6 March 2015
We saw something funny on our last day in Hanoi, and I wanted to include it in the blog.
People burn various things in different containers, outside on the sidewalk or in the road, as part of the ritual of offerings for ancestors and deities. So today, right in front of our hotel, was this little fireplace thing. And blowing around on the street were all these $100 bills, US dollars! Well of course I picked one up to check it out - and while it looks fairly real, the paper is very flimsy, even lighter than copy paper. No way to mistake it for the real thing. But it was pretty funny to see it blowing around.
Then the manager of the hotel came out, looked at us looking at the fake US money, and said, "Money for people in heaven." That's the way people get money to their ancestors, they burn fake money and the smoke goes up, and then their relatives are rich in heaven. (I'm not sure what one buys in heaven, but that's beside the point.) Interesting practice, isn't it? Makes sense in an odd kind of way.
I wanted to include some info (and links) for our hotels in Vietnam. We either were really lucky or we've just gotten good at selecting great hotels. We managed to find lovely places in good locations with big rooms, big beds, and low prices. Plus all had free wifi and breakfast included. How can you go wrong?
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon):
Signature Saigon Hotel
This was our first hotel in Saigon, very nice. Their price went up over Christmas, so we moved to a different spot. In District 1. The Art Museum is just around the corner, and the Ben Thanh Market is a few blocks up the road - great location.
We moved to Tan Hai Long 2, but I can't find a website for the hotel. Nice place - best if you either get the front family room, or get a twin room and push the beds together for a king bed. Closer to the Opera House than the Signature, but also not far from the Ben Thanh Market.
Nhi Phi Hotel
The prices were so inexpensive, we went with the suite! Huge room with a king bed, sitting area, desk, giant bathroom. (I'm talking under $40 a night for all of that!) Only downside was that we were on a lower floor and didn't have a window to the outside - the upper floors do, however. And just a block of two from the beach!
D & C Hotel
View of the Han River and all the bridges. They were running a special - pay for 2 nights and get a third night for free. Again, we went for the suite (for $33 a night with the special, who wouldn't???) - and it was even nicer than the one in Nha Trang, because it was on the corner of the building so we had a ton of windows.
Serene Palace Hotel
We had a nice room with a king bed, on a little street that seems like it's in the middle of nowhere but it really is just off the main streets of the old district of Hue. Restaurant downstairs is great, too.
Viet View Hotel
Our home in Hanoi. This is where we stayed while I had pneumonia, they stored our luggage when we went to Hong Kong and later Ha Long Bay - they're great. The rooms at the two ends of the hotel are bigger, either deluxe or suite rooms, but absolutely worth the extra price. If you stay longer than a few days, talk to the manager and you may be able to work out a better price. (And they even have large bathrobes that fit people of European descent - I love having a hotel bathrobe to use!)
Hanoi Golden Moon Hotel
We stayed here a week - nice place, big rooms, good price. Breakfast wasn't as good, and the wifi was slower than the Viet View. But rooms were lovely.
Gia Bao Grand Hotel
We only stayed here one night - we were supposed to stay at the Viet View when we returned from Ha Long Bay, but they were fully booked and made arrangements for us to stay at Gia Bao. Was a nice place with a big room, big bed, nice breakfast, decent wifi speed. No idea about the price, since we paid the Viet View for the stay.
As I said, we had a great time in Vietnam, and all the hotels we found were really good. We recommend any and all of these places!!! (If you start at www.rrrooms.com, you can compare prices for the hotels. But you often get a better price going directly to the hotel's website.)