The Mad Fun Of Vietnam: From Halong Bay To Ho Chi Minh City – My 3-Part NZ Herald Series, 2008

In 2008 I spent a couple of weeks travelling down the Vietnamese coast from Hanoi and Halong Bay in the north, through Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang and in the centre of the country, and finally into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south. For a blend of cultural history, war history, beaches, jungle, food and manageable, mad fun, it’s hard to beat Vietnam.

Just don’t get ripped off by con-men taxi drivers from the airport like I did on my return to Hanoi this year (2010); If they tell you there is a road toll from the airport, there isn’t. If it looks like the metre is going 10 times faster than it should, it is. If there are two men in the taxi – a driver and a guide – there shouldn’t be. And whatever you do, have small notes on you and don’t let them put your bags in the boot. But I digress!

Here are links to three of the articles I wrote from my 2008 trip which were published in the New Zealand Herald.


The first article is on the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. It can be an intense place, particularly for those new to this part of the world, but give it time and many people come away calling it their favourite big city in Southeast Asia. With all the narrow alleyways and centuries-old architecture, Hanoi is beguiling, especially in the Old Quarter. Just make sure you say a little prayer every time you cross the street through the swarms of honking motorbikes. And be wary of dodgy taxi drivers.

Halong Bay:

The second article is on the world famous Halong Bay where we had a brilliant time overnighting on a Chinese junk boat surrounded by hundreds of limestone peaks.

Hoi An:

The third article is on arguably the prettiest towns in Vietnam, Hoi An. This is the town renowned for dozens of tailor shops all lined up next to each other, ready to make whatever you like and in no time at all too. I got a pair of imitation Fred Perry sneakers which bore my name instead of Fred’s. Unfortunately, I was running back to my apartment (after the article was published) one night back in Auckland, desperate not to miss the start of 24 and one of the soles fell off. Fun while they lasted though!

Enjoy the photos, thanks as always for reading.

Precisely defined Vietnamese towns from above.


Cassette-shaped buildings.


Morning exercise in Hanoi.


Street-life in Hanoi.


Visiting Ho Chi Minh.


Long queues and frantic sprints.


Halong Bay.


A Chinese junk, Halong Bay.


One of Halong Bay’s many caves.


Sunset, Halong Bay.


Elephants in Hue.


The citadel in Hue.


All dressed up for a traditional Vietnamese feast.


A pretty river scene in Hue.


A monastery in Hue.


A young monk studying, Hue.


One of countless stunning beaches in central Vietnam.


A goat.


Me and Scottish lassie Louise at Hoi An’s beach.


My favourite bar / restaurant in Vietnam, somewhere riverside in Hoi An.


Nothing like sit-down karaoke.


Watery adventures with two of the greatest Aussies, Swanny and Rach.


Motorbike mayhem, Saigon.


Claustrophobia in the Cu Chi tunnels.


A waterway on the outskirts of Saigon.

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