Vietnam
Hoàn Kiếm

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

174 travelers at this place:

  • Day99

    Hanoi

    February 26 in Vietnam

    Hanoi, de hoofdstad van Vietnam is heel anders dan de Zuiderse grootstad Ho Chi Minh: de twee steden zijn letterlijk elkaars tegenpolen. De geschiedenis kan dat bevestigen. Het sterk communistische verleden van Vietnam is overal te herkennen in deze stad. De Vietnamese vlag kleurt de straten rood en herinnert aan de overwinning en onafhankelijk van Vietnam.
    Het is een wervelende stad. Alweer scooters overal. Minder gigantische flatgebouwen, maar desalniettemin een zeer dichte bebouwing. Het meer in het midden van de oude stad is, in tegenstelling tot mijn verwachting, ook geen rustige plek. De oevers zijn gevuld met toeristen en lokals, die tevergeefs aan de drukte proberen te ontsnappen. En toch heeft de stad iets gemoedelijks. Ik ontsnap de drukte in de buitenwijken, waar ik buiten een vrouw die fruit verkoopt op haar fiets, weinig andere tegenliggers kruis. Het is koud en grijs in de hoofdstad. Heel even waan ik me in België op een druilerige herfstdag. Ik begeef me naar mijn favoriete Bahn Mi plekje, waar ik deze heerlijke Vietnamese baguette op een klein stoeltje langs de weg naar binnen speel. De perfecte lunch voor nog geen euro...De straten in het oude centrum zijn gevuld met kledingzaken en souvenierswinkels. En of dat shoppen vermoeiend is! Gelukkig is er altijd nog de Egg coffee (koffie met opgeklopt eiwit en suiker) om het leed te verzachten 😅😂Read more

  • Day163

    Good morning (or is it night?) Vietnam

    February 16, 2017 in Vietnam

    After travelling 14,900 miles, two journeys >24 hours and visiting 7 international airports in just a few days since San Jose, we are now in Hanoi, Vietnam. We arrived on Wednesday evening and have spent a couple of days exploring the city and trying to recover from our jet lag. The jet lag is proving more difficult than Costa Rica - our own fault for arranging a schedule that traversed 13 hours of time zones in 5 days I suppose (UK is 6hr ahead of Costa Rica & Vietnam is 7hr ahead of UK)....

    On our first day in Hanoi (after having woken up at 2.30am) we wandered around the old quarter, exploring the streets and learning how to cross the road. I have never seen so many mopeds in my life (it makes Italy look positively tame!) and you need some nerve to cross the road, especially with a 4-year-old in tow... Every street has a theme, with shops mostly selling the same type of thing - so far we've seen silk street, toy st, moped repair st, jewellery st, jade st, light st, hardware st and noodle st, amongst others. Our hotel is near Hoan Kiem Lake, so we walked along the lake shore and also visited Ngoc Son Temple, which is on an island in the lake and you get to it by walking across a picturesque red bridge. The temple gardens were small but a lovely tranquil haven from the bustle of the city, with beautiful bonsai trees. We sat by the lake eating a snack after the temple, when a group of local secondary school children asked to interview us about New Year for a school project (see picture). They found it hilarious that we don't wear any special clothes or eat any special food at new year! It was interesting talking to them. In the afternoon we went to see the water puppet show, thinking it would be a great thing to do with Solana. Unfortunately she fell asleep in the sling on the way there and when we woke her up to see the puppet show, she was scared and didn't like it! A shame because it was actually quite good and I ended up missing most of it... Solana fell asleep again later in the afternoon; we tried to wake her for dinner but she was so tired she was unrousable, so we ended up taking her out asleep - she slept through dinner and the walk back!
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  • Day44

    Day 44 - Hanoi Again/Last Day in Vietnam

    October 23, 2017 in Vietnam

    Today was pretty uneventful. Besides the shuttle back to Hanoi this afternoon, we didn't do anything too exciting. The highlight of the day was definitely our return to the restaurant where we had the best pho ever. We each got an order of beef pho and we split the vegetable spring rolls. I had a fresh mango juice and Tim had a fresh orange carrot juice and a beer. It was all delicious!

