Travel time: 02/2011, 02/2003
General Information (2011)
TET: Try to avoid traveling in Vietnam around TET under all circumstances. At TET itself
- most of the shops are closed
- all museums ares closed at certain days
- most entertainment shows are sold out
- almost all tourist tours are not available
- restaurants may charge 10 - 20% extra
- restaurants may have shorter opening hours if open at all
- bus tickets can be up 80% more expensive (normal / preliminary TET price)
- lots of hotels are fully booked
- to get the laundry done is almost impossible.
After TET the locals are taking holiday from TET and/or heading home. That means
- busses, trains and flights are fully booked the week after or even longer
- some bus companies charging an extra 150.000d or more to get a ticket at all because of "buisy time".
The Open-Bus-Ticket from Hung Thanh Travel sold by the Hanoi Backpackers' Hostel is available as sleeper or seater with 4, 5 or 6 stops runing from Hanoi down to HCMC or vice versa (time table). It can be a big money saver but
- you easily can get stuck if the bus is fully booked which happen sometimes for up to three days
- you have to go to the dedicated travel agency in town of your next departure because no confirmation by phone is possible
- at some of the travel agencies you have to insist heavily for the included pick-up service from your hotel
- most of busses are creapy and not suitable for European size (may happen on other busses too but you can ask before buying the ticket)
- at trips with the sleeper busses the toilet can get very smelly as well as the bus is getting it (same at normal busses)
- one of the drivers of an overnight bus stopped several times to have a quick smoke from his bamboo pipe :-((
- in the week after TET I was asked to pay another 150.000d to get a reservation for the next journey because of "buisy time" where I already had paid 80% more for the Open-Bus-Ticket because of TET. No discussion, no bargain.
Absolutely not recommendable as there seams to be no fixed roules and every local travel agency can make their own deal with you for your next trip. Phone numbers on the main ticket are "not available" or the "wrong number". So there is nobody to complain about cheating and the agency sold the main ticket is "not responsible for anything but very sorry".
Traveling with the train can be very enjoyable and socializing. If a travel agency can not book a ticket for you because the train is fully booked go to the ticket office at the railway station itself and you may end up with the ticket of your choise or a good alternative.
- Soft sleeper is the best option to travel and make friendship with locals as you have the compfort of airconditioned lockable compartments with normaly 4 people at night and 6 at day (sometimes also 6 at night and 8 at day :-?) and usually you share your food with the others. Try to get the upper bed as the lower banches are the seats for all at daytime but normally the upper banch will be offered to others for a nap at daytime.
- Hardsleeper have no aircondition and 6 beds per compartment. It could get very crowded and uncompfortable inside as well as smelly after a certain time of travel.
- Seats are compfortable for daytrips but not very useful to get with others in contact.
- Food: At each wagon is a water dispatcher with hot water to prepare your instant noodle soup or you wait for longer stopps where the food verdorers enter the train to sell their lunch boxes and other food. Also on the train are lunch and dinner boxes available which you have to order in advanced when the conductor passes by offering small plastic cards an hour or two before you can pick up your choise of rice with chicken or pork or omlette with spring rolls. Ask the locals in you compartment how it works as they usually enjoy it very much to introduce a foreigner into their livestyle.
Download Can Tho.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s and the Mekong river tour for your gps device.
The tourist information Can Tho (map) has a large office at 20 Hai Ba Trung Street (Tel.: 0710 3827 674) with very helpful and enthusiastic staff. They can arrange tickets, accomodation, bicycles and waterway tours. Check out their website: www.canthotourist.com.vn
Mekong Delta Investment Tourist (map) at 34 Hai Ba Trung Street (Tel.: 0710 3823 392) can arrange accomodation, flight, bus and ferry tickets, rental cars, boat, bike. For the bus and ferry tickets to Phu Cuoc including pick up at the hotel they charge only 5.000d commisioning.
