In recent years, there were lots of Vietnamese restaurants mushrooming up in Klang Valley as well as travel programs featuring Vietnam on the TV, so much so that I can’t help but be tempted by this country. The icing on the cake was when I tried my very first Vietnamese food in a restaurant in PJ about 2 years back. I was hooked immediately and knew I gotta visit Vietnam one day and sample their beautiful cuisine. And so, Vietnam became my 2019 holiday destination!
I choose to visit Hanoi simply because it’s the capital of Vietnam and from what I’d read, it’s busy and yet more laidback and traditional compared to Ho Chi Minh. This trip was a take-it-easy + food trip. With only 4 days and 3 nights (22nd October to 25th October 2019), we concentrated on the Old Quarter and French Quarter surrounding Hoàn Kiếm Lake. This trip also marked our 5th overseas siblings-only vacation.
Since it’s a take-it-easy + food trip, I took the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens with me. It did make the trip lighter. All photos taken are either from Nikon D80, Nokia 6 or Samsung Note 9.
Fellow Malaysians, if you’re staying for 30 days or less in Vietnam you do not need a visa. Please note that Hanoi time zone is GMT+7.
Although AirAsia is no longer cheap, I flew with it again this time because it’s still cheaper (you know what I mean?). When my kiamsiap-ness (frugalness; which is very often) kicks in, that’s what I choose. I’ve more or less embraced the looooong walk to the boarding gate at KLIA2 (which I’ve complained a lot previously). It’s good having lots of movement before flying as we’ll be sitting most of the time in the plane. See, there is always 2 sides or more of a coin when one changes one’s perception. 🙂 Also, I found a secret or should I say workaround about something at the airport. I cannot even share what it is. Hehe
Upon touchdown at Noi Bai International Airport, we collected the SIM card that we have bought a few days back with Klook via Shopback (referral link) at the designated location inside the airport (though I mistaken another counter for it initially). The process was swift and by no time, we were connected to the online world.
One of the entrance of Noi Bai International Airport.
It was around this area that we met with our driver for a private transfer from the airport to our hotel at Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Told ya, it’s a take-it-easy trip. Again, we booked with Klook via Shopback (referral link). By that time, it has been an hour since we touchdown (3.45pm). The driver holds signage with our name and Klook logo so we could identify him. In return, we showed him the softcopy of our Klook voucher. I’ve gotten more confident in using softcopy of important documents instead of printing it out. He then went to grab his car at the parking lot, came with a red Kia sedan, loaded our luggage and off we went.
And so, this was the start of fast moving, wild manoeuvrings, overtaking, braking VERY near other vehicles, hornings, frustrating sighs and cussing when things didn’t went his way kind of ride. Despite all this, the journey was very smooth. LOL It’s either the driver has amazing driving skills or it’s due to the car make (it’s Kia). We choose to look at the sides passenger windows most of the time because it was too thrilling looking at the windscreen. Haha To make things
a little quite uncomfy, the air conditioner was set to the lowest setting and there was barely any circulating air in the car. I didn’t dare to request to up the air cond dial. When we reached our hotel, I felt like I had just emerged from a SUPER SMOOTH YET UNEASY rollercoaster. I thought this is the worst car ride I’ve ever ridden. I didn’t know what was waiting for us at the end of our trip. HAHAHA!!! You gotta read my last day yo.
The ride took a total of 45 minutes from the airport to our accommodation at Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy (reached hotel at 4.30pm). The reason we choose this hotel was that it has amazing ratings and extremely near to Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Bonus point is we got to stay the hotel for free because we redeemed my sis’ Asia Miles points for 3 nights deluxe double room (non-smoking) with buffet breakfast. Yay and super grateful. And because we didn’t pay, I was wondering if our treatment would be less than a paid customer. But nope, just like our stay at Ana Crowne Plaza in Osaka which we also booked with points, the customer service was exceptional all throughout our stay. Bravo! In fact, the hospitality was so good that I even wondered if we deserved it. No wonder they’ve got high reviews rating.
The lobby at Hanoi Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy. Very classy and great atmosphere.
While checking in at the lobby, we were given refreshment of pineapple juice, varieties of fruits to which we really appreciated and cold towels. The fruits were really fresh and delicious, and it rejuvenated our tired body. And not sure if you notice, the straw is not made from plastic but rice (cơm)!
We had a great chat with the staff and spent almost half an hour at the lobby before being shown our room. This has never happened before in my life, and reminded me of another great time I had with the staff at Hotel 89 in Siem Reap.
Our deluxe double room at Hanoi Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy. The bed were very comfy and clean. Notice the towel art? It’s a butterfly I believe.
There’s a safety box in the wardrobe and complimentary mineral water, instant coffee and tea as well as kettle, junk food (chargeable), cups and saucer above the safety box. There’s also a not cold fridge with drinks (chargeable). Earplugs are provided but we didn’t use it.
Unlike me, my sister didn’t dare to drink the boiled water from the hotel, hence she bought large bottles of mineral water. Nothing happened to me. Haha
Mirror, table, TV, luggage table, chairs and air cond on the opposite of the bed. There are plenty of electrical socket outlets both at the bed area and TV area.
Sink, hairdryer and fresh flowers. Initially, I thought the orchid was fake, but then the next day we got daisy and the next rose. ❤️
The toilet was very clean, the bathtub though had a broken base area. We were being careful when taking a shower.
After a light nap, we went out for dinner at 6pm at Bun Cha Ta Hanoi (click the link to read more about it). The dinner was amazing. After dinner, we went to a nearby supermarket called Vinmart (Lý Thái Tổ branch). A part of the sidewalk leading to Vinmart was pitch dark, so I was a bit nervous going there and back time. It was very interesting discovering the many local products at Vinmart.
Eggs in cute baskets. They also have eggs in conventional trays.
Fresh sausages and ham rolls. I thought of buying some of these but the preservatives listed in the ingredient put me off. It’s also why I didn’t buy any Vietnamese instant noodles.
I bought several Vietnamese snacks (like bánh đậu xanh and two flavors of bánh cốm), drinks (it was so hot!), a large booth avocado (bơ đặc biệt 292g @ 21,278 VND = ~RM3.80) and mangoes (xoài keo 342g @9,858 VND = ~RM1.75).
We got back to our hotel at 8.30pm and slept around 12am. That’s it for day 1 of my Hanoi travelogue. Stay tuned for day 2.