14 DAYS FROM NORTH TO CENTRAL VIETNAM AND WHERE TO GO

So finally I quit my job to join my friends on a journey of stepping out of safe zone and discovered my country, Vietnam. It was 14-day trip going from Ha Giang to Quy Nhon, and it was the 14 most memorable days to me in 2016.

Instead of 3-week trip as planned before, the whole trip was occurred in only 14 days due to heavy rains and floods in some provinces in the central Vietnam. In that short length of time, we have been to Ha Giang, Sapa, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Danang, Hoi An, and Quy Nhon. I’m going to update all the detail of places on the journey later in other posts. At first, let me show my trip’s schedule:

We (me & my friends) departure to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City on 9 Oct in the late evening. Right after arrival, we took a night sleeper bus (a bus with beds inside) to go to Ha Giang. I wouldn’t call it my first day of the trip because we spent most of our time in sitting boringly on plane and bus from HCMC to Ha Giang. And our journey was truly started on the next day …

Hà Giang Province, Oct 10 – 13, 2016:

– Day 1, 10 Oct:
Arriving in Ha Giang City at 4:45AM, we had breakfast and rented motorbikes to wander around Ha Giang province. Our first destination was Dong Van which was about 150km away from Ha Giang city. To get there, we had to go through Quan Ba town and Yen Minh town where we could take some rest and have something to fill our empty stomach. As we could not take our eyes of beautiful scenes on the way to Dong Van Town, we arrived at 6 p.m., later than expected.

Along the way Dong Van town, there are many marvellous and picturesque landscapes that are worth to see once in your life. Ha Giang province is famous for with Buckwheat flower, which can be easily found every corner of the province.

– Day 2, 11 Oct:
Our plan was to visit H’Mong King’s Palace, and Lung Cu – the Northernmost point of Vietnam, then moving to Meo Vac town.

About 2km away from Dong Van, there was an intersection which led to H’Mong King’s Palace in one direction and to Lung Cu in another way. We firstly went to the Palace, about 13km from that intersection, then went to Lung Cu, 26km from the Palace. In the afternoon, we crossed Ma Pi Leng, one of the most beautiful passes in the northern mountainous region, to Meo Vac which is about 50km far from Lung Cu.

Meo Vac was a small town which could be called a recommended stop on the journey from Dong Van town to Ha Giang city.  It had many must-try foods that we could not miss.

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Meo Vac has many good foods that must be tried, especially this street shop

– Day 3, 12 Oct:
It was a long day coming back to Ha Giang City from Meo Vac, about 150km. Except the good breakfast we had at Meo Vac and the enjoyable, memorable experience of riding motorbike on the passes at night without lights, we just were on the road all day long. Ahh, we visited Lung Khuy Cave at Quan Ba in the middle of the day but found nothing excited.

Finally we arrived in  Ha Giang City around 9PM and directly went to a homestay in Tuy village to spend the rest of the night. The highlight point of the 3rd day is delicious foods and special wine at our homestay. That’s all for the third day in the journey.

– Day 4, 13 Oct:
Last day in Ha Giang, we had breakfast after wandering around the village. Then we took a bus to go to Lao Cai at 11:55 a.m.

Sapa, Oct 13 – 17, 2016:

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at Lao Cai city

It was a long day sitting on the bus. We were at Lao Cai territory at about 3 p.m. and arrived at Lao Cai city at about 6 p.m. The owner of the bus had helped contacting a van to take us to Sapa, 1 hour away and we were there at about 7 p.m. Luckily that we met Tung, a very friendly manager at the hotel that we stayed. He took us to the market for a very first delicious dinner in Sapa.

– Day 5, 14 Oct:
The journey exploring Sapa started this day at 6:30 a.m. We came to Ta Van village at 8 a.m. and had breakfast there. We went to a cool homestay to find some foods but they just had instant noodle and crepe.

Ta Van is one of the three popular villages that many tourists visit. We played as the ethnic minorities to take photos and visited the ancient rocks there, then back to Sapa at 1 p.m.

We went to the Waterfall of Love at 2 p.m. There is Fansipan Legend – the station with cable cars that take you to Fansipan peak, on the way. And if you want to trek to the mountain peak, the entrance at Waterfall of Love is also the starting point to hike to Fansipan.

We then left the waterfall in the afternoon to go to Ta Phin, 1 of 3 most popular villages in Sapa and also the one that’s less affected by tourism. We stayed at a homestay of a Red Dao family, the ethnic people in Sapa. They served us the most memorable dinner with their iconic liquor, paddy wine, and local foods. Especially the Red Dao herbal bath, my body is inundated with the herbal hot water in a round wooden tub; it’s one of the best ways to relax after a long day wandering around. Those are the best memories of me in the trip 😀

– Day 6, 15 Oct:
It’s a whole exploring day at Ta Phin village. We went to the silversmith’s house of the village. I intended to buy some souvenirs there but he wasn’t at home 😦

We then strolled through 10 hills to visit the fortune-teller of the village. Beside telling the future, in Red Dao’s culture, the fortune-teller can also affect the marriage of people in the village. The Dao people need the fortune teller to see if a couple are suitable in age or destiny so they are able for wedding. Unfortunately, there was some problem with him so he didn’t see our future. Instead, he invited us to enjoy lunch at his home. That lunch was so remarkable with the super-delicious carp fish that the teller had fed in 10 years and the 50 degree spirit he made.

