Hello, my lovely readers! Nice to meet you here again. I am currently sitting at the airport in Hanoi waiting to be boarded after a week of adventures in Vietnam (and obviously visiting Hanoi).
Since I saw Forrest Gump and Good Morning Vietnam I wanted to visit it. I didn’t know where this fascination came from but I was always in love with the far east. So I couldn’t have been more excited to visit this country together with a new travel buddy, Corinna, a friend from my old workplace.
In this first article, I want to tell you about all the sights, experiences and food were able to have in the few hours we had in Hanoi.
We arrived early in the morning and after getting breakfast, cash and sim-cards we took an uber directly to our hotel. Regarding accommodations, I honestly recommend getting a hotel when travelling with two persons. Booked in advance via Expedia we had zero stress with this. If it is located in the old quarter will have zero costs of transportation as you can reach most of the sights by food easily (but not always safely).
Talking about getting around: it is a huge challenge to get around there safely. Not because of crime or something like this but because of the insane traffic. But if you are careful and pay attention you will survive your time there.
So let’s talk about all the wonderful things you can in Hanoi. We spend our time in the streets around the Hoan Kiem lake so this is what my tips will be about. But I am very sure Hanoi has a lot more things to offer. But here are my best of’s.
Hoan Kiem Lake
In the middle of the old quarter is a lake called Hoan Kiem what means lake of the returned sword. You can take a walk around it easily and it is the perfect way to get a little break from the traffic. In its centre is a small pagoda which is called the turtle tower.
When you continue your walk around the lake you will find a red bridge which will lead you a small temple. The entrance itself is more than beautiful and decorated with creatures from Vietnamese myths.
The temple is situated on the Jade Island and is called Temple of the Jade mountain. You have to pay to enter but it is not that much and the temple is really beautiful! It has rooms filled with art and beautiful religious artefacts. Please make sure not to disturb the locals when they are praying. As travellers, we are responsible for treat locals with nothing but respect.
Water puppet theatre
The one thing you shouldn’t miss when visiting Hanoi is seeing one of the water puppet shows. It is truly amazing to see the puppets dance around and on the water so effortlessly.
It is also a form of art you can only witness in Vietnam. Once practised in the rural parts of the country, the knowledge and skills for playing a puppet was only taught by elders to their kids. This was at a time the stage wasn’t a pool but a village’s pond or lake.
A ticket costs 100.000 Dong and they play a lot of times a day. But if you can get a ticket a day ahead. We bought ours at 1 pm and only got a ticket for 21:15 pm. It was okay for us, but maybe tickets can be sold out too.
Spending hours shopping souvenirs (If you like)
We loved to look through all kind of wonderful deals. You can find the best brands (they are obviously not original but they look exactly like the original ones! Exactly!) to a good price but you have negotiate with the retailers. But not everyone likes it. For me, I don’t like to be ripped off by them so I try to get a fair price for both.
One of Hanoi’s hidden Instagram spots. You can reach it pretty easily but it has no actual name, so you just have to google for directions. For us, it was very interesting, as the people just live their day-to-day life in the middle of a railway. It is pretty picturesque, so make sure you take the perfect Instagram pictures.
My food tips for you
So we just went to one restaurant and it was so good, we had to return when we had our second day in Hanoi. It is called Fung Rong Hua and serves mostly dumplings. I got so hooked up, I could have eaten 300 pieces of their dumping filled with prawn. But also the other options were very delicious.
Another tip is to have some drinks at the rooftop bar which is directly above the dumpling restaurant. We loved it there and you’ll get a panoramic view above the Hoan Kiem Lake and the city. It is truly a magical place, especially while the sun sets or at night.
The best place to stay at
I would recommend the Hanoi Lotus Boutique Hotel to you. With 20 bucks per night, it might be a little bit expensive for the average backpacker but we loved it. It is clean & comfortable and has a charming vintage style. Furthermore, the staff is super nice and is always keen to help you with anything. We also loved the breakfast as it was stuffed with fresh and delicious fruits.
You can find their website here.
So there are my tips for visiting Hanoi. I hope it was helpful to you. Did I miss anything, that I shouldn’t have? I am sure I have, but we just enjoyed the time we had in Hanoi, even if it was just for one-two half days.
If you want to read more about my adventures in Vietnam, check out my post about a beautiful day trip to Ninh Binh!