Direct flights from Fukuoka to Hanoi only take 3.5~4 hours, and run every Tuesday and Saturday, so when Tatsu got 5 days holiday, we knew exactly how we wanted to spend it.
We spent 2 days in Old Quarter, in the heart of Hanoi City, eating all the food, sightseeing, and hanging out with the cool volunteer tour guides from Hanoi Kids ( http://hanoikids.org/ ). I mention that everything is cheap in Vietnam, but to give you an idea of just how cheap, our centrally located Hotel was $28 USD a night, for a room much bigger than any $100 hotel in Japan.
A bowl of Pho will cost about $2 USD. Tatsu and I could have a filling lunch for about $5 USD. Vietnamese Beer costs about $1 USD, and is a welcoming refreshment on a hot day.
Taxis can scam you, so you'll have to be careful and make sure they use the metre when you are riding, but we could get around town for on average, $3-4 USD per ride. Much cheaper than what we pay in Japan. The 40 minute drive to the airport cost $15 USD by Taxi. In Japan you'd expect to pay much, much more for the distance.
For our entire trip we budgeted $300 USD for spending for the two of us ($150 usd each), and we still had money left over by the time we got to the airport to fly back to Fukuoka. We aren't budget travellers and don't try to save money, so if you are someone who prefers to spend less money, it's definitely possible.
Then we took a tour to Halong Bay, a Unesco World Heritage Site, featuring over 1,600 islands. The scale was so vast and incredible, and the tour was really relaxing and a well-deserved break from our busy life in Japan. (Did I mention we had no WiFi, so we were totally disconnected during those two days as well!)
We booked with AClass Tours, and although we booked the "Legend" cruise, we got upgraded to the "Stella Cruise", which was more expensive, nicer bedroom, for no extra cost. ($120 USD for each of us.) The $120 each covered the 3.5 hour shuttle bus round trip, accommodation on the boat (beautiful ocean-view suite), all the national park entry fees (maze cave, floating village), four meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch), free wine tasting on ship, and even my visa letter. (Canadians need to apply for a visa before arriving in Vietnam, Japanese don't. The company I booked through took care of my Visa letter for free with reservation of the cruise.)
I booked on https://www.bestpricevn.com/halongbaycruises/
(This isn't sponsored by the way, I'm just writing this all down because when I was planning the trip I had a really hard time figuring out all this stuff myself. Hopefully this helps anyone who wants to plan their own trip!)
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