Ha Noi is the ancient capital of Vietnam, dating back about a thousand years. Its old name is "Thang Long", or "Rising Dragon"; legend has it that the king decided to move his capital here after seeing dragons rising from its grounds. "Ha Noi" means "inside the river", the "river" being the Red River. Accordingly the other towns around it are called Ha Bac, Ha Nam, Ha Dong, Ha Tay, or north, south, east, and west, respectively, of the river. If Saigon is the commercial hub of Vietnam and Hue is the bastion of its royal heritage, Hanoi is the country's historical, artistic, and cultural center.
Ho Hoan Kiem, or the Lake of the Restored Sword, is a refreshing expanse of green space in the middle of the city. Its legend is similar to the Arthurian legend of Excalibur. No, there are no scimitar-lobbing watery tarts in it.
Shrine to Confucius (Khong Tu in Vietnamese), who's considered a patron saint of learning.
What an experience!!!!!
"Day #1 + Day #2 + a bit of Day #3"
Just came back from Hanoi, Vietnam trip….
No complain about the food there…
No complain about tour itinerary
But not satisfied with the hotels….
I will tell you why… read on…
As for photos, I have yet to download from my 2 cameras…
Yes! I brought 2 cameras…
Estimated around 1,000 pictures…
09 August 07: KUL / HAN AK 762 16:55 / 19:20 (D)
Welcome at Noi Bai international airport. Transfer to hotel for check in. Dinner with Chinese Style. Overnight in Hanoi Heritage Hotel.
Our flight from KL to Hanoi on Day #1, as per schedule…. Okay… smooth flight. We all safely arrived there in the evening…. Dark already @ 7.00pm (Hanoi time) = KL time @ 8.00pm. Proceed to Chinese restaurant for dinner, but too near to sleeping time, so we had supper…
After dinner, we headed towards Heritage Hotel to check-in and got our respective rooms @ 5th Floor – highest level. Quick bath, and went to bed at the soonest….
By the way, there are 12 of us in this travel group.
10 August 07: HANOI v NINH BINH TAM COC CAVES v HALONG (B, L, D)
Drive to Ninh Binh province. Visit to Bich Dong Pagoda built on Ngu Nhac Mountain. Lunch with local special. Followed by enjoy a hand-rowed sampan ride to visit the amazing Tam Coc Caves the scenery of which is called “Halong Bay inland”. Overland to Halong. Hotel check in on arrival. At leisure. Dinner with seafood. Overnight in Halong Golden Hotel.
On Day #2, morning call at 7.00am….
Had breakfast at Heritage Hotel…. Left hotel @ 8.00am
Check-out from hotel with our baggages….
Start our sight-seeing as per itinerary for Day #2….
We visited Bich Dong Pagoda on Ngu Nhac mountain – got too many Vietnamese photographers “hunting” us all the way, trying to make a living out from photography….
Next, we drove to Tam Coc, near Bich Dong Pagoda…
We had hand-rowed sampan ride at Tam Coc Caves…. Had to give tips to 2 person who rowed our sampan, VDN10,000 each = RM2.50
During the sampan ride, these people will try to sell you their handicraft & t-shirts… which quality of sewing are not so good… Some of the people will row the sampan with their hands, later will be using their feet…
Weather was cloudy and cooling, threatening to rain… it only drizzle a bit during our return trip. Later, our group had lunch near Tam Coc Caves… Vietnamese dishes….
Drive along and we reached Halong Bay’s Golden Hotel…. Long distance drive, around 4 hours…. Had dinner, forgot where. Reached Golden Hotel to check-in and got our respective rooms @ 5th Floor – mid level. Quick bath, and went to bed at the soonest.
11 August 07: HALONG (B, L, D)
Boat cruise on Halong Bay, the World Natural Heritage, thousands of islands with different forms look like glittering emeralds attached to the blue scarf of a virgin. The area where many stone islands concentrate has spectacular scenes and world-famous caves and is the center of Halong Bay Natural Heritage. Visit to Thien Cung caves and Titop beach for swimming. Seafood lunch on board. Back to hotel, at leisure. In the evening, Boat cruise to Bai Tho Island. Visit to farm of seafood, Dinner on the island. Overnight in Halong Golden Hotel.
On Day #3, morning call at 7.00am. Had breakfast at Golden Hotel @ level 9. Left hotel @ 8.00am. Before we had breakfast, the weather was not so nice…. Grey and gloomy… at the end, it rained heavily while we were having breakfast. By the time we are ready to leave the hotel, it stop raining. Start our sight-seeing as per itinerary for Day #3….
We arrived at the pier, and boarded a Vietnamese junk for boat cruise at Halong Bay. We visited Thien Cung caves with natural stalactite and stalagmites. We continued to cruise Halong Bay. We stopped by at Titop beach. Only 4 of us climbed 400 stairs upwards to reach the top, to see the 360 view.
"Day #3 + Day #4"
Before we had our lunch, we were brought to a kelong farming, where by tourist can buy fresh live fishes & assortment of seafood from the kelong farm, and to be cooked by the boat people at extra charges.
But none of us bought any fishes… of course, these people will “potong” you ‘kaw-kaw”. Had seafood lunch in the junk. We had few hours of time before we return to Golden Hotel.
Our group paid an extra RM200.00 for the travel guide & driver to bring us to another place, Halong Market, for us to do some shopping. Because it is not in our itinerary. However, it gave us a sense of being ripped off, as the destination is not too far away from the pier… around 10km only.
When we arrived back to Golden Hotel, we went back to our respective rooms, because this is our 2nd night stay in Golden Hotel.
