The Silk Queen a lovely place to stay in Hanoi

One of our best decisions was to choose the Silk Queen Hotel in Hanoi to start our month long trip in Vietnam. We stayed for a total of nine nights. The hotel was in the heart of the Old Quarter and a short walk to Hoan Kiem lake. We stayed in Room 406 which was huge and even had a separate bathroom. No bath tub but the shower was excellent.

We also booked a Halong Bay tour with Ms Rose from the hotel who recommended Viola Cruises. The hotel kindly looked after our luggage while we did the Halong Bay cruise. Ms Rose also booked our sleeper train for Hue. We had no problems or any nasty surprises with our cruise or train trip. All the staff at the hotel were lovely and friendly. My wife also enjoyed the use of the small gym on the top floor.

The reason we stayed so long at the hotel is that we inadvertently had arrived during a couple of public holidays. This mean our application for an Indian Visa took a bit longer than the 3-5 days. However, there is so much to do in Hanoi that we were never bored and it was great to come back to the hotel after a hot day to relax and use as a base to explore Hanoi. My full trip advisor review is in the following link Stayed here for a total of nine nights

I know when you arrive in a strange country it can be a challenge. So it was nice to book a car with the hotel to pick us up at the airport. On arrival around 30-40 minutes later we had a quick early check in. We arrived around 9am on an early morning flight from Bangkok. Then to find such a lovely comfortable room was a bonus. We paid US$45 a night which included a great breakfast.

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Where to stay in Hoi An?

Getting to Hoi An

There are three main ways of getting to Hoi An. If you are coming from Hue then you can hire a car which we did and have several stops on the way to admire the scenery. It cost us US$69 for the trip and it took around 5 hours with lots of stops including lunch in Danang. The other way to get to Hoi An is by train to Danang and then a bus or car. A car cost around US$20. It takes around 45 minutes and if you get a car you also can organise a stop at Marble Mountain which is on the way. If you arrive in the evening on Saturday or Sunday before 9pm then get the driver to stop by the dragon bridge to watch it breathe fire and spout water. It’s a great spectacle. The third way to Hoi An is by bus, we did not do this so I have no idea where they drop you off. An open ticket between Hanoi and Saigon or vice versa will cost around US$60.

Where to stay in Hoi An?

We spent a week in Hoi An exploring the old town and the beaches. We stayed at the Ancient House Resort. If your like us and like comfort then this hotel is an absolutely gem and our room was brilliant. Room 102. The gardens are beautiful and the pool is great to come back to and cool off. Unlike many other hotels we have stayed at this pool is deep enough that it goes over your head in places.

The staff are brilliant from the gardener up to the friendly receptionists always on hand to give you a cool towel when ever you return from somewhere or information. Room 102 was lovely, spacious, good bathroom, air conditioning worked well, in room safe, mini bar and a good choice of channels to watch when the heat of the day gets too much or we just sat on the balcony and read a book. Breakfast was good, I especially liked the passionfruit. We also had a lovely dinner overlooking the garden watching bats swoop in to eat insects while we had our meal. The hotel runs a daily shuttle both to the old town and the beach at scheduled times.

Overall for US$35 a night including a good breakfast this place is a bargain. One other tip next door on your right when you come out of the hotel is a place you can get your laundry done. The woman did a brilliant job and even ironed everything. She charged for five kilos 140000 dong a bit more pricey than some other places in Hoi An, however, our clothes for once came back undamaged and in one piece.

So if you’re looking for a place to stay in Hoi An then you cannot go far wrong staying at the Ancient House Resort.

Hoi An is a great place to visit.

Strange places I have slept on the road

Over the years during my travels I have slept in some strange places. In the 1990’s when the Berlin Wall came down I travelled to Hungary and Budapest. On arrival the information office told me that the citadel which had fantastic views of the city and Danube was a hostel so I got the bus up to it. It was a bit of an odd experience on arrival in the afternoon and the place was empty with the exception of an American backpacker. He told me his dorm was empty so I went up to the desk and asked for a bed for the night. The receptionist said the hostel was full. I then said but that guy over there said his dorm was empty. The receptionist looked me up and down, sighed and said Ok you can stay. I went and dumped my backpack in the dorm and went into town to explore the city. When I returned I sat in the reception area as there was no lounge and had a few beers with another backpacker. We noticed all these elderly suited men arriving with beautiful young women. They also went to the left of reception instead of the right where our room was located. They also returned after about half an hour, the penny dropped. I stayed a week at the hostel and I must say it was entertaining and the rooms were kept very clean and I had the dorm mostly to myself. In essence the hostel was a front for the brothel. Years later when I returned to Budapest and went back up to the citadel it become a museum which was even more surreal.

My second experience was arriving around midnight in Cairo airport. Where I joined a Contiki group who were taking the bus into town costing the grand price of 20 pence where the group met there tour guide. We got to Tahir Square and the group disappeared with their guide and I found myself completely alone with not a soul around. I then started to walk looking for a place to stay when a jeep of soldiers armed to the teeth pulled up. They spoke a little English and told me their was a military curfew and I must get off the street. Difficult to do with no taxi’s and not knowing where the hotels were in my price range. They took pity on me and gave me a ride in their jeep to what they said was a nice place called the Hotel Select. On arrival a very reluctant veiled woman after arguing with the soldiers in Arabic finally said come with me. The place was dark, dingy and a smell which was not pleasant enveloped me. My single room was rough to say the least and had seen better days. I was very thankful for my silk liner. This place was the polar opposite of the Budapest brothel in being disgustingly dirty and I had a night fighting off the bed bugs and listening through paper thin walls to some strange groans from neighbouring rooms.

The next day I moved to the Pension Roma which was bed bug free, cleaner and not a house of ill repute!

Has anyone else slept in strange places on the road?