Category Archives: VIETNAM

Our Journey To Hue

We had various options to get to Hue. We could have gone back to Hanoi, then get a sleeper train or a bus from Ha Long City to Hue taking us about 16 hours, or the option we chose was to get a 5-hour coach journey to an area called Ninh Binh, and then get the sleeper train at 22:30.

This journey wasn’t too bad, the 5-hour bus journey flew by considering we weren’t even sat together and the person I was sat next to was half on my seat spread out soundo with her mouth wide open the whole journey. The bus journey ended up stopping at Tam Coc which is where we waited another 4 hours. We got some dinner, (pizzas) and just chilled in a bar until it was time to leave.

It was now time to make our way to Ninh Binh train station, we jumped in a taxi and 10minutes later we were there. We waited some more, and then our train arrived.

We were quite snobby as we did book 1st class which meant we had a cabin to share with 2 others and we had soft beds. This cost us around £26 each and we booked it via 12go.asia, one of the biggest online transport websites in Asia.

We both had mixed feelings about this, both dreading it but a little bit excited at the same time – unsure what to expect, it turned out to be a breeze! The toilets were something else though, I think it would have been more hygienic to pee my pants to be honest, but needs must. Our long 12-hour journey came to an end, we stepped off the bus and was instantly slapped round the face with humidity. We were then faced with a fog of taxi drivers in our faces.

We chose to walk to our hotel as it was only a 20-minute walk from the train station, but this was a bad decision. With our massive bags on our back and our small bags on our front, there was no room for our skin to breathe, meaning our arrival at the hotel was a sweaty one!

Advertisements

Viva Las Ha Long

My first impression of Ha Long City is wow. The views are incredible, however, it is very commercialised. We liked the area, but there isn’t a huge amount to do and we were literally the only Westerners. In the evening, there are dazzling hotel lights and fountains and it looks amazing.

I almost felt like I was in Vegas!

On our first full day in Ha Long City we wandered around searching for something to do, we checked out the half-built theme park but this wasn’t open until 3 pm and we decided against it because it was slightly out of our budget. So instead we took a long walk to the beach. It was probably only about a 30-minute walk, but when it is scorching hot and your back is dripping with sweat, the walk just seemed to never end. Eventually, we made it to the beach, and it was so worth the tiring walk! With palm trees scattered all down the golden beach, and no-one but us, it was so peaceful.

We stayed for a couple of hours just enjoying the weather and views and then we headed back. We began to start walking back in the hottest part of the day with the sun blaring down on us, we had our caps on and towels over our heads looking like we were trying to survive in the desert. We stopped off for a well-deserved ice cold soft drink and bite to eat, and then decided we would definitely get a taxi back to our hotel.

That evening we went on a cable car (costing us around £10 each) which took us to what looked like a ‘fairyland’. When we got to the other side there was a giant Ferris Wheel (included within the price) which was all lit up, you could see over the city and the views were just surreal.

Whilst on this fairyland included within the price of the cable car we were allowed to go into a waxwork display. This was nothing but tragic, but did provide us with a lot of humour! (yes James decided to get a selfie with Vladimir Putin)

I’ll let the photos do the talking… still can’t work out if this one is meant to be the Queen or Helen Mirren?

17918782_1689959067686354_2129193165_n

After our cable car adventures, we went to a bar. We were both craving some Western food, so we both tucked into a burger and spaghetti Bolognese, it tasted so good!

17916561_1689966404352287_2132360744_o

Our final few days in Ha Long City we weren’t feeling too good, this wasn’t too much of an issue seeing as we had run out of things to do and see in Ha Long anyway. We just spent the day in our room and on the rooftop overlooking the City writing out our blog and reflecting on our trip so far.

The hostel we stayed in was the Halong Cheers Hostel and in terms of room quality, it wasn’t the best. It wasn’t that clean and we didn’t have any hot water! But, the staff were the friendliest people on the planet. Which is why they probably have such a good rating on Trip Advisor? Any issues we had they would help us sort. They even gave us access to the empty room across the hall from ours to use the shower! which made up for the issues with our room, but I guess that’s what you get when you pay £5 each a night?

Again, whilst we wouldn’t rush to go back, we enjoyed our time at Ha Long. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others unless they are near the area or need a pit stop after the cruises. It is different and wasn’t what we were expecting, but we are glad we did get to experience it.

Ha Long Bay

We woke up in good timing (too early if you ask me) and left our not-so-lovely hostel to begin our journey to Ha Long Bay. We travelled there with a coach full of people, and luckily both managed to re-charge our batteries. 4 hours later and we had arrived, we went to the port, got our tickets and boarded the boat.

17911068_1687518611263733_1628766642_n

We had lunch as soon as we got on and despite requesting something other than seafood, I was presented with a table full of seafood – lovely! I resulted in eating plain rice and about 5 chunks of chicken. I was soon distracted from thinking about my hungry belly because the views were just incredible.

