Winter holidays – Vietnam 2: Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Day 6 – Hanoi

I was due to check out at 12 noon. I had breakfast and then went for a wander around the city, particularly to the lake. I also wanted to see what the traffic situation was like. It was quieter, and there was less traffic. The lake area, however, seemed particularly busy. People wore traditional clothes and lots of families taking photographs of each other. I returned to the hotel, and did the remainder of my packing.

I went to the lobby and checked out about 11.45, and at about 11.50, the car came to take me to the airport. I was expecting (I’m not sure why, I just presumed) that it would be a traditional taxi, but it was obviously a driver who the hotel used, which made sense, considering I didn’t have to pay them (it was part of my hotel bill).

As Hanoi and HCM do not have subway systems, I thought it wise to pay a little bit extra for airport pick up and drop off, especially because I had no real idea where the hotels were and having never visited either city before, I’d be hopelessly lost.

My fears, of heavy traffic or turning up late to the airport, were unfounded. It took about 30 minutes to get there, a lot quicker than when I arrived. Outside the city centre, the roads were all but deserted.

I had booked a budget airline for the two-hour flight between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. I checked in and went to sit near the gate to read my book. At boarding time, the plane seemed very full and there were few other Westerners that I saw (I counted four others). I had ordered a meal on the flight, which was a small additional extra (I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get a meal nearby my hotel in HCM). I presumed that it was the standard thing (having never flown on a budget airline before), but only 5 or 6 people had ordered food, from what I saw of the cabin crew’s list. The meal was very nice, but I felt a little disconcerting as I ate and the toddler sat next to me looked at my meal in want….

Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City

We arrived a little late at HCM airport, but I managed to get my luggge quickly (for once!) and then my lift was waiting for me. I walked outside the airport into the heat, like walking into an oven.

The hotel I had booked for HCM was from my guide book, which recommended it. Although it was down an alley, which consisted mostly of people’s homes, the room itself was nice and the hotel pretty central to everything. Breakfast was fine too – there wasn’t a huge range of options – mostly omelettes or eggs and toast – but it was filling enough. On arrival, I decided on what to do for the following days, and where to go. I did not get a map at this hotel, so instead I relied on my guide book and my phone, which actually worked fine (I obviously didn’t get any signal, except in wifi hotspots, but I could use my map app to navigate well enough).

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