Covered most of Vietnam's main sites

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed

Flag of Vietnam  , Ha Nội,
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Map of Vietnam

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Map of Hanoi


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SEP 29
: We met our Vietnam Tour Director, Quang, and was transferred to our hotel after all of us got through customs and baggage claim.   The hotel is located in the south side of Hanoi about five miles from city center, and a taxi costs about US$4.   It requires getting use to crossing the streets of Vietnam, because the traffic is heavy, and there aren't many pedestrian crossings on roads.  Before you cross, you make sure there isn't any vehicle headed towards you, step off the curb, then walk steadily across the street without looking at the driver of any vehicle.   Don't stop and turn suddenly when you are walking across the street at a normal pace.   The Vietnamese love to use their horns, so it can be unnerving at times.   The exchange rate when we were there was US$1 to 17,800 dong; today's exchange rate is about 18,500 dong.

We had an intro meeting at 6PM, then bussed to a restaurant for our welcome dinner at the Banana Flower restaurant.  The food was delicious.  I also knew that this journey was going to be an adventure in food and wine.  Since we were given the rest of the evening for leisure, I went to bed early, and was up by 6AM the following morning.

We were bussed to the French Quarter of Hanoi not far from the Sofitel where I stayed before, and were taken on bike-rickshas for about an hour zig-zagging through the heavy traffic.  After going through the Old Town area, we were dropped off, and walked to the Temple of Literature, an institution based on the teachings of Confucius, where they have held scholastic exams from 1442 to 1778.  Many students now come here to rub the cement turtles that honors past scholars for good luck.

After lunch, we headed towards Ho Chi Min's mausoleum where we took our group picture, and walked the grounds of Ho Chi Min's home in the vicinity. 

After touring Ho Chi Min's house, we were taken back to the lake area where John McCain was shot down which now has a memorial.  We arrived back at the hotel by 3PM, but was told to be ready at 4:30 to go see the water puppet show before dinner.   The puppeteers are semi-submerged in waer for hours at a time to manipulate the puppets that can number a dozen or so.   This art form is over 1,000 years old, and we were told that it takes over four years to learn the craft.

The next day was an optional tour to a village outside the city, but I opted to stay to walk around and explore on my own at city center and West Lake.  

Hanoi:





















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Our first day tour included riding bicycle rickshas through the French Quarter and old town, ending at the Temple of Literature, once a university for the brightest students to learn the teachings of Confucius. The day's tour also included a visit to Ho Chi Min's mausoleum, his home on stilts, the spot where John McCain was shot down, and where the Hanoi Hilton once stood.  We were treated to a water puppet show before dinner. 




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Rather than detail the daily activities, I'll just summarize what I thought were the most interesting aspects of this trip.  We traveled from Hanoi to Halong Bay, then to Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Dalat, Saigon, the Mekong Delta, then back to Bangkok for one night before flying home all in 19 days.


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After our visit to Halong Bay, we returned to Hanoi to visit the Museum of Ethnology, and to catch our flight to Hue.

Museum of Ethnology.

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