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How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

El Nido, Philippines
7 posts
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How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

Hi. I know my question is a bit late considering the date of this topic, but I was hoping some of you would indulge me with some practical advice.

We are planning to fly to Hanoi in December. We are contemplating the first or second week. Does it get very cold during this time? We come a very warm place so 10C below can be chilly for us. We are avoiding floods and extreme heat, though.

We would like to see the Perfume Pagoda, Water Puppets, the temples in Hanoi and eat eat eat! We love taking photos and eating our way around the region. We will arrive at 10 am, so I guess that gives us half a day on the first day, and then 2-3 whole days more before leaving via a very early connecting flight. Would this be enough to at least get a good traveller's feel of Hanoi? We do not want to just be tourists.

Is an overnight in Halong Bay an absolute must? We just came from El Nido, Palawan (which seems very similar).

Last but not least, are there any reliable airport transfers we can pre-book? Does the Hanoi airport have a nice lounge where we can relax in between flights?

Thank you!

Hanoi, Vietnam
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1. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

I think you need more like 5 days in Hanoi - this is an extremely interesting place! Halong Bay is not a must, I've never been, and never plan to go there (I dislike being herded around).

Hanoi never gets really cold - just bring a sweater.

Hanoi airport is very basic - not especially comfortable. Only lounge for business class people. I always have my hotel meet my flights there - don't try to take a cab (you'll be very sorry!)

If you like to take pics, Sapa is the place to go - very colorful and unique (overnight train)

Forster, Australia
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2. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

Aranetti, 3 - 4 days will let you see a fair bit of Hanoi at a comfortable pace. You might consider getting in touch with hanoikids.com for tours. This is a group of uni students who provide a free guide service to better their english skills. You pay their entrance fees, meals etc and I believe the usual thankyou is a small gift. We used this service and found it to be excellent. You might try prebooking your airport transfer through your hotel and that way you are sure to arrive at the correct place. We stayed at the Anise Hotel which is central to the French Quarter, the water puppets and most 'must see' attractions. I can thoroughly recommend this hotel to you, see my review on TA. As far as a nice lounge at Hanoi Airport, you would not want to be there for a long lay over! Halong overnight was good, however it is a full 2 day round trip from Hanoi so if time is short you have to consider the benefits if you have seen similar elsewhere.

Greg

El Nido, Philippines
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3. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

Thank you so much for your advice!

We have reservations with Hotel L'Opera hanoi due to the discount given to Accor members. I wish we heard about your recommendation beforehand. Did we make a bad hotel choice? They charge quite a bit for the airport transfers, but we do not wish to take chances with our safety either. This is why we were hoping for a reliable transport service we can pre-book online, that may not be as pricey as the hotel's.

Thank you for your warning about the airport's comfort level. We definitely will change our itinerary so that we won't have a long layover.

What is in Sa Pa? Anything like the Banaue Rice Terraces? Also for rice terraces, we will see a lot of them in Bali right after our Hanoi trip. However, if there are other points of interest, please let us know so we can plan our itinerary accordingly.

Thank you for recommending hanoikids.com. We will check them out and make arrangements with them. I think that will work for us; we also dislike being herded around. We usually pay for a guide all to ourselves, who can take us around at our own pace hehe.

Yes, the water puppets are a must. It is actually the first thing that attracted us to book a trip to Hanoi! Do you think we can buy tickets online to make sure we get a seat on the dates we are there?

Thank you so much for all your help. Best regards.

Edited: 06 November 2011, 11:14
Hanoi, Vietnam
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4. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

I recommend you to use 3 full days to visit Hanoi, try the original Vietnamese food and go to visit almost the attractions as Ho Chi Minh complex, temple of Literature, Flag tower, Hanoi Hilton, Ethnology museum....Otherwise you visit Water Puppet theater by walking to there to buy the ticket. There are 3 kinds of the ticket: First Class(100.000vnd), Second (60.000vnd) and the Third(40.000).

When you book the trip to Perfume pagoda, try to find reliable Tour operator. It costs 32$ per person incl 2 ways cable car to go on the top of the mountain.

Other else, you ask you hotel where you will stay in Hanoi to arrange the private car to pick you at the airport. The cost should be the same with normal taxis (18$ for 4 seats and 20$ for 7 seats).

I also recommend you to visit Halong bay. We are voting for Halong bay to be 1 of 7 nature wonders of the world.

Edited: 06 November 2011, 11:48
Italy
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5. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

We stayed 3 days and also did a 1nt Halong bay cruise which we loved. If you visit the Ethnology museum there's a free water puppet show for us it was enough and I think we would've got bored any longer, you could first see this show then decide if you want to book the other show. We got a taxi at the airport and paid 400,000VND

Forster, Australia
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6. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

I am not sure how long you have planned for Bali, but if you are only planning 2 - 3 days for Hanoi and then leaving VN it would be a shame, in my view, and wasting money. Perhaps you can do Bali another time? I see from your profile you appear to be based in the Philipines and Bali must be very similar. Sa Pa is definately a 'must see', Banaue Rice Terraces I do not know so can not comment on any similarity. From my observations of Sapa, in May 2011, there was a lot of building going on and it may change some of the charm of the place. The hill tribes are wonderfully colourful and friendly people, though a little pushy in trying to sell thengs to you. The scenery in and around Sa Pa is spectacular.

El Nido, Philippines
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7. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

Chrella, thank you so much for your great tip. We will be sure to pass by the museum of Ethnology first before heading to the full length water puppet show.

Allura, thank you for your tips. The rate for airport transfers being offered to us is way way higher than your quote. Perhaps we will have to make other arrangements. I see that you are a tour operator. Do you make bookings for the Perfume Pagoda day tour? Do those rates cover the cost of being fetched from Ha Noi and taken back, or is that just for the cable car and entrance fees?

Sgtgwh, yes it seems like 2 days in Ha Noi is simply not enough. We are extending our trip to 4 days, but we cannot do more because our vacation time is limited. In fact, we are no longer doing Bali after Ha Noi. If we can handle the cold, then we will go to Sa Pa for overnight.

We had been booked for Hue already for 2 whole days before Ha Noi In Hue, we arrive at 10am on the first day, then go around for an entire day, then fly early morning 3rd day to Ha Noi . I do not know if we can still cancel it to make more time for Ha Noi. In your opinion, is Hue worth it or should we wrangle for just Ha Noi?

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement and for helping us get our trip together. I hope we can finalize details by this weekend.

Any recommendations for reliable airport transfers?

Thanks again!

Edited: 09 November 2011, 17:41
Forster, Australia
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8. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

Both Hue and Hanoi have their places of interest to see. In Hue the Thien Mu Pagoda and Imperial Citadel are extremely interesting and worthwhile seeing. A half day tour including a boat trip on the Perfume River will accomodate this. The pace in Hue is also a lot more placid than Hanoi. Now that you have extended to 4 days for Hanoi you should have adequate time to see a good deal of the city and the sights. Sapa would take 2 full nights of travel by train and then time to see the city and hill tribes - all this may be a little difficult to fit in with your available time. I suggest stick to what you have booked for Hue and then the four days in Hanoi and do Sapa nest time!

Greg

9. Re: How many days tog et a good introduction to Hanoi?

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