Hồ Hoàn Kiếm

Here you’ll find travel reports about Hồ Hoàn Kiếm. Discover travel destinations in Vietnam of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

57 travelers at this place:

  • Day14

    Hello Hanoi

    January 3 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We have arrived in Hanoi in Vietnam where we will be until Monday. Looking forward to exploring! We went to the infamous pub street for our second evening in Siem Reap and although we were lured there by the 50 cent beer we got sidetracked by more pampering - this time a fish foot bath. It was extremely tickly but fun to try out! Some more swimming this morning followed by a Greek lunch as our stomachs, although holding up well with the spices, were needing something a bit plain. Souvlaki is always a safe bet!Read more

  • Day17

    Ninh Binh daytrip

    January 6 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Our last day in Vietnam we travelled with a tour group to the Ninh Binh province. It is definitely their winter here and although we are still feeling toasty, all the locals are in jackets and scarves. The trip had some amazing landscapes that must be even more incredible in the summer with more greenery. We borrowed bikes to whizz around the villages and then got taken on a boat tour by local farmers who row with their feet. Not a big fan of the tour group vibes as there is a lot of waiting for people but was nice to get to know more about Vietnam and its history from the guide who was great. Onto Hong Kong tomorrow 😊Read more

  • Day2


    October 26, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

    Eerste indruk van Vietnam, Hanoi:

    Een eerste indruk als je op de straten van Hanoi belandt; brommers, brommers en nog eens brommers. Overal waar je gaat, heersen brommers over de straten van Hanoi. Veel getoeter op straat, vooral op toeristen die voor de eerste keer in hun leven in Azië vertoeven (lees Tat & Steven). Voetpaden zijn amper begaanbaar omdat deze ingenomen zijn als parking voor brommers of door verkopers/eetkraampjes.

    Na het slalommen tussen het verkeer onder de knie te hebben, wandel je van de ene geur in de andere. De ene al aangenamer dan de andere.

    Uiteraard werden er vandaag ook wat lokale heerlijkheden geproefd. Startend met het nationale gerecht pho bo, gevolgd door een lokaal biertje. Later waagden we ons aan wat streetfood (dumpling en scampi op een stokje) op de avondmarkt en afsluitend hadden we nog een lekker broodje met een sapje en Vietnamese koffie. Heerlijk!

    Maar na een dagje Hanoi te beleven voorafgegaan door amper enkele uren slaap, ben je blij als je je kan neerploffen in bed.

    Aah en als een groepje Aziatische meisjes je vraagt "picture please", dan bedoelen ze niet een foto nemen, maar kom mee op de foto!
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  • Day2


    November 2, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    2.11. Nach rund 24 Stunden Anreise checke ich im Hotel ein. Die Lage ist genial zentral. Mich kurz restaurieren und dann auf die Straßen Hanois.

    Hanoi hat offensichtlich 24h Rush Hour.
    Es dauert ein bisschen um sich wieder an die Gepflogenheiten im Straßenverkehr zu gewöhnen. Ampeln haben meist nur dekorativen Charakter, Zebrastreifen erhöhen die Gefahr beim Überqueren der Straße nur unwesentlich.

    Die einzige Variante: Go! Ein paar kleine Gesten mit der Hand - und schon bist du drüben - schweißgebadet, aber drüben.
    Abend gibt's die wirklich gelungene Vorstellung von "My Village". Danach essen in einem Lokaltipp den ich von Thomas bekommen habe.

    3.11. Meine(?) Guide, Viet, ist eine echte Vietnamesin, die 6 Jahre in der DDR war. Sie spricht echt super deutsch.
    Sie bringt mich heute durch die Stadt. Wir haben ein dichtes Programm.
    Das ethnologische Museum war Top! Gespickt mit privaten Geschichten aus dem Leben, war der Zeitplan schon beim ersten Stopp dahin. Auszug aus dem gefühlt 17-stündigen Programm: Ho Chi Min Mausoleum, Literaturtempel, Einsäulenpagode, ...
    Nach dem Wasserpuppentheater ging's abends an den See. Die Straße rundherum ist dann für den Verkehr gesperrt. Abertausende tummeln sich dann dort tanzend, spielend, fotoposierend oder machen einen Familienausflug.
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  • Day3

    Hanoi - dag 2

    October 27, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Vandaag hebben we Hanoi verder verkend. Vanuit het oude stadsgedeelte zijn we naar een straat gegaan waar de trein doorrijdt. Was wel een grappig zicht! De trein passeert wel niet regelmatig dus kon je op je gemak op de sporen lopen.

