Thursday, May 5, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( part 1 )

( Welcome to Hanoi )

Have you been to Hanoi?? I am sure the first thing that will enter your mind will be HALONG BAY. If you are someone like me who loves watching Amazing Race Asia, last year they had a segment on Halong Bay. From that moment ---- I wanted to go there!!!  After a few months of researching on what to do in Hanoi, Vietnam... my equally adventurous friend, Oskie, and I finally decided to go and visit Hanoi. That was our next adventure..

There are no direct flights to Hanoi from the Philippines--- you will have to fly to Ho Chi Minh ( Southern Vietnam ) in order to get a connecting flight to Hanoi. Since this is my first time to go to Hanoi... I have decided to document my travel --- and put as many photos into my blogs on Hanoi. Come and follow me as I discover Hanoi...

We left Manila at 11:00pm and landed at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport at midnight. The time difference of Vietnam and Manila is 1 hour ( Manila is an hour ahead of Vietnam ). We had an overnight stay at the FIRST HOTEL ( this is a nice hotel ). Let me show you some photos I took of the hotel.

For breakfast, I decided to veer away from the usual American Breakfast which is eggs, jam, bacon and opted to have the Vietnamese breakfast. I had my first taste of Vietnamese rice noodles, steamed pork bun and some dumplings. The steamed rice rolled dumpling was very good!! 

After breakfast we left the hotel to catch our flight to Hanoi. The weather was HOT and HUMID... It was cloudy -- but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.. we were going to try our best to get good shots -- rain or shine!!

Our flight to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh was 2 hours and 15 mins. We landed at Noi Bai International Airport. Noi Bai is the biggest airport in Northern Vietnam. The airport is very modern. It is around 45 kilometers from the city center or downtown Hanoi. Approximate travel time would be 30 minutes. We met our local guide, Vuong ( I called him TOM --- ). According to Tom, Hanoi was previously known as Thang Long. It was renamed Hanoi in 1831. As you will walk around the city you will notice most of the architecture of their houses are French-inspired which gives the city a definite charm. 

After our hotel check in, Tom took us to have a snack at PHO 24 which was by the Hoan Kiem lake. 

creme brulee

deep fried spring rolls

We walked to the HOAN KIEM LAKE - The lake is one of the major scenic spots in Hanoi. In the middle of the lake is the Tortoise Tower. This temple was built in the 18th century. It is an easy walk around the Hoan Kiem lake.


There are a lot of t-shirts, bandanas, wall-hangings, tribal handicrafts all over the Old Quarter. You will have to use your bargaining skills in most of the shops in order to get the prices down. There are streets where you can find sunglasses, ceramics, wood carvings, rice paper greeting cards,  lacquerware, silk material and if you want to have an AO  DAI ( traditional women's dress in Vietnam ) -- they can finish one for you in 2 hours.

2 phrases to remember when shopping:

* Bao nhieu tian ? = " how much is this " pronounced like BOW NYU THIEN and
* Dat Qua = " too expensive " - pronounced DAT KWAH.

Here are some tips you will find very useful for your next adventure to Hanoi :

* Hanoi has 4 seasons. The best time to travel is around March thru May. The months you should avoid are June till August. Hanoi can get very HOT and HUMID.

* Bring walking shorts, dry fit shirts, a good pair of walking shoes because Hanoi is better appreciated doing a walking tour instead of riding in a van.... there is a lot to see in Hanoi.

* Sunblock, insect repellent and a hat which you will wear when you walk around.

* If you are planning to take a lot of photos -- bring SD or CF cards. They do not have those in Hanoi.

* a map of Hanoi and hire a local guide to take you around. Even before we left Manila for this adventure tour, we commissioned a young tour guide, Vuong, to meet us at the Noi Bai Airport. The rate of a local tour guide is $30.00/day.

* When you choose your hotel. Make sure your hotel is located in Hanoi's Old Quarter.

* Instead of having American Breakfast... try out their Vietnamese Breakfast.

* It is definitely more fun if you arrange your own travel plan rather than calling your travel agent and have them fix it for you. Book your ticket thru the internet --- and if possible --- avail of the web-check in. It is a lot easier once you get to the airport.

* Bring small bills instead of hundred dollar bills... Most stores do not have change. Bring dollar bills for tips.

* Learn to cross the road like a local in the busy city. You have to watch out for the bicycles and motorbikes more than the cars.. Feel free to use fellow tourists as human shields as they cross the road.

* Lastly.... have an open mind and I am sure you will  ENJOY your new adventure.

( Good bye )


  1. Wow Spectacular City! Even better photos!

  2. Thanks for the tips! How I wish there are direct flights from Manila to Hanoi. I've been to Ho Chi Minh once but I heard that there's much more culture in Hanoi than in HCM City. I hope I can also visit Hanoi someday. Thanks for sharing your trip :-)

  3. What a great adventure! I hope I can also visit Hanoi and have a great adventure like this. Anyway, thanks for sharing those tips.

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