimes the bus workers would neglect to give back change to non-Vietnamese speakers unless they asked. 

A day trip to Hoi An

About an hour away from Da Nang, is the quaint little town of Hoi An. It's best known for its tailors who make suits and dresses at a low price. Some people also go to find a good shoe cobbler for some leather made goods. It's generally known as the place to go for shopping and has a relaxed atmosphere. Visit at night and walk around the streets with the plentiful lanterns lighting the way. 

However, with the amount of tour groups that come in every day, it gets pretty busy walking the streets. Also, if you want to see the Ancient Town, it costs 120,000 dong for the ticket which is valid for 10 days. 

My Son

If you're interested in seeing Hindu temple ruins from the ancient Cham Empire, My Son might be worth the visit. The temples are dedicated to the god Shiva. It's actually best to get there from Hoi An, where you use a tour or motorbike to get there. 

Monkey Mountain (Son Tra Mountain)

If you're motorbiking junkie or interested in an easy rider tour, take a spin around Monkey Mountain. It's known for its viewpoints of the Da Nang and Hai Van Pass, but it's a little out of the town. Unfortunately, there's no monkeys on the mountains.   

What to eat

Mi Quang

This part soup, part salad dish originated in Central Vietnam and has yellow noodles, vegetables and peanuts. In Central Vietnam, the bowl is only half filled with broth because historically, the people couldn't afford beef bones to create a hearty broth. You can find local restaurants and stands selling it all over Da Nang. 

Dong Tien Bakery (Hai Phong Road)

Our favourite bakery that sells a variety of affordable baked good from banh mi thit cha and banh bao thit to sweet desserts. Pick up a tray and try the assorted baked goods!

  • Banh Mi Thit Cha (sandwich with meat) - 12,000 - 15,000 dong
  • Banh Bao Thit (Steam bun with meat and egg) -  10,000 dong

Where to Stay

Funtastic Hostel (City)

We stayed at Funtastic Hostel at their central Da Nang location, which was decent. They also have a beach location. The common room has a PS4 and bean bag chairs, where you can lounge and watch movies at night. They also offer free breakfast as well as tea throughout the day. It's not a party hostel, so the dorms were pretty quiet at night. I just wish they had more washrooms. 

Happy Travelling!

Flying from Hanoi to Da Nang

Okay, so we spoiled ourselves a little by booking a one hour flight instead of taking a 12 hour bus. It turns out, it costs roughly the same price to bus as it is to fly. So, why not? However, we soon realized that the cost of getting to the airport makes it pricier to fly. 

Where did we book from?

We used Vietnam Airlines to find and buy the flight tickets. It ended up costing us around $25 USD after taxes. There's no extra fee for checked-in baggage, but there's a weight allowance of 30 kilograms. For your carry-on, there's a weight allowance of seven kilograms. 

Not too shabby eh?

How to get to the airport?

So this is what messed us up. Due to limited options, we booked the flight leaving at 6 a.m. The only transportation leaving that early is taxi, which makes sense. We ended up booking through our hotel, and they charged us 500,000 dong claiming that taxis double their prices in the middle of the night. Given that we didn't have too many options left, we forked over the money. 

Were we ripped off? Most likely. So, try to be careful of that. 

Other Options:

1) Public Transit

You can take the number 17 bus which connects from the city centre to Noi Bai Airport. It only runs from 7 a.m - 7 p.m. Ask your hostel/hotel to make sure, so you don't get ripped off with pricing. 

2) Mini Bus

There's a shuttle bus that runs from 5 a.m. - 6:30 p.m that costs around 20,000 - 30,000 dong. It departs from the Vietnam Airlines office southwest of the lake.

Good Luck! 

Travel Guide and Tips: Hanoi

As Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi is as hectic as ever. With cars honking repeatedly, traffic that never seems to stop and streets lined with food vendors, this city always seems to surprise you. 

We didn't stay in the city for too long, since we spent most of it on different tours. We also stayed in the Old Quarter, which is where most of the budget accommodation is. 

Things to do

Ha Long Bay  - Cat Ba Island - Monkey Island

Vietnam is known for the beautiful Ha Long Bay. It's on most people's to-do list when they visit. Going on a tour is your best bet for seeing it up-close. Depending on your time or budget, you can do a one, two or three day tour with various activities included. However, if you have the time, I'd recommend the three day tour that takes you through Cat Ba Island and Monkey Island. 


Sapa is where the terrace rice fields, mountain views and villagers are. It's a place you don't want to miss. You can do this either on your own or with a tour. However, given the transportation costs, it actually might be cheaper with a tour. 

Shopping District

Silk, fake North Face clothing and stores selling trinkets are all over the Old Quarter. Wander around and you'll find different districts selling a variety of things. 

Wander around the Lake

The area around the lake has a lot of coffee shops, although overpriced. In the middle of the lake is a pagoda. There's also a bridge that leads to a temple, but you need to pay a small fee to see it. If you're craving some western food, they have a Popeyes, Burger King, Domino's and KFC there. 

