Thoughts on Northern Vietnam

It was a fantastic ten days in Vietnam; I should be more precise North Vietnam. From what I’ve heard, the South is different. The northern part has different landscapes such as mountain and rice fields in Mai Chau, plateau and river in Ninh Binh, or limestone karts in Halong Bay. Visiting Northern Vietnam will satisfy all tourists – from the adventurous to the organizer travelling travel agencies.

The people are very relax and calm. As a solo traveller, people were very friendly and always happy to help me; several times I was just sitting on the Hoan Kiem Lake quay, and will randomly have small chats with locals. I also find them very stylish, for example, because of pollution they often wear a mask when on motorbikes. Outside of Hanoi, people use the ugly green medical-like mask, in Hanoi folks design their pollution mask matching it with the jacket they are wearing.

Food is fantastic, although I have been disappointed by the Pho. By disappointed I mean, I though they would all be fine, but some were below ok. Regardless, I had several dishes, springs rolls, egg rolls, salty peanuts, some veggies dish as well, and of course RICE! You’ll have plenty of it!!

My few cents on tourism, It is well developed in Vietnam, not as much as Thailand though. But I strongly recommend, especially when traveling solo or within a group of adults to do all your trips/activities by your own. Try as less as possible to book with travel agencies, they often impose they schedule, and you may feel like you’re not really on vacations. I remember meeting a group of tourist mentioning they went to Halong Bay with a travel agency, and the agency only let them swim for twenty min, by the way, they were coming from Denmark.

In any case, Vietnam should be in your list of countries to visit; you won’t be disappointed. The country has it all to make your stay memorable.

Bon Voyage!

Travel Tip | Hanoi to Cat Ba Island by bus

From your Hanoi take a taxi (motorbike will be faster and cheaper) direction Luong Yen station in South East Hanoi. The ride should not cost more than 40k if you are departing from the Old Quarter.

At the train station, go to the counter on the left-hand side when facing the bus station. If you’re lost just ask around, most of the foreigners at this station head to Cat Ba Island anyway. Go to the Hoang Long counter and buy the ticket Hanoi-Haiphong-Cat Ba.

As of October 2014 the ticket cost 220k VND

You have two buses leaving Hanoi, the first at 7:20am and second at 11:20am. Arrived at the train station at least 30 min before. I was there during the shoulder season, but I can imagine that during the peak season, it is the first arrive the first serve.

The bus is clean with air conditioning, nothing fancy, but it does the job.

(1) We left 11:20am sharp from Hanoi. The scenery is not exceptional; it consists of many factories and businesses on the road. Time-to-time the bus pass through the city, thus you’ll be able to see a bit of the Vietnamese lifestyle. Bottom line is if you fall asleep, you don’t miss much.

(2) The bus arrived at 2:20pm at Haiphong. There we left the bus with our luggage and after 20 min waiting at the station we went on to another bus that headed to the Haiphong Boat station. At that stop you can buy some food and there is also a bathroom.

(3) From Haiphong boat station, we took the speedboat to Cat Ba boat station. The journey is about 30 to 45 min; Fyi better not having motion sickness.

(4) From Cat Ba boat station, a bus brought us to Cat Ba town the final destination. There you’re on your own but expect taxi drivers/hotel managers to chase you as soon as you get off from the bus to offers their respective services. The trip, all in all, takes about 4.5 hours.

Have a safe trip

Destination Vietnam | Hanoi Day 2

After a mere breakfast at the hotel, I took the camera, GoPro, iPhone and went for a walk in the city focusing primarily on the Old Quarter and the French quarter.

The Old quarter is a touristic area and as such has a backpack street Ngo Huyen Street located near the St Joseph’s Cathedral. In this part of the city, you will find a bit of everything and nothing, from very useful to very useless. You can buy handmade crafts, paintings, cards – you can have street food, fresh juice, or go to the barbershop for a quick fix. was walking toward the Hoan Kiem Lake, a landmark in Hanoi. This is where they showcased the fireworks the night before celebrating the 60th anniversary of Hanoi independence from the French. While walking on the west bank of the Lake towards the French quarter, I was suddenly hungry and craved for Pho Bo, my first one in the country well-known for this dish.

Somehow, right next to me there was a Pho Bo shop that appears to only attract Tourists. I went in — the food was OK, but I don’t recommend it. I hope to have better Pho Bo during my visit in Vietnam.

Pass the lake on the Southeast; you walk into the French Quarter. The area is quite distinctive from the Old Quarter. Back then, the French Continue reading

Destination Vietnam | Hanoi Day 1

I landed at Hanoi Noi Bai International airport on a Friday around noon. I took a cab to the city for 350k VND (a bit of negotiating, don’t go above 400k VND). I told the taxi driver that I didn’t have any hotel and asked him to drop me somewhere in the Old Quarter. Of course, they all are connected; the driver dropped me at a hotel with the price range between 10 to 15 USD. The room was ok, so I decided to stay there.

After resting a bit and talking to the hotel manager already trying to sell me tourist packages, I decided to walk around the neighborhood to get my first impression of the city.

As anyone expect, it is a fantastic first impression. Hanoi is an animated city (at least on the weekends). There are people everywhere on

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