Hanoi Trip Report - Day 1!
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Dec 10, 2012 9:15 PM Last Post By: katrina02
Dec 2, 2012 2:38 AM
Hanoi Trip Report - Day 1!Ok - I thought I'd put my report of my travels to Vietnam as there are a few key components here that I had trouble finding on Thorn Tree myself.
Vietnam Visa Pro
I know there are a ton of messages that say this service is legit, but allow me to confirm. They are complete professionals, really great value and exceptionally responsive. Do not have ANY concern using them. I will say that I was a bit nervous when the attached document was a jpg and it seemed a bit weird that it wasn't a pdf. In addition my document containe 2 other names of people who I did not know, NONE of this mattered once in Hanoi. Again have no fear- completely on point!
Arriving in Hanoi:
Once you land- a bus will take you to the terminal, as you enter the building you will see a large glass window and a sign that says "VISA ON ARRIVAL - CASHIER" just outside the door there is a bench and when I arrived there was a large group all getting there photos taken (If you follow the instructions from Vietnam Visa Pro - you will not need these service and will move quicker). I found out that you need to walk around the office to the other side (you can see through the office to the identical window on the other side) THIS is where the process starts. You will give him the document from Vietnam Visa pro, Your filled out form with picture attached and your Passport, they then tell you to walk around the other side to pay. It took my Visa approximately 10 minutes (and they were processing a large group during the same time) Pretty Quick! I paid for a 3 month multi entry $50 USD. All as per the instructions in the Vietnam Visa Pro website - smooth as silk!
Onto the Customs Line!:
Now I have travelled and been through both SFO and NYC customs - this was a dream.
I had maybe 4 people in front of my there were probably 6 lines running all with similar queues. I may have been lucky, I have no frame of reference. One Hitch: When the customs agent was inspecting my passport, he checked it all over then looked up and asked me for my Boarding Pass?!?? My heart almost sunk - I knew the only thing I had was the small stub that they ripped off with my seat assignment- where the hell did I put that stub??? Luckily I found it in my jacket pocket - the agent looked at it smirked and said "Please pass through!" "Whew!!" I exclaimed! "Sure glad I saved that!!" and the agent laughed at me while slyly winking.
Out into Mayhem:
When they say "Prepare for the onslaught of Taxi drivers"- they are not kidding! "TAXI- TAXI- Hello my friend, where are you going? See See I am a real Taxi Driver Look!" (Showing me an inkjet printed piece of paper that says "Airport Taxi" so inspiring!) I made my way to the money exchanger- I had been in fear of not having cash and I heard evevrything was cash based over here so I brought $400 USD. When I put $300 on the counter- the girl behind the glass looked at me as if I had 3 heads. OK note: DO NOT DO THIS! $300 USD = rediculous. Rediculous means that the girl then counted out 6,000,000+ Dong (not a misprint- cue Steve Austin)!!! This is WAY too much cash - go with $100 USD and there are ATMs all over in Hanoi so no fear!
Now I had to abscond to the restroom to of course hide this huge stack of money in my backpack- god such a trite foreigner! Ugh!
I hopped into a stall crushed the money to the btm of my pack- if anyone was gonna try and get that cash they were gonna have to suffer!! ;)! Ok! All better now outside the terminal...If you thought there were a lot of cabbies inside- OH HO HO my friend now they add in attractive girls trying to grab your attention and corral you as well as the men yelling at you. I had done my research on Thorn Tree and decided to use the Vietnam Airlines Mini Bus. I fought through the melee and found a mini bus emblazoned with the Vietnam Airlines logo in the lead of approximately 6 mini buses, being paranoid I would only talk to the driver in that exact minibus. I then was walked back to the bus at the end of the line where the driver had tried to get my attention 2 seconds ago - I ate crow and said "Sorry about that!" He smiled.
