I just returned from the tour of Halong Bay and loved it but I’ve come to realize after a lot of reflection on the crowded bus ride home that I am not really meant for package tours and individual exploration is probably the best for me. I’m old and set in my ways I fear and traveling with 30 other people is not how I really desire to see places. Granted, Halong Bay would be difficult to do on my own so I booked a tour. My best way is setting out on foot, camera bag over my shoulder and exploring.
When I got home last night, I had started looking at my calendar of time left in Hanoi and other places I may want to go. One place came bubbling up. I really want to go to Huế . Why you may ask there?
Huế has a wonderful history of events in Vietnam and its easily reachable by air from Hanoi. So last night, in looking at my calendar, I decided to book the travel there. Its quite easy traveling around in Vietnam domestically. One finds a place to fly to and then looks for cheap airfare. Vietnam Airways offers pretty decent round trip tickets to most places and my destination is a little over an hour away.
Then I find a hotel room either on Booking or Agoda. I can search for the cheap rooms up front. In the case of Huế found a room for a total of $40 for all the nights. Booking takes care of the logistics of booking and you don’t pay until you arrive.
I will need transport from the airport to the city so will hunt up a shuttle to take or something next or maybe the hotel can arrange something. Given the price of everything else here, I’m pretty sure that a shuttle to the city center should be cheap.
So for this new trip, I paid $150 for the round trip airfare and $40 for the room. I will for food and drinks and stuff while there but I doubt I will spend $300 for the whole thing.
Getting to the airport and back is easier now that I found a honest cab service that picks me up at the hotel and then holds a sign with my name when I get back. Very easy to arrange now that I met Lucy :-).
Just to recap…
I have a trip to Hoi An coming up in Mid May, a trip to Hué in early June, and then I leave for Hong Kong in mid June to do the Visa run thing. Getting back, I ride the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Undoubtedly will find places to visit down south when I get there and doing these trips is so easy.
If you want a country to explore that has friendly people, has an interesting history and food and culture, I highly recommend Vietnam. I especially like the food culture here and the choices in Hanoi one has with eating. I would also pitch longer stays and then do the trips to various locations and use Hanoi as the base camp for your travels. My long stay hotel here is $360 a month and its in the old quarter so easy to get around to restaurants and also escape the old quarter when the need arises.
Another pitch for Vietnam is if you are on fixed retirement income. Money goes a lot further here. I stopped trying to record my daily budget for food and ended up just wanting to enjoy things. Its easy to find the services you need too. I have a barber shop within a mile that is top notch and getting laundry done is across the street for about $2.00 a week. Having cell service does require you to have an unlocked phone but getting a SIM card is as easy as finding a place that’s marked or just getting Viettel. Its the best in Vietnam and gave me service pretty much all over Halong Bay. I guess because its owned by the government that things just work better on the service. 4G LTE is all over by the way and rarely does my phone go down to 3G. To renew you buy a scratcher card and send in the code number and you get more service.
All of this stuff is built for the traveler in mind to me. Services that are easy to find and use. Connectivity and travel. Vietnam really has a nice and affordable baseline for the person wanting to live a reasonable life in fixed income.