Hello people! 🌞
I think this is one of my favourite places in Vietnam to write about. I’m the kind of girl who loves the city life. I like when buildings, shops, restaurants and other structures are close to one another. I like a city where you can take a walk down the street and meet a bunch of friends, a city where you don’t need to take a taxi, then a bus and a train to get to your desired location. I love how in some cities you can just walk out of your house and go straight to a friends place and knock on the door to see if they’re home – no formalities or phone calls to see if they’re free. I guess that’s the reason why I love living in Mumbai so much – it’s exactly that kind of city and so is HANOI!
We arrived in Hanoi at about 5:30pm and it was chucking it down with rain. Jeez! Thankfully our tour guide brought us umbrellas and the car wasn’t too far away. It was probably a forty five minute drive from the airport to our hotel. We stayed at the Hanoi Delano hotel. I think the hotel was in the perfect location as all the shopping that you could ever imagine and MORE was right outside the door! From shoes to bags, clothing, stationary and cooking / baking items, not to forget restaurants and roadside eateries was all around the area. The lanes were narrow, short and well labelled which made it so easy to walk around the whole area. Well easy for the average human – I’m bad on another level with directions. 🙈
As for the sightseeing we visited the Hochiminh Complex which includes: Hochiminh Mausoleum, One pillar pagoda and the Ba dinh Square. We then went to the Temple of Literature – Vietnam’s first university established during the construction of the capital. We also went to the Museum of ethnology which was where we learnt about the diverse Vietnamese culture, beliefs and ethnic distributions. Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son Temple which were both incredibly beautiful with such stunning architecture. Inspite of the fact that Vietnam is a developing country, everything and I mean every single temple, monument, natural feature, the roads and just every possible thing is so well maintained.
We did a private food tour where we got to experience the incredible Vietnamese Cuisine just like the locals do on the streets. We strolled through hidden alleyways and the bustling markets of Hanoi’s old quarter.
We visited the Bai Dinh Pagoda – the biggest pagoda in Vietnam with 500 La Han statues , biggest bronze Buddha statue in Vietnam that weighed a hundred tons. This place had a series of never ending steps, but because the weather was so lovely that day we made it! Ofcourse I was completely exhausted and starving after all that walking and climbing (it’s not on level ground). So you have to keep going higher and higher to see different things. I think there was a total of 600 steps to reach right to the top.
Anyway, what came after that made it all worthwhile! We had the most delicious and elaborate lunch where dishes just kept on coming . Like literally they wouldn’t stop. Just when we thought, “Wow! This is a lot!” some more food came. If you’re wondering… How could your dishes keep on coming like this? Wouldn’t you be in charge of ordering what you want? Well no. Because when we booked this particular tour company to show us around food was included. And they have set menus. Which was so nice because that meant, we didn’t have the stress of what to order, how much would be enough, what is each person in the mood for, etc etc. They gave us the best and we thoroughly enjoyed everything! Well…. Almost everything. 🙂
We then went on to visit the Trang An Scenic Landscape complex – more commonly known as Halong Bay on land which has recently been recognised as a World Natural Heritage of UNESCO. We got on a rowing boat and circled the river , looking at the mountains and the greenery all around. We went under caves some of the most famous ones being Sang Cave, Toi Cave, Ba Giot Cave and Nau Ruou Cave. The boat ride was so calming and relaxing. There were different shades of green everywhere we looked. The boat ride was for two hours which at first I thought would be too long! I thought I would get bored and restless after the first half hour itself. But there was just so much to see, I helped a tiny bit with rowing the boat and towards the end it was about to rain so we all put in our efforts to row the boat to shore before we got wet! We made it just in time. And I actually wished the ride was longer….
Now for the most exciting part of all (some may beg to differ) – SHOPPING!!! We went to Aeon mall Long Bien. We did quite a lot of shopping. Well Andre and his fam did atleast. I finished my money. Lol! There was amazing stuff nevertheless and I was extremely tempted. I did however get my birthday presents from the Fernandes’. They bought me a pair of high waisted dark blue jeans which are ripped at the knees, you know the kind that are ever so popular these days. I picked it out though :P. And André and I got a pair of matching sunglasses. So cool! Or cheesy…? Anyway, then was lunch and a big massive bowl of Swensen’s Icecream and by massive I mean a bowl of twelve scoops. HEAVENLY!!!
This was my favourite place in Vietnam. In fact, I love it so much I can think of myself moving there someday. The only problem is the language. But hey! We survived this trip and it’ll only get easier with time. Hahaha… Anyway, dreams aside, I hope you liked this post, let me know in the comments if you want me to do a Vietnam Shopping Haul which will include all that I bought from there and the places I bought them from. Thanks for sticking till the end. Love you all lots!
Picture Courtesy: Andre Fernandes ; Instagram: @andrefernandes1994