We woke up in Hanoi earlier than expected (around 7:45am) after being up until almost 1am from the long flights the previous day. The Hilton Hanoi we stayed in last night is a beautiful hotel, and was very soundproof. We appreciated this fact very much later in the morning when we walked around town to the constant noise of scooter horns. Our hotel overlooked the beautiful Opera House behind us.
We had a wonderful breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which was complimentary as I’m a Hilton Diamond member.
We could also have eaten in the 7th floor Executive Lounge, but the restaurant had an incredible and huge buffet selection, and we made a wise choice by going there. There were many food stations, and had a mix of Viennese and westernized food, so we both got plenty to eat. The service staff were very friendly, and the restaurant had a tropical feel with plants and palm trees.
After breakfast, we took a walk around the city nearby the hotel. DOS wanted to change some money, so we found a bank recommended by the hotel, and took a number along with everyone else, and waited some 45 minutes to get our money changed. The bank was very busy, but it was quite orderly with their service, and had a large sitting area to wait for your number to be called. I guess it was busier than normal due to the Chinese New Year celebrations. We exchanged $200 US dollars and got back $4,454,000 Vietnam Dong- lots of Viennese money! The current exchange rate for one US dollar is $22,286, so you need a calculator to figure anything out.
After the bank we walked around a bit more thru a park and daringly got up the nerve to cross multiple streets with scores of scooters, taxis, and cars zooming by. We walked around the city for a bit before going back to the hotel. The country (and much of Asia) is celebrating the Chinese New Year, so we are here at a festive time. There are flowers everywhere, and celebrations throughout the city. The office New Year is not until next Monday or Tuesday when we come back to Vietnam for our AMA Waterways cruise/tour, so that will be exciting to see the celebrations then.
For now, however, we are heading to Bangkok for a 3 day weekend on our own there. DOS has arranged two separate days of touring for us, so it will be a full weekend of sightseeing.
We checked out of the Hilton Hanoi and then took a cab to the airport. Our flight wasn’t until 4:30pm, but we got to the airport around 1:30pm, so we had a bit of time to enjoy the airport and the Business Class lounge there, as we were flying on Qatar Airways, Business Class. We checked in and cleared security/customs departures, and headed to the Business Class lounge, where we had time for snacks and drinks.
We had a great view of our plane landing out the windows overlooking the runway; a Qatar Boeing 777 jet.
We were seated in row 2A and B, but as they only have Business Class and Economy, the Business Class was more like international First Class. The flight from Hanoi to Bangkok was a quick two hours, and we were served a snack and drinks. The service was quite formal and classy, and even the pre-departure Champagne was served in fine crystal glasses. We had a very enjoyable flight and arrived on time at 8:30pm.
Customs and luggage delivery were both quick, and soon we were on our way to the Conrad Hotel Bangkok. Unfortunately, arriving at Friday night in Bangkok and heading to the city at this hour meant everyone else was heading to the city for a night out – traffic was horrendous! We had prearranged for a driver fortunately, but the supposed 45 minutes took an hour and a half. When we got to the hotel, however, we were pleasantly surprised at the nice suite upgrade we got on the 29th floor Executive Lounge level. Here’s a couple pics from our room the next day in daylight.
Our suite had a nice living and dining room, separate bedroom, 2 bathrooms, huge soaking tub and separate shower, and even a walk-in closet/luggage room! Quite a nice surprise as I had just booked a standard room, but I guess Lifetime Diamond status really does mean something.
Late night arrival and a bit tired – sightseeing with Mandy tomorrow.
Welcome to Bangkok!