I’ve been all over South-East-Asia, but never to Vietnam, so when I had to decide if I wanted to extend my visa in Bali or go traveling, I choose to finally visit Vietnam!
Vietnam is not as famous for yoga and spirituality as India or Bali, but I found plenty of places to relax, tried some local yoga studios and ate my way through a ton of fresh vegetarian spring rolls.
Here are the highlights of my trip to Vietnam:
Enjoying the best of Vietnamese cuisine
To tell you the truth, one of the main reasons for me to travel to Vietnam was to enjoy the local food (and I rolled back to Bali, haha). Aside from restaurants where I tried to order more healthy and vegetarian dishes I ate plenty of delicious street food. It’s definitely more challenging if you want to eat vegetarian or vegan but not impossible. I decided not to worry about that but simply go with the flow and try everything. Steaming bowls of Pho noodle soup, spring rolls, little rice dumplings, fresh savory pancakes… the food was definitely a highlight. I also joined a street food tour and a really great cooking class!
Falling in love with Hanoi
I loved walking around the old quarter in Hanoi, enchanted by the old narrow buildings, the many trees, the old ladies selling fresh fruit or flowers from their bicycles, even the crazy traffic. On Sunday the roads around Hoam Kiem Lake were closed for cars and young people, families and children took over and walked around, played games and socialized. I loved that the city still has a very local feel, even in the touristy old quarter, and was just happy exploring it.
The Hanoi Social Club
If you are craving some healthy food, like for example quinoa porridge for breakfast, I recommend the Hanoi Social Club. It’s a cute café/restaurant close to the old quarter and the perfect place for a lazy brunch. They also have some super yummy gluten free chocolate cake that you don’t wanna miss!
Zenith Yoga in Hanoi
I joined a super great Vinyasa yoga class at Zenith yoga in Hanoi. The class was open level but still challenging and the teacher top notch. It’s always nice to connect to the local yoga scene and I definitely recommend visiting this yoga studio if you ever make it to Hanoi. They also have a little café where I had the best Pho soup in all of Vietnam. And it was vegan! Soooo good.
Yes, Halong Bay is touristy, but it’s truly stunning and a unique experience and I’m so glad I went. It’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. Thousands of giant limestone islands fill the bay, and when it’s misty, it gives off the feeling of a haunted fairytale landscape.
It’s all about the junk boat cruises up here and that’s what I did. I stepped on board of the Calypso Cruiser for a 2-day/1-night tour with a super nice group of people from Australia and the US. It was an amazing trip!
Yoga at Annen Yoga in Hoi An
After nearly freezing to death in Sapa (just kidding – it was more like summer in Northern Europe with temperatures just below 15 degrees celcius…) I hopped on a plane to Hoi An. Hoi An is one of those places everyone raves about, the main draw of course being the beautifully preserved UNESCO heritage old town. What can I say… I liked it well enough but for me the old town felt way too touristy and sterile. All the shops and restaurants are targeted for tourists and it’s missing this chaotic Asian city feel in my opinion. So I had a look around and then went on to explore the surrounding places.
I joined a Hatha yoga class at Annen Yoga with 5 Vietnamese girls, such a great experience (the class was in English in case you’re wondering :-). Annen yoga also has a good restaurant with some nice vegetarian Vietnamese food.
Dingo’s Deli in Hoi An
My highlight in Hoi An was discovering Dingo’ Deli, an amazing deli/restaurant where I stocked up on gluten free bread, gorged on fresh salads and treated myself to some delicious gluten free cakes and other sweet treats. The perfect place to get some work done on the computer too, they even have a co-working room.
My Low in Vietnam: Getting rained in in Sapa
I had high hopes for Sapa in the North of Vietnam! I wanted to go trekking, stay in local homestays and spend as much time in the outdoors as possible. Unfortunately I had such bad luck with the weather, it was miserably cold and raining nearly the whole time I was there. After two days I gave up and went back to Hanoi. Who would believe that less than 200km could mean such a change in weather. If you plan on going to Sapa, make sure you check the weather forecast and bring some warm clothes.
Where I stayed
A bit more expensive but really nice rooms, a great spa and one of the best breakfast buffets. The restaurants’s pretty good too.
A new guesthouse with a nice pool and the friendliest owners you’ll ever meet! Beautiful rooms too. the lcoation is perfect, just a 5-minute walk to the old town.
A simple homestay with charming rooms and great atmosphere. I loved the family style dinners and the chance to interact with the local family running the place.