Second leg of the Vietnam Trip 2018: 42 days from Hanoi moving south ward to Ca Mau on Ho Chi Minh trail then travel along the coastal line back to Hanoi. Part III: Mekong Delta & Central Coastline.
DAY 25: SAI GON – VINH LONG (132km)
Left Sai Gon at 1pm heading to Vinh Long. I was in the deep fear of being stopped by transport police as the speed limit for motorbike is only 50km/h and I was always making my best effort not to over.
Finally arrived in Vinh Long City “safely” after three hours and found a guest house to spend a night there.
DAY 26: VINH LONG – TRAM CHIM NATIONAL PARK (85km)
In the morning, we visited Cù Lao An Binh – An Binh Islet – a fruit farm area. Vinh Long is famous for its fruits with year-round large productivity, promoted for export, such as: grape fruit, jack fruit, drangon fruit, rambutan fruit.
After lunch, we left Vinh Long, passing by the flower-planted Sa Dec town to visit their flower farms, then moved to Tram Chim National Park, Dong Thap for the night stay.
For Vietnamese: Miền Tây và những chuyến phà
DAY 27: TRAM CHIM NATIONAL PARK – CHAU DOC AN GIANG (60km)
We took a 2-hour boat trip around Tram Chim National Park and had lunch at the restaurant run by the Park. There will be many kind of birds to see in the area, but you need to check further on their breeding season or immigration… for a watch. If it is not the right season, there is not much thing to see in Tram Chim National Park.
On the way to Chau Doc in the afternoon, we needed to change the ferry 3 times to get over the river system of Mekong. About 1km ahead to Chau Giang ferry, we happened to see an Islam mosque named Jamiul Azhar, one of the biggest mosque in An Giang and it is also a Islam school with a group of 20-30 minors aged 6 to 13 who were sent here from the other southern provinces of Vietnam to learn Arabic language and the doctrine of Islam. It was the first time I saw an Islam mosque in Vietnam, so very curious and excited.
After leaving the mosque, we took the Chau Giang ferry to get in Chau Doc then spent the last 1 hour of day time for the stunning sunset view from Sam Mountain (Núi Sam).
For dinner, don’t miss Chau Doc significant cuisine with various dishes from fish and fish sauce: grilled fishes, salad or hotpot – “lẩu mắm or lẩu cá linh”.
For Vietnamese: An Giang – Làng Chăm đạo Hồi
DAY 28: CHAU DOC (AN GIANG) – HA TIEN – RACH GIA (176km)
Spent 1 hour after breakfast for a walk in Chau Doc Market is one of the best experience you might have in here. Chau Doc’s specialty is fishes processed by untold marinating methods for long preservation/storage. You can try and have them all at Chau Doc Market. There are also some finger food or snack you can buy for some break-time on the road.
If you have more flexible time in Chau Doc – An Giang, you can consider some of the below activities which is the signature of Chau Doc – An Giang:
- A boat tour in Tra Su Cajuput Forest
- Take a sunset ride on the way to the border gate with Cambodia, the road along the field of rice and palm tree is a real kind of peacefulness.
- Chau Giang floating village and traditional village of Cham people in Chau Giang
- Visit some pagodas and temples in area (Bà Chúa Xứ Temple…)
Leaving Chau Doc, we moved toward the border with Cambodia, coming to Ba Chuc, a small town in Tri Ton District to learn about the Ba Chuc massacre, carried out by the Kampuchean Revolutionary Army (Khmer Rouge) from April 18 to April 30, 1978. Of those who had lived in Ba Chúc, 3,157 civilians were killed. In 2018, standing in a charnel-house full of skulls and listened to a voice of witness, it was damn hurt!
Along the country border road to Ha Tien, a small vibrant city by the border gate to Cambodia. From Ha Tien you can take a boat/ferry to Phu Quoc Island with only around 12$/way. They open 3-5 round trips with fixed departure time both in the morning and afternoon, for your convenience.
We after that continued to Rach Gia City and arrive by the late evening, had dinner with Rach Gia street food with so many dishes to try: grilled bird meat, grilled squid, mango salad, fried ba khía (a kind of sesarmid) with burnt rice, then sweet bean soup desserts (chè in Vietnamese).
