Saturday, January 13, 2018

Essential Tips to Travel in Hanoi & Ha Long Bay

Can't believe we are now in year 2018.  Time flies.  Everything happened in 2017  was still clearly appearing in my mind.  It had been a great year for me, I shall name it as 'Year of Revive'?  There were many changes had been made to life compared to the previous year.  I'm truly grateful to own what I have and for whom I'm being now.

'Job fills your pocket, adventure fills your soul'

This is my favorite quote at the moment and I am doing currently - earn money and travel.  Ageing is a scary life process and it is scarier if at the end of your life, you realize that you haven't done much in your life.  Different individuals might have different goals in life - family, prosperity, social class and etc.  And well, I choose to wander around the world. 

Hanoi is one of my bucket list which I had ticked off end of 2017.  It wasn't the best trip though, I have a feeling that I will visit this place again one day in the future.  Crossing through the busy streets in old quarters, getting lost in the midst of the crowd, I'm falling in love with this city.

Things to know about Hanoi, Vietnam:

  • Vietnam was conquered by French from 1873 to 1945, it is easy to find some French-style buildings in Vietnam nowadays.
  • Hanoi was declared as the capital of North Vietnam in 1946 and it became the capital of reunified Vietnam in 1976.
  • Weather: Unlike Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi experiences four seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) in a year because of sitting at the northern part of Vietnam.  The best time to visit is during dry seasons (October to April).
  • Currency: Most trades are carried out in Vietnamese Dong (VND) and some places e.g. hotels or travel agencies do accept USD.  1 USD = approx 20,000VND
  • Visa and passport: No visa needed for Malaysian passport holder.
  • Language: Vietnamese and simple English are commonly use in Hanoi

The only airport in Hanoi is Noi Bai International Airport, situated in Soc Son District, about 15km from Old quarters.  There are many flights available from KL to Hanoi and I bought my return flight tickets from Airasia during free seat promotion (not free though) at around RM450 without check-in baggage.  It took us about 3 hours from KL to Hanoi.

There are buses and taxi available in Hanoi but I found Uber/ Grab are more convenient because you can reach your destination safely even if you can't speak Vietnamese and more standard rate is charged.  Thus, throughout the 5 days in Hanoi, we used mostly Uber and walking with the help of google map.  

We stayed at Hanoi 3B hotel, located at the Old quarters of Hanoi.  It is good to stay in old quarters because most of the tourist spots are there.  We stayed in a triplet room, which cost us around RM50 per person per night.

What we like: strategy location, cleanliness well maintained, awesome breakfast with many choices of food
What we dislike: electric tripped several times in a day, we were charged overprice by the front desk for a day tour (read further to find out)


1. Wander around the busy streets in old quarters
Trust me, crossing roads in Hanoi can be so difficult.  You will end up with standing by roadside for hours if you're afraid to step out.  Countless motorcycles passing by and hearing car horns from different direction, it is just another beautiful image of Hanoi city.  But don't worry, you will get used to it very soon.

Another interesting fact about the streets in old quarters is, the streets are named for the products.  Therefore, you will be able to find out all the shops are selling the same product in the same street!

2. Sign up a free walking tour with the local university students
There are a few non-profit organizations are offering free walking tour in Hanoi.  These organizations are established by a group of enthusiastic university students (major in tourism), who are eager to introduce the Vietnamese history and culture to foreigners.  The tours may take a few hours up to one full day, depends on the type of tour you're taking.

The pretty guide and us

3. Watch a water puppet show
Traditionally water puppet show was just an entertainment for the locals.  It became famous probably because of unique ways of performing accompanied by traditional music.  The show is conducted in Vietnamese language, so it is advisable to read up the story line before entering the theater to have a better understanding!

Location: Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Price: 100,000VND (~RM18)

4. Walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake during weekend

For your information, the main streets around Hoan Kiem lake are closed to traffic during weekend.  Therefore, you can enjoy walking easily without being harassed by the aggressive drivers in Hanoi.  Other than tourists, you will be able to see many locals are jogging or sitting by the lakeside at their leisure time too.
Recommendation: spend time here from evening to night so you will be able to see the view of the lake at day and night time!

5. Take a sip of the Vietnamese coffee (especially egg coffee)
Vietnamese coffee is characterized by its sweet and rich taste which is made of coarse ground dark roast coffee with a drip filter.  It might be too sweet for certain people because of the sweet condensed milk.  Comparatively, I would prefer egg coffee (cà phê trứng) in Hanoi.  It has a thick layer of egg foam on the coffee, taste smoothly as the coffee and egg foam flow down your throat slowly.

