Halong Bay to Hanoi, Day 4 – The day of expensive mistakes

As I mentioned in my last post, the decision to actually stay back in Halong and not take the tour included transport from Halong Bay to Hanoi did cost us some money (in context of the overall trip budget).

Extra Expenses:

  • Extra AirBnb cost compared to the hostel [700 INR for 2]
  • Taxi to reach AirBnb from Halong Bay [750 INR]
  • Taxi from AirBnb back to Hanoi [1800 INR].

We could have either saved the money or spent it on an overnight cruise instead. But we all learn from our mistakes and you can learn from mine for sure.

So putting it all behind us, we decided to wake up leisurely at around 10 AM I think. After that we ventured out to the same mall again for breakfast.

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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Yesterday’s dinner as well as today breakfast at Jollibee (Vietnam’s KFC)

Meanwhile, I asked our host to arrange a transport from Halong Bay to Hanoi. We had a late evening 9:30PM flight from Hanoi to DaNang. Also, if you remember we had kept all our luggage at the Hanoi Hostel.

Transport options from Halong Bay to Hanoi

  • Public transport from Halong to Hanoi is available, but it didn’t make much sense for us as we would have to take a cab from the Airbnb to a Bus Station in Halong Bay and then take a bus that drops us to Hanoi bus station and then from there take another cab/grab to our hostel.
  • The other option is to book a shared cab/van.
  • Another option for those who seek privacy or are travelling as a family is to book an entire cab.
  • Considering above options, we decided to just book a shared van transfer. Initial price of booking was 4,80,000 VND for 2 people. But later the driver informed the AirBnb owner that the price has changed to 5,20,000 VND. Since we did not have many other options, we decided to pay the extra charge.

Van Service Review

No complaints about the Van service except the fact that the driver demanded extra money at the last moment. Our AirBnb host was also very sorry and apologised profusely. The Van itself was more of a luxury van. We were provided cold water bottles, hand towels and the seats were limousine like. Also, before we finalised the van service, I had done some due diligence by checking out their online reviews. (Though I don’t remember the same of the company now).

Another point of note was that the Van was going to drop us at Hanoi Opera House and not the actual hostel. But since our plan was anyways to roam around the city before our flight, we were ok with it. So the transport from Halong Bay to Hanoi was arranged.

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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Reputed service company
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Halong Bay to Hanoi – View of the van interiors..
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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Spacious seats and amenities…

Overall, I believe that if you are reading this blog, you shouldn’t get yourself in this situation. Either stay overnight on Halong Bay cruise or simply head back to Hanoi. Unless, you plan to hike Poem Mountain staying in a Halong hotel/airbnb doesn’t make much sense.

It was an uneventful 3 hours ride and we reached Hanoi Opera House around 3-3:30PM. Since we still had a lot of time till our evening flight, we decided to do a second orientation walk of the city.

Hanoi Orientation Walk Again

This is the route that we followed after getting down at Opera House.

The Van journey was comfortable and in an AC, but once we got down it was 3-3:30PM so it was a little hot. We started walking on the street opposite the Opera House and found a wonderful shop called Trang Tien Ice Cream Company selling ice-creams. The Hanoi old quarters are also called French Quarters as Vietnam was once a French colony. The French influence is pretty obvious in the architecture as well.

We then walked around Hoan Kiem lake, as we had previously visited it in the night, followed by Hanoi Train Street. While on the train street I would suggest heading to the left side at the crossing as that place has some interesting graffiti and makes for wonderful instagram pictures.

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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Hoan Kiem Lake
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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Train Street
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Halong bay to Hanoi
Halong Bay to Hanoi – Planning the next move
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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Sexyyyyyyyyy

After the train street, next stop was the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. It is basically a complex of historic imperial buildings located in the centre of HanoiVietnam. It is also known as Hanoi Citadel. When we went they were getting ready for some event which was scheduled in a few days. Won’t bore you much with the details, you can directly check wikipedia if interested in this place – Thang Long Imperial Citadel

It also houses a museum where a short video presentation is shown.

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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Thang Long Imperial Citadel
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Halong bay to Hanoi
Halong Bay to Hanoi – Yaha bhi sab jagah kamal hi he 😀
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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Thang Long

After watching the sunset at the Citadel, it was time to head back to the hostel and re-balance our luggage. This was very crucial as we were VietJet and I had booked tickets with 2 cabin luggages (not to exceed 7 kg). We had pre-booked an extra luggage of upto 20kg (as my friend was carrying a much heavier backpack). Luckily, the hostel had a weighing scale, so we adjusted our luggage into 3 bags of 7,7 & 15kgs.

Luggage Tips

Always keep a tab of your luggage weight. When we flew Singapore Airlines from Mumbai, I had kept a mental note of the weight for each bag. Then depending on the needs I adjusted weight accordingly throughout the trip.

Some of the budget airlines are very strict when it comes to luggage. We had no issues with luggage while going from Hanoi to DaNang but for DaNang to Ho Chi Minh, the lady on the counter was very strict. She made a guy re-adjust his luggage 5 times in front of my eyes. Even I had to re-balance my luggage twice.

If you are actually flying 1-2 kgs heavy then remove some stuff at the airport and keep it aside (preferably, under someone’s watchful eyes), get the cabin bag weighed in and then re-stuff the bag post weigh-in.

Buffalo Hostel, Hanoi – Review

For a full & detailed review of the hostel, you can check out my other post – Buffalo Hostel, Hanoi Review.

We finished charging our mobiles and installing the Grab app. By the time we left it was 6:30-7PM. Its their Uber/Ola equivalent and is super convenient. Since our flight was landing in Da Nang at 10:55PM, we had no plan of using public transport. We quickly headed to the Long Bien Bus Station from where you need to grab a bus (87 or 17) to Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal).

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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Long Bien Bridge.

Note – Please check your flight departure terminals, as the international and domestic terminals are 5 mins away from each other by bus.

Once at the airport, the check-in was smooth and we had an uneventful flight. We did grab some dinner before our flight. As you can guess, the dinner was some more of Vietnamese Pho.

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Halong Bay to Hanoi – Vietnamese Pho Ga for dinner

Flight Details:

Flight No. Date From (Time) To (Time)
VJ531 October 1, 2019 21:35 – Ha Noi (HAN) 22:55 – Da Nang (DAD)

TIP – While traveling overseas, I always make a point to either book the flight directly from the airline website. If booking through an online portal like MMT, Yatra, I confirm what all is included in the price. In my previous Euro trip, one of my trip-mates had booked flights on MMT, Yatra because they were cheaper by 1000 Rs or so. But then he had to pay as much as 40-50 EUR/flight extra for luggage because MMT, Yatra prices didn’t include extra cabin luggage.

After landing at Da Nang we booked a Grab for 58,000 VND (Roughly 2.5$) and arrived at Kon-Tiki DaNang hostel. The check-in was smooth. It was a spacious dorm and we just went straight to sleep, trying our best not to disturb our dorm mates.

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