If you are looking for an all-in-one holiday, how about taking a trip to a country with beautiful nature sites, cultural heritage spots and delicious, authentic cuisine? Home to an easily mispronounced dish, pho, Vietnam is a country every Muslim traveller should visit at least once in their lifetime!
Vietnam has a great balance of natural and historical sites, most of which revolves around its deep history.
Credit: bvi4092 on Flickr
The authentic Vietnamese cuisine is one to savour with refreshing and mouth-watering dishes. The heavy use of spices and fresh herbs in every Vietnamese dish gives every traveller a unique gastronomical adventure of a lifetime ? And we'll give you tips on finding the best halal food!
Travelling to Vietnam
If this is your first Vietnam trip, you will want to know where you can fly to from Vietnam! There are three main international airports in Vietnam - Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City in the south, Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi in the north and Da Nang International Airport in central Vietnam.
Getting around in Vietnam
To help you get around in Vietnam, we recommend these public transportation options:
- Xe Om (motorbike taxi) is the most convenient transportation option and prices start from 20,000VND.
- Metered Taxis are found in major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and cost approximately 15,000VND per kilometre.
Credit: David McKelvey on Flickr
- City buses can get you to your destination but do get yourself a bus map for reference.
- Private Hire Cars (Uber/Grab) can get you from point A to B using their respective mobile applications.
So, now that you've got all the essentials you need for your Vietnam trip, let's get right down to it ?
Day 1: Hanoi
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a modern city filled with heritage sites. A city full of ancient monuments, temples and colonial architecture, Hanoi is a great city to kickstart your trip.
#HHWT Tip: As Hanoi's airport is located on the outskirts of the city, it'll take around 1.5-2 hours to get to the city centre. So, do plan your route wisely!
Accommodation in Hanoi
If you're racking your brains on where to stay in Hanoi, we recommend booking hotels in or around the Hanoi Old Quarter for ease of travel to the different tourist attractions and heritage sites in Hanoi. Check out some of these hotels in the Old Quarter: Hanoi Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy, La Beaute De Hanoi Hotel, Hanoi Imperial Hotel and Cosiana Hotel. Not to mention that the Old Quarter also has many good halal eateries!
Learn about Vietnam's history at Quan Thanh
What is a great way to kick off your trip to Vietnam? Learning the history of Vietnam of course! Pay a trip to the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long located in Quan Thanh and capture great photos of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Credit: @katiebordner on Flickr
Just a stone’s throw away is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s most iconic leader. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is also the most visited attraction in Hanoi.
Credit: Jorge Láscar on Flickr
End off your day with a trip to Dong Xuan Market. Find reasonably priced fresh produce, souvenirs, accessories and even electronics in Hanoi’s largest indoor market ?
Credit: Eddie Gustavsson on Flickr
Feeling hungry? Grab a bite at d’Lions restaurant at Cosiana Hotel (as mentioned earlier in this article), just a short walk from Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The restaurant offers Halal Singaporean and Malaysian dishes with a touch of Vietnamese brilliance.
Credit: d’Lions Restaurant on Facebook
If you're craving for some Indian food, then you may consider heading to Namaste Hanoi. This Indian restaurant, located few blocks away from Cosiana Hotel, serves delicious Halal Indian cuisine.
Credit: Namaste Hanoi on Facebook
And if you're looking for a place to pray, head over to the only mosque in Hanoi, Al-Noor Mosque which is located around the corner from Dong Xuan Market ?
Credit: Richard Mortel on Flickr
Day 2: Day Trip to Ha Long
Begin your day early with a full-day trip to Ha Long Bay. It is a 4-hour drive from Hanoi’s city centre. Alternatively, you may wish to hop on a tour bus via a travel agency to Ha Long Bay.
Credit: Annie Nguyen on Facebook
Declared a World Heritage site in 1994, Ha Long Bay is a tourist hotspot especially for nature lovers. There are many things to do while you are there, namely scuba-diving and rock-climbing. If you are not an adrenaline junkie, you may opt to just simply relax and enjoy the beauty of the limestone rock formations and the pristine ocean on a cruise ship ?
Credit: xiquinhosilva on Flickr
Returning to Hanoi after a long day out, end your day with a delicious, Halal-certified Indian dinner at Nan N Kabab located along Xuan Dieu Street.
Credit: Nan N Kabab on Facebook
Day 3: Embracing Vietnamese Arts
Start your day in Trang Tien and be amazed by the amazing historical architecture of the Hanoi Opera House. Built by the French in the early 1900s, the stunning architecture of the Opera House is one for the cameras ?
Credit: Adam Jones on Flickr
As you walk up north from the Hanoi Opera House, experience tranquillity as you walk past the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake with the temple of Ngoc Son located north of the lake. The lake, which centres around legendary stories of Vietnam’s deep history, is a sight to behold. Return here at night to experience the true beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Explore Hanoi’s Central Business District as you wander around Hanoi Old Quarter. It is here where you will find Vietnam’s infamous (and terrifying) railway street.
Catch a Water Puppet Show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre located in the Old Quarter. Water puppetry is a representation of Vietnam’s traditional theatre arts and catching a water puppet show is a must especially for a first-time traveller to Vietnam!
Credit: KyuJong Park on Flickr
End off your day with a hearty Indian dinner at Little India Restaurant located a stone’s throw away from Hoan Kiem Lake. Despite being well-known by reviewers for its authentic Indian cuisine, Little India Restaurant also offers Malaysian and Chinese cuisines. The restaurant offers vegetarian options and Halal meat dishes.