Whilst on the cruise we got to see various attractions. The first attraction was the floating village where we got to go on a bamboo boat and go around the rocks. This was incredibly interesting as we were able to see the formation of the rocks. This was once classed as one of the 7 wonders of the world and I can completely understand why.

We then moved onto the next attraction which was ‘The Kissing Rock’

SAM_2354

These rocks have been facing each other for hundreds of thousand of years, and are actually a picture on the 200,000 VND currency note over here.

Finally, we went into the Thien Cung Cave, this was also amazing. Our tour guide was fantastic, explaining all the different ‘animal’ shapes inside the cave – although I’m still convinced she was making it up as she was going along, or maybe I just have no imagination whatsoever?!

And of course, the views at the top were simply breathtaking!

If you ever travel to Halong Bay then I would definitely recommend doing a Halong Cruise – even if you are on a budget like we were, do a 1-day cruise. I can guarantee that you wouldn’t regret it.

The best cruises can be found below:

Best Cruises In Ha Long Bay

At the end of the cruise, we picked up a taxi and was dropped off in Halong City. We freshened up and wandered around to find somewhere to eat.

Goodbye Hanoi, Hello Ha Long Bay

As we said goodbye to Hanoi, it was time to move onto our next destination, Ha Long Bay. We were going to travel to Ha Long Bay via bus which would cost us around £10 each one way. We were being haggled by people trying to get us to do a boat cruise to Halong Bay which made us think, that might not be a bad idea. There are many different types of cruises and eventually, we chose a 1-day cruise.

We would have loved to do an overnight cruise, but that was quite out of our budget so we opted out.We researched all over the internet where we could get a decent cruise from, and discovered a page on the internet explaining about scams. In Hanoi there is a company called ‘The Sinh Tourist’ – however, there are only a handful of ‘real’ shops.  There are many fake versions.

These two are the real offices in Hanoi.

 

Even our hotel was claiming to be one, we googled the address of the real shop and they had put a fake door number outside the property to mislead people. Fortunately, James clocked and we realised that actually, the real head office was just up the road from where we were staying.

Overall, staying in Hanoi was an enjoyable experience. The night life was great for us youngsters who wished to go out and enjoy the music and have a few drinks. The food was above average, I didn’t seem to have much luck with my meals but James enjoyed all of his thoroughly! Whilst we wouldn’t rush back, the city has a lot to offer and is definitely somewhere you will need to tick off your list.

 

Tip: when booking trips, I would advise to always book via The Sinh Tourist Office’s and look for the office on the contact us page. These are the legitimate offices in each city. If you are going into a shop, then always make sure that the email address and address match. DO NOT book with the centres that have a Gmail email address or if the centre is not listed on the above website as it is fake!!!

First Impressions of Hanoi

We arrived at Hanoi, tired and jet-lagged but so ready to explore. It was about 18:00, an hour wait and the night market was due to start. We were so hungry and there was so much to chose from. Eventually, we sat on tiny stalls down a side street and had beef noodles and lemon chicken with rice. The food was okay but didn’t meet our expectations.

Our first impressions of Hanoi weren’t brilliant, surrounded by nothing but mopeds and locals trying to sell you things.

We figured that it’s just something we need to get used to and that it’s just their culture, so maybe that’s why we weren’t overly impressed to start with.

After we had our dinner, we walked around and discovered an interesting looking bar, with lights and beer bottles hanging from the ceiling. We sat there for a while and enjoyed a refreshing beer whilst watching all the tourists and locals begin their night out.

Our first full day in Hanoi.  

We woke up in good time ready to start exploring. Although still jet-lagged and tired, we powered through it to see what Hanoi has to offer. We took a 20-minute walk to get to the Hoa Lo Prison, but stopping off for a Banh Mi (meat in a baguette) which was our breakfast although it was quite disappointing – so James had half of mine as well.

Polaroid CUBE

We made it to the prison which was really interesting holding a lot of History which we were unaware of, it was a real eye-opener as to how the Vietnamese people were treated by the French in the early 1900’s.

Polaroid CUBE

This attraction was 30,000VND (just over £1.00) and was worth the small money.

When we finished at the prison, we went to see the Ho Hoan Kiem Lake and the Den Ngoc Son Temple which was very pretty, with interesting trees.

It was very picturesque. This attraction was also 30,000VND, although we got our ticket for free from some other tourists who were unable to enter (bonus!).

In the evening, we went to a food stall where we sat and had our dinner. I had chicken cashews with rice and James had beef noodles.

SAM_2319

As you can tell, this was demolished

Polaroid CUBE

It really is a brilliant atmosphere just watching people go past us and enjoying their Friday night out, whilst we did the same. I must also add that I’ve never seen James’ face light up so much at the fact we could get 2 beers for 25,000VND (about 90p) – miracles can happen! The nightlife was buzzing, there were street performers scattered around the place and everyone just seemed so happy.

It was a great first day in this city and although we wouldn’t rush to come back, we would still recommend it if you aren’t phased by hustle and bustle and ALOT of mopeds.