Surprisingly, one of our tour member discovered that her locked baggage (trolley bag with small golden lock) has a broken lock. The area where you insert your mini key, has been broken into half!
Without wasting any time, our rooms’ door bell was rang by other travel members, highlighting the discovery. We called the hotel management to that room, and demanded explanation & investigation. It was a havoc!!!
It was quite a shock!!! I was requested to photograph the damage as prove of evidence. To cut the story short, the hotel management cut the lock without destroying the trolley bag, and replaced the lock. We checked whether there is anything missing – nothing was missing.
All of us went back to our rooms to re-check our stuff. Later, we left the hotel for dinner at Bai Tho Island – another short cruise ride. Reached Golden Hotel to check-in and got our respective rooms @ 5th Floor – mid level. Quick bath, and went to bed at the soonest.
12 August 07: HALONG v HANOI (B, L, D)
Drive back to Hanoi. Lunch with Chinese style. Visit Temple of Literature which was built in 11th Century as the first university of Vietnam, continued visit to Hoan Kiem Lake with Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi’s Old Quarter with 36 commercial roads. Dinner with Vietnamese buffet. Enjoy the water puppet show. Overnight in Hanoi Heritage Hotel.
On Day #4, morning call at 7.00am. Had breakfast at Golden Hotel @ 1st floor. Left hotel @ 8.00am. Check-out from hotel with our baggages. Start our sight-seeing as per itinerary for Day #4. As for what had happen on Day #3 evening, the Golden Hotel management has no sincere action and no results on the investigations.
Long drive from Halong back to Hanoi. We stopped by at Tran Quoc Pagoda (supposed to see on Day #5). After lunch, we check-in to Heritage Hotel.
We were given 3rd floor instead of 5th Floor. 3rd floor’s room layout is different. Bed was too soft, very bad for backbones. After making “hot chocolate cake” in toilet, got no water to flush. When bathing, there is only hot water, and got no cold water. One of our 6 rooms had foul smell. Without wasting any time, our rooms’ door bell was rang by other travel members, highlighting the discovery.
We called the hotel management to that room, and demanded explanation & investigation. So, we demanded to change.
At the end, we were transferred to 5th floor, and managed to get our rooms as per 1st night. At 3.00pm, we left our hotel, and proceed with our itinerary. From afar we saw Hoan Kiem Lake with red pedestrian bridge. We shopped at Hanoi’s Old quarter with 36 commercial roads. Got so many motorists, feared of crossing streets…. Heavy traffic!!! No laws!!!!
Many stuff being sold there, but have to bargain. Also have to be careful, aware of pickpockets. We went for water puppet show @ 6.00pm. Had buffet dinner.
And we returned to Heritage Hotel (where we slept our 1st night there).
Quick bath, and went to bed at the soonest.
I discovered my room’s bed headboard got sound.
It is due to termites’ infestation.
I reported to travel guide and hotel management on the next morning.
13 August 07: HAN / KUL AK 763 20:00 / 00:25 (B, L, D)
Visit to Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (closed on Monday, Friday and the whole October - November), President Ho Chi Minh's Residence, One-Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh museum. Lunch with Vietnamese Cuisine. Visit to West lake with Tran Quoc Pagoda, Shopping. Dinner. Transfer to the airport for departure.
On Day #5, morning call at 7.00am. Had breakfast at Heritage Hotel. Left hotel @ 9.00am. We visited Ba Dinh Square (something similar to China’s Beijing’s Tien An Men square). Visited President Ho Chi Minh’s residence, One-Pillar Pagoda.
We didn’t visit Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum (as it was closed). However, it is similar to Mao Zhe Dong’s in Beijing, China. We did stopped by on Day #4… from the bus, we saw super long queue, as many Vietnamese people queueing to see HCM’s dead body… the Q closed @ 11.30am.
We decided not to join the Q, and waste time….
We completed all our sight-seeing as per tour initerary.
We returned to Heritage Hotel by 11.30am, and targeting to check-out by 12.30pm. So, all of us returned to our respective rooms to bath, pack stuff and final checking.
Suddenly, our rooms’ door bell was rang by other travel members, highlighting the discovery.
What now!!!! Aiyoooo…. One of our rooms belongs to my colleague’s parents had a surprise. Someone was bathing in their bathroom.
Remember we had not checked out from our rooms, and these rooms are OURS. How can someone use our bathroom, or even to enter without our consent…. Except for housekeeping. We called the hotel management to that room, and demanded explanation & investigation…. It was a SUPER havoc!!!
We caught the man in his bath towels, with his clothes on hangers inside the bath room. We checked our bags again, for any security break-ins…
By 12.30pm, we check-out from Heritage Hotel, and headed to restaurant for lunch. After lunch, we stopped by at Temple of Literature (supposed to see on Day #4). To cut the story short, the hotel management apologized to our group by treating us dinner & happy hours…
But our tour itinerary had dinner included. So, we opt for coffee at one of the high-end coffee restaurant at Hanoi’s city. We met up with Heritage Hotel people @ 3.00pm. Heritage Hotel management also gave all of us a box of famous Vietnamese coffee in sachets.
As for our tour operators in KL, they suggest to compensate 50% of our tour package. By 4.00pm, we visited Hoan Kiem Lake with Ngoc Son Temple (supposed to see on Day #4). Some of us did some final shopping at Old Quarters. By 5.00pm, we returned to Heritage Hotel for our dinner at their Chinese restaurant. By 6.00pm, we left and proceed to Noi Bai International Airport. We were scheduled to fly back to KL at 8.00pm (Hanoi time)… We reached KL after midnight on Aug14…