What to do in Vietnam - Nha Trang to Saigon - Days 48-49

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Who are we?

A lot of things!

...but, to keep it simple, we're two eager travelers with roots in the US.

Having explored quite a bit of our home country together, we set our sights abroad and kickstarted our foreign travels in Southeast Asia. With everything we owned in our backpacks, we set off on our five-month trip.

Having traveled Japan for the past 35 days, we're well on our way to our new home for the following two weeks, Vietnam.

There are countless ways to explore this developing nation, and everyone has their own take on the subject matter. From the busy city life with endless markets and awesome street food to the pristine beaches and breathtaking mountain views, Vietnam has a little something for every kind of traveler.

The options can be overwhelming when considering your trip to Vietnam, so to help narrow down the possibilities, we'll highlight some of our experiences to give you some inspiration and personal know-how!

Without further ado..

Where in the world did we end up today?

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We found ourselves waking up in Nha Trang, Vietnam to the continual and neverending downpour of rain. 

Where did we stay in Nha Trang?

Today is Monday, the 26th of November, 2018.

We crashed at the Vitamin Sea hostel for the night - easily one of the best hostels we've seen thus far on our travels.

A clean, spacious common area with tables for guests to hang out and snack was on the main floor, with all the rooms being upstairs. The rooms themselves were neat and tidy, with the bathroom standing out the most. Finally, a shower was in a separate area from the toilet!

The staff here was exceptional as well. If you find yourself in Nha Trang, book a night at Vitamin Sea; you won't be disappointed! 

What did we explore today in Nha Trang?

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We were informed that the bus we had scheduled at 8pm bound for Saigon was canceled due to the recent typhoon. With that information, we gladly booked another night at Vitamin Sea up front and carried on about our day.

Venturing out into the pouring rain for a brief minute, we found ourselves huddled in a café right down the street. Brainstorming our plans as we sipped on our morning brew, we decided it'd be best to stay dry for the day and use the rain as an excuse to hang out inside and get some work done.

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Hours flew by as we typed away, updating the blog and social media posts. Getting hungry, we set off on foot to find this vegetarian restaurant we read about online. For the price of 20k VND, we got a heaping portion of plant-based nutrition. Declining seating indoors, we took our to-go meals and embraced the storm with our umbrella.

Predicting there'd be some seating at the Incense Tower only left us slightly disappointed when there was none. Scanning the park for a place to sit was useless; we sought shelter underneath the building's overhang instead, along with other strangers.

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Slurping down bagged noodles drenched from the pouring rain doesn't sound like an awesome afternoon, but we still enjoyed every second of it. We headed back to the hostel to get back to business and try and wait out the rain.

Getting a little stir-crazy, we looked for a gym in the nearby area. Finding a Phong Super Sport, we strapped on our sandals and got to moving. For a modest 50k VND we were granted access to the iron jungle. We opted for a full-body workout for the day, loosening up our stiff limbs and strengthening our minds and bodies in turn.

Due to the lack of AC and humid environment, we were dripping buckets of sweat. Slightly dehydrated, we set off on a mission to find some smoothies. 

Vietnam really seems to come alive at night time. The streets become lively and crowded with most shops open selling goods of all kind. It only took us two weeks to figure this out, after wandering around in the morning looking for food carts to no avail.

Taking a turn down the road, we ended up at Westerner central, finding all foreigners and familiar restaurant chains on the same strip. A few blocks later, we came across a beautiful sight - smoothies! For 10k VND, we fueled up on papaya and dragonfruit nectar.

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We ended up going to a vegan joint right after and grabbed some chickpea wraps. Then we ventured off for some pho, finding a great place right on the corner. Next was banh mi, of course. This baguette was one of the best we've had, with the sandwich made fresh-to-order and everything. Happy and full, we went back to the hostel for the night.

