I cannot deny that Hanoi is “just” a city. Ok, u may see beautiful French building, u probably fall in love with the foods on the street, u’re amazed by Thang Long Water puppet, u may love to do night walk around Hoan Kim Lake, or… u love the cheap fresh beer on the street stall?? But, that’s all…. After all the temples and mausoleum, what else u like to do inside Hanoi? All u need to do is step out a bit of Hanoi, and u’ll fascinated by the wonderful scenery! Some local tour agent ready to pick u up on the hotel in Hanoi, drive u away for 2-4 hours, and send u back to Hanoi later in the evening. Or… u can do it yourself!Oh yeah, for Ho Chi Mihn mousoleun visitor, be ready to join a lo…………ng queue, and confused *cos the instruction using Vietnamese*, leave ur big bag on some certain places with some confusing system….. Ok, u better not bringing big bag, such as back pack there, so u don’t need to be confuse! For the camera/ video, u may take it to everywhere in the complex, but to the Mousoleum! U have to leave it *again* right before entry, and pick them up on the exit door. Please do wear shirt with sleeve and cover ur knee. No talk, no giggling, no talking, no noisy, and stay in the line properly!! The mousoleum open at 7.30 am-11 pm and 2 pm-4 pm at Summer. 8 am-11 pm and 1.30 pm – 4 pm on winter. Monday and Friday closed. And… sometimes uncle Ho wasn’t there, he will traveling to Russia, for some maintenance (hihihi!! No gigling!!).
Anyway….I have decided to go to Halong Bay, 3-4 hours driving from Hanoi. This is one of the highlight in VN I guess. Halong Bay is listed on world heritage, mentioned in every VN tourism site, reviewed on every travel forum, listed on every tour agent’s IT….Are there need more evidence that Halong Bay is 100% worth visit?? Hạ Long Bay is a gulf, with thousand of limestone islet there. The water are calm, and thr beach around that area are fantastic!
They have plenty of choices for Halong bay tour, one day trip, 2 days trip, or even more. For overnight tour will also including kayaking, sunrise on deck, swimming, and sailing without machine! That would be awesome! But…….. I have no choice but choosing the one day trip! I had no time! Argh!! I even had no time to wander around finding the good offer on the tour agent. Actually, a good tour agent in Halong is challenging! I have browsing a lot in tripadvisor.com, and fantastically, all the tour listed there, always have both excellent and worst review, and it was always 50-50!! I can’t believe it! And, 1 day trip seems to be not so popular, that’s why, it was hard to find tour offer. I did work hard to find short listed junk boat tour!! Lots of review said, never ever book a tour on the net, cos I will end up either cheated, or got my deposit money gone!
One day trip to Halong Bay tour with junk boat cost starts around 30 USD, but… I found that my hotel have offer start at 20 USD! Anyway…. This is logic that u can’t have a good tour with cheap price! Or, we can say : we got what we pay! And I was end up with Hanspan tour. They have very good reputation on the net, they have good office and professional staff….. but they also well known as “a bit pricy”! I got 65 USD per pax! The price was including shuttle from Hanoi to Halong bay, entry fee to Halong bay, visiting 2 caves, visiting floating fisherman villages, see food lunch at the boat, but not drink! Yes, we have to pay the drink separately, but they let us take bottle of water on deck, but, alcoholic drinks are not allowed. That would be fine for me. Anyway… the sea food was great, it was the fresher and bigger shrimp I ever had!
They pick us up 7am in the morning, with a good van, not just van, but more like mini bus. We were the only group for the tour, so we got that whole air-co mini bus for ourselves, and….. we got the whole junk boat for ourselves too! They were stop at 2 souvenir shop on the way to Halong, i think it was just normal for a tour things. It was awesome and relaxing day! Hanspan provide us an English speaking guide *they better do that, refer to the cost!* She speak a lot not just about the places we visit, but also about Vietnamese life, about VN war, about anything! She was friendly and helpful. We visit 2 big caves in Halong bay. The cave was really big, lots of stream, beautiful, lots of ornament, it was simply awesome! And….. I missed caving so much! Oh yeah, the colored lamp was ugly, but… what should I do? I think there are really limited tourists like to wear helmet and head lamps! The tour guide told me that VN have many caves, and they have second longer cave in the world! *done googling* arrrgghh!!! I want to go there!! Hoy! My caver friends! Let’s go to Phong Nha!!