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Our 15 Day Tour of Vietnam and Cambodia!

Shelly and I had talked for several years about visiting Vietnam.  So in 2018, we started planning our trip.  Since we didn't know a lot about the sites and history of Vietnam, we decided to do a tour rather than doing the trip on our own.  We booked our tour through Luxury Travel, a Vietnam travel company.  Vu Long (Louis) was our Sales Executive and he did a fabulous job planning and executing our trip.  We had private guides and drivers at each location.  The guides had local knowledge and enhanced our experience with details about each site.  We visited Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam, and Siem Reap in Cambodia.

Getting There

We used our frequent flier miles to fly free this trip.  Because of this, we had to deal with two stops (London and Bangkok) on the way to Vietnam, and three stops (Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and London) on our way home.  We departed from Dulles International near Washington DC at 10:00pm on Wednesday, February 27th.  Neither Shelly nor I slept a wink.  Too excited, I guess.  We watched two movies, A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and Bohemian Rhapsody with Rami Malek.  The movies made the flight pass quickly, but we were both tired by the time we arrived at Heathrow. 

We then learned our flight to Bangkok was delayed and would be two hours longer as we could not fly over Pakistani airspace due to a conflict between Pakistan and India.  This 13 ½ hour flight was excruciating.  We tried to sleep but no luck.  We did get very good service from the Thai Airways flight attendants though.  Due to the flight delay and rerouting, we missed our flight to Hanoi.  We spent three hours in line at Suvarnabhumi Airport to rebook our flight to Hanoi.  I use the word “line” loosely as there were in fact 4 lines to counter ticket attendants, but masses of people who cut in the lines near the counters.  Very disorganized and frustrating.  But we were able to a flight out in the afternoon and relaxed at the lounge for a couple hours. 

A short one-hour flight and we were in Hanoi. 

Hanoi - Our First Stop

We were picked up at the airport and shuttled to our hotel, the La Siesta Hotel Trendy & Spa located in the Old Quarter.  The boutique hotel is at the center of a district packed with charming colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and pagodas.  The Old Quarter, located near Hoan Kiem Lake in Hoan Kiem District, is Hanoi’s major commercial district.  Here's a picture of the hotel lobby.

La Siesta Trendy Lobby.jpg

The first thing we noticed in Hanoi was the traffic.  Scooters, scooters, everywhere!  But unlike India, this seemed to be an organized chaos.  We had to be careful crossing the streets, pick a point and time to cross, then walk deliberately without running or hesitating.  The scooters time it and drive around you.  Here's some pictures of the crazy traffic.

On our first tour day in Hanoi, we headed to see Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.  On the way, the traffic stopped completely.  We waited for 5 to 10 minutes, then our tour guide suggested we get out and walk to it.  As we walked, we realized the streets were closed off for Kim Jong Un’s motorcade.  Kim was in Hanoi for a meeting with President Trump the day before and stayed to see the sights.  We saw the motorcade a second time on our way to the mausoleum. 

We queued up at the Mausoleum and met a bunch of school kids who were enjoying saying “hello” to us.  We responded with friendly “xin chào’s”.  The Mausoleum was unimpressive, nothing much to see but the large, square building, and Minh’s body, which is on display only in the mornings. 

We then went to the Temple of Literature, the first university of Vietnam.  Built in 1070, the Temple is dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars.  It was a cool site with attractive grounds and multiple courtyards that served the teachers and students. 

Our next stop was the Fine Arts Museum, showcasing Vietnam's fine arts from a range of historical periods.