    Now we are resting up before the trip to Bangkok tomorrow!Read more

  • Day33

    Day 33 - Hanoi Arrival

    October 12, 2017 in Vietnam

    What a long day...or was it 2 days?! We didn't sleep at all on the 10 hour flight from Rome to Bangkok...arriving at midnight Rome time, 5:00 am Bangkok time. Then, after a 2 and a half hour layover and a 2 and a half hour flight (with a little sleep), we arrived in Hanoi at 10 am local time. We got our Visas, got a taxi, and went straight to our hotel in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, right next to Hoan Kiem Lake. Fortunately, we were able to check right in. This hotel, Golden Moon Hotel, had the nicest room we have stayed in the whole trip. It is one of the nicer hotels I have ever been in. And it's $25/night, which is actually our most expensive accommodations in Vietnam. We set down our luggage and took a much needed 3 hour nap. We could have slept the whole day away but we knew we needed to adjust to the time, so we forced ourselves up around 2:00, took showers, and went out to check out Hanoi.

    Hanoi is insane!!! The roads are wild, filled with motor scooters, pedestrians, construction, street food, children, and even a few tourists. We had fortunately seen some random Facebook/YouTube videos on how to cross the street in Hanoi before we got here (basically you just walk across slowly and the vehicles avoid you). If we hadn't just spent a few weeks in Italy with those crazy roads and drivers, I'm not sure we would have had the courage and confidence to do it. But we seem to have figured it out.

    Our first stop, of course, was a pho lunch at a busy street vendor. YUM! It was so good (and $3.75 total for both of our meals). Hanoi is known for having some of the best street food in Asia and that is one of the main reasons we are here. After pho, we wandered the streets a bit until we found our way back to our hotel. We relaxed for a bit and I was about ready to call it a night, but Tim was somehow hungry again. We found a restaurant a couple of blocks away. I wasn't too hungry, but we got a couple of passion fruit mojitos, a couple of beers, and split veggie spring rolls and a chicken curry dish (all for under $15...which is actually very expensive here). The meal was pretty good, but I think we will stick to street vendors for the rest of our time in Hanoi.

    Now, some reading, and then probably 12 hours of sleep!
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  • Day34

    Day 34 - Hanoi

    October 13, 2017 in Vietnam

    What a great day...Hanoi is awesome!

    We got to bed pretty early last night but knew we needed at least 12 hours to catch up on sleep. We got about 10 hours, then woke up to eat the free hotel breakfast (pho and fresh fruit!) and then got another couple of hours of sleep and relaxing before we set off for the day.

    As soon as as we left the hotel, we saw a crowded little food stand selling chicken on a stick and decided to order two. We accidentally ordered two full meals to go - chicken, vegetables, rice noodles, and broth, all for $1. We found a bench at Hoan Kiem lake and ate our lunch there. The chicken was amazing!! Then we went into a temple over the bridge in the middle of the lake (I had to borrow a "costume" to cover my bare shoulders). After the temple, we walked around the whole lake and then started wandering through the busy streets for hours and going in several little shops. Since we recently decided we love Chess, we bought a cool little stone Chess set, and found an outdoor beer bar to sit down and drink and play. We hung out at this bar on the corner of two wild streets and played Chess and drank beers for awhile. Then we went out for a pho dinner, came back and played a little more Chess, and now we're about ready for bed. We have an early bus in the morning to Sapa!Read more

  • Day164

    Hanoi

    February 17, 2017 in Vietnam

    We started the day at 1am when Solana woke and couldn't get back to sleep - we all finally managed to drop back off around 5am, only to struggle to get up again at 7... We got a cyclo taxi (like a rickshaw) to Ho Chi Minh mausoleum site in the morning. The ride itself was fun, if a bit hair-raising with traffic coming at us from all angles at intersections! We got to see Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts, the one pillar pagoda and some lovely gardens with plenty of bonsai trees and koi carp swimming around. There was a nursery trip visiting at the same time too, which was cute to see. We have seen a bit of wildlife so far in Vietnam, although nothing on the scale of Costa Rica - bird count now about 7 and mammals 3 (black squirrel, bat and rat!).

