Hotels at Halong Bay?

Feb 8th, 2004, 09:01 AM
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Hotels at Halong Bay?

Are there places to stay there? Also, what other side trips of interest out of Hanoi? I have airline reservations for a 5 day stay but am able to extend our time in Vietnam (our first visit) if there are other places to go. Also, someone said that the old quarter is a more interesting place to stay in Hanoi. Any hotel recommendations? Thank you in advance. Vicky
bajaflash is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 09:37 AM
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If you only have five days in Hanoi, consider whether you want to take half of that time for a trip to Halong Bay. There are zillions of tour companies who can take you to halong Bay. Quality of the trips seems to vary widely, even within the same tour company. Generally, you get what you pay for.

I opted to stay outside of the old quarter, at the deSyloia. It's a delightful little boutique hotel with very reasonable prices (we had a huge suite with a jetted tub, for US$95 a night including tax, service and breakfast. Obviously, the regular rooms are less. I booked at

It is very noisy everywhere in Hanoi, but especially in the Old Quarter. You can hear the horns 24 hours a day.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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Thank you Kathie, I have been doing all the planning with help from Foderites. At your suggestion, I am calling the airlines to change our reservations and will be spending at least two weeks in Vietnam. I don't know about a side trip to Ho Ch Minh. What do you think?
bajaflash is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 01:37 PM
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You could easily spend your two weeks in the north. If you base yourself in Hanoi, take side trips to Sapa, Halong Bay and a day to the Perfume Pagoda. If you want yet another trip, I'd recommend a trip to Hue/Hoi An rather than HCMC.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 03:05 PM
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The side trip to Sapa actually takes much longer than the trip to Halong Bay. It requires a night on the train each way and you will want to spend at least 2 nights up there. Try to time your arrival for a Sunday morning, and arrange to go straight from the station at Lao Cai to Bac Ha market, which was one of the highlights of our recent trip there. (It's a shorter trip from the station than from Sapa, and the roads are really twisty and slow. After the market, which ends around 2pm, you can head to Sapa.) If you can't make that schedule, I believe there is another local market in a different town on Tuesdays and the visit there includes a boat ride on the river. The Victoria Hotel in Sapa is a very nice 4-star and if you stay there they can give you information on all that. We arranged our first day tours with them, then worked directly with local guides for the other days, because it's more expensive to book through the hotel.

Halong Bay can be done in a day, but it would be a VERY long day since it's a 3 hour ride each way from Hanoi. We stayed overnight on a junk boat there, which was very comfortable and relaxing. Waking up in the morning out on the water was a magical experience. We did not see any of the hotels in Halong Bay, but people on our boat stayed in one that was supposed to the best and said it was extremely mediocre and not worth the money.
In Hanoi we stayed at the Sofitel Metropole. It's quite hisoric and very charming. Great service. Walking distance to Old Quarter. It's expensive by Hanoi standards (I think we paid $US 140 per night, inclusive of tax, service and an enormous buffet breakfast.) But we felt it was still good value for the money.
In Hanoi, be sure to try Emperor restaurant. It's built around the courtyard of an old villa...very romantic and the food is outstanding.
Also we found the shop called Craftlink (on the street next to Temple of Literature) to have great buys on many of the ethnic crafts from all over VN.
Lindsey is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 04:37 PM
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we stayed at the daewoo which was top rated two years ago...they may be closed now?? the sofitel is clearly the best, but i like kathie's place too...we used in bangkok for all our arrangements...the hotels that we saw at halong bay were very low on the to speak....
i would stay at the royal river garden hotel in hyphong (owned by a thai/american from bangkok) and go to halong bay for the day...that is what we did...

outside of hanoi there is a great pottery village which you should visit...all the drivers know it...near-by we were also taken to a painters hosuse where we got to see and purchase paintings....they were not used to tourists and greeted us very nicely...

we had a driver and a guide and were very pleased with what asiantrails did for us and it was very reasonable...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 05:49 PM
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We stayed at the "Halong 2" hotel, which was pretty basic but adequate -way short of the Sofitel, no doubt, but hopefully way cheaper too. (We could only stand outside the Sofitel, pressing our noses against the windows and deeply annoying French tourists by looking on longingly as they disported themselves in Gallic luxury).

The Halong 2 was distinguished by a helpful list of what you'd have to pay if you nicked anything from your room, first place being given to the aircon remote control, which from memory would set you back over US$100. So, resist the temptation. I considered asking the management to store it in the safe deposit box but soon realised the drawbacks of that idea.

Ho Chi Minh City is busier and more commercial than Hanoi and opinions as to its attractions vary. It's a good place from which to take a day trip into the Mekong though, check out the Cu Chi Tunnels, Cao Dai temple etc. Elsewhere in the South you might want to consider Hue and Hoi An - Hoi An in particular is a great little city and worth a couple of days in my view.

Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 05:52 PM
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Also, when you get ready to think about restaurants in Hanoi, I did a long post with reviews of quite a number of places when I returned from my trip at the end of November, 2003. Do a search on Hanoi and you'll find it.
Kathie is offline  
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