Review: VietJet

The Airline

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VietJet is a budget low cost international airline based in Vietnam with over 45 aircraft, majority being airbus with a capacity of around 180 in each.

Brief

Flight: Ha Noi (HAN) > Singapore (SIN)

After a quick vacation in Vietnam, I booked a quick flight to Singapore for a 2 day layover before heading back to England.  A controversial airline worldwide for having multiple bikini-clad cabin crew shows and even selling calendars.

At the airport

Departing from Ha Noi (Noi Bai) airport early morning, it wasn’t too busy but it looked like the airport had minimal staff. From what I can remember there were maybe only  10 airlines departing from the airport, Vietnam Airlines being the more dominant. The security was of standard airport levels, but the immigration took longer than normal. Noi Bai airport was long to walk from one end to the other but there were travellators. The gate for my VietJet flight was ok and the staff do call you when the flight is boarding, the lines were structured and everything went in an ordinary fashion.

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Aircraft, Service and Flight

The staff are very welcoming, and the on-board music was fantastic, very uplifting. The seats were standard with a desirable amount of legroom, and a pouch to put personal stuff in. I was seated on the window seat in the right side of the aircraft, the window was quiet dirty and there was a smudge but not too much to be undesirable. The cvietjet 21abin crew was friendly and very consistent in their duties most importantly safety. Staff uniform was cute and different, they had a neat little hat, red/orange top and a designed skirt and a scarf a similar look to a girl scout uniform. There was no Inflight entertainment which I kind of knew wouldn’t be incorporated as it is a budget airline.  Take off and landing was fine, I didn’t really buy any food and pay much attention to other services as I just slept through the flight. . After landing, that beautiful on board music came on again, best part of the airline for me.

 

Conclusion

Just a quick trip for me and it was what I would expect a low cost airline to be, there was no outstanding factor for me to be impressed with, and nothing that would get me upset either. It was a good flight. Love the on-board music!

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Vietjet1

 

 

Reference

Vietjetair.com

Photos

Seats and Airport are own photos
header photo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/awilson154/32386850463)
Logo (vietjetair.com)

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Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

“Paradise Cruise, an excellent way to experience Ha Long Bay”

Type : Cruise, Island Hopping, Beach, Fishing
Best Date : Nov-Dec, Mar-Apr
Expense :  Expensive
Things to do Island hopping, swimming, fishing, trekking ect
Points of Interest: Tuan Chau, Dau Go cave, Thien Cung cave, Ti-Top island ect

Brief

Ha Long Bay which means the ‘Descending Dragon Bay’ is a popular excursion away from Hanoi’s bustling and chaotic city. The bay is a UNESCO world heritage north east of the Vietnam in Quang Ninh province. Ha long bay is said to have around 1,600 limestone islands and islets, many of which haven’t been influenced by human presence due to their steepness, height and sharpness which make them dangerous to venture and discover.

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The Place

There is many ways in which you can enjoy ‘Ha Long Bay’ but most popular is to take a 2 or 3 day cruise, many take private boats and some stay on the shores. Activities such as canoeing, trekking, scuba diving are available at some areas of Ha long bay which after experiencing the serene scenery, the reason why so many come here.

I experienced Ha Long Bay through a 2 day voyage with ‘Paradise Luxury Cruises’ which has plenty of tours to offer, they have a fleet of many named ‘Paradise Elegance 1’, ‘Paradise Elegance 2’, ‘Paradise Peak’. ‘Paradise Luxury’ and many more. I was in ‘Paradise Elegance 1’ and I will write about my the tour and my personal experiences with them.

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Our itinerary went like this.

