A week in Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam

Streetlife in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1997
Streetlife in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1997

The first time I was in Hanoi was in 1997, this was in 2008. As there were good promotions of Air Asia to fly to Hanoi we took the opportunity to go to Hanoi. Yes, Vietnam has changed in the past years, but the Old Quarter of Hanoi is still a very nice area to visit, with all the small streets and shops. Yes, it is busy but in a nice way (except for the risha-drivers then). In this colonial area of Hanoi are now many small guesthouse and the so called boutique hotels. I just searched internet, did choose a hotel and just walked in to see if it was nice. Well, it was very noisy so the next day we did find a much better hotel just around the corner. We did explorer the small streets with many small shops, restaurants and many motorbikes. I enjoyed the French heritage of desserts and salads. I hated the sounds of klaxons.
Breakfast at the street
View from our Chinese Junk
After a few days we decided to book a tour to Halong Bay at a local travel agency. And wow has that changed! Early in the morning a mini-van did pick us up from our hotel and together with about 8 other tourists we were on our way to Halong Bay. Where 10 years ago were only some open Chinese Junks in the fishing harbor, is now a all new tourist harbor and pier with about 30 to 40 luxury Chinese Junks with restaurants and bed-rooms on board! Well that is what we booked, 1 night on the Chinese Junk and 1 night at Cat Ba island. So just after lunch our boat left the harbour and set sail to the famous Halong Bay, where we would arrive in late afternoon.

Overnight at Halong Bay, Vietnam

So while having dinner at upper-deck we enjoyed a beautiful sunset at Halong Bay before we would go to sleep in our own room with private bathroom. Although very different as the trip 10 years ago it became a very beautiful and comfortable trip. The next day we made an excursion to one of the many caves and did visit a floating fishing village. Some people even made a dive into the sea!

At the end of the day we were dropped of at our beautiful resort "Sunrise Resort" at the south-west of Cat-Ba Island. Actually we did like it so much at the resort that we changed our plans and booked an extra night. We rented a motorbike and did drive around on the island to see the hospital and village that was build in a huge cave during the Vietnam war. In the afternoon we would walk along the the sea-side walking paths to explorer the neighborhood. We really had a wonderful time at the island, although I had not think of it that there would be no bank or ATM.

View from our room at "Sunrise Resort"