Where to Eat

Street vendors and restaurants line the streets, so it's not difficult to find a place to eat. We switched up where we ate everyday, but it's mostly similar. However, there's a few main Vietnamese foods I'd look out for:

  • Pho Ga - Chicken noodle soup
  • Bun Rieu - Rice vermicelli soup with a tomato broth. Usually has meat (beef or crab), tofu and blood in it. 
  • Banh Mi Thap Cam - Assorted sandwich with various meats, pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, chilies and pate. 
  • Banh Bao - Steam bun with ground pork and egg

Personally, we're not a huge fan of the food in the North. Due to the climate, they have less resources than the south, so their dishes lack some of the flavours of the South. 

Where to Stay

Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (The Original)

This is a pretty popular place among backpackers. It's filled with young people who are looking for a fun time. They offer free breakfast, free walking tour and free water refills. They also have mixed dorms as well as female dorms. We enjoyed it since it was quite clean and easy to talk to people. Price: $6 USD/bed. 

Lucky 2 Hotel

This is fairly priced for a private room. They offer private rooms at $9 USD per person, so $18 USD for the room. They offer free breakfast. Their rooms have two double beds and are spacious and clean. 

Aloha Hotel

This was also reasonably priced for a private room. The room was smaller than our room at Lucky 2 Hotel, but had similar cleanliness. We were told it was $12 USD for the room, but when we got there, they told us it was $15 USD. So we ended up negotiating it down to $12 USD since we didn't want their breakfast. 


  • Some of the tourist restaurants may charge and service fee and tax. Local restaurants usually don't. 
  • Always pay for purchases in Vietnamese Dong to save money with the conversion rate. Also, always ask for the conversion rate since some may inflate it to scam you. 
  • You'll need to literally play Frogger when you cross the streets, especially in the area by the lake. We learned that when you see an opening, you need to walk slowly across the street and the cars and motorbikes will avoid you. It's terrifying. 

Happy Adventuring!

Two Day Trek Through Sapa

Located in northern Vietnam, Sapa is becoming a popular destination among travellers. Known for its terrace rice fields, mountain views and villages, it's a beautiful place to visit. 

Tours are advertised all over Hanoi start at around $45 USD which includes transport, accommodation, food and trekking. If you don't feel like being constricted on a tour, you can easily make your own way there. You can take a sleeper train (around 9 hours) to Lao Cai and then a bus to Sapa (around an hour). However, it might end up costing more than a tour. 

We opted for the two day one night easy trekking tour since it was more convenient which cost us $45 USD. You're given the option of staying at a homestay or hotel. We would've chosen homestay, but it gets pretty cold in Sapa at night (4 degrees) in the winter time. They also don't have heating there, so it didn't seem worth it. You should ask which hotel they book you at, so you know what to expect. 

Day 1

We had a different schedule than the original one, since we needed to be back to catch a flight. So, we were picked up in the morning and dropped off at the bus station. We took a sleeper bus there which takes around five-six hours to get there, depending on road conditions. The sleeper bus itself was quite nice, unlike the one we took to get to Hanoi

Once you get to Sapa, we were bombarded by people asking if you needed to a place to stay, a taxi ride or if we wanted to buy handmade crafts. We noticed that the village people are quite persistent with trying sell you things. They'll also follow you around and ask you questions about yourself. 

A taxi picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel. We stayed at Grand View Hotel, which was not very great. Once you get there, you'll have lunch which is a mix of Vietnamese and Western food, similar to what we ate on our Ha Long Bay tour. You can check in after lunch and get ready for a short trek. 

You'll get pick up by a local guide who will take you down to Cat Cat Village. Just keep in mind that a few village people will tag along on your trek, which can be helpful since they point out things along they way. Just note that when you reach your destination, they'll leave and try to sell you their crafts. Just be persistent with saying no if you're not interested. 

Cat Cat village is really easy to get to. It's just down the winding paved road and it's well-marked. You'll pass by many different shops and a waterfall along with some scenic views. Afterwards, your guide will take you back to your hotel using a different path where you came down. It's mostly uphill on the way back, so remember to pack enough water. 

Once you reach your hotel, you'll have dinner and free time for the rest of the night. 

Day 2

We had an early start since the trek started at 8:30 a.m. We had breakfast and then checked out of our room. Our guide picked up us from the hotel and once again, we had a number of village people follow us on our trek. This trek was much more difficult than the first one but well worth the effort. It takes around three hours to reach Lao Chai Village where you'll stop for lunch, and then another hour to reach the Ta Van Village where a bus will pick you up to take you back to Sapa. 

The trek takes you uphill and downhill, through the rice paddies and valleys. Some parts can get muddy, so waterproof shoes are ideal. Keep in mind that the path can get pretty narrow with steep drops, so be careful at these parts. The village people are quite helpful and will help support you if you don't feel confident at any parts. Otherwise, if you have an average fitness, you should be fine. 

