Asia,  Vietnam

The Hanoi Story: A Summary of Random Observations

The Hanoi experience wouldn’t have been complete without my random observations. Bear with me. Or not. These were just taken from my 2012 moleskine.

Money

Filipinos are billionaires in Vietnam. As with Indonesia (rupiah), dong bills have a lot of zero’s in them. VND 1,000 was equal to only PHP 1.80 at the time of our visit in 2012. And because of this, there are (almost) no coins. Well, there are, but can they purchase even a candy?

Newspapers

Most things to read there are in Vietnamese, with a few exceptions. One such exception is the hotel newspaper. What I appreciated (which I think we should also do here in the Philippines) is that the English newspapers are filled with good news. Good news. People winning stuff, donating stuff. It’s tourist-friendly. If there were 500 people hit by motorcycles everyday, I wouldn’t even know about it.

That is a good thing… Right?

Hotels and Buildings

Going around, I noticed that all the buildings are small (in terms of square meters) but high. The hotels are also pretty cheap, but in the case of An Hung Hotel where we stayed, very clean.

Language

Locals speak Vietnamese. That’s it. Most cannot speak in English, so if you need tips or a tour or whatever, ask the hotel folks all your questions before you leave or get a tour guide. Don’t forget to save the contact number of your hotel too. It could help when you’re really lost and need someone to communicate to the locals for you.

Food

Very, very, very good. And cheap. But as I said, there’s a language barrier. Example:

  • Vida looking at the menu: What’s your recommendation? What’s good here?
  • Waitress: Nothing.

Weather

HOT. Wear shorts and be comfortable. Take a fan, a hat, an umbrella, a bottle of water.

Items

I bought a book, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, at I think PHP 150 in one of the souvenir shops. The thing is it looks like it’s been photocopied. I wonder now if it’s fake, or if it’s printed for third world countries. But then again, I live in the Philippines and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Hawkers

It’s hot in Hanoi, even in the ber months. So at one point, I really had to buy bottled water from the streets:

  • Vida: How much?
  • Woman: 50,000 VND
  • Vida: (That’s equivalent to almost 100 PHP! No way) No, thanks.
  • Woman runs after me and taps me: 10,000 VND!

I walked away and gritted my teeth. I hate it when people try to fool me. It was probably their “foreign” rate (i.e. I look like a tourist so I am willing to pay more for my thirst)

Sights

With the Philippines as a point of comparison, the places we visited in Hanoi weren’t to drool for, but overall the experience was awesome. If you’re going to take a city tour as we did and you want to know what’s going on, you might want to get a guide. Even the signs in the museums are sometimes not translated into English.

The Hanoi Story

I was only there for four days, but yeah, that was a bit of a long story wasn’t it?

Vida is a restless, universe-loving, forever-child with a very short attention span. She is mostly enthusiastic about travel, adventure, technology, fitness, and lately, life hacks. Most of her days are spent on tech partnerships in a telco, and most nights practicing capoeira (or yoga, or boxing, or trying some other unheard of art of movement). She likes experiments, little projects, and writes too, sometimes, at vidasioson.com. And if you're interested, sh... Hey, look, a flower!

10 Comments

  • Carlo | visa-freeworld

    I love Hanoi too though I was a bit skeptical with the food. It was good but I found myself easily rejecting them after being eaten over and over again. Despite that fact I dont have any bad stories to tell about Hanoi. Great post!

    • Vida

      I actually have bad food stories. Haha! Well, one at least. I just didn’t share it here ’cause I didn’t want to ruin the experience for others. Still love the food after four days of eating them. 🙂

  • paul | walkflypinoy

    I became curious about the houses when I was there. I discovered that houses are small but tall because of taxes. You pay more depending on how much of your house faces the street. Also, it’s hot in Hanoi but they do have winter months. December to Feb is wet and very cold. #unnecessarytriviavolunteered

    • Vida

      Because of the taxes, yes. I actually saw some photos of really cold Hanoi from a friend! Was surprised too. Random trivia is welcome here. No biggie! 🙂

  • Paolo

    Vida, its Paolo from Vietnam.
    So you’ve been to Indonesia?!?! Can you give me a quick itinerary of what of what to do there? ill be there from june 2 to june 8 i plan on going to jakarta – yogjakarta – bali – jakarta… thanks.. maybe you could email it at ilagunilla@hotmail.com

  • Michael

    Great post on Hanoi 🙂 not to mention a lot of interesting and funny stories, like the one you had at the restaurant. The food looks great despite what the waitress said hahaha

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