March 31st, we are in beautiful Myanmar with some time left to relax and update our blog before we return to our home Sanuk in New Caledonia.
Flashback to our arrival in Hoi An, Vietnam, somewhere in February 2018. After 5 days on a motorcycle it was time to relax and enjoy the old city. The ancient town Hoi An is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1999. In the 16th and 17th century it was a major trading port where Chinese, Japanese and Dutch businessmen did their trading.
We rented a motorcycle and went to My Son (also an UNESCO heritage site), Da Nang city and a day on the beach in An Bang to relax.
After our 5 day stay in Hoi An we took the train to Hue. We visited the beautiful Imperial City (UNESCO heritage site) and 3 of the 7 Imperial Tombs from the Nguyen Dynasty (UNESCO heritage site). The tombs are more like mausoleums located along the banks of the Perfume River. The Nguyen dynasty was the last Vietnamese dynastie (1802-1945).
From Hue we travelled to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park with its 300 caves. We visited 2 caves, the Phong Nha cave and Paradise cave.The park was listed in 2003 as a UNESCO heritage site because of it’s geological values. The largest cave in the world was discovered here in 2009. It takes 4 days hiking in the jungle to get to this cave and costs about 3000USD pp for the trip. Places are limited and you have to book more than a year in advance.
From Phong Nha we travelled to Ninh Binh and visited Tam Coc, Van Long nature reserve and Cuc Phuong national park. The nature was really beautiful here. Unfortunately the weather was always overcast and at times rainy.
After our days in nature it was back to city life and we took a mini van from Ninh Binh to Hanoi. We stayed 4 days in Hanoi, visited many nice museums and went for one day to Halong Bay. In Hanoi the weather was warm but overcast.
After 4 days Hanoi we decided for a trip to Sapa. We took the bus early in the morning to arrive at lunch time in Sapa. We had a quick lunch and left for a 2 day trek in Sapa valley with the Sapa Sisters. We were lucky, the skies were blue and it was around 24 Celsius, ideal for walking. The scenery was gorgeous but here again, many, many tourists and souvenir shops.
After Sapa we decided to go to the Sunday market in Bac Ha, about 70km away from Sapa. We managed to rent a motorcycle for 3 days and off we were. The road was long but the scenery gorgeous and fun. We arrived at Bac Ha Market around 11AM and there was still a lot of activity. It was fabulous to see all the women in their traditional clothes. Apparently only in the highlands of Vietnam the ethnic minorities still wear their traditional clothes at home, the market or on the farm.
We enjoyed our 2 days in Bac Ha, and could easily have stayed a couple more days to explore. We had a wonderful homestay with a fabulous Mr.Cho who was an excellent guide but also a good cook! It was so nice to end our trip in Vietnam with Sapa. We took the night train (was perfect) back to Hanoi and left the next day for Myanmar.
Our 5 weeks in Vietnam were really great. Although we liked the Vietnamese food after 5 weeks we did get a little tired of the Asian cuisine but in Hanoi we did find a very good pizza place. :-). I would definitely recommend travelling to Vietnam but do it from South to North and visit Vietnam before Myanmar….