For the past 14 years, it has been a tradition for me to celebrate my birthday (August 16th) abroad. Typically, I make the decision about my chosen destination by March. This year was somewhat difficult.
Initially, I wanted to go to Morocco; but I couldn’t find a tour with my specific dates. I guess it is too hot to be in Northern Africa and in the desert in August. Then I started to see a friend’s Facebook post on East Asia. In particular, Vietnam and Cambodia and thought “Wow! Just beautiful”. Well, the decision was made. I will be celebrating my birthday in Vietnam. I found a great deal with Gate 1 Travel. It was a 12-day trip that included the following cities: Ho Chin Minh City (Saigon), Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, and Hanoi. I had the opportunity to see the South, Central, and North of Vietnam. What an adventure!
I did get some side-eyes from friends. My ex-boyfriend asked do I just wake up and pick a country. I smiled and said yes. Others asked, “Why Vietnam?” My response is “Why not?” Why do we limit ourselves to certain or the same places? There is a world out there to be explored. Why not go outside your comfort zone and do something different (outside the norm).
Anywho, while in Vietnam, I learned about their tradition and culture. See my blog on Traditional Vietnamese. I found out that there are female monks called nuns. I am still in shock about this one. Read about the Female Monks.
Below are highlights from each city that I visited.
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)
While I was in Ho Chi Minh City, I finally understood the Fall of Saigon. When you are a teenager learning history, you are just going through the process. However, while I was there and listening to the history of Saigon and the Vietnam War, it finally clicked. Does that make sense?
The city tour and the Cu Chi Tunnels were the highlights of my two days
Da Nang and Hoi An
To be honest, Hoi An is my favorite city in Vietnam. The charm! The intimacy! The History! I just fell in love and I would have loved to spend more than 2 days to further explore.
Before we arrived in Hoi An, we stopped in Da Nang and enjoyed a few minutes at the beach. Of course, I had to do my signature jump.
In Hoi An, we walked around the Old City, a boat trip on the Thu Bon River, visited the Kim Bong Carpentry Village and the Tra Que Organic Village. Of course, I took a cooking lesson at the organic village. The good news is I didn’t burn down the village with my cooking lol
The City of Hue
Hue is a contrast from Hoi An. Hoi An is modern (the city had free WiFi) while Hue has an old charm. Hue was the city that I celebrated my 45th birthday. We did a walking tour and visited the Thai Hoa Place, the Imperial Capital modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City, Kim Long Village, Cyclo ride, and the Citadel.
Halong Bay was a wash. There was a typhoon approaching the area when we arrived. Basically, I stayed in the hotel and had a massage. However, it did cross my mind that I left Florida’s hurricane season to meet a Typhoon in Vietnam.
Since Hanoi is the Capital of Vietnam, there was so much to do and see. Of course, I did a tour of the Thay Pagoda which was my favorite of all the Pagodas I saw throughout Vietnam. I interacted with the people in the So Village and enjoyed a water puppet show. Yes, I went to a puppet show. It was different.
I hope you enjoyed this adventure with me. More pictures and videos with stories are posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages. Please make sure to like and follow to see more of Vietnam.
Sounds like an amazing trip!
Its interesting because this year it was the first time I had my birthday abroad, and it was definitely an amazing experience! good to read someone else that does it.
I love it…do you just wake up and pick a country? Lol, why not?? My husband and I did that, we sold our house and quit our jobs and moved to Costa Rica: a country we had never been to and couldn’t speak the language of. But every day is an adventure and I never look back! Close your eyes, spin the globe and point to your future 🙂
I absolutely love Vietnam! It is truly one of my favourite countries. I actually spent 3 years living there in the past and loved traveling around the country. Hoi An was also one of my favourite cities, as well as Hanoi. So glad you enjoyed your trip. And Happy Birthday!
Wonderful post! Sounds like a great trip. Sorry about the typhoon, but a massage – for your birthday – certainly makes things better! 😉
I love the idea of celebrating your birthday abroad, I may have to start doing that, or at least traveling somewhere for my birthday 🙂 Vietnam is on my list too, it looks beautiful!
Haha you had pretty much the same itinerary as me: HCMC (Saigon)/Hoi An/Hanoi. I loved the old town and all the lanterns in Hoi An! Is it just me or does every city in Vietnam start with an H? lol
I’m on my way to SE Asia in a few days and am hoping to stop in Vietnam for a bit. This post really helped me narrow down what cities I want to check out even though I only have a short amount of time. Your pictures are gorgeous… I wasnt sureabout going there but you may have convinced me!
I almost booked a spontaneous trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in March. However something else came up and I did not book. All pictures are amazing. So sorry you could not make it to Halong bay.
Just a little suggestion. The rotating pictures kind of hangs the page.
How awesome that you go somewhere each birthday! I try to do that. Though when i had my 30th in Dublin, i had a birthday month as i traveled all over the states after that haha. What an amazing trip to have had!
Wow such a great time of year to have your birthday! Vietnam is becoming really popular amongst Irish 20-somethings so my news feed has been filled with pictures of all the beautiful places you mentioned. I’ll have to save this for when I make the trip myself. Sounds like a really interesting place.
This is a great post! I also have been celebrating my bday abroad since 2008 and it’s now a massive tradition for me! especially since my bday is just after the xmas season when everybody is sad and depressed!! hahahah! 🙂
I think that’s a great way to celebrate your birthday! I can’t travel on mine because of work, but I celebrate New Year’s abroad. I think you’re right about visiting a place helping you understand its history better. I would like to visit Vietnam and learn more about the fall of Saigon.
Hoi An was my favorite, too! All the bright colors and the intersection of cultures and the food markets make it a very visually stimulating place. Also, a little silly, but I loved that the call letters for the Da Nang airport are DAD lol
great idea to celebrate your birthday abroad! i am also from March and did it many times as well! great post