DAY 29: RACH GIA – CA MAU CAPE (228km)
The hardest day ever of our trip, not only by the distance of road, also by our health condition when my partner seemed to have some symtoms of food poisoning. He might be allergic with something he ate the previous night in Rach Gia, he guessed it was fried “ba khía” or he might be just too tired.
The road from Ca Mau City to Ca Mau Cape is 105km. The sky turned black at 6pm when we still have more than 40km ahead with no street light and I had not even seen any house by the road. The road is running along a mangroves and sometimes I saw a flashing light from a canoe passing by. I remember I was riding at the most of my carefulness.
We finally come the the end point of the Vietnam and found a homestay in the dark mangroves village, who served us with mouthwatering crab hotpot, but we were too tired to really into it.
For Vietnamese: Mũi Cà Mau: Đêm đom đóm
DAY 30: CA MAU CAPE – SOC TRANG (222km)
At the Ca Mau Cape in the morning, there is 1-2hours boat tour riding off-shore so that the visitors can have a panorama view over the southernmost point of Vietnam.
We skipped the tour and rode back to Ca Mau City, passing Bac Lieu heading to Soc Trang. Soc Trang is the province that reminds me of Khmer Ethnic people most.
Don’t forget to try some Bánh pía – durian Teochew pastry, with layers of super thin wrapper covering the mixture of durian and ground bean with salted egg inside. It is the speacialty of Soc Trang.
DAY 31: SOC TRANG – BEN TRE (129km)
In Soc Trang, there is a daily sea ferry which can take you to Con Dao Island by a reasonable price, instead of spending a much bigger amount for a flight. We should have planned to take the ferry this morning but the health condition of my partner said “No” to it.
We left Soc Trang at 10am arrived Ben Tre at 2pm, then spent more than 1 hour looking for the right way to Ba Danh Homestay. Google Map seemed not want us to enjoy the relaxing night there by leading us to the dead end time to time. Fortunately, we found their phone number and Mrs. Ba Danh came to pick us up and took us to their house – a typical model of garden house in Mekong Area. That evening, we had one of the most enjoying dinner there with some delicious signature dishes of Mien Tay.
Recommended accommodation: Ba Danh Homestay – Ben Tre: at group 3, Nhon Thanh, Ben Tre
For Vietnamese: Bến Tre xứ dừa
DAY 32: BEN TRE – SAI GON (108km)
After breakfast, we visited the village around Ba Danh Homestay. The whole area is covered by coconut tree. There is a coconut candy factory to visit and guests can also taste their products (not buying is ok); in addition, a boat ride tour along the narrow chanel under the water coconut tree canopy is also a must-try activity here.
After lunch, we came back to Sai Gon. Having a dinner out with our friends then we had a wonderful night watching a play performing by Sai Gon Theatre.
For Vietnamese: Sài Gòn Kịch Nói
DAY 33: SAI GON – VUNG TAU – LAGI (183km)
We were to a morning date with friends then had lunch together, the last date in Sai Gon of this trip. We left for Vung Tau, where there is a giant Giesu statue by the sea.
In late evening, we reached Lagi (Binh Thuan) and spent a night in a tent by beach in Coco beachcamp Lagi, enjoying the youthful spirit at their beach bar.
DAY 34: LAGI – PHAN THIET – NINH THUAN (222km)
From now until the last day of this trip, we were always being in excited mood for the most breathtaking scenic coastline of Vietnam. The following 600km long road is one of the most beautiful one in the world, I bet.
From Lagi, you will go through Mui Ne, Bau Trang before reaching Phan Rang – Ninh Thuan. You must not miss Bau Trang and Nam Cuong Sand Dune as well as the road to get there. It is kind of amazing and I am so regretful that we did miss them in our trip. So sad!
Ninh Thuan has the most beautiful sea in sapphire blue mixed with the color of white sand dunes aside, which creates the best impression and experience for one who once visit it.
Arriving in Phan Rang at 3p.m, we visited Bau Truc Pottery Village wishing to see someone processing a new batch of pottery but unfortunately, none of them started their new work on that day. In stead, we had a chance to join a drum training session in Bau Truc, where a group of more than 10 boys are gathered to learn to play Gineng, the Champa traditional drum.
Overnight in Phan Rang City.
