Hanoi Trip Report
Well my darling Thai teerak (Mia Thai) kindly gave me a 5-night / 6-day pass to go visit Vietnam with an old school mate.
How did this ‘Event of Great Kindness’ come abut I hear you ask?
Well teerak fancied a few nights in the family baan with Mum, Dad and the brother and sisters, a luxury she has not enjoyed for nearly 5 years since we were married and now live in good old Kiwi Land.
For me, four daylight hours in the family home is enough for me… Primarily this is due to the intense lack of any air-conditioning plus the occasional snake that likes pop its head in to visit!
It’s funny to me how many Thai people have absolutely NO drive to travel next door to visit Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam; in fact you may go as far as to say an intense dislike. Looks like the Thais think of them as the very poor relations next door…
So that was how the pass came about – it was I might add a win / win all around.
So my mate and I had a choice of airlines with which to part our hard earned $$s to.
Would it be Air Asia or Qatar Airlines? It turned out not to be too hard a choice.
Air Asia’s flight times had abdominally early departures, and seeing as Qatar Airlines are year after year voted one of the world’s best full service airlines plus there was no difference in fare, Qatar Airlines won our spondoolies hands down!
On arrival at Noi Bai (Hanoi’s main Airport) my mate had himself a “Visa on Arrival’ sorted out whilst I was using an APEC card.
Long and the short of it: With the APEC card I was straight through the diplomatic lane in 2 minutes (no queues / no cost), whereas my mate took 60 minutes to come through using visa on arrival and it also cost him USD 45 in total.
Anyhow, using the fixed price taxi fare from Hanoi Airport to Hanoi Old Quarter was simple – fixed at 350,000 Dong.
We stayed at the Hanoi Elegance Diamond Hotel and our rooms each cost us about USD 50 a night with the most fantastic breakfast included.
You know when you read those hotel reviews and some just sound too good to be true? Well that was what I had pre-read, so I was skeptical…
However out of all the hotel I have ever stayed in around the world – this was the best hotel stay (food, rooms, service, staff and location) ever!
So what are the things you may wish to do when you arrive in Hanoi?
Well we had two immediate agendas: 1) Walk around ‘Hoan Kiem Lake’ and enjoy a glass of Bia Hoi (Beer Hanoi).
Turtle Island – Hoan Kiem Lake
Set in the southern end of the lake – Turtle Island is quite a feature.
The Hanoians love to meet up with friends and family and slowly walk around the lake (about 2 km) on a balmy Summer afternoon or evening.
Bia Hoi at USD 0.24 cents a glass is the way to go whilst in Hanoi!
It’s a very social pastime, as the English speaking Vietnamese love to chat away to go.
Soon they will be offering you to share their snack foods with them, enjoying to further your knowledge of their country and foods.
Empty ‘Bia Hoi’ Kegs Being Taken Away by Motorcycle
Motorcycles are an everyday part of life, being used for transporting all means of goods.
Delicious Street Hanoi Food – Vietnamese fried spring rolls. They are hard to resist – especially when there are plentiful supplies at every street corner!
Statue Symbolizing Freedom and World Unity??
Personally I found this spiritually significant: A pair of hands supporting the world, with Vietnam at the centre of their world! Plus the dove of peace at the top…
Lenin Gardens – A sombre but relaxing park.
A very relaxing couple of hours was spent watching the local men fishing with just a bamboo cane and an empty tin can as a reel – the fish were biting that day!
FANNY – serving ice cream sundaes! (Tasted great)
For any English people a rather awkward name for anything other than จิ๋ม !
The Old Quarter Character – Flower Area
With Hanoi’s ‘Old Quarter’ being the historic trading area, walking around you come across clusters of similar trade shop fronts – makes for an interesting day’s discovering!
Fancy an open air haircut anyone?
Some things you stumble across take you by surprise… But hey – why not?
Bamboo for sale within the Old Quarter.
Tortoise on the menu at the West Lake restaurant.
All the Vietnamese told us to take a taxi to visit the West Lake. It was about a 6 km return walk which we did a couple of days (the Vietnamese found it hard to believe we had walked!).
Nothing was ordered from this particular page of the menu!
Beautiful leafy Hanoi Old Quarter.
The Old Quarter generally has very wide boulevards lined with mature trees.
Hanoi’s popular cultural experience
Water Puppetry – an hour's entertainment watching Vietnamese colourful history.
We failed to spend over USD 100 each over 6 days / 5 nights, on good beer (plenty of it too), quality food dining out on hotel roof tops, snacks plus taxis to and from the airport.
Simply put, Vietnam made Thailand look very very expensive!
I would definitely go back and visit Hanoi again, however learnt the extent of the country and many other interesting places to visit first…
A nice report on a city I really like!
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