Those of you who follow me on social media will have noticed that I recently arrived back in one of my favourite parts of the world, Southeast Asia. I consider this region 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
– Get acquainted with some of Hanoi’s lesser-known neighbourhoods
– Spend an afternoon in UNESCO-protected Duong Lam village
– Celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Tuyen Quang
– Spend a night on Ha Long Bay (again)
– Go trekking in Sapa
– Visit the Bac Ha Market
– Travel the Ma Pi Leng pass in Ha Giang
– See how zo paper is made in Hoa Binh
– Paddle through the limestone karsts in Tam Coc
– Go trekking in the Mai Chau valley
– Photograph Mu Cang Chai rice terrace at dawn
– Go caving in Phnong Na
– Cycled around Hoi An at night (again)
– Climb to the top of Marble Mountain in Da Nang
– Clamber over the sand dunes in Mui Ne
– Learn about Bahnar culture in Kon Tum
– Spend a day cafe hopping in HCMC
– Visit the world’s biggest floating market in Cai Rang
– Explore 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! Any tips you can share for Vietnam would be much appreciated…
Photo by Guido da Rozze/Flickr (CC Attribution-NoDerivatives | Edits made)