A trip to Vietnam was inevitable since I have been living in Cambodia for sometime. And in the month of November, I travelled to North Vietnam for two weeks. This was a motorcycle trip and the rough itinerary was Hanoi – Sapa – Ha Giang – Dong Van – Meo Vac – Cao Bang – Hanoi
Plan for Vietnam day 1 was to start early morning from Phnom Penh and reach Hanoi by night. The trip from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh was quite smooth thanks to Ibis bus. They have a wifi onboard but the connection is intermittent. Remember that you need to have Vietnam visa in advance before you board this bus. There is no Vietnam visa on arrival for land crossing. Getting a Vietnam visa in Cambodia is super easy and you can read it at Vietnam Visa in Cambodia
We reached Ho Chi Minh around 16.30. Took a moto drop to the airport, which was $5. The domestic flights in Vietnam are very cheap. If you book in advance, you can find some great deals. I have seen flights as low as $15. From Hanoi airport, there are buses that go to the city but I think they operate till 22.00. I took a cab from the airport to Vietnam Backpackers Hostel, which was around $13.
I had read many good reviews about Vietnam Backpackers Hostel but our experience was far from anything like that or maybe they were just having a bad day. First shock was when they said there was no water, so the toilets were stinking. Then around 3 am, a drunk couple came into our room and they were laughing and chatting. After a while, the giggles slowly turned into moans and screeching noises of bed. The noises continued for quite some time until a voice came in from the next door, “Hey!! If you want to fuck, at least have the courtesy to go to the toilet.” That voice was actually my only memory of the night and my friend was kind enough to fill me in with the missing details the next morning. I don’t blame the horny couple as the toilets were stinking really bad. 🙂
Next morning, we went to Flamingo to check our motorcycles. We were taking the night train to Lao Cai and our motorcycles were to be loaded on to the train. The Flamingo staff takes care of all the paper work and they will load the motorcycles on the train. I would definitely recommend them if you are planning to rent motorcycles from Hanoi. They even helped us with booking local bus tickets and air tickets.
We had some time to kill, so we decided to visit the Hoan Kiem (Hoàn Kiếm) Lake. The area around the lake is beautiful and there is lot of fun stuff happening around on weekends. I loved the vibe of this place…no persistent hawkers, no commercialization, just local people having a good time with their families and friends.
Graduation Day Celebration
Yaser trying some local sweets
The sign board did grab some attention 😉
The bustling lanes with lots of street food options
This is an interesting and creative souvenir that can be used like a postcard. You can find them along the streets of Old Quarter area.
Some delicious Vietnamese desserts
Indian TV serials playing at Hanoi railway station
The train journey to Lao Cai was a pleasant ride. The train was clean and the beds were quite comfortable. They even serve beer on the train. 🙂 Overall, a good start start to the trip before we begin our motor cycle journey in the north.