The Halong bay on land?

With a title like that, we suspected it might invite scepticism. Afterall, what does it all mean? You know the karst limestone hills that dot the bay. And if you don’t, go look it up. Some say it is gorgeous, others say it’s scenic. But that’s the bay. Is there an equivalent on land in Vietnam?

If you ask us, perhaps the scenic views at Ninh Binh could be the reason for answering a yes to the question.

For we spent a good 4 days in them. Not all of it in the mountains, but enough to tell you that it is one place to consider. For not only are there resorts offering you creature comforts but also the views. Just don’t expect a vibrant night life though.

Our days there were relaxing yet full of discovery. For in Ninh Binh time slows down as you are paddled down waterways watching goats forage, padi snails being picked and ducks playfully swim by. We hope it does not change too much and become crowded, because it would all be such a waste to lose the tranquility.

Have you ventured out of Hanoi? If you read our handprint story would it inspire you to make a journey to Ninh Binh?

Bustling Hanoi

How would you like to take a photo of a local rock star having a meal on the streets of your city? Well, that was one of the things that Mel did when he was in Hanoi. You see, it was part of a business trip and when there was free time to roam the city, he took up the challenge. But then we also came by the city on the way to the countryside too in a separate journey.

So here’s the thing. Hanoi is a city that is transforming fast.

But it still have a lot of the old mixed in with the new. Which can sometimes make for a confusing melange. You know it is all amazing with the traffic in the sense it is both chaotic while yet flowing endlessly it seems. Which makes it a challenge to get around on your own, on foot that is when you have to cross roads…

Despite all of this, we are determined that we come back again. Because aside from having quite a few unchecked items on the list, we also found the food to be extremely attractive. For not only did we have Vietnamese, but we also had French – yes French! So much has been retained when it comes to culinary influence that you have to come to savor it for yourselves.

Find out what we did in Hanoi here and why we want to come back. What did you like about Hanoi?

What can I do while in Hanoi?

It was a quick 3 days spent in Hanoi for my business trip. Got in on Wednesday midday and out on Friday the same time… So what did I manage to do on the travel side? Remember the term “bleisure” that Yahoo! travel coined? Yeah did some of that.

Once business was over, we did have a little of “leisure” time. Perhaps dodging the traffic snarls of the city on a rickshaw was one.

Rickshaw ride7
We had strength in numbers


But then, no exploration of any city will be complete without a walk in its old quarters. The sights, sounds and smells (that waft to you) that once get when strolling through the town can be intriguing as it was the first experience for most of us (me and colleagues). Tell the ladies to stop bargaining!

Old Quarters9
Great place to buy genuine apparel factory overruns

Now I had too many photos of the meals we had and there will not be sufficient space to deck them out here in a blog post. See them in the next newsletter!