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Hanoi, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam
"Let's just rest and recuperate. 
Have all the time for ourselves and each other."

This was the agreement my husband and I have laid out the moment we decided to travel to Hanoi this year. For the past years of being married, traveling has been an avenue for us to get to know each other more while seeing the rest of what the Lord has created. But as we grew older, we realized that there were some things we needed to change with the way we traveled: we needed to take time and slow down.
We travel on a budget. This is a philosophy we both share and will continue to share and pass down to our future children. Our mindset was to always maximize what we can see without compromising our budget and the beautiful opportunities we can have while we are out of our home base. One of the fun parts of planning our budget trips would be looking for our accommodation. If this is your first time reading my blog, I have a penchant for staying at hostels and Airbnb (read my Bangkok hostel experience here!) not only because of its general affordability but also because of the fun and design experience we get from staying there.

What are things that I look for when booking a hostel or BnB?

1. We always travel as a couple, so privacy is our priority. Though it would also be a fun experience to stay in a common dorm at a hostel (an, of course, this is more affordable!), we definitely need our time alone so we don't mind paying a few extra bucks for our own door and bedspace. We don't mind sharing a bathroom though as usually communal bathrooms in hostels are well kept and relatively safe.

2. We usually get the place nearest to the train station, bus stop, walkway.

3. We stay near Universities, but never shopping districts. While it's convenient to have the whole shopping district just below or near your doorstep, commuting and walking around could at one point feel irritating due to the high volume of people. Another reason why the University area is a good place to stay in would be for cheap food options and convenience stores!

4. We usually book a place that welcomes early check-in and offers bag deposits. This really goes in handy whenever we take the first flight in and the last flight out to maximize our day in a specific place or country.

5. The earlier you book, the cheaper it is. This is pretty much a given. So if you know that you are not willing to spend more than your allotted budget for a room, make sure to commit time to research and look for your room at least 3-4 months before your travel date.

When I was looking for a place in Hanoi, my husband requested to veer away from the Old Quarter or any crowded place. It was a request that I strongly agreed on as we were both willing to travel a bit further to get to the city center in exchange for a good night's rest and peaceful getaway.

There were quite a number of affordable and beautiful places to stay at in Hanoi if we are just strictly looking at Airbnb, but this room has definitely charmed me!
The Panoramic Room at the Langmandi Homestay was the perfect place for us to have our temporary and peaceful escape. It was not too far from the center, it was also very accessible to public and private transport, and we were able to book the room at a good price. For roughly around Php 900 ($17/18) per night, we enjoyed the luxury of natural light, good sleep, and privacy.

We arrived Hanoi in the wee hours of the morning, so we managed to have a special arrangement with our host Pan who was very helpful and accommodating. Pan was able to arrange an airport pickup for us at 1:00am, this was a service that we feel was needed because we arrived at a time where public transport is not in operation, and it was too dark for us to navigate the location of our homestay.
Langmandi Homestay was a 45-minute car ride from the Noi Bai International Airport. Once you book this listing on Airbnb, your host will give you the necessary instructions for check-in but in our case, Pan was gracious enough to stay up late at night to monitor our arrival and managed to have us welcomed personally when we arrived the lobby of the property.
Do not be fooled by the deep, dark alley and the bustling street of Hue. Our room was definitely a sanctuary in the middle of a busy place. Though the neighborhood of Hai Ba Trung was considered to have less tourist traffic, it was still very much accessible to the Hoan Kiem Lake, the Old Quarter, and the French Quarter; it was a 15-20 minute walk away, depending on your pacing.
 Our room was located at the topmost part of the property (the fifth floor to be exact), giving us a full panoramic view of the place. Given that the place was a refurbished building, there was no elevator and we had to work our way up the stairs - this was something already stated in the listing features in Airbnb (it's very important for you to read everything first before booking, the hosts are very honest about their listings).
I loved how our host conceptualized this place; maximizing the elements of the existing structure and combining it with the necessary adjustments and comfort essential for an accommodation. This place is indeed a great example of adaptive re-use for Architecture and Interior Design.
Since we arrived in the wee hours of the night/morning, we were only able to fully appreciate the panoramic view the next day. We were welcomed by the gentle rays of the sun peeking through the blinds and the plants by the window. One would truly feel at home or dream of having this for their own the moment they get to appreciate each element and finishing touches placed inside this room that felt like an indoor garden.
Staying in this place also meant being conscious about the plants inside, every day I was given the task to water the plants in the morning and treat them like they were mine. It really made the stay feel more personal and interactive because we didn't just sleep in the place, we also interacted with it.
Another thing that I loved about this place was the immersion we got from the typical Hanoian neighborhood, it was as real as it could get. I love how our room embraced every side of the neighborhood wherein we got a good view of each frame, texture, movements, and sounds that came along with it. It was as real as it could get and to us, that was a very vital part of traveling - knowing the real situation of the place and seeing how people really lived their everyday lives.
The bedroom was very simple yet cozy. I loved the DIY wall treatment done in the place, it gave it so much personality and life at the same time. Pan really gave thought in every angle of the Panoramic Room and for an Interior Designer like me, I would have to appreciate how function and aesthetics were combined in designing this property.
I don't know how most of you would react to this, but this was our view from our bathroom. It was semi-outdoor yet properly covered enough for you to do your personal activities. It was quite frightening for me at first but eventually, as days went by, I found myself being comfortable with this setup and I would have to say that this is also something that I will never forget. This was an experience that will truly remind me of Hanoi.
Overall, our stay in Langmandi was everything we hoped for - we enjoyed our privacy, had a comfortable rest, and felt like true Hanoians for a week!
To give you a better idea, here's a quick illustration of how you can go around Hanoi. Again, we really opted to stay outside the touristy areas and we didn't mind the walk and commute because they are relatively close - not long enough to walk if you are healthy enough, not expensive enough to grab if you are not alone and have extra pocket money with you.
At the end of the day, it is all about how you travel. For us, we travel on a budget and we always try to balance the idea of having a good a look at two spheres of the place: the tourist spots and the undiscovered parts. We also prioritize our privacy as a couple so it's always an adventure to look for an affordable room with good design without breaking the bank!

Happy Heyday!


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