Where to go for a short getaway in South East Asia?!
I believe my cover photo revealed the answer!
We did a very impromptu 3 Days 2 Nights short trip to Hanoi in March. The weather was perfectly good during that period of time.
March in Hanoi, it was like air-conditioned weather in the morning and it turned warm in the afternoon. Autumn (September to November) and Spring (March to April) are the best time to visit Hanoi with the temperatures ranging between 18°C to 30°C. However, from May to October southwest monsoon summer months with some summer typhoon storms make the weather unbearable and humid with heavy rains.
Why did we decide to go Hanoi?
I was thinking we shall take a short break before our vacation in May. We were searching to go a lot of places in South East Asia, including Surabaya, Hong Kong, Pulau Langkawi, Danang, Bangkok (again), Bali and etc… But we have been hearing so much about Halong Bay. It was recommended by Grab Hitch driver, colleagues and online reviews. We found out that the air tickets and accommodations were still cheap at that time, (in one month time). So we decided to go Hanoi!
We took an early morning flight to Hanoi from Singapore. So we had a whole day to explore Hanoi city.
Here is our itineraries in Vietnam:
Day 1: Explore Hanoi city
Day 2 and Day 3 : 2D1N cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay
First meal of the day in Hanoi!
Yup! Chopsticks and spoons are placed on the floor because their tables are too small and their stools are too small for my big butt. HAHA!
It is called BANH DA. (VND 15,000 per bowl/ SGD 0.88/ MYR 2.62)
We adventurously walked in and ordered the dry noodle and soup noodle without knowing what were the meats for the dishes. But it looked good to us and we were very curious how is it taste like. We asked the school kids seated opposite us about these dishes. We were told that it is crab soup for the soup noodle and it is served with pork.
I preferred dry noodle! I really like the textures and the taste of the dry glass noodle!
It was a very unique experience to sit on a small stool and eat like a local. You should try this dish too!
After our satisfying lunch, we started our city tour all by walking.
1.Hoan Kiem Lake Park
Situated in Old Quater. The temple was built in commemoration of the 13th century military leader Tran Hung Dao who was renowned for his bravery in the battle against the Yuan Dynasty.
Read more at: http://www.vietnam-guide.com/hanoi/hoan-kiem-lake.htm
Hoan Kiem Lake Park in day time.
Hoan Kiem Lake Park in night time.
It was really beautiful at night. However the gate is close at night.
Opening Hour: Every day from 0800-1800
Estimated spending time: 15-30 minutes
2. Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of Jade Mountain)
Located right inside Hoan Kiem Lake Park.
We didn’t enter the temple as we are not interested and entrance fee is needed. You can read more stories about Hoan Kiem Lake Park and Ngoc Son Temple in this link. You also can read the reviews online first before paying to go to Ngoc Son Temple.
Entrance Fee: VND 20,000/ SGD 1,17/ MYR 3.50
Opening hours: 0800-1800
Recommended visiting time: 15-30 minutes
3. Drew Coffee
Egg coffee and Coconut coffee.
Come to Vietnam, you must try their local dishes and drinks!
On our way to Thang Long Citadel, we tried one of the recommended local coffee at Drew Coffee.
I personally do not like Egg Coffee because it was too foamy to me.
Opening Hours: Everyday 0700-2300
Address: 6b Cửa Đông, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
4. Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Thang long Citadel has a long history since the 11th centuries and it was recognised by Unesco as a World Archaeological Site.
The mini sunflower garden outside the gate of Thang long Citadel.
Entrance Fee: Adult VND 30,000/ SGD 1.76/ MYR 5.25
Vietnamese students of 15 or above with valid student cards and Vietnamese old people of 60 or above with identification cards is VND 15,000
No fee required for children under the age of 15.
Opening hours: 0800-1700
All days except Monday.
Location: Số 19C Hoàng Diệu, Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Estimate spending time: 1 Hour
5. Hanoi Train Street
The speeding old train passes the residential area twice a day.
One in the afternoon at 3 pm and another one passes in the evening at 7pm.
Hanoi train street is located between Lê Duẩn and Khâm Thin street in Hanoi’s old quarter.
6. Hoa Lo Prison Museum (Hanoi Hilton)
A prison used by French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.
More infomations on https://www.learning-history.com/vietnamese-prison-hanoi-hilton/
Most exhibits relate to the prison’s use up to the mid-1950s, focusing on the Vietnamese struggle for independence from France.
Read More on https://www.lonelyplanet.com/vietnam/hanoi/attractions/hoa-lo-prison-museum/a/poi-sig/1141862/357880
Entrance Fee: Adult: VND 30,000
Opening Hours: 0800-1700
Location: 1 Hoả Lò, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
Estimate Spending Time: 1 Hour
7. Saint Joseph Cathedral of Hanoi
Saint Joseph Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and it was built about 120 years ago.
