Hanoi/Halong in Winter


Jul 19, 2007
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#1
I'll be going to Hanoi and Halong on a photography trip in December with a group of friends, one of whom is a local but doesn't know the place beyond Hanoi city itself and hasn't really done photography there.

Was just wondering how the streets/bay will be like in winter - will there still be lots of activity? And will the place be very foggy with poor visibility? Oh yeah will there be any particular festivals/events or any specific area that looks nice in winter?

We're also considering whether or not to take a tour to Halong as most of the itineraries seem to spend a lot of time on kayaking/swimming with a lot of food/wine while staying overnight on a boat (we'd rather spend the money on looking for photo opportunities :D). I also understand that each tour group will consist of about 20 people so it might not really possible to have them cater to us as our group is 4-5 people small. But on the flipside, is it convenient to book our own transport/boat to Halong from Hanoi and out into the bay and stay in a hotel instead?

Would be good if you could PM me as well if you don't mind me asking more questions.

Thanks so much!
 

goon

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Jan 16, 2005
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#2
I was there in Hanoi and Halong Bay during the New year period and it's colds so be prepared! Temperature hoovers around like 10-11 degrees celcius in Hanoi and it's grey and cloudy. Didn't see a single day of clear sky for the 10 days I was there ! Hanoi is possibly the most fascinating SEA capital for me and one can just walk around as most sights are within reach if you enjoy walking although there are probably millions of scooters on the road.

Halong Bay's even worse coz it's colder and windier and of course grey and murky.

For half the trip we went with Ethnic Travel which I highly recommend- very value for money and everything went smoothly ! http://www.ethnictravel.com.vn/english/index.htm

If you go prepared with some warm clothing,you'll enjoy it.
 

Jul 19, 2007
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#3
thanks for the quick reply :)

would you happen to have any photos from the trip? and which of the tours did you go on
 

May 13, 2009
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#4
I was there last winter as well. I guess the time i was there was quite warm 16-22 degrees. If you are joining a tour, the photo ops are limited. If you are going free and easy, stay in the old quarters and the photo ops are endless. Try not to get run over by a car or a bike though. In hanoi, there is some fog in the early hours but usually clear in the afternoon.

Dont miss out halong as it will give you a break from street photography and give you some time for landscape photography. halong is 4 hrs from hanoi and can be expensive getting there. better to stick with a group. I have some photos but yet to post it. I will let you know when I do.
 

Beserk

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Jul 14, 2005
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#5
I was there in early April. Cold and foggy around 10-16. Hanoi's Old Quarter is best spent walking around for photo ops. Joining a tour there can be limiting. Most of the other tourist sites easily accessible by public transport. Halong is a different story. It is far (4hrs). Joining a tour group makes it easier to reach there. It may be too cold for a dip but there are kayaking options and small boats for closer sightseeing after the main boats reach the islands. Just make sure that the $$$ for these is included in the tour U pick. U can take a look at my pics at the link below. Enjoy your trip.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/awe4alex/sets/72157626447415707/?page=2
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#7
I was in Hanoi and Halong Bay in December two years ago. Grey sky, not more than 15 degrees during daytime, some drizzle. Definitely the wrong time. The weather might be better in the Western parts (Sa Pa had 4 days clear sky). But maybe you are lucky and have better conditions, El Nina has screwed the weather everywhere.
 

blurboiboi

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Jan 8, 2003
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#8
I was there in early April. Cold and foggy around 10-16. Hanoi's Old Quarter is best spent walking around for photo ops. Joining a tour there can be limiting. Most of the other tourist sites easily accessible by public transport. Halong is a different story. It is far (4hrs). Joining a tour group makes it easier to reach there. It may be too cold for a dip but there are kayaking options and small boats for closer sightseeing after the main boats reach the islands. Just make sure that the $$$ for these is included in the tour U pick. U can take a look at my pics at the link below. Enjoy your trip.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/awe4alex/sets/72157626447415707/?page=2
nice series... may i know what kind of lens set up you brought along for this trip??.. thanks.. :)
 

Beserk

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#9
Jul 19, 2007
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#10
thanks for the replies so far

i've roughly worked out a schedule
Sun - arrive at hotel around 12/1 (we're planning to stay at the old quarters near hoan kiem), visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, west lake, night market
Mon - leave for Halong on tour till Tues
Wed - hoan kiem lake, street, __ (haven't really figured out what else to do)
Thurs - fly back

I would love to extend the trip but our schedules are quite tight so we can't. But did I miss anything out? Will definitely try to make some time to visit the train station as well.

And hope the weather's good. Fingers crossed!
 

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Octarine

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#11
Get the Lonely Planet for Vietnam. Even the SE Asia edition has enough tips for Hanoi.
 

