My tour of Vietnam is done, at least for now.
Please SEARCH FOR ‘Vietnam‘ to find all of my Postings, Travel Budgets and Retirement Reviews.
Meanwhile, here is some general information about Vietnam and / or the places of interest that I did not get to…
These days Vietnam is on par with Thailand in some respects, cheaper in others.
The currency in Vietnam is Vietnamese Dong (VND) but, in Tourist Areas especially, you will be quoted prices in US$s for major items such as accommodation.
The official exchange rate at the time of writing is VND22,500 to US$1. But the Vietnamese use an exchange rate of VND20,000 to US$1 (when the result is in their favour). I suggest that you do the same… if they quote a room for US$20 / night, offer to pay them VND400,000.
Equipment is cheap and easy to come by so don’t worry if you’re not a natural mountain goat, you’ll soon be up there, gazing at the views as the mist rolls in across the peaks.
THE EAST COAST BY TRAIN:
Buy a ticket from a travel agent but make sure that they don’t charge you for a soft-sleeper and then book a hard one – a popular scam, apparently.
Stock up on snacks.
Book the bottom bunk of a soft sleeper – not only because the soft sleeper has less bunks which means more space, but because it also has a mattress (albeit pancake-thin), whereas the hard sleeper berths are literally hard wooden planks.
There’s a stampede when the train pulls in at the station, so position yourself near the front of the queue so you can get on without too much pushing and shoving.
The cabins can be filthy: the floor strewn with litter / food and the bed sheets grey and rumpled – so you may want to take your own bedding / sleeping bag.
HCMC – Nha Trang can be done overnight (7 hrs). So too Nha Trang – Da Nang (10 hrs). From Da Nang you can get a bus / taxi to Hoi An. Hoi An to Hue is best done by a 3 hour bus ride. The Danag – Hue section is meant to be the most scenic. Hue – Hanoi can be done by train (13 hrs).
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Huế is home to the Citadel, once the emperor’s private residence, and the Forbidden Purple City, where he housed his many mistresses.
When your feet are weary, grab some bún bò buế (beef noodle soup) and watch swan pedalos cruise the Perfume River as the sun sets.