HANOI: 10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

July 14, 2018

HANOI: 10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

If you don't have time to stay overnight in Halong Bay, this is a day tour I highly recommend. The cheapest day tour I could find is only half the price of this tour but they have a lot of problems like cramped vans, overbooked boats, a long and bumpy van ride, hanging out too long in souvenir shops instead of a longer stay at Halong Bay. Since it's only a day, comfort and maximized time is essential. Comfort is essential because if you don't feel well after the 3 hour van ride, you end up not enjoying the short stay at Halong Bay. It's also important to maximize time by avoiding long wait times in boats and in souvenir shops because as I said, it takes away time spent at Halong Bay if you spend it on these unimportant  activities that can be avoided.

Here are 10 reasons why I love the Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

1. Late hotel pick-up time

We were picked up 9:00 AM so we need not wake up too early (We're on vacation, right? 😊). We were also able to enjoy a long and hearty breakfast.

Despite the late pick up time, we arrived ahead of a lot of tourists. I will explain later.

2. The luxury van is spacious and is limited to a comfortable number of passengers.

The luxury van is very spacious and comfortable, it has spacious leather seats that can be reclined, has free WiFi, charging port and complimentary bottled water. The 3 hour ride was fast and comfortable. We were able to rest well so we were able to enjoy cruising Halong Bay.

3. Our guide, Choung, is very well-informed, attentive and entertaining.

Our guide, Chuong took care of us very well. He was very attentive to our needs. He is well informed and shared with us a wealth of information about Vietnamese life and culture from a personal perspective which gave us an insider's view of Hanoi life.

4. The route of this tour uses the highway so travel time is faster.

They picked us up 9 am but we were able to arrive ahead of the other tours. We rode the boat immediately and visit the caves without the crowd of tourists because we arrived ahead of them because our van used the faster route.

Other cheaper tour groups avoid paying the toll for the highway, so they use the longer, less paved route.

5. We stopped briefly to use the toilet and weren't brought to any souvenir shops.

We liked that we stopped just a few minutes to use the toilet so we were able to save time and maximize our stay at Halong Bay. 

This is the toilet stop

6. They limit the number of passengers riding the van and the boat. So we weren't crowded.

Inside the van

Inside the boat 

7. Waiting time to board the boat is only brief. 

8. Food is delicious. Drinks are included in the rate. 

9. The bamboo boat or kayak ride (you have a choice between the two) used to explore the inner islands of Halong Bay is included in the rate.

10. The tour's pace is perfect and not tiring but we loved that it included the right combination of highlights on the must see and experience at Halong Bay. 


A cruise along Halong bay

Bamboo boat ride or Kayak to the inner islands of Halong Bay

Dau Go Cave Tour 

In conclusion:

Despite it being more expensive than other day tours, I consider it value for money and will highly recommend it to others. The additional expense is worth it because it gave us a very enjoyable, comfortable and comprehensive day tour of Halong Bay and a quick peek on Vietnamese life and culture through the personal perspective of our guide, Chuong.


TOKYO: Inside Ghibli Museum

July 10, 2018

TOKYO: Inside Ghibli Museum

Photos and videos are not allowed inside the Ghibli Museum. So this is the most I can share with you just to give you an idea what to expect when visiting the Ghibli Museum.

This is the brochure that was given to us to guide us on how to navigate the museum. We entered basement 1 and navigated our way up.

My tips:

1. How to get tickets online
Ghibli Museum tickets are very hard to get. When ticket sales open, all slots for the month are usually sold out within the hour. 
So check out my post on MY TIPS ON HOW TO GET GHIBLI MUSEUM TICKETS ONLINE. I was able to get all 6 tickets that I applied for and on the time slot I wanted.

2. How much time to give explore the museum.
We spent 3 hours leisurely exploring the whole museum. So I think the 2:00 pm time slot should be the latest time slot you should get. There is no time limit to your visit. You can stay until the 6:00 pm closing time.
3. How to get there
It's actually very easy to get to Ghibli Museum. You just alight from Mitaka Station, then ride the Ghibli bus. You can get the ticket from a vending machine in front of the bus stop. The bus arrives every 20 minutes. There's a sign in the bus that announces the stop in both English and Japanese so you won't get lost.
4. Where to eat
We arrived at the museum lunchtime but we couldn't enter since our slot is at 2:00 pm. We found a Lawson store across the museum and bought our lunch there. The museum is within Inokashira park so we found benches to sit on where we can have lunch while waiting for our time to enter the museum.
5. Suggested itinerary
I chose the 2:00 pm slot so we can make a quick stop in the morning at the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum to view the places and structures that inspired Miyazaki's Spirited Away, especially the bath house. We visited only the central and eastern portion and skipped the western portion.
Suggested itinerary: 
9:00 am-12:00 pm Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm Ghibli Museum


July 4, 2018

Photo taken from the website 


CNN listed Sushi Zanmai as one of 4 best sushi restaurants in a recent article: Tokyo swims in sushi restaurants; 4 of the best.

Since one of the branches of Sushi Zanmai is near our hotel, we decided to check it out. It didn't disappoint.

Sushi Zanmai Shinjuku gets all its ingredients from Tsukiji market every day so you don't have have to encounter the crowds in Tsukiji market to be able to taste great sushi.


1. The sushi is fresh and delicious.

I highly recommend you order this:

Sushizanmai Deluxe with Miso Soup (13 pieces)
(3000 yen)

Composed of the ff:
Top: Egg sushi (98 yen), Boiled prawn (128 yen), Ark shell (398 yen), Sea urchin roe (498 yen),  Salmon roe (298 yen),  Top quality sea eel (500 yen)

Bottom: Albacore tuna (98 yen), Bonito, (148 yen) Red snapper (198 yen), Sardine (148 yen), Squid (98 yen), Herring roe (198 yen), Chive buds (128 yen)

The best miso soup I ever tasted 

Salmon Roll
(580 yen) 

We ordered these but you can skip it if you don't have the budget for it:

California Roll
(580 yen) 



These are the only items you can take out.
Miso soup is not included unlike when you dine in. 

We paired the sushi we brought to the hotel with sake. 

2. Prices are reasonable considering the good quality. 

3. The restaurant is open 24 hours.

First floor of the restaurant

4. They have an English menu.

Instructions on how to eat sushi


Sushi-Zanmai Higashi Shinjuku
Japan, 〒169-0072 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, 新宿区Ōkubo, 1 Chome−1−13 ベルバウム
+81 3-5155-6655

Map: https://goo.gl/maps/E5WxbWvFXv72

This is us enjoying our sushi. 😊