Spoiler alert: After 10 glorious days in Vietnam enjoying Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh, I can definitely say that Vietnam is an amazing place to visit!
My trip was in November when the weather is lovely but not unbearably hot, and got off to a great start with Premium economy aboard China Southern in both directions. It really does make a huge difference having that extra bit of space on a long haul flight, plus the food & crew were great too. It also meant that during the long layover in Guangzhou, we could take advantage of the lounge access with showers, wifi & a chef preparing meals.... quite a nice way to fill in a few hours waiting!
First stop, Hanoi with it's mix of old-world character & chaos... from whole families and doors and windows on the back of scooters whizzing here and there, to the endless tooting from every direction - this city is alive at all hours of the day or night.
Next up was Ho Chi Minh, modern but with a mix of rich heritage & culture as well.
My picks of top places & things to do:
- Halong Bay – only 3 hours from Hanoi, this UNESCO world Heritage site is a natural beauty of limestone Karrsts & jade coloured water
- Watch a traditional water puppet performance
- Explore the Ben Thanh Market in the day, and then head back at night to the market next door
- Visit to the Chu Chu Tunnels network of underground tunnels used in the Vietnam War
- Travel by traditional bamboo riverboat down the Mekong Delta River & explore the little waterways through local villages
- Visit the floating markets & don't miss stopping in at a local candy business to see everything made out of rice
After Vietnam, I had a 24-hour stopover in Guangzhou. Our quick city tour was followed by a stay at the Chimelong Hotel Complex. Set in huge grounds with theme parks all around the complex, it's a lot like the Disneyland of China with a Waterpark, theme park, Safari Park & Bird Park to explore. With limited time. we opted to experience an evening at the Chimelong International Circus and it was AMAZING! From Acrobats to animals, this circus had it all and I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it before or since.
After our night at the circus, it was up early for a breakfast surrounded by animals thanks to the island in the centre of the hotel that boasts snow tigers & flamingos - meaning you get a show while you eat a good hearty breakfast that includes every Western & Asian choice imaginable... along with cute animal shaped steam buns!