    In the evening we went out to the night market, where we enjoyed wandering round the stalls (with Solana in the sling on Laura's back so she didn't get lost - it was pretty busy!). We invested in a neck pillow for Solana, to help her sleep on buses, trains, etc - hoping it will be a good investment of 100,000 Dong (about £4)! We also ate at an open-air restaurant there - tasty fried beef noodles, cooked on a little burner outside - 2 dishes plus beers for about £6.50 (which would have barely bought us a piece of cheese in Costa Rica!). Solana managed to stay awake until around 8:30pm and we re-packed, ready for our trip to Halong Bay.
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  • Day38

    Day 38 - Back to Hanoi!

    October 17, 2017 in Vietnam

    Wow! Has it really been 38 days?! This trip is flying by. But, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago that we were getting on the Greyhound in Richmond to head up to JFK back in early September. I could stay in Hanoi forever. But I also miss my cats. And everyone and everything else. But I'm also not even close to ready to come back.

    Anyways, today we traveled back to the amazing Vietnam capital, Hanoi. We relaxed in our hotel room in Sapa until check out, then we ventured out to lunch. Our entire time in Sapa, we had been watching groups of people eating a dish called a hotpot. We wanted to try one but they seemed to be best split between 4-6 people (or more) and we weren't sure if we could find a smaller one. We couldn't, but we got one anyways. We decided to go with a salmon hotpot (1 kg was the smallest they would let us have!). About 5 minutes after we ordered it, one of the employees walked into the restaurant with a grocery bag that had a giant flopping salmon in it. Talk about fresh! Then, about 10 minutes after that, they started to bring out the food - a small tabletop stove with a pot of broth (water, herbs, onions, pineapple, and so much more), a plate full of the entire raw salmon (filleted), potatoes, carrots, greens, noodles, tofu, and all sorts of sauces. We devoured almost all of it, over the course of a couple of hours, along with a few beers.

    We headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags and wait for our van to pick us up to take us back to Hanoi. The van ride back seemed to take forever, but we made it back, got dropped off at the wrong hotel, walked the quick few blocks to the right hotel, and checked in to another amazing hotel right in the center of the Old Quarter. Then we set off for dinner. We finally got a pho that is possibly better than our favorite spot in Richmond, Pho So 1. A couple have been close, a couple have been worse, but this was definitely the only one that is as good or better. We will certainly be back.

    Now, bedtime. A long day of Hanoi exploring and eating and drinking tomorrow. Can't wait - I love this city!!!

    (Only pictures today are off our awesome hotpot lunch. Unfortunately my phone was dead for our late night Hanoi wandering and pho dinner.)
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  • Day39

    Day 39 - Hanoi!

    October 18, 2017 in Vietnam

    Hanoi is awesome! We started the day with a delicious breakfast of banana pancakes with fresh watermelon, pears, coffee and juice. After breakfast, we visited the prison museum where French colonials jailed Vietnamese revolutionaries and where US POWs (including John McCain) were imprisoned during the "American" (Vietnam) war. The museum was really interesting but also very depressing.

    After the museum, we decided to grab some lunch. We found a local street restaurant and had a delicious lunch of spring rolls and vermicelli with stir fried chicken and peanut sauce. Yum!

    Following lunch we decided to get a 90 minute Swedish massage at a highly recommended parlor which trained and employed masseurs who were visually impaired. Best massage ever! We were so relaxed we decided to return to the hotel to rest for about an hour.

    Around 7, we decided it was time for dinner. We found another nearby street spot and had an amazing dinner of pork, chicken, and beef with rice noodles.