    Daarna zijn we naar een groot park gegaan waar verschillende monumenten van Ho Chi Minh stonden.

    In de namiddag zijn we langs twee grote meren gepasseerd. Langs één van deze meren was er eventjes een oase van rust, namelijk een soort van gebedsplek. Hier stond een mooi versierde pagoda. Toen we iemand vroegen om een foto te nemen, bleek dit een hele vriendelijke Filipijn te zijn. We hebben bijna een uur gepraat over Azië, Europa, Brexit en natuurlijk Trump.

    De volgende twee dagen gaan we naar Halong Bay. Dit is een zeer bekende baai, die Unesco erfgoed is. We slapen 1 nacht op de boot. Waarschijnlijk zullen we geen WiFi hebben en dus geen updates plaatsen ;)
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  • Day26

    Motor Scooters Everywhere You Look

    March 13, 2018 in Vietnam

    As we were driving from the airport to Hanoi, our guide started telling us about the cost of motor scooters — scooters made in China cost about $400 USD, and scooters from Japan cost $1200 USD, but are better made and last longer. I thought that this was an odd thing to talk about within our first 30 minutes in Vietnam, but I found the description interesting. Of course, I had no idea that the reason he was telling me this information is that the motor scooter is a key component of life in Hanoi!

    People ride motor scooters here for two reasons. First and foremost, cars are far too expensive for most people to buy. (Even a cheap car is $25,000 USD, which is probably three years of wages for an average adult in VIetnam.) Second, the streets are so crowded and many of them are so narrow, that driving a car is pretty impractical.

    The number of scooters on the roads is phenomenal. Scooters ride on both sides of the cars, and weave in and out of the traffic. Scooters drive the wrong way down a one-way street. Scooters line up by the dozens at intersections, waiting for the light to change. Scooters are parked on the sidewalks, entryways to stores, and on traffic mediums. The din of honking from the scooters can be deafening. In short, scooters are everywhere you look.

    If the shear number of scooters wasn’t sufficiently overwhelming, the number of riders on each scooter and the variety of items that they carry is also surprising. Roughly one-third of the scooters have two riders — often people of the same age. But there are also scooters with three or four riders, particularly during rush hour. And, it is quite common to see parents with young chlldren on their scooter, either standing in front of their parents (if they are toddlers) or strapped into baby carriers. When I asked our guide whether it was dangerous for children to ride scooters with their parents, his reply was simple — “what choice do we have?” Since most families don’t own cars, if they need to go someplace with their children, or even pick them up from school, the kids have to ride on the scooters. Despite the obvious logic, I am endlessly fascinated by the sight of small children on scooters, particularly those instances when I saw two parents with two children on a single scooter!

    Also, since scooters are the primary form of transportation, all kinds of items are carried on the scooters. You see people carrying large bundles, packages and bags. We saw someone carrying long pipes (approx 12 feet long) off the side of their scooters. Pretty much anything goes on a scooter.

    Of course, there are also many accidents with the scooters. Although we didn’t see any accidents, a guy that we met on the food tour told us that in Ho Chi Minh, which is roughly the size of Hanoi, at least 10 people die in motor scooter accidents each day. Frankly, the number seems low to me, given the vast number of scooters on the road.

    Vietnam, like the US, has ride sharing services. You can use “Uber” or a local equivalent called “Grab” to call a car or to call a motor scooter! The Uber scooters are less common that the Grab scooters (which are recognizable by the green helmets worn by the driver and the passenger. Apparently, ride sharing on scooters is an easy way for young people to make a little extra money. I teased Arie that I wanted to summon an Uber scooter to go back to the hotel. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and our guide found the very notion quite amusing. So, no shared scooter for me today . . .
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  • Day43

    Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo Prison)

    July 16, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 86 °F

    The infamous prison where American servicemen, mostly Air Force pilots like John McCain, were held during the Vietnam War. Now, it is a memorial to the mistreatment of the Vietnamese by the French. Two small rooms are dedicated to how well the American POWs were treated.