Try to avoid rooms towards the river as the boats passing by all day and night have not exhaust system for noise reduction so it can be very noisy at all time.
Hotel Tay Ho is situated near the river front at 42 Hai Ba Trung Street (Tel.: 0710 3823 392, email@example.com). The better rooms have river view from the room but as the windows are just wooden shutters you will leave them closed all time (at day because of the heat and at night because of the moscitos). The only benefit of this rooms is the shared balkony in front, equipped with a bench for each room. Some people enjoy having a drink at night while watching the locals from top.
Basic rooms with AC, fridge, own bathroom with hot shower, TV and quite hard mattress it will cost 270.000d in the peak season. There are cheaper rooms without window and AC. All rooms could be more clean.
Go for another if you have the choise (see advise above). Map
bon mua cafe/restaurant is located directly at the Cai Khe Chanel next to the eastern bridge at 2 Nguyen Trai Street. Cool down in the breeze on the nice terrace wile wathing the rubbish passing by on the river ;-) or being online with free WIFI.
Bar Hop Pho at 6 Ngo Gia Tu is a stylish three floor cafe/restaurant with a nice shady garden in the middle. They also have AC rooms. Specialized in fruit drinks and coffee but also offer a small choice of Vietnamees food for reasonable prices. Stuff is very helpful, try to speak English, free WIFI but closes at 10 PM.
At 6 PM starts the evening food stalls at the river front to sell mostly Vietnamees food. One food stall facing the river front is offering nice BBQ at your table with different choices of meat starting at 50.000d. Grap a seat on the peer directly over the river for a cool breeze and less moscitos.
Floating markets at Cai Rang and Phong Dien: A 6.5 hour boat tour will bring you to both markets and will continue to along smaller channels showing the live on country side along the channels.
Leaving at 5:30 AM from the peer of Can Tho with a small boat (less noisy / compfortable for 2 persons) going up the river at slow speed reaching the floating markets for Cai Rang before 7:00 AM. Float around for some 15 minutes and have a coffee from one of the "coffee-boats" (10.000d without bargain).
Continue upstream and reach the floating markets at Phong Dien at 8:00 AM and view the bargain from boat to boat. Have a fresh pinapple prepared for you if you like (4.000d).
Leave the market after 30 minutes and float through more narrow channels. Observe the nature to both sides and stop for a stroll through rice padies or along the river side. There will be a stop at one of the homestay / restaurants along the way but only if you like. Back at Can Tho around noon.
The (lady) captain of the boat may speak only little English. The tour is 4.000.000d for one or two person at hard bargain. Ask at the Hotel Tay Ho for this arrangement. Ensure that the boat has a rain cover just in case.
Can Tho - Phu Cuoc: Busses leaving Can Tho to Rach Gia between 3 AM and 10 PM every full hour. As there are only two ferries a day from Rach Gia to Phu Cuoc (around 8 AM & 1 PM) take the bus from Can Tho bus terminal at 8 AM to ensure to be at the harbour right on time. The travel agency can arrange pick up service at your hotel. Ticket for the mini bus (3 h) is 65.000d including pick up, the ferry (3 h) 270.000d. From Rach Gia bus terminal to the ferry peer its some 20 minutes walk. Do not beleave that the bus diver will drop you somewhere off their route.
Nha Trang (2011)
Download Nha Trang.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s for your gps device.
Beach, water activities and dining are the main attractions at Nha Trang. The beach is nice, clean, well maintained and the amount of beach vendorers is matching but there are more unspoiled beaches a few kilometers north. The disadvantage of the beach at Nha Trang is all the rubbish in the water when wind and current are "not matching".
The Nice Hotel @ 6D Quan Tran-Hung Vuong is quite new and offer nice rooms with a relative soft mattress, AC, fridge, TV and hot shower. It is quiet as the hotel is located at a small narrow side aisle in the tourist center. Rooms at the upper floors are served by an elevator and most of the higher floors have seaview. Helpful English speeking service. 15$ per night for the smaller double, 20$ for lager rooms.
