Jun 25, 2010


We finally got to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, in Oct, 2009. And this is the beginning of our story in Vietnam.. 

At 6.30 AM we were already sitting pretty in the AirAsia plane that would take us to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. The 3,5 hr flight gave us time to catch some more z’s, thank God.

Landing smoothly on the Noi Banh International Airport, we were surprised to see how .. umm.. plain, the airport is. Finally, a foreign international airport that makes our Soekarno Hatta airport doesn’t look so bad :P

Outside of the airport,
looking for transportation to get us to our hotel

A passenger got off from our shuttle car.
I wonder where he then went with a suitcase like that
in the middle of..nowhere



We’ve booked a room in Victory Queen hotel. They didn’t provide any pickup service, so we had to look for a transportation that would get us there. We got on a sorta like minibus with other passengers who were mostly tourists. At some other passengers’ drop point, the driver was talking to another Vietnamese guy in their language, and then told us that Victory Queen is actually full because there’s a visitor who extended their stay, so they’re putting us in a better hotel called Hanoi Star. Not knowing what to do, since communicating is already a big effort due to language barrier, we were drawn to just trust the guy and checked in at the suggested hotel.

Our room in Hanoi Star Hotel

After 2 nights stay, we suspected that it was a rip-off after all. We should’ve insisted to be dropped at our booked hotel and checked the situation ourselves. We didn’t know for real whether Hanoi Star is a better quality hotel than Victory Queen, but it certainly was.. well, not great at all. I’ve had better quality hostels with similar price in Bangkok. You can check out the reviews of this hotel by many visitors at www.tripadvisor.com, which we should’ve checked before booking. Lesson’s learned.

One of the things that made us think this hotel didn’t mean well, had something to do with the Halong Bay trip that we booked from the first day we arrived at the hotel.


For a Halong Bay tour to get canceled due to the stormy weather is not something uncommon, especially in the rainy season. And that is unfortunately what exactly happened to us L Halong Bay was the main thing I wanted to see in Hanoi (well it’s located 3 hrs drive from Hanoi, but every Halong Bay tour starts in Hanoi) but we had to give in to the typhoon at China’s Hainam Island which triggered the storm at Halong Bay. There’s not much you can do when it comes to natural forces.

So, as a replacement, this Andy guy that’s been sweet talking us from day 1 offered us another tour which we can choose from 2 or 3 kinds. The choosing process involved a bit of argument mostly between that guy and me – of course, I was the most hotheaded one in the gang. I hated the service and was still pissed about not going to Halong Bay. Arrghhh..!!

Choices of tours offered at the hotel's lobby

We had to think of our options before making a decision. Andy was rushing us to it, without telling us why, which annoyed the hell out of me. And when finally we decided to take the Tam Coc tour, he told us that it was too late because the tour had left Hanoi. WTF?


Finally though, because the storm hasn’t gone even until the next morning, we picked the tour to Tam Coc river. It’s also known as Halong Bay on the River. It’s a ride through a river with lime stone mountains alongside it, about 2 hrs drive from Hanoi to the south.

Andy said that the package included a bike ride along the riverside, when in fact it didn’t. What ticked me off was that the package with bike ride costs $8 more – per pax – than the one that doesn’t. Fine, I might not need the $8 so bad, but I hated that they didn’t have the intention to be responsible and give us our money back. That Andy guy was nowhere to be found in the hotel until our check out time, and his colleague didn’t help either. I’m SO not coming back to that hotel.

Honestly, I didn’t find this tour interesting. It was quite boring. The route from start point was exactly the same with the way back, just the opposite direction, 2 hours total. We rode the boat with money mad rowers who’d bluntly ask for a tip, and one of them was actually a cloth seller and insisted passengers to buy stuff from her. I found that as a disturbance, but you can’t really blame people for trying to make ends meet.

Goods on boats

I didn’t think the wind was gonna be that big and cold, and rain sprinkled a little bit while I was on the boat ride. Mumun and Renny were having more fun than I did because they shared the same boat and I was with a Thai tourist. Each boat is only allowed to sit 2 passengers.

Oh, and on our way to the river, we stopped by at some restaurant with bad food and dirty toilets, and some temple that I forgot the name.

Darn, I can’t believe how uninteresting it was to me… I guess I just still couldn’t let go of the fact that we missed Halong Bay. But I managed to still have fun with the girls, thanks to our silly jokes and picture poses ^_^

Cold, windy,..

...and rainy

What I remember about this old building was that it was actually a palace of the Vietnam’s old kingdom. The pretty-boy guide told us the long and winding story about it all, which now I forgot already. Sowwy.

This tour took place only from 8 AM until about 4 PM including the ways there and back.

Next, I will tell you about our Hanoi city tour :)

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