Megatrip Bracket: Northeast Region
If you missed the explanation for how this tournament gimmick works, click here.
Today, I’m focusing on the Northeast Region. 16 places I slept on this trip will do battle in a single-elimination bracket tournament, and the winner will move on to the Final Four. Whenever possible, I will include a link to the hotel website. If the hotel does not have a website, then I will just link to the pertinent page of this blog rather than to a third party consolidator like agoda or tripadvisor.
I spent four nights at Inthusak, a nice cheapie 10 minutes from central Luang Prabang. For six bucks a night, I got my own room and bathroom, cable TV with zero English channels, and free bananas and coffee. I found the place because of Chris, a dude I met on the bus, and spent a good portion of my time there drinking Beer Lao with him and a couple other dudes from the bus. I spent 4 hours at Eurotel, all of that time asleep.
Result: The top seed wins running away. Eurotel served its purpose, but Metro Manila is an inconvenience to be dealt with while Luang Prabang was one of the nicest towns I visited on the trip.
Both of these places are pretty much dumps in shady parts of town. Both are also relatively overpriced for what they are, although priced fairly given what a rip-off hotels in their respective districts run. I didn’t really care for either, yet if I found myself needing a place to stay in Manila or Angeles I would stay at them again without question.
Result – The Niagara gets the nod here, mainly because they let me check out 8 hours late at no extra charge, and I got a lot of free drinks there. Plus, walking around Angeles comes with far less risk of being stabbed than walking around downtown Manila.
The Prince was the most expensive hotel I stayed at in Vietnam because I was too lazy to shop around. It did offer excellent wifi, whereas the Thuy Nga did not.
Result – Thuy Nga wins this one. Wifi aside, it offered everything the Prince did – cable, aircon, fridge, hot water, plus it had a balcony and cost less in a more expensive city. The Thuy Nga was comfortable and offered great value and an excellent location, I would absolutely stay there again if I were to return to Hanoi.
Here is where it really becomes obvious that the Northeast is probably the weakest region. I only stayed at Mixok for two nights, yet it was a 4 seed, and a train made it to the 13th slot. The Vietnamese night train was solid though, I slept well and was ready for a full day of touring Ninh Binh when we arrived at 8 a.m.
Result – Mixok. Vientiane is expensive for Laos, but this was the best value I could find, especially given that it’s right in the heart of town.
I went to the Phong Nha after getting a ride with a tout. I had no intention of actually staying there, but the nice staff, reasonable prices, and free breakfast won me over. I wanted to stay in a different section of Hue with better nightlife, but it turns out that even the “cool” part of town shut out the lights shortly after midnight. On the Thai night train, I spent maybe 45 minutes awake in the bar car before going right to sleep.
Result – Phong Nha, no question. It wasn’t a train.
The Nice was another place that Chris tipped me off about, as I met him down there after leaving Luang Prabang. My Plain of Jars motorbike adventure was pretty awesome, but the city of Phonsavan was not. The Dugong boat offered pretty much what I expected, though I didn’t expect to be paying $20 more than my shipmates. This isn’t Dugong’s fault of course, but the shady travel agent that sold me the trip.
Result – The Dugong wins the upset, just for being in Halong Bay.
The Family was fairly charmless and utilitarian, and I only stayed there because the Thuy Nga was sold out. My room at the Queen was pretty nice, complete with a balcony. Both stops were only for one night.
Result – Queen. Unless I end up living in Hanoi or Danang for some reason, I’m sure I’ll never be in Ninh Binh ever again despite its natural beauty. However, if I were to end up there, I’d check in to the Queen without hesitation. The Family was a backup.
The Doman kinda defies explanation. I didn’t particularly like the hotel, nor did I care for the town it was in, yet I ended up staying there for four nights. It wasn’t air conditoned, it wasn’t that well priced, and the wifi was super slow. I had a balcony, but no view. It did have a great location though. I could hang out at TV cafes by day and at the clubs on Party Island by night, and never have to walk more than 100 meters from my front door. On my Cebu Pacific flights to Manila and then to Duma, I snagged my own row, so that was tight.
Result – Doman, obviously. A whole row on a plane in coach still sucks compared to a bed.
1 – Inthusak
8 – Niagara
Result: Inthusak wins this one easily. Four nights there cost less than one night at the Niagara. I suppose it’s hard to compare Luang Prabang to Angeles, since they have basically nothing in common whatsoever.
5 – Thuy Nga
4 – Mixok
Result – Thuy Nga. Both are centrally located bargains in capital cities, but Hanoi is the better city and Thuy Nga is the better hotel.
3 – Phong Nha
11 – Dugong
Result – Dugong. The Phong Nha was a fine place, but I may have just happened to hit Hue at the wrong time. I was weary, the nightlife sucked, and I didn’t really care about the imperial sights. Dugong continues to ride the singular beauty of Halong Bay.
10 – Queen
2 – Doman
Result – I’ll err on the side of the higher seed here and pick Doman, but this would be a close one. Maybe I hit VV at the point on my trip when it just made sense to watch “Friends” for 7 consecutive hours.
1 – Inthusak
5- Thuy Nga
Result – Since wifi was spotty in both places, I’ll give the edge to Thuy Nga. I really enjoyed both Luang Prabang and Hanoi, and both hotels offered great value. However, though the Thuy Nga cost twice as much as Inthusak, it offered a fridge and aircon and was in the absolute heart of town. I often walked for 15 minutes to grab a bite from Inthusak, whereas I could walk 27 seconds from the Thuy Nga and have a lot of choices.
11 – Dugong
2 – Doman
Result – Gah, how did either of these places make it to the regional semifinals? Again, I’ll go Doman, though this is more a vote of confidence for the Otherside Cafe and its delicious Caesar Salads than the Doman itself.
4 – Thuy Nga
2 – Doman
Result – Easy pick here. The Thuy Nga stamps its ticket to the Final Four.
Northwest Region up next!