If I had to vote for a city with the most character and charm it would be Hanoi. Its unique compared to any other city I’ve been to and it’s safe to say that I will certainly be back.
Things To Do:
First of all, I know it’s kind of a cliche but getting completely and utterly lost in the old quarter was my favourite thing to do in Hanoi. I made myself a little rule that I was never allowed to go straight forward at a crossroads and before long I had absolutely no idea where I was. I resisted the urge to look at google maps and kept going.
The little side streets and alleyways in Hanoi are full of surprises, and it’s fun to not have a clue where you’re going next. I stumbled upon ‘Christmas Street’ while I was there in December, which was so much fun.
The old quarter hugs the Hoan Kiem lake, it’s really pretty at night and busy with a lot of other tourists that think the same.
The St Joseph Cathedral is close to the lake, built in 1886, it’s one of the oldest cathedrals in Vietnam. We went there twice, once during the day then again at night when the Christmas tree was lit up.
A little outside the old quarter is the Ho Chi Minh museum and mausoleum, we didn’t go inside the museum because it was about to close but the mausoleum is worth the 30 minute walk. (See cover photo.)
North of the old quarter is the Ho Tay lake and the Tran Quoc Pagoda (also closed when I arrived, didn’t have much luck at all in Hanoi!)
Where To Eat:
We only had one sit down meal in Hanoi and it was at Little India, the food was good and prices weren’t bad.
Other than that we mainly ate street food, there are so many stalls around the old quarter and they smell so good that it’s hard to resist.
The number 86 leaves from the airport (just past the taxi stands) every 30 minutes, it takes around 50 minutes depending on traffic and costs 30K. Ask the conductor to let you know when your in the old quarter.
It’s worth noting that on the return trip, the number 86 wasn’t listed on the bus stop along with the other buses that stop there. Don’t worry it will stop for you. Google maps has the route you just need a little faith.
Where To Stay:
I wouldn’t stay anywhere other than the old quarter in Hanoi. We stayed at the Central Park Hotel which was £20 per night on hotels.com. Rooms were ok (not as good as other places in Vietnam for the same price, but they never are in the capital) and the location was absolutely perfect.