Date of Trip: October 2008
We have been home now for 2 weeks, so I thought I should do my last trip report on Hanoi.
We arrived at the Hanoi Paradise Hotel to a staff member waving & smiling on the foot path outside the door, asking if I was from V’explore & a warm welcome as the staff got our bags out & took us to our room. Have to love how well everything is organized by V’explore Travel.
Our room was on the top floor with a free bottle of wine & fresh fruit every day. The staff here couldn’t do enough for us & breakfast was cooked to order. The room was lovely & clean with toiletries supplied every day & right in the thick of everything in the old quarter.
One street near the hotel was full of shops selling lanterns & decorations for the full moon ceremony, it was so colorful & a real sight to see. I managed to buy 6 more lanterns to decorate our rather large outdoor area around the pool. We just wished we were staying long enough to be there for the celebrations.
The second day we were in Hanoi, which was Vietnams National Day, was our tour with Hanoi Kids. Two delightful girls met us at our hotel & we found our way to the Temple of Literature which we found fascinating as the girls explained the history of this beautiful place dedicated to Confucius . We moved on to the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. Unfortunately, it was closed, but the locals were out in their numbers to celebrate their National Day.
We ended the day with a beautiful meal in the old quarter, at a restaurant that the girls chose. The food was delicious & it was so cheap, less than $20.00 for 4 people with drinks and heaps to eat!
Most of the time we were happy to wander around the streets of Hanoi (& get lost!) having a meal where ever we fancied. We weren’t the only ones I might add that got lost, everyone seemed to be standing on a corner with a map in their hand and the traffic was relentless. A bit of a shock after Hoi Ann & Hue!
We loved Hoan Kiem Lake, it is such a peaceful place in the madness of Hanoi. It was very hot while we were in Hanoi and it was nice & cool by the lake & we enjoyed a couple of cocktails there late one afternoon. Another day we enjoyed lunch at the Legend Cafe, upstairs overlooking the lake. What a contrast this city is, a table full of white shirted business men having lunch near us, and back to the old quarter where they live life so differently.
We had organized a day trip to Halong Bay with Vietnam Awesome Travel by email before we left, and as we were wandering around the old quarter one day, I spotted their office so I we went in to confirm our booking. The guy at the desk knew who I was as soon as I enquired, so I left feeling confident about our trip.
Right on time the next day, we were picked up in a beautiful air conditioned vehicle with a driver & a guide to go to Halong Bay. Our guide was actually the owner of the agency, Anh, and he treated us like royalty. We had a beautiful boat to ourselves with about 8 or so staff attending to us, with a beautiful freshly cooked seafood lunch served with white linen table cloth & serviettes. We stopped at a floating fishing village & also explored beautiful caves at another island. We had the most wonderful day, the scenery was amazing, the sea so calm, and we felt so relaxed & pampered for the day. Anh would not accept any payment until we were returning to our hotel, he wanted to make sure that we felt satisfied with what we received for our money.
I have to recommend Anh at Vietnam Awesome Travel, this guy is serious about the service he gives & aims so hard to please. We felt we had truly received value for money on our trip to Halong Bay, we loved it.
Our 5 nights in Hanoi came to an end all too soon, we were so sorry to leave Vietnam. We had the most wonderful 3 weeks with no hassles at all, we couldn’t believe how easy it all was, the warm friendly people, all the hotel staff at every stop, our guides, drivers, V’explore Travel & Vietnam Awesome Travel. Not forgetting all the other great travellers we met & shared info with.
I sorted our photos into an album on the weekend and looking at them reminded us of our time in this beautiful place – Vietnam was everything & more than we had hoped for.
Two days after we came home, my husband had to have a follow up cat scan that has shown he needs major surgery in a couple of weeks for an aneurysm in his abdominal aorta. Our wonderful holiday has left us in the best frame of mind to face this, & the inspiration to see more of Vietnam when he recovers.
A big thanks to everyone who posts on TA for the wonderful information, I hope I have given something back.
Cheers – Wayvan