As I step onto my flat-bottomed sampan boat in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, I can tell I’m in for a treat. The open front has comfortable chairs arranged under a woven canopy, offering expansive views of the riverbanks and insights into daily life.
The best way to travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay is by seaplane. I know this because I’m on one and it’s spectacular. The views of the countryside, with its green fields and snaking rivers, give way to thousands of spectacular limestone islands and white junk boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. I can’t take my eyes off this magical place.
I don’t have much time in Hanoi—only one day to pack in 1,000 years of history. It’s going to be a challenge, but if I can hit the highlights I will leave the first destination on my week-long trip to Vietnam with a feel for one of the most important cities in the country.
After almost three weeks of traveling in Asia, exhaustion started to overtake me. I had been to three countries—one of them three times—and had not spent more than three nights in any one place. But I still had another destination on my itinerary before my trip was over: Ho Chi Minh City.