It’s no secret that Vietnam is a popular destination for backpackers, and this means there is no shortage of hostels to chose from as you travel. But, as I went from North to South this summer, I found a chain of hostels that won my heart over, and might just win yours too.
Vietnam Backpacker Hostels were founded in December 2004, by 2 Aussies who were living in Hanoi. They converted an old diplomats house into the first of their 4 hostels. Since then they have built a second hostel in Hanoi, as well as ones in Hue and Hoi An, along with their infamous island getaway – Castaways Island.
During my trip, I stayed in 2 out of the 4 hostels, and visited a 3rd. I began my journey in Hanoi at the Downtown Hostel. This is definitely a party hostel! Every night they have free beer from 5-6 (as much as you can drink, until it runs out!), and a different social event every night. For a solo traveler like me, this is invaluable as it gives me the opportunity to make new friends, and socialise in a safe place. The dorm rooms were clean and bright, with colourful decoration throughout the hostel. The bathrooms are shared on each floor, and the showers were nice and big, with some pretty good water pressure to boot. The only problem I had here was the failing air con system in some of the rooms. I stayed in 2 different rooms during my stay. The first was fine, I felt nice and cool, no problems! But the second room was hell. The fan and air con only reached half of the room, and it wasn’t my half! So this resulted in a rather sweaty night of not much sleep.
The hostel is in a great location, with easy access to bars, restaurants and shops, and is only a few minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, which makes it perfect for sightseeing!
Although I didn’t visit the Original Hostel that is also here in Hanoi, Ive heard good things. Most people say its basically a calmer version of Downtown. So, if you’re so much into the partying, this might be your better option.
My next stop with VBH was in Hue. Although I didn’t actually stay in this hostel, I did go there for breakfast each morning as part of an organised trip. The cafe/ lobby area is open to the outside which gives this hostel a very chilled and relaxing vibe. All the hostels offer pretty much the same breakfast options, and if you stay with them – its all for free! You can chose from eggs – however you like, pancakes – with chocolate or honey, or a nice big fruit bowl with yoghurt. The breakfasts may have been simple, but they were always yummy! The hostel in Hue had lots of comfy seating areas, and very helpful staff. This is also the place to rent your motorbikes if you want to journey along the Hai Van Pass – Vietnams most famous biking road! You can read more about my experience on the Hai Van Pass here (coming soon!).
My third and final stop with VBH was in Hoi An. This is also where I stayed the longest, as I racked up a total of 4 nights here; 1 in a dorm room, and 3 in a private room (because sometimes its nice to be fancy). This was another chilled hostel, but still had a great party atmosphere at night time. Just like Downtown, they had different social events each night, which got people together, all sitting around their big outdoor wooden table with cheap drinks and a good story. The dorm rooms here are not your average dorms either, as everyone gets their own bed – not a bunk in sight – and a shared bathroom for each room. The private rooms are stunningly beautiful too, it was like staying in an old colonial house! With a large double bed, private bathroom, TV and wardrobe, it has everything it needs to become a home away from home. It’s perfect for solo travellers or couples, as its still very easy to meet people in the evenings, so you don’t need to worry about being lonely!
They also have their own Castaways Island resort in Ha Long Bay, which you can read all about right here.
One of the things that really got me about VBH is the amount of trips they offer from each hostel. Anywhere you were thinking of going, they have it covered! Ha Long Bay, Sapa, My Son, Hai Van Pass, Imperial City, HCMC – sorted. They even have a tour that will take you from Hanoi, all the way from Hanoi, in the North, to HCMC in the south. This is called The Buffalo Run, and you can read about my experience doing the shorter version of this trip (Hanoi to Hoi An), right here (coming soon!).
While these hostel may not be the cheapest, they were definitely the best. I’m just sad the hostels stop at Hoi An! The staff there do seem pretty confident though that there may be a few new hostels in the South in the years to come – so keep everything crossed!
Visit their website here: http://www.vietnambackpackerhostels.com
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