My Hanoi Experience

Just got back from Hanoi yesterday. The whole trip was tiring but still enjoyable and relaxing. This round, went for the trip with the whole family. My grandma, my parents, my sister, Mein’s parents, Mein and I. Total 8 pax. To me, it’s a huge group as I usually travel only with Mein. But anyhow, we managed to get the free Air Asia return flight tickets. As for our ground tour and hotel, we booked through PYO It’s really easy. By just clicking some buttons on the website and we are already enjoying in Hanoi!!! Yeah!!!

Touching down at Hanoi, we were welcomed by Trien (pronounced as “Chien”) the local tour guide. He brought us to a few places which is included in our half day tour; The One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, a local art gallery with children doing embroidery artwork, Opera Theatre, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, St Joseph Cathedral and Dong Xuan Market before checking in to Hao Binh Hotel.





I bumped into Rosni after coming out from the Temple of Literature. We quickly snapped a photo to prove that we’ve met! What a fate we have! 




In the evening, we walked to Hoan Kiem Lake area and passed by Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The girl at the counter was very fierce and not very friendly when tourists (like me) asked her for the tickets details. But the good thing about the show is that you can buy the tickets in advance for shows a few days ahead. Anyhow, we did not watch it as there were comments about the flops of the show more than its flips.



There are two things that I personally would like to advice tourists to Hanoi;

1)       Must try the small round pineapples there. They are sold everywhere on bicycles and baskets. You can either buy the readily cut ones or the fresh untouched ones. If can, buy one or two back to your hotel and cut it on your own as it’s not very clean to have the fruits exposed to the air for a long time by the streets in Hanoi. 


2)       Try closing your eyes when crossing their ever-busy roads. There are massive numbers of motorbikes all along the road and small walk ways. They just won’t stop for you when you cross (Even the traffic lights are red!). Just keep your feet moving and don’t stop until you reach the other end… closing your eyes may help. Haha! 


Close your eyes and WALK!!!


We wanted to look for food in the 36 streets area; the Dong Xuan area but we could not find any decent food. I mean there were a lot of their local delicacies like fried tohu, chicken noodles, rice and all but they were all selling these, squatting. Hmm… KFC perhaps! At last, we all ended having the international chicken meal for dinner. 




Dong Xuan Market 



From L to R : Mr Piglet, Ms Hen & Mr Duck





On the next day after having our breakfast, we started our 3 hours journey from Hanoi city to Halong Bay. I got to know a few new friends there. I met Bowe, Scott and wife, Talei from Australia and they are all really funny and cool. (Even Talei who is pregnant is adventurous enough to kayak! Believe it or not?! Salute to you mate!).  Everyone was very friendly as we find it easier to communicate in ENGLISH. Not to say the locals there can’t speak. But I find it difficult to understand the slang that they have when they speak English. They have very heavy Vietnamese accent when they speak.



From L to R : Talei, Scott, Bowe and myself 



Along the 3 hours journey, there were a lot of small tall and thin houses along the padi field area. Ninh (pronounced as “Ning”), the other tour guide explained that the locals have to pay for their houses according to the width of the front of the house. The land sold to them are all in the same measurement. Therefore, when they buy a piece of land, they would build the house as tall as possible as there are not extra charges for building high houses. The wealth of the locals are measured by how high their house are.   


Reaching Halong Bay, we were cruised to a very beautiful sea surrounded with natural rock islands. The scene is simply marvelous and indescribable. Later in the evening, we were toured to Hang Sung Sot (a cave) which is another beautiful sight. I love the natural designs, patterns and forms of stalagmites and stalactites in the cave. There was even one with in a shape of a Buddha and another of a tortoise shape. 




The Fighting Cock Islands (what a name?!)






 When we were on board, these floating 7-11 will be busy doing business 


Later, Mein and I join the rest of the tourists group for a kayak session. It was really exciting. Although it was my first time kayaking but I find it interesting and adventurous. We kayaked passing through as small cave to the other side of the rock island. It was such a picturesque view. It should be one of the once-in-a-lifetime kind of scenery which I managed to see.

At night, we rested on the upper deck of the cruise and talked. It’s my first time ever being so relaxed, lying down under the moonlight, with cool breeze blowing to my skin. The feeling is just so right!


On the third day, we were sent back to the hotel and we again walked to the Hoan Kiem Lake area for shopping. Remember, shopping here means bargaining. Every time we buy something, we have to bargain. If not, you’ll be charged a higher price for cheap things. This is also when calculators become useful. You don’t have to tell but you can just press the amount that you’re willing to pay to come out with an agreement of sales & purchase. Cool! I bought a wine holder and a coffee drainer for ourselves. Useful for our new house.


Saying good bye to Hanoi is a hard thing to do but it is something I have to do. Anyway, coming to Hanoi has opened my eyes to a place with such great determination and undying love to the country. Every one of them can’t let go a slight chance of earning for their living. You can see happiness in their eyes although they are not rich and this is what I call true wealthGet yours with PYO today!


*11 August 2009 : Amendments made for PYO Travel’s Blogger Contest.

3 thoughts on “My Hanoi Experience”

  1. Received a wonderful news from PYO Travel!!!************************************from : hq@pyotravel.comto : Dixon Thum <>date : Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 3:02 PMsubject : Re: Blogger ContestHi dixon, we have shortlisted you to be one of our finalist, go check out to find out more cheers and thank you


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