48 Hours in Hanoi, Vietnam

One must travel smoothly, slowly and steady – that’s the total opposite of our Hanoi experience.

It was rough, fast and exciting! ūüôā Rough because there was only 1 flight available daily from Manila to Hanoi via Cebu Pacific – and it’s midnight! There was literally no sleep weekend for me and JR. Mainly me, because I’m very thrilled about this trip. I planned this several months ahead. I have this big vision of Hanoi in my head – it’s chaotic, colorful and tasty, It is¬†indeed! Hanoi, particularly Old Quarter where we stayed is small enough for one day of sightseeing but it requires a lot of walking. But not to worry because the weather is perfect and it allowed us to roam around without sweat (March 23-25, 2017).

The City

It’s a mix of urban life and scenic greenery. Old Quarter is decked with quaint houses and establishments against the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake as its backdrop.¬†There are vendors everywhere wearing their native hats, rushing motorbikes that won’t stop for you, and coffee shops in every corner. If you walk towards the lake, you will escape the small roads that will lead ¬†you to Hoan Kiem District – it’s surrounded by parks. Alas! You’ve reached the heart of Hanoi!

Old Quarter

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Around¬†6 in the morning there are seniors doing aerobics/yoga with their red old-fashioned fans. During afternoon, it’s packed with tourists from different corners of the world. And in the evening it’s usually crowded in front of the Thang Long Theater for the Water Puppet Show.

Hoan Kiem District

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The Food

There’s an entirely different world of food beyond Pho. We opted to go for the top rated restaurants to make the most our trip. I had several on my list but we don’t have enough time to visit each one of them, Madame Hien and Essence Hotel Cafe made the cut. It’s the most accessible within the vicinity of our plotted itinerary. I can still taste the fried pork spring rolls from Essence – it’s crispy on the outside and so much flavor in the inside. They also have superb customer service. The fresh rolls from Madame Hien is a must try too! Don’t hesitate to try other cuisines aside from Pho, you won’t regret it!

Essence Hotel Restaurant

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Madame Hien Restaurant 

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Streetfood 

Never skip the vendors selling Banh Mi¬†on the sidewalks, NEVER! The best grilled sandwich I’ve tasted for Php60.00!!!

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The Coffee

It seems like they have a coffee social scene – it’s everywhere! Hanoi is known for their unique take on coffee and it’s definitely something that you wouldn’t want to miss! In our short stay, we only tried 2, both have egg coffee as its specialty.

Giang Cafe

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Cafe Pho Co

It’s the definition of hole-in-the-wall. You have to walk a narrow alley to get to a house-like cafe. But what’s on the top floor will surprise you. Be sure to visit during sunset or at night.

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Temple and Pagoda

It’s possible to visit all temples and pagodas in one day if you start early. You can rent a motorbike for $10 for one whole day. We tried to squeeze as many as we could in 2 days and decided to pick a few – my favorite amongst them is the Temple of Literature – a very picturesque attraction in Hanoi.

Temple of Literature – Temple of Confucius

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Tortoise Pagoda in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake

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Ngoc Son Temple

TrŠļ•n QuŠĽĎc Pagoda

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The Locals

If you are as jolly as Jr and I, who always wears a smile on your face, don’t change a thing. But don’t expect all locals to reciprocate. On an average of ten people that we greeted, only 3 or 4 responded with a nod or a smile. It’s not them being rude but it’s what they have gotten used to.

If you are traveling to SouthEast Asia, please give yourselves a favor and visit Hanoi.

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Hong Kong: Traveling Like Locals

You easily fall in love with the cities you visit. That’s why your heart is always full – full of new things, new friends, authentic taste and your eyes always glimmer with all the new beautiful sight. That’s what I feel towards Hong Kong – I have an enormous love for this city. And it’s impossible not to…¬†

I booked this trip 4 months prior to our flight. I surprised JR so we could celebrate my birthday to a foreign country and finally cross-out one thing on our couple must do list. I never thought I would love Hong Kong this much in just a few days of our exploration.¬†It’s the best birthday gift I’ve given myself.

Here are the highlights of our trip. Enjoy scrolling down!

Garden Road, Central Station

¬†I made it a point not to miss this trip. I was really exhilarated to get to The Peak. This was the most ‘touristy’ thing on our list and not knowing that just by getting there is already an experience itself. We got¬†off Central Station and walked uphill to Garden Road to take The Tram. This part of Central is not as crowded. It¬†is where most of the historical¬†buildings of the area abound alongside with many other modern¬†architectures.

How to get there?

Take the MTR to Central Station and walk uphill to Garden Road. The lower terminus is located at the bottom of St. John’s building.

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Because taking each other’s photo is so cliche.¬†

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The Peak

Nothing encapsulates Hong Kong best than this view from The Peak. It overlooks the entire Hong Kong Island and Kowloon – It’s breathtaking.

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Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden

Chi Lin Nunnery is a large Buddhist Temple complex that includes exquisite wooden temple halls, tranquil lotus ponds and an entire serene Nan Lian Garden. Its beautifully designed and inspired from the Tang Dynasty’s architecture. It is situated in Diamond Hill of Kowloon with a stunning series of mountain range and high-rise buildings as its backdrop – truly majestic.

How to get there?

Take the MTR to Diamond Hill Station. Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden is just across.

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The Ceramic Ware Museum 

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The City 

For you to be able to really get into the heart of the city, ¬†it requires A LOT of walking and sweating. My advise is enjoy every drop of sweat – it’s worth it.

Explore the city by taking the mini bus.

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Victoria Harbor13 Hong Kong Museum of Art14

 In the busy streets of Mong Kok

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Symphony of Lights across Tsim Sha Tsui11The Junk ‘Duk Ling’ (Our Junk experience will be up on my next blog, stay tuned!)

The Victoria Park 

Mid -Autumn thematic Lantern Display 2015: Blossom Beneath the Moon.

 We were lucky enough to witness and have a glimpse of a local holiday РThe Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival. It is widely celebrated across China that symbolizes fertility and harvest. We feast our eyes with these lantern displays and cap off the night with a sumptuous Moon Cake and Chinese Tea from our host (it goes well together).

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The Food

Our trip wouldn’t be complete without trying out every food we could! Just thinking about how good the dumplings and beef briskets were makes me want to book a flight to back to the city immediately!

Dessert platter from The Full House Desserts.

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Dumplings from The Dining Room, Hysan Place
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Authentic Chinese cuisine from local restaurants in Fuk Lo Tsun Road, Kowloon City. (Majority of restaurants doesn’t have an English name but there are several must-try along that street.)

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Tofu Dessert served cold at Kung Wo in 67 Fuk Lo Tsun Road

IMG_5111Mak’s Noodles: Spicy Pork Noodles and Beef Brisket, authentic and hand pulled.IMG_4818IMG_4819

I am definitely coming back for more, there are a few trips I missed that I included on my itinerary but it’s always good to look forward to something new on our next Hong Kong adventure.

I am raptously in love with you, Hong Kong. See you soon! Xi√®xi√®¬†ŤįĘŤįĘ