I found the hotel to be very helpful prior to my arrival (thank you Jasmine!), and I had pre-booked an airport pick-up through them for USD $20 for a 4 seater car, per way. I also booked two tours through the hotel; an overnight tour to Halong Bay, and an overnight tour to Sapa.
La Storia Ruby was my favourite hotel during my stay in Vietnam; the staff at the hotel do an excellent job and it’s in a great location making it easy to explore Hanoi.
I arrived in Hanoi a little later than planned on Saturday 20th April 2019. I took the airport pick-up arranged through my hotel, and made my way to La Storia Ruby Hotel for a well needed shower!
Upon arrival to my hotel, I was greeted with a welcome drink and a plate of fresh fruit, which was a nice touch and very much appreciated. The hotel upgraded me to a family room, which meant I had two double beds! The room was clean and comfortable, and I loved the elephant origami and fresh flower petals on the beds.
My first Vietnamese meal was at a place called Hong Hoai’s Restaurant, just a 4 minute walk from my hotel. The food was delicious, and it was great value for money. For starters I had Nem Hà Nội (Hanoi fried spring rolls with pork), and for mains I had Pho Bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup).
After dinner, I made my way to the night market in Hanoi – Đồng Xuân. Held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7pm onwards. Here you will find everything from clothes, shoes, souvenirs, household items to street food.
I followed the road down to Hoàn Kiếm Lake. The roads surrounding Hoàn Kiếm Lake are shut off to traffic on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the evenings. There were performances taking place in the middle of the road, such as dancing and shows.
My first full day in Hanoi started off with venturing to ‘train street’. Hidden in the narrow streets of Hanoi Old Quarter, lies a working train track. It has become a tourist attraction, and nestled between the local’s houses and the train tracks are little cafés serving food and drink.
It’s quite an experience to be here whilst a train is passing through; watching everyone pulling the tables and chairs from the cafés back and pinning themselves against the wall.
I was here for the 11:35am train on a Sunday, although it was running a little late. Generally, the current train times are as follows: –
Mon-Fri: 06:00, 19:00, 19:20, 20:10/21:15
Sat-Sun: 09:15, 11:35, 15:20, 17:45, 18:40, 19:10
The train times are approximate, and they advise you to be at the train street 30 minutes before.
After exploring train street, I walked to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum which showcases the roles of women in Vietnamese society and culture. Entry was 60,000 VND with an audio guide, and 30,000 without. The signs are labelled in both English and French, so an audio guide is not necessarily needed.
I then made my way back to Hoàn Kiếm Lake, where I got tickets for the 3pm viewing of Thang Long Water Puppet Show. There’s five shows a day – 15:00, 16:10, 17:20, 18:30 and 20:00. Tickets get booked up fast; I arrived an hour before the show and there were just a few seats in the back left.
Water puppetry is a tradition that dates back to the 11th century, and stems from a time when rice paddy fields were flooded and villagers would make their own entertainment by standing wait-deep in the water with puppets performing over the water.
Tickets are priced in three tiers; 200,000 VND for the front, 150,000 VND for the middle and 100,000 VND for the back. I was seated near the back in the 100,000 VND seats and this was fine.
After the show, I was desperate to try some egg coffee because I’d seen it being advertised everywhere. I couldn’t help but notice a colourful little coffee shop on the way back from the water puppet show, to my hotel. I knew this was the perfect place to try Vietnam’s specialty egg coffee!
The Note Coffee café is decorated with post-it notes from people all over the world. On each table you will find your very own selection of post-it notes to add your personalised message to the collection. It was fascinating reading people’s messages and inspirational quotes.
Egg coffee is traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and robusta coffee. The sweet after-dinner drink is like drinking liquid tiramisu. I paid 39,000 VND for a small one at The Note Coffee.
Next up was a street food tour. I’d booked this through Hanoi Street Food Tours back in the U.K. via Whatsapp. The communication was great and I joined the tour at 6:30pm outside their offices located in the Old Quarter.
I was in a group of 10 with an English speaking guide – a lovely girl called Sunny. The tour lasted about 3 hours, and in this time we ate our way through some of the ‘must-try’ street foods that Hanoi has to offer.
The tour usually costs USD $20.00 each, but they had a special promotion on which meant it only cost USD $17.00 each. I thought this was really good value for money and enjoyed all of the dishes!
Next up: 2 day / 1 night trip to Halong Bay booked through La Storia Ruby Hotel
Once I’d returned from Halong Bay, I ate in Hoang’s Restaurant for dinner where I ordered bún chả (Hanoi traditional fried pork). The waiter even showed me how to eat bún chả properly by putting the fried pork, noodles and pickles in a lettuce leaf before wrapping it up and dipping it in the dipping sauce.
After dinner, I made my way to one of Hanoi’s busiest streets – ‘Beer Street’ also known as Ta Hien. Here you will find locals as well as tourists enjoying cheap beer and street food.
After Halong Bay: 2 day / 1 night trip to Sapa also booked through La Storia Ruby Hotel