DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor Asia, DIY Travel, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 36 Comments

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam that is completely charming and full of characters in its own unique way. Have you been in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam?

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Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Hanoi and Ha Long.

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

This is a short trip with my best friend as a nice holiday since we haven’t seen each other for quite a while. We’ve decided to visit Hanoi, Vietnam as we’ve heard loads of exciting and nice stories about backpacking in this charming city. We also did a short trip in Ha Long Bay where we did a day cruise with lunch and island hopping.

Related Article: For the cheap accommodations in Hanoi (check this list) and Ha Long Bay (check this list).

Trip Highlights:  

Hanoi Old Quarter

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Old Quarter in Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

The Water Puppet Show

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Ha Long Bay Cruise

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Monkey face Islet

Ha Long Bay Fishing Village

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Boatman of the fishing village

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Kayak at the fishing village

Vietnamese foods

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

 Hoan Kiem Lake

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake pagoda

Ho Chi Minh Museum

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

One Pillar Pagoda

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Parliament House

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Thien Cung Cave / Heavenly Cave

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

DIY Travel Guide to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Outside the Thien Cung Cave

Monkey DividersVisa Requirements:

For Philippine Passport Holders, no visa required, however for my best friend who is a British Citizen needs to obtain Letter of Authority from Vietnam Embassy and get the visa on arrival in Hanoi.

(UPDATE: British nationals can now have 15-Day visa-free entry to Vietnam as of July 2015, however, if you are staying more than 15 days, you need to secure a visa.)

DO YOU RECOMMEND USING THE SERVICES OF A TOUR/VISA AGENCY?

Yes, I highly recommend availing the services of iVisa, if you feel more comfortable having your application submitted by a professional organisation. They have been providing expedited processing and guidance services for any e-visa applications since 2013 so they have a lot of experience. Here are some advantages of getting your visa from them:

  1. They have 24/7 support in many languages.
  2. Application forms are all available on one page;
  3. You can get your Tourist eVisa, Medical eVisa, and Business eVisa within 24 hours if you apply for the Rush Service; and
  4. They provide a full refund under their approval guarantee in case your visa gets rejected!

Go to the iVisa website to discover how they can help you with your visa application.

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Travel Tips:

Its 3-4 hour evening flight to Hanoi from Manila if travelling with Cebu Pacific so make sure to book your airport transfers to your hotel. We arrived in Hanoi around 1 am. You can arrange the airport transfers with your hotel and include it in your bill.

Make sure to change your money to Vietnamese Dong(VND), they do accept US dollars as payment but preferably or I felt it was way cheaper buying things with VND.

Since this is a budget trip, we just walked around Hanoi to avoid being ripped off by cabs and tuk-tuk. Renting motorbike is an option just be careful on the road.

Keep yourself hydrated the weather is gloomy but it is very HOT!

Enjoy Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and the Vietnamese food.

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Daily Budget:
diy travel guide to hanoi and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

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Itinerary Details:

DAY 1:

Evening flight from Manila to Hanoi.

We already pre-arranged our airport transfers to the hotel as our arrival in Hanoi was late at night (1 am). We booked an extra night in our hotel to secure our late arrival. Our hotel is about an hour away from the airport, the Holiday Gold Hotel.

We woke up around 8 am and we have our free breakfast, we tried the Beef Pho which is amazingly delicious.

After breakfast, we walked around the Old Quarter. We went to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, Quan Thanh Temple and One Pillar Pagoda along the way we passed by the Vietnam Military House Museum.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Ho Chi Minh MausoleumHo Chi Minh Museum and One Pillar Pagoda.

After long hours of walking we had our lunch and tried the famous Bun Cha (for VND 90k around Php 185.00 that comes with a set of noodles, the grilled pork, plateful of green leafies which I enjoy, and spring roll) we weren’t able to finish that set because it is too much for two people!

We head back to our hotel to freshen up and went out to go to Hanoi’s night market to look around and get some of our shopping done (don’t forget to haggle!). While walking around the area we’ve noticed that they have a cultural presentation along the street showcasing Vietnam’s traditional music and dance.

DAY 2:

We went to Ha Long Bay!

We’ve arranged this with our hotel, we’ve booked the $35 day-tour. Our transfer call time is around 8am and it is a 4-hour bus ride to Ha Long Bay.

Our tour guide is very approachable and nice. On our way to Ha LongBayy, she told us the story about Ha Long Bay, the descending dragon and Hanoi.

Upon our arrival in Ha Long Bay Port, everything is well organised and we boarded our boat. We had our sumptuous lunch while cruising.

Our first stop is the fishing village, we are supposed to do kayaking but we’ve decided to take the boat ride instead. We had an opportunity to take a lot of photos and just sit while exploring the lagoons and caves.

We went to visit the Thien Cung or Heavenly Cave and do some light spelunking. The rock formations are truly nature’s wonder.

