Lady & her Sweet Escapes | Food, Travel and Lifestyle Blog | Filipino Blogger in Dubai

Jun 21, 2017

A Stylish and Affordable Staycation at Centro Barsha

Dubai can sometimes be overwhelming for budget-savvy travelers. With world-famous attractions and lavish hotels scattered all over the city, one can easily label Dubai as an expensive place to visit. But living here for nearly a decade, I have learned that this melting pot is not just for those who have money to burn.

Beyond the fancy lifestyle, Dubai has a string of affordable hotels fit for the new generation of travelers - basically, for those who want to see more, spend less and stay comfortable. Ed and I, being budget-conscious travelers ourselves, can pretty much relate to this!    

Here in the UAE, one of the hotel brands that we adore is Centro. It is an affordable lifestyle hotel brand of Rotana - a trusted name in the hospitality industry. We have stayed in two Centro hotels in Abu Dhabi and one in Sharjah a long time ago, and last weekend, we were in Centro Barsha in Dubai.  

Centro Barsha Hotel Review

Jun 14, 2017

How to Explore the Wonders of Siem Reap with a 3-day Angkor Pass

When you hear the word Cambodia, what do you think of? If I'm not mistaken, your mind will instantly drift to the country's most iconic temple - The Angkor Wat! The impressive world heritage site is the symbol of Cambodia; it is even depicted in the national flag!

I get flashes of the beautiful Angkor Wat whenever somebody mentions Cambodia too! It has been in my travel wishlist for so long, and I was stoked to finally able to tick it off during our recent trip to Indochina

A guide to Angkor Wat 3 day pass

Jun 11, 2017

Meet Mikel: The Greek Coffee Company

There is this new cafe in town that is giving me some serious wanderlust. Have you heard about Mikel? Their menu tells me to "enjoy your coffee romantically as in Paris, enjoy your coffee cosmopolitan as in New York, and enjoy your coffee traditionally as in Greece!" 

Oh well, Mikel has hit me the travel bug in me spot on!

Mikel Coffee Company Dubai

Jun 4, 2017

Hanoi: Itinerary, Expenses and Things to Know Before You Go

Whether you love to travel on a budget, go into a culinary journey, or discover dynamic cities, I highly recommend visiting Hanoi! The bustling capital of Vietnam is guaranteed to impress you. 

Spending three to four days in Hanoi will allow you to visit the top attractions, go on a food hunt, and take a short trip to Halong Bay. But mind you, this quick visit will leave you wanting for more! It is actually one of the few cities I wouldn't mind getting lost at for a week or two!

Here are some travel tips, sample itinerary and budget guide to help you plan for your trip! 

May 30, 2017

7 Foodie Spots to Love in Hanoi

If you can still remember my 20 before 2020 list, you'll know that food is the very reason why I wanted to travel to Hanoi. Yes, FOOD, particularly the savory Vietnamese noodle dish called Pho! I have eaten pho many times in Manila, in Bacolod and in Dubai, and I always thought: if this tastes good, then how much more in its birthplace - Hanoi!

So, during our short trip to the capital of Vietnam, I devoured five bowls of pho. That's almost two bowls per day. Hahah! Ed and I also got to sample other delectable Vietnamese dishes, and concluded that if you are into gastronomic journeys, Hanoi is the perfect place to go as it is a foodie wonderland!

Restaurants in Hanoi

May 24, 2017

10 Places You Can't Miss in Hanoi

Hanoi - the capital of Vietnam -  easily became one of my favorite cities. It has a fascinating balance of old world charm and breathtaking natural scenery. I wouldn't deny, the frenzy in the streets can be overwhelming to the senses, but ironically, it is an organized chaos that adds up to the city's distinct character.

Ed and I only spent three days in Hanoi. Until now, we wish we could have stayed longer! And sometimes, we talk about going back there in the future. That's how much this dynamic city captured our hearts!

These are the 10 places we have visited in Hanoi during our short trip - places we wouldn't mind revisiting and places we definitely think you shouldn't miss!  

Tourist attractions in Hanoi Vietnam

1. Hoan Kiem Lake
This natural lake is the focal point of Hanoi's historical district. Its name stands for "Lake of Returned Sword" based on a local legend that tells how Emperor Le Loi gave the mythical sword back to the Golden Turtle God after using it to fight off Chinese invaders.

Now, Hoan Kiem Lake provides serenity in the midst of all the madness. The green lake is surrounded by trees, flowers and benches. Locals and tourists alike go there to relax and to see the sights. The Turtle Pagoda was built in the middle of the lake as a reminder of the legend. Adjacent to it is The Huc; a red bridge which connects the shore to Ngoc Son Temple.    

The Turtle Pagoda in  Hoan Kiem Lake
  • The Turtle Pagoda in  Hoan Kiem Lake

Lady in Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Location: Hoan Kiem District, in between Old Quarter and French Quarter
  • Entrance Fee: Free, unless you visit Ngoc Son Temple for 20,000 VND/adult
  • How to get there: If you're staying at the Old Quarter or French Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake is just a few minutes stroll away. Read: Where to stay in Hanoi?

2. St. Joseph Cathedral
Soaring in Nha Tao street is St. Joseph Cathedral; a Neo-Gothic church built in the late 19th century by the French colonists. With the majestic facade and twin bell towers, it is a strong reminiscent of Notre-Dame de Paris.

