Posted by
Message
BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

Vietnam Trip Report
We did a three week trip to Vietnam and Japan (Japan in another thread. Link to be added when I get around to writing it). We had never been to either place, much less anywhere in Eastern Asia. I’d always wanted to go to Japan after studying a lot of the gardens and shrines as a graduate of LSU’s landscape architecture program, and Vietnam sounded interesting, though all I really knew about it was some food items.

It started with a very long day from Nashville > LA > Guangzhou > Saigon. Basic AA flight to LA, and then China Southern Airlines to Guangzhou and then Vietnam. We got to fly on this big girl from LA to China.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/2zCozeC.jpg width=700


I’d never flown on an A380. Boarding was an absolute cluster trying to get 500 queue-averse Chinese people on the plane, but once on it was all good. We’d cashed in points to get business class on the two long flights over the Pacific. The flight took a little longer than expected due to going around some weather. Fifteen hours in total.

Guangzhou’s airport was madness. I thought we’d be flying in to the brand new terminal that opened a few weeks earlier, but we instead were in the old terminal. Our connecting flight to Saigon was on the ground floor where there were 8 gates with only about 200 seats.

Thirty hours later we were in Saigon. As soon as you walk out of the airport you are blasted with heat, charcoal, and motorbike exhaust. I’ve lived through some hot Louisiana summers, but they have nothing on the heat in Vietnam. Highs while we were there were around 97-99, and depoints hovering around 80-85. We had packed light with carry-on backpacks, but we ended up burning through clothes pretty quickly in Vietnam due to sweat. Lots of washing clothes in the sink.

We grabbed sim cards for our phones ($9 for 6gb of 4g data) and then jumped in a cab. As soon as the cab driver was out of the airport gate, he pulled over, switched off the meter, and said 300,000 Dong ($13). frick you, dude. I’m too tired to fight you over it, so take the money and get us to our apartment. It should have been half that amount if he ran the meter.

Let me tell you about cabs in Vietnam. They are shady. We only had to use them a couple times. Every other time we used Grab, which is the Vietnam equivalent of Uber. Grab had just bought Uber a month or two before we got there, but they work the same. The only quirk was that we couldn’t register for Grab in the US. We had to be on a Vietnamese IP. Grab lets you use a car or motorbike. The motorbike is fine for one person, but if you’re traveling with someone, you’ll need a car.

Image: https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/692636318451392512/fr1PfaM6_400x400.png


Here’s our Airbnb in Saigon. It was in a back alley in district 1. Very quiet and only $25/night.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/pzwthhd.jpg width=700


Everything in Vietnam is cheap. Comically cheap. Minus airfare to get there, a middle class American can vacation like a king. I knew it would be cheap, but I didn’t expect it to be that cheap. Beers are 85 cents. Food is $1. Grab rides were $1.50. Souvenirs could he haggled down to almost nothing. Our Airbnbs were $30/night for private apartments in good parts of town.

After a short nap, we took a street food tour. We figured it would be good to do on the first night so we could learn the ropes from a local. They picked us up on motorbikes and we went across town and met up with an Irish couple our age.

First stop was bahn xeo, or sizzling pancake. It’s rice flour spiced with turmeric that is pan fried with pork belly and a shrimp, plus some bean sprouts. The South, Central, and Northern areas of Vietnam all have different versions. The Saigon version was about the size of a quesadilla, which you then cut up and wrapped with lettuce. I liked the Central/Northern version, which was smaller and wrapped up in rice paper like a spring roll.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/zHxjv3K.jpg width=700


Next stop was a seafood stand. We had shrimp, scallops, lemongrass mussels, and conch. This was my favorite spot of the night. The mussels were like crack.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/qK3yoau.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/5hjEtop.jpg width=700


Next was bahn cuon. It’s pork and mushroom and spices minced up and wrapped in steamed rice flour. Pretty solid.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/OMqNON3.jpg width=700


There were a few more stops in there for snacks and banh mis and whatnot. Didn’t grab any pictures. The night ended with some ice cream and smoothies.

That first night was my introduction to Vietnamese traffic. To say it’s hectic is an understatement. Saigon has 8 million motorbikes. There is a method to their madness, but I never figured it out. Your ears are constantly filled with honking noises, and your nose is always filled with exhaust. Crossing the street is a literal leap of faith. You just go and hope everyone moves around you, which they magically do. Sidewalks aren’t for walking. They are for parking.

