Day 3 in Hanoi is a day of chilling in cafes and relaxation amidst the chaos of the city roads of the Old Quarter.
Here’s a quick summary of the 4D3N itinerary that my travelling companion & I chillaxed to. Read on for Day 3 of our adventures!
What better way to end a trip, then to just relax our day through. With no real plans ahead apart from the main objective to spend a relaxing day in the Old Quarters, we proceeded for a leisurely breakfast at Hanoi Social Club amidst the light drizzling rain.
Loved the ambience of the cafe, it felt very much so like an Alice In Wonderland landscape, where there’s random quirky furniture and mismatched styles all around the cozy space. And instead of a rabbit to lead us down the rabbit hole, we had a resident kitty cat who basically wasted no time in showing us who’s the boss in the house. He/she hung around ON me for the longest time, trying to get a taste of my yummy looking floral shorts and occasionally hops onto the table just to seek attention.
The food was just fabulous. Generous portions of each order, and amazingly flavorful taste with each and every bite! We got the Potato Fritters with Chorizo and Sides of Avocado and Mushroom (bottom left of pic) and the Spiced French Toast (top right of pic), with traditional vietnamese dark brew and egg coffee to wash all that sinful goodness down.
With people starting to stream into the cafe, we headed out into the streets again. And guess what I saw along the way? Raw Juicery: A COLD-PRESSED JUICE BAR! How awesome, personally I love drinking cold-pressed juices because I’m too lazy to eat my nutrients. Of course we had to get in there and get an order of Kumquat Juice (for just 25,000 dong or SGD 1.50) to freshen my digestive systems up for the morning!
Leisurely strolling down the streets, I was on the lookout for a nails salon to get my CNY nails all done up, and my friend happy to find a nearby bar/drinking salon to chill the hour away. There were plenty of home-like salons that offered nail services, but I was determined to find something more legit. Lo and behold! I found Tiny & Nails where I was more than happy to pay 280,000 dong (or SGD 17) for a full set of manicured, gelish nails with simple nail art. Hint: the pace of services is relatively slow compared to Singapore, so expect to set aside about 1.5 to 2 hours for a Gelish session.
Satisfied with my nails, I went in search of my friend who was enjoying her beer in one of the drinking holes, and we proceeded to explore a street packed full of restaurants/cafe/random shops Ma May Street which we discovered on our way home the previous night. Finally feeling a little peckish, after our very heavy breakfast meal, we found the famous Banh My P along the street and took a break to share a bite!
My exclamation when I had my first bite: “Subway is so going down if this comes to Singapore!” and I still mean every one of those words. For a bread-hater, I actually would be happy to eat this for the rest of my life. We got the Grilled Chicken Bannh My with additional Egg (don’t scrimp on this!) to share. It was served to us piping hot, drizzled generously with some mystery sauce, well-marinated meat and thick hot fluffy egg with every bite and crispy crunch to the bread (just look at the fillings in the last pic).
Happy to have satisfied the tummy, we barely walked a few more steps from the store before spotting a gorgeous shopfront of a cafe. Cong Caphe is a modern eclectic Communist-themed coffee chain popular in Vietnam – and I can absolutely see why (even their website is gorgeous). The atmosphere in the cafe is ridiculously chill, that it wasn’t long before we realized we had been there for almost 3 hours. I gave the Coconut Coffee a try (there were considerations about my bowels in a foreign land, but I decided #YOLO haha) and was pleasantly surprised to see it served as a coconut slushie on top of a thick vietnamese brew.
While my friend was in the washroom, I chatted up a lady sitting next to us in the cafe, because I thought she looked familiar from the previous day! Turns out she was with us on the same Halong Bay trip yesterday, and is a Jap-Sino tourist travelling all by herself for a month or so. So we decided to go grab a drink and dinner together!
Pre-dinner drinks was at Bio 45, a super touristy trap for tourists who want to have some snacks, drinks, act rowdy and raise their glasses to the roads right beside their tables. But we were fortunate that not many people start drinking at 5pm in the evening, so we pretty much had the space to ourselves again! All the beers were super cheap so alcoholics would definitely have a field day here!
We learnt lots about the Japanese and Chinese Cultures chatting with our new found friend and even helped her book an airport transfer for the following day before proceeding to settle our hunger pangs. We walked around for a bit in the area trying to figure out what would be good, and eventually settled on Nola’s Cafe, another hidden gem in the area (just check out it’s beautifully secretive entrance).
Walking in is like being invited to a friend’s gorgeous mansion, and you discover new fascinating rooms, corners and spots at each and every turn. Definitely not your run of the mill type of restaurant or eating spot. We found a cozy seating area (probably meant for 8 people) but 3 of us made ourselves pretty comfortable there. For dinner, we stuck with the local delights, Bun Cha (Hanoi Style Vermicelli with Grilled Pork) and Grilled Beef with Vermicelli. And spent another few hours, exploring the nooks and crannies of the mansion and just chatting before parting with our new found friend for our scheduled massage session at Midori Spa.
Located just around the corner from our Airbnb, we had booked in massage slots earlier in the day, apparently because it’s quite popular. And what I loved most about Midori Hanoi Spa is that beyond just a normal massage parlor, it’s primarily a social enterprise providing training and employment opportunities young blind Vietnam as masseur. We each tried the Midori Special Massage (a combination of 3 styles) and the Warm stone Massage for 90mins and a Herbal Steam bath. All for 360,000 dong each (or SGD 22). Note: They do not have hair dryers so if you intend to shower, don’t wash your hair, or like me, be prepared to run back to the hostel with a head of wet hair (it was barely a 1 mins walk back).
With that we ended our relaxing last day & night in Hanoi! And turned in early to wake up early the following day to grab some roadside pho again and more coffee before we caught a ride back to the airport and were homeward bound!
I’ll Miss You Hanoi! SEE YOU SOON!
MAJOR TRAVEL TIP!!!
Prior to this trip, I have always arranged my must visit places on an excel spreadsheet, and printed it out to bring along. But I had a major ephipany this trip, and discovered this AMAZING function on google maps that lets me plot my places on the map, and save it as a separate guide! OMG! To save you the work, I’ve uploaded my version here, so feel free to use it for your trip to Hanoi too! 🙂