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Nha Trang – Things To Do


Sleep
Mojzos
Cheap, cheerful, clean and the friendliest staff I have encountered in the past 3 months of travelling.

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Things To Do
Take to the water and try some windsurfing, kayaking or sailing. Good wind and sea is nice and flat.
Watersports
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VinPearl Island
Connect with your inner child and spend a day here, Vinpearl is an amusment park, a waterpark and also an indoor arcade. Admission; 500,000 Dong
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Drink
Cheap beers, spririts and wine jump between Why Not Bar and Oasys.

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Eat
Lanterns
Great food and help the local schools and orphanages at the same time.

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Flashpack
Nha Trang Sailing Club
Splash out and enjoy a evening meal and cocktail while watching the sunset over the ocean.

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Lights, Camera Hoi An


Coffee Shops
Tam Tam
Best coffee in town and great people watching spot.
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Cargo
Best salads and pastries in town, also great people watching spot.
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Brothers
Watch the boats go by in this peaceful riverview terrace.
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Ech Deep
For a cheap fruit shake check out this place, with prices starting at 10,000 dong.
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Restaurants
Mango Rooms
Dine with the A-list in this colourful restaurant.
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Karma Waters
Give meat a miss at this Vegan restaurant. Huge portions, tasty meals at a very reasonable price.
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Bo Bo Cafe
Authentic Vietnamese restaurant, try the specials; Cao Lao and White Rose.
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The Banh Mi Queen
The best Banh Mi in town, a crunchy baguette with a deep yellow house-made mayonnaise, pork terrine, char siu pork, salad leaves, cucumber, tomato and finally an omelet on the top.
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Nighsclubs and Bars
Backpacker Bar & Meat Market
Perfect place to begin the night, drinks promos, pool tables and loud music with a great river view of Hoi An.
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Volcano
Everyone heads here once the bars close at 12.00pm, stays open till 3.30-4.00am
80,000 dong for all you can drink….. enjoy the night.

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Things to do
Rent a bicycle for the day for $1 and check out the local beaches
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Reaching Out
This is a fair-trade gift shop, check out the workers creating the pieces at the back of the shop.
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Fruit Market
Stock up on fresh fruit for the day and have some banter by haggling with the ladies on the stalls.
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Cycle around the town
Theres no better way to see the whole city then by bike, a quick and cheap way to see the city and you also get some exercise for the day.
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Splash Out
The Nam Hai
5 star hotel with incredible beach front swimming pools.
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Le Belhamy Resort and Spa
Beautiful hotel with amazing swimming pools and great club sandwiches.
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The famous Top Gear route…in reverse – Hue to Hoi An


Forget the bus and the train and hire a motorbike and do the Hue to Hoi An route which was made famous by the Top Gear Vietnam Special (available on youtube)
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Once you leave Hue and drive along the coastal road you come across hundreds on graveyards, temples and catholic churches.
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The beach is on your left as you drive to Hoi An, my advise would be take any random left once you drive through the small towns as you will hit miles and miles of unspoilt beach with noone in sight.
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Once you get back on the highway the first stop can be Elephant Springs. Take a dip in the pools and bring some snacks to have a picnic.
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You will then head up the mountain over the Hai Van Pass. This is the most scenic part of the journey where you bike up the steep winding roads and once you hit the top you will have incredible views of the turquoise sea, the beaches, the forests and the city of Danang and Hoi An in the far distance.
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Tips
1) Make Friends – If you break down in the middle of the highway it might be a bit of a nightmare to deal with on your own.

2) Petrol – Fill up with petrol before you take off, you will go through one and a half tanks in total.

3) Food & Water – Bring snacks and drinks as you will be hungry along the way especially at the hot springs, food is available but its expensive.

4) Early Bird – Leave as early as possible to give you time at the places you stop off. We left at 8.00am and got the Hoi An nat 6.30 (we broke down for 1.5 hours).

