Four Days In The Capital Of Vietnam, Hanoi
After a few days exploring Ho Chi Minh City we were on a $20 flight to the tip of the north, Vietnams cultural capital, Hanoi. Swapping sunshine for rain we had 3 days to find the best four things to do, see and experience.
The City known as 'The Paris of the Orient' is famed for being one of the most fascinating capitals in Asia. Where old meets new, it felt like we had been transported into ancient Vietnam. We were staying in the heart of the Old Quarter set over the waters of the historic Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Nick named 'Turtle Lake' after it's mystical residents hidden underneath the waters surface, who occasionally pop up for a hello. The Vietnamese tortoise!
The Old Quarter is made up of 36 Streets, a labyrinth born of the 13th Century where each road was clustered with trade of the same speciality, and by the looks of it, nothing seems to have changed bar the odd mobile phone cover store. Silk street is draped in silk fabrics, Trimmings street, our favourite of course, flooded with thousands of buttons, ribbons, appliqués and pompoms. Silver street, Carpet Street, Paper street, oh the list goes on. It is like nowhere else you’ve ever been.
After one of the most delicious 80cent Pho sat on a tiny blue chair (child sized!) listening to the pattering rain above us we were already charmed by another great city.
Without further ado here are our Top Four Things of everything Hanoi.
The Four Places To Eat
Opened by a Vietnamese-Australian as a non-profit restaurant to train street kids to be bilingual chefs & waiters
59 Van Mieu Street, Hanoi | + 84 4 747 0338
Great value for money and the most delicious turmeric infused fish
3 Chim Sao
Sit on the floor for dinner with delicious reasonably priced, authentic dishes
63-65 Ngõ Huế, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam
The Four Places To Stay
1 For Little Budgets Rising Dragon Hotel Hanoi
Doubles from $20 we stayed here one night the service was amazing they surprised Eleni with a mega Birthday cake, 24 Hang Ga, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam
2 For Medium Budgets La Maison Hai Ly Home Stay
Doubles from $80 authentic home stay in gorgeous location, No.8, alley 437, Ngoc Thuy Street, Long Bien District, Hanoi
3 For Healthier Budgets Apricot Hotel
Doubles from $95, we stayed here it was fruity and fun just like the name, 136 Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam,+84 4 3828 9595
4 Fit For A Queen Lotte Hotel Hanoi
Doubles with breakfast for $135, lap up a little bit of luxury in their rooftop pool, 54 Lieu Giai Street, Ba Dinh, Hà Nội 100000, +84 4 3333 1000
The Four Best Coffee Shops
1 The Kafe
Hidden down a mural painted alley, it's East meets West in this trendy spot, great coffee and good apple mint tea
The Four Best Things To Do
See Hanoi's best historical bits including Hanoi Opera House, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem lake, Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and enjoy Hanoi's best bites on the back of a bike. Tickets are 40USD
2 Visit The Night Market
In the heart of the Old Quarter every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening indulge in some gorgeous trinkets, clothing and food. Located between Hang Dao Street and Dong Xuan Market. Catch it between 6 - 10pm
3 Hit the Old Quarter at Night
Sip cocktails on a roof top bar or watch the world go by with a local beer, street level with the Hanoi folks for 5000 dong (just 20cent, making it the cheapest beer in the world!)
Here are our favourites
The Rooftop 83 Lý Thường Kiệt, Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội | +84 91 370 69 66
Tadioto Bar 24 Tông Đản, Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội | +84 4 6680 9124
4 hours drive from the city and you can find yourself on a boat trip surrounded by over 1600 floating limestone islands in the Gulf of Tonkin. A world UNESCO Heritage site, if it's nature you're after, head this way. Some of the limestone islands are over 20 million years old! We booked a 2 day cruise on a traditional luxury junk boat, from our hotel for 150USD inclusive of food (drinks were extra). A beautiful place but check the weather forecast before you go as visibility wasn't great for us due to fog and the crowds were a little overbearing on the activities such as cave tours and floating village. This place has an air of mystic quality, so much so that they were even filming the new Hollywood movie 'King King' during our visit.
We booked on to A Class Cruises, which had a cute crew, was super clean and great grub.