Hanoi; the huge, chaotic, noisy but still charming capital city of Vietnam. We arrived in Vietnam a short while before arriving in Hanoi, so we were already getting used to the noisy chaos on the streets and the directness of the Vietnamese people. Even though, Hanoi did top up all of this! This could be a shock for people arriving in Hanoi without any prior Vietnam-experience, but ignore this scaremongering intro because I still recommend going to Hanoi.
AUTHENTIC AND APPEALING
Hanoi, at the beginning of the 20th century, consisted of only 36 streets! You can still see the original city in the Old Quarter, near Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Lucky us that the touristic epicenter is right there! Find you hotel or hostel within these authentic streets and avoid all the motorcycles while transporting your backpack to your room. If you use a good map(-app) you will find you way around the area pretty easily.
(EARLY) PARTY TIME
The Old Quarter has plenty of funky coffee shops and bars, mostly filled with locals enjoying their free time together. If you want to go for a dance, you can also find a couple of clubs in the area, although the curfew will force the clubs to shut down at midnight. If you’re lucky they found a way to stretch it a bit but the police force is pretty strict. So better start your party early!
Hanoi has quite some tourist sites like museums, parks, wartime sites and temples. We unfortunately couldn’t see most of them because of TET (Vietnamese new year), read about this experience in this post. It’s a city with a rich history and the funky, a bit kitsch, temples are fun to check out. So take some time if you like to see all of this. Jump in a rickshaw and leisurely roll down the old-quarter or be brought to a popular spot.
EATING ON THE STREETS
Everyone is eating out on the streets on tiny stools and enjoying their cuisine until late at night. You’ll be accompanied by the orchestra of traffic noise but you’ll get used to it after a while. Find your favorite spot and take some time to observe everything going on in the streets.
Food is relatively cheap so you can order a small buffet and try multiple dishes. Read about vegan food in Hanoi in this post.
Like noted above, Hanoi might seem like extreme chaos but it flows like a natural (noisy) river. Try to go with the flow! Enjoy Hanoi!