Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

I feel sad that I lost some of the pictures from this trip. But I still have those memories that I will never forget. Hue, Vietnam is the best place and must see! Our trip didn’t end in Ha Long Bay. In fact, that is just the start of our adventure in Vietnam.


Inside Tu Duc Tomb Palace.

Before we made our trip to Hue City, we had our second city tour around Ha Noi. We visited a few historical places which is indeed fascinating. The weather is not perfect at that time, but at least it’s not as bad as the hot weather back in our country. And it’s obviously rainy season all throughout South East Asia.

We rented this transportation called “tuktuk” which is mostly rented by tourist especially Westerners. You can rent the “tuktuk ” for 100,000 VND ($4.72) for a 1 hour ride. We started our trip to the Vietnam Military Museum displaying old and wrecked armory, and model jet planes, and tanks. It was established July 17, 1958 and they still preserve it up to this day.

We went straight to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, that is only 6 minutes away from the Vietnam Military Museum. It’s considered the largest memorial place in Ha Noi. It is where the Chairman and Viet. Leader of the Communist party lies, and the place where the declaration of Independence was held. Just beside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the Presidential palace. Unfortunately, taking photos of the palace is prohibited.

After visiting the historical places, we went to the largest market place in Ha Noi, Dong Xuan Market. I can compare to our Divisoria in the Philippines, which they sell wholesale and retail items from household goods, accessories, clothing and shoes.

We walked 30 minutes and went back to our hostel to prepare for our next trip to Hue. We met a few friends in the hostel while waiting for the bus sharing their travel experiences all over Asia, from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. It’s a wonderful experience that I want to experience. I’m with 2 amazing trekkers who are always on the go. This trip will not be possible without them.

We jumped into what we call “the party bus” (sleeping bus) around 6PM. You can read my party bus experience in my separate blog. It’s a 14 hour travel from Ha Noi to Hue City. You will still feel comfortable because you can lay down with a blanket and a small pillow provided. And the beautiful scenery of the places along the way are promising.

We arrived at the city 9 or 10 AM. We’re accommodated by hostel owners to our room which is much cheaper compared to our hostel in Ha Noi. You can rent it for $10 per night for 3 persons with super fast wifi connection, comfortable beds and a clean bathroom.

Few meters away from the hostel is this famous restaurant called The Mandarin Cafe owned by Mr. Cu, a professional photographer. The restaurant itself is designed with beautiful captured shots on the wall. They served delectable meals which are over the top with free one time tea served. It is recommended by Tripadvisor because of excellent reviews.

After the perfect lunch, we decided to have our city tour, riding our bikes. I don’t know to drive unfortunately, but thanks to my lady driver who is very caring. She will treat you like her own daughter, seriously..

Our itinerary is long because there are several tourist spots in Hue that are amazing. First, we visited the Forbidden Purple City or what they called “the Citadel” or “the Imperial City” is 520 hectares. It’s enclosed with 2 kilometer brick walls and surrounded by moat to protect the imperial city. Some of the infrastructures are still being preserved. But the front gate is currently under restoration which they planned to end in 2015.

We’ve been caught by the rain along our way to the Incense Making Village. You can see the actual incense making made of Sandalwood and Cinnamon. You can buy each bundle for 100,000 VND.

Few kilometers from the Incense Making Village is the Tu Duc Tomb, where Emperor Tu Duc’s tomb lies. Even though it’s raining, you will still see tourist exploring around from the temple to the Emperor’s tomb. In the palace itself, you can rent emperor and empress costumes to take pictures at their customized stage as souvenirs.  It’s a little creepy because it hasn’t been renovated, so you can still see how they preserve the place.


Gia Long Ancestral House

Another historical landmark is the Duc Duc Tomb which is considered as the smallest tombs and it hasn’t been restored. The Emperor Duc Duc’s tomb lies in this place who is under The Nguyen Dynasty.

Gia Long Tomb is remarkably well-preserved. Gia Long is the first Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. The ancestral house is majestic

Khai Dinh Tomb is my favorite because of the detailed infrastructure. You’ll see the touch of Vietnamese style carvings which is purely made of concrete. The palace at the topmost part is really impressive. There is a film showing about Khai Dinh’s life and how he ruled the city. You can see the tomb of Khai Dinh in the middle and some pictures of his family around the palace.


Khai Dinh’s Tomb

As we stepped into the Minh Mang Tomb, it was very peaceful, because only the three of us visited the place that time. The place is secluded and the trail is long. The tomb of Minh Mang it is far west, which surrounded by circular brick walls and remains locked. The caretaker told us that it is only open once a year for some reason.


The Pagoda

Our last stop is the Thien Mu Pagoda which is just beside the Pagoda river. This place is where people gather to worship the Buddha. The Monks live in here not only to preserve the place, but to sing prayers for Buddha and serves as missionaries.

The total time of exploring the place is 5 hours. It is really a privilege to see these places. For me they are the real wonders of the world.




After our first city tour around Ha Noi. We are excited for the Ha Long bay cruise. A tour guide named “Phy” accommodated us in the minibus, and picked up other tourists who booked the same package. Some of them booked for 3 days 2 nights and 2 days 1 night to give them time to cruise around the island, and see the beautiful islets. Price is ranging from $50 to $75 dollars, you just have to look for a better deal. You can look around in Ha Noi for travel agencies that offers cheap packages. You can check out The Sinh Tourist Day Tours or Ha Long Bay Tours.

The travel time from Ha Noi to Ha Long bay is 4 hours (estimated time) with one stop at this local souvenir shop with snack bar. Our tour guide gave us a brief background of Vietnam, which under the Communist government. Main transportation is motorcycles which has 38 thousand in Ha Noi alone.


Vietnam tourists from all over the world


We arrived at the harbor around 1:30 PM seeing other tourists waiting in the lobby for the next trip. Tour guides have their different tasks, and assignments depending on how many days they are going to stay. We met a tour guide name “Tu“, and took us to the our boat for lunch. Lunch is part of the package except for the beverages like water, beer and soda which cost 25,000 to 30,000 VND ($1.41). After our lunch, our first destination is the Hang Đầu Gỗ which is the largest grotto in the Ha Long Bay area.


Lunch that they served on the boat for 6 person




Before we entered the cave, the tour guide gave us the history of Ha Long Bay. Take note that you still need to have a ticket before you enter, but don’t worry, you don’t need to pay anything since it is part of your package. The tour guide will provide a ticket for you.

You need to take a stairs before you reach the main cave. The temperature inside the cave is less than 20 degrees. Formation of stalagmites and stalactites with small and large chambers can be seen around the cave. These formations illuminate because of the colorful lights.

After 30 minutes of exploring the cave, we went back to our boat for our next destination which is the fishing village. The floating fishing village is 10-15 minutes away from the Hang dau go. We had the chance to take pictures of the beautiful panoramic view of the islets. The top deck is the perfect place to see the lake, and to relax because there are wooden benches around. Activities in the fishing village for tourists are kayaking and boating. You can go to other caves while kayaking which will cost another 30,000 VND ($1.41). We didn’t have a chance to do kayaking because of the time and safety, though you will have your life jacket, no one will assist you on the spot.

We took another boat to take us back to the harbor because we only availed 1 day tour. We reached the harbor at around 5:30 PM, and took a minibus back to Ha Noi. We got back to our hostel at 9:00 PM.



You can view slideshow HERE




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).


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


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.




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.