Vietnam is cool, and very different than Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. There is a more relaxed, modern vibe to the streets. In order to honour Vietnam’s coolness, I’m going a little wild and posting 3 blogs in one day. A Northern Vietnam feature, if you would, featuring stories from Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Sapa.
Enjoy the travel story trifecta!
Hanoi is the biggest city in northern Vietnam and the first city I visited. After sorting out my wallet-loss debacle, I took a few days just to enjoy the city, acclimatize to the near 40 degree heat, and orient my body to a new language, currency, and culture.
Lively & Fun
Hanoi’s streets are filled with nightly live music, shopping, food, and beyond. The city is dotted with little lakes and greenery that are surrounded by busy cycling lanes. There are more scooters than you could ever imagine possible on a road, and all the vehicles on the road seem to drive however they need (want?) to. For instance, our airport shuttle did a u-turn on an eight lane highway; so did my bus back from Sapa, as a matter of fact.
Eating & Drinking
The food and drink selection in Hanoi is next level. Because the law enforcement is a bit less strict, there are pubs on the street and small beer vendors selling brew for $0.50 a pint. There’s street side pho that’s to-die for, BBQ chicken made fresh daily, coffee with coconut ice cream, fresh squeezed juices, and baguette sandwiches filled with delicious fillings … not to mention rice, noodles, and fresh spring roll dishes. I’m drooling thinking about it.
Culture & Shopping
On the arts and culture side, there are museums depicting the history of the Vietnamese wars with the French and the Americans, water puppet shows, live music, and shopping. Oh, the shopping. Not only is it affordable, but it’s unique – from boho boutiques, to street markets with cheap goods, to name brand department stores – it all adds to the vibe in Hanoi, making it a must-see if you’re coming to Vietnam.
Alas, after making some wonderful friends and memories in Hanoi, I researched the top “things to do” in Vietnam and came out with:
Using Hanoi as my central hub, I ended up spending a lot of time on buses to get to these adventures.