The Vietnamese capital is (as you would expect from most cities in Vietnam) a buzzing place, full of people (around 6.5 million – about 3 million less than Saigon), motorbikes and scooters (of course) and a combination of cultures – the Vietnamese old quarter contrasted with the grandeur of the old French colonial buildings.
Driving into the city, you get a sense of how this city is changing. There are some world famous brand names and plush new buildings, but they are separated by strips of rice fields, older buildings and the odd temple or two.
There is also the odd link to Japan enroute to give me that extra warm feeling.
Passing a number of beautiful old French colonial buildings in one part of the city, I head straight into the old quarter which couldn’t contrast more. The old quarter is defintely the place to discover Hanoi….
Like all of Vietnam, but more so in Hanoi, food and drink is a big part of city life here. Amongst the mish-mash of streets and buildings, there are a ton of little shops, street-side eateries, bars and people enjoying them. Straight away, Tyler and I went to cool down a bit by pulling up a stool and enjoying a few glasses of the super cheap Hanoi brew, Bia Hoi.This local light beer is refreshing and cost a mere 25cents a glass which meant that it was cheaper than water…literally! Seemed sensible to have a couple of glasses, before wandering on to a little place for some Pho – one of the cities favourite dishes. Hanoi is a food adventure, but perhaps unlike some countries, it is so easy to enjoy the city’s food specialities at these street establishments sitting side-by-side with Hanoians and fellow travellers alike.
I’m no food expert……and so we asked famous food blogger and Hanoi food expert, ‘Vietnamese God’, Tu to take us around for a night. Tu is renowned for his food tours of his adopted city and has appeared on a number of TV shows. There is no doubt that he knows about Hanoi’s delicious delights and where to get them as whisked us around the back streets for a spot of grub and a quick drink at a couple of his favourite local establishments. Although it is easy to discover food in Hanoi, it is more of a challenge to find the best – no problem for Tu.
Hanoi is great – A place to soak up the class of French colonialism, traditional and modern Vietnamese life, meet some nice people and (as throughout the country) eat a whole lot of good food. Its Hanoi-ce place to be!?!….sorry.