I first came to SE Asia when I was 19. A solo female backpacker travelling the world, meeting new people, exploring countries I had never been to before. Unfortunately, until very recently, Vietnam remained on this list of countries that I had never visited. However, this year I was lucky enough to spend a wonderful 10 days in this beautiful country. On my travels I’d heard so much about Vietnam – its breath-taking natural beauty, the delicious food, the kind people; one thing that I hadn’t heard much about however, was the diving.
First stop: Phu Quoc
My first stop was Phu Quoc, a tranquil island in the south of Vietnam. I was met upon my arrival by my dive buddy from Rainbow Divers. I spent three days here in Phu Quoc where I did my Padi Nudibranch Speciality Course – a qualification specific to Vietnam. The course involved us going out on the dive boat every day and looking for nudibranchs, identifying them and then at the end of my three days here doing a short written exam. The visibility in Phu Quoc wasn’t the best and we didn’t see a huge amount on the dives, however I was surprised at how many different types of nudibranchs we saw – there were so many! All different sizes and colours – more than I have seen anywhere else in the world.
The capital city of Ho Chi Minh
I left Phu Quoc on a very delayed Vietjet plane – something that I quickly learnt was expected in Vietnam. I was heading to the capital city of Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, is an ex French colony and therefore the city has a lot of French influence which I absolutely loved. Many of the buildings have French colonial architecture which makes it very picturesque, despite the swarms of mopeds driving round the city.
I was picked up from the airport by a driver from the 5* Hotel Caravelle where I was staying. After backpacking round Thailand this was an absolute luxury and he even had a cool box with him filled with soft drinks and beer! When I arrived at the Caravelle Hotel I was greeted by the manager of the hotel and the very kind staff as well as Jeremy – the owner of Rainbow Divers. We had some photos taken at the entrance for the local press and I was taken to my incredible two-room suite. After my backpacking adventures I was in heaven!
I wish I had longer in Ho Chi Minh as I loved the small amount of the city that I managed to see in my short stay. However, my delayed flight cut my time short here and early afternoon the next day we were off to the airport again to fly to Nha Trang.
My final destination: Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a coastal resort, famous for its beaches and diving and I soon learnt it is very popular with the Russians. Here I stayed at the Evason Ana Mandara Resort – Nha Trang’s only beach front resort. The staff here were so friendly and kind and I was told I was staying in one of the beach front bungalows for my three night stay here. I was being so completely spoilt again with my accommodation! The bungalow was huge – I had my own balcony looking out to sea, a beautiful four poster bed and my favourite part of the room – the outdoor shower/bath! Everyday I felt like I was showering outside in and amongst nature, which was truly blissful.
I dived in Nha Trang every day and was picked up from the hotel by Rainbow Divers early every morning by the Rainbow Divers bus that took us to to the dive boat. I was really surprised by the great diving in Nha Trang. As I mentioned earlier in my post, I hadn’t read much or heard much about the diving but the visibility here was really great, we saw loads of different species of fish on every dive including Bat Fish, Octopus and Giant Moray Eels, although the water temperature was a little chilly (for me anyway!)
My free time in Nha Trang I spent lazing in the hammocks of the hotel grounds, drinking cocktails by the infinity beach front pool and having Vietnamese cookery classes with the Sous chef or taking private yoga classes on the beach. The hotel, with it’s breath-taking views across the bay, really was paradise, and I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone travelling to Nha Trang.
I had such an incredible trip to Vietnam, diving with Rainbow Divers, staying in the beautiful accommodation, exploring new places and meeting some incredible people. I can’t wait to return.