Hanoi Questions

Nov 16th, 2008, 09:50 PM
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Hanoi Questions

Iím thinking about visiting Hanoi for the first time at the end of January (during Chinese New Year) and I got a couple of questions. Do recommend it for a single female traveler? I plan to spend two days in Hanoi exploring and the other two days at Halong Bay. Which cruise operator do you recommend for Halong Bay? Also, where should I stay when Iím in Hanoi? I would prefer to stay in nice, comfortable mid-range hotels/boats. Are there any must see sights/restaurants?

jyoung is offline  
Nov 16th, 2008, 11:37 PM
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Hanoi will be very busy on the days leading up to TET. But after the start of TET, things will get considerably quieter. Many people use this time of year to leave and visit family in other parts of Vietnam. If you intend to go during this time, you'll need to book transportation ASAP (people will start traveling as early as 1/23 this year).
Bisbeee is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 08:32 AM
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Bisbeee: We'll also be traveling to Hanoi and other parts of Vietnam, arriving on Jan 24. When does the Chinese New Year actually start and end?? Will we have problems with restaurants due to crowds?? Hotels and tours are already booked.
lovingretirement is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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Jyoung, Hanoi is a fascinating city. There is much to see and do. There are many "must see sights and restaurants." Pick up a good guidebook - for VN I recommend the Lonely Planet guide. We spent a week in Hanoi (one day outside of Hanoi to the Perfume Pagoda).

If you enjoy cities, two days in Hanoi won't be enough.

Halong can be cold and misty or rainy in January. SOme people love it at that time of the years, other wished they had stayed in Hanoi.
Kathie is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 05:33 PM
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Chinese New Year is from Jan. 25 thru 27th.

Kathie, is it cold, cold in Hanoi in January? I'll be coming from Seoul, which should be pretty cold, so Hanoi may be like spring for me And, thanks for the loney planet tip, I'll order it tonight.
jyoung is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 05:45 PM
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It won't be nearly as cold as Seoul!

Take a look at www.weatherbase.com for historical info on average highs and lows and rainfall for each city>
Kathie is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 08:31 PM
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great site. it will be practically summer for me then!
jyoung is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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We just returned from VN and stayed at the Zephyr Hotel (about $120US)in Hanoi. The location, next to the lake, is perfect for walking nearly everywhere. The staff is wonderful and we had a nice large room. I'd definitely stay there again.
JaneB is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 02:26 PM
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I visited Hanoi as a single female last January. Although the weather was drizzly and grey, I liked the city very much and had absolutely not one problem with being alone..

Here is my trip report (still unfinished but I will remedy that soon) with more details:


ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 04:02 PM
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jyoung: try Bhaya cruises for Halong Bay. Two nights. As a single female you'll have tons of people to talk to - if that;s what you want. Or not.

Kathie's correct - misty... but not just in January. I've yet to find ANYONE who has been to Halong Bay anytime and not seen a great deal of mist. More mist than Halong, in my experience.
dogster is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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ekscrunchy: i read your trip and it's got me excited to visit hanoi. do you recommend getting a tour guide or is hanoi easy enough to see on my own?

dogster: thanks for the tip abt. Bhaya cruises. i'm leaning towards going on that cruise.

as my hotel, i'm think i might stay at the Hanoi Elegance 2. is it in a good location and good hotel?

jyoung is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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hi jyoung, glad you liked Bhaya - nobody ever reccomends them in here 'cos they all keep recommending the ones they've been on. Fair 'nuff. lol. Two nights Bhaya is perfectly fine. I did it. If you're gonna go there take your time. Check out their kayaking options on the second day. You might, if he's still there, find their kayak guide about the best thing in Vietnam. heh. You'll see what I mean.

In Hanoi - if you want to get around all the 'sights' get a guide for one day - then go for local colour in your own tuk tuk the next. Great food, best thing you can do is go sit on a tiny plastic stall and eat, watch the world go by. I'm talking outdoors, in the street - ish.

dogster is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:27 PM
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I have to agree with everyone who has posted here so far. My husband and I did a two day-one night cruise on the Bhaya last weekend and it was lovely. The boat is very nice. The food was excellent and the staff were very accommodating. We wished we had booked the two night option, but it is pretty expensive and at this point one night fit our budget better.

As far as Hanoi goes....my suggestion is to just take it easy and enjoy the town. I am a walker...and a looker. So I spend most of my time doing just that. When I get tired I find a good cafe, coffee shop or plastic stool and watch the world go by. If it is cold or raining, go see some museums. If the weather is nice, walk the lake and the quarter. Look for those tiny little alleys that seem interesting and explore.

One website that could be helpful is called THE NEW HANONIAN: HANOI'S COMMUNITY PRODUCED LOCAL EXPAT GUIDE

I find their reviews and suggestions very useful. I have not used a guide...but rather just have my map and the Vietnam Travel book handy. I pick a route or thing to see and set off! Typically I get sidetracked and find many interesting things along the way. The only advantage to having a tour guide is that they can speak the language and lead you around. If you want that, then a guide will be helpful. If you are comfortable pointing and guessing, then just walk!

The typical "tools" I take on my jaunts: camera; map of Hanoi; travel book; calculator. The calculator is handy for bargaining. I enter a price and they counter. It makes it easier than using fingers! I also have a Vietnamese Phrasebook published by "The Rough Guide". I use it all the time...especially in restaurants. Last week I had some leftovers and wanted to take them home in a container. Looked up the word "box" in the book....said it...and presto, a white styrofoam box was delivered to my table.

Now don't think I am cruising and being able to communicate well with everything. Yesterday I decided to see if I could get some new prescription sunglasses. I live by a very nice looking eyeglass shop. So I wandered in and 5 shop girls came dashing over to help me. Well....no success. They grabbed my glasses and took them to some room to try to see what my prescription was. I have it, but didn't have it with me. I tried to tell them that. I just wanted estimates of prices and time. I did see that frames were running between $15 and $30 dollars. But I couldn't figure out the price of lenses...and I wear trifocals--so more drama. I ended up giving up. I may go back later, but I will take a Vietnamese with me to interpret.
gailmo is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:37 PM
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hey gailmo! Excellent - I'm glad you liked Bhaya too [and, for once to get some back-up lol] AND that you thought it was worth two days.

I suggested a guide just so jyoung can get around a confusing city easy and quick. I agree, just wandering is by far the best. But, with only two days...

Sounds like you're having a great time. Great advice for the O.P.
dogster is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 10:53 PM
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gailmo and dogster: thanks. i agree with you both. i love wandering around to get the feel of a city. and since, i've been living in a foreign land (korea) for the past year, i'm used to getting lost and talking with my hands
jyoung is offline  
Nov 19th, 2008, 09:14 AM
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Hi jyoung,

Am a single female traveler, and have just left Hanoi on Monday the 17th after spending 4 full days there without a guide. I stayed at Elegance 3 which I liked a lot, it is in a different part of the old town than the other 2 locations, but it was very convenient I thought.

Have started on my trip report and should be posting it shortly. Am in Saigon right now, working my way towards Cambodia.
Nywoman is offline  
Nov 28th, 2008, 03:32 PM
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Nywoman - Waiting for your trip report! - June
dgunbug is offline  

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