Hanoi to Haiphong – 105km
Brief : A busy road, flat and well surfaced. Plenty of eating options. However for the first 50km dont expect to be amazed by what you see. There are sleeping options in the town of Hai Duong 58km into the journey.
Heading out of Hanoi was much easier than expected. With the use of an iPod as a GPS to navigate our way towards highway AH14, we were on our way. Our bikes had recently been tuned by one of the many bicycle shops in Hanoi, but the guy who had changed Cynthia's front tyre had over inflated it and caused a bulge, that rubbed on the brakes, inevitably making riding a lot harder.
We hadn’t realised that there was problem, until Cynthia's clear exhaustion of trying to keep up, proved there was something wrong. We then checked the bikes, resolved the problem and carried on. But with our average speed less than anticipated, and a tired Cynthia, we realised we wouldn’t reach Haiphong before dark. With only a 30 day visa in Vietnam, we didn’t want to delay our arrival. We looked for the next train station and this was in Hai Duong. However there are plenty of other stops between Hanoi and Haiphong.
⇒ 10,000 per bicycle
⇒ 25, 000 per person (price for hard seat no air-con)
Again the use of the Vietnamese language will help as you will need to pay for a ticket for your bicycle (xe dap)
It is a great option to take the train either from this point like we did or all the way from Hanoi, to avoid the stress of a main highway, and save on time. Or alternatively take the train Hanoi to Hai Duong and, ride the remaining journey of 45km.
When we arrived in Haiphong, we hunted around the city (yes, in fact a big city of 2 million people) for a room. The prices were a little more than we were expecting, but we found a reasonable rate at 270,000 dong. The city is quite nice, with a few man made lakes scattered around. The city centre is based around a long rectangular lake, where the locals enjoy Zumba in the evening. There is also a great market that will provide a refill on your fruit and nuts !
We took a ride on a Hydrofoil (ferry) the following morning to Cat Ba island.
It cost 150,00 per person
100,00 per bicycle
We booked this in the ‘ticket office’ by the port. A non negotiable fee. However on the return trip there was no office and we boarded the boat and paid 100,000 per person with bike… This is Vietnam and you never will really know the real, fair price !