What we loved about Hanoi
We loved so many things about Hanoi from the crazy streets to the amazing food but here are the five things that have stuck in our memories.
1. Early morning walks around the Hoan Kiem Lake
Try to walk around the lake at sunrise and sunset. The lake acts as the centre of relaxation for the city’s residents. It’s is an easy 1km walk with features like the beautiful red Huc Bridge and the turtle tower there is plenty to keep your camera busy.
It comes to life at dawn as people head to the waterfront to exercise. Young and old, they run, practice Tai Chi, stretch, dance and more. They do not seem to mind being watched by sleepy tourists and even encourage you to join in.
In the evenings you see students studying, lovers sneaking private moments alone and families have picnics.
2. Vietnamese Coffee
Try it – It is not like a flat white from home but it does wake you up, and after a few cups it is just as addictive. After a month in Vietnam, I went back and needed to hunt down a cafe in Sydney that sold it I missed it so much. Either way, hot or cold it is fantastic. But be warned it is so sweet it will take you a while to kick the sugar habit you have picked up when you get home!
3. The fresh and mainly healthy street food
From the crunchy perfect Banh Mi (pork rolls) to the refreshing Bun Cha (BBQ Pork noodle salad) and steaming bowls of Pho Ga (chicken soup) the local street food options in Hanoi and usually pretty good and always very cheap.
4. The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a Confucian temple that was built in 1070. The complex includes several buildings including the Imperial Academy – Vietnam’s first national university. Today the complex is a favourite photo stop for graduating students. We toured with some local students who explained the history and uses of the buildings along with lots of traditions and superstitions. I am not sure it would be as interesting if you did not have this background.
5. The Craziness of everyday life
Just when you think you have seen it all, you will see something else that reminds you just how different life in Vietnam is different to life at home.
Have you been to Vietnam? What did you love?