Vietnam Day 1: The Arrival and The City Tour

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Travel
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We arrived in No Bai Airport at exactly 1:35 AM (Vietnam Local Time), that is an hour behind Manila time which is 2:35 AM. In flight, we experienced 3 turbulences due to rain and thunderstorms above the South China Sea. It was a rough landing, but I’m glad it’s successful.

I have $160 for this trip so it is a challenge to get everything for 8 days. To give you a summary of how much we paid before boarding, the total fee is 2190 pesos ($50.65).

  • Travel tax: 1640 PHP ($37.94)
  • Terminal Fee: 550 PHP ($12.72)

Exchange rate as of July 24, 2014:

  • $1 = 43.22 PHP (Philippine peso)
  • $1 = 21,205 VND (Vietnamese dong)

No Bai airport at 2 AM (Vietnam Time)

When we arrived at the airport, all shops are closed, No service bus available to take us to the city. A cab driver offered us a ride to Hanoi for $5 each, but we refused. We decided to stay at the airport for 5 hours to wait for the next bus trip. However, we still ride a cab because another cab driver offered us $7 good for 3 persons.

It took us 45 to 50 mins to get into the hotel, and we need to walk for a few meters from the main road. We finally checked into Tony’s hostel at around 7:30 AM. We got 3 dorm beds for $5 each (106,382 VND). It looks comfortable with free breakfast, hot and cold shower, towels, air conditioning and a very reliable wifi connection. The hosts are very friendly and accommodating. There are nearby hotels and travel agencies for Ha Long bay tour packages. We managed to look for a money changer, and exchanged $50 to 1,060,223 VND.

pho ga

We’ve had our delicious “pho ga brunch which cost 25,000 VND ($1.17). Pho is their local street food that you can see anywhere along the sidewalks. It is made of rice noodle soup which you can choose between thick or thin noodles, fresh herbs and chicken (pho ga) or beef (pho bo). Other street foods available are some healthy detox juice like the lemon juice and the Nước mía (sugar cane juice).

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Our first city tour destination is the Hoan Kiem Lake, located 15 mins away from our hotel. You will see the Turtle tower, Bridge of the Rising Sun, and the beautiful view over the lake. You’ll appreciate the beauty of this park at night time. Near Hoan Kiem Lake is the Ly Thai To statue (the Emperor of Vietnam) and the Water Puppets theater that cost 60,000 to 100,000 VND ($3 -$5).

Bridge of the Rising Sun

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Aside from these landmarks, we saw a variety of shops from bags, souvenirs, and traveling kits, coffee shops, food chains and galleries. You can buy a souvenir bag for 80,000 VND ($3.77), a slipper for 100,000 VND ($4.71). There are some convenience stores around that are already considered as grocery stores. You can’t find big malls, but signature boutiques are everywhere. If you get thirsty, you can buy 1.5 liters of water for 20,000 VND (0.94 cents), and for the toiletries that i bought such as shampoo, conditioner and face wash the total cost is 150,000 VND ($7).

I saw how artistic and talented they are with their work of art through their paintings from acrylic to oil. The genres are from contemporary to nature scenes.

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Streets of Ha noi are very busy during the night because of the night market from Hang Dao to Oong Xuan plus the bars and restaurants.

Tour agencies are available everywhere. They offer great prices and deals from Ha Long Bay to Nha Trang trip. Ha Long Bay trip ranges from $16 to $75 depending on the agency. A $20 1 day Ha Long Bay trip includes:

  • Transportation by A/C bus from Ha noi to Ha long, Ha long to Ha noi
  • 4-5 boat trip to Ha Long Bay
  • 45 mins of Kayaking
  • Sightseeing with entrance fees
  • Lunch and beverages

We booked our Ha Long Bay trip with those inclusions which happens in a few hours from now.

 

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