Exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Sometimes the best way to experience a city is to get lost.

Hanoi - Old Quarter

I actually can’t believe I’m saying that because no one likes control and a plan more than me but there’s something about Hanoi’s Old Quarter that makes you believe the perfect shop, cafe, or even spa is just around the corner. I spent a lovely two days falling in love with Vietnam’s capital and indulging in the affordable luxuries of Southeast Asian fame. Spa pedicure for $12? Unbelievable back massage for under $15? Delicious meals for less than $5? YES PLEASE!

In addition to splurging (can you even say that when it’s that cheap?) on souvenirs and relaxation, I also enjoyed some famous sights. First up: Hoan Kiem Lake – A beautiful lake in the historic centre lined with trees and filled with picture perfect vistas.

Hoan Kiem Lake IMG_1165

I also made sure to check out the famous Water Puppet show. It was probably the most confusing but somehow entertaining show I’ve ever seen. The entire production was in Vietnamese and I never really figured out what was going on but it was definitely worth the $3 ticket price.

Now, I was too lazy (It was hot!) to walk to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum but I did manage to see his statue across from the lake.

Ho Chi Minh statue

And on my way to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum (yeah air conditioning!) I stumbled across St. Joseph’s Cathedral. You could definitely see the French colonial influence with this 19th century gothic church bearing a striking resemblance to Notre Dame in Paris.

St Joseph's Cathedral

After two days exploring Hanoi, and slowly re-introducing North American comforts, like the amazing treats at Joma Bakery Cafe, I was ready to head home. Vietnam definitely surpassed my expectations but I was ready for a break from the constant sweating… Summer in Southeast Asia is no joke! Hanoi was the perfect end to a perfect trip… until next time!

 

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Departure Lounge: Vietnam Itinerary

Departure Lounge: Vietnam Itinerary

It’s time to get back in the saddle again! Or perhaps more appropriately, the back pack straps! I am a mere 3 days away from my inaugural trip to Southeast Asia (aka backpacker paradise!) and my first solo trip. I am both excited and nervous about spending two weeks in my own company, but I’m trusting Adventurous Kate’s promise that solo travellers are never alone!

Some of you may be curious about my travel itinerary for this trip so I thought I would include a brief synopsis of my plans.

vietnam

Itinerary

June 21-22:Vancouver, Canada to Guangzhou, China (next day arrival and overnight)

June 23: Guangzhou, China to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

June 24: Ho Chi Minh City

June 25-26: Nha Trang

June 27-28: Hoi An

June 29-30: Hue

July 1: Halong Bay / Bai Chay

July 2-3: Hanoi

July 4: Hanoi, Vietnam to Vancouver, BC (via Guangzhou, China)

I have some idea of what I want to do in these cities but I’m mostly looking forward to seeing what each day brings. That being said, these are the activities I am most looking forward to:

  • The infamous Nha Trang Boat Trip (aka booze cruise). Apparently, it’s the most fun you’ll have in Southeast Asia!
  • Getting custom-made clothing in Hoi An.
  • Touring the caves and waters of Halong Bay.
  • Eating as much PHO (pronounced fa) as possible… and learning the basics of Vietnamese cuisine.

I am hoping to post updates as I travel but that will mostly depend on my Internet access. Get ready for more fun updates to come!