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Verifying the cancellation of our bus ticket with the receptionist one last time, we went to wash away our slime from the day's activities. When we had just finished cleaning up, the lady informed us that our bus was operating according to schedule. Hurriedly we stuffed all of our belongings into our bags, thanked her, and jogged all the way to the bus station. We arrived just in the nick of time, catching the next bus and dodging the oncoming rain.

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Reclining back in our seats, we were not looking forward to the next nine hours. We were the first ones that had boarded the bus, meaning we stopped at every consecutive station until the vehicle was loaded with passengers. Nodding in and out of sleep, we were awakened by yelling bus-riders and screaming babies every couple of minutes. Eventually, everyone seemed to drift off, granting us a few hours of negligible sleep, until arriving at a rest station where the driver flicked on the bright fluorescent lights. Zombie-like, we woke out of our slumber and relieved our bladders half-awake.

Nap time!

Nap time!

Climbing back on board, we figured we were halfway through the ride already, which didn't seem too bad. Snoozing off and on, we awoke dreary-eyed to the familiar sight of Saigon traffic. Fifteen minutes later we were dropped off near the bus station, leaving us free to go. Hungry, tired, and having to pee is not an ideal combination - but we made it! The days seemed to blur together, yet the calendar dates did change.

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Today is now Tuesday, the 27th of November, 2018

Arriving to Ho Chi Minh with no lodging reservations, we were caught walking through the flooded streets (from the recent typhoon) scoping out potential places to stay.

Hostels had check-in times at 1400 which wasn't going to work for us today, so we opted for a hotel.

The ones we stumbled across were either void of a receptionist or had one sleeping on a futon right outside the entrance.

Eventually, we found the Hong Vina Luxury Hotel. A sign indicating they were open invited us to walk inside, leaving us standing around for a second before a half-asleep guy shuffled over to the front desk and inquired of our motives. Explaining we were looking for a room, he let us know he had one available for $57, or $28 between each of us.

Not interested in walking around all morning and comparing prices of different hotels, we bit the bullet and made the transaction.

Forgetting what a hotel was like, we were relieved to find we had a clean room available to ourselves. This gave us the opportunity to relax and unwind a bit before catching our bus across the Cambodian border the next morning.

What did we explore today in Ho Chi Minh City?

Jet-lagged - or, more appropriately - bus-lagged, we plopped down in the hotel room after checking in and sat on our butts.

We didn't do so much as lift a finger for an hour, dozing in and out of sleep. Although the night buses are great because they slash transit times in half, getting a proper night's rest is generally out of the question. From crying babies and yelling passengers to bumpy roads and strange radio music, we were a little cranky arriving to the city.

Come half-past seven, we headed upstairs to enjoy the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Eggs, bread, fresh fruit, and juice were on the menu - with a city view to boot. Not a bad way to start the day!

Energized, we headed back to our room to lounge and catch up on some projects we have going on. Our trip through Cambodia is coming up, so make sure to stay tuned for that!

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Lunch time rolled around and we searched for some vegan restaurants in the area. Reading good reviews of Veggie Saigon, we decided to give it a shot. Everything we ended up ordering was fantastic, and we recommend it to all travelers with a plant-based diet!

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Afterward, we headed back to the hotel to hang out. We figured out our transportation arrangements for the following day and relaxed, leaving only to grab some food later in the evening. Walking through the park, we saw locals playing hacky sack and dogs roaming about freely.

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Walking down the familiar streets was a bittersweet moment for us. Just when we were finally getting acquainted to the city, it was time to pack our bags and head onwards to Cambodia.

With that, we hope by shedding light on our travels you may have gained a newfound appreciation of Vietnam; perhaps you may even be inspired to visit the country yourself. We highly suggest you do! The eclectic lifestyle here is unlike anything we've experienced before. Boarding our bus to Phnom Penh, we say tạm biệt, Vietnam!

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How much did we spend traveling in Ho Chi Minh City?

Food: $11.05

Transport: $0

Lodging: 680,000 / $29.09 (Fees add up...)

Sightseeing: $0

Other: $0

Total: $40.14