City: Hanoi, Vietnam
Time of Year: January/Febuary
Stay: The Original Hanoi Backpackers. There are two Hanoi Backpackers hostels, Downtown or Original. The Original Hanoi Backpackers is located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi and a great location to explore by foot. This hostel has a young and energetic vibe about it as everywhere you turn there are travellers connecting with eachother whether it be in the common area, in the dorm rooms or up at the rooftop bar. The bar at the Original hostel closes early so if you want to kick on then head over to the Downtown hostel which has a bigger bar and is open until late. Price of a dorm bed at the Original Hanoi Backpackers is AU$10 per night. Find out more here.
See: Halong Bay. The best way to see Halong Bay is by Junk Boat. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to how you want to see this stunning landscape. You can opt for half day, full day or overnight cruises. Booking is easy as the city centre of Hanoi has plenty of small tour desks and travel agents that you can walk in and book a cruise. Halong Bay is a major drawcard for visitors to Hanoi so just about every major hotel and hostel will have options for you too. As a general rule don’t go for the first and cheapest cruise option, especially if its overnight, the junk boats are very basic.
Save: Vietnam is a wonderful country to visit and very affordable if you’re on a tight budget. Beer is even cheaper than bottled water! Save money by taking advantage of the free breakfasts some hostels offer and opt for tours that have meals included.
Splurge: If you’re tight on time then splurge on tours. Its a great way to see Hanoi in depth with a guide but also to get out and explore Hanoi’s surrounds. Tours can be booked through your hostel, hotel or through travel agents in the centre of Hanoi.
Eat: On the street. One of the great things about staying with Hanoi Backpacker Hostel was that they have free walking tours of the Old Quater every day and a chance for you to try some local street food.
Pack: A light jacket. In my opinion winter is one of the better times of year to visit South East Asia as the temperature is a less humid than summer. The temperature is still warm though with most cities still reaching 30 degrees Celcius. Having said that it is cooler when you head to the North of Vietnam and I found myself reaching for my jacket in the evening and early morning on Halong Bay.
Good to know: The city of Hanoi has a curfew for serving alcohol and they’re very strict on this, don’t be surprised to see police around to enforce this curfew.
Have you visited Hanoi or are planning to visit? I’d love to hear from you!