On the flight to Vietnam, Gillian and I were hopeful that after spending the last three days in crazy Bangkok during the the Thai New Year that we might be going somewhere slightly more relaxed and calm. How wrong we were.
Hanoi is just as crazy and busy as Bangkok! The only way to get about is on scooter, it wasn’t uncommon to see a full family of four riding a scooter through the narrow-crowded streets with the family pet in the basket on the front. Another very important point to watch out for is that pedestrians have no rights. So if you want to cross the street then you have to walk out in front of traffic and let the wave of scooters weave round you as you walk. It sounds crazy but good fun at the same time. Walking the streets of Hanoi there is a wide variety of street food to satisfy any craving you may have. The street food on offer ranges from traditional noodle soups to brains (Yes you read that correct).
Gillian and I stayed in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Due to the huge amount of guesthouses and hostels in the area we were able to get beds for just under four GBP’s a night with breakfast included, bargain! This was a pleasant but very basic hostel and under your two inch mattress was a very solid plank of wood. Sounds awful and at the time, it was, but it’s funny to look back at now.
On our first day in Hanoi Gillian and I explored the local area and wandered around Hoi-An Kiem pond. The pond area was beautiful with lots of gadget, cloth and coffee shops all the way round. When shopping from the street stalls, try and barter with the vendors as they try to rip you off the moment they know you are a tourist. Also, don’t be alarmed if some of the local Vietnamese people point and stare in amazement at you, we had a few even want to take photos of us (they must not see many white people often). Since Gill and I were tired from the traveling we decided to sit in a coffee shop (with a view: photo below)
Here, we spent some time planning our next week of traveling with an ice cold coffee, which in thirty five degree heat was luxurious! We spent a good few hours here but to us its well worth putting in the effort, research and time to check reviews, budget and make the experience as best we can. For the next day we booked up Ha Long Bay.