We arrived to our Splendora hotel in Hanoi late at night. We learned from other travelers about the crazy motorcycle traffic, but truly we didn’t know what to expect. In the morning we received instructions about crossing the roads: “Stand on the edge, when it is a little less busy, walk across the street, at reasonable steady pace, the motorbikes will weave their way around you! DO NOT STOP, KEEP MOVING FORWARD and trust the drivers skills”. OMG it was real. And with that mind we went off to explore the city, facing the overwhelming traffic.
There is a lack of traffic lights around Old Quarters, and crossing the road felt like do or die business. In addition there was a relentless honking, where after couple hours we were getting agitated at the noise level.
During our visit we’ve sampled many Vietnameese dishes. Without a doubt our favorite was Hanoi’s most famous dish Bun Cha that is served only at lunchtime literally on the sidewalks.
One portion of bun cha (35,000 Kip) comes with the meat, noodles an herbs. The meal is completed with fried spring rolls (8000 Kip /roll and cold glass of iced green tea. At first we were hesitant to try it, but after being encouraged by the local people we sit down at the small table. The ordering was easy, as all we needed to do was to show how many portions we want to order. It was very delicious!
During our visit we visited:
Hoan Kiem Lake surrounding Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda sitting in the centre on a small island. As we were walking, we saw a group of a local people gathering at the lake , we also joined the crowd. It was a huge turtle appearing his head out of the water. Later we learned it is a very unusual to see the creature. There are only three other living examples in this species in another lake in Vietnam and two of them in a zoo in China. Many Vietnamese people believe you see the turtle, you will have a Good Luck. We were so happy to know that !
Ho Chi Minh Museum and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Hanoi Ancient Citadel. In 2010 the citadel was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi”. While we were visiting the site, there were many young boys and girls there. It happened to be a graduation date and there were many girls dressed in their traditional dresses and boys in suites.
We spend 2 days in Hanoi, before we headed off to Halong Bay.
We obtained the Vietnam Visa at the airport, with the obtained Authorization Letter ($20.00/person) before our trip ( a must have). The visa cost $45.00/person. One passport photo is required. Wait time about 45 minutes.
We stayed 3 nights at Splendora Hotel, a newly opened hotel located in Old Quarter of Hanoi. Our rate was $25.00 included breakfast. We made arrangements to be picked up from the airport on our arrival. The fee was $16.00. The entrances to the museums vary between 30-60 KIPs ($2-$3)
Prices for beer in Hanoi were a true bargain. Large Tiger beer cost 10,000 Kip at the bars near our hotel.