kristinetpham.com | I still can’t believe that it took me ten years to visit Vietnam again. Surprisingly, Y and I enjoyed Ha Noi thoroughly, because all we did was eat and drink. I offered some sightseeing places for Y to visit but he gladly declined since I had seen them on my last visit. All he wanted was to drink cold beers if possible (usually a bottle comes with a bucket of ice) and not move so he wouldn’t sweat so much. Food and drinks were ridiculously delicious and super cheap. 25 cents draft beers, 75 cents 16 oz bottle beers, 75 cents sugar cane juice, and $1.75 for most noodle bowls at the restaurants. My friend and his wife paid for street food so I can’t really comment on how much those cost. The most expensive items were the crab and frog hot pots, which were about $20 per pot. Taxi rides were about $1 - $2 (equivalent to $15-$20 cab ride in NYC). We did not try the rickshaw since taxi has AC. I was proud of Y for not getting us lost when we ventured on our own during our last day. We did go through some random house while trying to find a hidden coffee shop with a view, but that was my fault. There are a lot of scammers in Vietnam but there are ways to get around that. Best is to ask hotels and taxi drivers how much certain things cost. We then just pick out what we want in the shops and then let them know this is how much we’re willing to pay. It worked 100% of the time. The most memorable part was my $15 foot massage at the fanciest spa, which would have cost me about $100+ in the US. I could have gotten a $3-5 foot massage elsewhere, but decided to splurge and it was well worth it. I caught myself falling asleep with my mouth open during the massage. Damn, that was embarrassing.
kristinetpham.com | This was a day tour set up by our hotel, Oriental Central Ha Noi. The hotel is cozy and clean, and their service is top notch. They’re currently ranked number 1 on Tripadvisor. I think they were ranked 27th when I booked them. The tour guide speaks really good English, better than most Vietnamese Americans who live in the States. Y hates disappointments so I decided to take this tour before our trip to Ha Long Bay. Ninh Binh is known as Ha Long Bay on land, which is exactly what we saw. Hoa Lu was once the Vietnam’s ancient capital with the two temples dedicated to the King Dinh and King Le. Tam Coc means three grotoes, where we took rowing boats to explore beauty of the famous "Halong Bay in the ricefields."