Location: 40 Nhà Chung, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 100000, Vietnam
More informations on https://hanoifreelocaltours.com/saint-joseph-cathedral-hanoi/
8. Night Market.
Hanoi Night Market happens on every weekend from Friday to Sunday through Old Quarter district from 19:00 onwards, starting from Hang Dao Street and running north to the edge of Dong Xuan Market. Roads were closed for pedestrian walking and it was a long stretch of market selling a lot of clothes, some fake branded stuff and street foods. A lot of activities going on near by the park like group rope skipping, singing, shuttlecock and etc... We were quite amazed how the locals turn the night into a very vibrant street!
Opening Hours: Friday - Sunday 19:00 - 23:00
Address: Hang Dao Street, Old Quarter, Hanoi
Other recommended attractions to visit in Hanoi.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
photo from: https://www.moonshinepalacehotel.com/attractions/ho-chi-minh-mausoleum.html
The final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, the most iconic and popular leader of Vietnam, known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho’. His body is preserved here in a glass case at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in central Hanoi (albeit against his wishes).
Security is tight and visitors should dress with respect (no shorts, sleeveless shirts and miniskirts) and everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before getting in. Visitors are not allowed to stop and hold the constant queue up as the place is constantly busy. Uncle Ho’s remains are sent yearly to Russia for maintenance therefore the mausoleum is closed usually from October onwards. It’s best to recheck with your hotel tour desk before visiting.
Read more at https://www.moonshinepalacehotel.com/attractions/ho-chi-minh-mausoleum.html
Entrance fee: By donation
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 07:30 - 10:30, Saturday & Sunday 07:30 - 11:00
(Long queue starts early in the morning before the gate open.)
Location: 8 Hung Vuong, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh, Hanoi
Water Puppet Show
Photo from http://topsvietnam.com/hanoi-nightlife-things-to-do-in-hanoi-at-night/
Entrance Fee: VND 100,000/ SGD 5.86/ MYR 17.60
Show Time: 1530/ 1700/ 1830/ 2000/ 2115
Location: No.57B, Dinh Tien Hoang (Ðinh Tiên Hoàng) Street, Hanoi
Hanoi Opera House
photo from https://hanoifreelocaltours.com/hanoi-opera-house/
Built from 1901 to 1911, it was a special project of French Government when French occupied Vietnam.
More about Hanoi Opera House, tours and shows, you can visit https://hanoifreelocaltours.com/hanoi-opera-house/
Ticket Price: VND 400.000/pax (50% discount for students)
Opening Time: 10:30 AM every Monday and Friday.
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes (from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM)
Address: No.01 Trang Tien Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
For visiting inside:
Contact to get Tickets:
(024) 3 933 0131
(024) 3 933 0113/224
OR you can buy a ticket directly at the Opera House No.01 Trang Tien Street.
The hotel we stayed in Hanoi, Hanoi Christina Hotel
Deluxe Room with free breakfast for 2.
Comfortable level and overall satisfaction: 3.8/5
I booked via Booking.com: http://www.booking.com/Share-dnkLoA
That is the end of Day 1!
Generally, we were happy that we managed to visit a lot of attractions in a day. If you have one more day to spend in Hanoi, you could visit this link for more activities to explore in Hanoi!
Day 2 and Day 3, 2D1N Halong Bay-Bai Tu Long bay on Garden Bay Luxury Cruise
Another Unesco World Heritage
Cruising on Bai Tu Long Bay.
We started our day with free breakfast at Christina Hotel. Pick up to Halong Bay was at 7.45am.
Journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay: 3 Hours 30 minutes
Taking the tender to our cruise
I have to say, we truly enjoyed our 2D1N cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay with Garden Bay Cruise. We highly recommend you to take the tour with Garden Bay Luxury Cruise.
We were glad that we did not do a day trip to Halong Bay because we felt it was not enough to spend 2D1N cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay because Bai Tu Long Bay is so beautiful and the air was so clean and fresh!
Garden Bay Cruise did not cruise on Ha Long Bay because Ha Long bay is now filled with many cruises (500 cruises a day). If you are doing day tour, then you will be only visiting Halong Bay with limited time and activities.
We were served with welcome drink, some introduction for the tour of the day and we got our key!
We can't wait to see our room!
We got a balcony with our room!!!
At the balcony in our room.
From pick up from the hotel in Hanoi to transfer from port to the cruise it took up almost 5 hours.
