"Hanoi - City of the Soaring Dragon" Top 5 Page for this destination Hanoi by King_Golo

Hanoi Travel Guide: 2,855 reviews and 6,332 photos

One of the best places in South East Asia

Hanoi is THE place to be in Vietnam. As soon as you get there, you'll be fascinated by the hustling and bustling that awaits you in every corner of the city: hectic markets where everything from pork feet to the freshest and tastiest fruit can be purchased, millions of motorbikes zigzagging through the overcrowded roads, faithful Buddhists lighting incense sticks in tranquil pagodas and temples, the smell of fried meat from one of the countless food stalls mixing with the exhaust fumes of the traffic and the tantalising smell of herbs from an old-fashioned pharmacy. And in between everything, tourists are standing on the sidewalk in fearful anticipation, wondering how anyone can be able to cross a road like that without being overrun by the traffic... Welcome to Hanoi, the City of the Soaring Dragon!

From 2004 to 2005, I lived in Hanoi for 6 months and tried to make the most of my stay. Apart from visiting the city's beautiful and interesting sights, I also attempted to see its back streets and hidden alleys. I curiously strolled through narrow passage ways, took photographs of minuscule street markets, bartered for silk in order to have some shirts tailored and tried food as weird as snake skin spring rolls and something that tasted like and had the structure of rubber - it might have been some obscure inner part of an animal, but I will never know. I had a lot of fun riding my motorbike through what must be the world's most chaotic traffic, but I also took the chance and explored the villages around Hanoi. Only a few kilometres away, the city has disappeared and you find yourself in tiny hamlets in the middle of banana plantations or rice paddies amongst curious children of a local school, or in a steel bar factory where there are no safety measures whatsoever.

It is this mixture of unique experiences that made my 6-month stay the best time of my life. I might romanticise my stay there in retrospective, I might see some parts of it through rose-tinted glasses, but I definitely had a great time. Consequently, I believe I can be quite helpful if you have any rather untouristy questions. If you are to live in this beautiful and literally breathtaking city, do as I did and make the most of your stay. Leave the tourist paths and explore the city's hidden corners. And if you come as a tourist - well, just do the same! Extend your stay to a week and start exploring.

Browse through my numerous Hanoi tips, check out trekking mekka Sapa, the old emperor's city Hue, delightful Hoi An or Vietnam's megalopolis Ho Chi Minh City - or hop on the virtual tourbus again and follow me here.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:exotic markets everywhere, tranquil pagodas, buzzing street life
  • Cons:smog, noise, dangerous traffic
  • In a nutshell:THE place to be in Vietnam!
  • Last visit to Hanoi: Sep 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (72)

Comments (40)

  • wabat's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2015 at 4:25 AM

    Golo i really enjoyed reading your well written and detailed things to do and off the beaten path reviews and look forward to revisiting soon to read the remainder of your Hanoi reviews.

    • King_Golo's Profile Photo
      Oct 28, 2015 at 8:07 AM

      Thanks very much - I still often think back to my time in Hanoi.

  • Cho45's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    We were in Hanoi in July 2010 and loved it too, especially the old quarter where we stayed. Our hotel was within walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake and we went there everyday to mingle with the crowds of tourists and locals. Took in the water puppet show too. We also went to Ha Long Bay which I found a bit disappointing but all in all I really enjoyed my visit to Vietnam. Oh, there is a US Post Office in Hanoi which I'm sure you've noticed since you lived there for 6 months. I mention this because it was such a big surprise to find a United States Post Office in a country which fought a long war with America.

    • King_Golo's Profile Photo
      Sep 14, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      Hanoi really is a great destination - I'd love to go back one more time. I didn't know about the post office. Maybe it wasn't there yet in 2008?

  • paddington28's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2015 at 2:45 AM

    Love your Hanoi page,going back in 2 weeks,will be my 5th time and always see something different!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Jul 29, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    Mhhh.... I am hungry now :-)) And like to visit Halong Bay :-)
    Back for more :-))

    • King_Golo's Profile Photo
      Jul 29, 2015 at 11:17 AM

      Thanks for your ratings and comments! I've just eaten, but I'd go for some Vietnamese food anytime!

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Jul 29, 2015 at 11:27 AM

      Same for me.... although our girls' out evening next week will be Persian. But then I am sure we will go to our Vietnamese :-))

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2015 at 3:53 AM

    Fascinating page about Hanoi. You are lucky to have lived there. Bth, Have you been to Sapa? It's another place in Vietnam i'd love to visit.

    • King_Golo's Profile Photo
      Jun 23, 2015 at 4:18 AM

      Yes, I've been there. It's a rather unspectacular place in breathtaking nature. You should really go there!

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Wow! What an awesome page Golo! This is one place high on my list to visit. I have seen photos of Hanlong Bay and definitely want to stay on a boat. Your experience sounds wonderful! Plus I didn't know about the caves .... nice! And I love your pictures of street scenes. Now I know where I am coming back to when we plan our Hanoi holiday :o) Good stuff! Hugs, Ann.

    • King_Golo's Profile Photo
      Sep 30, 2013 at 2:39 AM

      Thanks for your ratings and comment! I very much enjoyed my time in Hanoi, it's such a vibrant city full of things to discover. Let me know when you're going and feel free to ask me about anything you want to know.

    • aussirose's Profile Photo
      Sep 30, 2013 at 2:46 AM

      Oh I will be asking you mate!! Your page here is terrific!! Good Stuff! Hugs, Ann :o)

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2011 at 4:21 AM

    Excellent page! Hope to visit this year.

  • OOOx's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Great tips on one of my favourite cities in Asia!

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2008 at 6:10 PM

    Excellent page with well written tips!

  • b1bob's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2008 at 6:49 AM

    Nice page on Hanoi. What could the street vendors do if you take their picture. They sure wouldn't be able to get hold of my camera, I guarantee you that.


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