Perhaps oddly to some we made our way to the beaches in Vietnam from Sapa. Not without sorrow and thinking that perhaps we probably should have stayed longer we left Sapa on the same overnight train that had brought us there three days before. The ten hour train ride was too bumpy to allow any sleep once more, but we did rest and enjoyed an entertaining conversation with the Spanish couple we had met during our trek to Lac Chai that coincidentally was sharing our four bunk bed cabin.
Upon arrival to Hanoi we were welcomed by a formidable thunderstorm, with rain battering the shady streets and lightning making car headlights almost unnecessary. This only a couple of hours before our Jetstar flight was supposed to take us to Hoi An. Memories of our scary flight in the Philippines (read struck by lightning) began to dwell in our conciense making us consider not board the airplane. We did, eventually, and I would be lying if i said that we were not afraid during take-off. However we were so tired that we just let ourselves go, and the pilot was quite efficient when warning about the bumpy ascent in a calm and reassuring voice but forecasting clear skies around 20 minutes after departure.
The Beaches in Vietnam
And so it was. Three hours later we were sharing a taxi with two travellers from Israel to Hoi An city, arriving to a great cheap hotel they had been recommended that boasted an indoor pool and a restaurant, plus many shops and food stalls nearby. Once we settled in we had to decide whether to sleep a bit or go to the beach (it was 11 am), the main reason we had come here for. It was a no-brainer for me- I was amp to jump into the ocean, but it took Liza a while to convince herself to come as well. We bought a couple of freshly squeezed juices, rented 2 bikes for 1$/day each and rode 20 minutes to the beach among relentless traffic and other cyclists.
Finally, we found it. A wide, clean, impossibly long beach with sky blue water and nobody around. Almost. I couldn’t get my t-shirt off quickly enough, but when I did I ran like a madman, jumped into the cool water and… AAAAHHHHH!!! It was not cool! At all! It was very warm, beyond warm, too hot?
“How is it?” asked Liza interrupting my productive thoughts. She looked at me as if I had grown a second head when I told her that the water was too warm, but she did agree after she dipped her head under a small wave that rolled in. However it was the ocean, very clean, calm, very much empty…certainly picture perfect. And it was what we had been looking for for so many days. Finally, we had found it. Even if the water was too warm.
We spent the next four days ( or were they seven?) chilling out in this great enclave, enjoying great food and sleeping late every day, being the bike ride to the beach and eating mangos and pineapples under the shade of a palm roof the most violent activities of those days. And what did we do to cool off? The hotel’s swimming pool took care of that because its water was freezing. But ooohhhh it felt so good to jump in after returning from the beach.
A couple of days before heading south we visited My Son. Keep those eyebrows down because no, I don’t have a vietnamese child. My Son (pronounced Mee Son) are the ruins of what once was a collection of hindu temples. Today they are an interesting visit and some good picture subjects, but not much more. And don’t choose the “return by boat” option: it’s a waste of time and money.
Next stop was Nha Trang, ten hours south of Hoi An on a sleeping bus. Nha Trang is, in my opinion, a town that you can skip all together. If you do find yourself there though don’t miss Thuy Duong restaurant (www.thuyduongrest.com). It is a great place set in a relaxing environment by the ocean, something difficult to find in this noisy city. And if you have to spend a day, rent a bike like we did and check out the 2 or 3 sites there are to be seen. Otherwise there isn’t much to do unless getting drunk on a tourist boat is your idea of fun, and the beach is not even close to how nice those of Hoi An or Mui Ne (our next stop) are.
The seven hour sleeping bus ride between Nha Trang and Mui Ne was anything but sleepy, however this comes at no surprise because we were getting used to Vietnamese roads and driving. This said, it wasn’t too bad either.
We arrived to our destination at 2 am, and fortunately we had made a reservation at the HepHoa Resort the night before and were dropped at the front door. Had we not we would have had to walk a lot along the empty main road hoping one of the small resorts would let us in. Our choice seemed pretty good in the dark, but it was in the morning when we realized how good it actually was. Right on the beach, clean, with cozy bungalows and a few rooms in a two story building. All for about 14 USD/night.
The beach of Mui Ne is also long, mostly clean (except when onshore winds bring algae) and THE place to windsurf and kitesurf in Vietnam. There’s heaps of places where you can rent surfboards and wind sports boards; surf season starts in October and there is wind pretty much year round. We spent five days there and enjoyed the great food, and rented a scooter to visit the impressive sand dunes found about 45 minutes away. It was surprising to find a patch of a desert in Vietnam- they appear to be completely out of place.
And with this out beach time came to an end. While we did not have a fixed itinerary or schedule our improvisation worked out very well, yet if you like to have things planned out this 2 week Vietnam itinerary will take you through the best of the country. Our next stop would be Saigon and we’d then head into into Cambodia a few days later, making our way to a mysterious country recently ruled by the death inflicting regime of Pol Pot and home to the world famous ruins of Angkor Wat.
Have you visited any of these places? What did you think about Nha Trang? Was the water in Hoi An warm? Did you kite surf in Mui ne? Please share this post if you liked it!