2017 – Our Year of Living in Vietnam Review

Holy guacamole. We cannot believe that we are now the best part of a month into 2018! 2017 marked our first full year of living in Vietnam, and with that some really great travel experiences. As with any year we have had highs and lows, joy and heartache. I managed to actually log our whole year of travels through our monthly round ups which I’m pretty impressed by, though in typical Frances-style they were not always on time! If you’re new around here (hey!), this review of 2017 will fill you in on our year of living in Vietnam!

Read all the juicy details of 2017 in our monthly round ups!

We’ve been so lucky to share some of our favourite travel moments with friends and family this year, which we definitely haven’t taken for granted. This past year hasn’t been an easy one, emotionally and physically especially with being so far away from our families. But through it all there have been many highlights and each other to lean on!

Highlights of our 2017 living in Vietnam

Our first trip of the year was at the end of January when Davids parents came out to visit us. Together we were able to experience the start of the lunar new year in Vietnam, then see the Chinese decorations of Singapore’s chinatown and do some of the less touristy things we didn’t have time for on our first trip to Singapore. We then headed to Bali where we relaxed in a luxury villa and spent a day exploring some of Ubud’s famous spots! Visiting Bali in rainy season was a bit limiting so hoping we can return some time in our futures to explore it more and spend some time seeing the Bali that everyone raves about.

We were then blessed with another visit from family in March, this time from Frances’ mum and gran. Together we saw some of the North of Vietnam; we hunted down the train street in Hanoi, we cruised through Ha Long Bay and feasted on Northern Vietnamese specialities like Bun Cha. We then returned to show them the beauty of Hoi An before they jetted back to Scotland.Hanoi train street local living in vietnam

Then we both got job promotions, moved house and learnt to ride motorbikes. We went on a few road trips up the coast of Southern Vietnam, before we headed back to Scotland for a trip ourselves!

Our first trip home was centred around attending a friends wedding and was a whirlwind two weeks filled with seeing friends and family. Magically we brought the sunshine back from Vietnam and experienced a heat wave in Scotland which was just the icing on the cake for our trip back to Scotland – being able to spend time enjoying being outside in our home country was precious.

After a busy few months of working we had one of Davids friend come stay on his trip home from Australia. It was great fun spending time and showing a friend from home our life in Vietnam. We then headed back to Hoi An to show him our favourite little town in Vietnam (so far)!

living in Vietnam Hoi An

Suddenly we found ourselves in August. Celebrating a full year living in Vietnam. Celebrating 4 years together. As if we needed more of an excuse to celebrate August, we had booked a week off work for Frances birthday with which we headed to explore the island of Penang in Malaysia. We were able to be big kids searching for street art in Penang and ate our weight in all the different cuisines that make up the Malay palette.

In October we didn’t do much travelling but we did get to go on two motorbike day trips from Ho Chi Minh City with some new friends. Both trips were amazing and we are actually itching to get back into doing some day trips out the city in 2018.

In November we got to take a long weekend trip to Da Nang to teach for our company. While we were working most of the trip, we got a gloriously sunny day-off from teaching which we used to tour the area around Da Nang!

And then we had the pleasure of ending the year back in Scotland! Another whirlwind trip home saw us enjoying Christmas, New Year, birthdays and weddings with our families. It was amazing to be able to spend this festive time with our favourites.

The lows of our 2017 living in Vietnam

Unfortunately, as life goes, 2017 wasn’t all sunshine and travelling. During 2017 we experienced our share of loss and pain. Friends have passed in our absence. Family have been seriously ill. Pets have disappeared and died. Bones have been broken. 2017 dealt our families harsh hands, which has been challenging to deal with so far from them. It’s an unpleasant reality of living on the other side of the world, to know that your family are hurting but not being able to fully support them. We hope 2018 is brighter for everyone.

scotland portobello family beach dusk

This year didn’t see nearly as much physical travelling as 2016, but thats part of the reality of settling into living abroad – you spend most of the time living! There’s nowhere better we could have imagined spending our 2017 the building up the life we have in Vietnam. Moving to Vietnam wasn’t a breeze, and at the start there were many difficult days where you really feel the lack of friends and family. 2017 was a great year as far as building up a social life in Vietnam. Undoubtedly this is part of why our year, despite not travelling much, was made so memorable.

Our 2018 travel plans

If you’ve been following our adventures during 2017, then you’ll have seen that life here in Vietnam is unpredictable at best. Things happen and plans have to adapt and morph. So, knowing this we’re going to be keeping our plans a bit under-wraps until we finalise details!

BUUUUT we can confirm that we plan to leave Vietnam sometime this spring and start seeing places we’ve been daydreaming about in Asia!

On the immediate list are Myanmar, China, Japan, South Korea, Philippeans and Taiwan! Route: unknown. Duration: unknown. Like we said, the details are a bit foggy. What we do know is that we plan on making the most of these destinations, spending as long as possible on the road with our savings! We’re going to have to knuckle down soon to get our plans a bit more clearly set, and start figuring out how to budget such a big adventure! Come at us world!

What was your highlight of 2017? Do you have any travel plans for 2018 yet? Inspire us in the comments!


6 Comment

  1. Primoz says: Reply

    Just Found your blog – searching for train street in Hanoi on Google. Its great, very informative. Been in VN last year, loved it so much, that Im going back in March!
    Regarding your plans for 2018 – yes, you have to see Philippines. awesome country, been there already 2 times, the only downside for me is the food. but youll love it overall, I can assure you!.
    greetings from Slovenia


    1. francesFR says: Reply

      Aw thank you so much for your kind message Primoz (what a pretty name!) That will be great! Train street is a great find! Will you only visit Hanoi?

      I think we will be going to Palawan first and then we will see about returning to other places in the future! Interesting to hear about the food though..Thank you!

  2. Primoz says: Reply

    No, no, Hanoi will be a start, than to Ninh Binh, from there again in Hoi An – my fav. place in the world :), (cant wait to cycle around Ho An again), Da Lat, Saigon, Phu Quoc.

    BTW1 – have you ever been to Binh Minh beach, cca. 10km’s south of Hoi An. Almost no info on the net about it. Im planing to go by bycyle as a daily trip. if yes, is it worth going?

    BTW2 my name comes from latin – Primus – first born son 🙂

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      That’s a nice selection of places! We plan to visit Ninh Binh too! Unfortunately not, I’ve never heard of it! I imagine that if you get good weather the cycle will be worth it. A 20 mile round trip in Vietnam sun/heat isn’t the easiest though! Just be sure to bring a “packed-lunch” as you might struggle to get food if its not a touristy spot!

  3. Primoz says: Reply

    Yes, I know about the sun and heat :). Ive done already 3 whole day cycling trips around Hoi An last year. Maybe will help you, check the link, for me it sounds awesome, this is the only useful info I found on the net about the place – http://escapingthedesk.com/secret-best-beach-tan-an-hoi-an-vietnam/

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      Looks like a great beach! Definitely try it!

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