Beautiful, Chaotic, Friendly, Vietnam

Hanoi, Cat Ba, and Ha Long Bay!

January 15, 2023

After a much longer than expected (and amazing!) trip to Japan, we headed to the Osaka Airport to board a flight to our next destination – Vietnam!


And before even boarding the flight, we were met with what was probably a scam by VietJet Air. We had booked directly with VietJet, paid in full, paid for our bags, everything. And for some unknown reason, they wanted only Alan to pay an extra fee… in cash. Even with our receipts showing the flight was fully paid for, they insisted on the fee. 


Well, good thing we had some extra yen!

It was a bit odd, but whatever. The rest of the flight went off without a hitch, minus the guy smoking in the lavatory and setting off alarms hahaha. And then just like that, we were in Hanoi.

We didn’t really know what to expect coming here, but the people are so happy & friendly! The roads are total and complete chaos. We have joked about the scooters all acting like a liquid and moving around you as you walk hahah. Oh, and the food scene is INSANE. It is by far the best food for the money. And Every. Single. Place. Has impressed us! How is it this good and affordable???


And we discovered the joys of egg coffee. WHY this has not caught on elsewhere?! Idk! It’s sweet, creamy, delicious… I almost could compare it to tasting like whipped golden grahams. (for my American friends!) 


We also found a vegan spot that we absolutely loved… like if all vegan food just embraced the deliciousness of vegetables like this, I would easily convert! Oh and and on our last day tried frog.. which was a bit ugly, but actually pretty good lol.

After Hanoi, we made a trip out to an island in Ha Long Bay called Cat Ba. We decided to spend two weeks there… It probably should have been two days. There was just about nothing there and it was an absolute ghost town. We even had the entire floor of our hotel to ourselves. I think the island primarily relies on tourism from China, which has not reopened yet. So businesses were quiet and nothing had returned to its apparent former glory.

We kind of got settled into a routine there… almost always ate at one of the only good restaurants on the island & did a couple of day trips.

The highlight was the Ha Long Bay cruise (Ha Long Bay is that famous spot in Vietnam with the dramatic sea cliffs).. which was beautiful! We enjoyed kayaking on the bay and even got to see some highly endangered monkeys! 

We also rented a scooter… a bit of an experience in itself. It was only $5 and they did not even check our IDs or anything hahaha. And even though we’re hesitant to get on scooters after our (minor) accident, we had a great time going approximately 5 miles per hour and taking it slow on the empty island roads. Hahaha. Using the scooter, we made it to a national park for some hiking and poked around some really cool caves.


But that was really about it!


After Cat Ba, we hung around Hanoi a few more days before leaving. We got to explore a couple of neighborhoods that we had not seen before, the lakes around the city, tried some fun restaurants.


We also had the opportunity to have a new friend and local show us around! He introduced us to some great local spots and foods we would not have otherwise tried! Oh and we found the cutest cat cafe! (Next Post coming soon!)

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