Monday, 4 August 2014

Hanoi - iWalk, iEat, iTaste, iSnap and iPho. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam (Part 2)

Hello all! Over the past two years, friends and colleagues have asked questions related to my travels to Vietnam back in 2012, as in what to see and what to do in Vietnam, which I wanted to share here. 

And yes, we both (myself and Kah Boon) travelled to Vietnam and it's a country full of cultural expression. Our trip to Vietnam was quite an adventure. Entering this country was relatively hassle-free! Our journey started in Ho Chi Minh City in the southern part to the northern part of Vietnam, and lasted for nearly two weeks. There are so many things to shop, to eat, to snap and of course also to experience the epic massive traffic in Vietnam.

Our trip lasted for 13 days, 12 nights in Vietnam and here’s what we did for our entire journey (from 10 September 2012 – 22 September 2012), focusing on the best places to see in Vietnam based on our tight budget:  <Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) – Hanoi – Sapa – Halong Bay - Hanoi> 

Day 1: 10 September 2012 
KUALA LUMPUR / HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy
Depart from Penang – Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut (Terminal 2)

Day 2: 11 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy

Day 3: 12 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy 

Day 4: 13 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee (Ho Chi Minh City
Hall) - Ben Thanh Market – Saigon Square - War Remnants Museums – Saigon Opera
House

Day 5: 14 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Chu Chi Tunnel - Reunification Palace - Notre Dame Cathedral – Old Saigon Post Office - Free & Easy

Day 6: 15 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON)/ HANOI - Took 0810 hr flight via Jetstar Pacific from Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport to Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal) – Old Quarter - Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) – Took night train to Sapa approx. 9-10 hrs (4-person cabin with bed) 

Day 7: 16 September 2012  
SAPA - Y Linh Ho – Lao Cai – Ta Van
Arrived Lao Cai at 6.00 a.m. and proceeded to Sapa by bus - Trekking (approx. 6km of
walking down to the South East of Sapa along the side of Muong Hoa valley to Y Linh Ho
Village of the Black H’mong – Trekking (approx. 2km to Lao Chai Village), through terraced
rice fields to Ta Van village of the Dzay minority people – Sapa Market / Town 

Day 8: 17 September 2012  
SAPA - Cat Cat - Sin Chai – Lao Cai-Hekou (Vietnam-China Border)
A walk down to the South-West of Sapa (approx. 4 km) to visit Cat Cat village of the Black
H’mong – Followed by a visit to waterfall and hydroelectric power station constructed by the
French - Sin Chai (approx. 6 km) to a village located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain, “the
Roof of Vietnam and Indo China” -  Lao Cai – Hekou (Vietnam-China Border) – Took
8.00p.m. train back to Hanoi 

Day 9: 18 September 2012 
HANOI / HALONG BAY (via Superior Dragon Cruise)  
Hotel pick-up at 5.00a.m. –  Halong Bay (4 hrs journey to Halong Harbor) – Board  Superior Dragon Cruise around 12.00p.m. and enjoy the breathtaking view around the bay – Visit to: Sung Sot Cave - Titop Mountain / Area and  Luon Cave Area - Kayak / Swim in the bay’s emerald waters - Vietnamese dinner plus night entertainment on the boat – Overnight on Superior Dragon Cruise (Halong Bay)  

Day 10: 19 September 2012 
HALONG BAY / HANOI 
Leisure time on Superior Dragon Cruise (Halong Bay) – Sail along the bay – Stop by Gia 
Luan Pier on Cat Ba Island - Halong Harbor – Hanoi (4 hrs journey to Hanoi Old Quarter) – Hanoi Guest House – Free & Easy 

Day 11: 20 September 2012  
HANOI 
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Ho Chi Minh Museum - Hanoi Royal Citadel - Hang Gai Street (Street of Hemp) - Temple of Literature - Perfumed Pagoda

