At the end of June I had a few days vacation so my husband and I decided to leave Korea and visit a country neither of us had visited before. We chose to visit Vietnam because we had read about how cheap everything is and the pictures of Ha Long Bay were just so beautiful.
We spent 4 days in total in Vietnam and spent 1 night on a cruise in Ha Long Bay which turned out to be the best part of the trip for me. No picture can do the scenery there justice. We booked our hotel and cruise through Booking.com and we were both really surprised by the quality of the hotel since we paid only 40 dollars per night.
We stayed at Hanoi Antique Legend Hotel near the Old Quarter and I would recommend it! It was pretty difficult to choose which hotel to book as the reviews of most of the hotels near the Old Quarter were mixed and we weren’t sure how cheap was too cheap. On arrival the staff were very friendly and when we booked the hotel my husband received a Kakao message from one of the managers to confirm the booking. So there must be quite a few Korean people who stay at that hotel also.
Below is some of the photos of the food and pictures of the streets in Hanoi. I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the food but it was just way too humid and hot for me to fully enjoy the food. The one thing that I noticed pretty quickly was there were hardly any stores with a front door/window – they were all out in the open so there was no escape from the heat or humidity. Also, compared to Korea the hygiene of most of the stores and streets were way below what I was expecting. My husband and I brought our own disposable chopsticks so we didn’t have to use the ones in the restaurants.
On our first night in Hanoi Korea was going to have a match against Germany in the World Cup and we decided to watch the game in one of the pubs on a street known as Beer Street. When we got there it was so crowded people were spilling out of the pubs and watching the game out in the street! We managed to find a small place that wasn’t as busy and we bumped into a Korean couple who had been on the same plane as us and who were getting the same plane back to Korea. We chatted for a while but decided to leave at the half way point because the pub randomly turned into a band night and a huge amount of people came in and took over the area to watch the game. We watched the rest of the match in our hotel room but my husband fell asleep before he could see Korea score the first goal against Germany. I woke him up excitedly and after seeing the rest of the game we regretted not staying on Beer street – just imagine the atmosphere on the street when Korea won!!
The next day was our trip to Ha Long Bay. We had to get up early to have breakfast and be picked up at 7:30AM – the journey from Hanoi Old Quarter to the dock near Ha Long Bay took 4 hours! I can’t say that I enjoyed that part.
We were dropped back off Friday afternoon which meant we only had 1 and half a day left in Hanoi as our flight back to Korea was at 1AM Sunday morning. So we decided to hit up Hoan Kiem Lake which is a lake near the Old Quarter which has a temple in the middle of it. The temple is called the Temple of the Jade Mountain.We were so lucky the full 4 days we were in Vietnam as it only rained on our first day and then it was sunny the rest of the time. Being on Haon Kiem Lake in the nice sun was such a relaxing way to spend the day. It was a beautiful view seeing the city from the lake.
For dinner we decided to visit a North Korean restaurant which is apparently famous among Korean people (says my husband). It was quite far out of the main city but we used Grab, which provides a similar service as Uber, and it was sooo cheap! If you are visiting Vietnam I would highly recommend using Grab instead of grabbing a taxi that is hanging around outside, you’ll get a much better price. We were both really nervous when we visited the restaurant because we’d never been in a North Korean restaurant or even met a North Korean person. The staff were all female and I honestly couldn’t understand what they were saying and my husband admitted he could only understand around 80% of the words that the staff used. It was a very unique experience but the food was actually really good! My husband tried North Korean beer and said it tasted better than South Korean beer.
Below is some more random photos that we took on our trip in Hanoi. Overall, I enjoyed the trip but it was way too humid for me and honestly I couldn’t wait to go back to Korea. The people were so kind and helpful, the food was good, you could definitely get products and services for a very cheap price and the hotel was great. I would recommend visiting Hanoi but maybe in cooler months.