My Vietnamese Experience...
Highs: Water Puppets show; the Old Quarter of Hanoi; the food; Halong Bay; an incredible lightning
storm; how inexpensive everything was; the food in Hoi An; the tailors in Hoi An.
Lows: Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum being closed the day I planned to go; having to walk home in Hanoi
through flooded streets; seeing the effects of the war on the Vietnamese people at the War Remnants
Museum; not having as much time in Vietnam as I wanted - I would have loved to have seen Mui Ne,
the Mekong Delta and Sapa.
Best Moment: I had such a wonderful time in Hoi An. The entire time I was there was great and I
only wished I got to stay longer.
Craziest Moment: Watching the street outside of my hotel literally become a river during a
Smells: Wonderful food; fish and other not-so-pleasant things at the market in Hoi An.
Sounds: Motorbikes whizzing by; the 'toot toots' of the motorbikes; thunder.
Sights: The Old Quarter in Hanoi; the Water Puppets (40,000 for first-class tickets); lightning storm;
Hoa Lo Prison (5000 dong); One Pillar Pagoda; Halong Bay; the beach in Hoi An; Citadel in Hue (55,000
dong); War Remnants Museum (15,000 dong); Reunification Palace (15,000 dong); Notre Dame
Cathedral; Cu Chi Tunnels.
Tastes: Banana blossom and prawn salad; banana beignets; Cha Ca fish wrapped in rice paper with all
of the trimmings; afternoon high tea; gourmet chocolates; banh nam (rice pancake and shrimp steamed
in a banana leaf); 'white roses' of Hoi An; Hoi An pancakes (savory); a 'Chocolate Louver' dessert at the
Hoi An patisserie; toasted baguettes with a shrimp mousse with a mango coconut curry sauce.
Purchases: A pair of shoes; 2 suits (one for $45 and one for $65); 2 dresses (both $15); a wool coat
($35); some lacquerware; a vegetable shredder.
Experiences: Cooking classes in Hanoi and Hoi An (actually two in Hoi An); spa treatments in Hanoi
(two of them); boat ride on the Perfume River in Hue; boat ride on the Hoi An River; cyclo ride in Hue;
boat ride in Halong Bay; watching the water puppets in Hanoi; riding on motorbikes; 1/2 day at the spa;
hot stone massage at a spa.
Street Food: Banana beignets; pho; fruit; banhs.
Western Companies Out Here: KFC.
Other General Info...
Visa needed? Yes. It is necessary to get this before arriving.
Type of currency? Vietnamese Dong. About 16,000 dong are equivalent to $1 US.
Wallet Friendly? Yes! Hotels, great restaurants, clothes - everything is pretty cheap! Though
things do get a bit more expensive in Saigon.
Things Vietnam Is Known For: The War (which they appropriately call 'The American War');
Departure Tax: $14 US.
Religion: A combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Costs: About $800 (including airfare, shopping, clothes made, spa treatments, etc.)