As we didn't have much time in Hanoi I thought I would do a combined post about our time there and our trip to Halong Bay. As Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam we couldn't miss it out but in total we only had around two days there. We barely had time to explore or get a real feel for the place, which was a shame, but our main focus was securing a boat trip around Halong Bay.
On our very brief experience of Hanoi we spent some time wandering around the city trying to see as much as possible. This wasn't a relaxing experience by any means, as it is definitely one of the more manic destinations in Vietnam, but it was eye opening. I will openly admit I did not like Hanoi despite a lot of rave reviews I had heard about the place. I didn't like how it was impossible to walk on the pavement, which is often the case in Southeast Asian cities, and I generally just found it cramped and irritating. I normally love the chaos of Asia and being somewhere so totally insane I've forgotten what my comfort zone even is, but I just couldn't get to grips with Hanoi.
The only aspects of it I genuinely liked were the gorgeous lakes and pagodas dotted around the city and Bia Hoi! Unfortunately we only managed to fit in one of the gorgeous lakes while we were there, it was so beautiful, serene and smack back in the middle of all the chaos. Even just for a moment the view just relaxed me and made me appreciate the beauty Vietnam has to offer, before then immediately nearly being run over again anyway. Bia Hoi and Bia Hoi corner was another massive draw for me. I am a beer drinker, ladylike I know, and I love trying to local beer wherever I go so I was very pleasantly surprised to find freshly brewed Bia Hoi in Hanoi for around 13p per glass. I personally don't think I made the most of this while I was there to say how good it was.
For our Halong Bay trip we decided to do a two day, one night tour to try and get the full experience and it was incredible. We were able to stop off in various places around the bay and see some of the amazing views it had to offer. One of my favourite parts of the trip was kayaking into a lagoon hidden inside one of the islands. In the lagoon there were monkeys would climb and chase each other across the limestone walls which was so funny to watch. It was also one of the most peaceful places I had ever been, as the walls were so high it blocked out all noise from around, including the wind, making it so quiet and serene. I could have floated in there all day it was incredible, if I ever need to go to my "happy place" that will definitely be where I think of!
Although the weather wasn't the greatest while we were there Halong Bay was one of the most incredible experiences I've had. The views were literally breathtaking and made the treks up to the various viewpoints totally worth it. I feel like photographs barely do it justice but at the same time I'm so pleased with some of the photos I managed to get. I would love to go back in their summer time and see how beautiful the views would be with the sun shining and maybe get some more photos of myself! (Is it obvious yet I prefer to be behind the lens?)