Sam and I are back in the States and getting settled in Los Angeles, so I suppose now is as good a time as any to get back to sorting through photos from the Asia trip. I’m going to start making these more brief, or else I’ll never finish. Today: Saigon.
After leaving Hoi An, we made our way down to Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City; the two names are more-or-less interchangeable). Our initial impressions of the city were very good. Saigon feels a lot like NYC in size, scale, and energy. Our guesthouse was in a great location – just far enough from backpacker central to not be obnoxious, and just off a street with a market in the morning and wonderful street food in the evenings.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in northern Vietnam is Ha Long Bay, an area off the coast filled with thousands of towering limestone karsts. Tourists flock there in droves to spend a couple of nights on junk boats. While the bay is supposed to be beautiful, the experience of visiting is a mixed bag. It’s extremely crowded, and decent tours get expensive fast. In addition, it’s risky booking a tour in advance because of how unpredictable the weather is (it’s often rainy, or at least too foggy to really appreciate the karsts).
Sam and I knew there had to be a better way to see the area. After a little searching, we figured out that you can travel independently to Cat Ba, an island near the bay. From there it’s easy to book day trips into Lan Ha Bay, the less touristy (but just as majestic) southern portion of the bay.