Hanoi was a fun town to spend a few days. There are no traffic lights in the town so in order to cross the street look to see enough of a break in-between the mopeds and you just walk into the intersection. The key is to keep a constant pace and to avoid eye contact with the drivers. I met up with a few other travelers in Hanoi and we explored the city together. It is known for its water puppet show, which was quite entertaining.
If you are visiting Hanoi it’s imperative that you visit Halong Bay (an easy 3 hour drive from the city.) I went with Lisa & Michael (my new travel buddies for the week), we were joined by 8 other people which made for a nice group all from various countries (New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Columbia & South Korea). Halong Bay is one of the world’s natural wonders, and is one of the most beautiful destination of Vietnam. It features more than one thousand awesome limestone karsts and islands of various sizes and shapes along the coastline of Bai Chay Beach.

On the first day we visited Hang Sung Sot (Surprising Save) which was beautifully lit cave located along the bay. Later in the afternoon we kayaked through limestone grotto called Hang Luon into a lovely lagoon. With the weather being cold our guide still gave us the option of swimming for an hour and a half ~ we decided instead to live it up and jump off the boat into the water and then hurried inside to take a hot shower as it was quite cold out on the water. The next morning, we woke up bright and early to walk to the top of Tiptop Beach (only 340 steps) to view a 360 degree view of the area. It was great we were the only boat to dock that early in the morning so we were able to take in the sites with peace and quite. The views were beautiful as you looked out into the water amidst the fog I could imagine a pirate ship coming out from behind the rocks.

From Hanoi we then took an overnight trip farther north to Sapa to visit the hill tribes of northern Vietnam. Sapa is heavily developed for the purpose of tourist (as is most of Vietnam). The weather grew even colder and foggier (as a heads up January is a really bad month to visit the north) Lisa, Michael and I signed up for a trek and overnight homestay with a local family. The trek was very muddy, Lisa and I rented rain boots but unfortunately for Michael Vietnamese men have very small feet and rain boots don’t come in large sizes. As we start the trek there are 6 tribes women who follow up for the first half of our trek. They were very friendly and I was surprised with the amount of English they knew. Sapa is newer to the tourist circuit; it really began to boom about 5 years ago. The women were very sweet and would help us through the slippier terrain. The moment we stopped for lunch they turn into very pushy sales people.

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