    Had to post this. Many more photos are on my Nancy Facebook page. Out for now. ✌️Read more

  • Day6

    Hanoi - time to explore

    July 20, 2017 in Vietnam

    After arriving back in Hanoi from Halong bay we only had one day to explore before we started travelling South. We spent the day exploring the old quarter and getting used to crossing the road (much harder than it sounds). We went to the old city gate and made our way through the city up to Hoan Kiem lake. It's a large lake just outside the old quarter with a temple in the centre. The map we had was pretty awful so it was very hard to find our way around so we were very impressed when we made it to the lake. After having dinner overlooking the lake and temple we headed back to the hostel for a good night's sleep.Read more

  • Day9

    Hoa Lo Prison Memorial

    August 29, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    The Hoa Lo Prison site is in the French quarter of Hanoi by the French who occupied Hanoi. The prison was built in 1896 in the middle of Hanoi in order to detain Vietnamese patriots who opposed their rule. Hoa Lo prison has the area of 13,000 m2, which is the most ancient prison architecture of Indochina. It is surrounded by stone walls, 4 metre high steel and reinforced by barbed-wire system of high voltage lines and broken glass cemented to all wall edges. There are four corner towers are capable of observing the entire prison. The main gate was built with the two stoney building with the dome-shaped structure.

    This is where many revolutionary soldiers and patriots of Vietnam were killed. According to the original design, Hoa Lo only should only detain about 500 people. But it has been extended and in the 1950s-1953s, the Hoa Lo detained over 2000 people.

    After the capital was liberated on 10th October 1954, Hoa Lo Prison was controlled by the revolutionary government. During 1964-1973s Hoa Lo Prison became the place to detain the American pilots.

    The prison was very depressing in the way the prisoners were treated in the early years but it showed that the American pilots captured during the Vietnam war were well looked which we are not sure if this is true.

    Another inspiring place in Hanoi reflecting its varied history.
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  • Day83

    Xin Chào North Vietnam!!

    June 22, 2018 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 93 °F

    (For the sake of being more concise I have decided to split my Vietnam entry into north and south, basically week one and week two of my stay).

    Day 1 (Hanoi)

    I arrived at my hostel in Hanoi at 2am (after a very uneventful two flights from Peurto Princessa) and luckily found that Daisy of “Daisy’s Hostel” was awake to let me in. She showed me straight to the dorm room and said I could check in properly in the morning. Luckily I was able to sleep pretty quickly and woke up at 9am in time to enjoy the free breakfast of banana pancakes (a hostel staple in these parts). I then spent the rest of the morning planning my vietnam trip with the welcome help of daisy. In two hours I had booked my bus ticket to Sapa, booked a three day boat trip around Halong and Lan Ha Bay, bought an open sleeper bus ticket for the rest of my trip in the country, got a SIM card, and organised for my clothes to be washed. Very productive indeed. After all that was sorted Daisy recommended a few museums for me to visit for the rest of the day. Before I visited the museums I took a walk alone part of the red river dyke system to see the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural. The 4 mile long mural depicts some of the history of Vietnam and was made for the Millennial anniversary of Hanoi. After the mural I went for lunch in a nearby (hipster) vegan cafe had the most amazing smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel (cashew cream cheese and carrots for smoked salmon!). Refuelled I then headed to the Hỏa Lò Prison which was used by the French for political prisoners during their colonisation of Vietnam. It was later used by North Vietnam for the US POW captured during the Vietnam war (nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton during this time). During the visit it was apparent that the American prisoners were treated numb better than the prisoners kept by the French. After the prison I visited the nearby Women’s Museum, dedicated to the women of Vietnam. It depicts life for women in different tribes, their clothing and jewellery, marriage traditions, and working conditions they have. A very insightful and unique perspective on the life of the women in this country. After the museum I headed to the water puppet theatre near the Hoàn Kiếm Lake in the centre of Hanoi and watched the hour long performance. The show is a mixture of water puppetry accompanied by traditional music and singing. I spent most of the show trying to figure out how they puppets were moving as you couldn’t see the masters at all. After the show I managed to fine a vegan restaurant which served vegan Pho (traditionally beef and tripe) which was delicious. I then headed black to the hostel to get ready for my first night bus in Vietnam, this one to Sapa.

