We arrived at the Da Nang airport 2 hours early and ended up departing about 20 minutes late. This time we used Vietnam Airlines – more luxurious than JetStar – and were comfortably seated in the middle of the plane. We arrived in Ha Noi (or Hanoi) around 3:30pm.
We had decided that we wanted to try and begin our tour to Sa Pa (Sapa) in the Northwestern mountains of Vietnam tonight. I knew we were going to use The Real Kangaroo Cafe to book our tours to both Sapa and Halong Bay, but since our flight landed so late we couldn’t be guaranteed that we would be able to go tonight. Understandable.
Since we arrived in Hanoi a little late it pushed everything back a bit. We got our bags and rather than a taxi, we decided to go a cheaper route and use the Vietnam Airlines bus which cost $2/person. We found the bus, got on, no problem. Except they like to pack the bus full. So we sat at the airport in the van for probably 20-30 minutes before we finally left. And then the traffic. Hanoi’s airport is around 45 minutes -1 hour away from the city itself. It took us much much longer than either of us expected. The traffic was unbelievable and the smog… after being in HCMC and Hoi An I know why everyone is always wearing a mask or covering their face. Wow. Eventually (slowly) we made it to the Vietnam Airlines office and walked over to The Real Kangaroo Cafe to see if we could get on the train tonight. We cut it pretty close. We arrived at the cafe at 5:30pm and they depart at 7:30pm. Luckily everything worked in our favor and they were able to get us train tickets for tonight’s overnight train to Lao Cai!!! I was so excited to hear that!
We stayed there, packed a smaller bag and left our big bags there, had some beer (Bia Ha Noi), and ate dinner.
When it was time, our lovely guide (I didn’t catch her name!) gathered Zach, me, and Steve (our new British travelling partner) into the cab to take us to the train station. She got everything in order for us so that all we had to do was take our tickets and follow her to the train. She even showed us aboard to our cabins! She was great and about to pop. She’s over 8 months pregnant with her first child! Now that’s service!
So now we are on our first overnight train in our air conditioned cabin with soft berth beds. I think Zach is already asleep above me. Tomorrow morning (5:00am) we will arrive in Lao Cai where we will take a bus to Sapa. For now, it’s time to sleep.