One Good Day in HanoiApril 11, 2006
Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The old part of the city is built around Hoan Kiem Lake, a relaxed area of shady trees, sculptures, gardens and lots of fascinating people. The pace of the city is much slower than Ho Chi Minh and the historical buildings, particularly in the Old Quarter, are really worth exploring. There are many good restaurants, inexpensive hotels and friendly people.
Hanoi is a city that is very ideal for walking. You will constantly be distracted by lots of interesting things. The shops and stalls are fascinating with items made from wool, silk, metal, hemp…. you name it. After a long walking tour of the city there are plenty of people who will give you a foot massage for a few dollar.
Hanoi also has many modern buildings and some of great culture like the Hanoi Opera House. The international Post office at the far end of the Lake is a good place to go it you need to ship things home. We booked our tour to Halong bay through our hotel’s and found their service very good. No doubt you will be taking lots of digital photos and will need to have these backed up on CD – make sure that you Card Reader working properly and make sure that you burn all you pictures first into CD before you erased all your pictures from your memory card.
Talking of money the local currency in Vietnam is the Dong and you will be working in very large numbers. 100 EUR is worth about 1.875.000 Dong. You’ll have no trouble staying in touch with the world because there are Internet Cafes everywhere. There are coffee shops and bars in high rise buidongs near the lake that give you a good view to the city.
The old Quarter in Hanoi is very much like a provincial town in France. The French greatly influenced this city and it can be seen in the architecture and layout. Make sure you spend some time walking around the lake. You will discover a lot about the city and its people by a few hours at Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake also a useful reference point if you get lost in the jumble of streets and lanes.
One of the wonderful things about Vietnam is the omnipresent aromas and experiences of the cuisine, which is tangible to the nose, eyes and ears. Every street, house and stall the length and breadth of the land is a hum of joyful cooking activities. There are bubbling pots of steaming noodle soups and rice, and abundant piles of freshly chopped produce and meat on every street corner. You would certainly never starve over there- too busy tripping over yet another food stall. The country is near obsessed with eating.