Hitting Up Hanoi: Vietnam Travel Diary
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Hey, look, a travel post!
So this is the first in a series of a couple of posts from my time in Vietnam. I recently jetted across to South East Asia to not only visit my parents but to also have a bit of a holiday! We were heading to Vietnam I've been to Ho Chi Minh about 5 years ago but this time we did a bit more central & north Vietnam instead, including Hanoi, Hoi An and Da Nang. I hope you enjoy these kinds of posts - there is a part two coming as well as a food diary because, drool!
We stayed in the 3B Homestay Hanoi which is a cross between a serviced apartment and a hotel and is incredibly reasonable and is about five minutes walk from central Hanoi. Hanoi as a city is pretty walkable - almost everything is close by and even if you need to taxi, those are only about US$3. The city is insane, and there are motorbikes absolutely everywhere, but they go so slowly that you won't get hit (trust me!). It's got such an amazing bustle but fortunately you don't get heckled like you sometimes can be in many touristy locations.
We arrived at about 8am so had a full first day and spent the time exploring. My brother and I were suffering from a bit of jetlag so we opted for an open air electric cart tour (these are outside Don Xuan Market and are about US$15). This is brill for getting an idea of area and you start to realise how close together everything is! We then headed for dinner where we had Bit Tet (Beef Steak) and ventured off into the night market. I must admit, I was expecting your average SE Asia Tourism Tat but it's very much local and of course you can still get your Vietnam T-Shirts & keyrings but its also buzzing with food, life and general goods, all reasonably priced.
Day 2 consisted of more wandering. Because it's April, its not humid in the slightest and is around 25 Degrees C so it's great temperature for walking in! We wandered around the West Lake, which is stunning and then down to the Hoa Lo Prison. The prison was harrowing to say the least but was an incredible experience as it held both the Vietnamese political prisoners from the French Period and Americans (including John McCain) during the Vietnam war. Its definitely worthwhile going and for US$1, it's good for even tight budgets. And that afternoon, following an amazing lunch at La Place by St Josephs Church we did a bit of shopping. Because we've lived in Asia for quite a while, we weren't looking for touristy stuff but instead picked up cheap bits and bobs (read: iPhone gadgets & accessories) but it had to be done.
And finally, to finish the evening, we did a food tour. It was US$25 for each person and we visited at least six different eateries and tried a whole variety of foods. Because a lot of the local places often don't have English menus, this was ideal as the guide was able to explain what is in the food and where to go! There will be a more in depth post about food so if you're heading to Vietnam, it'll be easier to know what to eat! Definitely worth it as we tried things that I probably wouldn't have known to try otherwise!
Sidenote, for more pictures, don't forget to scroll through the gallery above.
What do you think? Have you ever been to Vietnam?