DAY 35: NINH THUAN – BINH LAP NHA TRANG (60km)
Exploring the Poklong Garai Champa Temple in Phan Rang – Thap Cham City. Ninh Thuan is known as the land of Champa with its longlife history and tradition of Champa People in Vietnam. The Poklong Garai Temple is now one of the icon of Champa culture and architecture. Then, we visited a vineyard and tasted some grape syrup – the specialty of Ninh Thuan.
After lunch, ready to admire the mind blowing beauty of Vinh Hy Bay – Nui Chua National Park and Cam Ranh Bay, the two most charming bays of Vietnam.
We stopped and overnight in Binh Lap Islet, Cam Ranh Bay.
DAY 36: BINH LAP – TUY HOA PHU YEN (193km)
Leaving Binh Lap in late morning, we made a stop in Nha Trang for lunch and an oil change for our bike. Heading to Tuy Hoa through the road along Ninh Van Bay and Vung Ro Bay.
We arrived in Tuy Hoa at dinner time and enjoyed the renowned street seafood of this city, which is fresh, delicious at such a reasonable price.
DAY 37: PHU YEN – QUY NHON (94km)
Must-visit attractions on the way from Phu Yen to Quy Nhon:
- Bãi Xép – “Tôi thấy hoa vàng trên cỏ xanh” movie filming field.
- Ghành đá dĩa – literally means The Sea Cliff of Stone Plates is a seashore area of uniformly interlocking basalt rock columns (wiki)
The night at Quy Nhon was of mind-blowing in a coffee bar right at the beach. When feet were fully into sand and soul was full of windy romance.
DAY 38: QUY NHON – QUANG NGAI – HOI AN (300km)
Attractions to visit in Quy Nhon:
- Eo Gió
- Ky Co Beach & FLC Safari (inside FLC Quy Nhon)
- Queen Beach
Leaving Quy Nhon for Hoi An, on the way, we stopped at Quang Ngai to visit Son My Memorial, a memorial to victims of the My Lai Massacre in Son My, Vietnam, where U.S. soldiers killed at least 504 people in this area on 16 March 1968, in the name of self-defense combat.
Late evening, we arrived in Hoi An, having “cơm gà” – Hoi An famous chicken rice for dinner. Hoi An at night is charming under the vivid light of thousands of lanterns. There are also small coloured flower-lanterns which you can pick with only 1$ and float on the river. People believe that these flower-lanterns will bring your pray for your passed-away relatives to them.
Hoi An is one of the most popular destination in Vietnam and therefore there are many activities at night like some shows, street performances, live music cafes… All are worth trying. Enjoy it!
DAY 39: HOI AN
Exploring Hoi An with some recomendation as below:
- My Son Santuary
- An Bang Beach
- Jack Tran Eco tour with their amazing basket boat
Save your night for Hoi An Memories, the most worth seeing live performance in Hoi An. The show is live every day (Except Tuesday)
- Place: Hoi An Impression Theme Park
- Time: 19h30 to 20h45
- Price: 500k – 800k depending on the class of seat
DAY 40: HOI AN – HUE (122km)
We skipped Da Nang, crossing Hai Van Pass to Hue. Hai Van Pass is the most beautiful Pass in Vietnam with a panorama view over the beaches and sea of both Da Nang side and Hue side. There is also a railway running along, with one side faces mountain, one side face the sea. Take a seat on the train from Hue to Da Nang or in the reverse direction is also a worth trying experience.
Having lunch in Hue and spent the rest of the day exploring Hue Imperial City, enjoying the Hue-style cuisine and way of life.
For Vietnamese: Nhớ Huế
DAY 41: HUE – QUANG TRI – QUANG BINH (207km)
Having a bowl of “Bún Bò Huế” for breakfast then started our journey to Quang Binh.
On the way, we stopped at Quang Tri Citadel and Truong Son Memorial for further understanding about Quang Tri and memorize the Vietnam War Heroes.
Reached Quang Binh City and spent a night here.
DAY 42: QUANG BINH – HANOI (505km)
Starting at 9a.m, in our plan, we would have stopped at Vinh City – Nghe An for one more night but we ourselves don’t know the reason why we kept riding ahead until we were home at 9p.m. Cant belive we passed the longest road distance ever and finally it turned out to be the last day of our trip. Telling the world we’re (coming) home!!