Vietnam 2010

A whistle-stop trip from north to south (and a hop next door)


I would highly recommend the Church Hotel in Hoan Kiem District. The location was ideal for us as we were happy to explore the area on foot and it was within comfortable walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ba Dinh District, where the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is located. We walked from our hotel to all the sites and restaurants we visited during our stay in Hanoi.

Our 6th floor room overlooked the street with the Catholic Cathedral (St Joseph’s) to our left. It rained most of the time we were there and since it was winter, temperatures flirted with chilly (okay, 15-18C isn’t that bad..), but the room was heated. The bed was comfortable, there was a free, fast internet connection (no WiFi, but a cable was provided), satellite TV, a safe in the wardrobe, a wide selection of amenities in the bathroom. For $50 a night for a standard room, we had no complaints. Breakfast was included, but this was a spartan a la carte affair. Not a big deal for me as I typically don’t eat a large breakfast, but could be disappointing for those who need to load up in the morning.

We found the staff to be super helpful and they spoke English well enough that we consulted with them on any issues we couldn’t resolve ourselves. They also allowed us to store a bag at the hotel free of charge for 5 days while we traveled around the north of the country.

Contact details:

9 Nha Tho Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi City, Tel: +84 4 9288118/9; Email:


La Place

A fab little restaurant frequented by both locals and foreigners, it serves food from both east and west. We ate there twice and they made by far the best phở I tasted on the trip. The walls are covered in party propaganda posters, the tables are all covered in newsprint and a box of crayons sits with the condiments so that patrons can amuse themselves and each other with games, drawings and puzzles of their own creation.

For $1-ish for a bowl of phở, you can’t beat the value.

4 Au Trieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi; Tel: (04) 9285859; E-mail:

Tandoor (Indian)

Nice atmosphere, we saw mostly abelungu in the restaurant, but it’s apparently popular with Indian expats.

24 Hang Be St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Tel: 04/824-5359;

Prices: Main courses 29,000 VND-125,000 VND ($2-$8)

Quan An Ngon

Vietnamese food-hall restaurant with everything from intelligible vegetables, to charred carcasses which may be sparrows, insects or small animals. Food is fast, fresh and fantastic!

18 Phan Boi Chau,Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Tel: 04 – 3942 8162 / 3; Email:


Offers both Vietnamese and Western menu. Located on  Hang Hanh restaurant strip. Great place to sit on the curb and watch Hanoi go by.

37 Hang Hanh, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Tel: 04 392 88399

Sites and attractions:

Temple of Literature

Cnr of Van Mieu and Quoc tu Giam, Van Chuong District, Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Vestige (Take note of opening times)

1 Bach Thao, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; Tel: 08044529 / 08043559 / 08043816

Opening times:

SUMMER: 7.30am to 11.00am and 2.00pm to 4.00pm

WINTER: 8.00am to 11.00am and 1.30pm to 4.00pm

Open every weekday except Monday afternoons and Friday afternoons (guide books may give different times, but these are the times on the brochure)

Hoa Lo Prison (The Hanoi Hilton)

1 Pho Hoa Lo, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi; Tel: 04 393 42253

Opening and closing times may change and the guide books all say the prison is closed on Monday and Friday, but we were there on a Monday in winter and the board outside gave the hours as daily from 8.00am to 11.30am and 1.30pm to 5pm.

Ngoc Son Temple

Dinh Tien Hoang St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening times: 8.00am to 5.00pm daily

We paid about 10 000 dong per person (+/- 50c) admission


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