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! 🙂 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

Trấn Quốc 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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A Taste of Davao

If you’re looking for the best experience for you and your family, Davao is the best fit!

I couldn’t squeeze everything in 4 days, there’s so much to see with so little time.

We tried to have a taste of both lands and waters in 4 days. Here’s a peek of our trip 🙂

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 Secdea Resort, Samal Island

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Davao Crocodile Park

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Island Life: Exploring Bantayan

When I planned this trip, I never imagined that I would be falling in love with the Island. We just simply wanted some R&R as an anniversary celebration but the moment we stepped out of the ferry we were literally awed by Bantayan’s beauty,the crystal clear turquoise water was unimaginable and the fine white sand was just perfect, JUST PERFECT. I am always on the lookout for the perfect beach; serene and uncrowded, the Island did not disappoint. And despite the distraction that Yolanda brought, I still consider it as one of Cebu’s hidden gems, 4 hours away from the city, it almost felt we were home because of the local’s warmth and hospitality. Staying at Kota Resort’s beachfront villa made it even nicer, we had the best view of the beach, can you imagine waking up to an impeccable sight every single day?

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Kota Beach Resort

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Just off shore we took a boat to go around the island, no life vests or any safety precautions. It took sometime for me to let go of my qualms and just go with the flow, enjoy every waves. 

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Bantayan Nature Park

It’s a 8 hectares of leisure getaway that houses a spring-fed cav

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Swim in a cave, off my bucket list!

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We took a motorcycle ride during Palm Sunday to Bantayan Church, it felt surreal, driving towards the sunset on a boundless road, clueless and almost lost, surrounded by nature and fresh air kissing our faces, it was a delight.

 We lit some candles, whispered our prayers and left silently. IMG_1207

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No goodbyes, Cebu! We will definitely come back!