I recently visited Vietnam for 2 weeks to visit a friend who is living there for 1 year teaching English. I didn’t research too much prior to going on holiday as she had put together a full itinerary for us so I only researched the places I knew we were going to (on Google and TikTok) so I knew what to expect.
- Ho Chi Minh - 3 nights
- Phu Quoc - 4 nights
- Back to HCM - 2 nights
- Mui Ne - 2 nights
- Back to HCM - 2 nights
I also really liked the idea of the unknown, and the element of surprise, so I didn’t want to know too much before going.
One thing I did know a bit about prior to going was Grab bikes. It’s like a taxi service but on scooters/motorbikes. My friend said this is how she gets everywhere, from going to work, visiting friends or going out for dinner.
They also have Grab Car for an actual taxi, and you can also order food from local takeaways or supermarkets and even order gifts to be delivered to your friends or family etc.
I wish we had a service like this in the UK as it was incredibly convenient having everything on the one app.
Since coming home, I have researched Grab Bikes in both Subreddits and blogs and was surprised reading some of the negative reviews. Totally appreciate that not everyone will have the same experience but I found a SubReddit on Grab and here is a negative review.
While a lot of the comments were positive and very useful, there was still some negativity in there (below screenshot). Another negative comment in this blog post but this could just be a one off experience.
I think I would have been apprehensive about using it if this was all I knew about it before going. And also apprehensive about getting on the back of a motorbike especially as the roads were so busy!
Or I probably wouldn’t have known about it as it wasn’t overly advertised. But it was my friend’s recommendation that made me use it. And it was actually one of the highlights of the trip!
I travelled with 4 friends and it was definitely a core memory of us all being on the back of motorbikes stopped at the same set of traffic lights with the sunset in the background. The Ho Chi Minh skyline at night time was like something out of a movie - that was big main character energy!
One thing that we prepared for prior to the trip was bringing a spare phone as we were under the impression we would need a Vietnamese sim card to use the Grab app but as long as you had Wi-Fi it was totally fine. There was one issue where the location we entered into the app was incorrect so we all got taken to the wrong address (this was our mistake) but none of us had Wi-Fi to find the correct location so a sim card would have been helpful. Luckily one of the drivers was able to help us and redirected us to the correct location.
All of the drivers were very friendly and helpful. It’s a legal requirement to wear a helmet so they always give you one at the start of the ride and almost every time, the driver had to help me take it off!
I didn't realise a lot of SE Asia countries also have Grab so this is good to keep in mind if you’re ever travelling to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia etc. It’s a super cheap way to travel and also really fun to take in your surroundings and not focus on driving or worrying about where to get off.
Before I set off. my friend sent me a TikTok of one of the places we were staying in Mui Ne. And then I found loads of ones about this place! TikTok was a really good place to find info about where we were going as all of the videos were fairly recent and people were giving honest reviews which was really helpful.
I had a look on TripAdvisor after visiting and, again, I’m very glad I didn’t look prior to my stay as it would have put me off! Like with Grab, it was my friend’s advice that was the best advice.
We stayed in Mui Ne for 2 nights (we got a 4 hour bus from Ho Chi Minh) and these were my favourite days of the trip.
The hostel really made the trip as there were lots of people of a similar age and everything was super cheap.
After looking at Subreddits since coming home, a lot of people didn’t seem to enjoy Mui Ne at all. A lot of the comments were due to how touristy it was and dirty.
Here is a link I found which was pretty negative. But I found my experience to be totally different. That might be because it’s outdated or I might be of a different age than the writer. But we loved it.
We did a Fairy Stream and Sand Dunes tour and this was the highlight of the trip! We booked to do the sunrise tour which began at 4am but the day before the driver called us to let us know it had been overcast the last few days and he thought sunset would be better so we trusted his advice.
The driver picked us up in a safari jeep at 1pm and drove us to the fairy stream. You take off your shoes and walk along a stream surrounded by lots of trees and bright red/orange sand.
After the fairy stream, our driver took us to the fishing village so we could stop and get pictures (we didn’t ask, this was part of the tour which I thought was such a nice touch!).
We drove a little further and we stopped by the beachfront to get more pictures. There were many other safari jeeps stopping as well then the driver asked us all to get on top of the jeep for pictures! It was such a laugh and our driver was more than happy to take lots of pictures for us.
The next stop was the white sand dunes where you can hire a quad bike (I can’t quite remember the price, roughly 600,000 dong for 2 of us) and an employee who was also on the quad bike sat on the side. He let us drive the first half until we got to the top of the sand dunes. We got off for a wander and then the employee drove and took us down all the dunes, it was like a roller coaster it was so much fun!
Again, they are more than happy to take pictures - you never really need to ask as they always offer which is nice! The last stop was the red sand dunes for the sunset. There is a shop right across the road from the entrance so we stopped here to get some snacks and beers to watch the sun go down.
A lot of reviews said the red sand dunes weren’t as good as they were really dirty and covered in rubbish. To be honest they were a bit, but that didn’t put us off at all. And once again I’m so glad we didn’t read about this before we went.
We found a spot and watched the sun go down drinking our Saigon beers. Another core memory of the trip.
On the drive from the red sand dunes back to our hostel, we saw the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. At the start of our tour, our driver mentioned we could connect our phones to his Bluetooth so the full way there and back, we were able to listen to our own choice of songs.
On the way back, watching the sunset and driving back from the most amazing day listening to our favourite songs (Joesef - The Sun is up Forever) was the best part of the trip for me and something I’ll never forget.
Things like the night market in Phu Quoc, the overnight bus to Ha Tien, the Phu Quoc, an 8km cable car tour all made it an unforgettable trip.
All these little things make such a difference. And it’s obviously good to know more about where you’re going. But if we’d followed some negative reviews before our trip we would’ve missed out on a lot, which would have been such a shame. So don’t believe everything you read and don’t let someone’s bad experience put you off.