Happy in Hanoi

I have a sneaking suspicion that I enjoy planning a vacation more than the actual vacation itself. 

First, there's deciding on the destination which is usually heavily influenced by the Travel and Living Channel (TLC) and books.

Next comes browsing accommodations, researching on things to see, places to visit, food to try etc. Then comes hunting for airline tickets that will fit my budget (although recently, this has become the first step in my travel plan. Buy a heavily discounted ticket and then plan everything afterwards) and when that's done, finalize accommodations and make an itinerary. Fun, fun, fun!

Our recent vacation in Hanoi was extra special because it was the first time that my husband and I traveled abroad and it was also the baby's first trip abroad. I foresee lots more traveling in the future for my little brood, but Hanoi will always be special.

I took note of what we spent for our week-long vacation so let's talk numbers, but let me just preempt myself by saying that I was pleasantly surprised at the total figure.

*Tickets - Php8,128
Hotel room - Php18,000
Halong Bay overnight cruise- Php16,200
**Pocket money - Php13,500
Total: Php55,828

Admittedly, we could have saved more by getting cheaper accommodations, but since we had a baby with us, I knew that we couldn't be on the go the entire time and would need lots of breaks in between sight-seeing. As it turned out, the baby got sick during the middle of our vacation and we ended up staying in our hotel for three days. It was then that I truly appreciated our spacious and comfortable room in Hanoi Charming 2 Hotel.

Breakfast came free, we had a PC in our room, the wifi was strong and the hotel staff was great. If I go back to Hanoi, I'm making a beeline for Charming II.

The Halong Bay cruise is very, very touristy and again, there are other cheaper alternatives, but I didn't want to get a party boat, so I opted to pay extra and it was well worth it.

We stayed in the Paloma, which was a mid-level boat. Not quite rickety raft but it's no luxury liner either. We were bumped up to the family suite (thanks!!) which meant that we had a slightly bigger room and a patio.

The food was amazing! And although I enjoyed chatting with our Serbian friends, I kinda wished it was just my husband and I sharing the table so I would have more of the shrimp for myself. teeheehee

We were supposed to go on a food tour (USD25/pax) back in Hanoi, but had to cancel because the baby had a fever. I swear, that food tour is enough reason for me to go back to Hanoi. We also weren't able to check out the West Lake area, including this fashion boutique that all the expats raved about.

My takeaways from this vacation are: (1) My husband and I make good travel partners (yihee!) and (2) Traveling doesn't have to be expensive after all.

I was amazed that what we spent for a week's vacation in Hanoi is equal to a round trip ticket for one person to Europe. Which means that traveling around Asia is very doable and my European fantasy will have to wait for several more years.

It helped that I was able to get dirt cheap tickets (Piso fare!) and that Hanoi in general is not an expensive city. A steaming bowl of pho costs less than a hundred pesos, while this noodle dish I still dream of was also only a hundred pesos or so. Food trip talaga.

Hay naku, I'll be back Hanoi. Promise.

*For 2 adults and 1 infant on lap via Cebu Pacific
** I didn't keep close track of what we spent for food, cab fares, souvenirs etc., but I only had USD$300 exchanged for our entire stay and had about a few dollars left after our vacation.


t0ni said…
My best memories of HCM were of the food too! Then again, fried spring rolls lang and bread from the maglalako outside our hotel, okay na okay na sa akin. I want to Hanoi too!!!
Jillsabs said…
Let's go! Kahit a few days lang. Although let's go when it's cold there, hindi ko kaya maglibot ng mainit. Iitim ang kutis ko... bwahahahaha!
wow! P55k+ for a week? not bad. I want to travel pero sabi ng wallet ko, huwag daw muna ngayon. hehehe..
Jillsabs said…
Oo, dapat staycation muna kayo in your new and fab condo :)
Irish Fleur said…
wow! 55k for a week :) did avail a tour dito sa Philippines before you get there o book lang agad ng hotel :) in regards airfare nagavail ba kayo ng seat sale :)
Jillsabs said…
Hi irish,

Our hotel arranged our Halong bay tour and we were able to avail of Cebu Pacific's Piso fare promo, so our RT tickets amounted to Php8,000++ for two adults and one infant.

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