Years ago, I wrote an imaginary, maybe-one-day itinerary for Vietnam as a guest post on Jennifer Cameron’s site, Luster. I’ve still yet to go to Vietnam, but it remains one of my favorite posts—perhaps because it still rings so true and perhaps because it took a lot of research. (And my packing list has changed remarkably little!) I asked Jennifer if I could update it, and republish it here. Maybe one day… Vietnam. Here’s what I wrote:
I think it was a feature in Gourmet Magazine that first brought on my case of Vietnam wanderlust. The glossy spread featured steaming street food, colorful lanterns, enchanting bays, chaotic moped traffic, and talked of an exotic and fragrant place where a French colonial past had left a unique culinary mark. Having traveled to Southeast Asia for our honeymoon in Thailand, I can’t wait to go back—and a trip to Vietnam is top on my wish list.
We would start in Hanoi—sampling the café culture and wandering through narrow passageways, alternately touring Belle Époque French villas in the French Quarter and Buddhist complexes built on limestone cliffs (at the nearby Perfume Pagoda)—before detouring to see the greens of the rice paddies around Sapa, the ancient Cham tower-temples of My Son Sanctuary, and the limestone towers of Halong Bay (where we might board a traditional junk boat or find more quiet and get up-close by kayak).
In Hue, we’d rent bicycles and explore the fortified Imperial city, before heading south. Along the way, we’d take time to relax at one of the resorts along the 400-mile stretch from Hue to Nha Trang, and board boats to go diving in the clear life-filled waters around offshore archipelagos.
In Hoi An, perhaps after putting in an order at a custom tailor in the Old Quarter, we’d do our best to capture the faded colors of this trading port, preserved since the 15thcentury, as well as the vibrant ones at the riverside fish market.
It would be a dream to set up camp for a few days at the Con Dao Islands—at the luxurious Six Senses resort with a view of the turquoise South China sea—before finishing the trip in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), rich with history.
Fantasy Packing list (Remember that this was made over four years ago, so the exact styles will likely be unavailable. I updated with similar finds):
1. Day tripper pant (similar pants) / 2. City Walk Fedora (similar Fedora) / 3. Sunglasses / 4. Iris Jacket (similar jacket) / 5. Essie Clambake / 6. Madewell Bike Bag (similar bike pouch) / 7. Salina Sandals (similar sandal)/ 8. Isabelle Dress (similar dress) / 9. Scenic route shirtdress (similar dress) / 10. My kids (and a caftan from Two) / 11. Scarf (similar scarf) / 12. Theory colsten top (similar top) / 13. Swiss Army Bicycle / 14. Triwa watch (similar Triwa watch)
Have any of you traveled in Vietnam? How’d I do?
P.S. All of our travelogues.