TRAVEL from SAIGON to HANOI (DEC 1994) used Lonely Planet's (1993)


SAIGON - Arrived Dec 16, 1994, travelling with my oldest son, Brian.

We stayed at the Sea Star Mini Hotel not far from the Central Market. It was clean but the water smelled and the roosters woke us very early every morning. The hotel served us eggs, etc in our room daily for breakfast and washed our clothing.

We walked and took cyclos everywhere. Most of the city was still very dirty and recovering from the war. The grand hotels - Majestic, etc were under renovation and closed. We ate dinner one night on the My Cahn Boat docked in the Saigon River and were very surprised when they lifted anchor and sailed down the river. Hardly anyone spoke English, very little French and lots of hand movements.

Over the next two days we located my house at 194 Cong LY (now a business headquarters) went to the Cercle Sportif, walked along the Catinat and through the Eden Passage, along Charner (flower market), along Le Loi (formerly shoe street)bought gold jewelry, shopped for crafts, explored the market, had pastries at Givrals and ate dinner at Lemon Grass. We booked a car at Sinh Cafe to take us further throught the country and bought airline tickets for Hue to Hanoi.

Next stop DALAT

We stayed at Bao Dai Palace Hotel - used to be the emperor's summer palace. The mountain scenery was beautiful. The people spoke more French. The market was charming and we had lunch in the middle of the lake.


We drove past waterfalls, beautiful scenery and the Cham Towers. Just on the outskirts of Nha Trang we styed at the Bao Dai Villas which were built in the 20's and were secluded. It was directly on the beach and had 2 restaurants where we enjoyed grilled lagoustines. We ventured into the city by cyclo and were greeted by many Vietnamese woman offering massages, manicures, food, and trickets. We ate in town once and enjoyed our quiet private beach area.

On to HOI AN

Long, interesting drive along the sea and through mountain areas, brightly covered houses with rice paddies out front. Lots of traffic and drivers playing "chicken" with each other. Road was in bad shape and we went airborne once, then later the car broke down. We were surrounded by village people - men with flashlights looking to see what was wrong with the car and women and children who wished to practice their English. Finally a big semi truck arrived and took my son and me to our hotel in Hoi An. The driver would have the car repaired and meet us the next day. Hoi An was a pleasant surprise with Japanese and Chinese architecture. There were several small art galleries and some unusual crafts.


We drove first to climb the Marble Mountains. The views were beautiful. Then we drove and walked along what the locals called China Beach and then to My Khe Beach which most believe was the real China Beach from the war. Around Danang was the most memories of the war - deserted bases and ruined areas. Chistmas eve we went to the Cathedral and were seated with the dignitaries. We stayed only briefly because we became the centers of attention. As the night wore on everyone got on their scooters and circled the river to be seen. It was crazy.


The drive was perhaps the most beautiful and scariest. The sea and mountains and the small winding roads. In Hue we stayed at a guest house by the Perfume River. Most of the Citadel had been destroyed by our bombs. We took a small boat to the Minh Mang Tomb and to a pagoda. Nagging peddlers were beginning to bother us so we headed for food on the outskirts of town away from tourist areas.


We flew from Hue to Hanoi. It was an easy experience. Took a car from the airport to the hotel area near the Metropole and found a reasonable, clean hotel. Then we walked the streets of Hanoi, saw the "Hanoi Hilton", took a cyclo thru the French Old Quarter, enjoyed the numerous art galleries and crafts. We walked along the lake - the air was heavy with dust from rebuilding and dirt from manufacturing.

THOUGHTS on VIETNAM from (1994)

SAIGON - fun and lively - worth the whole trip

DALAT - pleasant, friendly, historical, beautiful scenery

NHA TRANG - quiet beautiful beach, best prawns

HOI AN - most unique, lots of galleries

DANANG AREA - Marble Mountains, China Beach worth the visit

DANANG - could have skipped

HUE - big disappointment

HANOI - best handicrafts but very dusty