Guest blog by Andy Dane Photography 

Our second week in Vietnam started on the night train to Nha Trang, it was comfortable and left Saigon station on time, although it was around an hour late by the time we got to Nha Trang (they’d told us this would be the case when we bought the tickets). The rooms in the soft sleeper had 4 soft beds in, and were air-conditioned, they were a little cramped but comfortable enough to get some sleep in and the views when I woke up were beautiful. Shame the windows didn’t open, as I’d have liked to have got some decent photographs from there, but there was no way to avoid the reflection in the windows.

Nha Trang was the first really commercial place we’d seen in Vietnam. The hotels along the beach were all big international brands. Best Western, Intercontinental and the like. They controlled all of the sun loungers and the price of them reflected as much! The beach also had quite a lot of discarded bottle tops and plastic wrappers laying around, which was a little disappointing.

So, we didn’t spend much time on the beach, instead we went for a walk through the city, had some amazing street food and then headed to the Long Son Pagoda. The pagoda is beautiful, and there are monks resident there, so you get to see them going about their daily business.

There are a few tourist traps that there to be aware of though. You’re invited to sit inside a giant bell, which a monk then rings and chants while you’re sitting inside. It’s a nice experience, but you are expected to make a donation afterwards. Also, at the top of the Pagoda there is a shrine where you might be invited to light an incense stick, again, you are expected to donate money for this and we thought it was a bit cheeky that Jessica was just handed one. It’s not that we minded making a donation, it’s that once Jessica had been given an incense stick, we were pretty much obligated to.

It’s a pretty relaxing place, and the architecture around the Long Son Pagoda is beautiful, but it was also a very hot day and there are a lot of steps to climb! Well worth the effort though. Also, the cafe in the entrance to the pagoda is really cheap though and the food was pretty good too.




We were only in Nha Trang for one night, then we were collected by our shuttle bus to take us to Whale Island. We had splashed out a bit for this (in Vietnamese terms anyway) but I’m very glad we did. The island was idyllic, there were only about 15 of us staying there, in beach bungalows no more than 10 metres from the sea. The water so clear you could see a good 15 metres in the water and I took the opportunity to learn to snorkel.

Jessica loved playing in the sea and watching the fish and crabs swimming about and made friends with a little girl who lived on the island (her mum worked at the resort). She’s fascinated with wildlife and was so excited that we had lizards running around outside the bungalow and ants everywhere you looked (we had to stress that they’re *not* like the ants back home and that she couldn’t touch them). The weather was perfect for the 3 nights we stayed here, clear sunny skies each day, would’ve been too hot if we hadn’t been so near the sea or had any plans to do any real walking.

The food was excellent, although, as there were no shops on the island and only one restaurant, you didn’t get any choice. Their set menu’s for lunch and dinner were great, but a little too much food for us! But you just eat it as it’s put in front of you, so I dread to think how many calories we ate while we were there.









After we left the island, we got another night train, this time to Da Nang. I woke up early and managed to get some lovely shots through the windows in the corridor (which open fully) before a guard told me to close them. We’d booked on this train late, so we’d only managed to get “Hard Sleeper” tickets. Although, the name is worse than the reality. The beds had thin mattresses on and you got a pillow and a sleeping bag, but there were 6 people in each room rather than 4 and no air conditioning. But it was still pleasant enough. Da Nang was just a means to an end, as soon as we got there we jumped in a taxi straight to Hoi An.



Hoi An is such a pretty little town, they close the city centre off to motor traffic in the evenings and the pace of life there was much more relaxed than anywhere else we’d seen in Vietnam. The food was great, the drink was cheap, a draught beer cost a whole 5000VND, about 15 pence, and the buildings were stunning. This town was a trading post once upon a time, and so the architecture is heavily influenced by those who came to trade. Mainly the Chinese and Japanese. There’s a beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge over the river and the streets are lined with lanterns.

At night, they float lanterns down the river, which is beautiful in the dark, but not so much the next morning when you can see how dirty the river actually is. But it’s well worth a visit and the peaceful pace of the town was perfect to ease us back into it after our time chilling out on Whale Island.






After Hoi An, we got the train to Hue, the old imperial city. Bigger than Hoi An, but still not as busy as either Nha Trang or Ho Chi Minh had been, it was still a nice pace and our hotel was only a 30-minute walk from the old Imperial City. We only had one day to explore Hue, but I think that was enough, other than the Pagoda just outside the city (which we didn’t get to see, unfortunately) and the old city, there’s not a lot to see really. The old Imperial City is stunning though, with the dynastic urns scattered through the grounds, a golden dragon statue and lots of old buildings, with beautiful gardens scattered between them. Unfortunately, the main gate was under some repair, so we didn’t get to see it in all it’s splendour as it was covered with scaffolding, but all of the gates are pretty. We spent most of the day just taking a slow walk through the old city before heading back to our hotel as we had an early start the next morning.

The moat surrounding the old city is full of Lotus Flowers and Water Lillies. The lotus pod itself is a delicacy and we spotted a few teenage locals braving the muddy waters to snatch a few, by the way, they were running, I’m guessing they weren’t supposed to be there!




The train from Hue to Hanoi was going to take us 14 hours, so we decided that it would’ve been too much for Jessica to spend that long on a train, and decided to fly from Hue to Hanoi. It only cost £100 for all three of us to fly the last leg, and meant an hour flight rather than 14 hours sitting on a train! So I think it appealed to all of us really.

And that was the second week of our honeymoon drawing to a close…