Hanoi can get really cold if you visit it during winter. Although the temperature was only 10-15 degree celcius, it is really cold! Why ? Firstly because it is damp cold and secondly it’s due to the wind factor, particularly when you’re outdoor. A lot of the buildings in the city doesn’t have central heating so you’re stuck in the cold weather most of the time.
When we had to choose what to do in Hanoi during our visit in January, we opted for the tour to Tam Coc instead of the touristy Ha Long Bay. The receptionist in the Little Hanoi Diamond hotel helped us to book a tour, which cost us USD25, one of the cheapest rate that we could find after doing some research.
The mini bus picked us up at 8am and went around to pick other passengers. Guess what? The bus doesn’t have any heater so it’s up to our jackets and sweaters to face the cold weather. So if you’re going to Hanoi in winter, make sure you bring along proper winter clothing. You might wanna check out Zalora Malaysia collection of jackets and sweaters before you make your journey there. They have a wide variety of stylish jackets selections.
The bus ride took nearly 3.5 hours to reach Tam Coc which includes the stopover at Hua Lu to visit an ancient temple of the Le and The Dinh dynasties. The stop at Hua Lu doesn’t impress me much. There’s just a small ancient temple dated from the 10th century left in the area.
“There used to be an ancient citadel here, but now there is no more” said the guide while giving us a brief description about the history of the place. We did spent nearly 40 minutes there going on the short tour of the place and also snapping photos.
We hopped back on the mini bus and head towards Tam Coc after that. Along the way, the mountain view was stunning. Maybe that is why Tam Coc is known as Halong bay on land by some people. Lunch was served as soon as we arrived in Tam Coc area at the nearby restaurant.
After lunch we boarded the boat. Many have blogged about not boarding the boat that was loaded with boxes upon departure. The reason is, there are handicrafts or souvenirs in it which are meant for you to buy. Some rowers can be pushy to sell you the items. So we followed the tips and boarded the boat which doesn’t carry any boxes on it.
The female rower started to row the boat with her feet while her assistant helped with another paddle. We cruise along the river with under the cold weather. Apart from the people watching along the way, the view of the limestone mountains was the reason that we came here. However during winter, there are no green paddy fields like you see in the promo photos of Tam Coc.
We also did passed through a few caves. After about 30 minutes, we reached the end of the route and the boat had to turn back. At one point, there are many boats selling food and drinks that will approach your boat. Most sellers will push you to buy drinks for your rowers, so beware.
On the way back to the pier, a friend of our rower approached us on another boat and passed a large box. Looking at that, we lough between ourselves. It’s the handicraft box! The assistant started to open the box and promote to us their products. At last we did bought some small things just to stop them from promoting any more items to us.
Despite there’s no green paddy fields and it’s cold, we still had a great time there. As soon as we reached the pier, we head straight to our bus and got back to Hanoi.