After visiting the early morning floating markets on the Mekong Delta our guide took us down the small canals that filter off of the main river – we had the best time stopping for watermelon juice and wandering through the rice fields!
The Mekong Delta region in Vietnam is known for the early morning floating markets. I decided the best bet was to wake up before dawn (aka 4AM) and head off with a local tour guide to see the floating markets. We saw two types of markets – the first market started while it was still dark outside and sold vegetables that had a longer shelf life – such as potatoes, onions and garlic. The second market which begins around 6/7AM sells more day to day items that are fresh daily – such as bananas and pineapples. The boats travel from one canal to another until their boats are empty and the customers have fully bellys!
Ho Chi Minh City has been the most Westernized location in my South East Asia travels and it was unique to see a bustling street complete with Gucci and Hermes only to turn the corner and spot street food stalls and barbers on the road! I spent the morning wandering around with my hotel map in hand finding the hot spots of the city.
With less than 24 hours to spend in Ho Chi Minh City I was in quite the rush to see the city and take in all of the top sights in one morning. After passing by the markets, the Opera House, and the famous post office (family have you received your letters??) I met Manh on the side of the road selling his sight seeing tours by motorbike. Pressed for time, I made a quick decision and jumped on back of his bike for 2-3 hours of quick traveling! We rounded out the tour with a local beer in one of his favorite watering holes before he dropped me off at bus stop for my ride down south!
After my cooking class and having a bit of a rest I jumped on a bicycle and headed out around a few of the islands surrounding the town of Hoi An. The cycle tour had an emphasis on local craftsmanship so I had the chance to visit a rice wine factory and the homes of local families making bed mats and basket fishing boats. We made it back to Hoi An just as the sun was coming down over the river!
I have a new found love affair with Vietnamese food and I am so glad I decided to go into a locals home and try their cooking styles out for myself! After looking over many options for cooking classes in Hoi An, ones that were mostly in restaurants, I decided to do something a bit different and travel by boat to a local island to take a cooking class in someones back yard – yes it was outside! Over the course of four hours we made four dishes including beef satay spring rolls, clay pot tuna, papaya and carrot salad, and pork and shrimp pancakes!
The Ancient Town of Hoi An is more than just beautiful buildings and temples … there are amazing places to eat, unlimited tailors, fresh produce and many street side vendors selling everything from delicious mango cakes to jewelry!
Solo travel means you can go to bed at 7PM and nobody judges you … it also means you have the energy to set your alarm for 5AM and wake up no problem! This morning I headed down to the An Bang Beachfront around 6AM in hopes of seeing the round bamboo fishing boats I had seen the evening before in the sand, and thank goodness I did as I was greeted with tons of little fishing boats. Within 15-20 minutes of being on the beach many of the fisherman in the little round baskets began pulling in their lines and rowing back to shore.
I noticed that each boat had a lady waiting there to greet the fisherman, help him to shore, and gather the fish he managed to catch in this net. Further down the beach, in front of the beach front restaurants, the boats were also greeted by locals ready to select their fish and pay the price dictated by the weight. I met a sweet local man who spoke english well enough to fill me in on the fishing. The fisherman set out in their baskets at 3AM and begin coming back to shore around 7AM to bring in their fresh catch. After our chat the man gave me a motorbike ride down the tiny road of An Bang Village and off we went … both ready for the day ahead, me with lots of beautiful photos and him with a fresh fish for his sister to prepare for lunch.
I became a bit obsessed with the food scene in Hanoi over the course of my week spent in Northern Vietnam. I must admit, I was overwhelmed with the options presented, especially as a solo traveler, since I didn’t have anyone to confirm one stall looked better than another! After scouring blogs and walking around the Old Quarter for hours at a time I finally decided on a few spots to try … I just had to sit in one of the small blue stools and try this street food out for myself!
I also fell in love with Vietnamese coffee – thank goodness! The coffee is brewed in a specific way and is often enjoyed with sweet condensed milk a practice that began with the French as fresh milk was hard to come by.
Before leaving Hanoi I also had to visit Beer Corner where the famous Bai Hoi is served – homemade beer that is unpreserved and brewed daily and delivered in kegs. Beer Corner in the Old Quarter was a great place to sit and write in my journal as I watched the motorbikes fly by.
I was greeted with an extra special treat when I came across a styled wedding photo shoot … eating street food. Coming from a destination wedding planner, that was very neat!
Bai Tu Long Bay is situated in Northern Vietnam and was a mystical space. After hearing it was a ‘do not miss’ location while in Vietnam I found a lovely tour company that offered 2 day / 1 night trips from Ha Noi and I was sold! The company headed to Bai Tu Long Bay, the little cousin as they say, to Ha Long Bay and the location was so peaceful and quiet. We were blessed with a mix of sun and cloud which allowed me to see the stunning scenery in multiple lights. I ended up making a friend who was also a solo traveler so we spent our meals and free time together… the joys of travel!