5) Be Open and Flexable – If places look interesting be open to explore, thats how we stumbled across the secluded beach.

Halong Bay’s best kept secret – Cô Tô Island


Forget the tour companies, avoid the drunken backpackers, the crowds of people, the boats and the expense and see Halong Bay a different way along with one of the most undiscovered islands in the bay ….. Cô Tô Island.

*NB*: Before you arrive on the Island you need to contact the hotel and get them to stand for you as there is a big military presence on the island and you need to get permission to be there.

How to get from Hanoi to Cô Tô Island
1) Get the 5.30am bus from Hanoi to Móng Cái which is the closest city to the port of Vân Dôn.

2) Go to the Lu’ong Yén bus station which is located 5-10min from the backpackers area by taxi.
Cost: between 60,000-100,000 dong (be sure to ask for the meter)

3) Once you arrive at Móng Cái, get a taxi to Vân Dôn Port
Cost: between 130,000-150,000 dong (ask for the meter again)

4) At the port go to the ticket booth and ask for a ticket to Cô Tô Island which leaves at 1.30pm.
Cost: 140,000 dong

5) Check in to the Cô Tô Lodge
Cost: 550,000 dong

6) Motorbike Rental for the day
Cost: 200,000 dong

Bus to Móng Cái
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Port at Vân Dôn
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Boat to Cô Tô Island
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Cô Tô Lodge Hotel
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Bike around the island
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Beaches
Cô Tô Beach 1
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Cô Tô Beach 2
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Cô Tô Beach 3
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Life on Cô Tô
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Things to do in Hanoi, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, clubs


Coffee Shops

Foxilly Coffee Bar
Lovely little coffee shop in the quieter side of Hanoi, just east of the West Lake.
Try: Frozen bananna with chocolate and coconut shreddings.
Total: 32,000 dong
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Eureka coffee
West Lake coffee shop with fantastic views of the lake and the swan boats.
Try: White Chocolate Mocha
Total: 38,000 dong

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I.feel Coffee
Amazing views of Hoan Kiem lake and comfortable chairs to relax for the day.
Try: Dimlah Strawberry Iced Tea
Total: 32,000 dong
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Highlands Coffee Opera House
Sit out doors with beautiful views of the Hanoi Opera House.
Try: Passion Fruit Mojito mocktail and Bananna Cake
Total: 60,000 dong

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Joma Hanoi
The final Joma in the new franchise that is in 2 countries. Similar layout, you can count on good service, freezing AC and solid western food, similar to the other two I reviewed in Luang Prabang and Vientiane
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Pato
Another coffee shop on the West Lake, nice views of the lake.
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Manzi
An independent art space with cafe and bar rolled into one. Beautifully styled French Villa with open courtyard. Look out for exhibitions.
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Avalon Club
Great views of the Hoan Kiem lake and reasonably priced coffee.

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Restaurants

Cafe de Home
Looking for a cosy restaurant in Hanoi then look no further, this is the smallest restaurant I’ve ever been, holds a max of 8 people.
Try: Chicken curry with rice and snow ice with jello.
Total: 50,000 dong
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Wrap a Roll
Authentic Vietnamese chain restaurant, similar to street food cooking but in a nice restaurant setting. This is on the top floor of the Trang Tien Mall.
Try: Ground prawn wrapped in crispy rice pancakes and the Green mango salad with sun dried shrimp.
Total:102,500 dong
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Mochi Sweets
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from rice flour pounded into small balls. It has a chewy skin and is filled with frozen cream or mousse.This is also on the top floor of the Trang Tien Mall.
Try: Strawberry Mochi
Total: 26,000 dong
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Huong Mai
Local haunt for the students and business professionals, setting is not that desirable but the food is tasty and cheap.
Try: Pho chien phong
Total: 45,000 dong
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Kebab Haus 1.2.3
In the heart of the old quarter, great spot to people watch and the beef is pretty tasty.
Try: Kebab, with chips and a salad
Total: 65,000 dong

