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Are you planning a trip to Vietnam this year?
These popular destinations are my city favorites. Here’s what to expect.
The first time I left Vietnam was in a military cargo plane with my family fleeing the communist takeover. We ended up at a camp in Guam. Earlier this month, I returned to Vietnam via business class on British Airways after sharing my harrowing childhood journey @TEDx.
I plan to return again (and again) to explore more of the varied delights Vietnam offers.
People have asked which Vietnamese cities I would recommend.
On my first return to Vietnam the first stop was Ho Chi Minh, now a city easily skipped to further enjoy the hidden gems around the country. On this recent Asia tour, my first stop was Bangkok, and I would love to see more of Thailand. But back to Vietnam …
I adored Hội An for its charming riverside Old Town and lanterns lighting up the night. The Hội An lantern festival is a gorgeous tradition and because of its popularity with tourists, one can now experience this beautiful light show every night.
I was excited to see so much lush bougainvillea and many silk lanterns adorning the storefronts and restaurants of Hội An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take it from me, be sure to dine along the river from 7 to 9 p.m. and watch Old Town illuminate. It’s quite the romantic and magical spectacle.
There’s such a diversity of experiences in Hội An: beautiful beaches, hand-tailored clothing, delectable food, vibrant night markets, colorful lanterns, and ancient temples in the mountains. There are many cute boutiques lining Hội An’s beautiful streets. Not surprisingly, you can find a photo op at every turn.
Moving to Hanoi, whose Old Quarter is very quaint. In Hanoi, you are never more than 10 feet from a restaurant and street food is served everywhere. Every dish and drink are filled with great flavors, plus they also provide walking tours of Hanoi’s different neighborhoods.
People often ask me, “Why don’t you post food pictures?” Though I do share on Instagram Stories and a few other channels, my main focus is usually highlighting locations and giving a feel for the experiences only travel can bring.
And since people are asking … the tab for a delicious meal for two runs about $25-$50 US, depending on the restaurant. The more adventurous type can expect street food to run up to $5 US per person. Not quite sure how to delicately put this, but here goes: We can try to re-create Vietnamese cuisine in the states, however it’s nothing like the real local thing. Please visit for a taste of the real thing. Definitely worth the trip. Promise.
Ha Long Bay.
Have you been? I’ve always wanted to see Ha Long Bay. This wonder of nature includes 1,600 islands made of limestone forming a surreal portrait. It’s not surprising that Ha Long translates to “descending dragon,” who has the job of protecting Vietnam.
I suggest an extra night at Ha Long Bay if you want to be one with nature. I loved my visit. It’s super-hot in Southeast Asia, but creature comforts are available on the day boat cruise in Ha Long Bay. There are 300 day boats and 200 sleeper boats for your choosing. I took a day boat tour and kept busy capturing videos and photos.
I finished my journey in Singapore, an always fun and innovative place full of photo ops. I love the designs of The @GardensbytheBay, an architectural marvel. Don’t miss it!
Singapore is about a perfect destination or layover spot as you are going to get. Want to know why? Because there’s so much to see and eat and do in this immaculately clean city-state. It only takes about 30 minutes to travel from one end of Singapore to the other, making it the perfect destination and jumping off point.
When visiting Asia, make sure to pick up an umbrella to use as a prop for a photo op. Stay under cover, out of the sun and drink more water than you think you need. Buy yourself a little electric fan. The kind you can recharge by USB. My electric fan was my best friend the entire trip.
Thank you for traveling along with me. As you know, I believe in immersing oneself in the local scene to capture the genuine flavor of a host country. Additionally, I highly recommend staying in a country as long as your budget can accommodate you comfortably.
Travel makes the world a better place. I’m doing my part. Are you doing yours?
Until next time!