Remember Vietnam: Hanoi, Halong Bay and HoiAn...

My Vietnam (*)
Vietnam is a country I had dreamed to visit for the longest time. Earlier this March I got 10 extra days in between my move from London  to Geneva so after a friend mentioned Vietnam randomly in a conversation I "knew" I just had to go.

Now in 10 days (9 excluding the flights) I could not quite do a proper North to South trip (*). In the end I decided to focus on the North side and Hanoi due to its closeness to Halong Bay, a Unesco World Natural Heritage site I wanted to see.

Below a few excerpts of my trip - travelling solo - if you would like to see. I  apologize in advance for the lack of pictures. I left without a camera and manage to take the below with an old blackberry! Luckily I still have my eyes and memory for the recall.

I started my trip with 2 days in Hanoi, the second largest city after HochiMinh (Saigon). This city was really intriguing to say the least partly thanks to the non stop honking of motorbikes and cars at any time of the day and night.

Sleep: I stayed in the old quarter so I could easily enjoy the various attractions the city has to offer  but there are countless accommodations in Hanoi ranging from very budget friendly and relatively good quality to more luxurious experiences like the gorgeous Sofitel Legend Metropole.

Sadly the weather was not great during my stay but that did not stop me from walking around the city at times lost in translation, but always smiling and waving back to the hands saying "hello" to me.

Day 1
Strolling in the Old quarter also helped me feel the heartbeat of Hanoi as the city is definitely alive in those  narrow yet busy streets. There you can find many souvenir shops, clothing, sneakers at low prices as well as street foods and other delicacies everywhere.

Lake Hoan Kiem: there are many other ponds around the city but Hoan Kiem lake was the closest to  the old quarter and one I enjoyed most as it lights up at night offering a magical and beautiful sight.

Day 2:
There are way too many nice buildings, temples and pagodas scattered around the city. I managed to stop by the temple of Literature, the Hanoi Opera House, One Pillar Pagoda and further north the Tran Quoc Pagoda.

I also somehow managed to fit in  a brief stop by the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum for a sight of the historic leader. His body rests inside a nice coffin and occasionally "visits" other cities.

Halong Bay
Days 4 - 5
Next and by far the most anticipated highlight of my trip was a 2-day cruise along Halong Bay.
Once on the boat I met with lovely people and finally experienced the magical fogginess of Halong bay. Somehow going to this place felt like a mini meditation retreat which left me with a wonderful memory and upbeat feeling afterwards.

Hoi An
Days 6 -8
Back in Hanoi town for a transfer to the airport and after a short 30mn flight I arrived in sunny Hoi An. Though Hoi An is not as famous as Nha-trang (more south) for its beautiful beaches, it is a tiny cute village south of Hanoi and outside of Da-nang and is quite famous for its tailor shops. There I enjoyed cycling around the small town with its picturesque Venice feel, rice fields, temples and old houses. I also did get a few things tailored(***)

Day 9
On my last full day I booked a half day trip to My Son sanctuary. Though smaller than Angkor Wat and heavily impacted by the Vietnam war, the remains are still beautiful and give a sense of the ancient civilization who lived there.

I finished off the day with a quick trip on top of the Giant Buddha and Marble mountain to appreciate the view over the town.

Day 10- Flight back home

Now I can't wait to go back to Vietnam and explore more of the beautiful South and possibly a cruise along the Mekong river all the way Cambodia...

That's it for now!

Many many thanks for reading and don't hesitate to comment below :)

till next time


(*) or rather a tiny bit of it. I weighed heavily in between the North (best to visit from September to December with Hanoi as entry point) and the South (best to visit from December to April with Ho chin Minh as entry point). Oh and I just LOVE Vietnamese cuisine

(**) I kind of picked a random tour operator and loved it! To be fair most operators have same packages which you can inquire at hotel desks. the 2-day/1  night is the most common cruise though some people do stay longer

(***) I ended up at Bebe shop after a few hours comparing online reviews. All in all quite fun to do but in hindsight I would do just one suit if you have time and need one, otherwise you end up with fairly expensive things you will hardly wear


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