    Day 2 (Sa Pa)

    After a surprisingly comfortable bus journey (the night buses here are three rows of bunk bed style seats which almost completely recline) I arrived in Sa Pa at 5:30am. I wasn’t due to meet my trekking guide until 8am but she told me that I could wait in one of the hotels until then. Surprisingly I managed to find a hotel cafe that was open and spent the next two hours using their WiFi to watch YouTube videos and having breakfast. Finally it was time to meet my guide, Shosho who I was recommended by someone on Facebook. I met her at the church in the centre of town and was greeted with a hug and then handed a very nice bamboo walking stick (this would become essential later). We then started the descent to the villages, stopping first to rent some wellie boots (another essential trekking gear, all the locals wear them). As it is rainy season here the path down was very muddy and as predicted I fell within the first 15 minutes. To which Shosho turned and said “I told you if you needed help to ask me!”. After that every time we got to a tricky bit she would turn around and offer her hand. Let me tell you, I’m not ashamed to say I held her a lot during that first day. During the next three hours we walked down further and further into the valley, past rice terraces and over streams and rivers. She explained all about village life and how they grew and harvested the rice. Eventually we made it to her house we’re her mum and auntie cooked a very nice lunch of rice (of course) and a variety of vegetables. I also met her nieces, nephews and one of her sisters, Gia, who would actually be my guide for the following day as Shosho had to start the trek with another group who had booked before me. After lunch we continued our trek to one of the next villages where I would be staying that night in one of the many homestays. Surprisingly this remote homestay had hot showers and WiFi. We arrived at around 3pm and Shosho, seeing that I was pretty tired, said I should have a nap before dinner. No telling me twice! I woke up feeling slightly less like a zombie and went to join Shosho and the family for dinner, yet another amazing meal. After dinner Shosho made me a plaited bracelet as a parting gift and headed back to her village saying Gia would meet me here the next morning.

    Day 3 (Sa Pa)

    The next morning I woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed and headed out for my banana pancakes. Gia was already there waiting for me, so as soon as I was finished with breakfast we headed off. Gia is older than Shosho, and has kids of her own so her guiding style was much more mothering. After every difficult part she would say “ok we stop for two minutes”. And I definitely held her had for a good 90% of the trek (it was seriously muddy guys!). The second day was definitely harder than the first day with more mud and more hills but it was also much shorter, with only about three hours of walking. We walked through a few villages, then up into the bamboo forest (which was filled with butterflies), down a mud slide of a path and resting at a waterfall. After the waterfall we made the final descent to the last village and finished the trek in a local restaurant for lunch before getting a minivan back to Sa Pa town. There I bid a fond farewell to Gia and got the bus back to Hanoi, arriving at Daisy’s around 10pm.

    Day 4 (Halong Bay)

    The next morning I had just enough time for breakfast before I was picked up for my Halong Bay cruise. The bus took around three hours to get from Hanoi to the marina at Halong Bay, during which I met a nice American girl, Bethany, who was also travelling solo. When we arrived at the marina our bus was divided into two groups (luckily Bethany and I were in the same group) and we headed to our respective boats. The boat was very nice and had three floors, lower with the cabins, Middle with the dining room and an upper sun terrace. We were all given our room allocations on arrival and Bethany and I were once again together. We headed to our room and found that not only were we sharing a room but that it was also a double bed. We both looked at each other awkwardly and I jokingly said “so wifey what side of the bed do you want?” Luckily by that point we knew that we got on so it worked out fine, but yeah, still a bit awkward. We then headed back up to the dining area again to have lunch and socialise with the rest of our shipmates. Everyone else was really nice and we all got on well, sharing our travel stories. After lunch the boat made its was further into Halong Bay and we enjoyed the view on the sun terrace. The bay was lovely and the rock formations were very unique but it was a little sad to see how much rubbish was floating in the water (plastic bottles, polystyrene, crisp packets, plastic rain ponchos). It really made me think about all the plastic I use and where it ends up. Anyway. The first stop on the tour was to one of the many caves in the bay. Pretty cool, but I’d say Kent’s Cavern could give it a run for its money. After the cave the boat took us to a very odd and obviously man made beach on the base of one of the rock formations. Before enjoying the beach we climbed the stairs on the rock to get a view of the bay. A tough climb in the heat but worth it for the view. We then headed down into the beach for a quick dip. As I said, it’s not the cleanest of waters, bit it’s so hot outside we all were desperate for a cool down we got in regardless. Needless to say as soon as we were back on the boat we showered straight away. We had drinks on the terrace before heading down for dinner. After the dinner the crew tried to get us to do karaoke but as their screaming-singing to Vietnamese songs didn’t exactly entice anyone. I headed to bed soon after.

