Nha Trang is about 45 minutes from the Airport and there is this long, long motorway linking the two, and nothing else in between. There is a 20 metre wide centre verge running along the middle of the right and left lanes. This must have gone for at least 25 minutes of the ride. They have planted trees and flowers and on the way I saw over 30 Vietnamese with domestic hoses watering the plants. Have they not heard of sprinklers? Take the offer at the Airport of 380,000 dong fixed price, we insisted on meter (as you do) and had to pay 500,000.
Last time we visited the beach was wild, the waves reminded us of Napier and how it can collect you off the sand and sweep you away in the tide. So - no swimming. That was in November, this time its May and the beach was serene with no waves, you could rent a lounger under the umbrellas on the beach for NZ$2, and you could get food, drinks and massages without moving. The sand was so hot you could not walk barefoot to the water.
In Vietnam in Hotels and Guest
houses they don’t just give you the soap, shampoo, etc they also give you toothbrushes and combs as well. And they fill them up every day. I now have like 18 toothbrushes and 10 combs. I cannot resist. I am starting to stir my coffee with toothbrushes when I cannot find a spoon!
Speaking of coffee, its amazing here, have I mentioned that already? Condensed milk strong coffee which has a taste of chocolate and they put this in the blender with ice and it’s just fantastic. Hot or cold it’s the best coffee. Hate to think how much condensed milk we have drunk over last few weeks. We love the coffee.
We went across to Vinpearl Island by gondola, sailed over fishing boats and kids jumping into the water off the gondola supports. This place is amazing it’s has a huge games building, heaps of different water slides, lazy river, wave pool, beach, plus heaps more. It cost including gondola ride NZ$30 each for the day. Once you got across everything free except food (which by the way was cheap but heavily processed -yuk. Definitely visit Vinpearl if you go to Nha Trang.
Another must is
the Sail Club – the food is fantastic and so is the décor and outlook. They do great hangover breakfast, which we had to sample of course. It’s more expensive than local restaurants and bars e.g. NZ$5 for tiger v NZ$1.50, but worth it. At dawn as the sun goes down the locals converge on the beach and setup their portable charcoal fires and sell freshly cooked crab, crayfish, sausage, taro, corn on cob, heaps of food of a few $.
Motorbikes would pull up next to Liam all the time and asked if he wanted “Sexy lady” or “Marijuana”. I never got asked if I wanted to Sexy Man or drugs! (Carl says “they could obviously tell I did not need either”)
We had booked into Carpe DM for 2 nights (fantastic guest house) and then decided to stay in Nha Trang longer, so for Liam’s last 2 nights we decided to move to a hotel with a pool. So we hired some bicycles and went viewing penthouses and suites for Liam in fancy hotels where we could afford the standard rooms (so not the Hilton!) Very cool fun, they were not expensive in NZ terms, $200-300
a night for a suite. Nothing really fantastic and worth the price hike, so we settled for the Summer Hotel which had great big suites and a roof top swimming pool which cost us only NZ$75 per room. So we moved in for Liam’s last 2 nights and enjoyed the pool and roof top view of the thunder and lightning in the distance.
We have been very surprised this time in Vietnam that every hotel you stay you get free wifi in the room and a big screen LCD TV. Only 4 years ago we had to use internet cafes and do without TV. Accommodation is very good value in Vietnam.
Nha Trang had the backpacking young crowd due to the beach scene and Liam met some backpackers from UK for drinks, who like the other young ones spent the day on the beach sunbathing and the night eating and drinking the buckets (jars). They were living on US$12 per day.
We drank buckets (c pic) ours were filled with local vodka, red bull and ice; you could get different flavours and only NZ$3.50 each, or at happy hour you could get 2 for the price of
One night, having a drink in an outside bar lounge many tout came up to us but one had a baby. I could not resist, cute baby so bought the chewing gum she was selling with her very sad face. She then pranced across the road and handed baby back to its’ mum! Cheek of it. Staying 6 nights in Nha Trang they got to know you. When you say no, they say “later or tomorrow?” If you say yes they will remember and say “you said you would buy from me”. Sometimes they say that when you did not say yes to later or tomorrow, they try hard.
We took a cyclo ride amongst the traffic to a shopping centre, amazing how old these guys are and they can cycle multiple people in one cyclo. We thought we would give the 70 year olds a rest and took one each.
