Hanoi Journals

Chao Ban Vietnam!!

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A March 2005 trip to Hanoi by Ishtar

Lucky Hotel 1 Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam More Photos
Quote: Though we left on the 23rd of March for Vietnam, I was already there thirty days in advance. I was at the library three times a week doing research, as I knew we had a lot of ground to cover and only three weeks to do it.

Chao Ban Vietnam!!

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Overview

From Noi Bai Airport en route to the city Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
Hanoi, the land between the rivers, may yet live up to its old name as given to it by King Ly Thai To: he called it the ascending dragon, and if anything, this city is certainly on the rise. Here are some ways to optimize your stay here: a) Stay in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, as nearly everything you need is there, or within walking distance. Its famed 36 streets are the anchor of the quarter, each with its own special products . But this is not all; here you will find quaint hotels, some of the greatest eateries, and endless rows of galleries, all of whic...Read More

Lucky Hotel 1

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Hotel

Lucky Hotel 1 Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
So damn lucky to get this hotel. Our itinerary was jam-packed, and Vietnamstay.Com was of invaluable help to us. Though moderate by Western standards, this hotel gets 4 stars from me. A number of things differentiate it from others in the category:1) It’s in the Hoan Kiem District, where you want to be. 2) Rooms are huge , with balconies where you can reap sights and sounds of Hanoi any time. 3) They have DSL connections in the rooms!! Trust me on this one, this is luxury. No laptop? Then run to the lobby for checking email. 4) They serve the best free breakfast of any "moderate" hotel from 6am to 10am....Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 16, 2005

Lucky Hotel 1
46 Hang Hom Street
Hanoi, Vietnam
(84) 4-928-8170

Press Club Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Hanoi Press Club"

Press Club Restaurant Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
It is no accident that the Hanoi Press Club lies directly across the street from the Metropole Hotel. If you did nothing but combine your time between the two, you’d never know you were in Vietnam. The General Manager of the Press Club, Mr. Kurt Walter, extended an invitation to experience the Emeraude Ha Long Bay Cruise, and we had come to meet with him this afternoon. My first impression of the Press Club is that it is a venue for the cognoscenti to come and gorge themselves silly on sinfully good food. That week, they were paying homage to French cuisine, buffet-style, for lunch. It was happening at the upstairs restaurant, an impeccably ar...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 18, 2005

Press Club Restaurant
59a Pho Ly Thai Tho Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam
+84 4 934 0888

Le Malraux

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Restaurant

Le Malraux Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
This wonderful café/bistro quickly became our favorite hang-out. It earned exceedingly high marks with us, as it was the only place which had the most aromatic Earl Grey tea in Hanoi. Le Malraux sits on the corner of Hang Trong and Nha Tho streets, which is a brisk five-minute walk from our hotel. We favored it as the spot to relax, listen to international jazz (Chuck bought his first CD from them), and read magazines they keep on hand for their patrons. It was here that I discovered "Time Out", Vietnam Discovery , and multiple copies of the Vietnam Economic Times – The Guide/Almanac 2005" ; I kept the latter. The menu is undeniably French, with a sprinkling of this and that;...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 26, 2005

Le Malraux
6 Nha Tho
Hanoi, Vietnam

Kim Quy

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Restaurant

Kim Quy Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
We had been walking around Hoan Kiem Lake most of the day, and as usual, I was attracting all the hawkers who wanted me to read The Quiet American. If I refused to read that one, they would quickly produce another, and another. The last resort would be a heap of postcards, and the price would lower as time would pass. I almost always refused politely, shook my head, and said "no" in as many ways as I knew how. These kids are persistent! Had I given into my impulses, our trip back from Vietnam would have included air cargo. Chuck always amused himself photographing these moments and would remind me later of my predicaments through the snapshots. The area around the lake is replete with res...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 3, 2005

