This is the final part of a 3-part travel adventure series whereby we embarked on a‘garang’ travel in the spirit of #ZUJIGarangExplorer.
All our travel bookings are done via ZUJI for the best deals. Read about Alvin’s experience with ZUJI and why we chose to fly to Hanoi versus Ho Chi Minh City.
For a little travel surprise, read through till the end of this post and find out how you can win some ZUJI vouchers to sweeten your next holiday!
If you been to cities in Vietnam, you will be awestruck by how crazy the traffic is. Motorbikes are everywhere and people do not follow the traffic lights. How do you get around then?
Getting around – Join in the anarchic traffic as a biker
If you’re more of a free spirit and thrill seeker, you can consider renting a bike to get around which is also the most economical and convenient way of getting around.
There are quite a number of bike shops around which you can easily Google, I chose Phung Motorbike because their rates seems to be the most reasonable in terms of deposits + rental with fast response through their Facebook account, but most importantly, my bike felt well-maintained and safe to use throughout our 5d4n trip.
Also, bikes are pretty much Vietnamese’ main form of transport, in fact many of the roads doesn’t seem to be built for cars, like the Cầu Long Biên bridge along the Red river for example, which doesn’t seem to have any car lanes.
Me with my Yamaha Nouvo 135cc
With bikes you get to see beautiful sceneries of Hanoi, like a sunset over Cầu Long Biên bridge.
Or the glorious illuminations over the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum at night.
Dangerous or not?
Whether it’s safe or not to bike in Vietnam is quite subjective, personally in my opinion, because the traffic is so chaotic, everyone seems to be looking out for each other to avoid any collision.
Do use your common sense, be a defensive rider and follow basic safety rules
- If unsure, go slow or stop
- Don’t be a hero
- Don’t challenge any vehicles bigger than you, let them pass or overtake safely.
- Use your horns excessively
Watch how Alvin and I rode around Hanoi and judge for yourself:
Shopping – Chợ Đồng Xuân (Dong Xuan Market)
This is the biggest sheltered market that you can find in Hanoi, I won’t really recommend coming here to buy any souvenirs as they seem to prefer to deal in bulk orders and the people generally don’t seem as friendly as elsewhere.
Nonetheless it’s still nice to come and have a look, the sights of hundreds of wholesale vendors with colourful textiles is quite intriguing to the eyes.
A stall selling colourful textiles.
On the lower-levels, it is more “Small orders friendly”, you can get some souvenirs and light shopping done there, there are lots of pirated and original-looking goods available and don’t forget to bargain, best if you visit with a local.
Locals resting at the podium.
An overview of Dong Xuan market’s interior.
Safety note: Beware of pickpockets, the messy and tight corridors makes anyone an easy target, check your surroundings often and ensure your belongings are secure.
Fresh and dried produce can be seen surrounding the perimeters of the market, many locals do come here to get their grocery shopping done. Here you can see a stall selling Buddha’s Fingers (The weird looking fruit at the back), limes and Ling Zhi.
A dried seafood stall.
There are also dozens of different species of live seafood such as oysters, clams, eels and big head prawns can be purchased here, most of the prices that we saw seems quite cheap and reasonable, definitely worth to purchase if you have the means to preparing your own meals.
If you are adventurous and love exotic meat, you might wanna try out these soft shell turtles, we keep seeing these turtles everywhere but we just couldn’t stomach it.
Night life – Bia Hoi Junction
Perhaps the most popular and hip place to be, Bia Hoi junction is where you’ll find many local youngsters hanging around and chatting the night away while drinking cheap cold beer.
I find it quite surprising to see a caucasian woman promoting and serving beer in an asian country, this is a pretty rare sight!
Lots of locals, expats and tourists hang around in Bia Hoi Junction, enjoying their dinners and cheap beers.
We managed to find a quiet corner in one of the busiest nightlife hotspots, too bad I couldn’t enjoy any beer as I am the only driver and Alvin doesn’t drink anymore.
We ordered a pork and chicken grill set, the shop assistant voluntarily helped us cooked, he made it extra delicious by dumping as much butter as possible….totally worth clogging my arteries.
You can also find makeshift stalls selling fresh seafood such as giant clams, fresh oysters and even snails in Vietnamese BBQ style, I personally wanted to try but Alvin was afraid of getting food poisoning so we skipped it.
A street seafood BBQ stall that serves giant clams, crabs, oysters and snails.
Other than cheap beer and food, you will find many shops selling authentic branded goods at incredible low prices. They are usually “defective rejects” from the factories that produce them in this region, I personally gotten The North Face shoes and pants for less than USD$50 and they had no defects at all. It would had easily cost me USD$150-200 if I bought from an “Authentic shop”.
This is the place you’ll definitely want to spend a lot of money on apparels and accessories.
Bia Hoi Junction, active once the sun sets, Google maps location.
Get out and explore- Van Phuc Silk Village
Located about 13km away from the tourist hot spots of Old Quarters, this is a place that we highly recommend to come and do some shopping for premium silk products. The streets were full of vendors selling silk related products, it’s prices were also incredibly cheap! Alvin and I bought several silk pillow cases at only USD$2.50 each.
The silk shirts here comes in big US sizes too and I bought one for just USD$30.00.
The streets of Van Phuc Silk Village are packed with vendors selling mainly just silk products, such as scarfs, shirts and pillow cases.
There are dozens of different colours and patterns to choose from, the fabric comes in roll forms that’s designer-friendly too.
Van Phuc Silk Village, Opens day time, Google maps location.
Lastly – Enjoy a coconut over West Lake
There are several spots with vendors serving fresh coconuts with seats overlooking the west lake, it is also the biggest lake in the capitol of Hanoi, a gorgeous place to bring you soulmate to catch the sun rise or set daily.
Itching to travel to Hanoi after reading this post?
Here’s how you can receive S$50 in ZUJI vouchers for your travel bookings – apply for The American Express True Cashback Card through ZUJI.
The card itself comes with a slew of travel discounts through ZUJI’s partnership with American Express:
Flight and package rebate
· 6% flight/package rebate for 2-to-go (meaning bookings with 2 or more pax)
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· 12% hotel coupon code. No minimum spend required
If you are looking to travel to somewhere else, all Thai Airways destinations will be going on sale for 3 days from 14 to 16 June. Do look out for it here!
We are giving away 5 x S$100 ZUJI vouchers Alvinology readers!
For a chance to win, simply:
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- Contest ends at 11.59 pm on 15 July 2016. The winner will be notified via Facebook, and must be able to collect the prize in Singapore.