TRAVEL NOTES ON VIETNAM

 Old Quarter - Hanoi | Perfume Pagoda | Hoa Lu and Tam Coc | Ha Long Bay | Hanoi Graceful Hotel | Visa Information

Warning About Duty Free Liquids | Getting Around Hanoi | Dragonfly Travel | Sightseeing in Hanoi | Food

Slide Show | Video Part 1 | Video Part 2

 

 

Old Quarter, Hanoi - Love it or hate it

 

The Old Quarter is composed of small streets full of people, traffic, shops, hotels and restaurants. Many streets are organised (and named in Vietnamese) by the products sold there. You will find things like shoe street, tin street, button street, toy street etc.

Large buses vie for space with cyclos, cars, electric tourist buggies and what seems like several million motorbikes.

 

Colourful shops in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Colourful shop goods on display

 

There is no in-between with this section of Hanoi, you will either love it or hate it. In order to get about on foot you have to learn to cross the road while vehicles of every description pass inches from you without stopping.

Hawkers and touts will pester you from time to time but it certainly isn't as bad as we have experienced in Bali.

You may find hidden gems like the almost famous egg coffee and you may find a corner cafe that serves beer for less than a dollar a glass and serves really great fried rice.
 

Egg coffee - Hanoi

Egg coffee - Hanoi


There are all sorts of things for sale, some at fixed prices from places like Shop and Go and many more that you can haggle for.

The Old Quarter is noisy, polluted with vehicle exhausts and very dirty but it is an amazing experience. Tucked away in quieter streets you may find a great little hotel (we stayed at Hanoi Graceful) where you can book a cheap room but get 5 star service.

You will mostly walk in the street as motorbikes clutter the foot paths, you might find roast pork, suckling pig, roast duck and Doner kebabs sold just paces apart.

 

Street Food in Hanoi

Street Food in Hanoi

 

From Friday to Sunday you can walk down a long street market or during the day you can suffer the heat and humidity of the Dong Xuan wholesale market.

Whatever you find and whatever you experience, I guarantee the Old Quarter in Hanoi will be something you will; never forget.

 

Excellent fried rice - Hanoi

Excellent fried rice and cheap beer - Hanoi

 

Hoa Lu and Tam Coc – This is a 'must do' trip


Another early start as the pick-up for the Tam Coc tour was at 8am. This tour was with Galaxy Cruises but from what we have been told, all the tours here are pretty much the same as far as itinerary goes.

A two and a half hour drive was broken by a rest stop about half way. Unfortunately it was the same rest stop that is used for the Perfume Pagoda tour so there was nothing new for us to see or buy.

The first stop was a temple but it really wasn't a very impressive one. It has more historical value than anything else as the complex dates from around 900ad.
 

Lots of temples in Vietnam


A short drive took us to Tam Coc where we had a buffet style lunch. Nothing to rave about but the quality was ok and there was plenty to eat.

The next item was to prove the highlight of the day, if not the entire trip. We knew we were going to be taken in a sampan for a 90 minute trip up a river through some rice fields. Visions of the sampans at the Perfume Pagoda swam before me but I was very relieved to find that these boats were far more comfortable.
 

Stunning Tam Coc

Stunning Tam Coc


These small craft are powered by a rower who sits at the back. They have a fascinating way of rowing with their feet that has to be seen to be believed.

The first part of the boat trip didn't appear to be anything that spectacular but once we passed under the last bridge we were treated to a 'vision splendid' that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

People call this the inland Ha long Bay but it is really so much more than that. Tam Coc is truly amazing.

We were advised to bring hats and umbrellas and the hats were a real necessity. The day wasn't too hot but if it had been, an umbrella to keep the sun off would also be required.

There is more than ample time for taking pictures and video and as you reach the turn around point there is an opportunity to thank your rower by purchasing them a drink. While you don't HAVE to do this, it is a nice way to thank your rower for all their effort and as there are some rather low hanging bits of rock in the caves on the way back, personally I would rather have a happy rower behind me....

 

Tourists buying souvenirs

Tourists buying souvenirs
 

On the way back your rower will pull over and give you the opportunity to thank them more by purchasing something from the box of souvenirs. This is an opportunity to bargain for something if you are interested, or if you don't want to purchase anything you might like to give a straight out tip.

In general we are not in favour of tipping but these rowers do a lot of hard work and are paid very small wages. They depend on tips to make a reasonable living so in a case like this, we chose to give a tip that may be small by our standards but quite meaningful in Vietnam.

