Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi became one of my favorite cities in Southeast Asia in the brief time we spent there because the people were so nice, the food was delicious and cheap, and the city didn’t feel as frantic as in other cities. We didn’t walk around Hanoi except in the Old Quarter, where our hotel was located, and what we saw of the neighborhood was perfectly lovely. It felt like a safer of home — except for the crazy rush of cars and motorcycles, where people have to always be on guard. Since we were there in December, the weather was cold, but the locals said that it can get really hot during summer too.

Hanoi became our base for two whole-day tours we took with Go Asia Travel. However, since we arrived late in the afternoon and my family didn’t want to do a night food tour, we didn’t see much of Hanoi. The only times we were only able to tour the city was on our first day, and at night after our tours. The last day was spent mad rushing to the airport, as I detailed in my first Vietnam post.

Real Estate in Vietnam is expensive so houses and buildings are narrow but tall.

When we arrived in Hanoi, we waited for our taxi driver, which we booked directly via the hotel. It took us a few minutes trying to get in touch with him because he didn’t speak English well and he couldn’t find us. Thankfully, Vietnam’s Hanoi airport has great WiFi so we were able to coordinate with the hotel.

Tip: If you’re not comfortable trying out the bus from the airport and afraid of all the taxi scams that seem to abound in Vietnam, book a shuttle with your hotel directly. Ours cost USD 5 per pax/way, which was expensive, but also safe, and we arrived right in front of our hotel.

We booked a family room in Splendora Boutique Hotel, a quaint hotel right in the Old Quarter. We chose it because it was so cheap and it had a high rating on Booking.com*. Splendora is located in a small alley, just off the main road. The small street is filled with other lodgings, particularly for backpackers, and some tour companies. On one end of the street, you can easily reach Hoan Kiem Lake. On the other end of the street, you can have a taste of authentic Vietnam cuisine and French-Vietnamese fusion cafes. It is also about a five- to ten-minute walk away from the Night Market.

Aside from its excellent proximity, the room was spacious. Even though it was fronting the street and the street was being repaired during our stay, it wasn’t noisy and we were able to sleep comfortably at night. The bed was a little lumpy, just like in old hotels, but the pillows were so soft and comfortable.

Splendora Boutique Hotel family room
Spacious bathroom with plenty of toiletries

Our room accommodation also included a buffet breakfast. On our first day, when I came down to the small restaurant, I was a bit disappointed to find that the smorgasboard was limited: a few slices of bread, ham, hot dogs, some slices of cheese, sandwich bites, and plenty of fruits. Orange juice, coffee, tea, and water were unlimited. And then we sat down, and we were given a menu, and the server explained that aside from the smorgasboard, we can order anything we want off the menu book — and we can order as many times as we want. FOR REAL. I couldn’t believe it! We were so spoilt for choice, and our tummies were full everyday.

And on our third day, when we mentioned we were going on tour again, they said we could order from the menu as a takeaway — for free. I’m not kidding. I can’t believe they’re real. We each had a banh mi, and thank God, because we got hungry on the way.

Buffet smorgasboard
From the menu

To add to the excellent customer service, they even gave us a pack of authentic Vietnamese coffee to take home. It was beyond a five-star service experience, I could cry.

Booking.com


(If you’re feeling peckish for a taste of home, they have Jollibee just a few blocks away from the hotel.)

Splendora Boutique Hotel in Hanoi was one of our best choices for this trip.

Around Hanoi’s Old Quarter

The 19th century Neo Gothic St Joseph’s Cathedral
Recommended place among the locals for cheap and authentic pho!

We went around the Old Quarter using the app Here WeGo, which I talked about here. I downloaded the Vietnam map before we left the Philippines. And, like with our experience in Europe, it was very handy.

My sister and I agreed that because of its laidback charm and affordable delicious food, Hanoi is one city we wouldn’t mind revisiting. Plenty of restaurants and cafes offer free (and strong) WiFi as well, so if I ever decided to get up and go backpacking while working, Hanoi would be on my list of places to visit.

What’s yours? 🙂

Read my other posts about Vietnam!

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4 Replies to “Hanoi, Vietnam”

  1. […] The hotel was small but the room was spacious and clean. The buffet spread was very simple and filling – we were just spoilt for choice by Splendora! […]

  2. Yes, I agree. Splendora set a standard for what I can look for in a hotel. Very friendly people and generous. Their type of customer service is unique. Very simple but what they offered was unexpected that it made a big impact on me. I’ve been to a number of hotels but it’s the first hotel that offered to pack food for me, FOR FREE, so I have food during our tour. And a bag of coffee as a farewell gift. (On that note, I hope someone can recommend other hotels who offers the same service so I know where to book if I visit a particular country. Hehe)

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