Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay, 170km from Hanoi, means "Bay of the Descending Dragon" in the Vietnamese language. Ha Long Bay is one of the most magnificent scenic spots in all of Vietnam and was designated by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage in 1994.
It is a picturesque bay consisting of a dense cluster of 1969 limestone islets rising spectacularly from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, each topped with thick jungle vegetation. Washed by water and lapped by waves for hundreds of thousands of years, the bay owns mystical qualities and surrealistic scenery as the limestone basin has been carved into stalactic caves, crescent beaches with bizarre and awesome formations. Some of the famous creations are: Man’s Head Island, Dragon Island, Pair of Roosters Island, Incense Burner Island, Bell Island, Elephant Island, Wooden Stakes Cave, Pelican Cave, Virgin Cave, Cave of Awe, and so on… which all astonishingly resemble their namesake.
Viewed from above, the whole bay looks breathtaking as a splendid geographically works of art. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its high-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life.
It has been proven by scientists that Halong was one of the first cradles of human existence in the area at such archeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu, and Thoi Gieng. It is also a region of highly-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life. Reaching the depth of about 20m into the ocean and one can admire the panorama of coral reef field stretching endlessly and colourful flocks of sea creatures.
Amongst the many ways to explore this legendary stone world, kayaking has been emerging as a new, exciting and adventurous way that can lead tourists to the most primary parts of the bay. Staying overnight on the bay is also a favourite of many visitors. One can greet the early morning sunrise on the deck, watching sun light shining on every island, waking up every grotto and gradually covering the whole area. The morning can be spent with a breakfast and a leisurely sunbathing on board, then the afternoon is perfect for some diving, swimming, fishing and even enjoy right away a seafood barbecue on deck. A romantic dinner embraced by one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world will warm up every sense and passion of yours, and the evening will be full of surprise with party on board and night squid fishing.
Noi Bai International Airport
Hanoi is served by Noi Bai International Airport, located in the Soc Son District, approximately 40 km (25 mi) north of Hanoi. It is the only international airport for the northern regions of Vietnam.
There are two main highways linking the airport and city. The route to the city via Thang Long Bridge is more direct than Highway 1, which runs along the outskirts of the city. The main highways are shared by cars, motor scooters, with separate lanes by the side for bicycles. Taxis are plentiful and usually have trip meters, although it is also common to agree on the trip price before taking a taxi from airport to the city centre. Tourists also sometimes tour the city on cyclos especially in the Old Quarter.
Railway - Train
Hanoi is also the origin departure point for many Vietnam Railways train routes in the country. The Reunification Express runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi station, with stops at cities and provinces along the line. Trains also depart Hanoi frequently for Hai Phong and other northern cities.The Reunification Express line was established during French colonial rule, and was completed over a period of nearly forty years, from 1899 to 1936. The Reunification Express between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City covers a distance of 1726 kilometers and takes approximately 33 hours. As of 2005, there were 278 stations on the Vietnamese railway network, of which 191 were located along the North-South line. For night trains to Lao Cai - Sapa you can get a sleepy bed from Express train - Victoria train - Green train.
The main means of transport within Hanoi city are motorbikes, buses, taxis, and bicycles. Over the preceding decades, motorbikes have overtaken bicycles as Public buses run on many routes and fare can be purchased on the bus, with very cheap prices (20 cents for a journey where a taxi might cost $10.)
Persons on their own or traveling in a pair who wish to make a fast trip around Hanoi, to avoid traffic jams or to travel at an irregular time or by way of an irregular route, often use motorbike-man, which are unofficial, unregulated motorcycle taxis that involve the passenger sitting on the rear of a motorbike. Motorbikes can also be rented from agents within the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Bus & minibus
Hanoi has several main long-distance bus stations and each one serves a particular area. They are fairly well organised, with ticket offices, fixed prices and printed schedules. You should consider buying tickets the day before you plan to travel on the longer-distance routes to ensure a seat.
In central Hanoi, Kim Ma bus station (Pho Nguyen Thai Hoc & Pho Giang Vo) has buses to the northwestern part of Vietnam, including Hoa Binh (two hours driving) and Dien Bien Phu (16 hours driving).
Gia Lam bus station (827 1569; Pho Ngoc Lam) is the place for buses to points northeast of Hanoi. These include Halong Bay ( 3½ hours driving), Haiphong (two hours driving), Lang Son (three hours driving) and Lao Cai (nine hours driving), both near the Chinese border. The bus station is 2km northeast of the centre – cross the Song Hong (Red River) to get there. Cyclos can’t cross the bridge, so take a taxi (around 30, 000d) or motorbike. More convenient is the Luong Yen bus station in the southeast of town, serving the same places, plus Cao Bang (eight hours driving) and Ha Giang (seven hours driving).
Giap Bat bus station (864 1467; Pho Giai Phong) serves points south of Hanoi, including Ninh Binh (two hours driving) and Hue (12 hours driving). It is 7km south of the Hanoi train station.
My Dinh bus station (768 5549, Pho Pham Hung) is another option in the west of town, which serves a range of destinations, including Halong City, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Dien Bien Phu.
For safe travel in Vietnam and Cambodia, pack a first-aid kit with staples like bandages, disinfectant, tweezers and an anti-diarrheal medicine. To avoid problems in foreign pharmacies, where some drugs might be unavailable or of dubious origin, bring prescription medications in quantities large enough to last your trip. Avoid purchasing local prophylactics, which might be of poor quality, and pack a trusted brand from home. Also pack a fiber supplement for good digestion, as local food often lacks it.
Southeast Asia is usually hot and humid, so pack lightweight clothes made from breathable materials, like cotton. To respect local culture, Footprints Vietnam recommends dressing "cool but conservative," which will also be appreciated in Cambodia. Choose items like knee-length shorts, long skirts and tops with sleeves and modest necklines, which are also ideal for wearing in Cambodian temples. Also, Northern Vietnam can be chilly, so if traveling there, bring a coat, shoes and long pants.
The personal care products available in Vietnam and Cambodia, like tampons and pads, might be very different from the ones you are used to. Avoid problems and bring an adequate supply from home to last the trip, or consider purchasing a reusable form of protection, like a washable cup worn internally. Also, only pack cotton underwear, which allow your body to breathe.
Things for Safety and Comfort
Pack photocopies of your passport when traveling to Cambodia and Vietnam, which will help you obtain a new one should the original be lost. For extra security, Southeast Asia Travel Advice suggests purchasing a normal-looking belt with a hidden security pouch for storing cash. A high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunblock is also a must, and an umbrella will keep you dry and cool by doubling as a parasol. Also, bring mosquito repellant and baby powder to avoid chafed skin.
Bring a pair of comfortable supportive and sturdy sandals for travel in Cambodia and Vietnam. To make visiting temples and homes easy, look for a pair that are easy to slip on and off, as many places require footwear to be left at the door. If you're planning to trek or hike, a pair of boots are also a good idea. Simple flip-flops are another must and ideal for walking on the beach or padding around a guest house.
Cool Travel tours are available and starting from Ha Noi (Capital of Vietnam) to Ha Long, Northeast, Northwest provinces, Laos and China borders. Here are some mentions that you must think about before going as follows:
In other special cases, please feel free to contact us at any time you can.
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