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You are planning a trip to Vietnam and are having difficulties deciding where to go and what to do, what you cannot miss and what to skip. From the feedbacks of our customers, Tailormade Vietnam Holidays would like to recommend some activities considered by travellers as must-do's when you are in Vietnam....

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Vientiane to Hanoi


In hindsight, I wish I had of not travelled to Hanoi via Vientiane. Given that Laos is a red hot travel destination for budget backpackers, two days ended up being quite expensive as well as a waste of time. I didn't get to see the country at all. At least I now have the appetite to return to Laos at some time in the future to do this country justice. From Chiang Mai, I should of caught a cheap Air Asia flight back to Bangkok and then flew from Bangkok to Hanoi. Early January I booked a flight over the internet through Zuji from Vientiane to Hanoi based on my earlier intentions to travel through Laos for a few weeks. 

I spent most of Sunday walking around the ancient sights of Vientiane before boarding my flight Vientiane to Hanoi at 5.40pm. I now know how painful it is to fly when you have the flu. It was the worst possible flight I have ever taken. I really thought I was going to pass out on arrival in Hanoi but I got through ok, and three days later I have fully recovered. My head felt as though it was going to explode. My ears were so sore but I decided I did not need medical attention. The flight was made worse by this very overweight businessman sitting next to me... Vietnamese... who felt obliged to take over my seat. He also ate like a horse. I hated my introduction to Vietnamese people. 

My arrival into Hanoi airport was a lot better, despite me being 90% deaf. I was so relieved that I was not interrogated at customs because I simply couldn't communicate at that time. The guy at customs was excellent... I breezed through customs, immigration and the exchange bureau. The Vietnamese money is similar to Australian... plastic. At least that have this right! Hanoi's airport was very busy and formal. All of a sudden I knew I was in a communistic country. The soliders arming the front of the airport were quite intimidating with their very formal outfits and armery. I quickly proceeded to my taxi, and for $US10 I spent the next hour driving into Hanoi city to my pre-arranged (thank god) hotel called Hotel Ngoc in the centre of the old town. I was exhausted, sick and just wanted to sleep. 

Given that my organised tour did not start until 6pm on Monday evening, I spent the day roaming around Hanoi's old quarter. I instantly felt like I had gone back in time to my studies of Vietnamese culture in school. It is exactly like the pictures show... lots and lots of motorbikes, crazy traffic but so, so, so interesting. On tackling a road crossing for the first time, I was quite terrified. But I was very surprised at how easy it was. The trick is to continue to walk very slowly... don't stop because that confuses the motorbike drivers. It is made easier by the motorbike drivers driving at about 40km an hour. 

Hanoi, physically, is a very attractive city with a large lake serving as the centre of town. I loved walking around the lake, trying out some of the local pastries, and admiring the elderly, very young, very stylish younger generation and lots of animals. I really admire the way in which the young Vietnamese dress... so impeccable. Most guys wear suits whereas the woman wear spectacular dresses and nearly all have perfect figures. Puts westerners to shame. 

My hotel was very unique. The buildings are very tall and narrow because of their lower land usage, and subsequent tax bill. My hotel had this design so I had 270 degree views of the city. And the windows were from floor to ceiling giving me extra good views. But the beds were so narrow in width... hardly fit on it so sleeping will be interesting.

I think it's good timing to start an organised group tour because I'm getting a bit sick of independent travelling, especially after the very social time I had in Thailand.



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