Getaway Hanoi Old TownAccess
Access to the neighborhood can be done on foot or by cyclo-pousse.
Hanoi is one of the most seductive cities in Asia. Or, at least, it seemed that to me.
When I was organizing the trip to Vietnam, I knew that Halong, Hoian and Sapa would fascinate me so much that I decided to reduce days from Hanoi. And this was a huge mistake. I needed to live it slower and more.
The Old Quarter of Hanoi, where I focused my visit, is in constant motion. The rhythm of the city, initially, overwhelmed me. Motorcycles, bicycles, cars and people on foot cross without any criteria or order... and do not collide themselves! It seems everyone is in a hurry. They move quickly and without stopping the horn. It is a constant burden for the eyes and for the ears. But, immediately, I got used to it and I was already moving around like I was one of them.
The old quarter consists of 36 streets (chaotics all of them) that were built in the thirteenth century following the 36 guilds that existed then. It has a lot of life. It is full of sellers. It does not matter what or how, but everyone sells something. There are people who carry the product by themselves and there are those who offer them in a tiny store. Nor do they care if the buyer is a national or a tourist. Only matters to sell. The shops are quite precarious and dirty.
Local people make life on the street. They sit on tiny stools to drink bia hoi (beer). They can spend hours in this way.
They will advise you to go to the street of the shoe stores or to the jewelers; But what you have to do is simply walk the streets. Walk without hurry. You must enter the temples and observe everything that happens around.
Colonial architecture, Buddhist temples, pagodas and the same houses in the old quarter have such a special charm!
It was a pity that I was not able to see the train track that passes through the middle of the houses. I did not quite understand the reason the guide gave me; but what was clear to me is that I would not see it. I don't think I will ever return to this country that has fascinated me so much, but if I do it, this will be the first thing I will see.
I have to admit that I also didn't see the Water Puppet Theater; but this was my decision. I preferred to live the city again. I found it more authentic than going to a theater focused on tourism.
Another of the most emblematic places of the city is the Hoan Kiem lake. It is a freshwater lake that is in the middle of the historic center. Thanks to its size and that the green area around it is also quite large, it is one of the perfect places to escape from chaos. In the middle of the lake is the Thap Rua Tower, also known as the Turtle Tower, in honor of the giant tortoises that have always lived in the lake. It is very nice to walk around the lake on the path that is around and do not leave without visiting the Den Ngoc Son temple! It is accessed by the unmistakable red bridge Cae The Huc.
Outside the old town, you have to visit the Temple of Literature and the French Quarter (Ba Dinh). The first is a temple that was built in the eleventh century in honor of Confucius and was the first university in Vietnam. It was open for more than seven centuries. Their exams were so difficult that the names of the students they passed were sculpted in the stones above the turtles. The second is the colonial neighborhood where the Opera is.
The famous Dong Xuan Market, from my point of view, is not worth the visit. It is a market for wholesalers where you can find everything, but without any charm. I would have changed the market by train!
If you have time, take a ride with cyclo-pousse (bicycles carried by guides) that will take you to the most emblematic places with less time and less risk. Do not expect the person who takes the bike to guide you because nobody speaks English.
I recommend being in a good hotel placed in the center of Hanoi, this way you will save a lot of time with traveling. I went to the "Sofitel Legend Metropol" and it was a success.
If you take a car to go to the amazing Halong Bay, you will enjoy great views of rice fields.Duration:
Two days, well spent, are enough to see the city.
No problem, but you have to be careful with the traffic.