Author: Psyche Castillon

Budget Guide: 11 Days in Hanoi for P28,000

Hanoi was not an expensive city to visit. In fact, even though we stayed there for more than a week, we spent well beneath our budget and was even able to squeeze in an expensive and indulgent (but truly enjoyable) afternoon at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel and some shopping. This is my budget guide for Hanoi and this post accompanies my Weekend in Hanoi post. Advertisements

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West Lake and the Best Little Bookstore in Southeast Asia

I love to read books, and I don’t just love to read books. I also love to visit small and independent bookstores because I want to collect books and I know most bookshop owners are also book lovers. They are, in fact, book experts! So, it was a good surprise to learn that Hanoi has an independent bookstore selling English books. And that was the reason why we were headed to the West Lake on a Friday afternoon.

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Old Quarter and Where to Stay in Hanoi

From many guide books/blogs, I always read about the 36 Streets of Hanoi, which make up the Old Quarter. Every day, for eight days, we walked the Old Quarter, from east to west, north to south, and we almost did not walk on the same street ever. I was counting up to 36 streets, and I was ready to conclude that the guide books are lying. There are no 36 streets. The Old Quarter is a maze and there are a hundred streets!

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Hanoi Shopping Guide and My Unusual Hanoi Souvenir

Hanoi, for me, is an ideal shopping destination. In the French Quarters, you can buy luxury goods (Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Valentino). In the Old Quarters, you can buy raw materials at wholesale prices. In between, there is high street. This is not a comprehensive shopping guide to Hanoi, but this is what I thought were the good things to buy in the charming city.

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Gourmet Tuyo and Pasalubong Ideas from the Taboan Public Market

Bulad (which means “to dry” in the Visayan language) is a popular pasalubong item when you’re visiting Cebu City. Danggit is undeniably the queen of all bulads, but the truth is, I hardly eat danggit at all. That is because I always feel cheated that there is hardly any fish meat in danggit. One of my favorite bulads is galunggong or scad. And today, a Friday, I made my homemade gourmet tuyo using dried scad I bought from the Taboan Market. If you read further, I’m also sharing other things you can buy as pasalubong from the Taboan Market.

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Cafe with the Best View of Hanoi — Cong Ca Phe

We’ve circled the Old Quarters thrice and always came back to the rotunda beside the Hoan Kiem Lake to see the flow of traffic in the late afternoon. Finally, after watching the Thang Long water puppet show on a Monday, we plopped ourselves in the fourth floor of the Cong Caphe, enjoyed our local coffee, with what I think was the best view in the whole of Hanoi.

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Giang Cafe — Home of the Original Egg Coffee

What is Vietnam without mentioning coffee, right? Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world so a trip to Vietnam would not be complete without drinking coffee. In our month-long trip, I would have to say that the egg coffee (ca phe trung) was not just the most unique coffee I have tasted in Vietnam, it was also the most delicious. And the best place to have it is in the place where it all started — Cafe Giang.

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Thang Long Citadel and Ba Dinh Square

Thang Long was the former name of Hanoi. It literally means “rising dragon” and this dragon is the same dragon that descended upon in Ha Long Bay, at least according to our guide, aptly named Mr. Vietnam. While Hanoi is famous for being a charming old-world timeless city, it was also the birthplace of many great empires, the remains of which has been inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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