That night was sleepless. My body was not handling the 12 hour time difference and was trying to digest my street food baby.

Day 2 was exploring the city. We used the Lonely Planet recommended walk as our guide. Ben Thanh market, drinks at the top of the Bitexco building, stroll down Nguyen Hue to City Hall, the post office to mail some Mother’s Day postcards, and finally Independence Palace.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/ONpPvrx.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/DUJbB55.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/DzxMckK.jpg width=700

This post was edited on 8/1 at 9:14 pm


BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Independence Palace was the surprise of the day. It was a beautiful building, inside and out, had lots of history, and the northern side functioned as an arboretum with some amazing specimens (I’m a super plant nerd. Lame, I know, but I am what I am). Do not skip this if you are in Saigon. I was on the fence about visiting war places while in Vietnam, but I’m very glad I went here.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/YoZYa2T.jpg width=700


We had some time to kill before dinner, so I hunted down some craft beer. I’m a beer lover (not beer snob) and Saigon has a good amount of craft beer. More so than the rest of the country. A lot of them are owned by US expats. Prices for craft beer are about 100,000 dong per ~12-14 ounce pours, which is $4.40. Steep by Vietnamese prices, but a steal by American craft beer prices.

We hit up Pasteur Street Brewing. It’s located up a narrow staircase in an alley. The space is tiny, but the beers were great. By far the best beers I had while in Vietnam and Japan. No one came close to them.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/T7gV9V2.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/91Kkk9U.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/lDyJjWg.jpg width=700


After a flight of beers, it was time for dinner. We went to a place called Anan. It was recommended to us the night before. It’s located in the middle of a wet market. We opted for tasting menu #2. All said, we spent $60 here with drinks. We were stuffed and drunk and happy. I didn’t take any pictures of the food, so you get pictures of the market, building, and menu.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/937j6mp.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/UpLTJWB.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/yYEzZ26.jpg width=700



The next day we woke up and went to the Jade Pagoda and then walked down to the botanical gardens and zoo. I went primarily for the gardens, but the zoo ended up being decent. It had some amazing taxidermy which was itself worth the $2 zoo/garden admission. The gardens were very well maintained with lots of good plant specimens.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/sjjXxVc.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/JfaJiye.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/u6rqb78.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/asaYtQj.jpg width=700


Next up was the War Remnants Museum. I have some very conflicting feelings about this museum. It was obviously very Anti-American, which I knew going in, but man, they laid that shite on heavy. According to this museum, we were the embodiment of evil while the North Vietnamese were little clones of Jesus. I kind of agreed with the Agent Orange exhibit, because let’s be real, that was and still is some messed up stuff, but I could have done without the rest of the museum. I had more typed out, but I guess it’s best to keep my thoughts to myself on this one.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/PPmNkWv.jpg width=700


I needed a beer after the War Remnants museum. We hit up a place called Bia Craft, which had their own beers and other local craft beers. Their beers were okay. Nothing groundbreaking, but a good change of pace from the ever present pale lagers.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/TAHIZjL.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/99yMJNp.jpg width=700


Pho for an early dinner, then I passed out.


BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
The next day we caught a short flight to De Nang and then rode 45 minutes down to Hoi An. We stayed at a little homestay that was located between the beach and Hoi An. Once checked in, we took the bikes to An Bang beach for beers and lunch. Then a relaxing day afternoon on the beach.

Homestay:

Image: https://i.imgur.com/wVPCsOK.jpg width=700


We had a decent late lunch and beers on the beach, and then took a dip in the water. It wasn’t as crowded as I had read or expected. Fairly clean, too. Thumbs up in my book.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/f1Xi3wp.jpg width=700


That night we took a short Grab in to Hoi An to get dinner and have a few drinks. We ate at a place called Morning Glory that had been recommended by a guy in Saigon. It was a solid recommendation.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/o7e9b7B.jpg width=700


Then we wondered around for a bit. Hoi An is interesting. It’s beautiful, especially at night, but it’s also jammed full of tourists - especially Chinese tourists. You can’t go three steps without interrupting some girl’s selfie.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/c8dASq6.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/9Yfl8R8.jpg width=700


