February 8th, 2019. My departure date of another four weeks abroad. This time: Vietnam and Thailand. Two countries which I’ve visited for the first time. And for the first time ever I’ve tried something completely new. I traveled alone.
Actually I was only alone in Vietnam, so for the first two weeks of this whole trip. I started to plan this journey back in December and I can tell you that I was very good prepared. It was always a complicated topic for me. Packing my bags and go on a trip on my own. I’ve never felt comfortable with this idea but in the end of last year I thought this would be a great experience. Now I’m back home in Berlin, writing this little resumé with a big smile in my face. It was absolutely the right decision to this, it helped me to get even more self-reliant.
I started this trip in the Vietnams capital, Hanoi. But just stayed there for one night, had some rest after two flights and in the evening walked through the very busy and noisy streets of the 6 million metropolis. I soaked up the first impressions, and it was interesting, I can tell you that.
- Take a walk through Hang Dao street in the Old Quarter, preferably in the evening.
- Sip an egg coffee. It’s a tradition there, and the original comes from Hanoi. Unfortunately I didn’t try it there – got the tip when I already left the city.
- If you’re brave, rent a motorbike to discover the city. I only had a few hours and just saw some streets in the Old Quarter. I believe that Hanoi is a very nice place and there are a few things to explore.
Early in the next morning, I had a short bus ride to the very famous Halong Bay. Stayed there for two nights and took part of a boat trip through these countless rocks in the water. Definitely one of the craziest landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life. Thanks god I had my drone with me, this gave me even more overview. In general I can say that the Halong land area is not very beautiful or cozy. Two nights felt quite long there. I think it’s more common to do a day trip from Hanoi to go on the boat and get back there in the evening.
- Well, you really have to do a boat trip there when you’re in Vietnam, it’s a must-see! I’d recommend to do a whole day.
- Don’t book a hotel or Airbnb there. Better make a day trip from Hanoi.
My next stop was Ninh Binh. If you’re a fan of King Kong, you probably know that they captured some scenes in this area. I also made a boat trip there and was astonished by those rocks we drove through. I really felt like being in the movie, unfortunately I haven’t seen Kong. Ninh Binh itself hasn’t much to offer, so I was happy that I only stayed there for one night.
- Do the boat trip, the landscape is just crazy. Driving through the rocks and a lot of caves was definitely a thing.
I took a night bus to my next destination: Da Nang. This evening showed me that taking buses in Vietnam is like playing in the lottery. You never know when or if the bus is coming, because when you ask the staff there they are always like: “Later“. And you can be happy if they say something. Ich spare you the whole story, but I think you can imagine how this was.
However, I was surprised that I’ve made it on time to Da Nang. And further, I was really surprised by this city which is located at the beach. Finally, the beach! It wasn’t a very beautiful or charming city either, but it had those many nice coffee spots and healthy restaurants which made the difference. This was decisive, after all I stayed there for three nights.
- Six on Six Café, Happy Heart Café, Roots (vegan restaurant), The amazing taco, Annen Beach Café, 43 Factory Coffee Roasters
One day before I left Da Nang, I rented a motorbike and drove for about 40 minutes down to the south, to Hoi An. It’s this very old little town with all those lanterns, nice coffee spots, and great local food. It is also very famous for its many tailorings. However, Hoi An was really beautiful and it was a joy to walk through the streets there. And it was super crowded, probably the most touristic spot I’ve been to.
- Phin Coffee, Crayon Café
From Da Nang I took another bus to Nha Trang. I arrived there on the 18th around 5 am and checked into the hotel. After a quick breakfast I decided to go to a gym which was close by, instead of sleeping. I had to check out at 12 already, so I left my luggage at the hotel, went to the beach for a few hours and then to this amazing café / restaurant called “Rainforest“. I was pretty excited to visit this place and have a delicious brunch there. After ordering my drinks and food, the waitress told me that there is no food available at all right now. Man, I was hurt. So I walked to another spot which I passed on the way to Rainforest, it is called “Alpaca“. At least they had some nice food and coffee for me. Spent a few hours there to finish some work. Later I indulged myself a pedicure. It was a relaxing day but Nha Trang wasn’t the most thrilling place. You won’t miss much there.
- Hang at the Beach
- Rainforest, Alpaca homestyle Café, Cong Caphe
Another night bus departured at 9:30 pm, this time almost on time. And my final destination in Vietnam was its biggest city: Ho Chi Minh. I’ve heard a bunch of good things about it. Thanks to many tips of you guys, I found some nice cafés here as well. This is probably the reason why I felt comfortable here. As you can see, for me it’s very decisive if I like a city or not to have some nice hang out places. Avocado on Toast, Granola, Flat White. These are the things I wanna read in a menu. The other reason I felt comfortable in Ho Chi Minh was definitely my Airbnb. You might’ve seen it in my stories, the one with all those vintage cameras. It was also a very good decision to finally do a street food tour. I’ll provide you a link below, make sure to book Trâm for this. If you’re lucky you’re just with her. She takes you to so many nice local places, where it seems that people haven’t ever seen a tourist. It felt right, that was one of those things I really wanted to do. And I’m very interested in different cuisines. This evening made the Vietnamese kitchen even tastier for me.
