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🇻🇳 Vietnam


orientexcess

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I've spent many years in Vietnam, both as a traveller and for work, and it remains one of my favourite countries.

I hope, with photos, anecdotes and travel blogs to inspire you to visit someday and experience all the beauty Vietnam has to offer.

Hanoi

Living in the East End 

By western standards, there are certain questions that just aren’t to be asked.
Subjects such as your age, marital status, income, even weight are considered taboo and should remain personal. The Vietnamese, however, have no such qualms. Expect to be asked to divulge such information and don’t be surprised by their reactions.

For example, in Asia, being overweight is often seen as a sign of good health or affluence.

Meeting a stranger in the street, one is immediately quizzed:
‘Wher yuh fro’

‘How lon yuh stay Vietnam’

‘Are yuh single’

‘Why yuh single?’


They find it incomprehensible that I’m not married at 39. 

I usually flash a wry smile and tell them it’s a secret.

Of course, now one is fair game. As I sauntered down the stairs to reception this morning, resplendent in my new whistle, the young girl manning the phone sits up,  smiles her widest smile and says,

‘You look really handsome Mr Pete, very fat…..’ 

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Hanoi

Bia Hoi

Bia Hoi is a local beer. It translates as ‘fresh beer’ which is true as it contains no preservatives and must be drunk straight away. It is currently priced at 3000d which is around 12p.

The young girl who had served me, why she couldn’t have been more than 13, sat cross legged on a tired plastic stool and gnawed shamelessly on a boiled chicken foot.

Her pot black hair was tied tightly into a bun on the back of her head and secured with a black bic biro. I shared a table with three other jolly customers who would sup and smoke strong cigarettes in turn. They delighted in inhaling deeply then allowing the heavy noxious fumes to escape from their nostrils and into mine. The air became thick with stale tobacco smoke and spent sulphur matches.

I nodded to a pallid youth who wore his T shirt somewhere around breast height that I would like another drink and he took the half inch garden hose into his mouth, sucked for all his worth, and siphoned the brew into a frosty glazed glass. Spilt beer ran across the cracked cobbled pavement and trickled gently into the drains.


 An old receipt book entry was pinned to my table and the amount of Bia consumed was entered tally fashion until I left. An older lady in white and yellow striped pyjamas offered freshly cut pineapple to us patrons and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Her produce was suspended from a wooden yoke that bowed greatly from the weight and must have damaged her diminutive frame.


I had seen pallid youth filling a number of empty 2 litre coke bottles and wondered why. I now realise that car drivers and scooter riders alike are the valued owners of said bottles and are shrewdly buying a ‘take out’ for the evening ahead.

Bia Hoi to go, as it were!

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Edited by orientexcess
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16 hours ago, orientexcess said:

Bia Hoi is a local beer. It translates as ‘fresh beer’ which is true as it contains no preservatives and must be drunk straight away. It is currently priced at 3000d which is around 12p.

Amazing price for beer there! Is that in Hanoi @orientexcess

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  • 4 weeks later...

@jaykay, @TheTravelForum-Chris, @TheTravelForum-Sam

I'd love to hear what part of Vietnam was your favourite. I appreciate your trips are still in progress but a little word here and there perhaps? 😊

I preferred the climate of Hanoi over HCMC but my favourite place to relax was Hoi An/Danang.

Did anyone/will anyone get up to Sapa? 

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@orientexcess I'm yet to explore Vietnam, but I'm heading there on January 3rd for a month-long adventure. Have you had the chance to visit Nha Trang? If so, I'd greatly appreciate any recommendations you might have for exploring the southern part of Vietnam.

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11 hours ago, orientexcess said:

@jaykay, @TheTravelForum-Chris, @TheTravelForum-Sam

I'd love to hear what part of Vietnam was your favourite. I appreciate your trips are still in progress but a little word here and there perhaps? 😊

I preferred the climate of Hanoi over HCMC but my favourite place to relax was Hoi An/Danang.

Did anyone/will anyone get up to Sapa? 

Thanks for asking.

I've moved your posts into this topic here as a better place to discuss specifically Vietnam due to the topic title :) 

Da Nang 

I really like Da Nang, it is very easy to find really affordable accommodation of really high quality just 200-500m from the beach. Both apartments (airbnb etc) and hotels (booking.com or sometimes Agoda has slightly better deals but not always) are very reasonably priced. 

On the good quality side can get a nice place for under £20 GBP per night in Da Nang, but very easy to also go cheaper and get something more basic but still very nice for less, it depends how much you want to spend. 

In Da Nang I recently paid £18.94 per night for a massive 45 square meter studio apartment with floor to ceiling windows/Juliet balcony, a really long swimming pool that is great for doing lengths, a mini gym (just with some cardio equipment) and a sauna. Compare this to HCMC, where for the same price you will not get a pool or any other facilities and will probably get an apartment for <25square meters. So Da Nang is really great value right now. 

Here is where I stayed: (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/41803655?source_impression_id=p3_1702204847_CMeZ6W5Cs5BeZTlW prices slightly higher now as more of high season but still reasonable, can check their other listings also for other apartments in the same building) likely will good other alternatives also if doing a search and finding somewhere that happens to have good prices currently as prices of course change demanding on current demand for that particular place.  


pool.jpg

studioapartment.jpg
Images taken from the airbnb listing as I do not seem to have taken any whilst I was there unfortunately.


Ho Chi Minh City

For comparison this is what you get for 570k dong in HCMC when going direct to the apartment booking directly, in order to cut out the airbnb fee. ~£18.81 GBP per night inclusive of electricity etc (note that if booking long term, 1 month or more, there are large discounts but you also need to pay for electricity separately, this is quite a common way that a lot of serviced apartments do it in Vietnam so if booking 1 month or more always best to check if they offer with or without electricity as I have also noticed that on Airbnb it is split between which ones charge and which do not though it should usually say under the 'house rules' or another section on the listing. 