The next day we had a cooking class planned. It was supposed to be a country cooking tour where you take bikes out in the country, but there was a mix-up and it had been cancelled. It turns out a girl with the same name as my wife from Nashville (where we live) had the same tour booked the day before. They thought we were them. The company was very embarrassed when we showed up that morning. You could tell it was a genuine mix-up. They offered us a street food course at a pretty steep discount (practically free). We said sure, why not? The course wasn’t for a few hours, so we walked around the city before it got too crowded.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/DYfF30e.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/AV5z95I.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/fhOqO2V.jpg width=700


I like eggs. I like coffee. I did not like egg coffee.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/YATvFoJ.jpg width=700


The cooking class was fun. We made some dumplings, bahn xeo, noodle dishes, and a few other things I can’t remember. We also got to try some interesting things like silk worms, duck egg embryos, and pig brains. I was the only one in the group that tried the embryo. Honestly, had I been served it blind, I’d have loved it. It was just visually off putting.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/g6QI6vF.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/pFUyK9h.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/lrYkWy2.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/4IKQC4B.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/Yf8GCFw.jpg width=700


We spent the rest of the day by the pool. That night the homestay cooked us dinner. The homestay was $32/night, and they treated us like royalty. I highly recommend Palm View Villa in Hoi An. Staff was awesome. Food was awesome. Pool was awesome. Room was awesome.


BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
he next day it was on to Hanoi. We got a little place in the Old Quarter. It was on the fifth floor of a walk-up. It was great. Cheap, clean, and in the middle of things on Hang Bo. $20/night

Image: https://i.imgur.com/56Q01y3.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/SXcHwOW.jpg width=700


We dropped our bags and walked across the street to get some bun cha. Bun cha might be my favorite thing I had in Vietnam. It’s pork patties in a broth with veggies and noodles.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/ENqZKvX.jpg width=700


The next day we just kind of strolled around the Old Quarter and a little south of there. We had no real plans. Just taking it easy, having coffee, dodging traffic, admiring plants.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/Cq74M3U.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/rRODOm5.jpg width=700


We ended up at the Women’s Museum. It was actually pretty awesome. It gave a good view of domestic life in the various regions of the country.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/WIzdRHZ.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/WQgKHpL.jpg width=700


Next up was the old french prison, aka the Hanoi Hilton. I can’t remember the real name. Another mixed feeling place. I’ll leave it at that.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/vLGB6iA.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/44RnoJK.jpg width=700


Lunch was Bo Kho and banh bat loc. Not to be confused with Bo Kho. I don’t know how to type their accent marks, so bear with me. It’s also why I was confused when I ordered it. The place near my work has bo kho, and it’s beef and carrot stew. This bo kho is a dry meat salad. Different accents on different letters. Who knew? It was awesome, whatever it was. A+++. Would mistakenly eat again.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/vUk7Ejh.jpg width=700


We went to a water puppet show. It was unique. I can say I did it.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/Uw2SOnD.jpg width=700


That night we got a little shitty on cheap beer. The proprietor hooked us up because we helped her move chairs out of the right-of-way every time the cops rolled by.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/Rcxm5xN.jpg width=700


Drunk food on the way home. Between late night spots in Vietnam and yakitori places in Japan, I’m going to have to build a little skewer grill for myself.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/vNoP214.jpg width=700


The next morning we went to the Lotte Tower. I’m in the glass business, and I heard they had a glass observation deck. I had to check it out. Did not disappoint. It also helped that it was the hottest day we were there and the AC up there was cranked to high.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/xBJIc66.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/UwMwAVk.jpg width=700


We walked around Ho Chi Minh’s tomb and the main government buildings, followed by a walk around the ever so clean nearby lake. We were not dressed appropriately to go in the the mausoleum.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/yLU4VnT.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/OvcrTQA.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/Hn9kwPg.jpg width=700


We did the typical day-trip to Ha Long Bay the next day. We had a giant boat that we shared with 5 other people. Great, relaxing trip out in the bay. We were told it would be packed, but we were the only tourist boat on the water that day. The group we were with was great. A Belgian, two germans, and two Indians. It’s cliche, but Ha Long is one of those places you just need to see. Pretty surreal.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/88Rxzum.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/722kk4Z.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/jaam3rI.jpg width=700


Image: https://i.imgur.com/AeO0zc4.jpg width=700


We got in late that night and packed up because we had a flight to Japan the next day, which I’ll do in another thread.