Day 12: 21 September 2012 
HANOI 
One Pillar Pagoda - Tam Coc - Thang Long Water Puppet Show

Day 13: 22 September 2012 
HANOI / KUALA LUMPUR / PENANG 
Depart from Hanoi , Noi Bai Airport (International Terminal) via MH 753 – Kuala Lumpur
– Penang 

We took a domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon to Hanoi, my favorite place in all of Vietnam. Hanoi is the second largest city in the country behind Ho Chi Minh City, it is far less cosmopolitan and traditional Vietnamese culture is much more apparent there. Hanoi is also the gateway to Northern Vietnam.  From the Vietnamese “Ha” meaning River + “Noi” meaning Between = City between the Red River, the river that flows from Southwest China through Northern Vietnam. 

The famous Hoan Kiem Lake is also located in the historic centre of town.  A walk around this lake is a perfect escape from some of that chaos in Hanoi. Legend has it that the Golden Turtle God claimed a magic sword from an ancient emperor, an important symbol of his fight against the Chinese Ming Dynasty.  This emperor named the lake “Hoan Kiem” meaning “Lake of the Returned Sword” and a small tower was erected on an island within the lake (Turtle Tower) to commemorate this event. Oh yes, remember to look out for giant turtles!


You can't miss Hoan Kiem Lake when u come to Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake (or Guam) is in the heart of Hanoi Old Quarter
The tranquil scene of Hoen Kiem Lake along with the Huc Bridge
Our first stop was Hoan Kiem Lake, Lake of the Returned Sword
The statue of Ly Thai To - a famous king of the Ly Dynasty
To us, Hanoi is an awesome city to explore by foot. The Old Quarter in Hanoi is definitely the most popular spot in Hanoi and the best way to experience the Old Quarter fully is to simply walk around.
Strolling around the streets in Hanoi Old Quarter
Row of traditional buildings at Old Quarter
typical scene in the city
Don’t mind. Street is your restaurant
typical scene in the city
Test your Vietnamese bargain skills
A typical street scene at Hanoi
Wiring genius

There are plenty of museums and monuments in Hanoi, but we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum located in the centre of Ba Dinh Square, whereby the embalmed body of the infamous leader Ho Chi Minh were on displayed. And of course the famous water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater to enjoy water puppetry, a popular traditional form of entertainment. Its definitely a-must-see show in Hanoi! 

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Hanoi Presidential Palace, built in 1906 for French Governor-General of Indochina
Gothic architecture
St Joseph Cathedral (Nha Tho Lon), built in 1886 in neo-gothic style
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature
One Pillar Pagoda stands on one pillar
Myself at Hanoi Royal Citadel, built in 1010 as center of Thang Long capital during 11th - 18th centuries
Water Puppet Show - Definitely worth watching, at least once
Water Puppet Show finale 
The following day, we took a mini tour bus from Hanoi to Tam Coc, famous for its three caves, beautiful limestone landscape above the water and vast padi field. Along the way, the tour bus stopped us at a temple in Hoa Lu and then to Tam Coc. It took about 2 hours driving (approx. 110 km) to reach the destination. The boat ride, typically rowed by one or two local women took about 2 hour along the Ngô Đồng river. The route includes floating through three natural caves (Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba), the largest of which is 125m long with its ceiling about 2m high above the water. It was a great experience! If you are visiting during the summer, remember to bring along a good hat, cap or an umbrella to shade yourself from the burning sun. 
Want to have a buffalo ride?
The temple in Hao Lu dedicated to King Dinh and King Le, heroes during the 10th century
This is a very peaceful and scenic trip
Tam Coc known as Halong Bay on land boasting a breathtaking scenery
Darkness loom
The numerous motorbikes on the roads
If you plan on visiting the northern rice fields near Sapa or Halong Bay, it is convenient to travel through Hanoi. 

