Warning: This post will be mainly photos as I really can’t choose from the lot what to post on our recent Hanoi trip.
When we found out that there’s a long weekend over Labor Day and Liberation Day, it was too tempting not to book a holiday. Luckily our friends have a place just outside Hanoi — the Ecopark at Long Bien. It’s around 30 – 40 minutes away from the French Quarter of Hanoi. Quite far, yes?
Though far, their free bus system was more than enough to take us around. It was convenient and efficient. Just have the bus schedule on hand and you’re golden. We hardly spent on cabs except on short rides within the city and of course to and from Noi Bai Airport.
Oh and cabs? Unlike in Saigon where Mai Linh and Vinasun are reigning, there was hardly any Mai Linh cabs and yup, no Vinasun. There is the Taxi Group which is reliable but seems like most of the taxi cabs were. I can’t remember all their names. One thing though, there ain’t much 7 seaters around. So with our group of 8, we’d usually take 2 small cabs to go around.
The Ecopark is a lovely, relaxed community built in within an ecopark. LOL. So there were of course lots of trees and fresh air. If I had the chance to live in the north, Ecopark would be on the top of my list.
The place has a grocery, a restaurant strip, medical clinic, kindergarten school, pharmacy, pool, gym and other facilities. Did I tell you that the air is fresh and that you can bike around?
On our first day, we briefly visited Tay Ho district to see friends. It made me realize how complex the whole north is. I really can’t wrap my head around all the expressways and flyovers. I can’t map it out in my mind.
So anyway on our second day, we visited the French Quarter and mainly walked around. The weather this time of the year was okay I guess. It was overcast all throughout our stay, a bit humid but perfect for walking around without fear of rain or too much heat.
It was Labor Day and protests were going on along the Hoan Kiem Lake against Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group accused of polluting the ocean. Last month, loads of dead fish washed ashore in central Vietnam. A diver died related to the incident.
That was why Hoan Kiem was bustling with activity with lots of police maintaining security. According to our friend, the police is more stricter in the capital than in HCMC. So incidents of petty crime were close to nil.
We visited/saw Cua Buc Church, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Opera House, various government buildings, and just basically enjoyed the street scenery. Meeting my goal of 10,000 steps a day was easy walking the streets of Hanoi.
The Cua Bac Church is beautiful. All I see from the Internet were old photos. The church is now beautifully renovated.
The parish priest greeted us by the door and since he’s used to Filipino parishioners, you can show your respect by “mano”.
After mass, we walked around and just enjoyed seeing old buildings mixed with the new.
This area had wide streets and wide sidewalks as well. This is the government buildings area I think.
And I love the fact that they did not cut the trees. It was close to lunch but weather was just right.
You can actually identify office buildings because of their emblem —
and because of their color.
It’s usually yellow.
Below is the Presidential Palace from afar.
The Ho Chi MInh Mausoleum is closed on Mondays/weekends and is open only in the morning. It was a Sunday but maybe because it was Labor Day, it was allowing people in. The line was long so we didn’t attempt anymore to go in.
The other areas of the French Quarter looked the same as in Saigon — narrow streets with retail shops left and right.
Since it’s the holidays, there were lots of shops offering huge discounts.
I wanted to check what is within this hem.
We saw lots of cyclos going around but didn’t attempt to get on one. Not sure if it’s much easier to negotiate here in Hanoi than in Saigon. But they looked like decent folks.
We were able to drop by the iconic St. Joseph Cathedral. Unfortunately it was closed. Our friends said that it was actually nice inside.
If there’s a church, surely there’ll be Filipinos around and yes, there were lots of them having their photos taken just like us.
Hanoians like word plays or puns. 😛
Below is where the Water Puppet Show is shown right by Hoan Kiem Lake.
What I love with the Vietnamese is that they love their parks. And Hoan Kiem Lake is a perfect place to chill.
We happened to pass by this place on our way to Halong Bay very early in the morning and everywhere you could see groups of people exercising — young and old.
I just wish we had the same back in my own country.
This guy was painstakingly making a miniature scene.
The weather was snooze-worthy so it was no surprise to see this guy.
The clock below is a present from Bern, Switzerland.
We of course had to see the Hanoi Opera House. It looks grander at the sides.
While I was taking photos of the opera house, my husband was taking a photo of the some building on the right. I thought he was interested in the Hilton Hotel. But no, he was interested in the Hanoi Stock Exchange building. 😛
Below is an interesting building — a church turned fashion house.
Old limos by the Metropole Hanoi Hotel.
You have got to drop by Metropole! Their macarons are yum. And affordable too!
After a long walk, all we had to do was wait by the opera house for the bus to take us back to Long Bien.
This Hanoi trip needs a repeat.