Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the second largest city. Situated in the north, 1000 miles from Ho Chi Minh City, the best way to reach it is by air. The flight takes just over 2 hours and is better than a 35 hour train ride!
We flew from HCMC early morning arriving by lunchtime into Hanoi. After checking into our hostel we then decided to explore and grab lunch.
The Old Quarter, near Hoàn Kiếm Lake has retained most of the architecture and original street layout, and is great to walk through. Each street is named after the original trade that took place along that street so you have Silk Street, Silver Street etc. In fact there are 36 streets for 36 different trades, although this now totals over 70 streets.
Hoàn Kiếm Lake is a large lake with a temple in the centre, a bridge and a small tower. The temple is really far away so the photo was awful! The lake is gorgeous, the bridge takes you to the Temple of Jade Mountain which gives you lovely views across the lake.
That evening we headed to the night market. What an assault on the senses. Shouting traders, street food stalls wafting delicious smells throughout the market, and the most bizarre electrical wiring I have ever seen! I got scammed out of £8 for a bag of doughnuts; warning a 50,000VND note and a 500,000VND note look remarkably similar! We measured the cost of any other activity or purchase during our trip as ‘Is it more expensive than a bag of Doughnuts?’!
At one point whilst waiting for a snack at a vendor, people started literally running towards and past us, darting into the many shops lining the street. We couldn’t work out why, until the heavens opened and the most amount of rain I have ever seen descended on Hanoi. The video below shows the extreme change in weather from balmy evening to tropical storm!
After getting absolutely soaked, we decided to head to the room to dry off, sleep and get ready for the day ahead.
The next morning, we ate breakfast in the hostel before hitting the streets to explore properly. We spent the whole day walking, totting up 25,366 steps and 10 miles!
We dodged moped after moped to cross roads…
Rummaged in Dong Xuan Market for bargains…
Learnt about the history of Vietnamese women at the Women’s Museum… and Eleanor tried to recreate a traditional head piece… The exhibitions were split in to sectors; women in family, women in history, women in fashion. There was also an exhibition on the part women played in the Vietnam war, which was fascinating.
Walked through the ground of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and gazed in wonder at the sheer size of the building. I have no idea how much this cost or who paid for it but it was insane for one person!
Explored the Temple of Literature…
Visited One Pillar Pagoda, built to resemble a lotus blossom, the Buddhist symbol of purity…
Enjoyed the view of Tran Quoc Pagoda…
We then headed to bed as the next day we were being collected from our hostel early for our 2 night, 3 day trip to Halong Bay.
Hanoi was amazing, the first insight into Vietman. I highly recommend you walk everywhere as it is so easy to get to, and drink lots of water as it was roasting!
To hear more from our trip, click HERE