The 56 Hung Vuong Hotel @ 56 Hung Vuong has reasonable rooms with AC, hot shower and balcony with seaview but the rooms are very noisy because of the buisy beach road and the nearby discoteque playing techno music every night until 2:30 am. It is 35$ including breakfast.
Not recommendable because of the noise.
The marine national parc close to Nha Trang offers good dive-sites dependent on the visibility which varry from 1 to 25 meters. Madonna Rief is one of the top spots here with loads of soft- and hardcorals, rocks and fishes with a maximum dept of 14 meters. Some of the rocks are building small tunnels to dive through.
Rainbow Divers @ 90a Hung Vuong Street (phone: 058 3524351) is the most expensive on the spot but offer very good equipment. The service is extrodinary as you need not to do anything except diving. They start always very early at 7 am from the dive shop to be the first on site because competition is high and it can get very crowded at certain spots when you arrive only an hour later. Only the food served between the dives could be a little more upmarket as the price of 75$ for two dives. The maximum of two diver per instructor makes the dive very enjoiable.
Nha Trang -> HCMC by train:
Different travel agency told that all trains are fully booked because of TET but at the ticket office at the railway station suddenly tickets where available. The seat at a soft sleeper compartment (2.300.000d) was compfortable and very enjoiable. Food as well as the upper sleeper where shared so the 8.5 hours travel time where passing by very quick.
Train tavel is highly recommendable.
Hanoi (2011) Map.
Download Hanoi.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s and the Lonely Planet walking tour for your gps device.
The Hanoi Backpackers' Hostel serves two different location. The newer one is at 9 Ma May Street (phone: 04 3935 1890), the older at 48 Ngo Huyen Street (phone: 04 3828 5372), www.hanoibackpackershostel.com. The hostel at Ma May has dorms starting at 6$ with 6 beds in a AC room with shared bathroom and own locker and ends at 40$ for an AC double with own bathroom. Included is a basic breakfast and Wifi. The rooms are not very clean as they are also not very dirty, like usual in a backpacker. Also the doubles are not as well as you may expect for that money as other travelers reported.
It's well organized, packed with backpackers and the public area can get very noisy at evening. A pool table, a wide-screen cinema and dart as well as several computer terminals, WiFi and a left luggage room are present. They also run own self-organized tours to Sapa and Halong Bay (see Sightseeing), sell Open-Bus-Tickets (see General Information above) and are helpful organizing tickets to any destination.
Highly recommendable for the party folk and if you like meeting other backpackers.
The Royal Orchid (former Khanh Sinh Hotel) @ 95 Hang Chieu Street (phone: 04 3929 0397), hanoiroyalorchidhotel.com has clean rooms with AC, fridge, hot shower and WiFi for 30$ including a small basic breakfast buffet on the top floor. Every day the rooms will be cleaned and new blankets and towels provided. The staff can speak English and is quite helpful even when some of the given information wheren't correct (as usual in Asia).
The Elite Hotel @ 10/50 Dao Duy Tu Street (phone: 04 3828 1711), www.hanoielitehotel.com, has nice clean rooms and offer a four star atmosphere. Be not confused about the location in a small, dark side aisle. It is save and silent here.
The tour to Halong Bay organized by the Backpackers' Hostel is something for the party party folk. It starts usually every day at 8 am and you have the choise of 2 days 1 night for 70$ or 3 days 2 nights for 110$ which includes an extra day on a beach of an island with water sports and rock climbing. After the transfer with a quite compfortable mini-bus to the ferry peer of Haiphong (3.5h including 30 minutes brake) you go onto a junk boat and the drinking game starts with simple roules which are getting more difficult while time passes by.
