Friday, March 29, 2019

Vietnam Diary - Phu Quoc Island

Hey everyone, what are your plans for the weekend? I'm gonna be busy renovating with my sister and her boyfriend, they're moving to a new home and need a helping hand. But before we're kicking off the weekend I wanted to publish a new post about our Vietnam trip for you guys. 

Phu Quoc Island 

Today I'm taking you to Phu Quoc Island, the biggest and most touristy island in Vietnam. It's especially popular among Russian tourists and the locals have adapted well to them. At most restaurants or tourist centres you will find menus or information written in Russian. I even heard some locals speak Russian which surprised me a lot. Phu Quoc Island is still quite undeveloped and has its very own charm although being a bit dirty in some places. There are currently huge hotels and resorts being built so I'm happy we visited the island now that it's still more authentic and natural. 

We spent three and a half days there which allowed us to fully enjoy some down time, sunshine and to explore the entire island. We got to the island by ferry from Rach Gia, which was just about two bus hours away from our last stop Can Tho. The trip was pretty quick and easy and we still had time to go for a walk and a great dinner on the day of our arrival. We stayed at a lovely place called Orchid Garden Bungalow (which you can see in the second photo). It was perfectly located, close to the island's popular Long Beach, several shops, restaurants and the island's small airport. 

So the next day we decided to spend the morning at the beach next to our home. Long Beach is a great public, miles long sandy beach with turquoise water, beach bars and sun beds that belong to the adjoining resorts. You can chill there for hours in the shade of the palm trees, take a dip in the warm water or have lunch right by the sea. Even though Long Beach is said to be the most touristy beach of Phu Quoc there is lots of space and only very few people. We stayed at the beach until noon and then went home to rest a bit before heading out again in the afternoon.

Phu Quoc Main Town and Night Market

In the afternoon we rented a scooter from our bungalow and drove up to the island's main town. Once there, we went for a little walk by the coast, visited the Dinh Cau temple and watched some fishermen arrive with their catch of the day. However, the town was a bit too noisy and busy for us so from there we drove even further up the island to Ong Lang Beach. Even though it was a quite touristy beach, it was not as pretty as other beaches on the island. Thus, we only stayed to watch a beautiful sunset by the sea before returning to the main town. We were told to not miss the famous Phu Quoc night market so that's where we spent the rest of the night indulging in all kinds of street food and sweet treats. For dinner we had a spring roll, a Vietnamese hot dog and octopus cheese balls. I loved the night market, there were so many unique distractions. An abundance of fresh seafood, other delicacies, colorful clothes and souvenirs. Before heading home I had bought a nice dress and of course we had also tried the rolled ice cream, so yummy!

I hope you enjoyed this post about our first day on Phu Quoc, more photos and tips are coming soon. I wish you a fabulous weekend to disconnect and refuel!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Vietnam Diary - Mekong Delta

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a great start of the week. I've been pretty knocked out since we got back from Vietnam. I caught a bronchitis the last day of our trip and couldn't really leave the house until yesterday. However, it did give me some time to prepare this new blog post for you guys. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Can Tho Night Market

We really wanted to see the Mekong Delta and do a river tour when in Vietnam so we decided to head to Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta area. It was an easy and comfortable three-hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City. On our first day in Can Tho we visited a night market which was basically just a street food market but a great discovery! We had some yummy sweet dish consisting of fresh fruit, jelly, peanuts, condensed milk and ice which seemed to be very popular among young people. For dinner we hacơm cháy kho quẹt, a crispy fried rice dish served with a mouth-watering spicy dip and fresh cucumber. We were the only tourists at the night market but so happy we made it there, the food offered at every little stand looked amazing! Also, eating out is sooo cheap in Vietnam. During our three-week trip we didn't cook once. The Vietnamese street food is just so delicious and a dish costs only about one to three euros

Once we got back to our hotel we decided to book a Floating Market Tour for the next day with the help of our hotel's nice receptionist. 

Floating Market Tour

On our second day in Can Tho, we had to get up early because a taxi picked us up at the hotel around 5 am. The driver dropped us off at a dock where a lovely Vietnamese lady waited for us on her wooden boat. We left Can Tho watching a beautiful sunrise from the river. It was only 6.30 am or so when we reached the Mekong Delta's biggest floating market, the Cai Rang Floating Market. Here we enjoyed some tasty soup for breakfast. It's very common that Vietnamese people eat hearty food early in the morning. We made our way through the floating market which I honestly didn't enjoy too much because there were lots of bigger boats so you couldn't even see their market products from below. We didn't stay at the first floating market for too long but headed further down the river to the more traditional Phong Dien Floating Market which I liked much more. There were about ten locals selling goods, mostly fruit and veggies, on their little wooden rowing boats. You could watch and hear them chat, negotiate and cut fruit. Our lovely captain got us some pitaya, pineapple and mango, a welcome treat after the salty soup. 

After this cultural experience we made our way to and through some beautiful smaller mangrove canals. I loved this more natural part of our tour since the floating markets took place in a quite busy, more industrial area and the river there was bigger and very polluted. The side canals on the other hand were much cleaner and surrounded by mud and greenery. We were all alone here, just the two of us and our nice captain who did such a great job rowing us through the lush vegetation. At some point we got off the boat and had the chance to explore the area a bit. We also visited a rice noodle factory. We ate rice noodles almost every single day during our Vietnam trip so it was fun to see how they're made. From there it took us about one and a half hours to get back to where we started. Surprisingly our captain dropped us off on the riverbank right next to our hotel. What a great and very much appreciated organisation. All in all we had a fabulous six-hour trip with many different stops and interesting things to see! I would totally recommend this boat excursion to anyone visiting Can Tho. We payed only about 15€ per person for this trip and had an unforgettable time. More posts about our adventures in Vietnam are coming soon!

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