After a long exhausting day we were pretty happy to be at the hotel and decided not to take the sleeper bus to get to the Phong Nha Nationalpark. So other options would have been the train but a 10 h train ride or even more? Noooooo! We choose to get back to Ha Noi and grab a flight. So we had to book in advance. We took Bamboo Airlines, a Vietnamese company. The only bad thing about that was, that the didn’t accept any foreign credit cards. So we had 2 options, either go back to Ha Noi on the next day and pay at the airport or go to Vietcom Bank and pay at the counter. We choose the second one and that was our first thing to do on the next morning.
We stood up, got ourselves some breakfast at the hotel and rented a motorbike from them. We had to get some gas first and then our mission was to find the bank and someone who understands proper English. We got into the bank and it was full of people standing and pushing around at every counter. And on top of the counters was written what it is for but just in Vietnamese. So we just tried one got through the bunch of people and yeahy, we were lucky. The woman knew exactly what we wanted and how to handle that. We were really surprised but also relieved. So the flight was paid, we got the confirmation in the evening and we could just go and visit the next destination of the day. And that’s what the Chaos looked like:
So we made our way to Trang An to take a boat tour through the grottoes. We had to buy the tickets on the other side of the road, where we also parked the motorbike. We had to pay at our return. The grottoes tour cost 200.000 dong (about 8€) per person. That’s a very appropriate price for this tour. Normally the boat takes 4 people and a nice little lady at the back steering it. The woman was smaller than me and also thinner, but she had a lot of strength. There are 3 different routes you can choose of. We took the second one. We went through 3 grottoes, to 2 temples and a movie set. It was not full of tourists and it was raining a bit. Ninh Binh is also called Dry Halong Bay. Where this name comes I have no clue but it doesn’t really fit. We enjoyed ourselves there a lot. Much more then on the other trip.
The tour takes 2 hours in total, but it’s definitely worth the money and the time. You can see a really beautiful landscape.
After this we wanted to visit the highest Buddhist temple in Vietnam. The entrance to the park was tricky to find, and we were not the only ones driving the wrong way. A nice man showed us the way we had to go. He didn’t speak English but he just moved his hands and we directly knew. We ended up at a parking space, where we had to pay, of course. After this we had to find the walking way to the entrance. We could have used a e-car, which looked more like a golf cart, just double the size. We didn’t wanted to pay for that too, because it was not cheap. A woman showed us the map of the park and told us that’s a long way to walk to the temple – well let me tell you that it’s not! So we decided to have a little walk to the Bau Ding Pagoda. On the way up we met a couple, who we asked for the way. They told us we were on the right way and asked if we want to have their tickets for the e-car. They didn’t wanted to walk back to the other end of the park to grab the shuttle so they had them as a leftover. We thanked them and were happy that we got a free ride. After a 15 min walk we got to the temple. It was quite impressive and I wanted to get in. Basti wasn’t really keen on having a look at it, so I went on my own. The ticket for the entrance was 50.000 dong (almost 2€). I got some covers for my shoes and went in. Quite sexy 😂
The interior was quite exciting. There was a huge golden Buddha statue in the middle and I had the possibility to take a lift to the very top. There were several other floors in between, and I had to have a look at everyone. I’m just to curious. At the ones in between there was nothing to see, but I was afraid that I would miss something. On the top I went outside and had a great view over the park. I could walk once around the temple to look in every direction. It was quite impressive.
After I got back down, we walked along the whole park to the very end. I liked it and it was quite interesting. At one point I think we went on the wrong way, because there were 2 men sitting on a wall just laughing and talking about us. It took us about 3 hours to explore the park but it was a nice walk and worth the time. At the end we were happy to take the e-shuttle back to the entrance. We had to pass some souvenir shops. One of them made their own fresh coconut snacks. These were delicious and I didn’t find them anywhere else with the same level of freshness. So if you go there one, buy a bag of them! I couldn’t stop eating them 😉
After all that sight seeing we went back to the hotel. This took us another hour. Sagely arrived we had a look at the restaurant around us. Luckily we had the motorbike, to get some local food and not just ate stuff they serve at the restaurant. We went to a very cool restaurant, called The Admiral Benbow. The owner are a Vietnamese German couple. It’s very easy to oversee. And if you go in the restaurant you stand right in the middle of the families living room. The kids were enjoying some tv show and we could choose our food. It took some time to get ready but everything was really made fresh and so delicious! I had a big salad with fresh herbs and a lime vinaigrette plus fresh rolled and deep fried spring rolls and Basti had a chicken curry. At the end we were stuffed, but very happy. It was one of the best meals we ate during our Vietnam trip! The women was very friendly and we had a little chat at the end. She also gave us some tips for the region. Full and back at the hotel we just felt in the baked and got some sleep.
Did you know that there are also animal sanctuaries in Vietnam? No? Then we will tell you something about it in our next post. Stay tuned!