Although we did venture out to eat lunch or dinner (breakfast was included at the hotel), we basically stayed in our room for the first two days to work on our Southeast Asia itinerary. Based on our research, we quickly decided that one month isn't nearly enough time for exploring the region. We only had to pay $200 total to push back our flights from Bangkok to Kochi, India until 20FEB (originally 12JAN). With that big step taken, we were able to make some plans and start sightseeing.
|eating Christmas Eve lunch with the hotel staff|
TripAdvisor review of our hotel
Here are my random notes on the city:
- Many Hanoi restaurants have a few tables on the 2nd floor balcony so you can watch the action on the street below while you eat. Just watch your head - the ceilings are often less than 6 ft high!
- If you sit in one spot long enough, you could buy everything you need from the various roving street vendors (clothing, groceries, meals, books, baskets, toys, etc.).
- Street corner karaoke!
- Women carrying heavy baskets laden with food would often try to put the baskets on Greg’s or my shoulder so we could pose for a photo but then would expect a tip.
- Every time I order duck at an Asian restaurant I’m disappointed because it’s served on the bone and is often chewy or is just not enjoyable to eat.
- Our favorite meals were at restaurants NOT listed in the guidebooks!
- We encountered fewer smokers in Hanoi than in other big Asian cities like Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul although cigarettes were cheap at less than $2 per pack.
- Most people wear what I call “moto masks” which look like medical masks but are meant to prevent dirt from getting in the nose and mouth when driving. They come in a wide variety of designs, colors, prints, etc. and are very stylish!
- We were often approached by people selling illegal copies of guidebooks and novels. After awhile I noticed it was always the same 20 or so titles. Asking price was usually around $6-8 but could negotiate down to $4 depending on the title. Quality was generally good.
- A popular way to take an Old City tour is by “cyclo” or bike taxi. We would see caravans of cyclos 20+ long peddling tour groups around town!
- Most entrance fees were only around $0.50 per person. The best seats at the water puppet shows were $3 per person.
- Large grocery stores are hard to find but there are mini-marts everywhere selling all the basic necessities.
- Beer prices varied from 15000-30000 VND ($0.65-$1.50) for local brews.
- Most places in the tourist areas were festively decorated for Christmas even though there are few Christians in Vietnam.
- There are coins in the Vietnamese currency but we never received a single one.
- There is free wifi everywhere!