5 DAYS IN HANOI: MY TRAVEL GUIDE AND ITINERARY

January 11, 2019


5 DAYS IN HANOI: 
MY TRAVEL GUIDE AND ITINERARY


This is a 5 day, 4 night itinerary with Day 1 being the arrival and Day 5 being the departure. We used the Cebu Pacific red eye flight to Hanoi so we were able to reduce the number of nights booked in the hotel to 3 nights. We just requested for late checkout with minimal additional cost.


WHAT YOU WILL VISIT IN THIS ITINERARY:

TWO UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES:


1. THE IMPERIAL CITADEL OF THAN LONG: The citadel was the political center of Ancient Vietnam for 13 centuries and  was the capital of Vietnam for 8 centuries. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. 
2. HALONG BAY: Halong Bay was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The bay is peppered with 1600 limestone islands and islets in an areaoof 1500 sq. km


ST JOSEPH'S CATHEDRAL: This Roman Catholic cathedral was built from 1882-1886, following the Gothic style of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. This is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi.


HOAN KIEM LAKE: considered the center of Hanoi. This is where people converge to relax and enjoy the peace of the lake.

TEMPLE OF LITERATURE: A temple originally built in 1070 to honor of Confucius. It became Vietnam's first national university in 1076 as it began to host the Imperial Academy within its grounds.

HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM: final resting place of Ho Chi Minh. You can view his remains in a glass case, except in October and November, when the embalmed body is sent to Russia for maintenance and preservation.

PRESIDENTIAL PALACE OF HANOI: built in the 1800s. It was intended to be the official residence of Ho Chi Minh. But Ho Chi Minh preferred to live in the Stilts House built beside it.

HO CHI MINH STILTS HOUSE: The actual residence of Ho Chi Minh


WHAT TO BOOK OR BUY IN ADVANCE

1. Airport Transfers

Since we're arriving 12:35 AM, we requested to be picked up by the hotel shuttle because Hanoi taxi is notorious for scamming tourists. The price of shuttle is 15 USD per car per way.



2. Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

CHECK OUT MY POST FOR PHOTOS AND DETAILS OF THE TOUR:
10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

You can book this tour in this website: Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

Price of the tour is 100 USD



3. Pocket Wifi

I rented my pocket wifi from www.flytpack.com. It's essential that you have a pocket wifi to navigate towards the eating places and the sights. For someone who's not familiar with the Vietnamese language, the street names may seem identical and will be hard to remember. But if you have pocket wifi and google maps, it will be easy to find your way.


MY HANOI ITINERARY:


DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN HANOI (SATURDAY)

6:00 PM
Leave house. Go to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3


6:30 PM
Park at NAIA Terminal 3 parking


7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Check-in
NOTE: Check in counter at Jetstar opens 3 hours before the flight contrary to the email information that it only opens 2 hours before the flight.
Immigration

Dinner at Skyview Lounge

CHECK OUT MY POST:
Manila International Airport Lounge: The Sky View Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3

9:00 PM
Leave the lounge. Walk to the gate. It takes at least 10-15 minutes to walk to the gate.


9:30 PM
Boarding


10:00 PM -12:35 AM
Cebu Pacific 5J 744

Since we're arriving 12:35 AM, we requested to be picked up by hotel shuttle because Hanoi taxi is notorious for scamming tourists. Price of shuttle 15 usd

Coordinate your time with local time.



2:00 AM
Check in at Golden Sun Suites Hotel.

Make sure you book this hotel because this is the newer hotel compared to the Golden Sun Palace. Both are part of the Golden Sun group and located beside each other so it's easy to confuse them.

My review of the the Golden Sun Suites hotel as posted in TripAdvisor:
The hotel is perfectly located in the Old Quarter. It's near Hoàn Kiếm Lake and walking distance to all the great food joints. The hotel staff were all nice and accommodating, and very attentive to all our needs. The room is very clean with all the amenities that we would like to have in our hotel are there like daily complimentary bottled water, coffee making facilities, in room safe, 2 pillows per person, comfortable beds, many towels, sufficient free toilettries, efficient airport transfers, spacious and clean rooms. We will return to this hotel when we return to Hanoi.

Raving reviews at TripAdvisor:
Golden Sun Suites TripAdvisor review



DAY 2. MASS AT ST JOSEPH'S CATHEDRAL, CHANGE MONEY, THAN LONG CITADEL WORLD HERITAGE SITE, HOAN KIEM LAKE (SUNDAY)


8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Buffet breakfast at the hotel


The breakfast buffet includes ready-to-eat cooked food.
But also included in the buffet free of charge is the
option to have food cooked for you. 
Here is the menu of food you can have cookedfor you

I chose the chicken noodle dish.