Credit: @i_am_deok on Instagram
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City
After an awesome 3-day journey around Hanoi, we head down south to another bustling metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon.
Take a 2-hour domestic flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city or if you are on the adventurous side, a 31-hour train ride on the Vietnam Railway towards Saigon Railway Station. Both the airport and train station is located in Ho Chi Minh's city centre!
Accommodation in Ho Chi Minh City
We recommend staying in the Ben Thanh vicinity, as you will be surrounded by Halal restaurants namely, Saigon Green House, The Daun Restaurant and [email protected] Tourist attractions and heritage sites are also easily accessible if you are travelling from Ben Thanh. Hotels you might want to consider are Alagon Saigon Hotel and Spa, Blue Diamond Hotel and Silverland Central Hotel.
Travel Back in Time in Ben Thanh
Begin your journey around Ho Chi Minh City with a trip to Ho Chi Minh City Museum (HCMC Museum) in Ben Thanh to learn the history of this heritage-filled city. Built in 1885, the architecture of HCMC Museum tells the story of Vietnam’s history ?
Credit: -JvL- on Flickr
For lunch, grab an appetising meal at The Daun Restaurant, a restaurant specialising in Halal Vietnamese cuisine. After lunch, make your way towards Vo Van Tan Road.
Credit: @itsdadanial on Instagram
Vo Van Tan Road is where you can find the War Remnants Museum, a museum built in tribute to the Vietnam War. Learn about the war between the US and Vietnam, and walk through exhibitions of photographs taken and equipment used during the war.
Credit: @briankotaro on Instagram
When you're done learning all about the war, head back to Ben Thanh (where the HCMC Museum is) and start your shopping spree at Ben Thanh Street Food Market ?
Credit: @antalgique74 on Instagram
Ben Thanh Market is street food haven as food vendors set up their kiosks every night. Unfortunately there are no known halal-certified food kiosks in Ben Thanh Market. However, you can always grab sweet treats but do check with the vendors first before purchasing.
Disclaimer: Do be very careful as many street snacks in Vietnam (especially those fried) are cooked and/or prepared with lard or alcohol, so eat at your discretion!
Day 5: Cu Chi Tunnels
Start your day early as you head to Cu Chi Tunnels with a tour bus. Walk in the shoes of a Vietnamese soldier back in 1948 as you go through this section of a war museum in Ho Chi Minh.
Credit: Chris Sammis on Flickr
#HHWT Tip:Bismillah Tours and Travel provides Muslim-friendly tour services in Vietnam including tours to and around Cu Chi Tunnels.
The site of the underground tunnels, which played a vital role in Vietnam’s long history, is now a tourist attraction. Do be warned though, this is not exactly for the claustrophobic but it's an experience unlike any other!
After going through the Cu Chi Tunnels (which may take approximately 4-5 hours), head back to Ho Chi Minh City and over to Dong Khoi. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Dong Khoi’s colonial architecture ☺️
Credit: Soreen D on Flickr
Located in the vicinity of Dong Khoi is also Saigon Central Mosque, one of the 12 mosques in Ho Chi Minh City. You might want to perform your prayers before heading for a meal at one of the many Halal restaurants located in the vicinity of the mosque.
Have a delicious Vietnamese meal opposite the mosque at [email protected]. The restaurant serves authentic Halal-certified Vietnamese cuisine and you'll definitely keep your tummy satisfied ?
Credit: [email protected] on Facebook
Day 6: Day Trip to Mekong
Begin your day early as you head over to Mekong River Delta via tour bus. Tour agencies in Ho Chi Minh City provide one-day tour services to and around Mekong.
Vietnam’s source of agricultural income, the Mekong River Delta is filled with paddy fields and swamplands. Take a ride on a boat down the Mekong River to have an experience like no other as you pass by farmers and vendors selling their catch or harvest along the river banks or on their boats.
Once you're done with the tour, returning to Ho Chi Minh City and head over to Thanh Duong Jamiul Islamiyah mosque for your evening prayers.
After your prayers, head over to Muslim-owned Pho Muslim opposite the mosque for a bowl of refreshing Bun Bo Hue. Interesting thing to note though, they are only open in the morning (6am – 1pm) and in the evening (4pm – 10pm).
Credit: @alizafdamha on Instagram
The restaurant serves Pho in the morning and Bun Bo Hue in the evening. Both of them are beef and soup-based dishes.
Day 7: Last Minute Shopping at Binh Tay
Start your day with an amazing brunch at Saigon Green House, located in the Ben Thanh vicinity. Saigon Green House is a Halal-certified restaurant which serves fusion Vietnamese-Malaysian cuisine.
Credit: @zulhelmiag on Instagram
After brunch, hop on a bus from Ben Thanh to Cholon, Vietnam’s Chinatown. Located in the heart of Cholon is Binh Tay Market. Find anything and everything in this “old-school” style market.
Find everything from snacks to groceries, shoes and clothes at really affordable prices. What a way to end your trip, spending your last few Vietnamese Dong on snacks and souvenirs at Binh Tay Market ?
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Vietnam adventure now and experience a cultural diversity like no other. Learn the history, taste the yummy halal food and enjoy a an amazing experience in this beautiful country ?