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Trip Report- Hanoi

San Francisco
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Trip Report- Hanoi

Hello- first wanted to say a quick thanks for all the helpful info I've gotten off the VN forums over the years! You guys are great! Sorry if this report runs long...

Just got back from 3 weeks in SE Asia, with Hanoi being my first stop.

Visa on Arrival: Arranged it online with Ha at Vietland Travel. Wonderful experience, and cheap at $10 + $25 visa charge. This would've been $85 at the consulate in San Francisco, so a big savings. Also, we booked train tickets, plane tickets, private car, etc. through Ha in Danang, and everything worked out wonderfully.

Airport Arrival: Booked through Golden Sun, $14 and incredibly easy. Though I did ask this a few weeks ago, and now I know that the group shuttles ($2 pp, drops off at Vietnam Airlines office) are definitely running late at night.

Hotels: Golden Sun 2 and 3. Both good but we did like Golden Sun 3 better. Our first night was at GS 3, and the room was a bit smoky, so Hanh immediately switched us to a much larger and nicer room at GS 2, with balcony and views of the lake. A really nice upgrade and a steal at $21/night. Clean rooms, free internet downstairs, awesome rooftop breakfast at GS 1 every morning. Everyone we met, Hanh, Moon, Mai (? I think?) were incredibly friendly and helpful and we enjoyed our stay.

Hanoi Kids: Booked a tour to Museum of Ethnology with Duc and Ha. We had fun talking to them and thought it was really funny that Duc was the same Hanoi Kid who took my boyfriend around last year (he visited the Birla Orphanage). Wandering through the replica homes at the museum was good fun, and it was neat getting to know both Hanoi Kids. Lunch at a restaurant in the old quarter, which was decent too. We ended by giving them little souvenirs from San Francisco, which they seemed to like.

Restaurants/bars: Loved Highway 4, for unusual eats (stir fried crickets!) along with good versions of more typical items, and fun ambiance. $12 splurge for lunch at Ly Club near the Sofitel Metropole, which was a 4 course set meal with a choice of either French or Vietnamese. We chose Asian with French desserts. Good food, great service, but not so much when it came to dessert. Oh well.

Also, we had some really good pho ga at a restaurant on the lake and stopped in for Fanny's ice cream as well. Went for dinner/dessert out at West Lake, which I wouldn't really recommend being worth the trip. Didn't make it to Quan An Ngon, which I'm still disappointed about. Beer Hoi Corner is great for people watching and meeting other westerners, and sheesha at Funky Monkey was another interesting experience.

cont.

San Francisco
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1. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

Cont.

Oops, made a mistake earlier: We actually liked Golden Sun 2 better.

Halong Bay: Booked 1 night/2 day on the Pinta Cruiser, directly through Columbus Travel. Overall it was a good experience. We found we were automatically upgraded to Pinta Gold for some reason, and the rooms were modern and clean, the boat really nice, and tour guide was good. The food was also really good, lots of it with nice presention and variety. They even had a special surprise for one couple who was celebrating their honeymoon, which was really neat.

The other people were a good variety of married couples and younger backpacker types.

My only complaints were that we docked at Bai Tu Long bay for the night, in a little cove near a fishing village, and thus we completely missed seeing the sunset over the bay. This was my second trip to Halong Bay and sunset was my favorite part about the previous trip, so it was disappointing to miss out. Also, I think our kayaking was cut a bit short (first said 2 hrs, then it became 1.5hrs, and then I'm not even sure if it was that long...) and our guide gave some excuse about us not being able to fish for shrimp at night.

Still, a good experience overall and honestly, a much , much better experience than I'd had previously with a budget tour (ODC Travel).

Well, that's it for Hanoi. We took the overnight Livitrans train out to Hue, which was actually a really nice experience. Definitely upgrade to Livitrans if you're thinking of doing this trip.

Sheffield U.K
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2. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

Hi Bellagreen

Excellent report and thanks for writing it i will be going to Hanoi in October, reading reports like yours makes me wish i was there know thanks again

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

hi bella

thanks for the report. sounds like you had a great time.

can you please say what kind of room you had a GS2- were you originally booked into Golden Sun 1 and then got upgraded to GS2? and was $21 for a single or double room?

thanks

maz

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4. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

Hello!

We had originally booked a standard double room at Golden Sun 3, which was $21. Due to us being unhappy with the room (a little smoky), we ended up being upgraded to a deluxe room with lake view at Golden Sun 2. Incredibly nice of Moon to do such a thing for us.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

thank you for that. I had no idea there was a GS3- I only know of the original Golden Sun, and then the Loyalty Hotel which is now called GS2.

Hanoi, Vietnam
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6. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

Hi Bella - re: Hanoikids, glad you had Duc as a guide (we're pretty good friends as I've had him twice now as a guide!) He's pictured on both of my blogs too - PM me if you'd like to see them.

7. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

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San Francisco
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8. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

Maz1- believe it or not, Golden Sun 4 was opening just as we were there!

Regarding deposits, none was needed when booking at Golden Sun. For the Columbus Cruise, I didn't want to bother with deposit/wiring money over either, so actually just walked into their office once in Hanoi. Luckily there was plenty of space available.

Richmond, London UK
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9. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

Great report, thank you!

May I ask how you paid Vietland Discovery? Did you pay in advance or whilst in the country and did you have any problems?

Thanks!

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10. Re: Trip Report- Hanoi

I did fax Ha at Vietland Discovery my credit card information, but she didn't actually charge my card at all until the day we left Vietnam.

Which means the train tickets from Hue to Hanoi, plane tickets from Danang to HCMC, Visa on Arrival were all paid for by Ha upfront. Incredibly trusting of her to do so! We were given the option of paying her in cash once we reached Danang, but ultimately decided to just let her charge our credit cards once the amount we owed was confirmed.

Everything worked out well and I'd highly recommend her services.

BTW, I just googled and a different Vietland Discovery came up. So here is her actual website: http://discovervietnam.com.vn