Hanoi brings strong feelings. People who visit the Vietnam capital either love it passionately or hate it to pieces. It is advised to read both extremes from previous travelers to have an overview about Hanoi as well as contact a reliable tour company to get the idea of what to do and what not, so that you can minimize “culture shock” when you are here. For me, I contacted Eviva Tour Company in Hanoi as recommended by my friends who have just been back from Hanoi on her 3-day business trip.
So why did I love Hanoi?
Before arriving Vietnam, I was a bit confused to choose between Hanoi and Singapore and I am glad that I did have a right decision. Hanoi was just like the Asia in my imagination; it had the roadside food, the bustle and hustle life, the street beer and the million motorbikes moving around the city.
I loved delicious street food in Hanoi. These food is served at street stalls and open-air restaurants with teeny-tiny plastic stools. My favorites? Charcoal-grill marinated pork, Vietnamese baguette, fresh summer rolls, fried dumplings… just named a few.
Aside from food discovering habit, I also spent a lot of time walking around the city. I loved the way that grandparents in Vietnam had a close bone with their grandchildren. On the pavement of Hoan Kiem Lake – the lake located right next to the Old Quarter, it is not hard to capture the image of a young girl and her grandmother going for an early evening walk in pajamas and flip-flops.
The elders doing morning exercises with their grandchild. Pretty sure that you could not find this lovely image anywhere else but Hanoi.
I loved that shoulder – pole womancan be found on every street. This is actually an interesting mobilized shop. With rattan baskets looped through a rope and balanced across their shoulders on bamboo poles, they sell everything from tropical fruits to local snack. Buy something — bananas, bunches of vegetable, bow of sweet soup (Che) – and the photos will be accompanied by a broad Vietnamese grin underneath conical hats.
I am so in love with the view, occasionally the streets are lined up with bicycles offering seasonal flowers.
The crazy traffic is one of the many things this country is best known for, but it just makes Hanoi so Hanoi. Motors are all over the places and going in every direction possible even from inside the shops and out of little alleys and drivers do not seem to pay attention to any signals. If you wait for the street to be free to cross the road, you will be waiting all day. All you need to do is to walk slowly into oncoming traffic, do not panic, do not change your pace suddenly and everything will be okay. Traffic here looks very chaostic but it is an organized chaos. After crossing the street successfully, your heart jumps for joy because you just achieved the hardest thing you will do all day. A day of dodging traffic and finding your way through overcrowded footpaths is exactly how most people spend their time in Hanoi, and it is more fun than any purpose-built tourist attraction.
After 3 days in Hanoi, if anyone asked whether I would come back here again, my answer is definitely Yes.