If I was asked at gunpoint to describe my personal Hanoi experience in a few words, it would unquestionably be: Swimming through the streets of Hanoi (bursting with all manner of stores, shops and sidewalk restaurants). Motorcycles everywhere, incessant honking, and same crazy road rules apply everywhere. Streets are narrow and buzzing with activity, people (which you cross at your own risk), very often women wearing the typical Vietnamese conical hat and baskets are hawking all sorts of things from different types of local food, and of course not to forget the telecom cables running everywhere right above your head! Pho well!   
Lotus spotted in Hanoi. Be reborn before the summer
Air Itinerary Details: 
(i)Malaysia Airlines: Penang - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut (Terminal 2)/ Hanoi Noibai - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) - Penang
(ii) Jetstar Pacific: Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport (Domestic Terminal) - Ha Noi - Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal) 

Accommodation: 
(i)    Lan Lan Hotel (Ho Chi Minh City)
73 -75 Thu Khoa Huan st, Ward Ben Thanh, District 1
Telephone: +84.838236789
Fax: +84.838273838 

Website:http://www.lanlanhotel.com.vn/

(ii)    Hanoi Guest House (Hanoi) <**highly recommended> 
85 Ma May Street - Hoan Kiem - Hanoi - Vietnam 
Tel/Fax : + 844 3 9352571 - 3  9352572 
Email    : booking@hanoiguesthouse.com (Ms Huyen) 
(**We booked our accommodations via e-mails before we departed on our journey and
booked our trips to Sapa and Halong Bay from the Guesthouse in Hanoi)

(iii)   Fansipan View Hotel (Sapa) 
Victoria hotel alley, Xuan Vien Street, Sapa town, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Tel:   (+84-203) 873 579 . Fax: (+84-203) 873 466 
Hotline:   (+84) 913 524 535

Local Transportation:  
 (i)Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Hanoi via Jetstar Pacific
How to get there:  Took domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport -
Domestic Terminal via Jetstar Pacific to Hanoi - Noi Bai Airport - Domestic Terminal Duration: 2 hour 10 minutes
Departure Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi: 15 September 2012 -  6:00 a.m. -  8:10 a.m. via BL790 (Jetstar Pacific)
Fares total: 74.87USD/for 1 way/person inclusive of tax/fee/charge
Click here for e-booking: http://www.jetstar.com/vn/en/home 

(ii)Hanoi – Halong Bay via Superior Dragon Cruise 
How to get there:  Hotel pick-up at 5.00a.m. (approx. 4 hrs journey), board Superior Dragon Cruise at 12.00p.m.  
Duration: 4 hrs journey by bus from Hanoi Old Quarter
Package / Fares: 73USD per pax for 2days/1night (all meals provided, on board entertainment, tour guide fees paid) 
Room type: Double bedroom with attached bathroom
For more details: http://halongdragoncruise.com/Main.aspx?MNU=1298&Style=1   

Read more about our travel experiences @ Vietnam:    
This is Saigon! Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam
Beautiful Halong Bay. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam  
Never forget that little Sapa, the true nature of Vietnam. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam
Myself along the street at Old Quarter
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries” – 
Aldous Huxley

Welcome to Small World! This blog is not a travel agency, but rather a personal site which allows me to share my past travel experiences in a straightforward and far-reaching way. I often made great use of other peoples travel blogs and sites every time I plan for my travel itinerary as they often contained most updated information and invaluable resources from their past travel experiences.  I hope that you will find every piece of information & images contained within my blog handy and useful. Thank you very much for reading my post(s) and feel free to leave a comment/testimonial or click "Like/Share" if you love reading them all. xoxo The writer is a passionate traveler who enjoys speaking to young keen travelers about the freedom to get cultured and to taste the fullness of life. Feel free to contact the writer if you need any travel advice, guidance or tips or if you have any burning questions with regards to your upcoming trip(s)/ journey 

Be inspired but more importantly be inspiring -  

6 comments:

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