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Trip Report

Backpacking and coushsurfing Vietnam

A land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages, Vietnam is both exotic and compelling.

by nikoppixAtlasGuru Contributor

AsiaVietnam11 days / October 2016

Highs & Lows

Street food is a must try

It was raining season, so it was raining everyday

Itinerary Overview

Vietnam is one of my favorite countries, packed with history, stunning landscapes, cultural highlights and amazing food. It’s one of the most exciting destinations in South East Asia.

The Vietnamese can be some of the nicest, friendliest, kindest and happiest people you could meet. They’re charming without being pushy, helpful, lovers of children and just genuinely nice. Of course there are some bad apples and most of the bad stories involve taxi driver scams, but in all my time in Vietnam i have seen only good.

My trip began at Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) where i stay with a lovely local that i found in coushsurfing, she let my stay at her place for one week. Saigon refers to the inner city area of Ho Chi Minh City. Renamed after the war in honor of the North Vietnamese leader. The area that most people end up in is District 1 where you will find backpacker accommodation and agencies selling tours and transportation to just about anywhere in Vietnam.

One of the best tours from Saigon would be to the Chu Chi tunnels which are located about 50 km west. 

The biggest draw card in Saigon itself is the War Remnants Museum and the Old Palace build by the South Vietnamese rulers but not used since tanks drove through its gates in 1975 to officially end the war.

Next i travel by bus to Hoi An, this incredibly picturesque riverside city is something of a tourist hot spot these days, combing the charms of the Old Town with its ancient buildings, tailor’s shops and Hoi An central market with nearby rice paddies and beaches. 

Hoi An food is world-famous and central Vietnam is a big producer of quality sea food.

Around town there are various places of interest to keep you busy, throw a pot at the pottery village, take a free Vietnamese lesson or one of the many local eco tours.

Next stop the busy capital of Vietnam. You haven’t experienced Vietnam until you’ve visited its noisy, vibrant capital city,Hanoi. Navigate the traffic-choked streets of the Old Quarter to discover crumbling colonial buildings, street vendors and traditional tubular shops.

Hanoi is filled with historic buildings but don’t miss the ornate Temple of Literature, St Joseph’s Cathedral and the UNESCO listed Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.

Learn about the country’s revolutionary leader at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and palace complex and take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake where locals come to exercise and relax.

No trip to Hanoi would be complete without sampling its famous food delights such as a Banh Mi sandwich or the city’s signature dish, Bun Cha. Stop in at Café Giang for a Ca Phe Trung (egg coffee), they’ve been serving this traditional brew for over 70 years. 

If you are looking for a magical location in Vietnam, then you cannot go past Ha Long Bay in the north of the country.  

With emerald-green waters, limestone islands and mystical caves, all while touring on Junk Boats, Ha Long Bay draws travelers to her every day.

From day tours through to tours that keep you entertained for 2 days 3 nights, sleeping on a Junk Boat, while doing day visits to floating villages, taking rowing tours, and getting to jump off the boat into the cool refreshing water, is so relaxing and fun plus gives you a great insight to local living and seeing nature’s beauty up close. 



  • 5 Nights: Ho Chi Minh City
  • 3 Nights: Hội An
  • 2 Nights: Hoàn Kiếm
  • 1 Night: Hạ Long Bay

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    Time of the year that i visited

  • How was the food?

    Markets and street food is the best option

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Always check prices with any ride share app when you riding on any of the cities.

  • Packing tips?

    Comfortable clothing

  • Transportation Tips?

    Use uber or grab