Hanoi, Vietnam

I flew with Vietnam Airlines economy. The flight was only 1 hour and a half from Bangkok to Hanoi.

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Emigration took around 45mins which felt a long time and when we finally went to collect luggage we waited a further 20-25mins.

 

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We got a taxi to our hotel (Hanoi old town hotel) which took under an hour. We headed out to Hanoi town and realised it would be a challenge to cross the road. Martin got hit by a car’s wing mirror which caused me to panic a lot.

 

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After spending a few hours in Hanoi I have decided I am not a huge fan of this area. I have a great fear of fast cars and people on motorcycles that seem to just drive however they fancy. We did witness someone on a motorcycle get hit by a car and his head was all bloody.

 

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On the plus side, the food here is lovely and cheap.

 

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Hanoi Old Town Hotel

Address: 95 Hang Chieu St., Hoan Kiem Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam

Positives:

  • The free breakfast

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  • WiFi- Make sure you log into the correct one, There are different WiFi access’s according to which floor you are on

Negatives:

  • Bathroom was abit dirty
  • Room service

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Do NOT order room service- On the first night I couldnt be bothered to deal with the busy traffic to find food so I ordered a pizza from the hotel. They charged over 4 pounds for it which is considered alot here. It took ages to arrive and it was definitely ordered in, not cooked by the hotel.

Hanoi

After a good night’s sleep I started to enjoy Hanoi abit more than I did to begin with. It wasn’t the greatest weather today, but fortunately We packed our raincoats (Yes they look awful and very unstylish but at least we are dry).

Ngoc Son Temple -The Temple of the Jade Mountain

We decided to go on a walk around Hanoi town and visited Ngoc Son Temple -The Temple of the Jade Mountain, located on Hoàn Kiếm Lake in central Hanoi, Vietnam. It costs 60 pence to visit and is a small oasis of peace and calm in the middle of the chaotic frenzy of Hanoi.
This temple is similar to all the others. It is quite small and the only difference is that it is connected to dry land by a red bridge. I would suggest only to visit if you are in the Hoan Kiem Lake area.

Today we went to different travel agencies in search of a Halong Bay cruise excursion. We went to three agencies but decided to book one with our hotel as we got a better deal.

We ate out at Gecko. If you want fast, slick service with good food at a very decent price, this is the place. It appears to be very small but very popular, hence the speed of service which was always very friendly. The setting is warm and friendly, and the decorations give it a nice atmosphere. It is a good destination for when you want to take your time in the old quarter. There are a few other Gecko places I’ve seen when walking around, so they must be a chain.

Thang Long Water Puppet Theater

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At around 7.40pm we decided to head out to buy our tickets to the water puppet show scheduled for 20:00 at the famous Thang Long Water Puppet Theater.

We had around 25mins to kill and felt a tad hungry so decided to go to KFC. It was a hilarious experience. You pay on the first floor and pick up your order on the 2nd floor and eat on 2nd or third floor! We shared a coke, large popcorn chicken and fries for £3.

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We rushed our KFC in order to make the show. A large bus pulled up with loads of tourists on it and stopped outside the theatre. We were so glad we bought the tickets early or we would have been screwed.

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It is very cheap (only VND100,000 each – about £3 or $5). It gets busy with tour buses so I would advise to buy tickets in advance. Seats are assigned.

There are two prices – close to the stage and not so close. We chose close to the front as didnt want to sit in the back and not be able to see much.

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The cheap tickets are right at the back – get a tickets closer to the front as its quite dark so its hard to get a clear shot from the back.
It is pretty amazing how the people in the back work the puppets with long sticks. At the end they all appear so you can see who the performers were. The show length does get a bit boring towards the end but 45 minutes is definitely enough.

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A Traditional and historical theme is played throughout the performance, detailing the lives of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends (Le Loi returns precious sword…), with a modest performance that has appealed to audiences for centuries.

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At the end of the puppet show the puppeteers come to the stage

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After the show we decided to just go back to the hotel and order a pizza to the room as the weather wasn’t great.

Show times:

There are puppet shows on every day at 15:30 – 17:00 – 18:30 – 20:00 – 21:15 and Sunday at 9:30

Ticket prices:

Ticket costs between 60.000 – 100.000 VND ($3-5) and can be purchased at doors or by contacting the theatre

Crossing the street

Crossing the street in Hanoi or any other city in Vietnam can be daunting at first. The traffic is maddening and chaotic, there seems to be no traffic rules, and there is not a working cross-walk in the country.  To help you cope with the action of crossing the street safely, here are a few tips that I picked up along the way:

  1. Don’t look both ways. In fact, it’s better if you don’t look at all. It is also a mistake to focus on the oncoming traffic. If you make eye contact with other road users, you automatically forfeit the right of way.
  2. Don’t hesitate. Waiting for a lull in traffic is hopeless, so if you want to get across, just go. And, when you’re in the middle of the street, don’t stop, keep going. Know that traffic will adjust to you.
  3. Don’t run! If anything is going to get you killed in Vietnam, it’s attempting to run across the street. Take it slow, walk in a straight line, keep a steady pace, and traffic will flow smoothly around you.

Crossing the street in Vietnam is anything but pedestrian. But if you approach the problem with a healthy dose of newfound confidence you should live to tell the story.

Watch me cross the road:

 

If you think crossing the road is scary try being on the back of a scooter!

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