During this trip there will also be a host of photographers trying to get a picture of you. It is almost impossible to avoid having your picture taken so you might as well pose properly and get a good shot. This costs between 50c to $1 a photo but if they start to take lots of shots just be firm and only pay for the one(s) you want.

The trip along the river here rates at least as well as our overnight trip to Ha Long Bay. In our opinion it is a MUST DO trip if you are staying in Vietnam.
 

Tranquil river scene - Vietnam


When the rowing section of the trip comes to an end you can opt to take a 40 minute bike ride around the village. This costs a few dollars more and is only for the fit and healthy (this does not include us.)

We chose to return to the restaurant after a brief walk around the market and sit in the shade to await the return of the younger and more fit members of our party.

Soon after 4pm we were on our way back to Hanoi. The drive back took almost 3 hours due to traffic congestion and by the time we got back to our hotel we were tired but happy.

One note regarding the road conditions. A lot of people complain about the road to Ha long Bay but we found that much better than the one to Tam Coc. This was really quite a bumpy ride and if anyone has a bad back (like me) it would be a good idea to take some lumbar support and maybe some pain killers.

This trip rates 10/10 from us for everything except perhaps the food. That we would only give 7/10.

 

Hanoi Graceful Hotel - A little gem


The Hanoi Graceful is located in one of the more quiet streets in the old quarter. It is a fairly small hotel but the service and amenities are excellent. From the moment you walk into the reception area it is obvious that attention to detail and quality are two important aspects of this hotel.

 

Hanoi Graceful Hotel

Hanoi Graceful Hotel


Although our room was fairly small it was equipped with everything we needed. The bed was king size and on first inspection I thought the mattress was going to be a problem. I have a very bad back and I am used to a mattress with a bit of 'give' in it. The mattress here is VERY firm BUT even with my back problems I had no difficulty sleeping. After talking to other travellers it is apparent that Vietnam is well known for firm beds.

Cupboard space was a little limited but we still managed ok. The room decor was pleasant and the bathroom was especially nice. Everything was spotlessly clean and rooms are serviced every day.
 

Hanoi Graceful Hotel

 

One small addition I would like to see in the room is a proper chair rather than just the stool that is currently available. This would make life a bit more comfortable when for using the computer.

The hotel provides free Wi-Fi internet access and although the speed is not lightning fast it is good enough.

Another inclusion is a buffet breakfast that includes things like fried rice, noodles, bacon, egg, sausage, fruit juice, toast, jam, coffee fruit and more.

The TV was a large flat screen model and a number of English language channels are available such as movies, CNN, sports, children’s channels, Animal Planet, Nat Geo and a few others.

Other facilities in the room are coffee and tea making facilities and bottled water is supplied every day. If you need to plug in electronic devices then an adaptor is available from reception but remember Vietnam runs on 220v so anyone with 110v appliances has to have their own transformer as well.

Being located in the old quarter is great as there are all sorts of things to see and do within walking distance.

We really can't find any faults with the hotel and Mr. Lee and his staff are extraordinarily helpful.

One word of warning about tours. We were told in Australia that we should book tours like Ha Long Bay with an Australian travel agent before we arrived in Vietnam because they are so popular. This turned out to be nonsense. We booked through the hotel and we got a competitive price. When we were on the tour we even met people who had booked only 2 days in advance and had no problem getting on to the tour.

We would rate the Hanoi Graceful 10/10 for service and value and 8/10 overall. This is a great little hotel that is destined to become very popular as more people get to know about it.

 

Visa Information

 

When we booked the trip to Vietnam we were unaware that this is one country that charges for tourist visas. Initially we heard the cost was $25 AU but then read online that it was $65 AU. When we applied to the Vietnamese Embassy in Canberra we were told that it was now $85 AU per person.

 

One thing to be careful of are the online scammers pretending to be official Vietnamese websites. We checked first with the Australian Government and found that the correct place to apply can be found at:

 

http://www.vietnamembassy.org.au/

 

Warning About Duty Free Liquids

 

We WERE NOT TOLD by Singapore Airlines when we checked in at Hanoi airport that any duty free liquids (alcohol, perfumes etc.) would be confiscated in Singapore before we could board our connecting flight to Perth. This STUPID rule means we could happily carry our duty free to Singapore but no further. I have no idea which idiot is responsible for this rule but SIA should have warned us NOT TO PURCHASE duty free in Hanoi.