  • Location: Hoan Kiem District, Nha Tao Street
  • Entrance Fee: Free, but entrance is only permitted during mass
  • How to get there: By foot, it is about 15 minutes walk, from Hoan Kiem Lake.

3. The Streets of Old Quarter
Old Quarter is an attraction on its own. It is bustling, captivating and very interesting. It is actually a narrow maze I wouldn't mind getting lost at. I was welcomed with surprises in every turn; a cute little cafe, a shop selling trinkets, a hole in a wall restaurant! The congested streets are lined with old colonial tube houses; some are budget hostels, most are residences. 

There are more than 70 streets in the Old Quarter. We noted the important ones based on our do-it-yourself walking tour itinerary:
  • Dong Xuan street  - where Dong Xuan night market is located
  • Ly Quoc Su - where we had the best pho in town
  • Nguyen Huu Huan - where we found the hidden Giang Cafe

4. Thang Long Water Puppet Theater
Water puppetry, a tradition which has existed for more than 1000 years, is best witnessed in Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. It is the only theater in Asia that performs water puppetry 365 days a year. The nightly performance showcases Vietnamese artistry, with segments highlighting the daily life of Vietnamese people and their historical legends.

The 1-hour show is unique and fun to watch. Ed and I giggled like little kids along with the rest of the audience. Somewhere in between the laughter, we wondered how it all works. The puppeteers took the center stage at the end of the show, but how they controlled the puppets still remains a mystery to us!

Water Puppet Show in Hanoi
  • Location: Hoan Kiem District, Dinh Tien Hoang street, near Hoan Kiem Lake
  • Ticket Price: 100,000 VND/adult

5. Tran Quoc Pagoda
Located in a small island in the West Lake is Hanoi's oldest Buddist Temple - Tran Quoc Pagoda. This place of worship is famous to tourists because of its intricate ancient design which harmoniously blends with the tranquil backdrop. Visitors can go inside the courtyard, but it is best viewed along the main road as you can see the reflection of its precious stupa on the lake.

Lady at Tran Quoc Pagoda
  • At the courtyard of Tran Quoc Pagoda 
  • Dress: Forever 21
Tran Quoc Pagoda Hanoi
  • Location: West Lake
  • Entrance Fee: Free
  • How to get there: From Old Quarter, you can take a tuktuk, taxi or Uber. We took the latter because we felt it is safer and more convenient. (Uber Fare: 30,000 VND)

6. West Lake
Despite the hustle and bustle, Hanoi can also be a romantic destination. Ed and I ventured out to the West Lake in Tay Ho district one afternoon for a quiet downtime. The largest freshwater lake in the city provides a calm and refined breathing space as it is enclosed in an upscale suburb. We strolled along the lake shore and watched the sun dip below the horizon in Pan Pacific's Summit Lounge. 

  • At the Summit Lounge of Pan Pacific Hotel
West Lake view from Summit Lounge

  • Location: Tay Ho dictrict
  • Drinks and Snack Platter at Summit Lounge: 700,000+ VND
  • Uber fare to/from Old Quarter: 30,000 VND 

  • 7. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
    Situated in the center of Ba Dinh Square is a granite edifice housing the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It stands as a memorial to the Vietnamese revolutionary leader and the country's independence. The embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh is persevered in the central hall of the building. Locals and tourists can visit the mausoleum for free, but strict regulations are implemented. 

    Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi
    • Location: Ba Dinh district
    • Entrance Fee: Free
    • Opening Hours: 8 AM to 11 AM, except Monday and Friday 
    • Visiting tips: Dress modestly; no tank tops and short skirts allowed. Taking photos is prohibited inside the mausoleum.
    • Uber fare from French Quarter: 40,000 VND

    8. One Pillar Pagoda
    One of the two iconic temples of Vietnam is the One Pillar Pagoda. The wooden Buddhist temple was built on top of a single stone pillar in the center of a lotus pond. It represents a lotus blossom; a Buddhist symbol of purity.

    One Pillar Pagoda
    • Location: Ba Dinh district, behind Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
    • Entrance Fee: Free
    • Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
    • Uber fare from French Quarter: 40,000 VND 

    9. The Streets of French Quarter
    Compared to the busy narrow streets of Old Quarter, the wide avenues of French Quarter is easier to navigate and more ideal for romantic strolls. The streets are lined with high-end shops and fancy hotels. The historic Trang Tien street is worth a visit; be it for luxury shopping, fine dining, or simply for a cheap treat of Kem Trang Tien ice cream!

    • Location: French Quarter, southeast of Hoan Kiem Lake
    • Kem Trang Tien ice cream price: 8,000 VND 

    10. Hanoi Opera House
    Hanoi Opera House is undoubtedly the centerpiece of Hanoi's French Quarter. It was built by the French colonists, resembling Opera Garnier de Paris, in 1901. The construction was completed in 1911. It is a grand remnant of the past which serves as a venue of world-class performances and art shows. 

    • Location: French Quarter, southeast of Hoan Kiem Lake
    • Entrance Fee: You need to book a seat for a performance to see the interior of the Opera.

    Have you been to Hanoi? Did I miss your favorite attraction? 
    Drop me a line in the comment section below.