Budget Wise :: South Vietnam

9 02 2009

Our Vietnam adventure took us from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south to about half way up the very long country, finishing in the city of Hue. When I compare our budget to traveling in Thailand and Cambodia, Vietnam seemed surprisingly predictable. There weren’t many thing that were shockingly cheap, and at the same time there wasn’t much that was frighteningly expensive either. In the end, if you manage to avoid the major tourist traps and scams, Vietnam can be traveled on a rather tight budget – and the best part is that you’ll typically feel like you got your money’s worth.

Our 29 day daily average :: $35.58 USD (for two people: one couple) :: 1 USD = 17,000 VND (Dong) Read the rest of this entry »


Hue Away

4 02 2009

Hue, Vietnam

I would have loved to have taken the train all the way up the coast of Vietnam, but being more expensive and much slower than a bus, we usually opted for the bus route. The only exception to that rule was the ride from Danang to Hue, which is supposedly one of the most picturesque parts of the Vietnam train line. Having secured our tickets in Nha Trang, we boarded the train and found our seats. Though it appeared that the person who sat there before us had used the area more as a waste disposal bin than a seat, a train attendant eventually came by and cleared it out so that we could enjoy the journey without trying to keep our feet off the floor. The windows were a bit dirty, which hampered our picture-taking abilities, but the view was indeed astounding. The train passed by rice patties and lakes then wound around the edges of the mountains that border the coastline, giving us breathtaking shots of the deserted bays and clouded islands. Read the rest of this entry »

Tet in Danang

1 02 2009

Danang, Vietnam

Danang offers about as much to tourists of Vietnam as Silicon Valley offers to tourists of America. In other words, not much in the realm of entertainment or foreign services. As the third largest city in Vietnam, I figured they would have enough international business clients to have an expat community and therefore some accomodation for the English speaking foreigner. That was a miscalculation on my part. Few signs or menus could be found in English and even fewer people who could speak the language. I wouldn’t normally find this to be much of a problem, but we had one extra handicap…Tet. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture Shock :: Vietnam

29 01 2009

After traveling in the ultra-culture-shock land of Cambodia, Vietnam has been relatively normal by comparison. Or at least a bit more normal for a western traveler. The Vietnamese culture, food, and architecture seem to have been pretty heavily influenced by the French colonization and even their “Communism” is close to invisible to the tourist. Generally, visiting Vietnam feels like being in a strange post-Communist, European-Asian fusion country with a massive population and millions of motos zooming around the streets.

As normal as it may seem though, there are at least a few cultural shockers that are worth noting… Read the rest of this entry »

Ancient Hoi An

27 01 2009

Hoi An, Vietnam

The trip from Nha Trang to Hoi An gave us the golden opportunity to sample the oft mentioned sleeper bus. We had chatted with some travelers who said that they took a trip in Laos on a sleeper bus that had fully reclining seats and they slept through the whole ride. Seeing as how the couple we were talking to included a man over 6ft, I can only assume that the buses in Laos are different from Vietnam. Our sleeper bus was a two tiered affair, like a trailer of bunk beds, though the beds were not fully reclining because each upper portion of the seat rests on a cubby hole that the person behind them puts their legs under. A truly ingenious idea with the exception of one problem. The cubbyholes were apparently made for anyone below the height of 5ft 3in. I am 5ft 5in. Gage is 5ft 9in. Five feet three inches minus five feet five inches equals a very rough night’s sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

Beached in Nha Trang

19 01 2009

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Leaving Dalat wasn’t easy. Not that we wanted to stay in the cold mountains any longer. Actually, we were quite excited about hitting the beach in Nha Trang. No, leaving Dalat just wasn’t easy because of the bus ride down the mountain. A rather high speed bus ride down a very narrow, winding, mountainside street that had both Gage and I in a white-knuckled panic and induced three people to vomit. That kind of not easy. I found myself wondering if the dense green jungle and charming tiered mountain farms were just some sort of landscape-Valium designed to make us more comfortable with the advent of our eventual demise on the highways of Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »

Dalat, The Vietnamese Alps

15 01 2009

Dalat, Vietnam

As the bus pulled into the center of Dalat, Gage turned to me and said, “Let’s stay here for two weeks.” For a guy who had spent 23 years of his life in the Colorado mountains, this little city in the Truong Son Mountain Range instantly felt like home. We stepped onto a bus in warm Ho Chi Minh City and seven hours later we stepped out of that bus into the fifty degree air of Dalat. After three months of heat we were thrilled at the opportunity to throw on our neglected fleeces and thermals. Read the rest of this entry »