Hanoi - booked flights to Hue

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Jul 23, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  , Hanoi,
Monday, February 11, 2013

As we were going to Halong Bay tomorrow for a three day cruise, we thought we had better make plans for when we returned on 14th, as we felt we had seen enough of Hanoi and wanted to move further South to Hue, so we set off for the train station after breakfast. Having researched trains that travelled from Hanoi to Hue, we ascertained that we would try to get an overnight sleeper in a slightly more comfortable carriage than the one we caught between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

On arrival at Hanoi train station, we walked up and down and in and out of the station several times looking for the 'Livitrans' office. Livitrans are a private company who have two carriages that they hook on the end of the standard passenger trains. These are slightly more expensive as are designed for the more 'discerning' tourists..... We eventually found the booking office opposite the station, but it was closed until 19th Feb for the Tet holidays. Option two was to get bottom bunks on a 'soft seater; these are carriages with four 'bunks; but sadly none of these were available either. We were offered two top bunks on a 'hard sleeper; these are carriages with six bunks, (top, middle, bottom), but did not feel we could handle this, so decided to walk back to the Hotel to discuss our options.

Once back at the Rising Dragon Hotel Villa we asked the receptionist whether he would be able to help us book the train journey, but he told us that it was highly unlikely that we would be able to get a train or a bus, as the services were limited due to the Tet holiday. He told us that any trains/buses that were running, would have been booked up in advance by the locals. He told us that we would probably have to wait til the 19th Feb, the end of the Tet holiday, to get a seat on either train or bus. I must say at this point that the staff in this Hotel have been exceptionally polite and helpful; hence a good review will go on Trip Adviser however, feeling totally defeated and disillusioned, we returned to our room to (cry) contemplate our next moves.

We thought again about going North to Sapa on an organised tour. We had already looked into this and pretty much knew the itinerary and costs, but were also aware that this may not be a pleasant experience. Having read some recent reviews as well as speaking to other travellers, we had been made aware that much of the scenery people flock to see was not as is in the brochures/Internet. as is out of season ie; no lush green paddy fields or clear views. Having endured grey skies, smog and drizzly weather for the last couple of days in Hanoi, we really felt we needed some fresh air and sun, so we decided to revert to our original plan, and head South.

To cut a long winded story through, Terry looked at the cost of flights with Vietnam Airways to Hue from Hanoi and discovered, much to our amazement, that they were only a few thousand Dong more than the cost of the train; so we booked two flights out on the evening of the 14th Feb.

Feeling much happier, we went out into the city again for a stroll. There were a few more people about and some of the shops were open. We managed to get a seat in a Highland Coffee Cafe that overlooked the lake, and had some noodles, but the food wasn't great. After the meal we took a slow walk back to the Hotel to start packing, as we had to check out of the Hotel by 08:30 the next day, to start our journey to Halong Bay.
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