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Home > Member Reviews > Vivienne Windle's Port Reviews of Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Vivienne Windle's Port Reviews of Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Legend of the Seas cruise in November 2010
Member Name: Vivienne Windle
Cruise Date: November 2010
Embarkation: Hong Kong
Destination: Asia
Member Review: Vivienne Windle's Legend of the Seas Review
Bangkok (Laem Chabang)
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
After Vietnam, we didn't much like Thailand, we were given 'opportunities' to make donations everywhere we went. However, the tour we did of Bangkok, Venice of the East, was wonderful. It really is like Venice, all the big hotels have their landings with motorlaunches for guests, there are waterbuses, and you can access a lot of it by boat. We saw the Royal Barge museum, where you have to pay if you want to take photos, and the Grand Palace and temples, which were a bit overwhelming, but quite an experience. We were docked for two and a half days, so the second day we went to Nong Nooch, which is like a garden centre crossed with Disneyland. Lots of strange pottery frogs, giant ants and flamingos. An elephant show, where the elephants throw darts, play football and paint tee shirts which are then sold. A cultural show which we couldn't see much of because we were at the back and people came and stood in front of us. There are elephant rides, but we took a trolleybus tour - it is a really strange place. Some people stayed over in Pattaya, we just drove through it, it looked like quite a garish resort.

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Da Nang
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
I missed out on Nha Trang, but at the Danang port we visited Hoi An, a merchant town, and bought the usual fake designer polo shirts etc. Excellent local delicacies available in some of the restaurants, I would recommend trying them as well as the local beer.

Some of the traders in Hoi An were a little insistent. A couple on our bus ordered shoes to be made, and we had to leave before they were ready. The girls from the shop chased the bus miles down the road in the pouring rain on their mopeds and flagged it down a few miles from the ship.

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Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Excursions I did manage to go on were - Hanoi in a day, which was very tiring and stressful. The long drive was in a less than comfortable coach, with many potholes on the road, and a lack of road signs and rules meaning that the driver had to press his horn every time he encountered another vehicle or one of the many motorbikes. I think it was probably too far to go, and we didn't get to go into any of the places of interest apart from Ho Chi Minh's little cottage behind the Presidential palace. The buffet lunch in a nice hotel was absolutely delicious, though. We went on the Halong Bay by boat tour which was absolutely beautiful. We boarded the boats straight from the ship, so no coach ride.

A good (free) experience was coming into Halong Bay very early in the morning. We couldn't sleep, so got up and sat in the Windjammer before it opened, and all the strange rocks sticking out of the sea appeared in front of us as the ship made its way forward. Fishermen in boats waved to the ship. Everything was quiet and peaceful.

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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Ho Chi Minh city was very interesting, the coach journey wasn't too bad, and once again we got an excellent buffet lunch included. The guide was keen to keep our spirits up, and started singing to us as we entered the final stretch to the port. The old Presidential palace was a good visit, they don't use it, they keep it open so people can see the excesses of the previous regime. The basement is the HQ for the war, with different coloured telephones, 1970s communication equipment supplied by the Americans, and maps on the wall. Upstairs are all the formal rooms where ambassadors and dignitaries were received, and the apartments where the president and his family used to live. Apart from associations with the old regime, apparently it was designed by a famous modernist architect from Europe, and it failed the feng shui test.

Cu Chi tunnels were extremely interesting, but a very old man in our group got stuck in one of the tunnels, causing a back up, so instead of a few minutes in a hot tunnel, some of our group were trapped in there for a while. Didn't much like the AK47 shooting range and the bullets for sale, but it did give us a picture of life as a Vietcong soldier. The restaurant on the way back was very good, it was owned by a former guerilla fighter who trained new recruits during the war.

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