North Vietnam in a nutshell – Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa in six days
When we planned our trip to Vietnam, never in our wildest dreams did we imagine it to be freezing cold.
Our impression of Vietnam was that of tuk tuks, street markets and the hot sun with sweat dripping down our backs. But when we arrived at Hanoi in January, the weather felt like an autumn in Australia. It was close to the end of winter and the weather was cool and dry. You could do with a light coat around your shoulder and take long walks around the river at night – it’s a lovely feeling to behold.
We arranged for an overnight stay on a Chinese Junk at Halong Bay, a 3 hour drive from Hanoi. As the junk traversed the rocky outcrops, I recommend letting the wind whip up your hair in Titanic style. (Though combing it back can be quite a challenge, especially for those with long tresses). To be honest, we found the Halong Bay tour too touristy, given the numerous Chinese junks that ply the bay. That being said, getting a glimpse of the rocky outcrops which stand out from the sealine in a stately fashion is probably an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Our next destination was Sapa, an 8.5 hour train ride/ 1hr bus ride from Hanoi. It was the highlight of the trip. We met many tribal children, who appeared to be rather sweet and allowed us to take photos of them in their traditional gear, but asked for money when we were about to leave. Errk.
We also had issues with our accommodation. Sapa was freezing in January – the temperatures fell below 10 deg celsius, and below 5 deg celsius at night. The hot water came on and off and all we had was one heater to heat up the whole room. For three girls who had lived in hot and sunny Singapore all their lives, it was a challenge trying to stay warm.
Nonetheless, if you’ve keen to learn about Vietnamese culture, it’s always worth making a visit to these places, during the spring seasons between March to June. Cups of hot, strong Vietnamese coffee awaits you, so do the uber-delicious bowls of pho (glass noodles with bits of beef or chicken).
In the next few posts, I will be sharing some photos and tips of how to travel in North Vietnam, in less than a week. Stay tuned.