Jul 27 - Aug 1, 2019
Hanoi, the Third Time Around
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
With my 90-day stay in Chiang Mai coming to an end, it was time to pack-up again and get a new tourist Thai visa. From where? Hanoi remains one of the default places for that - ease in securing the visa, cheap air fare from Chiang Mai, remaining room credit balance with AZ Hanoi Hostel, and I like Hanoi (despite the gruff).
To save money, I was thinking, should I take my bike to the airport and leave it there until I come back? But it was drizzling. The a/c public bus at B20 was tempting so I opted for it, but with all the wait, I ended up Grabbing a motorbike at B113. I ended up paying more by trying to do it cheap. Ha-ha, that's life. Just glad I still have all options exercisable.
Fortunately, there was no glitch at CNX Immigration nor at the airline check-in. No questions asked - but I was prepared to show them bank statement, onward flight, hotel booking, etc. Better safe than sorry. You can't be too careful when it comes to Immigration and airline check-ins.
Hot and Muggy
Hanoi was hot and muggy this time around - quite a departure from the freezing cold since I was here in January. I took the #86 bus all the way to Old Quarter for VND35,000 - sweet! I walked the rest of the way to the hostel, stopping by a chao place (porridge) and Cafe Giang for their fabled egg coffee.
AZ Hanoi Hostel
It was comforting to have AZ Hanoi Hostel ready for my stay. The owner/friend gave me the room credits I had which made my stay complimentary. Great to catch up with her, see Sam still being around with some familiar faces. This hostel would be my home, my hang-out, my office and my everything for the next 5 days. Its central location within Old Quarter makes it a very handy place to stay.
For the most part of my stay in Hanoi, I was still nursing my pharyngitis. I was still on meds and I couldn't exert too much effort into anything or I get nauseated. I didn't even feel social. Not exactly ideal when you're supposed to be enjoying a new place. Often, I would just stay on my bed scrolling FB. This must have been the most boring stay I've had in a place. I miss my fitness and I miss my vitality.
Even though all my papers were in order, I had a feeling I couldn't do this visa run indefinitely. True enough, when I submitted my tourist visa application to the embassy, the staff questioned me.
staff: What are you doing in Thailand?
me: I was travelling
staff: I don't believe you. This is the 3rd time you're doing this. What are you doing in Thailand?
me: I'm writing a book about Thailand
staff: Where do you get your money?
me: I teach online
staff: I don't know if my boss will give you a visa this time. Come back tomorrow.
the following day
staff: We deny you the visa. You said you'll stay 59 days but you extended by another 30 days. That means you overstayed on the free visa we gave you.
me: I only did what the law allowed me.
staff: What is this book you are writing?
me: I'm writing a book about Chiang Mai as the next destination in Southeast Asia for healing modalities. That is unique about Chiang Mai. I think the government should suppport this because tourism right now is not big in Chiang Mai the way it used to.
staff: Where do you get your money?
me: As for my money, I have a client overseas who ask me to update their website.
staff: Wait here. I talk to my boss again. (LATER) We will grant you one last visa this time, but you pay $40. This is the last visa you will get.
me: (I paid and came back later to pick-up the visa)
This visa run is a game-changer. When this expires, I have to leave Thailand for a long time - unless something happens that legally renews my stay for long. This also means I won't be stopping by Hanoi again for quite a long time. Many questions race through my mind. Where do I go when I leave Thailand? Do I resume my life of indefinite travel again? In a deterministic universe, these questions are already answered. I just need to cover my bases when things start moving around.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
(July 29, 2019) Sarap naman, 'tol. Pls. send your 4th-round picture!
(July 29, 2019) ha-ha, next visa run 🙂
(July 29, 2019) hehehehe to infinite and beyond!!!!
(July 27, 2019) (your street food exploration)...reminiscent of Bourdain ❤
(July 27, 2019) ...the late, great Bourdain, RIP
(July 27, 2019) Welcome to Hanoi
(July 27, 2019) always good to be coming back to your hometown. Just wishing you were here.
(July 27, 2019) I am living in Ho Chi Minh now :( That's a pity.
(July 27, 2019) We are in Vietnam also, Mai Chau
(July 27, 2019) say Hi when you visit Hanoi in the next 5 days
(July 27, 2019) We came from Hanoi
Leave a comment?
