Cruising on Bai Tu Long Bay

The last leg of our Vietnam adventure was modestly luxurious: a two-night cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay, the newer, cleaner, less known and less-overwhelmed-by-tourists neighbour of Ha Long Bay. Ha Long is said to have over 1000 cruise boats packed like sardines and Bai Tu Long doesn't. That's the big difference. Bai Tu Long's … Continue reading Cruising on Bai Tu Long Bay

Triumphal Hanoi

Hanoi is an exciting city to explore with lots of shops, markets and great food. It's also the capital of Vietnam and the country's military prowess is on display. Vietnam has a long and strong martial history; they defeated Chinese Han invaders in 938, Mongols in 1288, French in 1954 and Americans in 1975. In … Continue reading Triumphal Hanoi

Hanoi: food, fun & scooters

Arriving in a new city and getting settled is a stressful part of any trip and Hanoi was no exception. The bus from Sapa dropped us off on a desolate street around mid-day and, while there were lots of taxis waiting, we heard bad things about Hanoi taxis so opted to call a Grab, Vietnam's … Continue reading Hanoi: food, fun & scooters

Trekking in Sapa

Our seven hour sleeper bus from Ninh Binh to Sapa, about 400km to the northwest near the Chinese border, was uneventful. We drove through Hanoi on an elevated expressway and I missed a great photo of rush hour traffic below. There were at least four full lanes packed with wheel-to-wheel, footpeg-to-footpeg scooters. An impressive sight. … Continue reading Trekking in Sapa

Where’s Ninh Binh?

We'd never heard of Ninh Binh but it was highly recommended by our AirBnB hosts in Hue so we decided to check it out. While not well known to foreigners, Ninh Binh is a very popular vacation spot for Vietnamese, a classic un-destination about 100 km south of Hanoi. Ninh Binh has a phenomenal karst … Continue reading Where’s Ninh Binh?

Backtracking to Hoi An

Our ten dollar, 135 km trip from Hue south to Hoi An was by tour bus. It stopped several times along the way and was a good introduction to the area. First up was the Thanh Toan Japanese Bridge in a small market village about 7 km from Hue. Lovely place and worth the half … Continue reading Backtracking to Hoi An

Last day in Hue

We had one more day in Hue and spent it exploring on our own. First up was a trip to a pair of off-the-beaten-path Chinese clan association temples we'd read about. Before I go any further I have to say how difficult it was to find these places and confirm their names. Among other names, … Continue reading Last day in Hue

Cruising down the Perfume River

Our second tour in Hue was down the Perfume River to various pagodas, mausoleums and monuments located on its banks. We were picked up at our AirBnB by a pair of scooters and that was an adventure on its own. Traffic in Vietnam follows its own mysterious rules and, while Hue's roads are tame by … Continue reading Cruising down the Perfume River

A really big cave, DMZ, dessert

We've learned that most destinations have unlimited numbers of tours and guides eager for your business so there is no need to pre-book. And that's how it was in Hue. We decided on two tours, first to Paradise Cave located north of Hue in PhongNha Ke Bang National Park and then down the Perfume River … Continue reading A really big cave, DMZ, dessert

Arriving in Hue

Our time in Siem Reap ended with a US$4 tuk-tuk ride to the airport and a flight to Hue, Vietnam, with an unavoidable six-hour layover in Saigon. Our trip was not well planned and I confess to my mistakes in the hope you won't repeat them. We had intended to start our Vietnam tour in … Continue reading Arriving in Hue

Off to Saigon

Saigon scooter traffic After a month of planning and anticipation we left Toronto for Vietnam with a long layover in Beijing. The Beijing approach was remarkable: extraordinarily dense development, lots of wind turbines, the Great Wall snaking along the countryside, and the city peeking out from a heavy layer of smog. Not surprisingly, Beijing Capital … Continue reading Off to Saigon

To Cambodia by bus

We're travelling so I've taken a break from posting Peru things and hope my accumulating stock of photos will keep me busy for those long winter nights. It's been a wonderful adventure -- only a smidge of the runs and that passed fast. Imodium and cipro are my friends! After a few days in Ho Chi Minh City … Continue reading To Cambodia by bus

Vietnam Visa sticker shock

Gone are the days of showing up at the border and having a nice man stamp your passport and welcome you to his country. We're planning our next trip to Vietnam and just got our 30-day multiple entry tourist visas. Almost C$200 each. Yikes! Here's the painful bill: Note that a multiple entry visa is required … Continue reading Vietnam Visa sticker shock