Hanoi: pretty, charming, slightly communist, dusty, reminiscent, historical, bustling, small, growing. Thought I’d share a few thoughts and tips for anyone thinking of doing this trip.
When I went December 2013/January 2014
When to go I’m not sure if I would advise travelers to come to Northern Vietnam during winter season. Although what the Northern Vietnamese would call ‘winter’ is quite mild in comparison to other places (like, say, Beijing), the cold can be a inhibiting especially if you’re planning to do the Halong Bay and Sapa side trips.
For the first time in 50 years, in fact, it snowed in Vietnam (northwest region), which stopped us from doing the Sapa tour. I read that it can be quite miserable in the area during winter – you will barely see anything because of the fog/mist, and heating is inadequate; luxury accommodations are supposedly unheard of, so you won’t have the comforts of a warm and cozy place. Well, that decided it for me. For us (my family and I), actually. No way were we venturing into snow flurries – I had left Hong Kong for Southeast Asia to escape the cold, and here I was…
In Halong Bay, meanwhile, you won’t be able to swim, sunbathe, or whatnot at wintertime. I can imagine what it would be like during the summer (the full moon parties of Koh Phangan in Thailand come to mind) – but then again, we were on a family trip, so we were fine without. Also, the waters of Halong Bay were much too murky for me to even want to dip into anyway… (I’m from the Philippines, so I’m spoiled as hell when it comes to beaches and sea water).
Excellent report! :)
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