northern vietnam

so i’ve been in vietnam for a little over 1 week. i flew into hanoi from bangkok and spent a couple of days in the city. hanoi was ok … it’s a big city, loud, loads of motorbikes and traffic, but nice enough to check out for a day or 2. i’ve met lots of travelers along the way who warned me about vietnam. it seems that some people have really enjoyed their time in this country, while others couldn’t wait to leave. the warnings were mostly about the vietnamese people … that you have to be careful with your stuff and that the locals aren’t so nice to tourists at times. unfortunately, in hanoi i did find that the locals weren’t so nice. of course this is a generalization and there are some exceptions. i will say that my impression of a city or a country is largely formed by my experience with the people of that city or country. so, i can’t say that hanoi was a favorite. however, from hanoi i took trips to both halong bay and sapa and i can say good things about those experiences. right now it’s pretty cold in northern vietnam so it’s not the best season for those trips, but still totally worth it! halong bay is beautiful. we had a good group of people on our tour so we had a good time. we spent one night on the boat and 2 days enjoying the scenery and relaxing. we went kayaking for a bit one day and saw a floating village … literally families living out in the middle of the water! one of the days we got blue skies and sun and i was so thankful for that. i mean … this place is truly gorgeous.

photos from hanoi …

halong bay …

Sa Pa is a mountain town in northwest vietnam, near the chinese border. a group of us did a 3 day/2 night tour/trek. it’s around a 10 hour train ride from hanoi so we took an overnight train on the way there and also on the way back. it was an interesting place. even though we were there in the colder, rainier season it was still incredibly beautiful. there are several ethnic minority tribes that live in sa pa and we spent a decent amount of time with the hmong people. they live in the mountains, work the land, take care of the rice terraces, and make jewelry and clothing to sell to tourists. it’s a bit overwhelming at first because these people will literally follow you for 2 hours while trekking because they want you to buy something from them in the end. however, i felt a kindness and a genuine friendliness from them that was really refreshing. it’s such a different life there. it’s completely normal and even expected that the girls will be married by the age of 16 or 17 and have children by the time they are 18. they are selling bracelets by the time they are 2 or 3 years old. the men work the land all day and we didn’t really have any interaction with them. it’s mainly the women and children that interact with the travelers. anyway, i’m glad that i got to have the experience and meet some of those people. the views are pretty stunning … can’t even imagine what it’s like in the summer!

i am in hoi an now and have loved this city! i will have to write about it in the next post. i leave on a night bus this evening for a city called nha trang … supposed to be a really nice beach town!

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6 thoughts on “northern vietnam

  1. A whirlwind tour of Viet Nam. You guys are really moving fast, and getting a lot of the north country. The pictures are stunning, especially Halong bay, and, of course, the children. They are so beautiful. The shots of the terraced rice fields are amazing.
    I will check out your latest cities, and where you are headed. Might be time to head south for more temperate weather, but wherever you go, it is always interesting.
    Almost 9 months now, so I do miss you a lot, but admire your tenacious spirit & determination to see all the places that you wanted to go.
    love you, dad

  2. Hi Nicole, I love your photos from Vietnam, they’re amazing! I’m heading to Thailand in February and have a spare fortnight before I go back to Europe so was thinking about going to Vietnam, however I hadn’t heard anything about the people not being very friendly. How do they compare to Thailand? And would you recommend the tour you did to Halong Bay?

    • Hey Rosie!! Well I have to say … The people in Hanoi were not very nice! However, in other cities like hoi an and nha trang they were much more friendly. Halong bay is beautiful but check the weather for feb. it’s winter in the north right now and it was a bit cold but we got some sunshine and it was worth it! No doubt that I like Thailand more than Vietnam but if u have the time it’s worth a visit! I loved hoi an!

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