 

If we had a direct flight to Perth then apparently there would be no problem but as we had a connecting flight this idiotic rule came into play and we lost the lot. We hold SIA responsible for this complete stuff up and we know they were aware of the rule because as we flew into Perth airport they made an announcement about not taking duty free onto connecting flights. It was far too late to be of any help to us.

 

Why valid duty free items in properly sealed bags purchased in a secure location can be taken onto one flight but not on to a connecting flight from a transit area (also a secure location) is incomprehensible.

 

These sorts of rules are bloody minded stupidity and the fact that we had no indication that they existed either from SIA or the duty free shop means we had no way of knowing that the last part of our trip was going to be ruined.

 

UPDATE: We contacted both SIA and the Hanoi Airport duty free shop about this issue and with all credit to the duty free shop they refunded the money we had spent with them. SIA have simply ignored the matter.

 

Getting Around Hanoi

 

If you stay in the Old Quarter then you can still get around using the old cyclos where the driver sits behind you pedalling while you sit in front exposed to all the traffic racing past you. Agree a price BEFORE you get on board.

 

Walking is one of the best ways to see the streets in your immediate vicinity but if you want to range further afield then you can hire a motorbike (if you have a death wish), hire someone to take you around on their motorbike, hire a car and driver for a fixed amount, ride on one of the electric tourist buggies ($7.50 Au for 30 minutes for sightseeing or about $12.50 Au for a full hour and you can stop where you like) or get a taxi.

 

The best taxi company we found was Mai Linh (green or green and white) or Hanoi Tourist. Riding around the nearby attractions can cost as little as 75c Au up to $6 Au but rarely more.

 

 

Perfume Pagoda – Some effort required

 

Picked up from our hotel just before 8am for our day trip to the Perfume Pagoda. Only 4 others on the trip with us today so there was plenty of room in the van. The van was comfortable and had good air-conditioning. Our guide for the day was called Tim and he was very knowledgeable and helpful.
 

Tour buses are air-conditioned and comfortable

Tour buses are air-conditioned and comfortable


We were given a bottle of water (and boy did we need it later) which seems to be a standard inclusion in all these trips, and settled in for the drive ahead.

It was about a 2 hour drive out to the river where we were to board a sampan and there was a comfort stop half way where toilets, drinks and souvenirs were available. We found some nice things to take home so spent a bit of money. The prices here were much more reasonable that the stop we had during the Ha long Bay trip BUT if you are looking for even better bargains it is worth checking out the souvenir shops in temples like the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.

On arrival at the river I found my romantic notions of what a sampan was like were not quite correct. The vessel that was to take us an hour's journey to the temple was a metal construction, very shallow and with very small, very hard seats. To be fair I had been warned in advance about these seats but in the end I decided against bringing any extra cushioning. As it turned out I got used to the narrow seat and it didn't cause me any problems.

 

Sampan ride on the Perfume River

Sampan ride on the Perfume River

 

It was a hot day so we were very glad we brought our hats and umbrellas (as the adverts suggest) others in the group had ignored this advice and some had to buy hats before hopping on to the small craft. The 'engine' for our boat was a rather diminutive Vietnamese lady with a couple of oars.

Paddling along the river watching the other boats glide past and being able to view the stunning scenery was very pleasant. It would have been a little more comfortable on a day without so much sunshine but we were ok under our umbrellas and there was a little breeze on the river from time to time that helped as well.

There are two options available to visitors, walk to the temple or catch a cable car. Our option was to catch the cable car as I can't walk too far these days but in all honesty I would highly recommend this option for everyone, at least for the trip up to the temple. It only adds a few dollars to the cost and it is really worth while.

 

Cable car ride to the Perfume Pagoda cave

Cable car ride to the Perfume Pagoda cave


Before going up to the cave temple we first had a look at a temple on the lower slopes. Very pretty and a great place to take some photos. This whole temple complex is spread out and very large. Apparently it would take 2-3 days to see all of it.

The climb up to the first temple wasn't too bad but there is a climb, it isn't located on the river flats so it was good to be prepared and have some decent shoes on. Some of the pathway is a little rough and people (like me) with dodgy knees and backs have to take it easy and watch our step on the rougher sections of path.

Next came lunch and this turned out to be a bit of a surprise as it was some of the best food we have had so far in Vietnam. Lots of it and all very tasty. Tofu, fish, pork, rice, vegetables and even a plate of chips (always a favourite with me no matter where I am) plus an egg omelette that was about the best I have ever eaten.

