One of the challenges I set myself before arriving in Vietnam was to make the journey to the most northern part of the country. And that place is Đồng Văn in the Hà Giang which shares its border with China. Along the way, I explored a few cities in the southern, central, and northern regions. My journey started in the coastal city of Nha Trang. I only spent a day there exploring its surrounding islands. The city is known for its beaches, resorts and Russian guests.
I decided to catch a night sleeper bus that same day and made my way up to Hội An. The city’s old town really comes alive at night, revealing its true beauty! You can just spend the whole evening walking through its side streets. Hội An is also known for its tailors. There are lots of shops dotted around and it seems quite popular. Also, I found communicating with the locals wasn’t that difficult as their grasp of English were pretty good.
Having spent a full day in Hội An, I jumped on another sleeper bus to Hu·∫ø the next morning. I made friends with Sofia and Valeria on the journey there and we all decided to explore the city together. The city’s citadel is a must see, so is Minh Mang tomb which takes 45mins to get there by boat. Minh Mang was the second emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty and this site is a beautiful place to visit. Walking along the banks of the city’s river at night was a nice thing to do. It’s a good place to chill and have a quiet evening.
After spending two days in Huế, we headed off to Phong Nha – a place known for its stunning national park and caves. The town close to the park and caves is pretty small and there are a few hostels located around. But the area is a good place to visit if you want to immerse yourself in amazing scenery.
Next stop was Cát Bà which is an island located east of Hanoi. The island is a good base to stay if you intend to visit both Halong and Lang Ha Bay. My highlight though, was going to the national park and hiking to Ngự Lâm peak. I remember sitting there and admiring the surrounding landscape.
Finally in the north of Vietnam, I made my way to Hà Giang via Hanoi. I arrived late in the evening in Ha Giang and found a homestay in Phương Độ. The owner ended up being my guide and we both set off two days later on our motorbikes, slowly making our way up to Đồng Văn. The whole province is just astonishingly beautiful! Also are the local people I met along the way. They were so welcoming and made me feel at home! It was also nice to witness and be part of their way of life, even though it was brief.
On the third day, we finally got to Đồng Văn and got as close as we could to the border. I still remember the feeling knowing that I finally made it – it was so good! An added bonus was visiting a nearby village and spending time with its residents and helping them carry bricks to a building site.