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Fannys Ice Cream Parlour
Best ice cream parlour I have been to, a must if in Hanoi.
Try: Happy Cubics; Strawberry, Mango, Green Tea, Pistachio, White Chocolate and Macadamian nuts, Cookies and Cream, Strawberry Yoghurt, Mixed Berries with caramel drizzle and fresh strawberries with mint and whipped cream.
Total: 72,000 dong

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Trang Tien Ice Cream
Local Vietnamese ice cream, very cheap and perfect for a hot day.
Try: Freshly scooped ice cream
Total: 12,000 dong

Bars and Nightclubs
Dragonfly
Local bar mixed with Westerns, good music, dance floor and the staff are always looking for a reason to dance.
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Bubblebar
Mainly a Western bar, upstairs is one big dancefloor with strobe lights and disco lights everywhere.
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Things to do
Have a game of billards at Club Monaco
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Loose youself in books at the Bookworm
Great selection of english books, new and used.
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Find your comforts at Intimex
If you need a break from the phos, noodles and rice then check out this supermarket where you can go back to the basics; yoghurts, fresh fruit, cheese and cereal.
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Visit Ho Lo Prison and see John McCain’s war clothes
This prison held Vietnamese patriots and American pilots who were shot down over Vietnam during the war. The prison is also referred to the ‘Hanoi Hilton`.
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Visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum
Learn how much the Vietnamese women contributied to the nation and society. See how involved they were in the army and how they helped win the Vietnam War.
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Avoid the smog of Hanoi and run along the West Lake


Running route in Hanoi
Head towards the West Lake (Ho Tay) for open spacea, fresh air and non-crowded spaces with great views at sunset.
Total distance: 6.2 miles

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Go straight up the main road Hang Dao which is North of Hoan Kiem Lake untill you run under a bridge, Long Bien Bridge and come to a stone round tower.

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Take a left down Quan Thanh keeping the small park to your left with a fountain and then take a right down Cua Bac where you come across the fruit and veg vendors on the side of the streets.

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Take the next left and you will be on the edge of Ho Tay which is also know as West Lake.

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Pros: Fantastic place to run to take in the fresh air, avoid the motorbikes and smog.
Bring some money and check out some of the great coffee shops which sit on the waters edge.

Cons: The boardwalk beside the lake is very unever so watch your step or else run on the road.

Hanoi Running Route
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Bombs, Grenades and the Secret War in Phonsavan


3 Facts about Phonsavan
1) Between 1964 and 1973, the USA conducted on of the largest aerial bombings in history, dropping 2 millions tonnes of bombs on Laos.

2) Around 30% of the bombs dropped on Laos failed to detonate, leaving the country littered with unexploded ordnance (UXO).

3) The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) began clearance work in 1994 with the help of the famers and villagers. At the current rate of clearance it will take more than 100 years to make the country safe.
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The Plain of Jars
Thousands of limestone jars are scattered around Xieng Khuang which are thought to have been funerary urns after bones were discovered within them. There are 3 sites in total.
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You can take a tour by bus or tuk tuk to see the 3 sites or to save money why not rent a bicycle for 20,000 kip and head out to see the Site 1 which is 15km away. There are a few hills but very doable. It will take 40min in total to get there and back at an average pace.
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After seeing all the jars, the huge craters left from the bombs and trench lines, head over to the Mines Advisory Group. At 4.30pm they have a video explaining The Secret War which is called Bombies
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***Word of Warning***
While walking around the Jars, they mention to stay in between in white markers when walking around the site as this is the only areas that have been cleared from UXO’s.

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For food or coffee pop into the popular Craters Bar and Restaurant which has a neet display of some of the bombs which were left over.
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For good pho try PhoneKeo Restaurant and try the chicken and noodle soup.
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Watch out for
If you arrive early look out for the monks receiving their urns for the day.
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