After a three hour cruise on the junk boat into the national park the boat anchors and it's time for a swim or jump from the upper deck followed by a 1.5 hour kayaking tour including a visit to a small cave. After a basic Chineses style dinner the real drinking games are starting and the bar is open until last man standing. Prices for the drinks are reasonable with 10.000k for a small water bottle, 20.000k for a softdrink can, 25.000k for a can of beer and 40.000k for a longdrink with get 3 pay 2.
Next days breakfast is at 8 am and no excuse as the rooms / bathrooms must be prepared for the next group followed by the pickup for the group to the beach and return for the others to Haiphong. An early lunch will be served inbetween. Return at the Backpackers' around 4 pm.
Hanoi -> Hue with Open-Bus-Ticket:
Picked up at the hostel and transfered to the bus stop at 6 pm. The banches of the sleeper bus where asian-size, the pillows very dirty and smelly as well as the provided blanket. The bus started at 7 pm, stopped at 10 pm at an overpriced noodle soup vendorer and dropped us in Hue 7:30 am on time in front of a hostel where it was told that others are fully booked and no prearranged pick-up will come to bring you to your reserved hostel = Rip off.
Ho Chi Minh City
Download HCMC.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s and the Lonely Planet walking tour for your gps device.
All taxi have meter and start with 10.000d for the first 2 kilometers and 12.500d for each next one up to 30 km. It`s quite comfortable and they have air-condition too but in the city center at rush hour they mostly get stuck between all the motorcycles.
Much cheaper and much more entertaining than a taxi is the public bus. HCMC has a great net of busses serving also remote areas of the city. Bus line map.
A motorcycle-"taxi" is normally less than half the taxi bill. Hard bargain, not very comfortable but quick and very useful for short distance. They never get stuck :-)
Taxi from the city center (District 1) to the international airport is around 100.000d and takes 40 minutes out of peak traffic hours. It`s another hour for check in. Be there as early as possible.
Renting a scooter should not be more than 5€ per day for a 125ccm Honda with shifted gear. Full automatic are double price. Always park at a supervised scooter park. The fee is between 2.000 and 5.000d. Ask for the receipt if not handed out and keep it very safe. No return of your scooter without the receipt!!! Some parks are guarded 24 hours some not or closed at night. So ask before you return.
Ngoc Minh Hotel @ 283/11-13 Pham Ngu Lao Street (phone: 3 837 6407), ngocminh-hotel.net, in the tourist district 1 is located in a side aisle and therefore less crowed and noisy. Only the fan from the neightbour room mounted on the partition can be noisy. Basic, fairly clean AC rooms with own shower and WiFi are 20$ including breakfast at the nice rooftop from coffee or tea, omelette and roll or instant noodle soup. Two inet terminals at the entrance are avialable and the English speeking staff is very helpfull. Only their tour offeres are a bit overpriced as well as their pick-up service from the airport for 15$.
Nevertheless very recommendable. Map.
Hotel Amara @ 323 Le Van Sy Street, District 3, tel.: (+848) 8439999 offers very comfortable and clean rooms with own bath, air-con, TV, room save and minibar for officially 126€ but you might pay only 81€ including service, tax and good breakfast buffet. Avoid the time where all the tour joining Koreans and Japanese are going for breakfast. A small gym and a 15 x 7 meter pool on a terrace are free of use. Highly recommendable hotel but little far from center (3km). Map
More details at: www.amarahotels.com
Palace Hotel*** @ 56-66 Nguyen Hue Blvd., District 1, tel.: (+848) 8244231, is in the city center, has moderate breakfast buffet but no safe on the room and no newspaper too except the only one in the breakfast hall. They charge 63.200D for clean single room with air-con, own bath and (defective) TV. It has a tiny pool (3x5 meter) on the rooftop with a nice chill-out bar with a great view. Airport transfer is available upon request. All in all it´s good value for money at good location. Map
More details at: www.palacesaigon.com
The next 24 hour scooter parking is behind the opera house opposite top-class hotel Delta Caravelle which is 3 minutes by foot.
