BY Zhila Shariat

Hi it’s Zhila again, and I’m sharing my latest travel diary with you guys right here. I traveled all around Vietnam and the country blew me away in some expected, but mostly unexpected ways. Check it out.

When in Vietnam, be sure to get a pair (or three!) of custom fitted silk PJs tailor made because, as you all know by now, the #PJParade is deeply entrenched in the DM dress code. I recently spent about two weeks traveling around the country, from south to north, and it was quite the adventure. The high points included breathtaking views at Halong Bay, floating candles and gorgeous lanterns in Hoi An, and of course the aforementioned Vietnamese silk PJs. Low points were multiple car accidents (nothing serious; if only you saw the number of scooters and cars crowding the streets you’d understand, but still not fun), and getting my wallet stolen. (It was the worst, and I’m still pretty shaken up, but the show goes on.)

Read on to learn some wonderful facts, and must-see spots in a country that’s so coveted by world travelers.

Ho Chi Minh City: HCMC (formerly Saigon) is a metropolitan city populated by more than 10 million people, and they are all on scooters. Just kidding, but the traffic is crazy.  There aren’t many sites to visit here, but I did check out the Notre Dame cathedral and the Reunification Palace. I recommend strolling along Dong Khoi for cute cafes and boutiques, and stopping by Nhat Nguyet Silk and Minh Nguyen Tailors for your tailoring (read: pajamas) needs. The bistro/cafe/concept store L’usine is also incredibly chic, and the Secret Garden restaurant is also a must for good food and instagram-worthy scenery. 

Danang: If HCMC is Manhattan, then Danang is Williamsburg. Great coffee shops (BeBe was my favorite), and I loved the scene at the Art Hotel restaurant. There’s a Dragon Bridge that spits out fire every night, so everyone hangs out along the water waiting for the show to start. The caves in the Marble Mountains are also a must see. 


Hoi An: The Ancient Town in Hoi An was my fave. There are gorgeous French colonial buildings mixed with Chinese and Japanese influenced architecture and canals topped with floating candles that look magical after sunset. It’s a bit touristy, but it’s so charming that you won’t really mind. Hoi An is also known for having the best tailors in all of Vietnam, so definitely get your wardrobe fix here like I did. Anum has already threatened to steal my canary yellow silk pair that I designed. We might be the same size, which scares me.

Halong Bay: The overnight cruise of Halong Bay was the highlight of the entire trip. It’s outrageously beautiful, especially when the weather is foggy, as it was on our first day. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Hanoi: Hanoi has quite a few sites, like the Temple of Literature and the Hanoi Citadel, where the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh is. I actually was not prepared to see the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh in a glass case, so it was a bit of an unpleasant surprise, and just a bit weird overall. (Still not even sure it’s real, but according to wikipedia, that’s him alright.) The nearby Ho Chi Minh Museum is amazing, though, so I would recommend skipping the mausoleum and just checking out the museum. The Water Puppet Theater is also bizarre and delightful. There’s a night market in Hanoi, but hold on very tightly to your purses and wallets, ladies and gentlemen. That’s all I will say because I still am a bit traumatized by the whole thing.

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