Recent Trips

Hanoi & Halong Bay

A visit to the old city of Hanoi is like striding to an over a thousand-year-old city that is not short on history, magnificent architecture, and peacefulness. Other than cultural masterpieces, Hanoi brags numerous scenes of natural beauty. The most common scenery you'll find in the city are the serene lakes, and around them, incredible and high green trees casting shadows on sunny days.






Eating our way through the chaotic streets of Hanoi, one street food dish at a time, we enjoyed the experience of snacking like a local, sitting on little stools along the sidewalk. A major part of the experience was eating authentic Pho! The soup was incredibly tasty, and the noodles, soft. Both spicy and not, Pho was something we kept coming back for. 

Other (more exotic) food that we tried included snails, and some small boiled bird eggs (like smaller versions of "balut" in the Philippines). Also, we had the experience of having a BBQ on the streets, with octopus included as one of the meats. That was a delicious one, and it made me realize that people in Hanoi are extremely good at making and tasting food!




Aside from food, there are also numerous places that one can visit. Among many, the Tran Quoc Pagoda ought to be the first to see. It is the most seasoned, as well as a standout amongst other pagodas in Hanoi. At the center of the city, another tourist spot that you'll find are the historical Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. (There's a story about the lake that involves a magic sword, though I can't recall it exactly as much.) Also around the area is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum that you can visit both at daytime and once it's lit up at night.









A few hours away from Hanoi, Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin incorporates about 1,600 islands and islets, shaping a tremendous seascape of limestone columns. Maybe it's because I've had my fair share of beautiful beaches in other places in Asia, but Ha Long Bay for me was not about the waters at all for it was not as spectacular as I thought. What was striking to me during my tour though were the caves and the stalactite formations. Additionally, the site's remarkable picturesque excellence is supplemented by its incredible stories.

When planning a Ha Long Bay tour, you can choose to have either a full day or overnight cruise. I booked my full day cruise just two days before the actual tour date via Best Price Travel. It included a very comfortable pickup and drop off from Intercontinental Hotel (or wherever you might be staying), a delicious seafood lunch during the cruise (plus beer), and an English speaking guide. Let me not forget to mention, I got all of this for 50 USD only, and it was totally a steal!









Now if you still have some spare time, or have some souvenir shopping planned, you can head to the night market where you will find everything from clothes to keychains. If you're also looking for a place to chill when it's already a little late (since a lot of establishments close rather early), then I'd recommend Xofa Cafe for some evening beer or coffee with friends. For drinks, you'd have a good time and great view at Lotte Tower's rooftop bar. Indeed, Hanoi is an extraordinary place to explore, as there is a ton to see and do here. 





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