Those of you who follow me on social media will have noticed that I recently arrived back in my favourite part of the world!
I consider Southeast Asia a bit of a home away from home and I’ve been lucky enough to spend a good chunk of the past four years here, volunteering and working in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. After six months of travelling and freelancing, it’s work, not tourism, that has brought me back to Hanoi – our new home for the next 12 months.
I first visited Vietnam as a ‘backpacker’ in 2012 (to be honest, I only recall wearing the backpack on my back once). It was an eye-opening trip that very much shaped the course of the years to come. During our three-week stint in the country, Ross and I rode the Reunification Express all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City, stopping off at a few tourist spots on the way. Even then, I think I always knew we’d come back some day – but just like Cambodia, I had no idea it would be for a long-term stay.
Arriving in a new country as an expat is obviously very different to visiting as a tourist. Our first month in Hanoi has been subdued – we’ve been focused on finding a place to live, settling in at work, learning the language, and getting into a routine. It’s all a work in progress. As time goes by, I’m looking forward to soaking up more of Hanoi – and naturally, I’ll be taking this opportunity to see as much of Vietnam as possible.
Bucket list, wish list – whatever you want to call it, my travel plans for Vietnam are definitely a work in progress. I’m keen to hear any tips you have to share, so please leave them in the comments below!
MY VIETNAM TRAVEL WISHLIST
– Visit some of Hanoi’s lesser-known craft villages
– Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Tuyen Quang
– Celebrate the Red Flamboyant Flower Festival in Hai Phong
– Photograph the crumbling Catholic churches of Nam Dinh
– Attend the buffalo painting festival in Phu Ly
– Drink fresh tea at a plantation in Thai Nguyen
– Cycle around Cat Ba Island
– Take the night train to Sapa
– Bargain at the Sunday market in Bac Ha
– Go for a boat ride on Thac Ba Lake
– Go trekking in Ha Giang
– Photograph the Mu Cang Chai rice terraces at dawn
– Paddle through the limestone karsts in Ninh Binh
– Go trekking in the Mai Chau valley
– Re-visit Hue and explore some of the city’s lesser-known sites
– Explore the caves in Phnong Na
– Cycle the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Quang Binh
– Visit Hoi An during the lantern festival
– See the ancient ruins in My Son
– Climb to the top of Marble Mountain in Da Nang
– Learn about Bahnar culture in Kon Tum
– Spend a day cafe hopping in HCMC
– Visit the Caodai temple in Tay Ninh
– See the world’s biggest floating market in Cai Rang
– Travel through the Mekong Delta by boat
– Kick back on Phu Quoc island
I tried my best to catch up on blogging while I was recently home in Australia, but I still have a lot of stories and tips from the Caucasus to share with you. Over the next few months I plan to keep those coming while also penning new posts from Hanoi. Aside from Vietnam, we’re hoping to do a few international trips in the coming year (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Myanmar are all on the cards), so this blog will once again be returning to its Asian roots. As always, thank you for following along!
Photo by Guido da Rozze/Flickr