All restaurants, bars, coffee-bars and discotheques have to close at midnight all days. This regulation from the government shall avoid to get the situation as terrible as in Bangkok. Only in the tourist area around Pham Ngu Lao Street some bars are open longer or visit one of the many basic kitchen just set up beside the roads leading off the city center.
Restaurant Nha Hang Huong Cau at 234 Le Van Sy Street in District 3, tel.:8475275 are specialized in fresh fish and seafood but also have meet and vegetables. Even frog, scorpion or kangaroo is available. Some dishes will be prepared just in front of your table if you like. So you can try their blood which is told to be healthy and give stamina (viagra asia).
Give them a little time to look for the English menu. Most dishes are between 25 and 50 Dong, beer is 7 to 10. Its quite crowded here and the guests tend to drink a lot. They have a nice top floor terrace which can be covered when it`s raining. It`s very local here.
From hotel Amara it`s less than 15 minutes to walk when you turn left in front in front of the hotel, cross some rails and look out for the red sign on the right side.
Restaurant Quan 3 Mien at 122B Tran Quoc Thao in District 3, tel.:9317096 has some air-conditioned rooms, some tables outside and some on a balcony. It`s quiet and more traditional here and the staff is very unobtrusive. The English menu distinguish between dishes from south and north region. The main courses are not very large and start at around 35D, beer is 10D.
From hotel Amara it`s 10 minutes on foot if you turn right in front of the hotel. Cross a bridge and look on the left for their sign. It`s located in a backyard. Map
Restaurant Vietnam House at 93 - 95 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, tel.: 8291623 has original Vietnamese food in a upper class atmosphere for reasonable prices. The dinner at the upper floor will be accompanied by live music on traditional instruments. English menu with pictures are available and stuff is very helpful. Recommendable. It´s just at the backside of Palace Hotel.
Restaurant Quan Nuong at 29 - 31 Ton That Thiep, District 1, tel.: 8211633 offers delicious Vietnamese barbecue which will be prepared on your table. Best place is on the rooftop terrace. Map
The HCMC.zip as gpx file includes the track for the Lonely Planet walking tour and the 20 points of interest. Even the track is more accurate then the walking tour published in the Lonely Planet edition 2009:
- The entrance to the Reunification Palace  is at north easter side of the compound next to Han Thuyen Street.
- The restaurant Quan An Ngon  is some 200 meters further down the street.
- The entrance of the Jade Emperor Pagoda  is at Mai Thi Luu Street.
The walking tour is very enjoiable and will bring you to very different areas of the city. Only the first part of the large square at the end [17-18-19] is a bit boring as parts of it are commercial areas with office buildings. To do the walking tour and visit all museum count a full day.
Some notes to the places of interest:
- At the War Remnants Museum  allmost all pictures and displayed items are labled in English now. Starting from the 3rd floor (map) leading through rooms with terrible pictures of the war followed by a display of used wapons and ends in the main hall where now detailed information about the impact of Agent Orange to the nature and the people is explained in details. At the right corner to the exit of the main hall you can talk to a group of concerned handicapped people even from young age.
- The History Museum  is not worth the visit as there are no lables at the displayed items. They are just somehow grouped items together to several areas and each has an overall discribrion of that period of time.
- The bar Level 23 at the 23rd floor of the Sheraton Saigon  has seven tables directly at the glassless windows overlooking the city to the south. The view from this places is fantastic especially at night but from the other tables the view is very limited. If non of the attractive places are left take a seat somewhere else. Usually you will be reseated by the waiter when one gets free for you. Softdrinks starts at 100.000d, cocktails at 165.000d. The view to the other sides are reserved for the restaurant and off limit as long as you have not reserved a table.
