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Hanoi & Halong Bay - 25th May - 27th May

VIETNAM | Monday, 1 June 2009 | Views [710] | Comments [1]

Monday 25th May,

Had a bit of lie in after my late night out. Shona got up early to go back to the market and buy some more presents.

Had a breakfast at a local bakery with Anika and Kate. The flight to Hanoi was at 14.00 so we checked out and got a Tuk Tuk to the airport. It was a bit sad leaving the Anika and Kate, the 4 of us had had such a good week in Laos. Plus quite sad to be leaving Laos which was so much better than I had expected.

At the airport there wasn't really a great deal to do. So once we'd checked in we spent the last of our kip as you can't change the currency out of the country. I'd already changed most of my money into US$.

The flight was very quick only just over an hour and the airline was very good. A little bit noisy in a much smaller plane than I'm used to. But we even got a little meal!

Hanoi airport on the other hand was a rude awakening. In Laos the people are very respectful of your personal space and don't like to be touched. In Vietnam however they have no problem grabbing you, quite literally.

After my bank had failed to allow me to withdraw any Dong, luckily I had the dollars which are widely accepted we caught the airline minibus to the old city. $2.

Hanoi is crazy!!! Imagine a sea of motorcycles, bikes and cars all of whom use only the horn as a way of communicating with other road users. They ignore nearly all the traffic signals and zebra crossing are totally redundant. You have to be very very brave and hold your nerve.

Well of course I was suffering slightly from the late night and a hangover in Hanoi is not pretty. As soon as we arrived we made our way to the backpacker street/alley where the Hanoi Backpackers Hostel is located. This placed was absolutely heaving with travellers. Mainly ones we just wanted to get pissed! We checked into the hostel $7.50 (expensive) for an 8 dorm bed. YES I did it I stayed in a hostel. At least it was clean and the shower was decent.

As soon as we had gotten into Hanoi we wanted to leave again asap. So after walking round to about half a dozen different travel agents at 9pm we booked a 2 day 1 night tour of Halong Bay to leave the next day. $28.

So pleased that we would be being picked up in the morning at 8am we went to get an early night in the dorm.

Tuesday 26th May

Halong Bay is about a 3 hour drive outside of Hanoi. We arrived on the dock/pier, which weirdly looks like its sponsered by Pepsi! Boo!, at around 12pm and got on the boat to have lunch. We were really pleasantly surprised by the standard of the food and the boat. We are feeling very smug with our bargain tour when we found out other people had paid a lot more for the tour. After we had eaten we did a tour of the cave and cruised around Halong Bay it is absolutely beautiful. Later we went Kayaking which was hard work on the arms but great fun.

Just before sunset we all jumped off the boat to go swimming. Amazing! Dinner was really good. There was about 16 of us on the tour. An Oz mother and daughter, Deborah and Maddy, 2 candadian coulples, a couple of French guys and some British guys. It was a really good group. We all had a few beers and enjoyed the crew singing Vietnamese Karoke!! Bryan Adams - Everything I do I do it for you!! Very very Funny.

Wednesday 27th May

After a very good sleep we had breakfast and slowly cruised back to the Halong Bay pier. A very slow 3 hour journey back to Hanoi, before we left on Tuesday morning we decided to book a tour to Sapa. We had hoped just to organise it ourselves but after looking in to it it was actually cheaper to do the tour. 4 night (2 overnight train journey, 1 hotel stay and 1 homestay) 3 days Trekking. This meant when we got back to Hanoi we had to have a shower at the travel agents and went to have some dinner before they came to pick us up for the overnight train.

Shona and I seemed to be on a different train to everyone else but we didn't mind when we realised that it was a really nice sleeping train and we had the 4 berth all to ourselves. On our way to Sapa brillant!!





Thanks for sharing your travel stories. Planning a trip too for 2 of us to Hanoi and Sapa this coming August - Could you tell me which agent you used for your trip and whether you'll recommend them? Was not sure whether we should book in advance before getting to vietnam or only get things while we are there.

Thanks so much!

  Nora Ng Jul 10, 2009 5:46 AM

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