We chose to do a tour of Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City to get a feel for this country before we committed to spending an extended period of time in it. As it turned out we could easily have dove straight in, but none the less the tour was a ton of fun. And who is kidding who, there is something nice about being picked up by a private driver at the airport with your name on a sign. It is good to spoil yourself once in a while.
Our tour of Hanoi was led by a fellow who was either a member of the communist party, or was waiting for his application to be processed because he was a bit over the top with the zealous propaganda. That being said it certainly highlighted for me the power of information and how it is disseminated. That is a huge part of travelling, the exposure to information outside the control of western press and government. It is not right or wrong, just interesting.
After we had explored Hanoi a bit on our own we joined up with our tour company to begin that adventure. This time of year in Vietnam is late in the rainy season so our expectation was a lot of cloud and relatively poor visibility. We were not disappointed. Our first destination was to the tourist hot spot of Ha Long Bay.
I am not sure what my expectations were for the quality of accommodations on our tour, but I have to state that right from the beginning with the boat on Ha Long Bay the quality was excellent (we were staying in 3 star accommodations) but the level of service would make any Hilton or Fairmont blush with envy.
After an excellent flight, our next stop was Hue, on the east coast. It was a bit hectic with sightseeing over the next few days but we did manage to catch some of the highlights of Hue and Hoi An while we were in Central Vietnam.
After our bus trip we stopped in Hoi An, a city just south of Danang. I loved this city with its narrow crowded streets and lively market action.
Our final stop on our tour was Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong delta. However, before we got there we had a couple of R&R days in Nha Trang. This was perfect for us as we had by now determined we quite liked Vietnam and we were able to use our free time to meet an agent and tour some apartments. In the end we committed to spending the first three months of 2017 enjoying this wonderful country. But I get a bit ahead of myself. First, and last, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong delta.
Our introduction to Vietnam is complete and now we look forward to getting to know parts of the country on a more day to day level. I cannot see it being anything but positive. Friendly people, interesting food and an amazing history. Bring it on!