Thirty kilometers to the southwest of Hanoi lies the village of Đông Sơn, known for its wicker products. We took a Grab Car to visit a small factory that produces wicker goods, and hoping to see the villagers at work.
Running from the historic Hàng Đậu Water Tank to the Botanic Gardens, Phan Đình Phùng has a reputation as Hanoi’s most beautiful road. We took a leisurely walk from one end of the street to the other, and would have a hard time disagreeing.
Good morning! Sleep well? I see that you’re hungry and could use a jolt of caffeine. How about an egg and a nice cup of coffee? No problem, here you go! But… why the troubled grimace? Didn’t you know that in Hanoi, we put the egg into our coffee?
Walking across the historic Long Biên Bridge is not for the faint of heart. As motorbikes blaze by and trains rumble past, pedestrians have to step along crumbling concrete slabs, with the Red River visible through the gaps, dozens of meters below.
Hanoi is a city in which first impressions can be totally inaccurate… especially if you’ve just come from South Vietnam. The relaxed and friendly demeanor of Saigon is nowhere to be found here, and the initial feeling we had wasn’t positive. But after a month, we started to understand the city on its own terms, and not just in comparison to Saigon.
The majority of visitors to Hanoi probably have no idea how large it actually is, because they never leave its core of Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. Tourism goes from critical inside this sphere, to practically non-existent just outside it. By any reckoning, a neighborhood like Văn Chương should at least have some foreign visitors, even if it’s just those who have gotten lost. From a map, it’s still in the dead center of Hanoi! But nope. We didn’t see a single one, despite spending an entire day here.
We weren’t as impressed with Hanoi’s street food as we were with that of Saigon. In the capital, there’s not as much variety, and the locals are far more keen to overcharge tourists. But over the course of the weeks, we managed to find a lot of new dishes, and some great places in which to try them. Here are our favorites.
Most cities have train tracks which cut through them; it’s nothing too special. But there aren’t many cities in which the tracks are basically just another street, with houses and businesses lined up right along the side. Hanoi doesn’t have time for your conventions or common sense! If there’s a place in the old town where someone can live and work, someone will be living and working there.
Located in the heart of the Old Quarter, the temple of Bạch Mã, alternatively known as the White Horse Temple, is among the oldest in the city. It was originally constructed in 1010, at the time of Hanoi’s founding by Lý Thái Tổ, though the current structure dates from the early 1800s.