 

Food on the tours is good
 

Once lunch was over it was time to head up, yes up and up a bit more, to the cable car station. After a short wait we were off up the mountain passing through one mid-way station and up to the terminus at the top. The cable cars keep moving, even if it is slowly, so it is important to remember to collect all your things BEFORE you get to the top and be ready to get out - unlike me when I left my camera on the floor and had to go after the car to retrieve it before it vanished back down the hill.

Another walk down, then up, then DOWN, DOWN into the cave. It is supposed to be 120 steps down to the cave but for my wobbly legs it felt like many many more. The cave was interesting but has to be navigated with great care as the floor, mostly slippery rock, is made more slippery by strange people hosing it down with water and making it even more slippery. I'm not sure if this was a local game of betting on which tourist would fall over first but it made walking through the cave a bit more challenging that it otherwise might have been.
 

Perfume Pagoda cave temple

Perfume Pagoda cave temple

 

Then it was time to go back UP ALL THOSE 120 STEPS AGAIN! Oh my aching bones. Thankfully I had prepared in advance by taking a naprosyn pill so my joints didn't cause me any real pain for a change).

The rest of the trip back down the mountain was much more enjoyable. To my great amazement my knees and back held up all the way down. When we finally arrived back at the river for the long 1 hour row back to the bus we were offered the option of taking a motorised boat back for the mere sum of $5. I was all for it but the others in the group didn't want to fork out any more money. It was already starting to get a bit late and I could see a thunderstorm gathering in the distance. I knew if we were rowed back it was likely to be a very wet and possibly dangerous trip if the thunderstorm reached us. (I never want to be out on the water with lightning about).

I offered to pay the whole lot, what is $5 after all? but then the lady who had rowed us up started to complain loudly after being given some money. As she was doing this in Vietnamese I had no idea what was wrong. Three of the people in our tour group were Vietnamese and a couple of them joined in what looked like a pretty heated discussion.
 

River scene - Vietnam

 

In the end it turned out the lady who had done all the hard work rowing us to the temple thought she was being hard done by with the motorised boat pinching her customers before she had got a satisfactory tip. In the end it all got sorted out and she even got towed back with us so everyone was happy.

Just as we got back to the bus the first big spots of rain started to fall. I was very glad I had paid for the ride back as sitting for an hour in the pouring rain at the end of such a long day would not have been a great way to end things.

It was almost 2 hours before we were back at our hotel, exhausted but very happy we had done the trip.

 

Ha Long Bay – As good as it gets.

 

Up early for pick-up at 8am. A VERY LONG 4 hour+ drive out to Ha Long and then a transfer to the V-Spirit boat. The drive out wasn't as bad as we have been led to believe in various online reviews. The V-Spirit bus was comfortable and the air-conditioning was very welcome. They provide a bottle of water each and there is a rest stop (obligatory over priced souvenirs optional) about half way to Ha Long.
 

Half way to Ha Long Bay rest stop

Half way to Ha Long Bay rest stop


The scenery on the trip varied from inner city to small towns and rural rice fields.

We were given a nice cabin and were soon under-way out into the bay. This is a very picturesque area with limestone peaks jutting up out of the sea.

The boat is well equipped and fairly comfortable. There is a lower deck comprising mainly of cabins, a middle deck where the main restaurant and a few other cabins are located and an upper deck with wooden lounges and an undercover area with seats and tables.

 

V Sipirt Halong Bay tour

V Sipirt Halong Bay tour


Lunch was served as we motored along and it was difficult to concentrate on eating with such dramatic scenery passing by outside. There was a strong urge to abandon the food and rush outside with a camera.

The food was plentiful and good but what I would term 'tourist safe' there were no really strong Asian flavours or hot spices. I suppose these sort of tours have to play safe when it comes to food.

After lunch the boat anchored up and some kayaks materialised. We then paddled out from the boat and through a tunnel into a secluded bay. Very impressive rock formations and almost mythical scenery here.

Once we were back on the main boat, we motored off to a small sandy beach where those fit enough (not us) climbed to the top of a peak for the view and others swam in the sea.

 

Ha Long Bay - Vietnam

Ha Long Bay - Vietnam


Back on board and it was time for a quick shower before dinner was served. again the food was good, far more than could be eaten and again it was safe flavours. We were sharing a table with a couple of nurses from Tasmania and we enjoyed their company. In the end it was about 10pm before we had a look at the bow of the boat where you could fish for squid.

