Thursday, 15 November 2012

Hanoi & Halong Bay, Vietnam

In September 2012, purchased a Groupon Deal for a 4nights/5days package at Thaison Hotel, Hanoi inclusive one night stay in Halong Bay.

It was actually Halong Bay that caught my attention. Ha Long Bay (Vịnh Hạ Long, literally: "descending dragon bay") is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular travel destination, located in Quang Ninh province. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. It has an area of around 1,553 km, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km with a high density of 775 islets. The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate. It is good enough to convince me to purchase the deal. Made the hotel booking, flight arrangements and the trip is on!

Tam Coc - Bich Dong ( Tam Cốc - Bích Động) is a popular tourist destination near the city of Ninh Binh in north. It is a 4 hours torture on your rear end each way but worth the trip. Not to be missed!
The Tam Coc (“three caves”) portion is a three-hour excursion by small boat along the Ngo Dong river, beginning at the village of Van Lam and proceeding through a scenic landscape dominated by rice fields and karst towers. The route includes floating through three natural caves (Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba), the largest of which is 125m long with its ceiling about 2m high above the water. The boats are typically rowed by one or two local women who also sell embroidered goods.

It rain when we touched down at Noi Bai International Airport. When we arrived at the hotel, we were told there is a typhoon coming towards Halong Bay and Hanoi. No junk boats were allowed to go out to sea. It rained and rained until the day after. We were worried that the trip to Halong Bay will not be possible and it was supposed to be the highlight of the trip to Hanoi! Although, with the change in plans, we managed to cover Tam Coc (which was a better experience) together with a day trip to Halong Bay in perfect overcast skies. In the end, a bonus as we covered another place of interests at no extra costs.

  • exploring the 'Old Quarter' or 36 streets
  • City tour
  • Tam Coc
  • Halong Bay
Travelling to and fro to Tam Coc and Halong Bay. The roads are dual lanes and in bad conditions with plenty of potholes. Traffic is heavy with trucks, buses, vans and countless of motorcycles. So a journey of about 180 km takes at least 4 hours. Prepare for discomfort on your rear end.

Food is generally so so. More misses than hits.

Destination : Hanoi/Tam Coc/Halong Bay Vietnam
Date : 27 to 31 October 2012
Accomodation : Thaison Hotel, 3 Stars
Groupon Deal : RM948 for 2 pax, hotel stay plus breakfast, overnight excursion to Halong Bay.
Flight : MAS - RM1,544 for 2 pax wi return
Airport Transfer - USD18 each way (total RM108)
Hanoi City Day Tour - USD30 pp (total RM180)
Mum's Rating : 7/10
Conclusion : If you haven't been to Hanoi, it is worth the trip.

Our hotel, just off the 'Old Quarter'
Upgraded to a deluxe room at no cost!

Ho Kiem Lake

Their version of our Ramli Burger stalls

Street food Hanoi style sitting on small stools at the road side.

One of our dinner, it cost about RM16

Street pubs drinking down 'Bia Hoi' the local beer is very popular

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

One Pillar Pagoda

Young school girls in their national costume on graduation day

2 hours boat ride in Tam Coc. See how they are rowing with their feet!

Inland version of Halong Bay. Very serene and scenic.

At Halong Bay 
Multitude of ships at the port.

No prizes for guessing what this is...

Dong Xuan Indoor Market

Shopping for souvenirs

Bought lotus seed crunchy snack

Noticed the buildings are long and narrow. Something to do with taxes on the width of buildings.

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