Sailing HaLong Bay & Our Final Stop, Hanoi | Northern Vietnam

It was a long, long journey to the final part of our trip – HaLong Bay and Hanoi. We took the dreaded 15 hour sleeper train (which turned out to be the most fun sleeper train we had) from Hué straight to Hanoi, arriving around 6.30am, and then jumped straight onto the coach for 4 hours to HaLong Bay. 

After eventually getting there and checking in to our hotel, we drove straight to the harbour and onto our boat that we would sail around on, whilst visiting the caves, having a buffet lunch and generally appreciating how beautiful it all is. 

So the views and our scenery quickly combatted any sleep deprivation and once again, I was very snap happy..

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The boat trip was undoubtedly a highlight of my time in Vietnam, and a definite must-see if you visit. I could’ve sailed around with everyone for days, but unfortunately we were only in HaLong Bay for 24 hours and after the best Italian meal in the evening, the next morning we packed up our backpacks yet again and started the trip back to the capital, Hanoi. 

Hanoi is a lot like Ho Chi Minh City, in terms of its busy roads and the inability to cross them, and the general pace of the city – a world away from HaLong Bay’s peacefulness. 

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We spent our days wandering the city, seeing street performers, eating burgers in Gecko and visiting the sites when we weren’t hungover.. 

I did visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, and learnt more about the political history of Vietnam, and the life of Ho Ch Minh.

Hanoi was bittersweet for me, as although the city itself is fun, energetic, and packed full of bars and clubs, and we had some amazing nights, it was the place we also had to say goodbye to everyone. 

I never really believed people who said you can feel like you’ve known someone forever, but realistically only known them a short time, but I was proven totally wrong. I under appreciated just how close I would become to everyone, and evidently, how hard goodbyes would be. I could’ve continued travelling with our group forever – some of the best and most interesting people I’ve ever met and 100% friends for life!

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Could never have dreamed of better people to start travelling with, and if you’re reading this, I love you, I miss you + I can’t wait to be reunited! 

So the Vietnamese adventure had ended. But I now have some incredible new friends, photos to look back on and amazing memories of my first backpacking trip to a pretty awesome place. If you haven’t been, I couldn’t recommend Vietnam more! 

Sham and I headed to Bangkok and are now exploring Northern Thailand – some big ticks off my bucket list already, and some unbelievable places still to visit. 

Thank you for reading! 

Charlotte J. X 

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