In this cruise, we saw some interesting rock formations such as Fighting Cock, the Incense burner Islet and the Monkey Island.

After the cruise, we headed back to Hanoi and arrived at about 8 pm, we had dinner at the waffle house and had some amazing waffle with mojito and raspberry milkshake.

My best friend and I decided to have a massage at the spa beside our hotel to cap our day. Very relaxing indeed.

 DAY 3:

Last day in Hanoi, our flight back to Manila was around 11pm.

We roamed around the Old Quarter once more and had our lunch at Quan An Ngon, it is like a bazaar of Vietnamese food, there are stalls and you just order what you want, we had fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese pancake and bun cha and of course I tried their Vietnam local beer (Bia Saigon) and the Lotus Tea.

We did some last minute “pasalubong” shopping and we went to Hoan Kiem Lake and we’ve decided to watch the famous Water Puppet Show cost around VND 50k.

We head back to our hotel to get some rest and grab some dinner in a pub near Hoan Kiem Lake.

It’s time to say ‘see you again’ and not ‘goodbye’ to Hanoi!

Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!

Powered by 12Go Asia system

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STILL LOOKING FOR OTHER TOURS TO DO IN VIETNAM and CAMBODIA?

Even the best DIY trips need a little help here and there. If you’re headed here, check out all these awesome experiences for only $120 and below. Use them to spice up your budget DIY itinerary, or buy one as a gift for a friend (click the photo for more details!)

Tinggly Cambodia Tinggly Vietnam

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Recommended Budget Accommodation in Hanoi

See you at Lily’s

See you at Lily’s offer not only a bed to their guests, but also a friendly atmosphere between the guests and staffs. Even the owners will be present to make sure that all their clients are treated as promised. Located in the heart of Hanoi is another good reason to book with this hostel. Definitely one of the best and well recommended budget accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisor

 

 

 

Hanoi Backpackers Hostel – The Original

This hostel is located near the Hanoi Train Station. Also offers a hassle free airport transfer. Guests can choose between female dorms, mixed dorm and double suites. They also offers a complimentary walking tour every 10 in the morning. Definitely one of the best and well recommended budget accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisorCheck-Rates of the Hotel

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Recommended Luxury Accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Daewoo Hotel

Hanoi Daewoo Hotel offers guests with spacious and clean rooms, with comfy mattress and perfectly working AC. It has a charming pool, gym and spa as well. It’s a high end hotel in the center of Hanoi, definitely one of the best and well recommended luxury accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisorCheck-Rates of the Hotel

Pullman Hanoi Hotel

Pullman Hanoi Hotel is a wonderful hotel with a very warm and welcoming staff. Rooms are spacious, comfy and has a mini bar too. Location is good, as well as the restaurant and facilities. Truly one of the best and well recommended luxury accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisorCheck-Rates of the Hotel

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Recommended Budget Accommodation in Halong Bay, Vietnam

City Bay Hotel

City Bay Hotel is a great value hotel which offers guests with nice rooms, spacious, elegantly furnished. Location is great, with the harbor and market within walking distance. Hotel staff is nice too, making it one of the best and well recommended budget accommodation in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisorCheck-Rates of the Hotel

Halong Park Hotel

Halong Park Hotel offers a good location, with the bay view. Amazing scenery, spacious, fresh air, wonderful rooms with magnificent views. This is definitely one of the best and well recommended budget accommodation in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisorCheck-Rates of the Hotel

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Recommended Luxury Accommodation in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Nam Dat Hotel Halong

Nam Dat Hotel Halong is convenient hotel well situated near the commercial area of Halong City. Perfect location with shops and market within walking distance. It offers guests with clean rooms and has friendly staff. Truly one of the best and well recommended luxury accommodation in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: TripAdvisorCheck-Rates of the Hotel

Green Capital Hotel

Green Capital Hotel has a convenient location, an easy access to the city’s must visit places. It offers guests with modern comforts, superb facilities and recreational offerings, making it  one of the best and well recommended luxury accommodation in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Read Reviews on: AgodaCheck-Rates of the Hotel

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Are you planning your awesome trip soon? Let us help you! 

Check out the different travel services that we offer!

DIY TRAVEL PLANNING, VISA APPLICATION & TRAVEL COACHING

Have you purchased your Travel Insurance? If not, check out this article on why travel insurance is so important and how to choose the right insurance for you. 

SM Monkey Section DividersAbout the Writer

diy travel guide to hanoi vietnamName of the Contributor: Ayna Balkin

Name of the Country: Hanoi, Vietnam

Date/s of your Travel: April 4-8, 2015

City / Places Visited: 2 days in Hanoi  and a day tour in Ha Long Bay

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Comments 36

  1. I would love to visit Hanoi one day, it looks really stunning and the pictures have me wanting to book my trip asap

  2. Hanoi looks amazing, the Hoan Kiem Lake pagoda is stunning. It’s fab that Brits can visit without a visa, makes things easier.

