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Hanoi; The top five places to see in Vietnam

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Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. At its heart is the chaotic Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are roughly arranged by trade. There are many little temples, including Bach Ma, honoring a legendary horse, plus Đồng Xuân Market, selling household goods and street food.

Some may consider staying in the more modern areas with the 5 star western hotels, wide open streets, shopping malls and McDonalds, but to do so in a city like this is really missing the point. It would be like travelling to the desert but staying in an air conditioned cocoon the whole time or visiting the north pole while living in a cosy caravan.

The Old Quarter in Hanoi is where you get a taste of the life, from the constant soft burble of scooters, the beeping to the tiny tree lined streets and their colour. It’s fun, frenetic and a joy to explore on foot where you get to see, hear and smell everything the city has to offer.

As night descends the place transforms, walkways turn into makeshift restaurants as the street food makers come to life. Open barbecues, tasty soups, fresh fish, cuts of meat; you name it and you’ll find it. Uniquely apart from being made on the streets pathways you also sit at street level on tiny plastic chairs, its how the people come together after a hard day.

Venturing away from the main tourist areas has its rewards, here you won’t mind poor attempts at western dishes, instead you will find excellent examples of local cuisine that is tasty and where all the locals eat.

The city

The city of Hanoi has lots of French influences which can be seen in the buildings architecture, style and colours. Keep your eyes up and feast on bright colours, textures and aged buildings that have stood for years

The bikes

Not quite as busy as other cities in Vietnam but your ears will ring to the sound of scooters put putting around the streets. All shapes and sizes, many without mirrors and all working in unison to moving the population around. Entwined are cyclists, merchants, pedestrians and a few cars.

The people

What a diverse place with fresh fruit sellers to custom fit tailors. The streets are filled with people from all walks of life so many glued to their mobile phone as they wait for their next customer. The cities infrastructure meshes with houses and shops with the famous train line snaking its way through the city creating one of Hanoi’s famous tourist attractions.

Shops, traders and nightlife

Where there is a will there is a way. Trading happens all around Hanoi and in the Old Quarter its from the back of a push bike, carried on your back or by the side of the street. All kinds of things are sold from clothing to sweets that you can stumble upon on each street. Come night time and the place changes completely with scooters parked up on the foot paths and the night street food vendors ready to serve.

 

One of the unique things in Hanoi to try is their ‘Egg Coffee’ which initially sounds terrible but it is a delicious, sweet and very addictive take on a coffee with milk. They replace the milk with whipped egg, sugar and vanilla essence. This is added to the sweet Vietnamese drip coffee with a drop of condensed milk in the bottom of the cup. It is a soft, sweet delicious taste with a hit of coffee. A must try when you travel to Vietnam.