Capital of hustle!
Trip Start Dec 28, 2011
101Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We arrived on a sleeper bus on the morning of Zoe's birthday (I tried to convince her that having leftover cake counted as breakfast in bed but she wasn't having any of it). It was a grey, drizzly morning and didn't give us the best first impression of the city. Where Saigon has a youthful chaotic feel Hanoi has a much older temperament. The narrow streets of the Old Quarter are where most tourists spend their time and each street has its own commercial speciality - toys, decorations, tin boxes etc and is named accordingly. It's chaotic even by Vietnamese standards.
Hanoi is surprisingly thin on real sights, after a good exploration of the old streets, we headed up to the 'Uncle Ho' complex. We skirted around the restricted military citadel area to find tree-lined boulevards that wouldn't look out of place on Paris. Most of the museums were only open for a few hours in the morning and afternoon and the mausoleum even less, so we followed the tour group circus around at a fairly rapid pace to get our fill of capital city culture. Ho's house on stilts, palace, one pillar pagoda, lake - check, check, check, check.
We saw the romantic side of the Vietnamese while strolling around the central lake, lots of couples were having engagement photos taken by the water on Valentine's day - awww.
One thing Hanoi's not short on is decent places to eat and I treated Zoe to a slap-up dinner and cocktails that cost the equivalent of an entire days budget, well worth it for a bit of luxury and style though. Also made up for the fact that I didn't pick up on her hints for a crocodile purse for the past month and didn't manage to get her a present. Whoops!