HANOI - we flew into Hanoi and spent a day here before taking the four hour drive to Ha Long Bay for our overnight cruise. Following that we took the overnight train to Hue.
We're just getting back to our usual routine after 9 days spent in northern Vietnam. It was an impulse trip inspired partly by Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, and also our craving for a bowl of pho, the last of which we ate well before moving here.
We found Vietnam to be a great place, with one exception: the weather. It was over 40ºC most days and by noon we had to stop whatever touristing we were doing and head indoors. Our best purchases there were a handkerchief and a paper fan; both of which got a LOT of use!
In our time, we focused primarily on the north and central highlands. Vietnam is a large country with lots of different things to do and see, and we're happy we chose to do it this way instead of reaching further south. All said and done, it was an amazing experience and worthy of a return trip so we can see the south...perhaps during a cooler season.
While we have lots of fun memories from this trip, the pictures will probably tell the story just as well, so here they are:
HA LONG BAY - we stayed on the Syrena Cruise boat, which had excellent service and great food. After returning to dock we drove back to Hanoi to catch the late afternoon overnight train to Hue.
HUE - we spent two days in Hue devouring the city. We ate everything in sight and did all we could in terms of cultural sites. We left by train for a two hour ride to Danang, which passed through beautiful scenery, some tunnels, rice fields, and cliffs overlooking blue water and sandy beaches.
DANANG - what a great location!!! We stayed at Pullman Beach Resort, a place we'd happily recommend. The service here was fantastic and they have a killer pool and bar on a private section of China Beach. Hoi An, a UNESCO world heritage site, is located about 30 minutes away by car and would also be worth a trip back on its own. It's a cute town with great shopping (the custom dresses looked adorable!), interesting history, and a lot of excellent restaurants.