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7 Reasons why Vietnam won my heart

7 reasons why Vietnam won my heart

Every year, I scour a new destination for my marriage anniversary (which falls in November) and we celebrate the day far away from phone calls and messages. This time I was fixated on the idea of visiting Vietnam as some of our previous plans had fallen flat. I had been itching to go to there as I had read all good things about the Vietnamese community and culture. Husband and I only had 6 days and 5 nights to spare and we wanted a slow and laid back vacation with only one or two places on our itinerary. Zeroing on the destination country was easy but choosing between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang as the touchpoint was tough. With a long coastline, three-quarters of the country covered with mountains and plateaus, and compelling history, all the popular cities and surrounding reasons appealed to us. After serious contemplation we chose to get acquainted with Central Vietnam. Oozing with the harmony of mountain, sea and river, Da Nang looked like a place that we had been looking for. Its proximity to the gorgeous My Khe beach, ‘Hoi An- the UNESCO Heritage Town’ and ‘My Son Sanctuary’ gave us a pressing reason to finalize our plan. And the stunning Danang Golden Bridge qualified as the perfect background for the anniversary photo.

So without further delay, we booked the tickets and flew to Vietnam. Visa for Vietnam is easy except the technical glitches on the website. Everything is online so you just have to fill the information and pay the fees. My visa was approved on the 4th day.

Last year I had visited Odisha – My 4 days Itinerary for Odisha

The ancient town of Hoi An, on the Vietnamese coast, has charm, history, and beauty to spare.
Hoi An is the gorgeous lantern city of Vietnam

Our ITINERARY for VIETNAM trip

We had a very chilled-out itinerary. We landed at Da Nang airport and went straight to Hoi An. We stayed there for two amazing nights. From there we planned a day to visit ‘My Son Sanctuary’ and came to Da Nang. Here, we spent three nights where one day was solely used for Bana Hills. On the 6th day, we took our flight back home. There was no rush, no panic and no regret on missing out anything. And we covered a whole lot of places too. It felt like a wholesome trip but if you ask me if I would want to go back to Da Nang or explore Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. I would like to do both.

I was totally impressed with both Hoi An and Da Nang and I have my reasons!

1. The Simplicity of the Places and People

Having seen one of the worst wars with the USA, the Vietnamese seem to have evolved into one of the most polite and helpful people. And when it comes to its cities, small towns and fishing villages, there is a natural simplicity about them. The laidback stretches’ of countryside are very attractive and heartwarming. I am sure you have heard crazy traffic stories of Hanoi and Saigon but the drive from Da Nang to Hoi An, Hoi an to Son Sanctuary and back was traffic free. And we were also very happy to find lonely beach areas.

Simplicity of the people and places in Vietnam
View from my window at Hilton Garden Inn in Da Nang

2. History and Rich Past

The Cham culture of Vietnam is very interesting and my visits to the two museums in Da Nang and Son Sanctuary has made me curious to know more about them. Finding out about the Indian influence and seeing some of the similarities was the highlight of the trip. The obvious Japanese, Chinese and European influence in Hoi An acquainted me with a very unique side of Vietnam, which I quite enjoyed discovering. Vietnam is one of the oldest cultures in South East Asia.

Vietnam has a rich past. My Son Sanctuary is an important historical relic with group of ancient Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.

3. Interesting Vietnamese Cuisine

We are vegetarians and we may not have been able to taste the authentic Vietnamese flavors but we were happy to stumble on the plant based versions. We even found vegan Pho and Banh Mi. The banana and mango pancakes, avocado shake, Ice tea, Vietnamese coffee, Veggies pizza, Sea weed soup were too good. In Hoi An, we were lucky to find a vegetarian restaurant close to our home-stay. In Da Nang, we explored some of the highly rated vegan restaurants. Loving Vegan Restaurant, Da Nang is highly recommended. In Hoi An, do check out Fami’s vegetarian restaurant. The food was fresh, tasty and healthy. And you cannot not love Vietnamese coffee.

I was also told that a few years ago, it was difficult to find veg food in Vietnam but with the rise of vegan restaurants, things have become easier now in cities.

4. Safe and tourist friendly

We love to explore on foot and sometimes, we do walk on empty roads. In Hoi An, it was raining on the first night and we were pretty late. But it felt absolutely safe to find our way to our place of accommodation. Even though language is a barrier when it comes to making conversations with taxi drivers but yet none of them acted overly smart or troublesome. They were happy to help and guide in whatever way they could. I would recommend downloading ‘Grab’ or making your bookings through a known taxi service. It made things easier for us. The lady who was arranged taxis for us knew English and it was easy to watsapp her for change of timings, etc.

The cable car ride at Bana Hills is one of the most thrilling ones
On the way to Bana Hills

5. Met some of the most resilient women in Hoi An

I was inspired to see women handling most of the shops in Hoi An. They seemed strong, hardworking, and friendly. Some were unstoppable when it came to convincing us to buy some stuff. And most of them had the best smiles. The lady who made the lanterns, or the lady who was selling pancakes, or the one who served us great food at the restaurant, I felt each of them was admirable. And I am glad Vietnam celebrate women’s incredible strength, resilience, and tenacity. 

We met resilient women in Hoi An
Women were frontrunners as businesswomen in Hoi An

6. Fun place for shopping and massage treatments

Vietnam is a cool place for shopping and massage treatments. There are lot of souvenirs to bring back home. Handmade traditional handicrafts, cool shirts and t-shirts, and lots of artwork can be found in the shops. I enjoyed shopping at Hoi An. The shop owners were open to bargaining and were easy to persuade too. I enjoy getting pampered and foot massages are my first choice, and now Vietnam has become my second favorite after Bali. I also like the body massages in Thailand, but I would definitely recommend going for foot messages in Hoi An.

The lanterns in Hoi an make for best souvenirs
One can’t resist buying these!

7. Hassle-free Visa, Good Connectivity and Budget-friendly destination

Online visa is an easy process minus some glitches There is good connectivity via air now. And Vietnam is budget friendly as well. Always apply for visa two weeks in advance because in some cases, you may not get the visa on time. But there are some agents who help you to procure visa even a few hours before your trip. But avoid the panic. Overall, I found the country pocket-friendly. Vegan food was on a higher side. Non-veg is way too cheap.

We visited The Golden Bridge (Vietnamese: Cầu Vàng) for our marriage anniversary
The striking Golden bridge

Our Places of Stay and both were very goodMuse House in Hoi An and Hilton Garden Inn in Da Nang

Keep following for more stories and do share your experience of visiting Vietnam!

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