Long Journey from Ha Long Bay to Hoi An

Trip Start Feb 27, 2012
Trip End May 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Sunflower Hotel (Hoi An, Vietnam)
What I did
Da Nang, Vietnam

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

After day three of Ha Long we are well and truly over the tour and can’t wait to be travelling solo again (starting to feel like we’re on school camp). Basically the whole day was spend travelling from Cat Ba back to Hanoi.

During the journey on the bus I started to see the up side to Vietnam’s way of doing things. When I first arrived here the traffic seemed like absolute chaos. Now I am actually beginning to notice that the drivers here are actually very courteous. Honking your horn in Vietnam doesn’t mean “get out of my way!” as it does it in NZ it actually means “look out please, I am trying to make my way through”. Though there are no rules it seems to just work, there is no road rage like back home everyone just takes responsibility for themselves. And I still haven’t seen a crash yet – just 6,000 near misses!.

I also haven’t seen any beggars here up North, very much in contrast to Malaysia. While most people appear to be poor, everyone seems to have a job to do – every night in Hanoi for instance the whole city is swept clean by dozens of workers with straw brooms. Throughout the day people chuck their rubbish on to the street knowing that it will be cleaned up again later that evening. People certainly lack freedom of speech here, but I suppose that is also true in to some modern “Democracies”.

We arrived in Hanoi at 5pm and had a few hours to kill before catching an overnight train to Da Nang. Liz and tested our stomachs on some genuine street food – a big steaming bowl of Pho, on the same table the lady had raw brains and chicken feet that she cooked up for the locals. Yummy.

Later on when it was time to leave we flat out refused to take our taxi back at the hotel – the driver was demanding $3 after previously saying it would be no more than $2. Seems very strange now to be so upset over just a dollar, but Liz and I have just had a guts full of being ripped off by the locals and knew that $1 would probably turn into $10 by the time we got to the train station.

So off we walked in the dark streets of Hanoi, (I got the shock of my life coming around one corner when I nearly walked into an armed guard outside some sort of government building). After about halfway we managed to find a taxi that agreed to a reasonable price, once reaching the station however he tried to extort more money out of – what a surprise. I threw the fare we had agreed on to the passenger’s seat and told Liz to just get out of the car and walk away (with him yelling at us creating a scene all the way to the train).

Screw these people, enough with the bullsh*t already! :P

The overnight train south to Da Nang was quite a culture shock. Liz and I shared a cabin with two locals – they spoke no English, we speak no Vietnamese. Conversations felt much like a game of charades, good times…

Quite a restless night – the smelly train was certainly not modern and rocks you around quite a bit. The views we had along the way in the morning though made it all worth it. The scenery around the old “DMZ” - which used to separate North Vietnam from the Republic of Vietnam -  in particular is amazing. It seems so daft that people spent their days trying to blow each other up around here just thirty odd years ago.

We arrived in Da Nang at about two in the afternoon – greeted by more taxi drivers eager to scam.  I was really not in the mood and just wanted a break from the hustle and bustle. After walking around aimlessly for a couple of hours we decided that Da Nang was not the place to be and we should head to the tourist town of Hoi An for a couple of days of R&R.

It was just what we needed. Hoi An is a beautiful town and runs at a much slower pace. This would be a great place to go for a holiday. After finding a hostel with a pool we had some dinner down by the river then did absolutely nothing for a change.

Rest, rest, rest…
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sirhc_rollem on

Glad you made it to Hoi An! Definately needed after the craziness of Hanoi!

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