18/10/2013 - 21/10/2013
We caught a local bus from the airport to the centre of Hanoi. Getting off the bus was quite a shock - Hanoi was incredibly different from Seoul - it seemed completely chaotic, it was a little overwhelming. The traffic doesn't seem to obey traffic lights and there are motorbikes and scooters everywhere. The pavement's covered in parked motorbikes so you have to walk in the road, in amongst the moving motorbikes. People are honking their horns all the time as well - usually for no apparent reason. But still, we managed to walk to our hotel - Hotel 3B.
Hotel 3B was great - the staff greeted us with a welcome cup of tea and were incredibly helpful. The guy called Dragon had a bit of difficulty pronouncing my name, but he was always checking we were ok and offering to help with things. Our room was really nice as well. My only minor gripe was with the breakfast, which really wasn't great. It was mostly pre-cooked food on hotplates, including some hard and rubbery fried eggs. They offered banana pancakes cooked to order, which sounded promising, but they'd only be cooked on the outside; the insides would still be batter. They weren't thick pancakes either, so not sure how they managed that. Plus the coffee was pretty gross. But still, breakfast aside, I'd recommend it as a place to stay.
Hanoi's not a hugely exciting city - you don't need to spend much time there - but there are a few nice sights to check out; temples and such like - plus the prison was interesting too. There were some decent bars and restaurants as well. Still, it's mostly useful as a base to visit Ha Long Bay and Sapa. We were going to visit Sapa but the weather forecast was awful and we didn't want to spend a lot of time and money to go somewhere that would just be wet and unenjoyable. We booked a trip to Ha Long Bay though as that just had to be done.