14 Nov 2013
The trip that I've been looking forward to for more than a month! We were quite worried as Typhoon Hai Yan was passing by Halong Bay at the start of the week. Luckily the storm was over when we got there on 14 Nov, Thursday. The sky's clear and weather was pretty cooling. TR 2308 brought us safely to Hanoi at about 11am (Hanoi local time). I arranged taxi with our first hotel - Rising Dragon Grand Hotel, a 7-seater at USD 21 (VND 441,000). It took us about 45-60min to reach our hotel from the airport. If you are going to Vietnam for the first time, be prepared to face massive motorbikes and at least 10-20 horns per minute. I guess that's the way they communicate to each other as there aren't many traffic lights. However, the traffic does flow very well. So, don't be offended if they horn at you. =)
|On our taxi from the airport to the hotel|
|Building in Old Quarter|
|Deluxe Double Room|
|Bathroom - Blue is for hot water, Red is for cold water. *strange*|
|And of course a selfie =P|
|Highway 4 Restaurant Exterior|
|Bun Cha . Nem Cua Be|
The 6 of us shared one bowl of sweet soup with one plate of noodles and one plate of chicken + fried spring roll. I like the sweet soup with noodles! Many locals were having meal in this stall too. Most of them dived their chicken into the soup but we didn't do so. All these costed us VND 50,000 (approx. SGD 3.13).
Walking along the streets, we saw another place with hot pot. Looking at the crowd, we decided to give it a try too. The price of the hot pot was VND 300,000 (SGD 18.75) - VND 50,000 each. Honestly, this hot pot was nothing special. It's just soup base with the meat you want, adding instant noodles and some vegetables. I spotted rabbit meat on their menu. Erm.... No we didn't order it.
|Menu with Rabbit Dishes|
If you're on a budget tour, or you wanna save cost on a city tour, I'd recommend you to take on a free tour, yes, a FREE OF CHARGE tour, by Hanoikids. Website: http://hanoikids.org/ They are university undergraduates from different universities in Hanoi who volunteer to take tourists around the city attractions in Hanoi city. You just need to pay for their meals, attractions' entrance fees and transport. We engaged them for a half day city tour starting from 2pm, at our hotel.
Initially, we intend to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum but it was closed as early as 11am. Do remember to cover all your body parts (except face) if you are heading over to the museum. Since it's closed, we walked to our first destination - Temple of Literature.
|Street Barber Shop|
|Temple of Literature|
|Temple of Literature's Ticket Booth - VND 20,000 (SGD 1.25) per ticket|
|Huiping and I - taken outside Temple of Literature|
|So pretty <3|
|Stones carved with scholars' names|
|Statue of Confucius|
|Nicest dish out of all|
Feeling refreshed after filling up our stomachs, we marched towards the Mausoleum even though it's closed. There were many modern buildings as we were approaching the Mausoleum, very different feel from the old quarters.
|Cute baby boy|
|The Magnificent Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum|
The presidential palace is just a street across the Mausoleum. If you wanna snap a picture, do it quick as this place do not allow photography and the security guards will shoo you off once they spotted you with a camera.
|Presidential Palace - Yellow House|
|Entrance of Presidential Palace|
After walking for the whole day, from our hotel to different sight seeing places, we were all exhausted. Our tour guides hailed a taxi (7-seater) for 8 of us - 4 girls at the back, 3 guys in the middle and 1 other male tour guide at the front, next to the taxi driver. It was a very squeezy and bumpy ride back to our hotel area. The taxi ride from west lake to our dinner place Nét Huế Restaurant took about 10-20min with the heavy traffic and cost about VND 160,000 (SGD 10). I always trust Ma Linh taxi company and will only take with them. They run on proper meter and will not quote you a fare themselves, very reliable.
Nét Huế offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine at affordable prices. Do give it a try!
|Nét Huế Restaurant Menu|
|Nem Lui - I call this a WIY (wrap-it-yourself) dish as you need to wrap the ingredients into the wrap yourself|
|After wrapping, you need to pull out the lemongrass stick from the meat, dip into the sauce and you're good to go!|
|My noodles cost VND 50,000 as there's an additional Crab Meat ball - I find this dish so-so only|
|Group Photo of us and the Hanoi Kids Tour Guides|
|Saw this Z Z Z Club while we were on our way back to hotel|
|Comga Drink Menu|
|They have all-day breakfast!|
We ended our first day in Hanoi with a small drinking session. Next day gonna be exciting as we are heading to Halong Bay for a 2D1N cruise with Indochina-Junk! Stay tuned for the Day 2 blog-post! Halong Bay is very beauuuuutifulllll!