Hanoi, Vietnam - Tips, Tricks and Things To Do

21 November 2018


Our bus to Hanoi from Tac Coc only took three hours, so, we grabbed our bags from the bus and headed to our hostel to check in feeling all sorts of peachy. We were shown to our room and had alllll sorts of conversations with the people in our room on things like Brexit, peadophiles, you know, the standard small talk (?!?). That evening we went for dinner with one of the girls we'd met from our room and decided to eat at the restaurant Obama's. Which, yes, is named in honour of Barack Obama... When in Hanoi, hey? Although, I just wanna say that the food there wasn't great at all and the staff were particularly rude, so maybe not one to add to the must-visit list.

That evening we went for cocktails at Beer Corner which was really good fun. I don't want to spoil it for anyone that is planning on going, but Beer Corner really is quite the experience. So, essentially the bars and restaurants aren't legally allowed to have tables and seats out on the road but still do it anyway. Every hour or so there'll be a huge mad panic as all the restaurant staff whip chairs from underneath people and fold up and throw tables inside just before the police make their visit. Then, as soon as they've left the vicinity, the furniture comes back out and the customers can sit back down to eat and drink. It's hilarious to watch and really is a domino effect.

The following morning we went on the free walking tour provided by the hostel. This was actually really enjoyable and the only walking tour we did the entire trip. Our guide was really friendly and knew everything there was to know about Hanoi. We were wandering for a good few hours and then finished with an egg coffee. Yep, you read that right. I personally don't like coffee, so settled for an egg hot chocolate instead, which, can I just say, tastes way better than it sounds. After this, a group of us from the walking tour all went for Banh Mi together at Banh Mi 25. I had the BBQ pork and would highly recommend - not quite sure it beats the one from Highland Coffe though, just saying.

We then trekked to train street (which was much further than we expected) and waited to see the train coming from HCMC pass through the very narrow residential street. This was quite the experience and another thing that was nothing like I'd ever seen before. That evening we had a Domino's for dinner - yep that's a thing - and then went on the club crawl being hosted by our sister hostel. This was actually really good fun, the drinks were cheap and it was just an all-round fun night. The following morning we had our Hideaway tour (more on that coming soon) and it's fair to say we weren't feeling fantastic.

After the trip, we had a few more days in Hanoi before flying to Laos, and decided to stay in the same hostel as before in the hope of getting some peace after the three day bender. That evening we had another Domino's which did not agree with us in the slightest. (Note to self: stick to the local food next time). The following morning we headed for full body massages - they were great. The in-between the toe rubbing, not so great.

We then hunted down a tattoo shop that we'd read was really good and Toria got her first tattoo. The staff were really friendly and it was done really well, so a win-win all round. Next up on our Ha Long Bay recovery, peace and tranquility, agenda was a manicure. We went and had gel nails done at a salon near the markets before heading for a bit of shopping. Dinner that night was at Little Vietnam and the food was INCREDIBLE. So delicious. I had black pepper pork and it was amazing!! We woke up leisurely the next morning, packed up our stuff before checking out of the hostel and heading for a final wander of Vietnam. We had our final Banh Mi at Highlands Coffee before taking a taxi to the airport.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Very busy and lots more to see and do compared to Ho Chi Minh City

THINGS TO DO 
- Train Street 
- Walking tour of the landmarks 
- Try egg coffee 
- See a water puppet show (which we didn't end up doing but is meant to be an 'experience')

TIPS AND ADVICE 
- Visit Beer Corner solely for the entertainment value
- Don't order a Domino's
- Plan a lazy day or two for after the Hideaway Tour if you choose to do it
- If you haven't already, have a Banh Mi at Highlands Coffee

WHERE I STAYED & REVIEW
Central Backpackers (original)
So, there are two Central Backpackers hostels in Hanoi and the original one (where we stayed) turned out to be the really quite (read: dead) one. There were hardly any people around and we were often the only ones down having breakfast in the morning. The other one, however, is the opposite. It was packed full of backpackers and even had a bar on the top floor complete with pub crawls, beer pong etc. That aside, the hostel itself was nice, the bathrooms were huge and the beds were comfy. It's also important to note that the Ha Long Bay tour we did was operated by the hostel, so this is why we chose to stay there.

HOW LONG TO STAY?
2/3 days - if you plan on going out, if not 1/2 will suffice.

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