Next stop: Back to my Beloved Chiang Mai
Hanoi (city), Vietnam
27 Bat Dat Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
- Hanoi, the Third Time Around Jul 27 - Aug 1, 2019
- 18-Day Mini-Life in Hanoi Jan 6-24, 2019
- Cafescape of Hanoi's Old Quarter, Vietnam Jan 6-24, 2019
- Peoplescape of Hanoi Jan 6-24, 2019
- Exploring the Culinary Specialties of Hanoi Jan 6-24, 2019
- Ca Tru Hanoi at the Dinh Kim Ngan Temple Jan 18, 2019
- Hanoi Food Tour with Harry Jan 16, 2019
- Hanoi Revisited Jan 6, 2019
- Exploring the Northern Capital of Vietnam - Hanoi Jan 4-7, 2015
Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) to Old Quarter, Hanoi by Bus
The airport is about 30kms away from the Old Quarter so it could be pricey if you cab it. For budget travelers, there is the air-conditioned tourist bus #86 which starts from inside the airport when you walk out the door and takes you all the way to Old Quarter for only VND35k, 30 mins.
NOTE: if you use Google Maps, it will tell you that you have to walk 1km to catch the #86 bus along the main road - this is wrong!
FYI / Tips
- Hanoi's Old Quarter is the backpacker area like Bangkok's Khaosan Road. The tourist establishments (hotels, restos, travel/tour agencies, cafes) are interspersed with local traditional businesses
- Grab XeOm or moto taxis are abundant
- street culture is alive and kicking at the Old Quarter. Family-owned and managed shophouses who have been doing their trade for generations are still around. Old Quarter hasn't been touched by shopping malls yet.
- best place to exchange foreign currency is with the jewelry/gold shops (see list on map). Worst place are the tour shops/hotels.
- BEWARE of resto tourist traps. Usually, they sell only one meal like Bun Cha. No menu, no prices. They are crafty in herding unsuspecting tourists (you will notice no local eats there) and serve them the Bun Cha without asking them (because it's the only thing they sell). You'll just be jolted when you receive the bill. I was had for VND 90k!
Things to do, Places to go in Hanoi
- Old Quarter - this is old Hanoi where family-owned business flourished with its specialty trade. The streets are narrow and busy. Nowadays, it's the center for backpackers visiting Hanoi
- lakes - Hanoi is littered with many big lakes, some of them have numerous pagodas along its bank. West Lake is the largest with an 18km circumference, ideal for joggers, hobby fishing and just finding quiet time
- Tran Quoc Pagoda - the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi lying on its peninsula by West Lake
- Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum - it's a massive marble structure housed inside an expansive park with manicured gardens
Vietnam FYI / Tips / Dos and Don'ts
- Hanoi Grapevine HCMC Update - for the latest events in Vietnam
- Vietnam establishments will not accept US dollars, unlike Cambodia. You have to use Vietnam Dong (US$1 = Vietnam Dong VND 23,255 = Php 53.20 as of Aug 1, 2016)
- Vietnamese smokers will smoke in air-conditioned establishments, air-conditioned buses packed with people including women, children and babies. They also smoke inside hospitals with no smoking signs.
- Vietnam ranks almost the same as Thailand and Cambodia for cheap price. Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia cost more
- internet speed is generally fast and reliable but during important events like Tet holiday, election, etc., it slows down
- Vietnamese generally do not speak or understand much English. It will be a challenge.
- best to dress appropriately, not revealing too much skin (Saigon is an exception - the ladies there set the trend in very short shorts)
- remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship
- ask first before taking someone's picture. If they say no, don't persist or offer money
- best to carry your hotel's business card with you when going out. You can just show it to the cab driver or XeOm driver if they don't understand English
- leave your valuables, passport, travel tickets, etc. with the hotel's safety deposit box
- when lying down, don't point your feet or the soles of your shoes to anyone or to a family altar
- carry only enough cash for your needs that day
- don't lose your temper in public - Vietnamese people are warm, generous and polite. They look down on people who lose their composure
- don't take pictures of military installations - you can go to jail
- refrain from taking videos of minority people until permitted to do so
Lesser-Known Vietnam Destinations
- Phu Yen Province - by the beach
- Hoa Binh Lake - locals' alternative to Halong Bay
- Ninh Binh - Trang An Grottoes, Tam Coc, Mua Caves, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Van Long Nature Reserve
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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