Myself and my partner Darryl have just returned from a trip of a lifetime travelling around Vietnam! This is an amazing country which we travelled around with flights and taxis and stayed in hotels but it is also becoming very popular with cruises too so I wanted to let you know about my travels around some places which you can visit from your cruise ship or on a land holiday. First stop for us was Hanoi!
We stayed for 2 nights in Hanoi at the beginning of our holiday. We arrived at 5:30 in the morning and with no hotel room until 1pm we had lots of time on our hands. We took a walk around Hoam Kiem Lake. This is near the Old Quarter, which is a popular destination for tourists to stay. Would you believe that at this time in the morning there were hundreds of locals up jogging, doing tai chi and all different types of dance troops? I thought this was a great start to the day and almost joined in (only almost!)
During our stay we visited the Military History Museum which was fascinating as it is home to lots of the old planes and tanks used in wars. It is also home to the Flag Tower which is great to climb up for a good view. Now, the Vietnamese are very proud of winning the Vietnam war so expect to read plenty about the American’s being defeated here! We also went to the puppet theatre which is located around the lake. Puppet theatres are a long tradition in Vietnam and a must visit show if you are in the area. The musicians, singers and puppeteers are very talented and put on a great show and for a very small cost. We were in Hanoi at the weekend which is when they shut off the road from vehicles around the lake. There was street performers, stalls and locals meeting to play games and socialise. It was great to see how the locals enjoy their weekends with family and friends!
We took a sunset jeep tour. It was a good way to explore the city with a local guide who could tell us stories about the way of life and politics in Hanoi! We walked around a local neighbourhood, visited train street where there are bars, restaurants, shops and houses very close to the train tracks and tables were even put across the tracks for those feeling brave (and quickly whisked away when the train was about to pass through!). We sampled street food and went to a local bar (which was literally a small shack with beer at about 15p a glass!)
What we loved most about Hanoi was the Old Quarter in the evening when the roads again are closed off from cars. This is a novelty as the roads are crazy most of the day! We loved trying the local food, the bands and street performers in the streets and sitting on the small chairs the Vietnamese use outside a bar with drinks or finding a nice balcony in a restaurant with a view and just watching the world go by!
Next on our journey was Halong Bay for a cruise which I’ll write about in my next blog about my travels in Vietnam!