You must not miss the Vietnamese coffee while in Vietnam.


9:30 AM

We left the hotel to start our day of sightseeing.
Since it's a Sunday, we went to St. Joseph's cathedral first to attend Mass.

NOTE: We didn't use any public transportation today and just walked to the following places from our hotel and back.

Below is the map of our route today to show that everything is walkable from the hotel.

Total distance walked for the day: approximately 6 km.







10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Mass in French at St Joseph's cathedral, Hanoi


St. Joseph's Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral
patterned after the Gothic style of the Notre Dame cathedral of Paris .

We attended Mass in French.


Mass schedule 

11:30 AM -12:00 PM

Walked to the money changer and saw interesting things on the way.

Viewing old propaganda posters on sale

Motorcycle parked in almost every sidewalk.
The density of motorcycle outnumber the cars.


Lol. May Jollibee!

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

We changed USD at Ha Trung money street at Công Ty Vàng Bạc Quốc Trinh (Quoc Trinh Gold Shop). They give good exchange rates

MY TIP: Change USD to VND only enough for meals. It's difficult to change VND to another currency so you will be left with excess currency that you're forced to spend. Pay the hotel via credit card if the hotel charges in VND. And if you have excess VND at the end of your trip, gather that and partially use that to pay for the hotel charges so you can dispose all your VND. You can pay the Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour in USD so the only use for the VND cash is for meals, entrance fees and souvenirs. We didn't use any taxi in this itinerary

I changed only 150 USD. That's for 1 person. I only bought Vietnamese coffee for souvenir. It was sufficient since Hanoi is not an expensive city. Meals are cheap I never exchanged currency again during the trip. 

ANOTHER TIP: Bring crisp US dollar notes. Some money changers do not accept wrinkled notes.


This is the entrance of Quoc Trinh Gold Shop




Passed by Lenin Park on the way to Than Long Citadel



1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

We visited the Than Long Citadel World Heritage Site

Entrance fee: 30,000 VND per person
Hours of operation:
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Tues - Sun




Sacred Turtle with a Thousand Year Vigor 
is a Giant Precious Sapphire Turtle
made of rough blue sapphire weighing 2 tons. 
The turtle is one of the 4 holy beasts of Vietnamese culture. 
We touched it for luck, peace and well-being.






The Than Long Citadel also housed the the General headquarters of the People's Army of Vietnam. It contained the meeting rooms of the Politburo, the Vietnamese Communist Party's policy making committee, and the deep bunker they constructed. The building was constructed at the height of the Vietnam War.


The General Headquarters of the Politburo


Politburo meeting room

THE BUNKER


The stairs going down the bunker



Corridors of the bunker



3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Travel from Than Long Citadel to the restaurant


3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Late lunch at Cha CaThan Long. Cha Ca is a Hanoi specialty made from fried mudfish served with roasted peanuts, rice noodles, spice vegetables like dill, spring onion, coriander and mint, with shrimp paste or fish sauce as seasoning. MUST TRY.





The set meal is 160,000 VND per person.


fried mudfish cooked on your table




The assembled finished product.
Noodles below, then spice vegetables and fish on top.
You pour a bit of fish sauce and shrimp paste to taste.

Vietnamese tea and dessert 



4:30 PM-5:30 PM

Slowly walked back to the area near the hotel. We did some people watching along the way

People eating on the sidewalk food stalls


5:30 PM

Explored sites near Hoan Kiem lake

Sunset at Hoan Kiem lake


The buildings and open area surrounding Hoan Kiem lake 





6:00 PM

We decided to try the egg coffee known as Cafe Trung at Cafe Giang. They were the FIRST to introduce to the public the famous Trung coffee known for tasting like liquid tiramisu. They have been serving egg coffee since 1946.





The corridor leading to a very small coffee shop.


Cafe Trung or egg coffee

It is made of chicken egg yolk, Vietnamese coffee powder, 
sweetened condensed milk, butter and cheese.


DAY 3. HALONG BAY LUXURY DAY TOUR (MONDAY)

9:00 AM - 8:00 PM 

Halong Bay Luxury day tour



CHECK OUT MY POST FOR PHOTOS AND DETAILS OF THE TOUR:
10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour



8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

After the end of the tour, we were dropped off at the hotel. We went out to have dinner.

This is the map of the route we took.


Approximately 1 km walk.



.

We had dinner at Bum Bo Nam Bo and had their beef noodle salad.