The squid were minuscule and the squid jigs a bit odd but one determined soul did actually catch one. We then went to the top deck to just sit and watch the lights of the other boats around us. A beautiful end to a somewhat tiring day.

When we finally crawled off to bed we found the mattress nice and comfortable. The air-conditioning was good (although it is shut off at 5am so that the hot water heaters can be turned on) and the shower was nice and refreshing.

We woke fairly early the next day and the air was nice a clear. It was perfect for taking a few more photos of the boats around us and the scenery. A few of the boats had put up their sails which made a very attractive setting.

Those with the inclination can join a Tai Chi class to start the morning off with a bit of exercise.

 

Climb up to the cave - Ha Long Bay


After breakfast it was time to visit a cave. The walk up to the cave proved too much for my bad knees and I had to come back down instead of continuing. Belle went on and saw the whole thing but it is a long walk up some pretty steep steps so is only really recommended for fairly fit people.

Once back on the boat we had time to relax a bit and remove personal items from the cabin at 9:30am before a morning cooking class taught how to make spring rolls and you get to eat what you make.

 

Transfer to shore from the V Spirit boat

Transfer to shore from the V Spirit boat


Another rest on the top deck just soaking up the atmosphere before lunch and finally transfer back to the port where the bus waited to take us on the long trip back to Hanoi.

We had a different bus on the way back to Hanoi and I think this one didn't have such good suspension and my back started to complain. Looks like tomorrow will have to be a rest day or the next excursion would be at risk. Most people wouldn't have a problem but my back is already bad and the bumpy road caused quite a few sharp intakes of breath on the way back.

This was a great trip even if it was a bit tiring. In general terms I would rate it 8/10 overall and 10/10 as value for money.

We arrived back at our hotel in Hanoi about 5pm so it was a very full 2 day trip. The crew on the boat were all very helpful and pleasant and we have only got nice things to say about the whole experience.


Singapore Airlines - irresponsible when it comes to travel advice.

 

Dragonfly Travel

 

If you want to book one or more tours in Vietnam we highly recommend you speak to Thu (pronounced Too) Trinh at Dragonfly Travel.

 

Thu operates her own travel advisory service and can put you on to some of the best tours at very good prices.

 

Dragonfly Travel's website has a heap of information about travelling in Vietnam and you can book online.

 

Thu provides a personalised service and can help you design a tour to suit your needs. If you need airport to hotel transfers, Thu can organise those for you as well, at prices better then you will get from a hotel or taxi company.

 

http://myvietnamtravel.net

 

 

Sightseeing Around Hanoi

 

There are many attractions around Hanoi city and we only managed to see a few while we were there. Most of the more official tourist sites that seem to be government operated only charge a very small fee for entrance. Some places will also charge a little extra to allow you to take photographs but usually entry comes to about $1.50 Au per head.

 

Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular place for locals and tourists alike and across a short wooden bridge you will find the Ngoc Son Temple. This is only a small temple but as it is located on a small island it is an oasis of calm in a sea of traffic chaos.

 

A little south east of Hoan Kiem Lake is what is known as the French Quarter. Here there are a host of old colonial buildings like the Opera House, History Museum and Women's Museum.

 

We spent a little time in the History Museum, which is the sort of place that is ideal to visit on a rainy day. The building itself is probably more impressive than the collection it houses but entry is cheap and if you are interested in the history of Vietnam then it is a good place to spend a couple of hours.

 

The History Museum is in fact two separate buildings and you have to pay separate entry to each one.

 

South west of Hoan Kiem Lake is Hoa Lo Prison. This was built in colonial times by the French and was used to imprison Vietnamese revolutionaries. During the Vietnam War the prison was used to hold captured American servicemen, mostly pilots who christened the place the 'Hanoi Hilton'.

 

Apparently what remains of the prison is only a small portion as most was destroyed during the war. It is still an interesting place to wander through and although it is only a shadow of its former self, you can get some small appreciation of how bad the conditions inside must have been for those imprisoned there.

 

The Vietnamese people are justifiably proud of their hard-won independence and many of the museums in Hanoi focus a great deal on that struggle. I suspect the warming relationship between the USA and Vietnam has seen a great toning down of anti-American rhetoric that was once present. Although the Vietnam war was the most recent conflict and was far more damaging to the Vietnamese people than the anti-colonial struggle with the French, it is the Vietnamese-French conflict that seems to be given more attention these days.

