Our trip begins in the north of Vietnam, in the capital city of Hanoi. The city is interesting especially because of favorable prices, interesting architecture, excellent street food and old town where you can see the authentic way of life of the locals.
The old part of the city, by itself, is one of the great attractions. Long main streets with tall buildings, old quarters with narrow streets, full of garage shops and street restaurants from which comes the smell of delicious Vietnamese food. For the streets in the old part of the city, we could say that they are one big market. You have to walk carefully on the sidewalk, as the locals have everything displayed in front of their house on the street.
Offer on the street is a real eye catcher, so you have to be carefull not to spend to much. It is possible to buy everything from backpacks, clothes, shoes, hats, electronics, home accessories and of course, street food.
Hanoi has an exceptional range of street food. Street food is aromatic, fresh, and especially light for your stomach. Many Vietnamese traditional dishes originate from here, such as Pho – soup with rice noodles, vegetables and meat. You can find the best food right on the streets, inside small garage restaurants, where you can order them and sit on mall plastic chairs. Excellent pineapple, meat on a stick, fruit smutie, Banh Mi sandwich and many more, you get from street sellers with trolleys.
- Pho – soup with rice noodles, beef and herbs
- Banh Coon – steamed rice rolls stuffed with pork, mushrooms, onions and fish sauce
- Banh Mi – sandwich stuffed with pork, vegetables and sauce
Where to sleep?
Hanoi offers a huge selection of accommodations in different price classes. A clean room with breakfast is available for 8-15 €. For 20-40 € per night, you will get a large and modern furnished room and, of course, boutique hotels that will be required to pay 80 euros or more. Overnight stay is best in Old Quarter, which offers many possibilities for exploring and proximity to attractions. We slept in Hanoi Old Town Guesthouse, where we got a clean room for 14 €, a refrigerator, air conditioning and a good breakfast.
In Hanoi, the main means of transport is motorbike. Motorbike is used by gentlemen in dresses, childrend to go to school, ladies in high heels and also a four-member family.
The big question apears, when we want to go across the street? Easy. When the crowd is smallest, simply and confidently step on the road, and carefully watch the drivers driving against you. No one will stop, but the drivers will drive by you. It’s true that traffic chaos is in the city, so the main rule for crossing the road is: just go! It’s all a bit harder to do when a lot of motorbikes are driving against you, but when you try it, the crossing becomes completely easy.
You will not see the bad car in the city, quite the contrary. You will see the latest models of the brands Kia, Toyota, Hyundai, etc., which are somehow presented as the status symbol among the richer part of the population.
If you are staying in the old part of the city, the city is the easiest to explore on foot. We also explored the city on foot, but if you do not like walking, use a taxi for exploration. Select official taxis for which you will not overpay the route.
When landing, the first thing to think about is how we will get to our hotel. From Noi Bai International Airport, which is 25 km from the old quarter, there are quite a few options to get to the city.
The cheapest option is bus no. 86, which runs between 6am and 11pm in the evening, ticket to the Old Quarter will cost you 30,000 VND (1,2 eur). The bus stops at stations in the old part, including the Long Bien station and the station at Lake Hoan Kiem.
From the airport, you can also go to a city with a taxi, but beware of choosing a reliable taxi service such as Mai Linh or Taxi Group. Many other taxis can charge a double price to tourists. The average price with a taximeter to the old city is 350,000 -400,000 VND (14-19 €).
Due to our late arrival in Hanoi, we were not sure if we will caught the last bus, so when booked a room we also arranged a shuttle service from an airport for which we paid $ 11.
* You can also go from the city to the airport by bus no. 86
What to do in Hanoi?
Hanoi itself does not offer many attractions, but certainly the city has a soul. If you have only one day to explore, we suggest to look at the following:
- The Old Quarter or the old part of the city is by itself one of the great sights. For the streets in the old part, we could say that they are one big market.
- Night Market is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 19:00. The night market takes place in the old part of the city, when the main streets turn into a shopping and culinary paradise. At the market you will find everything from cheap t-shirts, jackets, shoes, sunglasses, electronics and, of course, excellent street food.
- Train Street is one of the “sights” you need to see, and even better to experience it. Through a narrow street surrounded by tall buildings and where the locals live, a train is driving through it every day. The street is located between the streets of Kham Tien and Le Duan, which is a 30-minute walk from the Old Quarter. Every day, two trains arrive across the street, at 15.30 and 19.30.
- Chilling at Lake Khoan Kiem and performance of the water dolls, which is a very popular spot among the locals. The lake of lovers, as they say to him, has a temple in the middlemwhich is one of the symbols of Hanoi.
- The huge Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh is one of the most visited sites of the city. Ho Chi Minh or “Uncle Ho”, as the locals call it, is a popular center for the vietnamese people . During the visit, visitors can take their admiration and gratitude to Uncle Ho, who led the country to independence and reunification. Visiting the mausoleum is free, but strict rules must be followed. During the tour, speaking, pointing with fingers and photography are forbidden. When entering the mausoleum, you must leave all the photographic equipment by the security guards, and short skirts or pants and open shoulders are not allowed.
- Dong Xuan Market is the largest covered market in Hanoi, where wholesalers sell everything from household products, goods, clothing and food.
Hanoi is definitely a city that left a pleasant impression. Unfortunately we only had one day to explore, so we could see and experience only the main attractions. In any case, we recommend staying in the city for at least two days. If you have a chance, be in the city during the weekend when the main streets close for traffic and prepare Night Market. Shopping and street food is guaranteed. When you get hungry, do not look for restaurants, but sit down on small plastic chairs and treat yourself with a great street food.
- 2nights in Old Town Guest House with breakfast = 14 €
- local SIM card with 10GB = 10 €
- sliced pineapples on the street = 25,000 VND (1 €)
- Lunch = 250,000 VND (10 €)
- Pho soup = 30,000 VND (1.15 €)
- Smutie = 40,000 VND (1.50 €)
- Meat on stick = 10,000 VND (0.38 €)