map_of_vietnam-300x225-6525393It’s getting harder and harder to develop itineraries. It’s hard to think of being in Vietnam one year from now when we’ll be in Peru in 5 weeks!

And so our plan is pretty loose. We’ll spend about three weeks here but will have to keep on the move as we plan on seeing the country from the top all the way to the bottom. Apparently there is a train system that runs most of the way…I love traveling by train!!

Ha Noi will be our gateway into Vietnam. We’ll hang out here for a few days, seeing the sights, maybe taking in a water puppet show and arranging passage to the famous Halong Bay.

Almost 2000 limestone islands jut out of the water of Halong Bay. It is a mystical looking place where square sailed ‘Junk’ boats offer tours of the bay to better explore the caves and grottoes that  are carved into the cliffs of the islands. I’ve heard that the islands of Thailands southern coast give Halong Bay a run for their money – we’ll have to see what we think.

Cat Ba Island and  National Park with its limestone mountains, tropical rainforests, coral reefs, caves and beaches, is great gateway into exploring Halong Bay. There is plenty of hiking and exploring to be done on the island – the scenery here is stunning and like nothing that we know here on the west coast of Canada.

From there we’ll head south with Hue being the next city destination. It might be nice, though, to head inland a bit and catch the Cuc Phuong National Park to see its 1000 year old trees and endangered wildlife.

We’ll travel through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to get to Hue. Here we will learn about the Vietnam War through the eyes of the Vietnamese, who call it the American War. We’ll have a chance to see some former military bases and will also visit the Vinh Moc Tunnels where large numbers of Vietnamese families survived during the conflict. It will be interesting to say the least and I know that I will learn a lot.

Hue is a colonial city and it’s food is said to be the best in the whole country. We will spend a number of days here making sure we sample all that we can. A bike tour may be the best way to see all the architecture of the city – and it will help us work up an appetite for all that yummy food!

Hoi An (yes, many of the city names sound very similar to each other – we’ll have to be careful when booking transportation that we know where we are, and where we want to go!) is another UNESCO World Heritage site to visit. Preserved sites here date back to the 16th and 17th centuries – now that’s history! Hoi An is also known for tailoring. Vietnam, and Hoi An in particular, is a great place to get clothes hand made and tailored especially for you, although I don’t know how much use we’ll have for a silk suit.

Ho Chi Minh City is the next large city to visit. We’ll visit all the major sites and take some day trips out to the surrounding areas before continuing south to see the Mekong Delta with its villages, canals and markets. Then it’s back to HCMC to fly out to Bali.

I’m looking forward to traveling in Vietnam. Although our itinerary is loose now, we have plenty of time to firm it up before we’re there next year.