Vietnam is a country of tradition, with a history of war that has profoundly impacted the culture that exists there today. This does not take away from the destination. It’s actually the opposite, it enhances your experience and knowledge. Content creator and mother of Travel Leap, Anastasia Pittini takes us on her own journey of knowledge and cultural appreciation.
Any good art to see or things we must do?
A place you can’t miss is the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. The museum gives you insight into what it was like from the very first invasion of France all the way to modern day. It’s a very sobering moment but it’s one that’s important to understand.
The ancient town of Hoi An was our favorite stop on the trip. It’s a UNESCO heritage site and one of the most well-preserved ports in all of Asia. The city is small enough that you can explore it on foot or by bike. Hop from cafe to restaurant to boutique (maybe even get a custom dress to treat yourself). The city is at it’s liveliest at night where the streets glimmer under the light of thousands of lanterns.
Mua Caves in Tam Coc will gift you with some of the best views in Vietnam. After climbing 500 steps you reach the top of a hill that overlooks a valley, nestled between very big and very steep limestones cliffs. If you dare to look down, you will be greeted with the Thu Bon river. At water level, you can take a paddle boat down the river. A skilled diver with take you through the immense cave system.
The final must stop destination is the island of Cat Ba. Lan Ha Bay is on the Southeast side of the island and is a much quieter option to Ha Long Bay. Here you can swim the calm waters, discover fishing villages, and admire one of the best destinations in the world.
Did you spot any cool architecture or street art?
Going back to Hoi An, the city is characterized by traditional Vietnamese architecture that dates back to the 15th century. Most walls in the city are a pale yellow color and show wear from flooding. Make sure you visit the Japanese Covered Bridge that originates from the 18th century. It was built by the Japanese who inhabited the area to reach the Chinese on the other side of the water.
Where was the best place to eat?
One of our best meals was at Maison de Tet in Hanoi overlooking West Lake, a quiet and peaceful area. The restaurant itself is an old mansion with all the original decor. All the rooms have been renovated to make you feel like you’re stepping into your home. The menu offers healthy organic foods with ingredients from their garden. Tet also has vegetarian and vegan options on their menus to accommodate those diets.
Favorite place to stay?
We loved our stay at Anantara in Hoi An. This beautiful riverside hotel is a peaceful oasis, just off the busy area of the city. The rooms are set within a charming garden, with an outside pool and a restaurant facing Thu Bon River. The large windows let tons of natural light in which highlights the Asian and French style decor.
Sustainability is a core value at Anantara. They focus on reducing, reusing and recycling any solid waste they produce and cooperate with local management companies. The overall atmosphere of the hotel is a healthy one. They offer guests bikes free of charge as well as yoga classes every morning for everyone. Our stay here couldn’t be any more perfect.