We flew from Chiang Mai to Hanoi, where we were picked up by a taxi arranged by our hostel. We hadn’t expected how different Vietnam would be to Thailand but our introduction to Hanoi was definitely a bit of a shock. The taxi that took us into the centre of the city was more of a death trap with the driver constantly on the phone, swerving over lanes and constantly beeping at other cars and the hundreds of mopeds. Turns out this is completely normal in Vietnam! Once we checked into our hostel we were told we were actually in a different building down the road and instructed to get on the back of mopeds to take us there, which was a bit daunting heading into the crazy traffic! In the evening we found a restaurant for dinner and walked to the beer corner for a very cheap drink.


We started our first day in Hanoi with a walking tour where we were shown around by guides who are students in Hanoi and run the tours for free to practice their English. We visited a traditional Vietnamese house, Ngoc Son Temple on the Hoan Kiem Lake, Ly Thai To State and Hoa Lo Prison Museum. One of the first things we had to ask our guides was how to cross the road in Hanoi as the traffic never stops and there are hundreds of mopeds everywhere, the guides showed us you have to essentially go against all of your natural instincts and walk straight into moving traffic and hope the bikes don’t hit you! In the afternoon we visited the Train Street, which is a street filled with small cafes that the train passes through, where Arran tried his first Egg Coffee.

1ST MARCH 2023

We were up early for a trip to Ninh Binh which is the ancient capital of Vietnam, after the long bus journey we arrived at Mua Caves and hiked up lots of steps to the viewpoint at the top. The view at the top was stunning with mountains stretching into the distance. 

From there we had a short cycle to the Hoa Lu Temple where learnt about the history of Ninh Binh. 

In the afternoon we were taken on a boat trip along the river which went through the amazing rock formations and caves. The people rowing the boats had a technique to row the boats with their feet which looked very difficult but impressive. The scenery was beautiful however, we did feel a bit uncomfortable that it was very hard work for the woman rowing our boat and she told us she had already done several trips that day. Arran did offer to try and row us some of the way but after going round in circles a few times the oars were taken back off him!

2ND MARCH 2023

In the spirit of compromising Arran chose most of the activities for the day as he wanted to get his history fix! We walked around the Imperial Citadel and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. In the afternoon we went to the Vietnam War Museum where we learnt about all of the different invasions and conflicts Vietnam has gone through, which is a lot!

We went back to the Train Street in the evening to try and be there when a train was going through, after quite a wait we finally saw it!

3RD MARCH 2023

We had arranged a one night cruise around Ha Long Bay, so were picked up from our hotel early in the morning as it was a three hour journey to get to the port in Ha Long City. From the port we got on a small tender boat to take us forty minutes into the bay to the cruise ship. 

The ship was very luxurious and we were treated to a five course lunch before our first activity!

We were taken on fishing boats around a small part of the bay and through a cave, the water was very low by the entrance to the cave and we got stuck on the rocks a few times! Once we were back on the cruise ship we were able to jump off into the sea and swim in the unbeliveable location.

We watched the sunset on the top deck and had a cooking lesson on how to make spring rolls, before having another luxurious meal.

4TH MARCH 2023

In the morning wer were up very early for breakfast and kayaking around some of the small remaining floating villages in the bay. We didn’t want the trip to end and could happily have stayed in our amazing room but we had to start making our way back to Hanoi.

That evening we had our first experience on a sleeper train for the thirteen hour journey to Hue. We were a little apprehensive but it turned out better than expected! Luckily I was very tired and manged to sleep quite a bit but the train was very noisy, it also helped I had the bottom bunk and wasn’t joined by the cockroaches Arran had on the top bunk!

2 thoughts on “TRAVEL DIARY: HANOI”

  1. Wowsers you two!! Caught up with your move from Thailand to Vietnam. My word, what an experience already with the sightseeing and boat trips. I think I fancy the first class cruise around Ha Long Bay!

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