For the Christmas holiday, Ke and I wanted to go somewhere warm and southeast Asia was at the top of the list. We had two weeks to work with and debated squeezing in two countries, Vietnam and Thailand. After doing a bit of research on ideal itineraries, we decided to travel solely to Vietnam in order to experience as much of the country as we could. We traveled to Hanoi, Hoi An, Pu Luong, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh. A very busy two weeks! Our first stop was Hanoi =D
We stayed at The Chi Boutique Hotel* in the old quarter. This hotel was in a perfect central location and the customer service was amazing. Our room was very spacious and also included a balcony with a view of the city. I highly recommend this place.
We checked in, dropped our bags off, and then started exploring the old quarter. Our first stop was for pho haha, at a popular pho spot right down the street from the hotel, Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su.
Hoàn Kiếm Lake
After eating some pho, we strolled around Hoan Kiem Lake and visited the Ngoc Son Temple. There was quite a crowd on the bridge to the temple but it was fun being around both locals and tourists. The lake is also in the heart of the old quarter so its a great walk to get to see the sights.
While you’re in the old quarter, you must try egg coffee, it is spectacular! We went to a popular spot called Cafe Pho Co.
On Day two we grabbed the best pho I’ve ever had for breakfast from HERE and then rented a scooter in the Old Quarter. I’m absolutely terrified of driving scooters but luckily Ke is great at it because it is such a fun thing to do. We spent the day riding around Hanoi making stops at popular destinations. Our first stop was Thang Long Citadel.
Thăng Long Citadel
The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu Mon)
Afterwards we drove to The Temple of Literature and walked around. The day we went was a lot of fun because it seemed to be around graduation time. There were a ton of kids and teenagers around taking the most adorable graduation pictures.
West Lake (Tây Hồ) Flower garden
My favorite part of this day was riding around West Lake. We stopped at some cafes and then found a random Dutch themed flower garden. We were definitely the only foreigners around since this place was a bit far from the old quarter. But we managed to point and sign to buy tickets haha and enjoy the gardens.
Tran Quoc Pagoda
Our last stop before heading back to the hotel was Tran Quoc Pagoda. This was a quick stop to view the cute little pagoda. Watch out in general when going to touristy spots in Hanoi, we almost got scammed by a guy pretending to work for the red cross.
For dinner that night, we checked out a fun dinner spot called Quan An Ngon. It’s like an open market filled with different types of Vietnamese dishes but they have table service. We were able to try a ton of different types of food and the atmosphere was a lot of fun.
Fun Start to the Trip
Hanoi was one of my favorite stops in Vietnam. It was tourist friendly but not overly touristy. We were able to enjoy the sites and foods surrounded by locals the entire time. If you have limited time in Vietnam, definitely make sure Hanoi is part of your itinerary, you won’t be disappointed 😀
*This post contains affiliate links to the hotels I stayed at, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the link.