Just back from Vietnam

Just back from Vietnam: Emma’s Vietnam holiday

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Emma, one of our destination specialists here at HA, is just back from her first (but not last!) holiday of the year. She spent 10 days exploring Saigon and Hoi An in Vietnam. Here Emma fills us in on what she got up to, and her best bits! 


Name: Emma ‘Higgo’ Higgins (HA Destination Manager: Morocco, Oman, Lebanon and Israel)

Trip: Vietnam holiday

Travel dates: 9-19th March 2024  


1. Where did you go?  

I spent three nights in Saigon and five nights in Hoi An. Courtesy of our delightful HA Vietnam expert, Erin.


Just back from Vietnam

2. What did you do while you were there? 

I went on a fantastic Vespa tour through Ho Chi Minh; a really fun way to spend an evening in the city, trying local food (my favourites are the summer rolls for sure!) and hopping between bars.

It’s lovely to have a local to tell you all about traditional Vietnamese dishes and also go to authentic places to try them.

And what’s more authentic than being on the back of a Vespa while doing it? It’s a little scary at first as there are so many bikes in Ho Chi Minh, but it’s best to lean into the experience! And the drivers are all absolutely delightful and make you feel safe.


higgo vespa - Just back from Vietnam


I also really enjoyed the AO Show at the Opera House in Saigon, another evening well spent learning all about the evolution of Vietnam from its rural roots to the urbanisation we see in lots of the country today.

In Hoi An, I visited the My Son temples just outside the city, which I highly recommend if you’re in the area. These fascinating temples are like a mini Vietnamese version of Angkor Wat in Cambodia – smaller, but no less beautiful and interesting. Going with a guide really helps to understand exactly what you’re looking at, and the history of the Champa Kingdom that created the complex.


Team Travels - Emma's Vietnam holiday


3. Did you discover any secret spots you can tell us about? 

I think the backstreets of Hoi An are a real gem – I learnt all about the making of cao lau noodles – a regional dish you’ll find in vendors all over the ancient town – from one of only two people who make them in Hoi An. We visited the family’s home, next to which you can see the kitchens where they create the noodles – the father figure has been doing this for 66 years, he gets up at 1 am every day to make them, and only has one day off a year! We tried them right there and then with some soy sauce and they were absolutely delicious.

Likewise, just down the road we wandered to a beansprout producer and learned all about how they grow the sprouts from mung beans in sand (yes, really..!) and then take them off to sell in the market each morning. We of course visited the market later in the tour too; a must-do for any trip to Vietnam.



4. Talk to us about the food… what was your favourite meal?   

See above! Anything on the food tour was fantastic. The thing I love about Vietnamese food is that it’s so fresh and light; the herbs they put with all their dishes make them so unique and delicious. I of course really fell in love with Vietnamese coffee (made with condensed milk) too, which is the complete opposite – rich, strong and almost a whole meal in itself! But so satisfying.

And then of course banh mi at Madame Khanh – there’s a reason she’s called the banh mi queen!


5. Where was your favourite place you stayed?  

I really liked both of my hotels – Silverland Yen in Saigon is perfectly situated right in the centre and I could walk everywhere. Cosy Savvy in Hoi An was tucked away a five-minute walk from the ancient town (which is good because it was really quiet, and central Hoi An can get noisy at night) and the people were so kind and welcoming!



6. Your most unforgettable interaction or moment… 

I think the guide and drivers on the Vespa tour were a real highlight for me. So kind and generous, but also really put me at ease zipping around the big city, as well as offering local insights for everything we did. Above all else, they made it really FUN!


7. Your favourite experience: What’s the bit you’ll be telling your friends about over dinner?  

All the food, for sure! I’ll be cooking it for them, too!


8. What were your key take-homes, what did you learn on your trip? 

I really enjoyed the War Remnants Museum in Saigon and learnt a lot about the Vietnam/American War. I knew a limited amount prior to my trip, but this museum (which can be harrowing in part, just to warn anyone looking to visit) really put things into perspective from a Vietnamese point of view, and I was baffled by the fact it is all still having am impact of life in parts of Vietnam even today. I also learnt a lot about this heading out to the Cu Chi Tunnels outside Saigon. I did go down one for the briefest of moments but not too far – I still recommend it for anyone not keen on going into the tunnels themselves!


Team Travels - Cu Chi Tunnels Vietnam


9. What’s the thing people absolutely can’t miss? 

Beautiful Hoi An! I loved having a good chunk of time here and the streets are just so charming and pretty.


Just back from Vietnam

10. Do you have a Vietnam Top Tip for us?

I was travelling alone in Vietnam and felt incredibly safe everywhere I went. This meant I did a lot of strolling around at night in both Saigon and Hoi An, and I couldn’t have felt safer. People in Vietnam are just so friendly, warm, and if you give them a smile they will certainly smile right back!

And definitely make the most of all the spas you can find absolutely everywhere – you can get a full body massage for as little as £8 for an hour (plus a tip, which I recommend!), whereas hotel spas will charge you much more. It’s one of the best things about travelling in Asia and they are all open late too – popping in for a foot massage after dinner and hours of wandering around in the heat is complete heaven.



Tempted by a Vietnam adventure of your own? Get in touch with our experts today to start tailoring a Vietnam holiday that’s perfect for you.