Kim Quy
So 3 Le Thai To, Hoan Kiem
Hanoi, Vietnam
(84-4) 928-7868

City View Cafe

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Restaurant

City View Cafe Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
How would you like your camel cooked? Al dente? With or without humps? How many dongs are you carrying? Seriously, for VDN60,000 (about $3.80), you can enjoy fried camel with… a side of mushrooms. Not engaged? Okay, let’s try something else. Fried perfume snail, perhaps? It’s not certain what kind of perfume goes in there, but take a chance!! Here’s a good one: " Sort of Crab"; well, what sort? Some folks are really particular, aren’t they? These are just a few of the tantalizing offerings from the City View Café in Hanoi, most likely the best positioned restaurant this side of Hoan Kiem Lake. DAMN, what a view! We are on the fifth floor (you can walk up, but take the elevator; it’s fas...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 9, 2005

City View Cafe
7 Pho dinh Tien Hoang, 5th floor
Hanoi, Vietnam
84-4-934-7911

Zhen Zhu Tea

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Restaurant

Zhen Zhu Tea Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
Evenings in Ha Noi are a wonderful time to walk and explore; it is mercifully cooler than Saigon by at least 10°F and slumming around proved exciting, even if we would see some parts of it again. You’ve probably learned or read in other journals about Ha Noi’s Old Quarter, and I do try to write about that which hasn’t been beaten to death. You know Ha Noi’s 36 streets and how they all represented a specific trade/merchandise, and that the word "hang" means shop, and that’s why it’s found in most street names. The quarter itself is a bit wacky frankly, as oftentimes a street will pick up a new name at random. Sort of like Boston if you know what I mean. We did make some a great discovery on the eve...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2005

Zhen Zhu Tea
142 Hang Bong
Hanoi, Vietnam
84-4-928-8378

Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre

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Attraction | "Thang Long Water Puppet Theater"

Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
Familiar landscapes of Vietnam suggest rice fields, planting and harvesting, working the soil with oxen, caring of children, and fishing and perpetuating traditions established by ancestors. Historical testimonies demonstrate that water puppet performances happened before the Royal Court at the onset of the 11th century, at which time it was already well structured. It is therefore assumed that prior to that period, this type of entertainment had previously been in widespread use in the villages. The Thang Long Water Pupper Theater boasts a famous troupe of puppeteers that has been all over the world. The "action" takes place on a water stage, whereby various puppets are introduced to r...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 24, 2005

Thang Long Water Puppetry Theatre
57b Dinh Tien Hoang St. Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam
(84-04) 8249494

Museum of Ethnology

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Attraction | "Vietnam Museum of Ethnology - Part 1"

Museum of Ethnology Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
If there is only one museum you can see in Hanoi, make it this one. The splendor of it will hit you with the recreation of authentic housing of the communal tribes, which make up Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. And just when you think you’ve really seen the richness of the various cultures, you enter the main building, and then you will be totally bewildered. Guided tours are available, and group tours can be booked in advance by calling (84-4) 756-2193. The Museum was dedicated in 1997 by French President Jacques Chirac as a testament to the ethnic tribes and their lifestyles and habitats. The building itself is constructed as a two-storied, semi-circular structure, prefaced by a huge marble-floor lo...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 1, 2005

Museum of Ethnology
D Pho Nguyen Van Huyen
Hanoi, Vietnam
+84 4 836 0350

Museum of Ethnology

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Attraction | "Vietnam Museum of Ethnology - Part 2"

Museum of Ethnology Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
It is not possible to do justice to the Museum of Ethnology, no matter how many segments one chooses to write. First, let me share with you the vivacity of Vietnamese children: they, too, were visiting and never neglected the opportunity to practice their English with us. Words like "hello" and "bye" provoked thunderous claps of laughter; frantic waving ensued by a group of boys that were having lunch as we walked by them, and they watched us with incredulity while we remained motionless to capture a photo of a frog. All of them love the camera, no matter how old. Let’s go inside now. In Part 1, I left you inside the circular entrance without mentioning the focus, which, for lack of a better word,...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 1, 2005

