Waking up in what felt like a small cave home from ancient times, then opening the tiny latched door, and feeling like Alice in Wonderland climbing out into the bright morning light and breathing in the air from the lush green forest, somewhere in Hanoi, Vietnam~~
It was just as I had hoped and envisioned it would be: the ethereal and eccentric artist, Khanh, seemingly floated out of another dome-topped treehouse installation to welcome us into his jungle.
Okay, he was walking on a raised bridge platform among the trees- but I swear, if you meet him yourself, you’ll agree that he has an incredible presence that is 1 part Lady Gaga, 1 part Jim Morrison, 1 part Johnny Depp and a whole lotta original Dao Anh Khanh.
How did I find this magical place?
I happened to look on AirBnB (airbnb.com) to check for any unique accommodation in Hanoi, and was stoked to see the listing for an artist-designed treehouse homestay. It reminds me of the new term: Glamping. Glam Camping. Love the concept Being in nature, but still with some of the typical luxury amenities like a toilet and bed.
The Sky Treehouse is set in a beautiful nature-rich, green plot of land about a 15 minute drive from the Old Quarter, the heart of the city.
From their profile on AirBnB, it explains that they welcome guests to:
“experience a relaxing and unique homestay at a famous artist’s beautiful and funky studio. Tree house, lush garden, sun lounge, garden bar and much more. Hosted by the most amazing artist and his helper, 15′ from Hanoi centre.”
My Suggestions for Booking:
If you’re only staying 1 night: Book the large treehouse.
If you’re staying 2 nights: consider spending 1 night in the Cosy Tree House and 1 night in the large Tree House. The Cosy Tree House feels like sleeping in an cave from an ancient tribe, so if you’re the imaginative type, you’ll love the experience.
Take note: while we slept in the Cosy Treehouse, some little critter made it’s way in and chewed a hole in our travel bag to get to the peanut butter granola I had packed! So, a. Do not have any food in here! and b. If you’re set off by the potential elements of sleeping in nature like this- which is in a way like camping- it may not be for you. You may prefer to stay in the Timber House Retreat room which I didn’t experience staying in, but I walked up to the room to see it and it is the beautiful top floor of the main lodge/painting gallery house- very cool! I think it would be fun to stay here when it’s winter, so you could use the fire pit!
More Tips about Room options: When I visited (April 2016), I only saw 3 of the 5 available “rooms,” and I stayed in 2 of them: The Sky Treehouse and the Cosy Treehouse. He was actually working on his newest addition, a 2 bedroom, family or friends-sized house below the Sky Treehouse. It was in construction, so I can’t evaluate it, but from Khanh’s explanation of the 2-room layout with balcony and some talk about sleeping next to a gigantic aquarium- it sounds amazing, too! I’ll try to check back with Khanh for the finish date and update here.
The Sky Treehouse (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5156906?s=mYWR2Ha4) Amenities: 1 double bed mattress on the floor, air-con, a mini fridge, plug-ins for computer/devices, large floor space, window nooks to sit in and page through the photo art books in the room, a stereo system with speakers, a patio/balcony with a bathroom and a shower with hot water! And some kind of cage thing to help you get your inner animal-in-the-trees on.
The Cosy Treehouse (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9374486?s=mYWR2Ha4) Amenities: 1 double bed mattress on the floor, air-con, minimal floor space to store your luggage (I’m sure they could put inside their main building if necessary). No ensuite bathroom, but their separate bathroom with shower is very near- just a few steps after you descend your staircase.
The Timber House Retreat (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4486967) Amenities: 1 double bed mattress on the floor, air-con, a large floor space with a wine lounge area, plugins for computer and devices, two shared bathrooms, neither ensuite, but easily accessible.
I didn’t get to look at these 2 rooms:
The Dungeon Unit (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5157376?s=mYWR2Ha4) Amenities: 1 double bed, mini fridge, mini bar, plugins for computer and devices, ensuite shower + shared toilet. This room looks like a radical experience to sleep in, as it’s underground!
Serenity Garden House (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/6239941?s=mYWR2Ha4) Amenities: 1 double bed, air-con, stereo system, plugins for computer and devices, ensuite shower + shared toilet. This room looks like it may be best for the less adventurous traveler.
More notes From the listing:
“Besides exclusive access to the Sky Tree House, Guests will also be able to enjoy common areas of the studio include:
•2500m2 space and breathtaking garden view
•Central Building common areas like kitchen, dining room, tea lounge, fireplace
•Beautiful Garden Dining Area, Tikki Bar, Garden Shower, Shisha Bar
•Arts gallery with beautiful paintings, sculptures and photo display of Khanh’s previous performances
•Your personal housekeeper who will make you breakfast, drinks and dinners (*read below for my tip on this!)
•Frequent Impromptu Arts performance and events that happen at the studio as the artist is actively improvising music and performances with local and international artists
•Perfect and Unique retreat just 15′ from the heart of Hanoi”
Tip about Meals while staying at the Treehouse: It says in the AirBnB listing for the Sky Treehouse that their “Homestay Program” also includes meals shared with the artist Dao Anh Khanh. However, after confirming this, I found out that really only breakfast is technically “included.” I messaged Jenny, Khanh’s daughter, (who does the AirBnB coordinating, but isn’t present at the Treehouse as she lives in AU), before we arrived to ask if a shared dinner meal is a guarantee and she said that it is not. Khanh is a busy man and he is not always around to spend time with guests. We were lucky that I mentioned my interest in a dinner with Khanh, and he was able to have a lovely dinner with us during our stay. I suggest that if you’re hoping for this experience as well, to ask Jenny if it is likely that Khanh is available during your stay dates for this…just realize that it is not a guaranteed aspect of your stay. If you’re extra lucky, Khanh may even be hosting some kind of party or live music or art performance while you’re there! I hope to return for a night like this someday
There are many cafes and Vietnamese style food places and a small outdoor market nearby- I’m sure you could get food and cook a meal at the Treehouse kitchen if you prefer! Or you can easily taxi into downtown Hanoi for a few bucks and find a restaurant.
Tips about the location and getting there / around:
The Neighborhood: The villa is 3.3 km from the Old City Gate and 3.4 km from Dong Xuan Market. Tran Quoc Temple is 3.6 km, West Lake is 3.8 km, and Noi Bai International Airport is 18 km away. The taxi ride from the airport costs about 380,000d. This is actually only about 60,000d more than if you were just going from the airport to some accommodation in the downtown area of Hanoi.
Getting Around: You will be emailed your check-in details once the booking is received. This includes all of the essential information such as address/directions in English/Vietnamese, map, taxi numbers, emergency numbers etc. In my experience, I took a taxi from the airport, and I barely had to flash the address at the taxi driver before he took off and got their without a hitch! We were surprised when he kicked the car into reverse down a tight and dark dirt road…but it was clear that he knew it would be the best way to access the property.
During our stay, the super-sweet housekeeper woman, Minh, hooked us up with an old-school, semi-automatic honda? motorbike for 100,000 per day. Being our first time driving a semi-manual like this, it made for an interesting drive into the downtown area, haha- but it was totally worth it. Cheap and independent transportation is my favorite mode! Of course you could have Minh call you a taxi anytime you’re wanting to go downtown as well. I hear that this runs about 60,000d (and up, depending on your exact destination downtown), each way.
Now, on to my other Tips About Visiting Hanoi~