"Capital of Vietnam" Hanoi by akikonomu
Hanoi Travel Guide: 2,836 reviews and 6,289 photos
I've never thought much of South East Asian cities except that it's a jumping board for more adventurous destinations to the countries, and where all the facilities are.
There's always this sense of chaos (especially traffic) and competitiveness since most people from all parts of the country tend to flock to cities for better opportunities and wealth.
And of course, that's where all the last minute shopping will take place. Then, again, that's my perspective.
I don't exactly think Hanoi is a good place to be during the summer. Friend and I were exhausted from the high humidity and felt suffocated most of the times. There was always this film of sweat and moisture hanging around us, making us irritable and immobile.
To be fair, Hanoi's street scenes are vibrant and most of the people we met were kind and polite to us. And it's a fantastic place to try out local cuisine. Not too worried about hygiene of most roadside stalls - they all look decently clean.
French influence is still alive in Hanoi - restaurant menus and tours catered for French, French architecture in the Old Quarter and especially French Quarter. Even the water puppet theatre comes with French commentary.
So if you have sudden cravings for pastries, baguette or French cuisine, just head out around Hoan Kiem lake where patisseries and ice cream parlours abound.
If you decide to trick yourself into thinking you are in France, head to the Opera house area in the French Quarter.
But do not be deceived to think that there is no piece of Vietnam in Hanoi. Head right back into the alleys of the Old Quarter where locals squat for their daily dose of pho and tra or where hawkers hawk their fruits and flowers from baskets hanging from their shoulders, complete with the trademark conical hats.
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