History and Culture in Hanoi

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We arrived in Hanoi during the afternoon and proceeded to quickly and efficiently take an airport shuttle bus into the old quarter of town. Once in the old quarter, being forewarned by numerous travellers about the dodgy taxis operating in the Vietnamese capital, we were fairly diligent in hailing the proper taxi company to our guesthouse. We would be spending a total of 5 nights at the Lucky Hanoi Guesthouse, broken up with a one night stay on Halong Bay.

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Top 5 Natural Wonders

Top 5 Natural Wonders

We’ve been to some pretty incredible places in our travels and have seen some unbelievable landscapes.  We are constantly being blown away by the beauty of our planet. Although this was a nearly impossible list for me to make I was finally able to whittle almost two and a half years of wonder into this top 5 list. 

Here are our Top 5 Natural Wonders in descending order:

 

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Cruising Halong Bay

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You know how we said we never do tours? Well, we just did one. In our defence there isn’t really a better way to do Halong Bay. Situated in Northern Vietnam roughly a 4 hour drive from the capital of Hanoi is Halong Bay, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. It is a gorgeous bay filled with over 3,000 limestone cliff islands and it is absolutely stunning!

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Top 5 Travel Mistakes

Top 5 Travel Mistakes

Our last list featured five of our best travel decisions, we’re following up now with our Top 5 Travel Mistakes. These aren’t major mistakes and they did not cause us any significant problems, but they are five things that we feel we could have better planned and given more thought to. If we had avoided making or not making these five decisions our travels would have not only been much more comfortable, but we would have very likely had a bit of extra cash left in our pockets.

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Charming Hoi An

Beautiful Lanterns

Our second stop in Vietnam was the charming little town of Hoi An. The old part of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is incredibly popular with tourists of all kinds. This is something that has surprised us about Vietnam in general – the amount and range of tourists. I kind of expected to only see backpackers around but there are so many families with young kids and older couples as well. Who knew this was such a popular destination for that kind of tourist? That said now that we’ve been here for a few weeks I can see why it is as popular as it is. Vietnam has been one big pleasant surprise.   

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Top 5 Best Travel Decisions

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In order to best plan a trip like ours it’s essential to think about what you want to get out of your time traveling. Here are the top 5 travel decisions (in no particular order) that we feel have most enhanced our trip. Maybe some of these tips will help you to get the most out of your future travels.

If you missed our last list, Top 5 Islands you can check it out here.

Stay tuned for our next list, Top 5 Travel Mistakes!

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Good Morning Vietnam

Boat ride

After a fairly comfortable 6 hour bus journey and an easy crossing at the Cambodia/Vietnam border we arrived in Vietnam’s largest city Saigon, shortly after 2:30pm (yes I know it is officially called Ho Chi Minh City but along with most travelers and locals I prefer to refer to it as Saigon). To our pleasant surprise the bus dropped us off literally meters away from our guesthouse in the backpacker district of Pham Ngu Lao. After a speedy check in we decided not to waste any time and head straight out to explore the bustling, hectic city. Contrary to our familiar pattern we actually had a busy couple of days planned in the city so we had little time to wander around and explore at our own pace.

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A Glimpse into Darkness Past in Phnom Penh

Prisoners at Toul Sleng

Although today Cambodia is a fabulous country to visit, filled with incredibly kind people and some of Southeast Asia’s top tourist attractions, it hasn’t always been this way. The latter half of the 20th century was particularly brutal in Cambodia with spill over violence from the Vietnam War followed by the rise of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent years of forced labour and mass extermination of the Cambodian people. Cambodians have been through A LOT in the not too distance past.

While in the capital city, Phnom Penh we had a chance to visit some of the more brutal remnants of the most deadly period in recent Cambodian history, 1975-1979.

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Top 5 Islands

Top 5 Islands

As our journey begins to near its end we are becoming increasingly reflective over these past few years. We’ve decided that a great way to cap off our journey and our travel blog will be to post a series of top 5 lists. We stole the idea from our friend The Gentleman Adventurer Chris Liberty. Over the next few weeks we will sporadically post these lists. We hope you enjoy them.

Here is a list featuring our top 5 favorite islands from the journey:

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Cycling the Temples at Angkor

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Visiting Angkor Wat has been an obsession of mine for as long as I remember… actually come to think of it, I probably became interested in Angkor when I first noticed this fascinating poster of an old temple being overgrown by a tree at my old friends’ house (Spadina).

I was mesmerized and I told myself that one day I would visit and explore this place. This past week, Kendall and I got a chance to do just that!

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