Hanoi, located on the banks of the Red River is a city of broad tree lined boulevards, weathered colonial buildings, lakes and a great place to explore on foot. This French-colonial city is also known for its delectable cuisine and vibrant nightlife, is small and compact, historic and charming.
We are excited to be here and looking at Vietnam as maybe our new winter getaway, it’s a toe in the water moment.
It’s a 2 hour flight from Chiang Mai, a new route which means you don’t have to go through Bangkok, it’s cheap and convenient. Needing money we found an ATM at the airport and we jumped on a no 86 bus which cost us 35,000 dongs (about £1.30) and took us on an hour’s ride to the centre of the city.
We booked a boutique hotel near the cathedral in the old quarter of town, it took some finding in the narrow streets of the old quarter but it was all easy in the scheme of things.
The city was buzzing with people and traffic and heavily overloaded motorbikes, everyone we met were all very friendly and helpful and spoke good English. There are things that are a must do, things to eat and places to see. Near our hotel was a craft beer bar with live music, it would have been churlish not to go on the first night….the hangover wasn’t desperate but it did slow us down the next day, why, oh why, oh why!
There is a large lake Hoan Kiem Lake 5 minutes walk from the hotel with a pagoda at one end and coffee stalls and benches all the way round. It takes about an hour to walk around it, that sorted our hangovers out. The lake is the place to be in the evenings and if you sit down local students ask if they can speak to you to practice their English, they are charming and polite.
We decided to just explore the city on foot and walked to the Vietnam military history museum about a 30 minute walk.
Crossing the roads here is exciting you just have to take a deep breath and step out, don’t stop or hesitate or you might just get run over, just keep walking and they go round you. Fortunately we have had lots of practice in Phnom Penh but it’s still daunting.
The museum was interesting. The Vietnamese were invaded and occupied by the Chinese for a thousand years and then the French subjugated the population in the 1850’s. The Japanese then removed the French in the 1940’s and the Allies threw out the Japanese, no wonder they went for communism. Then in the 1960’s the Americans arrived….. There were some great pictures and artefacts on display and plenty of seriously over the top propaganda. To be expected.
We didn’t realise the museum closed for lunch so we looked around locally and found a little eatery who said as we arrived they had run out of food. Looking at our disappointed faces said they would rustle up some sticky rice and Vietnamese sausage, gave us free tea and were very charming. We are impressed how many of them speak good English, they were lovely.
We then returned to the museum to see the last few exhibits. Tanks, planes, helicopters, SAM missiles it was unbelievable the hardware they had on display.
The Old Quarter is a bedlam of busy streets packed with shops selling all kinds of goods, each of the 36 streets named for its primary goods or service.There is a street which just sells glasses and one that sells silk, another with cloth and haberdashery a whole street that repairs motorbikes, chicken street, it’s fascinating. It’s neither quiet nor clean but strangely odd and engaging. There are pavements but you can’t walk on them they are full of parked motorbikes or food stalls, fruit sellers you mostly have to walk on the roads…
There is still a lot to see it’s an interesting city. The adventure continues..
6 thoughts on “Escape to Hanoi 1”
That was a lot of luggage on the mopeds. Was that Chris or Sigrid’s hand luggage?
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Chris will insist on bringing all his high heels and dresses 😊
Amazing as usual. I’m in Fuerteventura ruined by ex pats opening English bars etc . Keep posting xxxx
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Enjoy your time in the sun xx
Looks great as usual!
It’s an interesting city