HANDLING HANOI

After drafting some new recruits, Jack, Jesus and Grace, we all braved a 15 hour bus ride to heart of Hanoi, our home for the next two nights. After our great time at Hue Backpackers we opted to stay in the Hoian Backpackers Original, the owners and concept are the same. Getting there We did the bus thing again,the bus ride itself should cost no more than $11 per person and it by far the cheapest way of getting to Hanoi. We went through Hanh Cafe this time and were bitterly disappointed with the bus we got, it was old, uncomfortable and took forever. Once the bus pulls up to the station, you are inundated with taxi drivers who want your business. We would recommend not getting these taxis as they have a reputation of ripping you off. Go on the road and hail down a green and white taxi company called Mai Linh.

We simply decided to embark travel by foot on a quest through the streets of Hanoi. Bravely dodging cars, bikes, Banh Mi ladies, and a few hawkers, we managed to arrive at our destination in less than 20 minutes. Hanoi Backpackers There are two locations of the Hanoi Backpackers, one is the original location and the newer version, Downtown. Having heard the original one was a bit quieter and more relaxed we opted for that. Upon arrival we paid $7 per bunk and a 100,000 VND deposit for our 6 bed dorm, with the five of us occupying it. After dropping our bags, we decided it was time to check out the AFL Grandfinal in the bar downstairs. With a free beer when the game started, we were onto a good start. Also being able to have a taste for the old faithful Vegimite with a slice of toast and watching the Hawks win the Grand Final was nice little taste of home in Aus.

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Our room was ok, three bunks with a bathroom. Wouldn’t call it overly modern but the price was right. The bathroom was a bit of a danger zone, the bath appeared to be sinking every time we stood in it. Breakfast was included though, with the choice of pancakes or eggs with toast, it’s enough to get you ready for the day. Bar and food prices were slighting higher then the Hue Backpackers with an increase of 5000 VND per drink/food item. The saving grace of Hanoi was it’s rooftop bar, once you’ve made it up the 70 flights of stairs you’ll welcome a nice cold brew of their fresh beer. With music and relaxed vibe, things often start civilised and end up a bit rowdy. We enjoyed several nights drinking and making new friends to add the collection. A word of warning, Pink eye/conjunctivitis is rife in the North of Vietnam, three cats in our crew fell to the perils of it, make sure you check out our guide to beating it. It was going round this hostel like wildfire with between 10-15 people, perhaps it was the cleanliness of the hostel, or perhaps its just unavoidable when travelling north.

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With a few nights on the booze we weren’t completely productive at Hanoi, we did see the War Museum and walked past Ho Chi Minh’s memorial. The War Museum played more of a focus of the French side of War and had hundreds of old war items. No where near as good or interesting as the War Remnants Museum in Saigon, but a good visit if you’re a war buff.

The food in Hanoi is definitely worth a mention, with mazes of streets littered with street food options, it’s a great place to discover some local delights. There are also plenty of budget friendly restaurant options too if you’re not game on street food.

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ARM & A LEG: WHAT IT COST US

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LONG ASS BUS RIDE $8 USD

We got a Hanh Cafe bus this time and it took a very long time 9 hours or so, but for such a small price it's still the best option. Sinh Cafe will be a $1-$3 more but is usually worth it.

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6 BED DORM ROOM $5-6 USD

We decided to stay at Hanoi backpackers when we went to Hanoi, it was fairly cheap and the first one we came across. Our beds were average and the bathroom was fairly grimy, it felt like the bath was going to fall through the floor every time we stood in it. Great rooftop bar and social atmosphere.

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