Location: Giang cafe (39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hàng Bạc, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam)
► Please note this cafe is a hidden cafe in a small lane, try your best to find it out!
Price: 25,000VND (~RM5)

6. Try the Vietnamese cuisines

Say frankly, trying the local food is the best way to understand their cultures. There are few must-try foods in Hanoi: Bun cha, pho, Banh Mi and Nem ran. Generally, the Vietnamese foods are prepared in healthy ways, i.e. less oily and with a lot fresh vegetables. I think that is the main reason to keep almost all Vietnamese slim!

Banh Mi 

Bun Cha

Pho @ PHO 10, Hanoi (35,000VND)

7. Visit Temple of Literature
Founded in 1070, was the site of Vietnam's first university and now it becomes the place to pray for good grades! (I should have came when I was a student LOL) Coincidentally, it was the period of university graduation, so there were many university students came for graduation photography with robes and traditional clothes.
Entrance fee: 30,000VND (~RM6)

8. Listen to the church bell sound at St Joseph Cathedral
The church was built by the French colonial government in late 19th-century. It is the oldest church in Hanoi. Entrance via main gate is only permitted during Mass. We just spent our time outside and get amazed by the Neo-gothic style architectures.

9. Visit Ha Long Bay 
Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site, known for the picturesque scenery formed by numerous limestone island and the emerald water. The best way to explore this site is by taking a 2 days 1 night cruise. This region is famous for sea kayaking, cave exploring and hiking.

There are so many cruises available and varies in price, facilities, food, activities etc. We had chosen Rosa Cruise after reading so many good reviews about it. There were 16 of us in the trip to Ha Long Bay.

Our room

What we like: smooth bus transfer from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay (4 hours bus ride), the ship is in good condition, interesting activities were carried out with enough rest time in between.
What we dislike: food served were below expectation
Price per person: about 100USD booked via + 10USD for bus transfer

Dropped by a handicraft workshop by the handicapped 

Visit to pearl farm at Ha Long Bay

The amazing cave

This is the breathtaking view I had been waiting for

DIY Vietnamese spring roll before checking out

☢ All beverages on the cruise (except mineral water provided in the room and on the transfer bus, 2x500ml) are charged separately! Kindly ask before allowing anyone to pour any drinks into your glass, otherwise you might get a heart attack when you look at the bill upon checking out 😓

10. Sign up a day trip to Ninh Binh province - Trang An and Bai Dinh trip

Since we had one day extra to spend with, we decided to sign up a day trip to Ninh Binh province which is around 2 hours drive from Hanoi Old Quarters. Ninh Binh is known for the Bai Dinh pagodas and beautiful scenery in Trang An. The trip was signed up with our hotel front desk.

Tentatively, the trip should include a visit to Bai Dinh pagoda, buffet lunch, bamboo boat ride at Trang An river and cycling. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side. It started to drizzle upon picking up at hotel and the rain was getting heavier as we were getting nearer. We ended up walking in pagoda with bare feet because of heavy rain. The trip was terminated half way after the so called buffet lunch (poor food quality with a lot of flies) because the road to Trang An was flooded!

Fortunately, we could get back some refund but meanwhile we got to know that we were charged so much higher than the other guests who signed up for the same trip from different travel agencies!
Now, story time....
The front desk lady and the representative from the travel company were trying to explain that the trip we had was a premium trip. The other guests originally were signing up for a standard trip with their agents but then the standard trip were fully booked. Thus, their agents have to book premium trip for those guests and paid on behalf of them. Still, we felt cheated and luckily after so much arguing, the representative from travel company agreed to return us back the money. 😠

Lesson learned: MUST compare the price from different agencies before signing up any trip and negotiate as much as you can!

Inside Bai Dinh pagoda

Best travel ootd LOL

Anyway, despite of the bad weather, it was still a good trip for me.  If I were given another chance to visit Hanoi, I will visit the railway street in Hanoi and take a short trip Sapa! 

“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.”
It is unavoidable to have something unpredictable in journey, what we can do is just accept and learn to dance in the rain!

Here I end this post with a short clip I did, enjoy!

Till then, see you next time!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Adieu 2017, Welcome 2018





在新的一年裡,希望自己可以繼續努力和堅強的面對種種挑戰,還有誠實的面對自己 ;)




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Essential Tips To Travel In Korea As A Solo Traveler


Haven't write anything in this blog for quite a while.  Sorry for keep you waiting! For those who love Korea like me, I'm sure recently you had came across with the news of AirAsiaX is now offering direct flight from KL to Jeju right? Hands up if you're as excited like me!  For your information, I went to Korea for the third time early of this year and well, it was a solo trip.