He took my backpack and proceeded to cram it under a flip down seat and slam the seat down on top of my bag (There goes my iPad screen I thought - ugh!). He then pointed inside the bus and told me to get in the last row all the way to the driver side. There were 4 rows of 3 seats. We did not leave until every seat was filled, and then 3 extra people sat on boxes and the end of each row and two women sat in the front row. The weather outside was a bit rainy, probably 80-85F, and 100% Humidity. Inside the van as we took off the driver did turn on the a/c but it did not help much- it wasn't sweltering but it wasn't cool either, but it was tolerable. Before we took off the driver needed 40,000 Dong ($2) - you can NOT beat that price!
Now we are on the road, I had done a bit of reading and I was aiming for the "Art Hotel" or possibly the "Hanoi Rendevous Hotel", both had good ratings both 20-40 USD a night, when it suddenly dawned on me...I had no idea where they were dropping me off! This really wouldnt have been a bit deal except it was now 6 PM and black outside. I did not really like the idea of wandering with my pack the 1st night of my adventure. I wasn't all that worried until we made a stop and 2 people got off, then another stop and 2 more people...I started to think "Crap! What if that was my stop?" Thank god for the Kindle app and GPS !!- I opened the LP Vietnam Guide and it linked to the Google Map location of the Art Hotel - there was my dot ever encroaching to my hotel! We stopped and the Van emptied- this must be my stop I thought! I got out - the driver handed me my bag - I grabbed his hand shook it and said "Thank you so MUCH!". He smiled and said "Thank you!" to me.
On the side of the van 3-4 men were standing sayin "Moto Moto - hey sir Moto Moto!" I said to them "No no - look I am very close (5-6 blocks) to where I am going" They came over and looked at my phone and instantly said "Oh Far!! You need Moto" I thought what the hell? I said to the guy "How much?" to which he replied "$60!" I said "Too much!! $50!" "Hmm $55! Very safe!" Ok I thought I just spent 40,000 Dong and it was $2 USD - 55 Dong? That must be like 1 penny (NOTE: HUGE Error on my part here- D'OH!) I hopped on the bike with my back pack strapped to me and he drove me up the street to my hotel, luckily I was alert because he drove right by it! I started tapping him on the shoulder "Stop Stop! We missed it!" He pulled right over and I Jumped off. I knew I didn't have any "coins" so I had to go get change. I ran back to the hotel motioning him to follow me. I ran into the Hotel and said "Hi - I need a room for tonight but can you break this 2000 Dong bill?" The girl said "Oh no sir that is a very small bill- I cannot break it 2000 Dong is very little"! <<Cue the Gong!!!" 55 = 55,000 dong!!! I just paid more for a 5 block moto ride than my 30 minute Mini Bus adventure!!! LOL- even still $2.50 to play war of the scooters vs. Hanoi Traffic was worth it. I ran out gave the driver 60,000 Dong and said "Thanks alot- Brother!" To which he kept saying "How much a night there? How much?" Ah! Now I see - he was tring to take me to "his hotel" and I had usurped him! Point to my favor!!
Back in the Art Hotel they told me that the base small room ($30 USD) was unavailable for me so I could have a deluxe "view" room for $50 or a Deluxe "Quit" room for $45 neither of these prices included the VAT 10% surcharge. However tomorrow I could move to a $30 room (which I did - for a single traveler makes little difference)! I got into my room - and no lie- there were flower petal on the sheets! The hotel is really nice and the staff - WOW! I do not regret this decision a bit! The staff gave me a map - recommendations for a dinner spot, and even where the bars were! I had a fantastic stir fry and a beer for about $4! I then treked back to my Deluxe Quiet room - watched HBO and Cinemax (a bit of snow but absolutely watchable) and fell off to blissful sleep!
All in all a fantastic adventure for Day 1 of 30 in Vietnam!
Thanks for reading - sorry for ranting on a bit!
Dec 2, 2012 4:08 AM
Dec 2, 2012 7:16 AM
2I thought it was fine, helpful for people are are not used to how it works in Ha Noi
Dec 2, 2012 8:41 AM
Dec 10, 2012 9:15 PM
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