In March we travelled to Vietnam for an amazing three-week adventure travelling to Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Quy Nhon, the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City. It was our first time in Vietnam and we really looked forward to getting to know the country and the culture.
We were soon struck by how kind and friendly all the people we met were; they were so proud of their lovely country and keen to share it with us. When visiting a local family in Hanoi we couldn’t have been made more welcome or at ease. Three generations of the family looked after us and we learned lots about their lives and the country – as well as having a fantastic meal and being treated to a memorable musical performance by our host.
Hoi An had everything we love. It is a beautiful town with fascinating old buildings, great markets, shops, bars and restaurants, and a really lively, good humoured feel. There’s also a wholly different rural world only a 10-minute ferry ride away. We spent half a day cycling and exploring an area that felt as though it hadn’t changed much in centuries.
Generally, we’re not great fans of visiting “sights” and were keen to do lots of things instead. We went on several cycling trips, tried tai chi, took city walks with fantastic young guides, visited markets, did some cooking, watched music and theatre performances, and even gave rice paper making a go. The best for me (being pretty hopeless at anything practical) was making and painting a traditional papier mache mask in Hoi An.
There were also various boat trips (including basket boat navigating). The careful on shore paddling demonstration of a neat figure of eight led in practice to the boat going around and round – we had a lot of laughs with our 76-year-old Vietnamese instructress!
The Vespa tour we took in Ho Chi Minh City was great. I was a bit nervous at first as it was my first time on a scooter since 1971, but the driver made us feel really safe. You see and eat in parts of the city you would never normally go to and driving around at night in the traffic and lights is a brilliant and exhilarating experience. I would recommend anyone visiting Vietnam to try and overcome the inhibitions we all have and have a go at things!