"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
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:exotic markets everywhere, tranquil pagodas, buzzing street life
- Cons:smog, noise, dangerous traffic
- In a nutshell:THE place to be in Vietnam!
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