AMAZING HANOI & SURROUNDINGS

“My visit to Vietnam was in the cold season – January and February 2016, part of the time coinciding with the Tet (new year) celebrations. Hanoi was ablaze with spectacular decorations, especially down-town, around the large Hoan Kiem lake, whose shores were decorated with flower beds and showed the Jade Mountain Pagoda, to which crowds of visitors had access over the red bridge called memorably of the Rising Sun. Andy led me there and to city’s main attractions, providing essential relevant historical information. Particularly memorable were the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius, the Hoa Lo prison, which functioned during the French colonial period, and some walks in the area of old Hanoi, near the Roman Catholic cathedral, where there is an infinite number of shops, small cafés, and the occasional Buddhist pagoda, the whole resulting in a characteristic atmosphere, a special feeling that can only be found in that part of Hanoi. Andy organized several trips outside the city. Driving out of Hanoi provided many opportunities to see its more modern aspects, wide avenues, sky scrapers and luxury malls . In the provinces, Andy took me to old Vietnam again: to the ancient village of Duang Lam (recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO), where it is a pleasure to walk down the narrow lanes along ancient laterite houses, and to an impressive Communal House which functions as a place of worship. Andy also took me to the ancient capital of Hoa Luu, and near there, to what was probably the most breath-taking part of the trip in terms of natural beauty: the Thang Nang river, where we were rowed in a small flat boat on the miraculously still water, which reflected all details of the surrounding country-side on its mirror-like surface. A truly magical place. In another visit , this time by train, Andy guided me to the mountain resort of Sapa, developed under the French to escape the high temperatures of the low lands during the Hot Season. The mountainous scenery there is spectacular, the slopes are marked with the mapping of rice-fields ( brown and rice-less at this time of the year) and dotted with the villages of the many hill peoples who live in the area. The various ethnic groups were wearing their best finery to celebrate the New Year, the colour of their clothes adding a touch of colour to the crowds of visitors, many of them from South Vietnam , who enjoyed the beginning of the year away from the sweltering heat, in North Vietnam’s cool weather at this time of year. During the entire trip, Andy proved to be an energetic, well informed and patient guide, who went out of his way to find places to visit which corresponded to my interests. Also, he adapted the trip to my special needs as a person with some limits to my mobility (For instance, walking in difficult terrain is not possible because of polio which has affected my legs). All in all, I can strongly recommend visiting Hanoi and the North of Vietnam, particularly in the company of Andy, a most careful, well informed and thoughtful guide.”

Reviewed by Walter Irvine,  Visited February 2016 – Hanoi and Surroundings Photography Tour
Source: triadvisor.com
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