The Vietnamese don’t appear to eat western food so they cannot cook it well, except for Sail Club. We feasted on Chicken, Lemongrass and Chilli which seemed to be the most tastiest dish the three of us liked. Liam and Carl had some good pizza,
and I had some good Phu and chicken noodles. The food is bland but they give you soya sauce and chillis to spice it up.
We used trip advisor for most of our restaurant choices and reviews. There is still a lot of the French cuisine in Vietnam, croissants, pastries, pate, baguettes, cakes, etc. The street carts had baguettes and fillings, the pate and meat would sit in the cart in the35 degree heat all day – so we did not try.
We sadly bon voyaged Liam, moved back into Carpe DM for the last 2 nights and spent the last day sunbaking on the beach and shopping in Saga Du Mekong fashion shop, can pick up some excellent clothes for 500,000 dong which is like NZ$32.
Probably leaving Vietnam a few kilo’s heavier and heading for Malaysia for 2 nights and then to Bali for a month. Accommodation
Carpe DM, this is the best value hotel we have stayed in. It is so clean and is still in excellent condition - like brand new. We had a spacious room, nicely decorated with art and furniture. It had fridge, LCD and even had a vanity
table for the ladies. It cost us NZ$23 per night and the room was at a standard that you would expect to pay at least double in Vietnam.
Summer Hotel – we moved to this hotel for 2 nights so we could cool down with a pool and I thought the room was fabulous, very large, corner bath, lounge chaste etc. Great pool on roof top. It cost NZ$75 for the suite room. http://www.thesummerhotel.com.vn Vietnam Overview
For those wanting to get an idea of costs before travelling to Vietnam see below:
The Dong was worth NZ$1 = 17,000 when we arrived but left on $15,000. Cost of food examples:
• Entree 30,000 (spring roll, calamari)
• Vietnamese Main Couse 50-80,000 (noodles, stiry fry, rice dish)
• Western Main Course 100,000 (pizza, hamburger, pasta)
• Breakfast 60,000 (Baguette, eggs, pancake)
We normally just left our small change when leaving a restaurant, tipping is not expected. Sail club it was included in bill. Three of us went to sailclub for Liams last dinner - cocktails and wine were 140,000 each, entree 100,000, main course 180,000
to 280,000 for beef fillet, and 180,000 for dessert. We had the best ever deep fried spring rolls filled with banana and chocolate - they were delicious - a must try when we get home! Cost of Drink Examples:
• Small Water 6,000
• Vietnamese Coffee 35,000
• Latte 60,000
• Fresh Juices 30,000
• Beer 20,000 small tiger, could pay as little as 12,000 or as much as 65,000 at sail club.
• Glass Imported wine 140-200,000
• Glass Local wine 60,000 (yuk)
• Bottle imported wine 500,000 or NZ/OZ 700,000
• Local Spirit 35,000 plus soft drink 20,000 - give you two nip plus!
• Imported Spirit 60,000 plus soft drink 20,000 - only give you one nip
• Cocktail 80,000 - weak normally
• Buckets/Jars 55,000 (use local spirit - strong)
• Spirit from supermarket - NZ$14 - 750 ml Smirnoff Vodka, Baileys, Bourbon – very cheap if you want to drink in your room.
One restaurant in Hoi An would only allow one Long Island Iced Tea per customer! Liam ordered one thinking wow this must be potent - but no.....wonder what happened to make that rule.
We use Trip Advisor to select accommodation by reviews and either contact the
hotel through their website email or we purchase on Agoda. We would book 1-3 days in advance as it was the end of the high season and not very busy. Taxis:
Always insisted on meter taxis (except from Nha Trang airport!) it cost us 500,000 dong from airport and 250,000 to airport – go figure. Hotel will price if you want driver from city to city or day trips, plus taxi to and from airport, they will put there bit on but saves hassle haggling. We never had issue with taxis and used to give them like 10,000-20,000 tip. Other
· Universal power adaptors are readily available in Vietnam for NZ$1.50, at all of the little electrical shops around. Last time we bought in NZ and paid like $20!
· You can buy any subscription drugs over the counter for very cheap, including antibiotics, for a couple of bucks.
· The guys picked up T-Shirts for 50,000; you can normally halve their starting price for goods, shop around and ask prices you will find the best price. Normally they give you best price as you walk out
· DVDs are NZ$2.
Vietnamese are such lovely people, this is still one of our favourite destinations, there is a tourist scene but it’s not exploited and Vietnamese stay strong to their culture and cuisine.
Next Stop - Pass thru Malaysia to Bali
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