Delta Adventure Tours offer a full day trip to the Cao Dai Temple at Tay Ninh close to the Cambodian border and the tunnels of Ben Dinh in the Cu Chi area on the return for 7 USD + 80.000d admission for the tunnels. The temple and the noontime prayer service is impressive but not realy worth the seven hour bus ride (both ways) and the tunnels at Ben Dinh are more tourist friendly than the one at Ben Douc. The mini bus had AC but the space between the seats did not match european standard. The tourguide Mr. Thamh (Slim Jim) was very informative and helpful.
The tunnels at Bin Douc at Cu Chi area are around 45 kilometers northwest of the city and worth a visit. The trip is mainly on good road (highway) and only the last few kilometers gets more rough. With a scooter it`s 2 hours ride from the city center and quite easy to find when you have a map handy. Follow the "highway" towards the Dau Tieng lake for some 35 kilometers. A huge sign will inform you when to leave the "highway" and guide you the tunnels. It`s 2.000d for parking (scooter) and 65.000d for a guided tour in English which you have to participate.
Bomb shells can be seen and a video show for 20 minutes. After this the guide shows you some hidden tunnel entries and some where you can climb down by stairs but this tunnels are very short (less than 1/2 minute) and quite wide. Different bunkers and underground rooms can be visited by stairs too. Some are connected by more narrow and longer tunnels (1 to 2 minutes) and mostly illuminated where you have to crouch down.
The biggest adventure is a tunnel leading down to the third level. This tunnel is that narrow that you have to crawl on your elbows and knees covered in complete darkness for some 5 minutes without the possibility to turn, stand up or relax. Sneak around corners which you can`t see and listen the bats fleeing in front of you. You trousers and shoes can be ruined after. Ensure that you join a younger group with a young guide too or ask for the long tunnel experience at the entrance before you join a tour.
Just two minutes from the entrance is a shooing range where you can test M16, AK47, 45 automatic or a machine gun. It`s 1€ per bullet and targets are printed animals on fix wooden signs. No freehand shooting allowed.
Soft drinks at the picnic place are 7.000D.
Discotheque Mecca at 129A Nguyen Hue Blvd., District 1 has free entrance and parking, good techno music and sexy dance girls on stage but no dancing area for public. It´s more for drink and track. Cocktails starting at 55.000d and beer 30.000d. It´s opposite Palace Hotel.
Discotheque Hazard at 104 Hai Ba Trung, District 1, offer free entrance and parking. Soft drink is 30.000d and beer 35.000d. Good music not that loud but crowded on weekend and "hot" lightshow.
Discotheque Spaceship at corner Ton Duc Thang / Ben Choung Duong is 60.000d admission fee including a free drink for 30.000d which a soft drink costs. Beer is 35.000d and parking a scooter 5.000d. Extremely loud here and not much public. Not recommendable.
A cosy Cyber Cafe is at 48 Dong Du Street, District 1. It´s more coffee-bar looking and they offer cold and warm drinks and snacks too. Open from 8AM to midnight.
Latest movies on DVD or VCD are available at corner Huynh Thuc Khang Street and Nguyen Hue Blvd. in District 1 for around 17.000d per disk.
Take the city bus no. 2 to the Mien Tay bus terminal if you are in district 1 where most tourists are staying. Catch the bus at the bus stop opposite the south west corner of the park between D Le Lai and D Pham Ngu Lao close to the roundabout at D Cong Quynh. It costs 4.000d and takes around 30 minutes.
HCMC - Can Tho:
All busses to the Mekong delta are leaving from Mien Tay bus terminal. For Can Tho are several options:
- Unconpfortable, slow (4 h) but cheapest is the mini bus for 55.000d starting when full (even when it is told they go every hour). Tickets are sold inside the main building at the counter to the left.
- Same compfort but with AC and more fast (3 h) is the mini express bus for 80.000d. Tickets are sold inside the main building at the counter to the very right.
- Compfortable, save and fast (3 h) is the rorange big bus for 80.000d leaving every 30 minutes on time from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Bus company Phuong Trang is located in a seperate building opposite the left side of the main building. Reservation at 0838 333 468.
