I’m gaining a bit of love for border towns, and Ha Tien in Vietnam was no different. Many people skip border towns in favour of passing straight through to their final destination, but this is a shame; we’ve found border towns not only break up a mammoth journey but actually make independent travel and border crossings easier as longer distances can be monopolised by tour companies.
We hadn’t heard great reviews about through tours from Kampot to Phu Quoc island and decided we’d get better value for money, and have more control, if we travelled to Ha Tien only and then organised our own ferry tickets. I had relatively low hopes for the town itself, but thankfully this was unfounded – Ha Tien is a perfectly pleasant place to spend a night. Almost as soon as we arrived we were reminded of the reasons we love Vietnam more than anywhere else – friendly people and great food.
Ha Tien is relatively unbothered by tourists at the moment – most only pass through on their way elsewhere – but we wandered the streets, saying hello to the friendly locals and stopping to eat a steaming bowl of phở bo at a roadside restaurant.
Ha Tien continued about its business around us – opening shops, buzzying around in tuk tuks and drying chillies by the roadside in preparation for blowing some innocent fools head off at a later date.
By evening – continuing the theme of gorging ourselves silly – we headed to the night market in the centre of town for avocado shakes and delicious dishes of steaming noodles… all set to the thumping tunes of Vietnamese karaoke. On our way back to our hotel we stumbled across Oasis Bar, which not only did great food but provided a veritable mountain of local, unbiased information in the form of Andy – the British owner who has lived in Southeast Asia for yonks. If you make it to Ha Tien do swing by and say hello.
As for our onward journey, our instinct was spot on. Our lovely hotel staff helped us to organise ferry tickets (“superdong” proved to be the key word here, despite a fairly massive language barrier) with ease, and even got them for less than the advertised price. We arrived in Phu Quoc on Christmas Eve refreshed, happy and totally in love with Vietnam again.