Our Top Highlights Best Photos Gay Couple Travel Vietnam – a diary of our first trip together outside Europe to Asia. As tourists of the world before we started to write our gay couple travel blog, we had an exciting time in Vietnam. The country with history charged traditions starting as a part of the Chinese Empire, the French colonization, the Japanese occupation, and the two-states solution often ended up in a war inside Vietnam or with its international neighbors and allies. After the well-known Vietnam War between North and South Vietnam by involving the United States of America until 1975, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a still existing socialist country developed into a worldwide accepted republic with international trade and tourism. And of course, a beautiful nature, heartwarming friendly people, and unique cultural treasures all over united Vietnam. With a full itinerary and two filled backpacks, we started our adventure visiting Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), the Vietnamese capital Hanoi with a 3-days luxury cruise expedition around the Halong Bay and some last days at the beautiful beaches of Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s biggest island southwest from the mainland Vietnam. Join us for our time travel to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the year 2013 before we actually started to explore the world as gay travel bloggers with our Japan Gay Travels the following year. Enjoy our Gay Travel Adventure Vietnam with photos, videos, and info of and about Vietnam and see the country with 92.7 Million inhabitants through a couple of men‘s eyes.
Flying to Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon
The biggest city in Vietnam was our first goal of the trip. Ho Chi Minh City, is still also known as Saigon, is a huge metropolitan area in South Vietnam. The city just about 30 km northeast of the Mekon Delta is surrounded by the Saigon River (west) and the Dong Nai River (east). During its past, the city’s name changed several times during its rich history. After the Vietnam War, the city was renamed after its first leader of North Vietnam Hồ Chí Minh. For our stay in Ho Chi Minh City, we decided to stay in the centrally located Alagon Saigon Hotel & Spa for a short distance to the city center and surround.
Our first days in Vietnam, South East Asia
Our first days in Vietnam have been characterized by long walks around the old town city center visiting the Reunification Palace (District 1), the Ho Chi Minh City Hall with Ho Chi Minh statue, and the Saigon River area. The best view over Ho Chi Minh City is from the panorama deck of the Bitexco Financial Tower, which is currently the third-tallest building in Vietnam. Keep an eye on the busy roads full of motorbikes, bicycles, and the Vietnamese people going to flower markets, and don’t forget to take an umbrella, especially during the southern monsoon season rains from May through to November.
Despite the current position in the Gay Travel Index 2020 ranking 78th, Vietnam has the potential to develop into a new LGBTQ+ and gay paradise, at least for tourists. Read more about the current situation of the LGBTQ+ community in the Asian country – “Gay in Vietnam: On its way to being an LGBTQ+ paradise”.
Next stop: Vietnam’s capital Hanoi & Halong Bay
Our discovery tour around Ho Chi Minh City was a great start for our 18 days in Vietnam. Next stop: Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. But before we started exploring Hanoi, we took a small bus to Tp. Hạ Long, a harbor city in North Vietnam, to board our small four-cabin cruise ship to explore Halong Bay. Good to know: Hạ Long Bay includes 1,960–2,000 islets, while the core area of the world-famous bay has an area of 334 square kilometers with 775 islands and islets. We booked a 3-days or 2-nights Prince Junk Cruise with RedDragonJunk.com. Of course, our Prince Junk cruise ship was not the only ship cruising around the vegetated islands. But we were more than happy to pay a little extra to have the luxury of more privacy and independence.
Canoeing & Swimming in Halong Bay
Additional to great Asian local food creations, we enjoyed great views around the green islands, relaxing time on deck with drinks, and small excursions to limestone caves with stalactites and stalagmites we went canoeing around the islets and swimming on hidden beaches for sunset. Spending the nights on deck under the open sky was a magical experience. We have never seen so many stars in the sky. The Halong Bay was until now one of our most beautiful nature experiences ever, although we had to leave one night earlier than planned (because of a Typhoon).
Exploring Hanoi in North Vietnam
Being earlier back in Hanoi gave us the chance to explore more of this beautiful city, although it was almost non-stop raining. The warm temperatures combined with slippers and our rainbow umbrellas turned our city trip into Hanoi a real monsoon adventure. Some facts about the history of Hanoi as Vietnam’s capital: already during 1902 on Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina, the name of the colony. During the Vietnam War (also called the Second Indochina War and the Vietnam Conflict) it was the capital of North Vietnam. After the victory of the North, Hanoi became the capital city of the reunified Vietnam in 1976. Today, the city is proud of its history trying to conserve the past with important Buddhism cultural highlights like the One Pillar Pagoda (from 1049) and smaller temples all over the city. But also modern buildings like the area around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and shopping malls with indoor ice skating and indoor amazing water parks. In Hanoi, we stayed at Splendid Star Boutique Hotel Hanoi. Hanoi knew how to surprise us and although the rainy weather we really enjoyed our time.
Beach Holiday on Phu Quoc Island
After all the rainy days, we couldn’t wait to add some days in the sun at the beach on the island of Phu Quoc. If you are expecting untouched nature without hotel complexes and infrastructure, you are already too late. Vietnam’s biggest island is on its way to becoming an urban-developed holiday paradise. The new international airport opened in 2012 with connections to all over Asia makes a trip to the beautiful beaches of Phu Quoc an easy-to-reach destination for your trip to Vietnam. We felt totally in love with the beautiful sunsets and wide, in 2013 still relatively quiet beaches. Since we like to stay in hidden gems, we discovered the Mai House Resort with its 30 bungalows and brand new outdoor pool. The restaurant and bar with local Asian cuisine right next to the beach have been a balm for our souls.
Gay Travel Adventure Vietnam: How Gay-friendly is the Asian country?
Is Vietnam a gay-friendly country to travel to? Well, this question is easy to answer for us. Yes! Vietnam as a unified country never had any anti-gay laws or similar. The people of Vietnam remain conservative. The Law on Marriage and Family from 2015 allows gay marriage, although it is not officially recognizing them.
Since we never experienced any homophobic behavior, aggression, or anything like that, we can confirm, that Vietnam is a gay-friendly travel country for Gay Couples but also single travelers. We enjoyed our time in this Asian coast country. The flights with Vietnam Airlines have been comfortable with a safe travel feeling. We hope to be in Vietnam again soon!
Karl & Daan.
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