Hanoi and Sweet Halong Bay

Vietnam Travel Blog

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Arriving at Noi Bai Airport felt like coming back to the past with time machine. They had an old school look.

The city was not much different. The two lanes were crowded with vespas and the traffic was crazy! Vespas coming from everywhere.

Our taxi from airport landed us in 31 Hang Dieu, which was supposed to be the Backpacker Palace. But the sign said Rendezvous Hotel. We got in, and the receptionist told us they just had changed the management just 2 days ago, therefore our booking fee didn't count and we need to pay a different rate, twice than when we booked! They finally gave us discount price, and I realized, the keychain to our room writes 'Camilla Hotel'. Well.. whatever. Aside the hotel was nice, they're tricky! Warning to anyone wishes to come to this city, better to book your hotel on arrival.

Ngoc Son temple, over The Huc brigde
Other affordable hotel options are nearby, just around the area. What's comforting is that our hotel is only 15 minutes walk to the Hoan Kiem Lake. And not far from hotel, is this street vendor selling greaat pho, which the place is always filled with people coming in and go.

Soon as we got to Hoan Kiem Lake, the red brigde was on the scene, called The Huc. Best spot to see sunrise. Over the bridge is Ngoc Son temple, it was oldish pretty. Then we took taxi (next time wait for taxi with meters!) to Tran Quoc pagoda, which was overrated, in my opinion. I was under the impression I was going to enter an island under these palm trees and met a temple at the end. Well, it wasn't like that.. much. It was the area around it what I liked most, which was best to spot sunset.

Tran Quoc temple, after the palm trees
 There was serene and beautiful.

Food was not a problem to find, many street vendors along the walk. The taste was pretty much all good, I loved them all. The vegetables were fresh, very much rich in flavors, all in one bowl.

On day two, we were picked up from the hotel at 8am on a 2days&1 night tour to Halong Bay. We took the program from the Sinh Cafe next to the Duc Huy hotel, which I think has the best rate and destination offer than other Sinh Cafes. True recommended!

February in Vietnam means the winter season. So as it's windy in Hanoi, it was cold in Halong Bay. Fog dominated the scenery but it was beautiful mystical and sweet.

Our first stop was the Dong Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace Grotto), where extremely big caves adorned with stalactites and stalagmites colorfully interiored with colored underlights and made great view. Still, I expected them to be real colorful lime stones. On we cruised passing on the bay, and did the 20 minutes kayaking. I wished we had more time doing it. The air and atmosphere just too damn great! It was magnificent, amazing.

We spent the night in the boat, playing cards along with our new friends we met onboard, it was crazy funny! Losers buy beers. Then lights were off for awhile and we just continued having fun with ghost stories. It was truly fun!

Next morning we tried to catch sunrise on the deck. We waited but it didn't show.

Well, the fogs were thick. We stopped at Titop island after breakfast where the beach made beautiful scenery, and we swam into cold water :) It was unforgetful, then we sailed back to harbor.

Back to Hanoi, we planned to stay at the Advisor Hotel but as there's no room, we stayed at Bamboo Hotel instead, just closeby and which was recommended by Lin, the Advisor's receptionist. Lin was very friendly and helpful, she too showed us where to dine, straight left from our hotel where at its end is street vendor selling deliciouss ribs! and where we met again with Ryan. After dining, we strolled to the night market which was within walk distance, where there I bought some souvenirs to bring home and an ice cream.

I loved it all!

PS. miss you guys: Danang, Lili, Tania, Stevie, our Halong Bay tour guide, Laurie and her husband, and Ryan.


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