There was another incidence which I wanna to tell you. One evening I decided to fly my drone to make a nice time lapse of the sunset. Two minutes after I sent it off, a quite angry officer stopped by and told me to land the drone immediately. I was nervous, what if he wanted to take the drone away from me. Fortunately he just said that I should delete the video and leave. Lucky me.
- The Workshop Coffee, L’Usine (3 different locations), Phở Hòa Pasteur, Mekong Merchant, Pizza 4P’s, (several locations)
- 42 Nguyen Hue St. – an old Wohngebäude where you’ll find a lot of neat cafés and small restaurants. Definitely worth it.
- Street food tour: https://www.withlocals.com/de/experience/most-delicious-food-tour-36763109/
- Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.de/rooms/28550363?guests=1&adults=1
On the 22nd I flew to Bangkok and there I met my baby girl. After two weeks of traveling alone, I was more than happy to finally see her there. So we stayed in the Thai capital for two nights. I really don’t wanna convict Bangkok, but we just didn’t like what we’ve seen. It was unbelievable hot, loud, and the traffic was just a joke. It felt like we only sat in the Grab the whole time. I usually love big cities, but Bangkok just wasn’t my thing.
- The COMMONS, a super nice place with cafés and restaurants. Perfect for hanging out in the evening and testing some different dishes. I’d recommend you to go there
- Breakfast story (not the best breakfast, it was fine).
- Black Amber Barber. Yes, after two weeks it was time again to get a fresh fade before laying at the beach. I got a really solid cut there and they’ll take their time for it. Thumbs up!
On the 24th it was finally time to officially open the beach season. From this day on until we’d left towards home, it was all about the beach, the ocean, getting tanned, and sipping coconut water. We decided to do a little island hopping. First one: Koh Lipe. It took us about 10 hours in total to get from Bangkok to Hat Yai (by flight), to the Pakbara Pier (by minibus) and then to Koh Lipe (by speedboat). But it felt great when we arrived there. This island was my favorite by the way. There were quite a few tourists, but somehow it didn’t bother us, the vibe was just very relaxed there. You have the walking street there, which is quite the only street where you will see people. But this was the nice thing about it. One day we went on a boat to go snorkeling. A very cool experience, as this was the first time for me.
- Café Tropical, Elephant Coffee
- There is one old man at the eastern end of the walking street who sells those unbelievable delicious coconut pancakes. 10 Baht for one and you’re in. This was our daily dessert, will never forget it.
We decided to stay for four nights on each island. In the end it came out that this was the perfect duration. There was enough time for our beach sessions, explore every island, and at the same time it didn’t get boring. After Koh Lipe we headed to Koh Libong. This one is not very famous, which means that there were hardly any tourists. We’ve seen this amazing resort on the web and thought why not booking it. The Andalay Beach Resort was amazing. I usually booked a sea view room, but we got an upgrade for free to a little Villa close to the beach. The atmosphere there was just brilliant. That was quite important, as the island hadn’t that much to offer.
- Andalay Beach Resort
After another four nights we took another boat to Koh Ngai. An island without any street or motorbike. Just a few resorts at the beach, and two or three nice places to eat. So all the resorts are located on the eastern side of the island. Make sure to walk for about 30 minutes through the jungle to get to the south, where you’ll reach “Paradise Beach“, which is much more quiet.
- We’ve been to two restaurants on Koh Ngai. One is called “Camping“, they also provide speed boats and ferries to other islands and day trips to go snorkeling or whatever. And the other one is a few hundred meters further, “Sea Taste“. I had some conversations with the owner, cool guy. And you have to order his Pad Thai. This was incredible.
After four nights on Koh Ngai, our journey back home started. It took us almost 10 hours to Phuket, where we just had dinner and some sleep. Around 5 am in the next morning, the taxi driver picked us up and drove us to the airport. We had 3 flights yesterday and it seemed like an endless trip back home. But we’ve made it, and I’m happy about that. Just like every time after being a few weeks in another country. There are many reasons why I’m always happy to get back. Whether it’s the quality of our food, the infrastructure, or just the life quality. I always recognize that after traveling. If you’re living in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, you won’t get more life quality anywhere else.
Here are some number, during these four weeks I had …
7 flights (3 over 9 hours), 7 bus rides (3 night buses), 7 boat rides and 30 taxi rides. What I want to say with that is that it is not always laying at the beach or hanging in cafés. You also have to get there.
I mentioned a few restaurants, people, resorts in this article. See it as an unpaid advertisement. I didn’t get anything for free on this trip. Thanks for reading!