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Feb 05

January 2017 – Hanoi Trip Report

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Day 1:

We took the complimentary hotel shuttle to Ho Chin Minh Complex where the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, The Presidential Palace, The One pillar pagoda are all located.

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in the background

The One pillar pagoda, Hanoi

There were some shops by the One Pillar Pagoda and we did some souvenir shopping there.

The One pillar pagoda, Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Hanoi

We walked along the Ho Chin Minh mausoleum along the length of the street. After reaching the President Palace we turned back.

The Presidential Palace, Hanoi

It was time for lunch and we hailed a cab back to the hotel. Cabs are very cheap in Hanoi and a very good means of transportation in the city.

Entrance to Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Late afternoon we took the hotel shuttle to Hoan Kiem lake and walked around the neighborhood.

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

The Huc Bridge in the background, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

From Hoan Kiem Lake we walked to Old Quarter and after doing some window shopping, we ended up at Gia Ngu restaurant. We had some traditional Pho soup for dinner there. After that we did some souvenir shopping at the Old Quarter and then took a cab back to the hotel.


Day 2:

Tuan Chau terminal, Halong Bay

The main reason I added Hanoi to our itinerary was to visit the Halong Bay. Ideally, one should book multi-day Halong Bay cruise so as to really enjoy the scenery with leisure. However, due to lack of time, I had booked a day trip from Hanoi with Vietnam Awesome Travel (from Tripadvisor Reviews). It takes about 4 hours from Hanoi to Halong Bay but I found that Vietnam Awesome Travel Tour company offered a premium experience on a luxury van that used a newly built (and very expensive) highway that cut the journey time to 3 hours. Our van picked us up from Hanoi Opera House at 9:00 AM and we reached Halong Bay just before 12 PM.

Tuan Chau Terminal, Halong Bay

After boarding the boat, lunch was served. There was a variety of items such as shrimp, calamari, fish, Chinese egg roll and rice.

Lunch during Halong Bay Cruise

Lunch during Halong Bay Cruise

While we were eating lunch, the boat departed from the docks and made its way to the limestone cliffs in Halong Bay.

Halong Bay Cruise

Halong Bay Cruise

Halong Bay Cruise

After about an hour, we approached Ba Hang floating village where bamboo boats with a rower were waiting to take us on a ride below some of the caves.

Ba Hang floating village @ Halong Bay

Halong Bay Cruise

Halong Bay Cruise

Cave tour on Bamboo Boat @ Halong Bay

Bamboo Boat Tour @ Halong Bay

The tours are timed such that the ships reach the floating jetty at a time when there is high tide. During low tide the water around the caves gets shallow enough that the boats will not go through them to the lagoon.

Bamboo Boat Tour @ Halong Bay

Bamboo Boat Touron a lagoon @ Halong Bay

After about a 30 minute boat ride, we were back on the ship.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Parents @ Halong Bay Cruise

Our next stop was a cave tour at Thien Cung cave (Heavenly Cave).

Thien Cung Cave Tour @ Halong Bay

There are some parts of the cave tour that require climbing several steps of steep stairs and so might not be suitable for those who have mobility issues.

Thien Cung Cave Tour @ Halong Bay

Thien Cung Cave Tour @ Halong Bay

Thien Cung Cave Tour @ Halong Bay

Thien Cung Cave Tour @ Halong Bay

End of Halong Bay Cruise

Farewell to Halong Bay Cruise

After getting back to Tuan Chau terminal, it was another 3 hour uneventful journey back to Hanoi. It was a long but very exciting and memorable day on our Halong Bay tour and should never be missed if you are in South East Asia. I was lucky that I had finally checked off this destination from my bucket-list.

We were pretty tired by the time we reached hotel and went to bed soon after. Next morning we had an early morning flight to Singapore, our last stop on this itinerary.

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