Leaving Thailand to go to Vietnam was an exciting moment for me. I couldn’t wait to get off that plane and step into the country that I was dying to see the most. We started our Vietnam journey in Hanoi, and I’d be lying if I said it was a pleasant start to the trip. We should have known better seeing as the price of the private room in the hostel was too good to be true. The taxis when you get out of the airport all try to scam you and just a heads up, they do not have Grab (which is the equivalent to Uber or Lyft) in Hanoi and the taxi drivers refuse to use the meter. Our hostel was a 5 minute drive away from the airport, which would have been a 20-minute walk, and as we learned on the islands in Thailand, it’s a long walk with two backpacks each in the heat. After waiting to haggle, which no one would, we finally caved and took a shuttle bus for the same price as a cab (the driver didn’t speak any english as with all the cab drivers as well, and got lost 3 times so it wasn’t any better).
To be fair, the hostel did send a car to pick us up, but they did not wait within the hour time frame as we had to wait to get our VISA’s upon entering the country. When we finally got to the hostel (where again, no one spoke english), it was closed. We tried calling about 8 times and no one was picking up, or they would answer and hang up right away. We were so tired, just wanted to get some sleep, and the area this hostel was in was so sketchy that I just couldn’t shake this bad feeling. I had heard great things about Hanoi, but I guess every city has their not so great areas. The employee of the hostel finally came down and opened the door and checking in took a little longer because we had to use Google translator to speak to him, but we finally were able to go to our room.
Both of us were so relieved to get some sleep so we eagerly opened the door to our room and our hearts sank in our chest. At least mine did. It was the most awful room I had ever seen! I was terrified to put my stuff anywhere and was worried there were bed bugs. Needless to say, the shared bathroom on our floor was covered in black mould and bugs and did not look safe to use. Times like this I wonder if these rooms and bathrooms even get cleaned. This was not going to ruin my Vietnam experience though. We were so tired anyways we decided to just sleep and go earlier than planned to the airport. Neither one of us got a good night sleep that night and the next day we just went straight to the airport. I had no shame to brush my teeth in the airport washroom and freshen up in there because it would be better to get weird looks from strangers than to inhale any more toxic mould.
We got to the airport, had breakfast and waited until our time was up to check in and grab our boarding passes. Waiting at an airport is the worst, especially when you are not connected to the WiFi and it’s constantly busy, but we had each other’s company so we were able to pass the time well. We boarded our next plane and were finally on our way to Da Nang to see the dragon bridge!
Now, I really don’t mean to sound like all I am doing is complaining, because Vietnam was absolutely amazing and beautiful, but the few hours we had in Hanoi was not a great experience. I have heard wonderful things about Hanoi and we were only there for one night just to sleep and get back to the airport, which is why we did not stay in the city area (which I am sure would have been a completely different experience) and had to be super close to the airport. But, this experience has taught me a lesson that images are very deceiving and if a price is too low and sounds too good to be true for even a hostel, it’s most likely not great. Again, this is my own experience. If you have had a different experience, or even a similar one, please share it in the comments!
Da Nang was amazing, even though we only got to see one small area of it. We purposely stayed at a hostel right by the Dragon Bridge because I had been dying to see it (which was pretty much the only reason we went there) and was so excited! This time we actually stayed in a good place and once we arrived, showered, and felt like humans again, went out to explore our surroundings. We stumbled upon a night market just before the bridge and strolled through to scope out all the shopping and food we could eat. We strolled around and ended up finding a couple things to buy before deciding to get a fresh fruit juice and leaving to walk along the boardwalk and see everything along the river.
Unfortunately, the dragon bridge does not breathe fire during the week because they need to close down the bridge while this show happens. We did not know that and were there for a weeknight. If you are planning on visiting Da Nang and seeing the famous fire breathing Dragon Bridge, go on the weekend! The show starts at 9pm and continues on for a few hours and the head of the dragon spews out fire and water (I assume it is for safety reasons that they close the bridge to vehicles on both sides).
I am so happy that I got to at least see the dragon bridge, even though I did not get to see the fire show. I wish we had more time in Da Nang to take in everything else the city had to offer, especially going to the mountain to see the hands of God bridge that was built last year. It would have been a great site to see if we had another day or two to spend there. But alas, we only had the one night and then it was off to Nah Trang to meet a friend and spend some time on the beach.
Stay tuned for my next post on Nah Trang and the fun in the sun we had there!