  3. I love the stark raw beauty of caves and Thien Cung Cave looks to be no exception to the rule. I would love to visit.

  4. I’d love to visit Vietnam one day – I love the fact it’s such a massive culture change from my everyday life. Great exchange rate on the pound too! x

  5. Hi would you recommend you Halong Bay day tour for $35? I find the same rate online but i cant see any reviews/blogs about it so i dont know if it is legit or it is nice… We are in a budget tour also, i heard there are a lot of tours in hanoi to book but we are planning to go to halong bay upon arrival in Hanoi so we will not have time to book in Hanoi. Thank You

  6. Xin Chao TMT!

    Thank you for giving me the chance to be part of this community, looking forward to inspire others about how beautiful life can be.

    1.Why would you like to visit Vietnam? When are you planning to go to Vietnam? Have you been to Vietnam before? Why should we pick you?
    I would really love to visit Vietnam because of its breathtaking views,to try their amazing food and meet the friendly Vietnamese. I am planning to go to Vietnam on October since I have my holiday off work that month. No, I haven’t been to Vietnam and any other places as a matter of fact I have my passport since 2013 but never got the chance to use it and I think this is the right time to get it stamped ( *wink* ) . I never got the chance to travel local or international but that doesn’t mean that I am not enjoying my life for every breath that I take is the greatest journey of my life. Why should you pick me, well I am a positive person who always look at the brighter side of life and if you choose me you’ll give me the opportunity to create memories for a lifetime and experience travelling for the first time.

    2. What do you like about the Two Monkeys Travel Forum and any suggestions on how we can improve our community?

    What I really like about the Two Monkeys Travel Forum is how it can amazingly inspire others including me, by reading your articles it feels like I already been to that specific place. feels like I already know that place. How we can improve our community? You can have a page in your website where members can upload photos of their most amazing views of their hometown then every week you will choose a photo and feature them in your blog with this members will participate more and be really active on the forum.

    SALAMAT PO. 🙂

  7. 1.Why would you like to visit Vietnam?? When are you planning to go to Vietnam? Have you been to Vietnam before? Why should we pick you?

    When I decided to travel solo, at least try and challenge my self to do so, I decided to visit countries which are visa free for us Filipinos. As I read many articles, I m encourage to visit south east Asian countries and Vietnam is one of the destinations I really love to see. Why Vietnam, it’s where the biggest cave is located, the Hang song doong cave which I would love to explore and Dalat which provide serene places as I see in many pictures and articles.
    It will be my first time backpacking adventure and I will be visiting Vietnam in the second week of October this year . If you’re going to pick me, it will be a great blessing and super encouragement for me.

    Two monkeys travel forum is very helpful and encouraging which I really like. It brings everyone’s wanderlust out it positive ways. It doesn’t boast instead it gives the humble idea of ” hey you can travel too”.

  8. 1.Why would you like to visit Vietnam?? When are you planning to go to Vietnam? Have you been to Vietnam before? Why should we pick you?

    : When i envision Vietnam i always imagine something exotic and vibrant. Exotic because of the foods that I’ve seen in discovery channel (–Oh! and would love to try any of those 🙂 ) – and vibrant because of their culture as well as the people. As an intrepid traveler, I want to visit Vietnam to capture some of the picturesque view that only Vietnam have such as the Tran Quoc Pagoda and the St. Joseph Cathedral. I’m planning to go to Vietnam when i have enough money but if and only if you pick me that would be a big help for me to travel first time outside the country because what i can afford now is only for local travels. 🙂

    2. What do you like about the Two Monkeys Travel Forum and any suggestions on how we can improve our community.

    : What i like about the TMT forum is the sharing of experiences of one another. It inspires junior traveler like me to go beyond my dreams and to explore and see the world one step at a time. And to Ms. Kach Mu, who serves as my inspiration for wanderlust and dreams thank you so much!

  9. 1.Why would you like to visit Vietnam?? When are you planning to go to Vietnam? Have you been to Vietnam before? Why should we pick you?

    Answer: Hi, Good day! I want to visit Vietnam because I heard that Vietnam is one of the top destination in Asia..I”m planning to go in Belgium to visit my mother, but some friends told me that it’s hard for me to go there because this is my first time…they suggest that I have to travel first in Asian countries. I’m planning to go to Vietnam in December. I haven’t been in Vietnam because I never experience travel outside the Philippines. Lastly, if ever I win this contest, this is the best gift that I will receive on my birthday…:) Probably this will help a lot to fulfill my dreams in visiting my Mom in Belgium…Thanks a lot & good luck to all!!! 🙂

  10. I’m planning to surprise my boyfriend on his birthday this coming January, this will be our first backpacking trip abroad “together”. haha. Probably this could really help me a lot! ^^

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