Vietnam Roundup

Duck noodle soup with bamboo at a street food stall in Hanoi

Duck noodle soup with bamboo at a street food stall in Hanoi

I spent 30 days in Vietnam and spent an average of $30 per day. I saw quite a lot, visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Ninh Binh, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi and Sa Pa. My experience in Vietnam was a bit of a roller coaster. I had perhaps the worst tour experience of my life in Ha Long Bay, followed by one of the best in Sa Pa. I got ripped off more in the past month than I have been throughout the rest of my entire trip, was shocked by the anti-American propaganda at Vietnam (American) War museums,  and struggled with insane motorbike traffic in the cities. On the other hand, the food was incredible, and when I wasn’t being ripped off I met some very kind and warm people. Overall I’m really happy I visited Vietnam, especially because my father is a veteran. I was able to understand the conflict from a more historical context, and more importantly I understand Vietnam the country, not just the war.

There wasn’t too much I missed that I’d like to see, but perhaps if I come back I’ll spend more time in the south. I skipped the Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc, which are both supposed to be beautiful. There’s also a ton more street food that I haven’t tried yet!

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The Imperial Citadel in Hue

A detail of a gate at the imperial citadel

A detail of a gate at the imperial citadel

From Hoi An I traveled further north up to Hue, a UNESCO city with a rich history and the site of the former imperial seat of government. I arrived just before tyhpoon Haiyan was due to hit and spent my first 24 hours holed up in my hostel dorm with loads of cookies and three fellow solo female travelers. The typhoon fortunately ended up missing central Vietnam entirely, and the excitement surrounding it seemed to snap me out of my two-week travel slump. I finally got my camera and guide book out.

The imperial citadel in Hue was a really interesting place to walk around for a couple of hours. It’s not quite as well preserved as I had expected, but regardless the size is impressive and there’s an informative video in the palace that explains the layout and functionality of the complex. The best part is the colorful, eccentric gates spread throughout.

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