One special food of the village was the grilled and boiled sweet potato. We were invited to Van’s home, the son of the homestay owner that we lived, to enjoy the food.

The day end after we enjoy dinner and drinking a whole big jar of paddy wine, the really needed drink for the cold weather outside.

– Day 7, 16 Oct:
We were invited to join a wedding in the village. That was a very lucky opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the culture of the Red Dao as it’s quite rare to see a wedding there. The celebration of the wedding had so many steps following the tradition of Red Dao people. It was so interested for me to see the wedding and the foods were delicious.

We then said goodbye with Ta Phin village to go back to Sapa at noon. Did take some rest and go shopping at Sapa market, it had many good brocades and handmade stuffs.

The night ended with a lot of grilled foods around Sapa, the must-try cuisine at the city.

– Day 8, 17 Oct:
We said goodbye to Sapa at 7 a.m. and arrived at Hanoi at 12 p.m. by Camel’s sleeper bus, phone number (+84) 98 569 4914.

Hanoi – Ninh Binh, Oct 17 – 19, 2016:

It was a food day because it seemed like I put everything that I can I could put into my mouth, it had problem right at that night :(( We then strolled around the old town at Hanoi and had to say goodbye with one member in the team :((

We went to a nice acoustic cafe at night for some music but because of my stomach, I can’t enjoy the whole beautiful night :((
[few bad things happen in the day] :((

– Day 9, 18 Oct:
Our destination for this day was Ninh Binh, a famous spot for cultural travel in Vietnam. We left Hanoi from Giap Bat bus station at 9 a.m. and reached Ninh Binh at 12 p.m. We arrived at noon so we did not have much time to visit many places as wanted. The ticket at Trang An is 150k VND/ person  for 3 hours sitting in a boat and the ferryman will take visitors going around the area.

We came back to Hanoi at 6 p.m. then had some foods and drank throughout the night to end up the day.
And my stomach still had problem 😦

– Day 10, 19 Oct:
A full day of strolling around old town for foods and visiting some popular places in Hanoi.

Menu of the day:
. Bun Doc Mung (rice vermicelli with colocasia gigantea and meatballs) at 10 a.m.
. Pho Cuon (grilled meat rolled with pho) at 11 a.m.
. Miscellaneous foods in the afternoon.
. Xoi Man (steamed sticky rice with meats) at 6:30 p.m.

We spent the noon visiting Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and Bat Trang Pottery Village which is about 10 km away from Hanoi’s old town.

The flight to Da Nang city would take off at 5AM in the early morning, we did need to go to sleep early.

Danang – Hoi An, Oct 20 – 21, 2016:

– Day 11, 20 Oct:
On a taxi that took us (and 2 strange guys we just met at the airport) VND 415k, we went straight to Hoi An after had arrived to Danang. The noon at Hoi An that time was boiling hot, I was like a meat in a burning pan (OMG!!!). Unfortunately, our homestay did not have AC which was the most wanted stuff for us at that time. We ran around the town to find a coffee shop with AC and luckily, Hoi An Rostery had a cool room (the only place that we could find AC at the old town) so we can stay there till afternoon.

And what to do when the night come? We strolled around the old town to take pictures and enjoyed the foods, and sat on a boat propelled by a ferry man to go around the river along the town and dropped the paper lantern.

– Day 12, 21 Oct:
After having breakfast, we went to a handmade leather workshop to visit some friends. The workshop was really nice, it had classes for people to learn on how to work with leather and create products. It also had some finished products for sale with very good price. Furthermore, the second floor of the workshop was a nice homestay that visitors can rent for staying.

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at the leather workshop having Soa Soa, a very good drink at Hoi An

We then hitchhiked a bus to go to Danang at 1:30 p.m. The time that we spent in Danang was short. It was just enough for eating some Danang pancakes, lemongrass skewers, grilled girdle-cake, and visiting Linh Ung Pagoda.

Quy Nhon, Oct 22 – 24, 2016:

– Day 13, 22 Oct:
We left Danang at 8:45 a.m. By taking Son Tung Bus we arrived to Quy Nhon, the city of cheap food (to me =]]) at 3 p.m. Even though there were many nice places at Quy Nhon that we could visit, we mostly enjoyed the foods around the city. So this day menu had: Banh Beo (bloating fern-shaped cake), Oc (many kinds of clams), and cocktail at the beach after dinner.

Especially, I love lying on the beach at night.

– Day 14, 23 Oct:
We started the day by going to a nearby mountain of the city to enjoy the dawn. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so we couldn’t find the sun. Then, as planned, we went to Xep Beach, a nice and quiet beach, to enjoy the sea.

But first, here is the foods of the day:
. Banh Hoi Chao Long (fine rice vermicelli with Congee and pig’s tripe) for breakfast.
. Nem, Cha Nuong, and Banh Cuon (grilled meat roll, grilled chopped meat, and steamed rolled rice pancake) for lunch.
. Banh Canh (rice spaghetti) and coffee, juice for dinner.

– Last day:
We went to Phu Cat airport which is 35 km away from Quy Nhon to go to Saigon. Luckily, we could enjoy the most cheap and tasty bread with patê for breakfast at Quy Nhon before taking the flight back to home and end our dream journey.

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we take the flight back home and end our dream journey ..

(But that’s not really the end, it’s just the first chapter of the long journeys in the future ..)

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Us in our glory days


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Khoi Nguyen
Khoi founded The Broad Life to save his memories of places that he has been visited. And he wants to share his memories with everyone to inspire people go exploring the world.

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