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My Vietnam Itinerary: A Bowl of Pho Moments

I slept the entire night on the bus from Phnom Penh in Cambodia to Vietnam. I was awakened at 6 a.m. when we stopped at Vietnamese border.

To get my Vietnamese visa, I had already given my passport to a Cambodian courier. It was my second attempt to give my passport to someone completely different in the space of 24 hours.

After we all went through the passport check, our passports were returned to us. I was also issued with my Vietnam entry stamp. It took us another 2 hours to Saigon. I also slept through it. I arrived in time for my flight to Hanoi.

My Vietnam Itinerary: A Bowl of Pho Moments
My Vietnam Itinerary: A Bowl of Pho Moments

Or so I thought.

Vietnam’s crazy streets

With my bag in hand, I wandered around the city and came across an alley that looked like it was a backpackers’ area. I was offered a place to sit down by a lovely Vietnamese woman who owns a hostel. I ordered an iced cup of coffee, and she gave me a map that showed me where to find cheap Pho.

While I was exploring the area, she even allowed me to leave my bag at the hostel. I bought Pho from the recommended place for 12,000 Vietnamese Dong (less than $0.50).

I cannot even describe how happy I was to eat a large bowl of this delicious and spicy noodle soup.

Pho: The elixir to life

Here is where I pull, another blonde moment in my trip. My flight was supposed to be at 3:25, but it was actually at 1:25. When I realized my error, I was wasting my time in markets and price-comparing local SIM cards.

I sprint back to my hostel at noon, realizing that there is no way I can make my flight.

I was dropped off at a hostel and my bag was left there. The owner helped me flag a taxi, and the driver took it to the airport. The normal drive takes 45 minutes, but we arrived in 15 minutes.

You can guess what the extra dog I gave him!

Stackin’ up the currencies

I arrived on time, got a new SIM card to make local calls in Vietnam and grabbed some chocolate before heading to my gate. Lucy, a 12-year-old girl from Vietnam, sat beside me on the plane. I heard all about her American English teacher and she shared with me the shapes of the animals that were visible in the clouds through the window.

Even though her grandfather invited me to stay in Hanoi with them, I was planning to take the night train to Sapa tonight. They are so kind and helpful. Thank you so much! After I had collected my luggage, I went to the bank to exchange more dong for money and then went to a travel kiosk where I could organize my Vietnam travels.

Based on my recommendations, I did not book anything before arriving at the airport.

I was able to organize the following Vietnam itinerary after spending about an hour planning with a very helpful travel agent.

  • August 18th: Stay in Hanoi’s Serenity Hotel, Old Quarter
  • 29th: Be picked up at 8 a.m. for an overnight Ha Long Bay Junk Boat Cruise
  • 30th: Return to your hotel at 4 pm. Night train to Sapa at 8 pm.
  • 31st: Private guide picks you up in Sapa. Moto tour, home stay
  • September 1st: Tour Sapa & Home Stay
  • 2nd: Night train to Hanoi from Sapa 7pm
  • 3rd: Fly to Hanoi from Da Nang at 10 AM, and stay in Hoi An.
  • 4th: Hoi An activities TBD
  • 5th: Hoi An activities TBD
  • 6th: Fly from Da Nang To Ho Chi Minh at 12:40 PM, Stay one Night
  • 7th: Fly from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to Denpasar (Bali 9 am

Everything was booked, from trains to tours to flights. It was a first for me to plan a complete trip to a country in one go! However, I learned from my Vietnamese friends that you should not motorbike through Vietnam.

It’s now time to have some fun! The hotel was great when I arrived. After two nights on the bus, it was so good to finally be able to sleep comfortably. I took my first shower for two days, and I feel so tired that I could either cry or faint. I grabbed dinner from the nearby restaurant and am now going to bed.