When in Hanoi, do as the Hanoians do
Check out the list below and make your journey to the capital of Vietnam worth every penny and minute.
Being an owl at night markets
Quang Ba Flower Market and Long Bien Wholesale Market are the places to go for a true taste of Hanoi’s nightlife.
Once night falls, Quang Ba shines out like a beacon. Filled up with radiant flowers glowing under the dim yellow lights, the market stays up through the night and is at its busiest at 3-4 a.m. when retailers are rushing back and forth with fresh flowers.
Sitting under Long Bien Bridge in Ba Dinh District, Long Bien Wholesale Market is less romantic than Quang Ba but more vivid. To some extent, this bustling market is where you can get a broader picture of the country’s traditional morning markets as thousands of vendors come flooding from Hanoi and its surrounding areas to trade their goods.
…Or an explorer in the Old Quarter
If the two markets above are where you meet Hanoi’s night owls, Hoan Kiem Lake is where you can find its classic early birds. Come rain or come shine, there’s always someone taking morning exercise by the lake. Wake up early for a morning walk around the lake, and you will be rewarded with a quiet, calm atmosphere before the city wakes up and waves of vehicles flood the streets.
Photo by Thanh Tung
…Or an explorer in the Old Quarter
“Describing Hanoi’s oldest district is somewhat of a waste of breath,” CNNGo editor Chris Anderson said about Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
“No need to ramble on about where exactly to go in the Old Quarter either, as the weaving and winding streets are best explored by aimless wandering. No destination. No pre-planned route. Just left, right, or straight ahead,” he suggested.
Spend some time down the old streets here and learn about the history of Hanoi. You will be surprised to see how the city has expanded into what it is now from the first 36 streets in the Old Quarter.
…Or an adventurer at the
You will be amazed to see how calm locals here can be. How would you feel if trains were ploughing past just inches from your front door?
As long as there are no bells ringing as a warning that a train is coming, the residents use the tracks to park their bikes, sell their goods and even sit down for a chat.
“Crazy”, “the one and only” or “nowhere to be found but Vietnam”, are how foreigners have described this “railway hamlet” in Dong Da District.
Going back in time at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
If you want a deeper knowledge of Vietnam, this is the place for you. The museum is home to 15,000 exhibits and 42,000 movies and photos featuring Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups.
Enjoying a cup of egg coffee
“When they not drinking beer, they’re sitting down for coffee,” is an observation that has been made about Hanoians.
And once you’re in Hanoi, it would be a huge mistake if you did not treat yourself to a cup of this surprising coffee: a perfect mix of coffee, condensed milk and egg yolk.
Heading to Giang, Dinh or Lam coffee houses and “pull up another tiny chair amongst the locals and enjoy this unique Hanoi-style coffee,” as suggested by Nick and Dariece, the couple behind the travel blog “Goats On The Road”.
Sitting on the sidewalk for street food
This is something all locals do for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just an afternoon snack. It is so easy to feel the vibe of Hanoi: find yourself a small plastic chair, sit down and place your order. Away you go!
Taking a walk across Long Bien Bridge
Standing over the Red River for more than 100 years, Long Bien Bridge is a part of Hanoi’s soul. The 2,290-meter (7,513-feet) bridge was built between 1899 and 1902 by the French and was the first steel bridge to cross the river.
The best time to take a walk across the bridge is in the early morning or late afternoon. Don’t forget to bring along your camera to capture the magnificent scenes down the river.
Attending the flag lowering ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The ceremony takes place every night at 9 p.m. Come and see how Vietnam remembers its revered president.
Photo by Cario Angles.
Strolling through the city at night
When most parts of Hanoi are fast asleep, the city loses its pubescent energy and takes on a quiet and mysterious persona. This is the perfect time for those who want to see Hanoi from another perspective, one that is not disturbed by the noise and crowds.