DAY ONE:

07:30 – 11:30 Transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay

11:30 – 12:15 Arrive in Tuan Chau Island. Light snacks at Paradise Suites Hotel

12:15 Transfer to Paradise Elegance Cruise ship

12:30 Welcome drink, cruise information and check-in

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch at Le Marin Restaurant (onboard)

14:30 – 15:30 Cruise and sightseeing along Halong Bay

15:30 Visit Sung Sot Cave

17:00 – 18:30 Happy Hour (Buy one, get one drink), free time

17:30 – 19:00 Anchor at Coconut Tree Island for overnight stay
Cooking demonstration at L’Odyssée Sundeck (onboard)

19:00 – 22:00 À la carte dinner is served at Le Marin Restaurant 

21:00 Enjoy live music at Le Piano Bar (onboard)

DAY TWO: 

06:30 – 07:00 Tai Chi demonstration at the Sundeck

07:00 – 08:00 Light breakfast, coffee & pastries

08:00 Visit Titov Island (1 hour) for swimming or hiking

09:00 Breakfast Buffet

09:30 Bill settlement and checkout

10:30 Return to Tuan Chau Marina

10:45 – 12:00 Light snacks at Paradise Suites Hotel

12:00 Return to Hanoi

 

So our journey started on an overnight stay in Hanoi having booked our hotel as a package deal with the cruise. The pickup from the airport to our Hanoi hotel using a luxury limousine van was inclusive of the package deal. Staying in the capital first was a good way to start off our Vietnam experience not only to climatise but also to soak up the atmosphere for the days to come. However the next morning an early wake up was required for the transfer to ‘Halong Bay’, the pickup arrives 07:30 which means a rushed breakfast. Again the transfer to ‘Halong Bay’ is inclusive with the whole tour experience and uses the luxury limousine van (used from airport to Hanoi hotel). Before the journey starts the driver will introduce himself and a bottle of water would be given to each passenger. The journey takes about 3 hours with a stop over to a lovely Vietnamese product factory which sells paintings, artwork, clothes and food products, however strictly no photography is allowed. This stopover also acts as a little toilet and snack break from the long journey.

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Upon arrival at the Halong Bay area you get off at ‘Paradise Suites Hotel’ at Tuan Chau island where you will register, check-in, get little instructions and receive your key card for your room in the boat. At this point you will no longer need to carry your baggage around as next time you will see them is at your room. Before leaving for the boat you will be invited for light lunch at the hotel until the transfer to your boat is ready (main buffet lunch is served on-board the boat). The transfer to the boat is about 5 minutes where you will get an extraordinary welcome, my highlight is petals getting thrown on you from a balcony upon stepping foot on the boat, which doesn’t usually happen. A quick welcome dance, safety and information briefing (whilst sipping on some welcome drinks) will be given before you get to go down and enter your rooms for the first time. After a brief wind down in your rooms the buffet lunch will be served, whilst the cruise starts to move.

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After cruising through the spectacular majestic limestone islets for about 2 hours you arrive at the first stop at ‘Sung Sot Cave’. This excursion is somewhat tiring  going uphill with plenty walking required, if you are not fit or would just like to relax then it is possible to stay on the boat and rest. However ‘Sung Sot Cave’ is an awesome sight to see and I advise everybody who has the chance to see this sight. After the tour which takes about 1.5hrs – 2hrs, you return to the boat, which is then a time to relax and have a rest. Alternatively if you don’t want to rest then the bar is at happy hour at this time which means 2 drinks for the price on 1.

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At about 17:30 there is a cooking demonstration/ lessons. This is a fun way to end the evening and to learn Vietnamese cuisine under breath taking sceneries, after completion a certificate is awarded at dinner. After that there is a 3 course ‘A la Carte’ (included in the package), divided into 2 menus ‘Western Cuisine’ and ‘Eastern Cuisine’, from what I can remember the ‘western cuisine’ had steak, roast chicken, pasta and more a like, ‘Eastern menu’ had food such as noodles, spring rolls and so on. Usually during dinner there is a live band or pianist but ours didn’t have one, but our host ‘Ronald’ was very good at conversing and entertaining his guests. The last activity on that day is ‘squid fishing’  here patience is required and although I didn’t catch anything, I still enjoyed the experience. After that I then ordered a few to drinks, returned to my room and then called it a day and slept in my nice comfortable ‘Queen size bed’, the only bad side is that the televisions didn’t work as well as it should due to signals being difficult to reach.

