Travelogue Vietnam: rice fields, pagodas & smiling people

Sun behind light clouds over light green hills

The smiles broke the ice and simple gestures did the rest to understand each other even without big words.

I was a bit nervous when I started my individual ASI trip to Vietnam from Innsbruck via Frankfurt and Bangkok to the distant Hanoi – nervous because for the first time in a long time I was traveling alone again. And nervous about the weather, as May is actually one of the rainiest months in Vietnam. In retrospect, however, it turned out that I was very lucky with the weather and that the days from mid-May to early June fall into the low season, because from June onwards, thanks to the school vacations, the travel-loving Vietnamese themselves like to go exploring in their own country.

My individually planned route

This is how I put together my route:

  • Hanoi
  • -> Mai Chau
  • -> Ninh Binh
  • -> a night in Halong Bay
  • -> by night train to central Vietnam
  • -> Hue and Hoi An
  • -> flight south to Hoh Chi Minh City
  • -> Mekong Delta
  • -> finally to the coast to Mui Ne

A tight plan then!

Vietnam – from north to south in the coastal state comfort

Discover Vietnam like Sandra, or according to your own plan. On the individual trip it is possible.

My initial nervousness was finally gone when my guide Ha and driver Dung were waiting for me with big grins at the airport. Immediately I knew that this will be a great adventure.

Two people smile into the camera, left person with cap on, right person with sunglasses on

With ASI Guide Vi Ha all nervousness was gone right away!

Scenic & cultural diversity as far as the eye can see

Due to the enormous length from north to south, Vietnam offers numerous different and truly breathtaking landscapes that could not be more diverse. Vietnam can really do just about anything scenically: mountain ranges, ca. 3000 km of coastline and countless beautiful beaches, the dreamlike Halong Bay with its 1969 limestone islands, lush green tones of rice fields and rice terraces, forests of coconut palms, numerous river deltas like z.B. the Mekong region and even a Sahara-like desert can be found there.

Vietnam's landscape goes from rice paddies…
about beautiful bays
…up to desert landscapes.

Just as diverse as the landscape is also the culture you can find in Vietnam. Today you can still see on every corner the numerous influences – especially from China and France – that have strongly influenced the country in the past. The countless pagodas, temples, royal palaces and also tombs have amazed me every time again. And also the fact that in today's Vietnam many religions, like z.B. Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Islam and also Christianity living together peacefully impressed me very much. The many wars have also left their mark, but the Vietnamese would never let on.

Artful temples..
can be found everywhere in the country.

But I was also really surprised by the flora of Vietnam – when I stood in front of a lake of blooming lotus flowers for the first time or saw the many different shades of green of the rice fields, I could not stop being amazed. In general, you'll find great flowers in bright colors everywhere – from hibiscus to frangipani – even entire forests of coconut palms, which have a huge impact on the economy of some regions in particular.

Pink blooming water lilies on a pond

Water lilies as far as the eye can see.

Pho, Banh Mi, Ca Phe … culinary delights in vietnamese

The colorful diversity is also reflected in the food – so you can find Banh Mis (baguettes with chicken or pork from the time of the French colonial rule) and of course countless variations of rice, meat, vegetables and spices. And also the famous springrolls, noodles and of course fresh fish or seafood, as well as many delicious fruits (e.B. Melon, banana, pineapple, mango, papaya, jackfruit, pomelo, etc.) belong to the Vietnamese cuisine. But also, who is looking for the culinary extraordinary, will find in Vietnam – there are also snails, snake, crocodile, insects and much more. It pays to be brave!

Fried fish served on a plate

In Vietnam, you'll encounter all sorts of unusual delicacies.

The food in general is usually less spicy than in most other Southeast Asian countries. Thanks to predominantly good hygiene, it is also well tolerated by us Europeans and a culinary treat.

Of course we eat with chopsticks – also the typical Pho soup – a strong soup with noodles, thin slices of beef or chicken and various greens. Even if you don't know how to eat with chopsticks, it's still appreciated if you at least make the effort. Mostly the same dishes are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the good hotels there is of course also western breakfast with eggs and everything the heart desires – even brown bread is often found here at the breakfast buffet.

Vietnamese thirst quencher

Mostly tea is drunk, which is always available in teapots surrounded by small cups. In addition, there are many nice coffee houses in Vietnam and also the Egg Coffee, which is traditionally prepared with egg yolk, sugar and condensed milk, is very popular.

Beer (in Vietnamese "bia") is regional – in Hanoi you drink a Bia Ha Noi, in Saigon a Bia Saigon, in Hue and Huda and in Hoi An a Larue. In many bars/restaurants you can of course also find various freshly squeezed fruit juices, cocktails and mocktails.

Vietnam – A culinary voyage of discovery

Do you feel like tasting the delicacies of Vietnamese cuisine?? Discover regional dishes and learn how to prepare them!

A smile as an understanding is enough

What fascinated me most, however, is the warmth of the people. People who work in tourism usually speak very good English, sometimes also German and other European languages. However, the majority of the population speaks only Vietnamese. Of course, since I only know some simple Vietnamese words like

I simply tried it with a smile and lo and behold – it worked without any problems. The smile has broken the ice and simple gestures have done the rest to understand each other even without big words. So, during my trip I had many wonderful experiences with the locals and, of course, with the guides and drivers, who, by the way, always organized everything perfectly and gave me unforgettable adventures. Also the many laughing children, who usually greeted me from far away with a Hello, will remain in my memory for a long time.

Woman with blond hair and older lady smile into the camera

Breaks every ice: a smile opens doors & hearts

My conclusion

Since Vietnam is currently in a tourism boom, there are not yet as many tourists as in some other Southeast Asian countries. In some places I was one of the few tourists in May, which made the experience even more beautiful and authentic. For those willing to get involved with the country and its people, Vietnam is a really great destination and I can confidently say – for me, it was one of the best trips I've ever taken and I'll be thinking back to the great and exciting time for a very long time to come!