All in all, I loved Vietnam. Going in I was a little nervous. It was little out of my comfort zone at first, but it grew on me. It’s grown on me more now that the trip is in the past some. When we left, I thought, “Well, I’ve seen some of it. I probably won’t be back.” But now that I’ve thought on it more, I really would like to go back. I’d especially like to go back with someone who speaks the language and can get me off the beaten path. I saw the major tourist parts, and I enjoyed those parts, but I’d like to see more.

And the food. Good God, the food. I need more of that food.
This post was edited on 8/2 at 11:43 am


337tigergirl
LSU Fan
Houston
Member since Jan 2012
6453 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Awesome trip report! I’m Vietnamese and I’m going with my mom next February. I can’t wait. My mom was there for 3 months this year and she knows good food so I’ll have my own tour guide. I’m looking forward to your japan TR too.


Nole Man
Florida State Fan
Somewhere In Tennessee!
Member since May 2011
3443 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Great report and pictures!


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
1799 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Awesome. Looks like a great trip.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
DoUrden
Tennessee Fan
UnderDark
Member since Oct 2011
22471 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Awesome review, I have heard it's beautiful there and the people are nice. After visiting Cambodia Vietnam is on on my list.


BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
quote:

and the people are nice


Most definitely. Everyone except that one cabbie were awesome. There are bad cabbies everywhere, especially where language barriers exist, so I let that slide. The Vietnamese are awesome.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
Lsupimp
Colorado Fan
The Mean Streets of Baton Rudge
Member since Nov 2003
58866 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
My wife is Vietnamese and every member of her family is so negative about Vietnam all the time . Cleanliness,hygiene, chemicals in all the Chinese processed food, corruption, communism, the way the monks get treated- it’s a constant bitch fest . To enjoy Vietnam we can’t go with any family members- we want to travel as Americans not as Vietnamese. Does that make sense ? And being Of Vietnamese ancestry you know we have to go visit every single aunt, uncle, cousin, friend in the village. So it’s just a matter of picking times when nobody else in the family can go , lol.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
IOTA
LSU Fan
Member since Apr 2018
10 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Great Trip Report. Vietnam is a special place for us (also my aunt lives there). Wife and I did a HCM & Tokyo trip back in November. Going to Hong Kong and Seoul in a couple of months but my wife insists we go back to Vietnam so I will add North Vietnam to the trip too. She Looooooves Vietnam!! If it was entirely up to her, we would go back every year.

This post was edited on 12/23 at 5:51 pm


LSUregit
LSU Fan
Member since Dec 2013
1088 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Great work

Nice Maui, Kauai, Oahu and Cancun videos also. Looking to book one of these places soon.

Can we be travel buddies (kidding but not kidding )


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
rintintin
New Orleans Saints Fan
Life is Life
Member since Nov 2008
14179 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Looks awesome man. Just got back from there in March and had an unbelievable time. Did alot of the same stuff you did.

We didn't do Halong Bay though, which I'm pretty jealous you got that awesome weather.

Hoi An was definitely our least favorite because like you say it's overrun with tourists.


quote:

I’d especially like to go back with someone who speaks the language and can get me off the beaten path


I was lucky my GF is Vietnamese and she was worth her weight in gold. I would've been completely lost without her.

ETA: I'm headed to Tokyo next May so will be studying your other thread also
This post was edited on 8/3 at 2:55 pm


t00f
New Orleans Saints Fan
Eating District Donuts in the zone
Member since Jul 2016
29064 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Thanks for sharing BLB! Looks like an incredible trip.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
quote:

I'm headed to Tokyo next May so will be studying your other thread


Your thread helped me. Glad I can help back.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
jsquardjj
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2009
958 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Awesome trip report! How many days were you in Vietnam total for? We are looking at this exact itinerary in March but nervous that we are going to feel too tired from traveling so much in between cities.


BottomlandBrew
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
19892 posts
 Online 

re: Vietnam Trip Report
Total of 10 days. It wasn't too exhausting. The flights between the cities are only like 45 minutes.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
Fat Bastard
Boston College Fan
Member since Mar 2009
40351 posts

re: Vietnam Trip Report
quote:

Since this is not my main account


WHY NOT USE MAIN ACCOUNT?

quote:

not alter


yeah sure


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
first pageprev pagePage 1 of 1next pagelast page
refresh

Back to top

logoFollow TigerDroppings for LSU Football News
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates on LSU Football and Recruiting.

FacebookTwitterInstagram