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Next morning, I woke up around 05:45 ready for a morning ‘Tai Chi’ session. The sunrise was spectacular from my balcony, and more so at the sundeck where the tai chi took place. The morning exercise took about 20-30 minutes full with warm up stretches, the martial art itself then a warm down. It was a weird experience and I definitely know I didn’t do it correctly but the result was interesting, my body felt very good after and throughout the day. After that, light breakfast is served which means a simple tea and coffee with some croissants and biscuits, only small bite until the full breakfast buffet which is served at 09:00. However before that there is another excursion out of the boat and onto ‘Titov Island’. This is an island much more challenging than the first outing at ‘Sung Sot Cave’ with much longer walks and steeper stairs, but it is not necessary to go to the top of the island and many just stay at the shores swim on the beach. However hiking to the top is enjoyable and it is the highest point of ‘Halong Bay’ overall, which has beautiful, majestic panoramic views. I didn’t get to swim in the beaches but all guest were told to be careful of jellyfishes, which didn’t sound very safe anyway.

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Upon returning to the boat there is about 10-30 minutes to freshen up and then the breakfast buffet is served. The buffet is like any continental breakfast found in any high end hotels, with hot and cold foods, fresh eggs, a good choice of juices and many more. After breakfast you start to feel the end of the cruise as you bill out at this point and pack to leave your luggage out of your room for collection (you wont need to carry your luggage again until arriving to the ‘Paradise Suites Hotel’. The last chance to take photos and videos and catch last glimpses of these islets are at this point of the journey. Upon arriving at the harbour you say farewell to the amazing staff and head to ‘Paradise Suites Hotel’ where you await your transport back to Hanoi. The last offering from the whole tour package is the light lunch whilst waiting for your ride back to the capital. When your ride arrives there is another 3 hours ride with a stopover, the whole cruise experience sadly ends.

Overall the cruise was a fantastic experience for all the family to enjoy, although younger kid may have limited to do. Firstly the boat was spacious with rooms good enough to be compared to a 5 star hotel. The staff in the cruise were very nice and knowledgeable, loved to converse and take care of their passengers with in high regard. The activities such as canoeing and fishing were good additions. The only small downside is that the television and Wi-Fi signals can sometimes be very weak. Although the cost of this cruise was very high plus a few add-ons, I still believe the experience was well worth it and thought that the 2 days wasn’t enough.

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Ha Noi (Vietnam)

“Why is Hanoi so chaotic, but much loved?”

Type : City
Best Date : Nov-Dec, Mar-Apr
Expense :  Very Cheap
Things to do : Sightseeing, Food Tour
Points of Interest: St Josephs Cathedral, Old City, Ho Mi Chin Mausoleum, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hoa Lo Prison, Ho Chin Min Museum, Halong Bay (Out of city excursions), ect.

Brief

Hanoi the capital city of Vietnam (socialist republic of Vietnam) and lies north of the country. Always known to be the capital of north Vietnam, however it was also chosen capital of the whole country after its reunification with the south. Colonised by multiple  dynasties and nations including the French, Chinese and Japanese throughout history, the city developed but slowly compared to other capitals around the world.

The Place

Arriving at Noi Bai airport my first impressions of the city is that it was very clean compared to my home country Philippines, furthermore there was also much less traffic but considering it was 10pm it might just be the case of everyone being home. Arriving near our hotel (at the old quarter) we entered much tighter roads somewhat filled with moving traffic, a bit less organisation and messier than my first impressions. It looked dangerous and my thoughts started to turn,  however when we got to our hotel in La Siesta Trendy the Vietnamese hospitality began to show, a delightful welcome which I rarely get from many of my travels. Heading out filled with plenty of money, gadgets and other valuables I remember asking the hotels guest relation officer if the city was safe. Very confidently he answered ‘Hanoi is very safe’ and from my experience I felt like it was one of the safest place I’ve been to even for a third world country.

