Date of stay: 4 nights, December 2010
Where you stayed: Guesthouse
Travelled with: As a couple
Tour or pre planned: Pre-planned & tour
Hanoi is a city like no other! Vietnam and most of South East Asia are riddled with scooters and motorbikes and you quickly get used to their ever-presence. In Hanoi you can find just about anything and everything being transported on a motorbike...pigs, flowers, fish, fruit, and even a family of 4 fits happily on one! Crossing the road is an experience in itself and not for the faint-hearted! It’s a hustling and bustling place, full to the brim with people and motorbikes! Shopping in Hanoi is fantastic and everything is dirt cheap. You can get a meal for US$1.50, but if you have anything off the sidewalk - be warned - it won’t be completely hygienic! Accommodation is also dirt cheap, between $6-10 per night. We went to water puppet show, which is worth a visit. These you can book on the day but if you want to go in the evening, book in the morning. One of the main reasons for coming to Hanoi was to visit Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is truly magnificent. A huge bay dotted with nearly 2,000 mostly uninhabited limestone cliffs makes it a breathtaking site. Our tour included a cave visit, kayaking, and a bicycle ride on Cat Ba Island. The food on the boat is also exceptionally good. We booked the tour through our guesthouse and this can be done when you arrive to leave on the boat the next day. Your guesthouse will sort everything out for you as they get commission. Also, it’s worth doing the 3 day trip as you will see more and this will include an overnight stay on Cat Ba Island.
Points to highlight: The Vietnamese are a poor nation and will do anything to make a few extra dollars. The day we arrived in Hanoi we went for a walk and came across two women selling fruit from a ‘don ganh’ (baskets of fruit, with the use of shoulder poles), wearing Vietnamese hats. They quickly handed us the ‘don ganh’ and put the hats on our heads saying “photo, photo”. At the time we thought this was quite cool and took a few shots. The women then demanded the equivalent of $10 for a bag of pineapple worth less than $1! We tried to give them a couple dollars but they kicked up quite a fuss and got the attention of a few shop owners, who came out to see what was going on. In the end we paid them as the situation was getting a bit out of control with them grabbing at our bag and wallet. It wasn’t a great experience. I would recommend being a little streetwise when travelling around Hanoi. These guys are desperate and will try anything!
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your tour: Yes – Halong Bay tour
Would you recommend your hotel: Yes
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
By: Dave and Kelly