North Vietnam

Trip Start Jan 27, 2008
Trip End Jun 09, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hanoi  -  Halong Bay  / Cat Ba Island  -  Sapa

Hanoi: WOW! The traffic was mental. Our minivan from the airport stopped on one of the main streets in the Old Quarter in Hanoi City, and as soon as we stepped out of the van, there were scooters galore. This part of town has old style European buildings and very tight skinny streets. The noise, honking and stupid amounts of people made our first impression very different from other cities. Pepperoni's Pizza Bar was our best friend during this visit and all you can eat night for $5 was awesome. We were still travelling with our Canadian friends at this time and it was good to share some of these experiences with other people. The hotel we stayed at in Hanoi was a whopping $15 per night and was one of the nicest rooms we've stayed at on our trip. The same room in Aussie would go for $100 - $150 a night. Very cool!

Halong Bay is an amazing part of north Vietnam and is well worth seeing. The touristy thing to do is book a night or 2 on a 'Junk Boat' which are old cruise type boats that sleep about 14/16 people and they have a restaurant and outdoor decks, and most packages include food and activities. We spent the first day cruising around this amazing bay and a bit of swimming and kayaking before spending the night on the boat, which was great value. Then the second night was spent at a hotel on Cat Ba Island after a day of sightseeing and cruising around the bay, then returning to Halong City the day after. Overall it was a good set up and there are hundreds of boats (depending on your budget) all doing the same thing.

Everyone we have met along the way, that had been to Vietnam said we must go to Sapa, which is in the far north of Vietnam up near the border of China. We considered skipping it to save time on our trip but decided to go, and are very glad we did. The 8 hour overnight train up through the mountains was pretty easy and it led us to this beautiful town which reminded us of a Getaway destination. It was officially our last stop on our Asian adventure so we splashed out on a sweet hotel with a view overlooking the valley.
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