Museum of Ethnology
D Pho Nguyen Van Huyen
Hanoi, Vietnam
+84 4 836 0350

Hoa Lo Prison

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Attraction

Hoa Lo Prison Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
Hoa Lo means coal oven; this prison was also known as "Maison Centrale" in 1901, when the French built it. During the American War, it acquired the name of "Hanoi Hilton". Interestingly, in 1954 and prior to 1965, the citizens of Hanoi used the facility as a temporary rehabilitation for delinquents. You will not see significant and unusual answers here about the American War. Much of that section has been demolished in favor of the Hanoi Central Tower, built in 1997. No need to fret however, as you will come across novel approaches to torture. The doorway is not in any way a preview of what is to come; in fact, it looks more like the entrance to a hotel. Until you get inside. Those w...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 2, 2005

Hoa Lo Prison
1 Hoa Lo Street
Hanoi, Vietnam

Shopping & Other Essentials

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Attraction | "Shopping & Other Essentials"

Shopping & Other  Essentials Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
I began collecting cards from the shops I visited and ones of the better restaurant experiences we had. This happened almost immediately after I became quite ill in Saigon. From this information gathering, I thought putting together a directory of important to great places to visit could be quite helpful. So here it is, ready to be downloaded for your next visit to Ha Noi. The first address I recorded prior to my departure was the American Embassy in Vietnam. United States Embassy 7 Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District Tel: 84-4-7721500 In the event you become ill enough to warrant medical attention, don’t pay attention to any of these guidebooks I read, which te...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 13, 2005

Shopping & Other Essentials
In the text
Hanoi, Vietnam

The Road to Ha Long Bay

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Story/Tip

We were trying to leave this behind Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
We had been in Vietnam for close to 2 weeks now, and each day brought exhilaration and discovery beyond what we could visualize. As every trip has its high points, I had studied Ha Long Bay prior to arriving here, together with some of our other anticipated stops. If Vietnam were a woman, then Ha Long would be its little black dress. For all who are contemplating this magnificent country as your next destination, do not forego one of UNESCO’s most glorious World Heritage Sites. However, covering the 180km from Hanoi to the bay is an adventure in itself. We had a driver from the Press Club come to pick us up at our hotel at around 8:30am. Since this cruise includes a night onboard, you should be p...Read More

Why the Emeraude?

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Story/Tip

No, you are not in Louisiana Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
The Emeraude is a product of one man’s quest into history who was so intrigued and fascinated by the beauty of the boats he had seen in Hai Phong harbor that he embarked on a two-year search which took him to the French Maritime Museum, where he was able to locate the family that had built the original vessels. This man is Eric Merlin, and indeed, his vision has enabled the replication of the original "Emeraude", which, along with its sister ships, Perle, Saphir, and Rubis, transported passengers through the enchanting waterways of Ha Long Bay. Without getting too historical, let’s recall that the early part of the 20th century saw the entirety of Vietnam under French Colonial Control. Long bef...Read More

Vietnam is Home Now

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Story/Tip

Please meet Kurt Walter Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
Is it with puzzlement or a bit of envy that we look at ex-pats? Actually, there isn’t much difference between an ex-pat and an immigrant, except that oftentimes, an immigrant arrives to a designated country by design rather than by choice. In our travels over the last few years, I had met them from all corners of the globe: they had intended to just come on vacation, or had been assigned a short tour of duty or some such thing. Here in Hanoi, and subsequently in Ha Long, I had the pleasure of interviewing two gentlemen, on separate occasions, both of West European origin, who willfully settled in Vietnam. In an attempt to draft you with the magic of Vietnam, I am transcribing the two dialogues below...Read More

Take the E Train!

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Story/Tip

The tops are not as comfortable as the bottoms Photo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
Romance is a very subjective issue at times, particularly when it comes to trains. I have always loved traveling on the rails, perhaps ever since I was introduced to Tokyo’s bullet trains some years ago. Foreseeing this journey, we had booked our tickets for the Ha Noi/Saigon return by train with a couple of stops in between through VietnamStay.Com who had the wisdom to advise to fly north and train it south; they also disabused me of my folly that I’d be able to do Sapa and Da Lat in addition to planned stops in Hue and Nha Trang. It’s good to dream, isn’t it? The rail system was built by the French and spans some 1100 miles north to south; parts of it w...Read More