By the time we started our first exploration in Bai Tu Long bay (after lunch), it was already 3.30pm
First stop, VungVieng Fishing Village and Pearl Farm
We were given a choice to choose to enjoy the bamboo boat or kayaking around the village.
My partner does not really like water activities. But I wanted to try kayaking so badly so I asked him to join me for kayaking.
In the end, he was loving it! He did most of the kayaking while I kept taking pictures and videos. He was so proud of his kayaking skills. HAHAHAHA!
Kayak route map in Vung Vieng fishing village.
Ban Chan Beach
A small beach in Bai Tu Long bay for tourist to enjoy sunbathing, swimming and play beach volleyball.
Back to the boat and cruise will be anchoring at Cong Dong- Cong Dong area for overnight.
Cooking Class, learning how to make Vietnam spring roll.
And our spring rolls were served as our dinner!
Night in Bai Tu Long Bay.
Our activities finished after dinner, they do offer activities like squid fishing, board games and etc... but it seems like everyone were tired and back to their room after a while. So we did some small talk and played some board game at the balcony then we call it a night.
How amazing to wake up with this awesome view right beside your bed!
Tai Chi Class at 6.30am
Thein Canh Son Cave, the only cave in Bai Tu Long ( 7.45am)
With our tour guide! He is very friendly!
IT'S TIME TO GO HOME BUT WE DON'T WANT TO LEAVE.
Bai Tu Long Bay from Thein Canh Son Cave.
We went back for shower and check out at 9.30am. Enjoying our last moment on the cruise while the cruise was cruising back to Halong Bay.
View from Thien Canh Son Cave, Bai Tu Long Bay
About 2D1N Garden Bay Luxury Cruise
1 bottle of water on shuttle bus
1 bottle of water on board
Cooking class activities
Entrance fee, insurance & free kayaking
1 Breakfast, 2 Lunch meals and 1 buffet dinner on board
English speaking tour guide
Another reason why we choose Garden Bay Luxury Cruise:
I have been searching a lot of Halong Bay cruise tour online and engaged a few of companies offered suitable itineraries. But our main concern was the trip back from Halong Bay to Hanoi airport. Garden Bay Luxury Cruise provided the most professional service, prompt in email reply and good arrangement for us.
I even had an email reply from a cruise company telling me that if I want to make it for the cruise, I should not book my flight at such timing.
We made a special request to send us back to Hanoi early as our flight suppose to depart at 1620. (In the end our flight got delayed by almost 4 hours)
According to their itinerary, we will only be sent back to shore at 12pm. By the time we reach Hanoi will be around 5pm. Because we need to be at the airport latest by 3 pm, so we made a request to send us directly from Halong Bay to Hanoi Airport. So after we finished our lunch on board, we took their first tender at 10.45am which shipped passengers' luggage and dirty laundries back to the shore.
Journey from Halong Bay to Hanoi airport (PrivateCar): 3 Hours and 30 Minutes
But our driver drove very fast. We reached airport early (in 3 hours) and even have time for another lunch in the airport, but in the end our flight got delayed ><
3D2N in Hanoi
Travel period: 23 - 25.03.2018
Air tickets: Scoots for 2 Pax, SGD 576.72/ MYR 1720.85
Hanoi Christina Hotel & Travel(via Booking.com): SGD 49 for one night /MYR 146.20
2D1N Garden Bay Luxury Cruise, (via Booking.com): SGD 271( for 2 pax)/ MYR 808.60
Grab Car from airport to hotel: SGD 13.51/ MYR 40
Hotel to Halong Bay: USD 10 one way (Per pax )/ SGD 13.65/ MYR 40.76
Halong Bay to Hanoi Airport (direct): USD 100, per car/ SGD 136.50/ MYR 400.76
Chubb insurance via Amex: SGD 28.20 (couple package)/ MYR 84.10
Attractions Entrance Fees:
Thang Long Citadel & Hoa Lo Prison: VND 60,000 x2 = VND 120,000/ SGD 7/ MYR 21
Hotel and Cruise company:
Hotel in Hanoi: Hanoi Christina Hotel & Travel(via Booking.com): http://www.booking.com/Share-dnkLoA
2D1N Garden Bay Luxury Cruise, (via Booking.com): http://www.booking.com/Share-2a4tEG
Total of expenses, everything including personal expenses( money exchange, food and souvenirs) :
SGD 1287.34/ MYR 3840.54
SGD643.67( per pax.)/ MYR 1920.75
BAI TU LONG BAY you are too gorgeous and we will be back to explore more next time!
We are planning to come back to Hanoi again to explore Monkey Island in Cat Ba, Lan Ha Bay, Halong Bay and Sapa when we have a longer holidays!
Till next time!
Photos are taken by Panasonice GF9, mostly by iPhone 7 plus.