Manila to Hanoi is back! Hello, Halong Bay?

Good news from Cebu Pacific Air! They’re bringing back the direct flight to Hanoi, Vietnam starting March 17, 2012! This is terrific since this was one of our options for the On-The-Spot shoot (OTS) of our camera club this year. Since there weren’t any direct flights then, we also weren’t able to include Hanoi in our last backpacking trip and it really would’ve cost us a lot.

Manila to Hanoi (without direct flight)
From one of my friends in the camera club, he said that these would be the rates (without direct connection):

1) TG (Thai Airways) US$ 595.00 (valid until Sept 2011):
Manila – Bangkok – Hanoi – Bangkok – Manila

2) CX (Cathay Pacific) US$ 700.00 (valid until Dec 2011 for June ticketing):
Manila – HK – Hanoi – HK – Manila

3) Vietnam Air US$ 530.00 (valid until March 2012):
Manila – Saigon – Hanoi – Saigon – Manila

Food and hotel accommodation in Vietnam are fairly reasonable. However, with this itinerary, airfare budget with connecting flights is a concern. Should you opt to do a cheaper travel, you would have to travel by land from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in the south, to Hanoi located at the north of Vietnam. You can buy a ticket for the Open Tour aircon bus that can get you from HCMC to Hanoi, and travel at your own pace (at US$ 35). You can actually hop on and off the bus at any city along the way without holding you to any schedule. (You can hop off first in Nha Trang (beaches), Hoi An (World Heritage Ancient town), Hue, etc. before arriving to Hanoi). You can buy this everywhere especially in traveller cafes, local agencies, or any backpacker haunts.

That’s generally the idea if you have the luxury of time (and budget) crawling through Vietnam.

Manila to Hanoi (with direct flight)
And now? It’s around US$ 20 one way from Manila (or PHP 888) through a Cebu Pacific promo. Uncomplicated!

Aside from slurping a fine pho (beef noodle soup) in the morning, staying at the bustling Old Quarter and strolling around the Hoan Kiem Lake, what I’m looking forward to is making my way to the northeast–in Halong Bay where the surreal happens. Imagine 3,000 or more incredible limestone islands erecting towards the sky from the emerald waters of Gulf of Tonkin. This Unesco Heritage Site paints a breathtaking picture in the horizon. I just have to board a Chinese style junk, lie on top of the boat, enjoy the scenery and slowly cruise around the scenic landscape.

Images from New 7 Wonders image gallery

Blogging about this excites me and I’m crossing my fingers that I could go back to Vietnam next year. Let’s see how it goes. ;)

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