We took a private tour for 10 pax via Sunway Travel and in fact all of us agreed that if we paid more when we travel the quality of service is totally different. In fact the accomodation and food was great. I was so worried that i will get food poisoining because i got sensitive stomach. I was ok. I bought 4 tuna spread and 2 boxes of jacob biscuits and 3-in -1 milo. We only ate 1 tuna spread and 1 box of biscuits in the bus. End up i get scolded by my sister for wasting her luggage space for carrying so many food stuff to Hanoi. Ha!Ha!
Our itinery are :-
Day 1 - city tour to history museum, tran quoc pagoda, west lake, buffet dinner at Sen International Restaurant and Water Puppet Show. Overnight at Maison Hotel.
Day 2 - Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum & Residence, one pillar pagoda, temple of literature. 4 hours drive to halong bay. Overnight at Heritage Hotel.
Day 3 - take half day trip to halong bay to view multi-shaped rocks and caves. Seafood lunch on boat. Sightseeing at Hoankiem Lake, Turtle Tower, Ngoc Son Temple and Thehuc Bridge in Hanoi. Cyclo ride for 1 hour to visit old quarters. Overnight at Maison Hotel
Day 4- Shopping at Han Gai and said goodbye to Hanoi.
Experience in Hanoi
Hanoi is a very dusty and polluted place. For those who has sinus problem, pls wear a mask. Is best that you change in USD rather DONG (vietnam currency). Alot of the things e.g. culture very similar to chinese. All the houses are tall and slim because the land in hanoi is very expensive. Therefore you can see some of the houses or shop lots are build towards the top. When the vietnamese got money, they will start adding one block on top of the existing block. They only paint the facade of the house because the side or behind of the house will be occupy by their neighbours. Save money on paint. The cablings are like spider web, lack of township planning.
To drive in Hanoi, you must really follow their driving skill and make sure u r brave enuf. The nightmare is to cross the road. The car or bikes would not stop for you and they dont even bother to stop at the zebra crossing. You just got to walk slowly and the bikers would know how to avoid you. Make sure you don't run or stop in the middle of the road. The clue is that you just need to walk calmly.
This is the famous french baguette.
Street food. You can see how the local spend their time.
Vietnamese loves to eat dog meat and you can find dog meat at the markets at the old quarters. They roast the dog like suckling pig. Please see it properly before you buy. Is not cheap. (Refer to the pictures below...they are selling dog meat like selling roast pork)
As for shopping, things are not cheap and you must bargain. Sometimes even they dont want to entertain us if we bargain too much. This is their attitude and they dont even want to lower USD1 or 2 for you. It seems economy crisis yet to affect them. As for shopping you must go Han Gai, you can find those shops selling bags e.g. kipplings, crumblers, north face and etc, Silk Scarf . We bought silk scarf with 2 tones color around USD7.50 per scarf. Quite cheap compare to KL. Do not walk in to their night market cos not safe. Buy things at the shop is more safer.
Our tour provide cyclo ride @ trishaw ride for 1 hour to go around the hanoi city. Make sure you bring mask to wear as too dusty. Must experience their cyclo ride. Cos you able to experience vietnamese lifestyle, you can see the type of food they eat, hawkers store and the way they prepare the food.
Our meal was great, we ate fresh prawns, crabs every day. First day we had buffet dinner at Sen Restaurant. The buffet line was great - western, japanese, vietnamese and chinese. They only charged USD10 per pax. Very reasonable.
We visited Ho Chi Minh Mousoleum and we got to queue for 1 hour in order to see him. Not allowed to carry your camera and bags. Not allowed to talk in the mousoleum. You can see alot of tourist and local people visit Ho Chi Minh Mousoleum after so many years. He died in 1969 so his body has been there for 40 years. The mousoleum opens at 9am and closes at 11.30am.
Took 4 hours journey to halong bay and along the way you can see alot of rice fields. Halong bay is famous for coal. In veitnam is known as "tan hei". We stayed at Heritage hotel and the hotel room is quite clean and nice. Opposite the hotel is the beach and night market. Is very convenient. You can purchase bags and souvenirs at the night market, make sure you bargain. Is alot cheaper than hanoi.
We took the junk boat to view the multi-shaped rocks and caves. The junk boat is only for 10 of us. All of us was so excited and most of the time we sat on the deck. Lunch was served in the junk boat. We had steamed prawns, steamed crabs, squids, fried kang kung and fried vietnamese spring roll. We stopped at the fishing village and you can buy fresh seafood. They can cook the seafood on the boat for you. The seafood is quite pricy, for one fish can cost USD60. We decided not to buy. Halong Bay is said to be as pretty as Gui Lin in China. I havent been to Gui Lin therefore i cant commen t on it. Highly recommend to visit Halong Bay. Very relax. Most of the tourist visit Halong Bay during summer time and within Halong itself got 500 junk boats. The most important thing is that the washroom is very clean. Another option u can stay at the junk boat.
We watched water puppet show and it was amazing. The shows is only 45 mins.
You must try their local coffee and make sure you must have patience to wait for the coffee to drip into your glass. It took us more than half an hour for the coffee to drip in order to drink it. Make sure you go for ice coffee. Cos if u ask for hot coffee by the time it finish dripping, your coffee already cold. You need to ask for hot water to add into your coffee. I must said the coffee is very nice. The coffee is only USD1. Must Try!!