    Day 5 (Halong/Lan Ha Bay)

    After breakfast we headed to a local pearl farm in the middle of the bay and learnt how they made cultured pearls. We then got to go kayaking for an hour which was fun but tiring after a while. We then headed back to the main boat and packed our stuff as we were then transferring onto a second boat to continue the cruise into Lan Ha Bay. As we got onto the new boat other tourists got off and on our original boat. It was a bit of a logistical nightmare with people changing boats as there were some people doing 2 days and some doing 3 days. We also met the rest of the people from the bus on the first day. Once everyone was where they were meant to be we headed into Lan Ha Bay. It is basically the same as Halong Bay but it is much smaller so the rock formations are closer to each other. It is also much less polluted. Here was saw some of the floating fishing villages and were able to jump off the boat and swim near one (getting back on the boat was a bit more difficult). After swimming the boat headed to monkey island which we were meant to be able to visit but due to the weather and choppy water the boat couldn’t stop safely. Half the boat was actually staying on the other side of the island though so they were able to visit there safely. Wifey Bethany was staying there so we bid farewell for the night. The rest of the boat then headed to Cat Ba island where the logistical night mare continued as we were all taking in different hotels and hostels. I found myself in a hostel with a Finnish guy who was on another boat on the first day. I had a quick nap when we arrived and then we had dinner in the hostel and headed to one of the floating bars on the bay for a few drinks before calling it a night.

    Day 6 (Halong/Lan Ha Bay)

    We got picked up from our hostel early and headed back to the port where we got a small boat to the bigger boat where the rest of the tourists were waiting. We then headed back out to halong bay where we transferred back into our first boat, swapping with other tourists going to Lan Ha Bay (this relay of tourists clearly happens every day). We then had lunch on the boat before heading back through the bay to the marina to where our bus was waiting to take us back to Hanoi. All in all it was a good tour, and the only real way to see Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay, but it wasn’t exactly the best organised tour o had been one, with people swapping boats what felt like every five minutes and everyone being in different hotels etc on the second day. This is why I always think it’s better to do these things on your own if possible. Anyway, I still met wifey Bethany so it was a good trip nonetheless.

    Day 7 (Hanoi)

    I decided to wake up early this morning (at Daisy’s hostel of course) to visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, completing my trifecta of embalmed former world leaders. I was at the mausoleum at 7:30am, after walking for half an hour, and found to my great disappointment that it was closed for two months. Not that I exactly enjoy seeing embalmed bodies but still it would’ve been interesting to see the third one. Sadly it was not meant to be. As I was already up and out I headed to the nearby Temple of Literature and walked around the grounds for an hour. Unfortunately the early morning was catching up to me so I decided to head back to the hostel for a nap (being a tourist is tiring!). After feeling slightly more rested I decided to go back to my favourite vegan bagel cafe and spend the rest of the afternoon there but was once again disappointed to find that it was closed for cleaning. Today just wasn’t my day! Luckily I found another nearby vegetarian restaurant called the Hanoi Social Club (aka hipster central) and spent the afternoon there instead. It was then time to head back to Daisy’s to pack my things and say goodbye for the last time as I was finally starting my journey south.

    So there you have my first week on the beautiful country of Vietnam. Next stop Tam Cốc and south Vietnam.

    Tạm biệt!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, Ho Hoan Kiem

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