Hanoi: Day 1 – eating our way to the train station

We arrived in Hanoi at nearly 2pm, and headed for my ex-colleague, Le’s pad. She was not in town, but had instructed her neighbour to feed us. That was how we ended up at Mon Hue, a restaurant chain that serves delicious Vietnamese food.

What? Good Vietnamese food that isn’t served at a rickety stall by the road side? It wasn’t just because we were hungry (feed us feed us!) but damn, we gobbled down the lot and then some.

Hanoi - Vietnam Pepsi
This Pepsi has an identity

Hanoi - Mon Hue food
Cha Hue (Hue Pork Ham), Banh Ram It (Fried & Steamed Cakes with Shrimp & Pork), Hen Tron Xuc Banh Da (Baby Clams), Nem Nuong Cuon Banh Trang (Grilled Ground Pork)

Hanoi - Mon Hue starter
Mon Hue also serves Hue cuisine, traditionally reserved for royalty.

I fell in love with bánh bèo, small steamed rice cake with dried shrimp. Soft, delicate with a slight chewy texture, it goes well with a bit of dipping sauce, which is usually fish sauce.

Hanoi - Mon Hue banh beo

If you’ve been to Pho Viet in Atria or Empire, you’d have seen bánh bèo on the menu. Well, Pho Viet serves gigantic size bánh bèo. This was the tiny, more manageable bánh bèo we had in Hanoi:

Hanoi - Mon Hue banh beo steamed rice pancake

Le graciously allowed us to keep some of our luggage at her place, so that we wouldn’t have to lug our big bags to Sapa. The overnight train to Sapa would leave at 10pm, so we freshened up and left for the station, with enough time to grab supper.

This stall was nearby the train station, and it served the most memorable dishI had in Hanoi.

Hanoi - street side food stalls

What is ‘bun ca ho tay’? I can’t find the exact translation, but we had noodles served in a clear sour broth with fried fish fillet and herbs, all for VND25K (RM4.70). In that cool rainy evening in Hanoi, the comforting soup hits all the right spots before a long journey to the mountainside.

Hanoi - bun cha ho tay

To think we had wanted to share, but it ended up being, “NO, GET YOUR OWN BUN CA HO TAY.”

Hanoi - road near train station

Hanoi - Train Station

We also drank coffee before going on the train. But this trip was last year, and I can’t find some of my photos anymore 🙁

Vietnam: 9D8N Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay itinerary

“Nine days? What are you going to do in Hanoi for nine days??”

Well, technically one of the days do not count, since our return flight was early in the morning. But we managed to cover a fair bit, at our own pace, doing only the things we want to do.

Here’s a quick overview of our itinerary, a glimpse into a really fantastic, memorable trip. I will blog about them later when I have time (and energy, mostly energy).

The best Hanoi itinerary, ever

DAY 01 >> Arrive in Hanoi. Depart for Lào Cai via overnight train

Hanoi itinerary - Day 01 arrival
Happy tourists

DAY 02 >> Arrive, transfer to Sapa. Visit Cat Cat village, and Fansipan

Hanoi itinerary - Day 02 Cat Cat village
Steps through Cat Cat village, straight to your heart

Hanoi itinerary - Day 02 Fansipan
Reached the peak via cable car and my God-given legs. And a lot of cursing.

DAY 03 >> Sapa trekking through Muong Hoa Valley. At night, depart for Lào Cai for Hanoi via overnight train

Hanoi itinerary - Day 03 Sapa trekking
Incredible trekking experience. 10/10 will do again

Hanoi itinerary - Day 03 train
Friends who made it through overnight train journeys, stay friends forever?

DAY 04 >> Hanoi

Hanoi itinerary - Day 04 Hanoi coffee
Famous Hanoi egg coffee

Hanoi itinerary - Day 04 banh mi
Famous Hanoi banh mi

DAY 05 >> Depart for Halong Bay, for overnight cruise

Hanoi itinerary - Day 05 Halong Bay cruise
On board the La Fairy. Not la bored.

Hanoi itinerary - Day 06 Halong Bay
Halong Bay? Commercialised but not over rated

DAY 06 >> Depart for Hanoi.

Hanoi itinerary - Day 08 flower market
Quang Ba flower market in Hanoi, worth waking up early for

DAY 07 >> Hanoi

Hanoi itinerary - Day 07 Hanoi
Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake

Hanoi itinerary - Day 07 Hanoi park
Around Hoan Kiem Lake on a weekend, where they closed the roads for pedestrian access

DAY 08 >> Hanoi

Hanoi itinerary - Day 08 house by train
Trains pass by their house twice a day

Hanoi itinerary - Day 08 Long Bien bridge
Only tourists walk the entire Long Bien bridge. We tourists

DAY 09 >> Depart for Kuala Lumpur. Sad.

These are some selection from my hundreds of photos. Obviously I can’t put up everything we did/ saw/ ate/ experienced, because no one is that interested.

But if we could do it differently, we would. Maintain the same nine-day trip, but stay two nights in Sapa, and two nights in Halong Bay. Perfect.