Finally arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam Capital, after two Emirates flights from London with one stop in Dubai.
The temperature is around 25 degrees and it feels very good, although the sky is cloudy. The airport is very noisy and there are a lot of people waiting for their relatives or the next client.
The amount of fake taxis is incredible, highly recommended looking for the official ones, and this was our choice. We took a minibus for 7 people, for the four of us we managed to get a price of 15$ in total. So here we go, destination Old Quarter.
For a distance of about 29 Km, it took us 1 hour and 15 minutes, the amount of traffic is unbelievable, mopeds everywhere, nobody is following the normal traffic rules…we’re a bit confused.
Finally, we reach our hotel for the first night Quoc Hoa Hotel (Address: 10 Bat Dan Street, Hà Nội), booked through Agoda.
Booked about a month in advance we spent around 38£ for a standard double room.
As soon as we arrived in the hotel, we’ve been offered a welcome tea and the receptionist swapped our standard room for a deluxe one with no extra cost…not bad at all 🙂
We’ve been asked to take a seat for about 10-15 minutes while they sorted out the papers, this happened in every accommodation! We just wanted to take a shower and go around, but we had to stick to the “rule”.
Anyway, our experience with people in Vietnam is very pleasant, everyone is very kind, in particular in hotels and restaurants.
After few experiences, we’ve learned that the hotels usually tend to give you a room with a view, but this could mean that the view is on a busy street, and this in Vietnam could be a nightmare. Horns all the time and at night as well. If you’d like a good night sleep, better ask for a room facing the internal courtyard.
Finally, after a nice shower, we’re out to discover Hanoi.
The city is extremely busy and noisy, mopeds are parked on the pavement and we’re forced to walk on the street edge in a line.
I’m from Sicily and I’m quite used to “crazy” traffic with mopeds running in every direction, but I have never seen anything like that before. Although I wasn’t too worried to cross the street everywhere, some people could find it scary though.
At the hotel we’ve been suggested to go for a walk around the Hoan Kiem Lake, every Friday from 7pm to Sunday evening the area is closed to the traffic (yeah!)
Visiting the Ngoc Son Temple.
The walk around the lake is very pleasant, we saw a lot of youth and their relatives spending time around the lake playing simple games like rope jumping, Jenga and other games never seen before.
After a wander around the Old Quarter finally we went to taste our first Vietnamese meal, the Bunh Mi and Hanoi Beer at Bunh Mi 25 (Address: 25 Hàng Cá, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam) open all day.
The Banh Mi is a baguette usually filled with raw vegetables, meat pate and meat.
We tried the vegetarian option and the pork one, to be honest, it wasn’t a very special sandwich (we had better ones), but if you’re in a rush is what you need.
After dinner, walking around we’ve reached the first Vietnamese pub on our list (very touristic, unfortunately) (here our post about Hanoi craft beers).
We’ve spent the following days on a cruise in Halong Bay
After our cruise, we moved back to Hanoi.
Do you know that in Hanoi there is a street where the train rides a few centimetres distance from the houses? Some people live on the rail track.
We’ve visited St. Joseph Cathedral and tried the Pasteur Street Brewing Pub (here our post about Hanoi craft beers).
For dinner we tried Bun Bo Nam Bo (Address: 67 Hàng Điếu, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam), they serve just one dish, the Bum Bo Nam Bo, noodles with beef, absolutely delicious. Unfortunately was covered in dried and fried garlic (tasted like roasted peanuts), Fabio spent the following 36 hours in bed with swollen stomach, pain, fever and fainting (he’s allergic to garlic).
We stayed for these 36 hours at the Hanoi Trendy Hotel and Spa, the staff has been very helpful and kind. The hotel is very nice, great location, breakfast is ok.
Before catching a train to Ninh Binh we’ve managed to see the Opera House in Hanoi and the area around it where is very strong the french architecture from the colonies.
We’ve also tried:
Pho 10, near Pasteur Street Brewing and St. Joseph Cathedral, the pho was decent (the pho in its original recipe doesn’t contain garlic! yeah!!), the restaurant though has a very poor hygiene standard.
Generally speaking, street food hygiene in Vietnam is very poor, this plus the garlic issue, made us choosing very often typical restaurants, definitely more clean compared to the street food stalls cooking and “cleaning” dishes on the pavement.