If you’re traveling around Asia, don’t skip out on Hanoi. Hanoi is a crazy, loud, dynamic city. It’s a city where you think you will die trampled over by a motorbike. Don’t worry, you won’t. Don’t ask me how, but they manage to have very few accidents. I have never seen that many motorbikes in my life.
In Hanoi there is so much going on at once, you don’t know where to go and what to look at. Everything happens on the sidewalk: restaurants, shops, barbers, naps…you name it.
It’s a city where you can walk around and never have a dull moment. We spent the day walking around the old quarter, the Hoan Kiem Lake, the Opera house and the hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole. This is the perfect city to just get lost in and enjoy.
Before going to Hanoi I read an article in The Guardian that said that if you only have few days, don’t stress about checking your checklist. Instead relax, walk around and soak in the dynamism of the city. That is exactly what we did and I highly recommend it as well.
A friend of mine gave us another great tip: to do a food tour. There are millions of them, it will depend on how much you want to pay and how many people you want on the tour. We did a tour only for the 2 of us. We both thought it was the best alternative. In this case, the less people the better. Our guide took us to different street food places and had us try different types of street food while telling us more about Vietnam.
Banh My. pork sandwich. It was so good I actually forgot to take a picture of it!!
The names of the restaurants have the name of their speciality and the name of the family. For example, Xoi Yen. Xoi = sticky rice and Yen = name of the family.
The night could not end without a few Vietnamese beers. There’s a corner that’s called Beer Corner and everyone hangs out drinking. It’s really fun because technically restaurants are not allowed to invade the sidewalks with their tables. They do it anyway so when the police pass by suddenly your seat is taken almost right from under you, your table disappears and you are left standing on the street with a beer and a plate of food in your hand. As soon as the police pass by, everything is brought back out and nothing happened.
At the end of our stay in Vietnam we spent another day in Hanoi and it was a Sunday. Sundays in Hanoi are the best because around the Hoan Kiem Lake, all the roads are closed to motorbikes and cars and left only for pedestrians. Everyone is out on the street playing games, walking around and enjoying the day. It was a great way to spend the day.
Another REALLY nice thing about Hanoi, is that if you go in winter, it’s a nice break from the really hot weather around south east Asia.
Hotel: La Beauté de Hanoi Hotel
- Bánh Khúc Quân: rice with pork & vegetables
- Giảng Cafe: egg coffee
- Bánh Mì Bà Dần: pork sandwhich
- Xôi Yến: sticky rice