Jan 4, 2008
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#12
If you intend to visit the HCM Mausoleum, check with the travel agent if it is closed. His embalmed body undergoes annual maintenance during this period (Oct-Nov). Otherwise, if you are already there, the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda and HCM's old stilt house is just round the corner.

Can consider the Temple of Literature. St Joseph's Cathedral, Opera House, Water Puppet show are all within the Hoan Kiem area. Have a nice trip.
 

mazeppa26

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Dec 28, 2005
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#13
hi also keen on hanoi but the plane tix all seems bad, either got stopover or bad timings..
any one has any suggestions?
thanks
 

choocn

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Mar 21, 2007
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#14
The best thing you can do at the HCM Mausoleum is catch the flag raising ceremony at 7am in the morning which is really the highlight, especially with the guards marching "goose steps" past the building (Bring your telephoto lense though). After that, hang around the square for photo taking of the locals doing their stuff - great sunrise lighting. If you go there late morning onwards, then it all tourist crowds. You may want to skip the body viewing as you can't take photo inside the mausoleum anyway (and was told that it is only wax duplicate of HCM - the real one is in HCM city). Visit the War Museum if you're into the Vietnam War stuff - plenty of military crafts on display.

At Halong Bay, if they do bring you to "Surprise Cave", be ready to shoot a bird's eye view of the bay at the cave exit as the tour guide will probably rush the group back to the boat. The kayaking is purely recreational and gimmicky. So, depending on the weather, you will have plenty of rock formations to shoot during your boat cruise.
 

Octarine

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#15
hi also keen on hanoi but the plane tix all seems bad, either got stopover or bad timings..
any one has any suggestions?
Stopover? Tigerair, Vietnam Air, Singapore Airlines, Jetstar all go to Hanoi in direct flights. I just saw some Natas promotions for $230, valid for Sep till end of Jan 2012.
Even Malaysian Airlines goes directly but for prices which are rather a bad joke.
 

#16
I was in Hanoi last year during winter.

its not that cold really. Was there for a week. 10-12degs in the day, night just slighty below 10.

I was decked in berms, flipflops from the old quarter of hanoi all the way to Halong Bay.

It is really comfortable temperature to be walking around. I think I clock about 5-6 hours of walking per day & shooting. I stayed in the old quarter, 3 star hotel called cosy hotel 2. Pretty neat & good service.

Dont worry about activities. The locals lead their lives on the street, get up 5am, hoan kiem lake, pretty much 1/2 the city does tai chi there in the morning. Its filled with lovers at night as well. Hanoi is pretty much busy till it comes to 12am as there is a "curfew" that all bars etc. close at 12. Be there before 12 in an expat pub & the drinking usually goes in through the night with the shutters down.


Forget the cafes etc. Those are for the foreigners, sit down with the locals on the street side for local fare & locally brewed beer & vietnamnese volka.


As for Halong bay, I cant remember the tour I went on, was free & easy alone for 5 days, did Ha long bay overnight, cost about 150usd per person as I drank the entire chinese junk dry of beer, they had to stop & re-supply.

Everything was cheap except Halong bay. Erm, btw, the 3 hours ++ ride in the bus to Halong Bay docks is a bitch......
I was lucky, 8 of 10 people do say that Halong bay was foggy, mine was crystal clear with the sun shinning down.


Got a set here of Hanoi's winter. Should give you an idea what to expect.

If you like street photography, there is something to shoot every 5 mins in the old quarter, enjoy getting lost there!
 

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mazeppa26

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Dec 28, 2005
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#17
Stopover? Tigerair, Vietnam Air, Singapore Airlines, Jetstar all go to Hanoi in direct flights. I just saw some Natas promotions for $230, valid for Sep till end of Jan 2012.
Even Malaysian Airlines goes directly but for prices which are rather a bad joke.
thanks .. cos on zuji a lot of the flights have stopover ... missed NATAS haha ...
 

Octarine

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Jan 3, 2008
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#18
thanks .. cos on zuji a lot of the flights have stopover ... missed NATAS haha ...
I saw the Natas flyer in a normal travel agency in White Sands Mall (Pasir Ris), last Sunday.
 

madmartian

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May 2, 2009
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#19
I was there in mid March this year for 5 days. Lovely place, nice food, temperature wise was nice & cool but it was raining for four days of my stay there :(.

But I still enjoyed the place, the food, the sights & sounds.

Did not really enjoy Halong Bay coz It was a 7 hour ride to & fro from Hanoi main town itself. The limestone cave was pretty cool, as I've never seen one before :)

Here's my thread to Hanoi. Take a look if you have the time ;)

http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/thre...tnam-March-2011-**-madmartian?highlight=hanoi
 

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