The centre of tourism in Hanoi is the ‘Old quarter’ which is the bustling tight district full of traditional shop-houses and restaurants (canteens). Tourists love this area due to its unique lifestyle and preserved 13th century architecture. Many stroll these streets to experience the typical way of dining from the many street foods and canteens, many places are out on the streets with stalls and temporary light tables but there are fancy air-conditioned restaurants as well.

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Hoan Kiem district, is known as Hanoi’s city centre, the main hub and most luxurious for tourists. Being very chaotic and somewhat a messy city I was shocked to see luxurious shops such as Prada, Armani, Louis Vuitton and more alike. Moreover the upper class hotels (such as Hilton) and restaurants can be found here. Apart from its resident luxuries, Hoan Kiem has plenty of attractions as well.  ‘Hoan Kiem Lake’ which centres the city is probably Hanoi’s cover attractions, surrounded by a large ring road  and a belt of greenery, tourists come to relax and have a walk and getaway from the busy streets.  At the edge of the lake there is ‘Ngoc Son temple’ which stands on its own little island which is accessible through ‘Huc Bridge’ which in itself is a popular photo point. In the middle of ‘Hoan Kiem Lake’ you will see a little monument called the ‘Turtle tower’ or, here there are many legends but most formidable is to commemorate a warrior named Le Loi and the mystical sword he used to free the Vietnamese people from its Chinese occupants. A bit further away from the lake but still within ‘Hoan Kiem’ area is ‘St Joseph’s cathedral’ which was built by the French Indochina establishment, here masses takes place for the many Catholics in the country. Other than these attractions there are many more markets, shops and restaurants around the area.

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Ba Dinh which is unofficially known as the ‘French quarter’ is the political centre of the city, where many different nation’s embassy lie. Ba Dinh is much cleaner and more organised than other parts of Ha Noi. The district has many of the capitals historical and cultural monuments and museums most notable being the ‘Ho Chi Minh mausoleum’ which stands tall in the centre of ‘Ba Dinh square’, here the most iconic leader of Vietnam is laid to rest.  A 5 minute walk from the mausoleum is the ‘One Pillar Pagoda’ which is in the middle of a serene garden built on a single stone pole made out of wood. Museums such as the ‘Vietnam military’ and ‘Fine Arts Museum’ are also found here alongside religious place of worship such as the ‘Quan Tanh Temple’ and ‘Cua Bac’ a roman catholic church built by the French. The ‘Presidential House’ which has great historical significance is also a good place to go, designed by the French the building was intended for to be the main office of Ho Chi Minh, but he opted for amore traditional Vietnamese building. Other points of interest are the ‘Hanoi flag tower’, ‘Temple of literature’ and the ‘Thang Long, Imperial Citadel’ which all have impressive architecture and significance to the country.

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Overall Hanoi is very much undeveloped compared to other capitals around the world. They don’t have many of the bare necessities such as rail transport, traffic regulations and malls but the city is fabulous on what it does offer. Firstly the people, although they do not speak any English and it is very hard to communicate, they really are good people and do not try to cheat other people no matter how vulnerable, such as taxi drivers helping passengers without the sign of tapping the fares. The city is also very safe, I didn’t once feel I was in any danger or a target for theft. In my opinion I felt safer in Hanoi than traveling in Manila, Hong Kong, Barcelona and even London. I can confirm this as my phone which I dropped in my taxi, was returned very quickly after help from my hotel, after giving the taxi driver a little reward I just though to myself that wold never happen in other countries. Prices in Vietnam are also very cheap including taxis, restaurants and many products, currencies used are their own Vietnamese Dong but US Dollars are used in many upper class establishments. Hanoi is more for the adventurous individual as people looking for class would be very disappointed, its more for culture and the experience of another way of living. An open mind is required visiting the Capital. I would most definitely come back and I highly recommend to visit here.