This photo of the front of the restaurant
was taken next day



Bun Bo Nam Bo or Beef Noodle Salad
60,000 VND

Hanoi Beer
20,000 VND




9: 30 PM - 11:00 PM

We went to Cafe Pho Co for some egg coffee and coconut coffee with a rooftop view of Hoan Kiem lake

We had difficulty finding this cafe.

It's in the alley beside the Cicade silk shop

The alley leading to the cafe

This is the sight at the end of the alley.

You order at the reception.

Price list

You climb these stairs to get to the rooftop dining area.


Egg coffee

Coconut coffee 

Rooftop view of Hoan Kiem lake


Souvenir Shopping. If you must bring home anything from Vietnam, it's good Vietnamese coffee. Bought souvenirs like Trung Nguyen Vietnamese coffee.This coffee shop was suggested by hotel reception as famous among the locals.


Trung Nguyen coffee

Ground coffee with different caffeine levels.

Instant coffee




DAY 4. TEMPLE OF LITERATURE, HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM, PRESIDENTIAL PALACE OF HANOI, HO CHI MINH STILTS HOUSE (TUESDAY)


7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Buffet breakfast

NOTE: We also didn't take the taxi today. We walked from the hotel to all the sights.

Map of our route today

Approximately 8 km walk





We chanced upon this wedding entourage while walking.




9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

We visited the Temple of Literature, known as the Temple of Confucius. It hosts the Imperial academy, the 1st national university of Vietnam.






Entrance fee: 30,000 VND






Our souvenir for this trip were bookmarks specially made for us by this calligrapher at the Temple of Literature. It was a perfect souvenir to commemorate our friendship which began when we all met when we were freshmen in college. The word the calligrapher wrote is "friendship" written in Chinese- transcribed Vietnamese.


OUR BOOKMARK

Our souvenir book mark 
with the word "FRIENDSHIP" 
written in Chinese- transcribed Vietnamese.


Layout of the university

Uniform of students of the university 

Coins on the roof.
We viewed it when we climbed the 2nd floor 




11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.



The front of the mausoleum
We weren't able to get in because the body of Ho Chi Minh
was sent to Moscow for preservation and maintenance.
They do this ever year from October to November. 


We passed by Presidential Palace of Hanoi. No one is allowed to enter.




This was constructed to serve as the official residence of Ho Chi Minh.
But he never lived there.
He preferred to live at the wooden stilts house beside the palace

11:30 AM -12:30 PM

Ho Chi Minh stilts house, where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1958-1969.

Note: The gate to the Stilts House closes at 1130 am then opens again at 2pm. We reached the gate at 1130 am but they still allowed us to enter.

Entrance Fee: 25000 VND
Operating hours: 8:00 AM - 11.30 AM daily & 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM Tue-Thu, Sat & Sun



1954-1958: HO CHI MINH LIVED IN THIS HOUSE











1958 - 1968 : HO CHI MINH LIVED IN THIS 2- STOREY WOODEN STILTS HOUSE







12:30 PM -1:30 PM

We passed by a market to find some fish sauce.


2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Headed back near our hotel. We had lunch at Bun Cha Dak Kim. 



We chose  Buncha with 2 spring rolls. 
Buncha includes grilled fatty pork, rice noodles, vegetables and special soup. Spring rolls contain, pork, crab and spices.
Price: 90,000 VND




Spring rolls contain, pork, crab and spices.

You mix this up to get...

THIS!!!



3:30 PM - 6:30 PM

We returned to the hotel and rested.

NOTE: We purchased late checkout the day before so we can rest in our room before leaving for the airport at 10:30 PM.


6:30 PM-7:30 PM

Dinner at Banh Mi 25. We ate Banh Mhi with pork and had yogurt based homemade popsicle for dessert called Limu Paletas







Banh Mi Thap Cam (paté, barbecued pork, jambon, sausage)
Price: 25,000 VND

Banh Mi Thit Ga (honey grilled chicken)
with cucumber, carrot, coriander and chili sauce.
Price: 25,000 VND



Located beside Banh Mi 25.
This is where we ate.
We just bought their homemade popsicles

Limu Paletas
Homemade popsicles
We got mixed berries yogurt and matcha coconut



8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Another round of egg coffee at Cong Caphe






Coconut milk with coffee smoothie
espresso coffee and coffee with condensed milk.
This time with sunfllower seeds.
We noticed that the Vietnamese like to pair their coffee with sunflower seeds.


DAY 5. DEPARTURE FROM HANOI, ARRIVAL IN MANILA


10:30 PM

We left the hotel

1:20 AM - 5: 40 AM 

Cebu Pacific flight 5J745