travel blog

Lotte Observation Deck and Top of Hanoi

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.

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Wellington Cable Car, NZ

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.

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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.

Marina Bay Sands Skypark, Singapore

The Marina Bay Sands Skypark is a must do in Singapore.  You’ll get unparalleled views of the Harbour and surrounds- the sea, the port, gardens by the bay, the central business district, the suburbs. 

I highly recommend you time your trip to be at the Skypark at sunset. That’s when you get majestic skies and the city lights twinkle and awaken. If you wait even longer, you’ll get a light show on the Harbour (but I disappeared before then to grab a bit to eat). 

The Skypark itself runs like a machine. It costs about $26SGD per person to get to the top, and you’ll find it can get very crowded up there. There are trinkets and food/drinks available up there but if you don’t want to be hit by tourist prices for a meager hot dog, then eat before you go. 

There’s always the option of having dinner up there, but reserve a place as I don’t think they take walk ins and it gets filled pretty quickly. Also, don’t expect to be anywhere near the famed infinity pool. Lastly, the queues to leave are long and windy as there are only 2 lifts available up to the SkyPark, so leave yourself a loose schedule because you could be waiting a while to get down. 

All in all, the experience is worth it. The panoramic views are breathtaking and the rest of the experience is just incidental.

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.

TripAdvisor: Or Tor Kor (OTK) Markets, Bangkok

These fresh produce markets are simply wonderful.

They’re a maze of everything food related. There are a few florist stalls to add a subtle fragrance to accompany pin pricks of colour. Their fresh coconuts can be dehusked and grated according to your needs. As you move through these, the fresh fruits and juices offer refreshment for the weary traveler who finds themselves uncomfortable under the blanket of smog that settles over the city.

The markets have an extensive marine section, both alive and otherwise. This doesn’t smell too fishy, though. I believe that those involved in maintaining the markets pride themselves in its cleanliness. I learnt from a stall holder that they don’t have a rodent problem (unlike other areas of the city) because they’ve addressed the issue head on, in a humane way (!).

They also have a section dedicated to dry goods, such as dehydrated fish, jellyfish, abalone, curry powders and more. They’re so pungent, you can really tell that they’ll add depth to whatever dish you decide to cook.

The bags of spice are aromatic and sensual, and at this point, your visit to the markets has become spiritual.

Finally you reach the middle. There are vats of curries and crowds of people. It’s a wonderful place, bustling with life and colour. I recommend you go, buy some produce and make yourself something. Or just go to see the exotic variety.

We bought enough food from these markets to have a feast fit for a king. We had crab, and pomelo salad and we learned how to make Tom kha ghung from scratch.

***click the links for photos!

Haiku #182

And sometimes when I’m
On an underground platform
Like Wynyard, I think

About being in
A subway somewhere else, like
The MRT in

Bangkok and just how
Foreign that felt but how it’s
Essentially the

Same thing. I look at
The passengers and try to
Place them in stifling

Humidity and
Pools of sweat. I imagine
The city laid out

Above us, the street
Food sings and I slip through grit
In gutters of warm

Rain, while trains race and
Weave below. But in Wynyard,
The train crawls up

And vomits glacé
Cherry-eyed people onto
The platform, again.

TripAdvisor: MBK Centre, Bangkok

MBK is jam-packed craziness.  It’s so easy to get lost in the labyrinthine nature of the tech section. There are cheap electronics-landed myself some awesome noise cancelling headphones for a quarter of the western retail price, still brand new. Don’t be afraid to haggle- there are copious amounts of vendors selling the same product and they know it. Beware that what you buy (in terms of gaming) may be geographically restricted and may not work when you take it back to your country. Also, beware of scams and treat this like you would any marketplace. Great fun for a bargain!