The first two hours of the trek are more difficult, but the last hour isn't too bad since it's mostly level or downhill to Lao Chai Village. Once you reach the village, you'll be bombarded with people trying to sell you things. Lunch will be served at a restaurant, which is mostly vegetarian due to the resources they have at the village. 

After lunch, you'll make you way to Ta Van Village. It's an easy walk and only 2.5 kilometres away. Here, you'll wait for your bus to take you back to the hotel. From the hotel, a bus will take you to the bus station. And then you'll take the sleeper bus back to Hanoi. 

Once you reach Hanoi, you're on your own. You'll need to find your own transportation to your hotel or hostel. 


  • The sleeper bus drivers are not very considerate of Westerners. We kept overhearing how they wanted to push the Westerners to the back of the bus. Remember that you paid the same price as the locals, if not more. So, you can sit wherever you want. 
  • You'll need a sturdy pair of shoes for the hike. 
  • They sell trekking gear in Sapa, which offers more variety than Hanoi. Although, it can get pricy because they supposedly offer the "real deal."
  • Buy water in Sapa because the villages can charge almost twice the amount. 
  • Grand View Hotel is advertised as a four star hotel, but we didn't really see it as that. There was a crack in our window, so it got cold at night. Luckily, they were able to give us extra blankets. There's no heating in the hotel, so the lobby gets chilly as well. They also offer a heater for $5 usd.
  • Although, it wasn't explicitly noted we decided to tip our young guide $1 usd each.

Happy Trekking! 

Three Day Cruise Through Ha Long Bay

When you think about Vietnam, you probably picture a bowl of pho and the picturesque Ha Long Bay right? Yeah, so do I. Ha Long Bay is an iconic place for Vietnam, known for its emerald green water and limestone karsts. 

After realizing it would be more difficult to do it on our own, we opted for a three day, two night tour on a junk ship because we wanted to see Cat Ba Island and Monkey Island. There are tour agencies all over Hanoi offering you the "best" deal. Shop around and see what you can get. We ended up paying $90 USD with Aloha Cruise. All meals, transportation, accommodation, activities (kayaking, fishing, cooking class, swimming and hiking) and entrance fees (Dong Thien Cung Cave and Cat Ba National Park) were included. 

Prices will range depending on the quality of the ship, activities and service that you get. So, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. 

Day 1: Ha Long Bay

We got picked up from our hostel in the morning. The drive to Ha Long Bay takes about 3.5 hours with one stop for a washroom break and snacks. Once you get there, you'll be transported to your boat. 

We checked into our ship and had lunch with our small group. The meals you get are advertised as Vietnamese, but it has more of a Western take on it since most of it is deep fried. 

Shortly after lunch, we arrived at Dong Thien Cung Cave. As you walk through the cave, our guide explained more about the history, folk tales and fun facts. The cave itself is very developed to accommodate tourists. There's a paved pathway through the cave with artificial coloured lights illuminating the cave to show how big it is. 

After the cave, we ended up back on the ship to get to the area for swimming. It was cold and raining on our first day, so no one opted for it. Instead, we kept moving forward and docked near Cat Ba Island. Here, you can go kayaking around the different isles or try fishing off the boat.  

You'll have dinner afterwards and can hang out with the group on the ship. We actually really liked our room because it was the first one we've been in that had heat. We also had a great view and clean washroom.

Day 2: Cat Ba Island and Monkey Island

We had breakfast in the morning and checked out of our room. After making it on Cat Ba Island, we ended up on a bus to take us about half an hour to Cat Ba National Park. Once you get into the park, you'll have a local guide take you up to the viewpoint. You're allotted two hours round trip with rest stops and time for pictures. At the beginning of the trail, there's a sanctuary for deer and monkeys in cages. 

We loved our guide, he was so quirky. He carried a fan and would fan our group as we passed him. There was also one part where he swung from the tree and made monkey noises. Once you reach the top he'll pose with you in the pictures! 

It's actually really easy to get lost on the trail since there's so many turns you can take. If you're on your own, always go straight. 

After the hike, we were transported to our hotel where we had lunch and checked in. Afterwards, we were on our way to Monkey Island. Our bus dropped us off at the dock where we took a boat to the small island. Along the way, you'll see the colourful fishing village. 

At Monkey Island, you'll see monkeys around the restaurant. They can get really aggressive if you get too close to them. If you have food, keep it secure in your bags since they'll probably steal it from you. The island itself is quite nice. You can hike to the top to get a better view of the bay on the other side.

Once you get back to your hotel, you'll have dinner and can spend the rest of the evening roaming the island. 

Day 3: Cooking Class and Hanoi

This was a travel day. After you check out of your hotel, you take a bus to the main dock. You'll board your ship, where you'll have a cooking class. In our case, they teach you how to prep egg rolls. It wasn't the most sanitary because they offered one towel for the whole group to clean their hands. You're also dealing with raw pork. 

After lunch, you'll get on your bus back to Hanoi. Luckily, we were dropped off directly to our places of accommodation.  

Happy Adventuring!