15 mins walk from the famous Bui Vein walking street. 




springgardens.jpeg

Spring Gardens Apartments: https://maps.app.goo.gl/wL43buzZYwmcf1VK7

There isn't an awful lot around the area that apartment is in, however it is only 15mins walk to Bui Vein if you like 
walking and there is also this gem of a restaurant (that has a main dish for 40k dong) which is right opposite the apartments and which was mentioned in the first post in this topic:
 


It is also possible to stay right next to Bui Vein walking street or around that area in District one at a hotel for around the same price, if anyone needs a recommendation I can recommend Kim Hotel (https://maps.app.goo.gl/g9tj3hg9xYsznXmy7) for a basic but clean hotel in the heart of D1 near Bui Vein but off a side street so it is not noisy at night. I will at some stage be putting a review of this hotel but haven't got around to taking photos as not in HCMC right now. 

I have also met some teachers who have long term rentals and paying only £200 GBP per month. Though if you would like something of quite high standard with pool etc expect to pay around $500 USD per month on a long term contract, the price may or may not included electricity depending on what area you choose. 



HCMC vs Da Nang 

In my opinion Da Nang is a nicer place to live, you can get really amazingly affordable and good quality apartments very close to the beach with great facilities. And also do not forget that the prices above are just for short term renting of a week or so, if you are staying for months or indeed even taking on a year contract then the price will be very affordable. The air is cleaner in Da Nang and there its more sunshine. Da Nang is also very close to Hot An, which is a very beautiful and ancient city though I have personally found it to get quite crowded with tourists and not much space to walk. 

Da Nang is however a much smaller city than HCMC, hence its lower price. For families or those in relationships Da Nang could be a perfect place for living, however for single people and solo travellers Da Nang can be harder to meet people. HCMC it is very easy to make friends, just pop down to roosters bar (https://g.co/kgs/TsD7Zn) for some very reasonable priced craft beer and start chatting to the locals, expats and tourists and you can easily make friends quickly.


Hanoi

I have yet to spend an extended period in Hanoi, and have so far only stayed in hotel whilst I was there. (I visited once last year) though will be back there for around a week in January 2024. Hanoi feels like a completely different city to HCMC, and even a completely different country to south Vietnam. During the Vietnamese war the country was divided in two with America controlling the south and the north controlled by the National Liberation Front, backed by the Soviet Union and China. This divide although not in existence anymore can still be felt IMO, with the north being more traditional and the south being very westernised with large brand and companies having invested in the area. So they both have very different feels. 

@orientexcess did you find it easy to meet people whilst in Hanoi? When were you last there?

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14 hours ago, orientexcess said:

Did anyone/will anyone get up to Sapa? 

And I haven't been there yet, but Sapa looks absolutely incredible in photos! Ha Long bay also looks nice but have not been either yet. 

So far between this year and last I have been to:
Hanoi
HCMC
Nha Trang
Da Nang
Hoi An
Hue
Bình Minh

And in January we will also visit Pho Quoc, Da Lat, Nha Trang again (for 7 days) and Hanoi (for 7 days) 

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15 hours ago, TheTravelForum-Chris said:

 @orientexcess did you find it easy to meet people whilst in Hanoi? When were you last there?

Yes! I lived and worked there for many years and left Vietnam in 2011.

So, a long time ago, but there was a thriving expat scene back then and I doubt it has disappeared. Beer nights, food nights and band nights, something every day of the week.

There used to be a very popular expat website which has gone but I found an up to date one which I shall PM you rather than post here 👍

Many of my friendships were made over coffee or beer, which the Vietnamese do very well 😊

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3 hours ago, orientexcess said:

Yes! I lived and worked there for many years and left Vietnam in 2011.

Are you planning to visit sometime? If you do go please let us know as I may indeed be there also, due to the very easy visa situation. Currently 45 days visa free and 90 days single or multiple e-visa, for specific countries. This combined with (currently) very affordable prices make the cost of living here very affordable when compared to Europe. Especially if living and eating like a local.

 

 

3 hours ago, orientexcess said:

Many of my friendships were made over coffee or beer, which the Vietnamese do very well 😊

Yea Vietnam is the 2nd largest exporter of coffee. Speaking about Coffee shops if you visit HCMC again these two ones have a really good vibe. At night it is full of young locals drinking coffee until the early hours and they play music, it is a coffee shop but feels like bar vibes. 

They are the same company. Linh Coffee. Cà phê Linh.

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This one probably a better one for night.

Google maps location: https://maps.app.goo.gl/WLrVdM3sQZ5fiNLS8


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This one is best for day time IMO, If going to this one try to get a seat on the balcony with the water misters. 
This one is near Ben Thanh Market, and directly opposite where they are currently building the Ben Thanh metro stop for the first underground/metro in Vietnam. 
Gogole maps lcoation: https://maps.app.goo.gl/2zyr2DsDPtfvKjrv5


Coffee is around 40k dong and they also accept payment by card without any mark up. 40k is currently around the average price for a coffee in HCMC at an established coffee shop. Though you can get cheaper, especially if just coffee without milk. Though there are also places where coffee costs 110k dong, such as Arabica Coffee in the Cafe Apartments or Starbucks. A white coffee in Phin Deli is 40k. Highlands Coffee is around 55k for a Medium (prices vary by location) 49k at this location in Hot Ai in our blog post

40,000 Vietnamese dong 🇻🇳
$1.65 USD
£1.32 GBP

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  • Chris changed the title to 🇻🇳 Vietnam

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