GREAT THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND HANOI, VIETNAM
Earlier this year, we spend a long week in Hanoi, Vietnam and it was wonderful! We saw a lot of the lively city and made the most out of our days by going on several lengthy and impressive excursions. So let me tell you all about our adventures in beautiful Vietnam and how I did over there.
Ok, let's get this straight out in the open: long flights are getting harder for me. I usually take a nap for a couple of hours -to the delight of every single passenger-, but when a flight exceeds 10 hours, I'll surely get on most people's nerves at some point. I'll stand on my seat, shout, pull the hair of someone sitting in front of me or try to run up and down the aisles. Yep, like I said: things are getting harder. Still, mommy and daddy explain my condition to people and they mostly get a lot of understanding and appreciation, which is pretty cool.
So we stayed for a little more than a week in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital and second largest city. We spend most of our nights in the Mipec Trade Center Long Bien, also known as Mipec Riverside, where we rented a spacious apartment. Besides apartments, Mipec houses a shopping center, restaurants, a fitness center, a 3D cinema, a roof swimming pool and so much more. Basically everything one needs to survive. Most tourists stay in the area known as Old Quarter and since Mipec is located on the other side of the Rode River, we felt like we were residing solely among the Vietnamese people which greatly enhanced the experience.
Hanoi is a wonderful city with lots to see and do. The people are friendly and helpful and there are mopeds everywhere. Crossing the streets may give you a bit of a scare at first, but believe me: just walk in a slow, steady pace and the drivers will move their way around you. Just like that. Advice from the locals is: 'Close your eyes and move.' We visited Old Quarter, Railway Street, Ho Kiem Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda and so much more. Despite its vast size and dense population, Hanoi feels intimate and pleasant.
The next pictures were taken in Railway Street, which has officially become one of my favorite places in the whole world!
We decided to walk all the way from Old Quarter back to our apartment, crossing the Long Bien Bridge. It took us roughly an hour, but it was an amazing stroll.
Our last night we spend the night in a hotel in Old Quarter, which was fun. By that time however, I was completely wasted and just wanted to stay on bed with my beloved iPad. Oh well.
EXCURSION 1: HALONG BAY
Our first excursion was to the famous Halong Bay, a must-see for anyone visiting Vietnam. It was gorgeous and I had a great time on the boat.
EXCURSION 2: TRÀNG AN
After visiting a large pagoda, we headed towards Tràng An, a scenic area near Ninh Bình renowned for its boat cave tours. They tried to get a life-vest on me, but I forced my way out of it. The lady in charge of our boat seemed ok with that. Secondly, I did everything I could to put my hands in the water. It was an urge I could not control. I had to touch it. The lady also seemed to allow it, to the relief of my parents. We had a fantastic ride on the river.
EXCURSION 3: MAI CHÂU
Mai Châu is a rural district of Hòa Bình Province in the Northwest region of Vietnam. The district is located at about 160 km from Ha Noi. It took us almost 4 hours just to get there by bus and like being on an airplane, bus rides are getting harder too. I stand on my seat, shout and do whatever else annoys people. Thankfully, the people on this particular ride were very considerate and allowed me to just be me. At the destination, we took an amazing bike ride through the district which I greatly enjoyed.
EXCURSION 4: TAM COC
We probably saved the best for last: Tam Cốc is a popular tourist destination and part of the Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located in Ninh Binh province, near the village of Tam Cốc. The closest city is Ninh Binh. It consists of two distinct attractions: Tam Cốc, a flooded cave karst system and Bích Động, a series of mountain pagodas.
We did three activities at Tam Cốc, starting with a boat ride which was quite similar to our boat ride at Tràng An. Then we did more biking and lastly we climbed 500 steps above the Mua Cave to reach one of the finest views Vietnam has to offer. It was a wonderful day.
So there you have it: a great week in Vietnam after which we went to Cambodia. Read all about that in our upcoming article.