In the moment busses will arrive in Can Tho at the old bus terminal close to corner Hung Vuong and Nguyen Trai Street but there is a new one bus terminal with paved surface and more compfortable facilities at Duong 79b Street. If you will be picked up from your hotel most likeliy that you will start your bus journey from here to go to the old terminal first before leaving Can Tho.
Hoi An (2011)
Download Hoi An.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s and the Lonely Planet walking tour for your gps device.
This small town is packed with foreign and local tourist but really worth a visit. Most of the buildings in the old part of the town are well preserved, the streets nicely decorated and restaurant competition is high. Especially at night (in the dry season) hundrets of colorfull lights are illuminating the roads dipping the town into a firework of light.
The Pho Hoi I Hotel @ 7/2 Tran Phu Street, www.phohoiresort.com, has small, fairly clean single rooms with fan, moscito net, TV and hot shower for 10$ and double for 12$ (bargain possible) but no WiFi. The best is the location inside the old part of town but the noise and smell early morning from the local market next to the hotel can be annoying. Map.
Recommendable because of price and location.
Most of the tourist sights are admission free but for fife in total you need the Tourist Ticket. This ticket costs 90.000d and gives you access to the assembly halls and some temples. The ticket is available at all of the fife sights. A single entry ticket to only one of the sights is not available.
Hoi An -> Nha Trang with Open-Bus-Ticket:
Although two days in advanced no sleeper was available anymore so I had to change to a seat or pay 25$ for a sleeper ticket at another bus company.
Download Hue.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s for your gps device.
All accomodation is far from any tourist attraction except the river boat peer. So plan your visit carefully before you leave your hotel. Best is a bycicle to go around as it is almost flat here. Map.
The Hue Backpackers' Hostel at 10 Pham Ngu Lao Street (phone: 054 382 6567), www.hanoibackpackershostel.com (click at Hue) has dorms for 6$ with 6 beds in an AC room with shared bathroom and own locker and ends at 15$ for an AC double with own bathroom. Included is a basic breakfast and Wifi. The rooms are not very clean as they are also not very dirty like usual in such a backpacker. The building is not very sound protected and you may be waked up when the first gets up.
Nice athomsphere at evening as you have free beer between 5 and 6 pm and happy hour as announced. Also the food is good, all is well organized and the staff is very helpful. Suitable bycicles are available for 3$ per day. Map.
Highly recommendable to meet other backpacker.
The Phuoc An - DMZ Hotel opposite Backpackers' at 1A Pham Ngu Lao Street has clean functional and quiet AC rooms with own hot shower for only 10$ with good mattress and free WiFi. The staff is well organized and helpful. Map.
Highly recommendable to have a quiet night.
The Citadel (55.000d admission) is the main attraction of Hue and has several areas which are nicely rebuild but unfortunately most of the area is left distroyed.
The Ho Quyen Tiger Arena around 4 kilometer southwest of the tourist area is worth a visit if you know the history behind. Actually the building is in fair condition but kept closed all time. Neither you can get inside nor on the top surrounding where the spectators were viewing the fight between elephants and tigers but sneaking through the barriers shouldn't be a big deal. Take care because there are some openings on the top and the stones can get slippery.
Hue -> Hoi An with Open-Bus-Ticket:
Picked up at the hostel 8 am and left Hue one hour later with a bus with asian-size seat distance :-( Stopped for a quick lunch break at a suitable restaurant and were dropped one kilometer outside of Hoi An at an overpriced hotel.
Not recommendable but the trip is very sceenic.
Phu Quoc (2011) Map
Download Phu Quoc.zip as gpx file with some PIO´s for your gps device.
There is no ATM on the island supporting Maestro credit cards. Only Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus and some Asian will be accepted.