    After dinner, we did some shopping for a few gifts before drinking a few beers at restaurant on a second story balcony overlooking a busy street. After paying our bill and before heading home, we stopped in at one last bar for a few icy cold ones...and some manhattans! We have an early morning tomorrow so its time for bed!!
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  • Day168

    Last day in Hanoi

    February 21, 2017 in Vietnam

    Today was our last day in Hanoi. After visiting the museum in the morning, we spent the afternoon wandering the streets of the old quarter for the last time and buying a few supplies, ready for the overnight train journey. We've tried to capture here some of the common street scenes; when you look at them, imagine the noisiest city you've ever been to (no doubt Hanoi itself for those of you who've been there), then multiply it by about 3 and you're probably somewhere near a virtual visit! We were able to get all of the supplies we wanted in the supermarket, plus some chicken feet which we decided to pass on this occasion! We ended the afternoon with dinner at "Pho 10", the noodle shop we found on our first evening in Hanoi - it only does beef noodles but has about 8 different kinds of beef - simple but tasty.

    We've really enjoyed our time in and around Hanoi and would highly recommend it for a visit. It's crazy but fascinating. The climate is great too - temperatures in the early to mid-20s C when we were here, so warm enough for shorts and t-shirt but not hot, sticky or humid as the coastal areas of Costa Rica were. Next, we head South - back towards the heat and humidity...
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  • Day25

    We arrived in Hanoi, drove from the airport to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and immediately headed out to see the city. OMG. Hanoi is like nothing that I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I didn’t know where to look first — the street food (which is literally served on the sidewalk), the untold number of motor scooters that crowd the roads, the small shops that sit next to each advertising the sale of items that are “made in vietnam,” or the enormous number of people. Just walking down the street was exciting and a little bit overwhelming.

    Although we were tired from our travels, we decided that a good way to get an introduction to Hanoi was to go on a “street food tour.” I had found a tour which cost $20 per person, for 3 hours. So, we figured that even if we were too tired to complete the whole tour, we’d be fed and get to meet someone local. And, it turned out exactly as planned . . .

    We met “Loan” at the office for Hanoi Street Food Tours, which is located in the Old Quarter. She told us that her name is pronounced “Lo-Ann,” but that it was spelled like loan since she liked money! She is 20 years old, and is a student at the university. In the course of the evening, we learned that university students often lead tours because it is a good way for them to earn some extra cash, and practice their English language skills. She was charming, and chatty. However, when we asked her why she didn’t eat any of the food that we were sampling, she told us that she didn’t want to gain weight because no one would marry her. When I laughed, she told me that she was quite serious about this. (I must admit, most of the Vietnamese girls that we saw are both petite and quite slim.).

    Over the course of three hours, we tried 7 different dishes. I won’t attempt to describe them all, but a few were of particular interest. We started with Bun cha, which is pork noodles. This is a very traditional dish, and can be found on virtually every corner. Next, we had Nom Bo Kho, which is a beef salad that has both dried beef and grilled beef over shredded green papaya.

    One stop was for rice pancakes. Loan explained that the rice pancakes were freshly made by pouring the batter over a cloth and steaming the pancake. This didn’t make any sense to me until I watched the pancake being made — it was actually a type of rice paper, made from scratch. (You can see it in the attached video). The “rice pancake” is then filled with minced mushrooms and pork, and topped with fried shallots — totally delicious.

    We then had a group of fried foods — a couple were like spring rolls with different filings, but one was sweet and had a substance inside that reminded me of taro.

    One of the most surprising dishes was “egg coffee.” When I had seen this advertised on a sign on a shop that we walked by, I thought that the sign meant that you could get a cooked egg, and a coffee, for the indicated price. But, no. Egg coffee is a drink made with espresso, which is topped with a raw egg yolk which has been mixed with sweetened condensed milk until it is frothy. It sounds strange, but it is like the richest latte that you’ve ever had. Everyone in the group thought that it was extremely tasty.

    Our final stop was for sticky rice and coconut ice cream. The color of the rice is green, due to some leaf that is cooked with the rice. And, shredded sweetened coconut is on top.

    By the time that tour was over, we were exhausted, but full. So, we headed back to hotel for some well-deserved sleep.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Hoàn Kiếm, Hoan Kiem

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