 

Going further west from Hoa Lo will bring you to the Temple of Literature. This was the first university in Hanoi and dates back to the 9th century AD.

 

The temple is quite large and is very impressive. The tranquil (well almost tranquil if you ignore the traffic noise outside) gardens are a place of peace and reflection in the madness that is Hanoi.

 

While we were visiting we were lucky enough to be there on a day where some sort of graduation was taking place and there were students dressed in traditional Vietnamese costume all over the place having their photographs taken.

 

There are some good souvenir shops in this temple and the prices are generally lower than you will find in other more commercial operations outside.

 

The last major tourist attraction we visited in Hanoi was the Army Museum. This was (from a purely male perspective) the most interesting place of all.

 

The museum has a collection of military vehicles including armoured personnel carriers, tanks, anti-aircraft platforms, aeroplanes and a couple of American helicopters including the massive Chinook dual rotor chopper.

 

Next to the museum is the much older flag tower which just happens to be a good vantage point to take pictures of the aircraft, buildings and vehicles of the museum.

 

There are a host of other places to see in Hanoi. Some of the ones we missed out on include the Water Puppet Theatre, Women's Museum, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum 

 

Army Museum

Army Museum

 

 

Ngoc Son Temple

Ngoc Son Temple

 

History Museum title=

History Museum

 

Maison Centrale, Hoa Lo or Hanoi Hilton

Maison Centrale, Hoa Lo or Hanoi Hilton

 

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

 

 

Army Museum

Army Museum

 

 

Up-market food - Dim sum at the Fortuna Hotel

Up-market food - Dim sum at the Fortuna Hotel

 

Dim Sum buffet for Sunday Lunch

 

Plenty to choose from

 

Food

 

Ok so I have to be honest, I really didn't find the food in Vietnam to be anything special. Some was good, some was average but I didn't really come across anything that was so fantastic that I will always remember it.

 

I am a great fan of Thai, Indian, Chinese and Malay food but somehow I found Vietnamese food to be a bit insipid.

 

We tried quite a few different types of food from up-market dim-sum at the Fortuna Hotel (about $23 Au a head) to small restaurants with clean fresh surroundings right down to quite grubby places and even some street food.

 

No we didn't try Pho that everyone carries on about as we are not 'soup people'.

 

We did finally find a place that serves the supposedly famous egg coffee. It can't be that famous because not too many locals seem to have heard of it. It was ok but really it is nothing but frothy egg white and sugar spooned on top of some strong coffee. It was actually more fun finding the place that makes it, than it was actually drinking it.

 

The dim sum we had was good quality, more or less the same as we are used to getting in Perth. It was far cheaper than we can buy in Australia but a very expensive meal for anyone living in Vietnam.

 

One of the best spots we found was a little corner bar just down the road from our hotel.  It is located on the corner of Hang Phen and Hang Ga streets. It is not the place with the red lanterns, it is the one n the other side of the road with a few tables and chairs right by the edge of the road.

 

This place is popular with tourists and if you are into hygiene you had better NOT go inside and look around. Even so it serves some of the best fried rice (we had the beef) we have had anywhere and most of the other dishes we tried here were great too. The only thing we would not recommend are the spring rolls. The draught beer tastes good and is less than $1 Au a glass.

 

It is not a place to sit and relax as the traffic rushes past sometimes just a foot or two from your table. This is the sort of place you go to experience the real Hanoi; grubby, noisy, stressful but always interesting. Passing hawkers will pester you to buy things, the shoe shine boy will clean your shoes for just a dollar and you can watch the newcomers to Hanoi trying vainly to cross the road at the crosswalk just in front of you.

 

We tried the Doner kebabs from little carts on Hang Chieu Street. These were especially nice although hardly authentic Vietnamese cuisine. At about $1.25 Au each they were amazing value too.

 

The night market food on Hang Duong Street was a bit disappointing as there rally wasn't much variety. The pork satay was ok but not as good as in Malaysia. The fried bready things were interesting but over priced and other meat filled bread styled items were ok but that's all.

 

Sadly before we got to try any of the desserts available, a huge rainstorm came in and the market experience evaporated as everyone ran for cover or got soaked though.

 

We didn't get round to trying the fried eel and there was no way we were going looking for any of the more exotic (or disgusting) foods available in Hanoi. Maybe we were just unlucky and didn't go to the right places or maybe we have been spoiled by eating too well at home, but for us the food in Vietnam was good but not brilliant.

 

 

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