|Independence Palace||This palace is a time capsule, frozen in time from the fall of Saigon in 1975. If the hip breezy décor doesn’t pique your interest, still worth going to see the eerie basement, wallpapered in war strategy maps that will make you feel like you’re on a movie set.|
|Museum of American War Crimes||This museum, comprised mainly of grisly photos (with English narrative), is not for the faint hearted. As an American, a visit here is definitely uncomfortable, but an eye opening perspective on the war. It will be a solemn 1-2 hours, but I’m glad we went.|
|Sinbahlo Mekong Delta Tour||Being pressed for time, we organized a 3 day/2 night tour to allow us to get into the Mekong delta and experience as much as possible in a short time. This was a really fun and active option as we biked through towns, jumped on water ferries, sampled fruit at markets and didn’t have to worry about getting lost. Boating into the floating market the final day is a must. Warning: this is a lot of time on a cheap bike seat, Joe’s butt was very sore by the end.||Website|
|Betel Garden Homestay, Hoi An||Peaceful cool gardens and pool at this B&B less than a mile from the center of Hoi An, but the free bikes available for guests made for a fun quick ride into town.||http://betelgardenhomestay.com/index.htm|
|My Son temples, outside Hoi An||About a 40 minute drive from Hoi An, get your butt out of bed early as it is absolutely worth the painful hour you must wake at to be at the temples for sunrise. In addition to beautiful photo opportunities and escaping the heat, getting there early you have the temples blissfully to yourself so you can amble and pretend you’re Laura Croft: Tomb Raider.|
|Hoi An||A beautiful colorful little town packed with markets and temples to explore on foot, understandably packed with tourists.|
|Dive Hoian Cham Islands SCUBA||We were at the very start of SCUBA season and as the guide warned us, the visibility wasn’t great, it seemed like a lot of gray underwater. Lion fish were the highlight. But the boat ride out to the islands was nice, as was the BBQ lunch and hour on the beach with cold beverages.||http://www.divehoian.com/|
|Hoi An Motorbike Adventures||We booked a one-way motorbike trip from Hoi An to Hue as a fun way to travel between destinations. The company arranged for our baggage transfer, we each had our own bike, a private guide, and mechanic who rode with us.
We had zero motorbike experience and while I’ll admit this isn’t the smartest or safest place to learn, being on a motorbike is part of the Vietnamese experience and is a blast!
|Hue Nino Hotel||Great deal on this compact hotel in central Hue. Exceptionally friendly staff, clean and bright rooms.||www.hueninohotel.com|
|Imperial City, Hue||Great town to rent bikes and pedal around. There are lots of interesting old buildings in the Imperial City compound to wander through.|
|Thang Long Water Puppet Theater, Hanoi||Tacky and touristy, but uniquely Vietnam and memorable.||Website|
|Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum||See Ho in all his embalmed glory. It’s free, I’d take note of the hours and make a point to go see this along with the adjacent museum and his home.|
|Queen Hotel, Hanoi||Good central location, cute lobby, clean rooms.||Website|
|Blue Swimmer Sailing Halong Bay Tour||After reading how swamped Halong Bay has become with tourist boats and garbage floating in the water, we opted for this eco friendly tour which was based on Cat Ba Island and a little away from the central Halong Bay chaos which we were happy with. Pros: private tour with guide which meant we moved at our pace, lots of peaceful kayaking past floating fishing farms, the night on the boat it was just us and the crew. Cons: our guide was extremely inexperienced and we always were in the wrong footwear: ask when to wear water shoes vs sneakers.||Website|