Vietnam: Hanoi First Impression

Most of the hotel in Hanoi provided one way free airport pickup for more than 2 nights stay. In fact, it was my first time having someone to wait for me at the arrival hall. Once we stepped out from the arrival hall, we were greeted and soon we were on a limousine to Hanoi Guest House at Bat Su, Hanoi’s old quarter. We booked hanoi room and all the tours with Hanoi Guest House before the trip via emails.

In Vietnam, US dollars were commonly used and widely accepted. When trading in US dollars, 1 US dollar was equivalent to 17760VND. But the market exchange rate was slightly better. Therefore the first thing we did after leaving our luggage with Hanoi Guest House was to exchange some of our US dollars to Vietnam Dongs. The best rate we managed to get was 18240VND at 130 Hang Bac. But do note that they offered lower rate for smaller US note, for example only 18170VND for twenty dollar notes. The airport rate was 18000VND at that time.

Trust me. This Quang Huy, gemstone and jewellery shop was also a money changer.

After that, we walked further to Hoan Kiem lake, "lake of the restored sword" in Vietnamese. The lake was indeed a precious natural spot to hanoians. It provided a spot to escape from the congested and polluted Hanoi streets. We took a stroll round the lovely lake and managed to cover the very first two eateries in our list, Fanny Ice Cream and Pho 24. Both had many franchise shops at HCM and Hanoi.

mirror-like green lake

From left: King Ly Thai To statue; one of the 4 gates.
The 4 gates were 报义门、报恩门、报德门 and 报福门. Sorry, no translations.

Hanoi in September was not as hot as previous few months, but then the humidity was still killing me. Therefore when we saw Fanny shop on the west side of the lake, we could not wait to get into the shop for the air conditioner. The interior was cosy and modern with fascinating pink, but most important it was air-conditioned. After checking out the attractive menu, we ordered foundue which allow us to sample 14 Fanny's flavours. The ice-cream was gelato-style ice-cream, following traditional French recipe.

Left: outside Fanny Ice Cream
Upper Right: inside Fanny Ice Cream
Lower Right: Fondue, 149KVND(~RM30)

Part of the menu

After Fanny, we passed by Pho24, which was famous for Pho Bo(beef noodles). Pho Bo was the national dish of Vietnam. Instead of the normal Pho Bo, the waiter recommended us Pho Special. Pho Special was a bowl of Pho with fillet, well-done flank, fat brisket, soft tendon, tripe, muscle and well-done brisket. The broth was nice but we found that the beef slices were a little bit hard. And it was not cheap at all, the pho special was at 45KVND(~RM9).

Upper: Pho24
Lower: Pho Special

Dinner was a bit early at 6pm in Little Hanoi. We were a bit conservative on our first day, so we did not go to the local roadside stalls with kindergarden tables and stools. We did not want to spoil the following Sapa and Halong Bay tours. Do not worry, we would come back and cover the real local food after that. Little Hanoi was another good reputation restaurant with comfortable environment for tourists. We were not that hungry, thus we only ordered 2 dishes. The food was above average, but nothing to shout about.

little hanoi

Part of the menu

Upper: noodles sauteed with beef and mix vegetables, 40KVND(~RM8)
Lower: fried catfish with dills and spices, served with rice, 55KVND(~RM11)

After taking a bath in Hanoi Guest House(they provided us a bathroom), we were sent to the train station. We had to catch a night train to Sapa. The advantage of booking the local tour with the same hanoi hotel that we were going to stay was we were allowed to use the bathroom and leave the bigger luggage at the lobby when we went for tours.

Hanoi Guest House
14 Bat Su
Hoan Kiem Dist
Tel: +84-4 38245732
Email: used this email add.)

Fanny Ice Cream
48 Le Thai To
Hoan Kiem Dist
Tel: +84-4 828-5689

Pho 24
31 Hang Khay
Hoan Kiem District
Tel: +84-4 39762424

Little Hanoi
9 Ta Hien
Hoan Kiem District
Tel: +84-4 9260168


Hugo Lim

greeting! thats one super informative packed entry!!!

soo sean

Hi Hugo, I am really excited to see your greeting. Most of the time people will just forget about the contacts exchanged during travelling. Send regards to your parents. :)


the scenery is great!
esp the mirror-like lake.
looking forward for more updates!


Very detail information on the food. I regreted that I went before your trip. I like the ice-cream.

soo sean

Thanks Suting!
The lake view is fantastic, but I do not like hanoi city. Too polluted.

Hi YT,
More to come in the future. Be prepared. ;)