Vietnam wrap up

Hanoi Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
Hanoi was super exciting on arrival, a city very unique in the world. Noise and clamor like you wouldn’t believe, I’m not sure even the pictures convey the craziness. I’m glad I went, and recommend it if you are interested. However, after some time there for me, the charm wears off and it can become annoying. The cold, cloudy, smog filled air gets to you after a while for sure.

I did love the other cities I visited in the middle of the country, Hue and Hoi An. Much more laid back and enjoyable cities, and a bit more of what you would expect of Vietnam.

Costs: everything is very very affordable.

Food: this was one of the sway factors in me picking VN over other destinations, and they did not disappoint.
The food is incredible at all levels. I ate all kinds of crazy things: eel pho, a vietnamese hamburger, dried fish bbq’d right on the street, and try to get some rice “whiskey” if you can, it was the best of the 3 countries i got to sample.

Air quality: horrible in Hanoi, and amplified by the constant cloud cover. I don’t know how an asthmatic could survive here more than a few hours. Not too bad once you get an hour away from Hanoi.

Culture: to me, this sure looks like a country still divided. North and South, as it’s been for a long time.

People: Most of Hanoi seems to be mostly full of hardened, stoic, people that are putting up with tourists. Even our young-ish Ha Long Bay tour guide, as friendly as he was, rarely smiled.
Maybe he was just acting professional. However, when I met locals in non-tourist places, i.e. the bus, they were more interested in interacting. As I mentioned in my stories, the several people that I met, talked to, and hung out with were southern Vietnamese, had harsh words about northern Vietnamese. They say their attitude and discrimination toward anyone that’s not northern Vietnamese is bad, and it’s a completely different attitude in the south. Just the fact that I made friends with southerners in northern VN should say something. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see Hanoi if you go, you can form your own opinions. I also experienced some rudeness in Hoi An when trying to get clothes made, but I just picked up my stuff and left, because there were 100 other places to have clothes made. The people in Hue were wonderful.

Hot Tips: Don’t miss Ho Chi Minh’s corpse. if you want to get down and meet some of the locals - take a public bus. Slow, but quite safe and fun. If you take a sleeper train, make sure you buy in advance and get your ticket in the 4 bunk car, grrr.

Ha Long Bay: I just wanted to point out that this trip is not exactly what most people expect. You think you are leaving the noise and pollution of Hanoi behind, but you’re not, it’s just moving to the water. I still recommend it, just throw out your vision of a peaceful moonlit ride around the jagged rock filled bay, and you’ll enjoy it more. Do the 3 day trip so you can get off the boat and hike on Cat Ba island.

Highlights: Hanoi’s street food, bia hoi, and amazing restaurants. Ha Long Bay. Hue’s vibe and people. renting a motorbike in Hoi An and joining the fray.

I would have loved to go further south to Saigon and to do the Mekong delta trip, because I heard good things about it, but I did not plan the flights properly and allow enough time. But you could see the entire country in two weeks if you don’t stall out anywhere like I did. I loved it, but considering how much I did get to see, how much the visa costs, how many other places there are to see, I don’t imagine I’ll be returning to Vietnam.
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hanoi tourist
hanoi tourist
photo by: mario26