"Being alone but not feeling lonely" - it is my thought for solo trip in Korea.  Perhaps I was surrounded by many kind people and I was truly enjoyed the time to be alone? However I frequently received the questions and doubts to travel alone in Korea - language barrier, accommodation, food and etc.  Thus, I had the idea to come out with this blog post and hope it will be useful for those who would like to travel in Korea alone! I GONNA TELL YOU THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO TRAVEL ALONE IN JEJU-DO!


Only three airlines: Korean Air, AirasiaX and Malaysian Airlines offer the direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul (Incheon International Airport) . Whereas direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Busan (Gimhae Airport), only available with AirasiaX.  If you're interested to visit Jeju island, you may take domestic flight from Seoul (Gimpo airport) or Busan (Gimhae airport) to Jeju International airport with Busan Air, Jeju Air, Asiana, Jin Air and etc. Or, now you can take direct flight to Jeju island with AirAsiaX!

For the latest trip I had, I traveled from KL➪Busan➪Jeju➪Seoul➪KL.  For your reference, here are the expenses on flight ticket.

KL - Busan (AirAsiaX): ~RM500
Busan - Jeju (Jeju air): 31000won (about RM120)
Jeju - Seoul (Busan air): 36150won (about RM140)
Seoul - KL (AirasiaX): ~RM750

Since I traveled alone with nobody to share room fee, usually I would just stay in dorm or single room from Airbnb.

Little tips for choosing accomodation:

  1. Pick somewhere near to subway station. This is important especially if you're carrying a big and heavy luggage. Staying near to subway station will let you to get around much easier and safer too (especially ladies). 
  2. Read review from different sources. There are so many room booking website nowadays, yet the photos shown might be completely different from your actual room.  I experienced once where the room I booked was a 4-bed female dorm but I got a 8-bed female dorm upon check in.  The reason I got from the reception was the room I booked is no longer available. So, to whom should I put the blame on?
What I booked

What I get

Accomodation in Seoul:
I had stayed at Seoul station and Hongdae previously. Here are the pros and cons of both places:

Other choices: Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, Gangnam, Jamsil and etc

Accomodation in Busan:
I had stayed at Jagalchi, Gwangalli and Haeundae previously.  Here are the pros and cons of those places:

Other choices: Seomyeong, Nampodong

Accomodation in Jeju:
I had only been to Jeju-do for once and I was staying in Jeju-si.  It was an airbnb single room offered by two cool korean guys. It is about 30 minutes from Jeju international airport and about 10 minutes from bus stop. Read my review here.

Being a solo traveler, stay connected to internet is so important especially when you're lost at somewhere.  Besides, who would go travel without uploading a single photo to social media network?

Honestly, it is not difficult to get free WiFi at most cafes or eatery places in Korea.  And yet, it is troublesome in finding free WiFi especially when you're in hurry in finding direction.

There are two modes of internet available:SIM card or pocket WiFi (WiFi egg)
Being a lonely solo traveler, I had chosen SIM card as it is slightly cheaper compared to WiFi egg.

The price I get offered at Gimhae airport in March 2017:
SIM card: 38500won for unlimited data for 10 days
Pocket WiFi: 5000won per day

Pocket WiFi would be a better choice if you're sharing with other people 😈
(P.s.: Price may vary with time)

I used public transport at most of the time when I was traveling in Korea.  Basically in big cities such as Seoul and Busan, it is very easy to go around with subway even if you couldn't understand a single Korean word.  The name of each subway station will be announced and displayed in both English and Korean upon arriving.

Transport card: T-money (it is widely available in most convenience stores at price of 2500won)

How about traveling in Jeju Island which has no subway?
First option: rent a car (I don't recommend this for solo traveler as nobody can share the rental with you and it can be quite scary. LOL)
Second option: take a taxi (easy but expensive)
Third option: take bus (this is what I did)

Honestly, I thought it will be difficult to take bus in Korea because of the language barrier.  Yet, I made it successfully with the help of the following app:

KakaoMap (Playstore)

This app is just like Google Map but more accurate to be used in Korea.  What you need to do is just key in your destination and it will tell you step by step e.g. bus number, where to take bus, where to get off, waiting time for the next bus and etc! Another similar app is Daum Map, you can just choose either one.

Other useful apps including:

For subway

For taxi

For bus

The only question that I was frequently being asked is: "Is it difficult to have meal alone in Korea?"
The answer is NO.  Basically other than Korean barbecue, you can eat almost everything in Korea even though you're alone.  I had been to different cafes, noodles shops, gukbap (rice with soup) shops, fast food restaurants, convenient stores, road side stalls, food trucks and etc to have meal all by myself.  Basically you don't have to worry much for the language because most of the time their menus are available in two languages.

What should I do if I want to eat barbecue?
Tag along your dorm mates! It is the best time to get to know new friends ^^

Here come to the most headache part of preparation prior of going to any trip no matter where are you heading to.

