It’s late at night. Your taxi moves through a sea of people, there’s horses and motorbikes and people clogging the streets. The roads become passageways, it’s too tight for a car but your taxi competes against a mess of people and honks and blares. A handicapped woman hails, “taxi taxi” and you drive past her. Your driver mimics her voice under his breath, cursing that she only needs him when he is occupied, and can’t find a fare when he’s available. You look out the window at the chaos before you. He stops. Leaps out of the car and says: “too narrow”. He cannot drive any further. He has thrown you to the wolves.
Acland Street is famous for it’s strip of cake shops and bakeries. Wandering past all the window displays makes you feel like a little kid again, mouth watering, nose pressed up against the glass. Some of the shops have been here since the 1930s and they’ve got a cult following. I guarantee you’ll find cakes here from your childhood. And they’ll taste perfect.
We went off-road in our 4WD and had access to sites deep within the national forest. Station Creek has twisting angopheras and hidden waterways where the water is electric blue.
We drove to a village that is only accessible via the beach, and the beach is only driveable at low tide. Only one permanent resident lives there, everyone else is a blow-in. There’s an adjacent caravan park too, but there’s not road to that. Swim, or bring your boat.
The grass is a vivid green and the trees are fresh. They’re new. Saplings shoot from the undergrowth and burst from the torn flesh of burnt trunks. Fire has savaged these parts. Floods, too. But the grass is alive and the wallabies bound. They try to keep up with the train.
We slow to a halt. Two tracks merge into one and we wait. Minutes pass. A monster speeds round the bend. We carry on.
When in Hanoi, visiting the Lotte Tower is an absolute must. It’s a short drive from the Old Quarter (where most tourists stay) and for someone unaccustomed to Vietnam see public transport, such as myself, get yourself a driver.
Side note, the taxi fare out of the gridlocked Old Quarter is guaranteed to skyrocket so we picked up an Uber and it cost us next to nothing.
The Lotte Observation Deck sits over sixty floors above Hanoi and boasts breathtaking panoramic views. It’s open day and night. We went at night and thoroughly recommend it. For a modest entrance fee, the observation deck offers interactive experiences for people young and old. The highlight for me was the glass skywalk, where you take your shoes off and walk right out into the night sky- not for anyone with vertigo!
The Lotte tower also offers a range of eating options, so I recommend making an evening out of the experience. At the skydeck there’s a fast food eatery or two, but if you delve a little deeper, you’ll find award winning restaurants and bars within the Lotte tower.
Top of Hanoi is literally the top of the city. This open-air restaurant sits you up in the clouds, overlooking all of Hanoi, the twinkling traffic, the city glow. You can secure yourself a table through reservation, but we were able to walk right in. The cocktail bar is exciting and innovative, and their mains are reasonably priced given the location. We were shocked that we were sat on top of Hanoi and didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg! My friends chose pasta dishes and I had a pan-seared salmon dish- the food was to die for. The service personnel here were very attentive, friendly and ready for a chat. This venue is worth it for the food, and the magnificent views.
Afterwards, we weren’t ready to go home. We headed down about thirty floors to the lounge where we were greeted by live piano, sleek aesthetic and deep sofas. The dessert and cocktails there make for the perfect ending to a wonderful night.
Traveler’s note; I compared this experience to a similar one I had at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. For me, this evening was much more relaxed, affordable and all-inclusive as the stunning view was paired with fine food and great service. It was honestly the perfect way to unwind and celebrate the end of our trip to Vietnam.
The Wellington Cable Car is such fun. It’s only a short ride to the top of the hill, but the view is well worth it. The tunnels on the way up has rainbow lights and all the kids go wild. I Loved seeing the houses on the hill, the whole neighbourhood seems so relaxed and calm.
The view from the top is sublime. Clear blue harbour, majestic mountain range, perfect little houses in the distance.
We Took the train up and walked through the botanic gardens back down to the city which was a really pleasant stroll. A must do in Wellington.
Fisherman’s Plate looks like your regular run-of-the-mill takeaway. They have a long standing tradition of serving fish and chips, and they have an extensive Vietnamese menu. I was going to just go with my usual pho, but decided to take the path less trodden.
We had salt and pepper squid with green tea soba noodles and Vietnamese salad. It was to die for, absolutely stunning. The soba salad was warm, plum sauce sweet, tender, lightly seasoned squid, fish sauce salty, had a peanut nuttiness, had some red cabbage colour, and fresh herbs for punch. This dish is a true revelation. We ordered two and I would be happy to eat it all day. This restaurant is a hidden gem. It may seem tame from the outside, but do yourself a favour and jump right in. It will be the best Vietnamese you’ll have in Wellington.
Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.