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

Hanoi Travel Guide: 2,834 reviews and 6,303 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!

Ten years ago, 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 (see my tips for more), 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.

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 Jul 14, 2014
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Reviews (72)

Comments (35)

  • 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.

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Aug 31, 2008 at 6:09 AM

    Lots of helpful tips. Have fun on your return trip.

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2008 at 12:10 PM

    Great page; I especially enjoyed your off-the-beaten path tips. I hope to see some of these villages during my trip next month. And Halong Bay - yes, it sounds like a paradise.

  • Aafia's Profile Photo
    Jul 29, 2007 at 4:44 PM

    Thanks for the visit. Let me know if you have any questions about your upcoming trip to N.S. I enjoyed your Hanoi pages, photos and tips. I would love to go some day, if only to Halong Bay and those caves! So many places...

  • Luchonda's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2007 at 2:32 PM

    Thx for the interesting tips. Might be my next trip, with or without driving a Honda.

  • florry's Profile Photo
    Apr 12, 2007 at 9:50 AM

    absolutly beautiful pictures:)


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