  1. Clothing. Winter in Korea can be really COLD. Winter coats, heat-tech, scarf, gloves and wool cap are essential if you're travelling in winter. You need a pair of good quality shoes too because you need to walk a lot in Korea.
  2. Skincare. Compared to Malaysia, the weather in Korea can be really dry.  Don't forget to bring along moisturizer and lip balm.
  3. Money. All trades in Korea will be in korean won, 1000won = RM 3.75 (approximately).  Meanwhile, Visa and Master cards are widely accepted in Korea too.
  4. Plug adapterThe standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts at 60 Hertz with outlet as shown below: 

That's all I would like to share with you all! So what are you waiting for? Let's go to explore this wonderful country ;) ❤

Travelling alone isn't that bad at all!


Sunday, June 11, 2017




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상일 放棄了H汽車公司的工程師一職,來到濟州島當咖啡師;



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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 一個人的新加坡跨年日記




當初單純的為了清年假而拿了一星期的假期。原本只打算留在家裡好好休息的我,結果還是耐不住想往外跑的慾望而決定一個人到新加坡跨年。很巧的,在背包客棧得知來之台灣的Lin也會到新加坡跨年,大家就約好一起去玩了。 也因為Lin而認識了來自馬來西亞的Nicholas和台灣的Helen。


這次的住宿選擇了靠近克拉克碼頭(Clarke Quay)的闊德室 Quarters Hostel。由於它位於Clarke Quay站(紫線)和Raffles Place站(綠線)之間,所以交通是非常方便。我入住的是女生四人宿舍,一個床位3晚共付了馬幣278.21,還包括了簡單的早餐,感覺上還蠻值得一推的!

第一天的晚餐就跟Lin和Nicholas約好了去吃Lorong Chuan站附近的Chomp Chomp美食中心。在那裡的幾乎看不見遊客的身影,瀰漫著當地濃厚的風情。

吃飽了之後當然先到新加坡的地標:魚尾獅公園Merlion Park打卡。

從魚尾獅公園走到Marina Bay Sands飯店只需要10分鐘。到7-eleven買好啤酒,選了個好位子,Marina Bay Sands前面的燈光秀就開始了。想說的是,除了燈光秀令人覺得驚艷之外,那裡的氣氛也讓人覺得很舒服。這也跟和誰一起看有關係吧?

2016/12/30 (星期五)

本來想說自己一個人就不打算去環球影城 Universal Studio 了。既然剛好找到了旅遊同伴,當然就抱著不去白不去的心態,砸了整兩百馬幣,進去玩了半天。


買好票之後,趁時間還早,我們就到 Chinatown 附近的景點看看。當中包括了 Jamae Mosque詹美回教堂, Sri Mariamman 馬里安興都廟和佛牙寺 Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Musuem。


從chinatown只需要乘搭捷運到 Vivocity (Harbour Front)便可以乘搭接駁車(比較小型的捷運)到聖淘沙。只需要在第一站下站就可以進到環球影城啦。








2016/12/31 (星期六)


在旅舍簡單的吃過早餐後,便出發到小印度 Little India。老實說,雖然馬來西亞有不少的印度小街,可是這還是我第一次逛印度市場,感覺十分新鮮。




印度料理:Nasi Briyani

哈之巷 Haji Lane阿拉伯街 Arab Street 都是我一直和想去的地方。也許美麗的街道對我來說有一種說不出的吸引力吧?



晚餐時間跟Lin,Nicholas和Helen約好在Vivocity見面,然後便到 No Signboard 海鮮餐館享用晚餐。雖然嘴裡說剛動完手術不能吃海鮮,可是美食當前,誰能抵擋這誘惑啊?感謝老闆Nicholas大方請客,不過要怎麼答謝你呢?

麥片蝦/ 上湯芫菜/ 肉碎豆腐/ 辣椒螃蟹 😋


進行倒數前的一小時,大家都開始聚到Marina Bay 一區找好位子,準備迎接2017的到來。

當兩個女生聚在一起,當然就要自拍一下咯 ^^

重要時刻來臨,當主持人高喊 3,2,1 之後,絢麗的煙火綻放在夜空裡,當時情緒真的很激昂,有一種瞬間重新活過來了的感覺! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!



2017/1/1 (星期日)

旅程的最後一天睡到自然醒。沒有特別想去的地方,就到新加坡最熱鬧的購物天堂 Orchard Road 走走。不過由於馬幣的貶值,搞得我實在是沒有購物的慾望。😡

走累了,便回到 Victoria Theatre 前的草坪上坐著,聽著附近教堂傳來的鐘聲,度過一個悠閒的下午。





·新的一年,新的希望 :)