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Back from Hanoi

by on April 21, 2008

Engrish in Hanoi was not as prevalent as we’d imagined, with the one notable exception this donation box in Noi Bai airport asking for your money to help “especially difficult children”

We arrived in Manila this morning at 5:30 am, and I’ve only had 3 or 4 hours of sleep as I write this. I wanted to fire out some quick thoughts on Hanoi while they’re still fresh in my memory, because it usually takes us ages to put together our more comprehensive posts (hello Samal!).

Hanoi is a city in flux. Ancient streets and houses are punctuated every so often by a KFC restaurant or a Calvin Klein boutique. At one moment you might be in a street that reminds you of Recto, then you get to the end of it to see beautiful French inspired architecture, wide tree lined boulevards, and solemn Soviet style statues. It’s also a gourmet’s paradise, with traditional Vietnamese pho and bia hoi stalls sitting side by side with European restaurants offering some of the best French cuisine I’ve ever tasted.

Of course not all is perfect. The locals have a flippant attitude to trash cans and pedestrian lanes that should bring a smirk to every Filipino that goes there, and wide-eyed horror to tourists from more…disciplined countries. The service industry is still young and doesn’t seem to entirely understand the concept of advance bookings and reservations, as our nightmare arrival will reveal when we finally post about it.

There’s much to say about Hanoi, but the bottom line is that I’d encourage everyone to try to visit Hanoi at some point, preferably before it finally succumbs to the demands of the modern world and loses all of its centuries old charm.

  1. I’m so glad for this very positive feedback, because of this I’m now very excited to visit Hanoi in less than 3 weeks time.

    As for the hotel, I will eagerly wait for your post as what happened to your “reservation” at Hanoi Holiday. I thought it’s only prevalent in Saigon as what I experienced 2 years ago even for a 5-star hotel. I think i’ll look for another hotel.

  2. I’d suggest rising dragon hotel. #3 in tripadvisor and I think the extra $10 a night willl be worth your peace of mind. When i tried booking with them they had the decency to ask if I would mind being booked in a different hotel, as opposed o just sraigh out making us sleep in a different hotel upon arrival.

  3. will be waiting for your post on hanoi!

    hi! i have been doing my research for quick trip to hanoi sometime may. i was planning to take the cebu pacific flight which has crzy schedules, like 2 am arrival sumthing. i was wondering if i can leave my bags there before i check in. and where do you think i can stay while waiting for the check in time…

    oh and what are your thoughts re hanoi plaza hotel? i think the accomodation is fairly reasonable. thanx much help! =)

  4. Hi JerikHanoi plaza hotel was also our first choice, but unfortunately this snippet in the Hanoi wikitravel page turned us off.

    “You might return late at night to your hotel room to find that all your belongings have been cleared out and you will be accused for not having called during the day. They will then make you believe that there was something wrong with the plumbing in your room, that they were fully booked and you have to change to another hotel which is, of course, much, much more expensive. There are some hotels that will tell you their room is facing an electricity or water leaking problem and arrange you to stay at a much cheaper, maybe lousy hotel on the 1st day. But they actually do reserve the room for Western foreigners. In the old quarters, Hanoi Plaza hotel indulges in this scam.”

    I’d suggest you try out We were looking to stay there but they were fully booked on our first day. I ran into a friend on the flight home that saed there and he said it was excellent. They have basically the same prices as hanoi plaza so it shouldn’t hurt your budget.

  5. Hi Ryan and Aissa. Just want to ask kung meron pa kayo binayaran na terminal fee/travel tax sa Hanoi Airport. Naalala ko kse na when i was in Saigon I did pay about $12 as a travel tax sa Saigon airport.

  6. Strangely enough we were told at the hotel that there was some sort of tax, but we didn’t pay any tax upon arrival or departure. I’d make sure to keep some extra dollars on hand though, just in case.

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