No continental breakfast is available before 8 AM at Duong Dong (map). Check out the local food stalls on the street which open at 6 AM serving noodle soup or rice with pork for 15.000d.
May Linh Guesthouse @ 9 Nguyen Trai Street has clean, nicely funished rooms with AC, fan, chilled minibar, very small bathroom with hot shower for 300.000d (with bargain 270.000d. Just mentioned the rate from Hiep Phong Hotel ;-). Free Wifi, helpful owner who can arrange motorbikes, tickets etc.
Hiep Phong Hotel @ 17 Nguyen Trai Sreet, tel.: 077 3846057 in the center of Duong Dong has basic furnished rooms with AC, fan, own bathroom, fridge, "minibar" and quite hard mattress for 270.000d (no bargain possible). Wifi is promised for all rooms but may not work on the very remote rooms (no discount for these). The rooms are not very well maintained and very dusty. The stuff can speak some English and is a little laid back. Motorbikes can be rented for 120.000d per day.
In Duong Dong the Cafes and restaurants serving western breakfast do not open before 8 AM. If you need to get up more early there are a handfull of small eateries serving Vietnamese breakfast for 15.000 to 20.000d.
At the night market are lots of small open air eateries starting hteir service at around 6.30 PM to 10 PM. Usually they display the fresh fish or meat next to the charcol grill where the food will be prepaired. Look round for your choise.
Rainbow Divers (5 star PADI) offer full day trips on a reasonable boat for scuba diving (80 $ two dives) or snorkling (25 $). The equipment is in very good shape and the stuff extremly helpful. To the north they start at 8 AM from Duong Dong harbour for a 1.5 hour transfer, to the south they start one hour earlier as the transfer is one hour longer. Visibility at both areas was around 7 meter in averadge and nearly no soft corals or fish schools can be seen. Do not compare it with the dive sites in Thailand. A bit confusing is the fact that the instructor limits the dives to one hour even when everyone has enough air left for 20+ minutes.
After the first dive the boat leaves to anchor at another location. Fruits will be served at that time. After the second dive a nice Vietnamese lunch will be served with fruits as desert. Everyone will be picked up at there resort or on the main road of Long Beach.
Rent a motorbike to travel around the island as only the road along Long Beach is realy suitable for bycicles. Motorbikes in good condition are available for 5$ with shift gear or 10$ for automatic which are highly recommendable if you like to travel once around the island where you have to pass some very sandy section. Usually the came with nearly empty tank. Fuel up for 50.000d which should last once around the island. The track is partwise very tricky.
Duong Dong - Kampot: Travel agency Bay Can at 8 Tran Hung Dao (phone: 077 3846538) further up the street passing the night market is runed by a very honest old man who can arrange a carefree travel from Doung Dong to Kep / Kampot / Sihanoukville and other destinations. The trip to Kampot will cost:
- 40.000d for the motorbike transfer from Doung Dong to Ham Ninh ferry peer
- 160.000d for the ferry to Ha Tien (depart 8:30 AM, 2 h)
- 300.000d for the (highly overpriced) bus from Ha Tien to Kampot which includes pickup service from the ferry peer at Ha Tien (it's now opposite the river of Ha Tien) to the travel agency Ha Tien Tourism who will arrange the visa for Cambodia for 25$ extra (20$ if you would arrange it yourself).
Leave your backpack here and stroll around until 12:30 PM. The Oasis Bar at 42 Tuan Phu Dat Dong Ho (www.oasisbarhatien.com) left side of the night market has nice coffee and the British owner loads of information.
The bus to Cambodia leaves Ha Tien at 1 PM and takes some 30 minutes to reach the Vietnamese border. At the Cambodian border you have to do the normal visa procedure but the fee is prepaied by the travel agency. Do NOT pay any extra dollar for anything even when officials ask you for! Expect a 1.5 hours brake if you traveling in a larger group of foreigners. From the border to Kampot it's only 2 hours on fairly good dirt/paved road.