After resolving visa drama at the Phuket airport (holding a Moroccan passport, my boyfriend realized he needed another visa to return to Bangkok on our final night from Hanoi), we arrived in Hanoi, immediately meeting a kind stranger who tried warning us about the taxi service we were about to book.
And so begins our next series of wild adventures.
HANOI (Photos eventually…)
The Korean Guy Who Wanted to Smoke | Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport
As we were about to book a taxi for $25 USD to our hotel in Hanoi at the first tourism stand we saw upon exiting baggage claim, we heard the man whom I hadn’t noticed was standing next to us tell us not to book it. Confused, I asked if it’s because $25 is too much. For the next 15 minutes or so, he took the time to explain how he lives in a town nearby and it doesn’t even cost $20, or so he thought. He tried looking up conversion rates to make sure, while gushing that he hadn’t been back in Vietnam for two months after traveling and whatnot.
It wasn’t until he walked away that the agents offered a deal: $25 from the airport and $15 to. Great! Despite all the hesitation, I believe they only gave us this deal because of such a long fiasco that made us nearly not book anything. In reality, $20 total each way for a private taxi is completely reasonable (especially after Googling to make sure). You will find cheaper deals in the city (we saw a sign later for $12), but we liked the comfort of having airport transfer taken care of.
After booking and then waiting for the taxi, we bumped into him again, when I told him that we ended up booking the taxis. We thanked him for his efforts anyway, and we then had a nice chat about each other. After learning and loving saying “thank you” and “hi” in Thai (“kapoon-ka” and “sawadee-ka” from females), we asked for the Vietnamese translations (“chin chao” and “gamon”). He even invited us to join him and his other friends from Canada and New Zealand to smoke that night, asking for my boyfriend’s phone number.
He never did contact us.
Walking Through Hanoi’s Chaotic Streets | Old Quarter
The most insane thing you can do in Hanoi is walk through its streets. Driving a motorbike? That’s child’s play. We kept telling ourselves that walking is more dangerous than driving, because at least with driving you can speed out of the way. On your feet? Good luck moving out of the way. Although roads are easier to walk on, there are so many more bikes, cars, and people to avoid that I’m surprised we weren’t hit or run over at any point. After witnessing countless life-threatening moments both on foot and bike, I can’t imagine how it’s worse in India. After driving so many motorbikes, my boyfriend drove like a local pro by the time we faced Hanoi 😉
Hanoi’s bar streets are awesome, by the way. Invigorating and lively with tons of small, cool bars. Check them out and smoke some shisha if you ever get the chance.
Eating Like Starved Children | Hanoi’s Bar Street
So we clearly didn’t know how to order on our last night in Hanoi. The trick in any Asian country is to eat small meals to leave room for all the amazing street food you’ll encounter. Instead, we ordered as if we hadn’t eaten for days.
Avocado smoothies in Vietnam are a must. The condensed milk is the delicious secret.
Sleepy Foot Massage & Sensual Vietnamese Massage | Mido Spa & That Shop Above the Convenience Store on Hang Hanh
After taking a massage break in Phuket, we ended up getting two in Hanoi, one before our Halong Bay cruise and one after. And I finally experienced a massage where I felt like I could fall asleep. In a dark room with soothing music playing and no chatting while my feet and legs were being massaged, I really enjoyed being able to close my eyes and to savor the moment.
The second massage, however, was hilariously awkward. We had stripped down to our undies (yep, topless), while we both had our groins massaged so dangerously close to our private parts. Much laughter was involved from both sides. My boyfriend is certain they do happy endings there.
Order Room Service Pho | Delano Hotel
Having fresh pho from the street delivered to your hotel room for a few bucks is a thing in Hanoi. #heckyes #thatsall
We had just two nights in Delano before departing around 8 a.m. on our van to Halong Bay, which is probably the most incredible place I’ve ever been to. Writing about it will be the hardest.
Coming soon in part six 🙂