NHA TRANG, SAIGON AND THE MEKONG DELTA
Cam Ranh International Airport is approximately 35km south of Nha Trang city centre. The Dat Moi bus will take you about an hour or take a taxi which is quicker, but make sure you agree with the price before you depart. If you take the train to Nha Trang, the station is close to the cathedral in the northern part of town.
In Nha Trang we stayed at the Novotel with beautiful views of the sea and the palm-fringed beach. Tran Phu Beach is where all the action happens. In all honesty, there’s not a lot to see in Nha Trang and it’s more of a seaside interlude to sit back and unwind and re-charge the batteries for the next leg of your journey. Nha Trang is best visited during the right season (usually between October to April) as the atmosphere is lost when the weather turns and the waves are choppy.
Bai Dai Beach is about 20 km south of Nha Trang and you can spend a day on this pristine beach swimming, relaxing, reading a good book and dining on seafood and more seafood. Make sure you choose seafood that’s live in the buckets otherwise you may end up with something that was frozen. The beach is free and if you get asked to pay a fee, then it’s a scam. Bai Dai Beach was quiet and laid back however the area has grown in popularity and is now under development.
On the evening of our first day, we strolled down to the Sailing Club to watch the sun go down, soaking up the atmosphere whilst sipping Peach Bellini’s – so good that I asked for the recipe. The Sailing club is a must visit venue and you could easily spend two or three hours here enjoying good food and drinking delicious, and cheap, cocktails. The following day, we wandered around and stopped for lunch at a local café with red plastic chairs where we enjoyed fried fish and stuffed squid.
Feeling invigorated, we were ready to set off for our next adventure – Saigon (also known as Ho Chi Minh). The official name is now Ho Chi Minh however the locals still prefer to call it Saigon. Our hotel was the elegant Rex Hotel and we had a spacious room overlooking a small, tree-lined square and the former Hotel de Ville which is now the People’s Committee Building. I should mention here that all the rooms we had in Vietnam, whether 3 or 4 star hotels, were quite spacious.
Saigon is an exciting city of both chaos and calm and is an eclectic mix of old and new. We spent the following day visiting major attractions – Notre Dame Cathedral, the beautiful Post Office, the Reunification Palace which was re-built in 1966, and the Opera House. In the evening we dined at the legendary Rex Rooftop Garden with views of the city.
Next on our list was the Mekong Delta and we left early with our driver for the 3.5 hour drive to Can Tho. The Victoria Can Tho Resort was our home for the next two nights and a beautiful colonial-style building on the banks of the Hau River. A simply beautiful and quiet retreat set amidst gardens and exotic plants. We saw very few people around the hotel and it almost felt like we were the only ones there.
VICTORIA CAN THO RESORT
We got up early the next morning as we were wanting to experience the floating market. We set out by boat but unfortunately, we weren’t early enough as most of the action had happened about two hours earlier. Nevertheless, we were still treated to amazing sights as the river was a hive of activity.
Many of the people of the Mekong Delta live their life around the river and travel by boat is the main form of transport, so much so that there was even a petrol/fueling station in the middle of the river.
After our boat trip, we disembarked to begin a countryside cycling trip. We cycled along small village paths passing through quaint villages and along canals whilst watching the local people busy at work, fishing, building boats, doing laundry and cooking meals. At the end of our trip, we got back onto our boat which took us back to our hotel.
We could probably have spent another night in the Mekong Delta as there was so much to explore – maybe another time then.
Our last night was spent back at the Rex Hotel and as it was still early enough, we set out to do a bit more exploring. Unfortunately, we got caught in a downpour and were soaked to the skin as we made our way back to the hotel. The next day, we had time to spare so visited the Ben Thanh Markets for a bit of last minute shopping.
Vietnam is on my list of top 10 countries that I’ve visited and you can be sure that we’ll return.
IMAGES – on Unsplash
- Image 5 – Georgia Domouchtsidis
- Image 9 – Anne Lin
- Image 10 – Jack Young
- Image 11 – Basal Ar
- Rest of Images – Author’s own