We decided to go to Vietnam a bit at the last-minute, but it had been a place, I wanted to visit for such a long time. I was very excited at the idea of finally getting to explore it. After a long flight to Taipei, and from there to Hanoi. We land in the morning and meet our driver at the airport. Peaking out the windows of the car, we start to see a place that is so different than anywhere we had been before. Perhaps our very first reaction was the strong smell of pollution which comes at you. Hanoi is a big city, and there are millions of motorbikes, and you smell it. But you soon get used to this chaos and crazy traffic and it becomes like a dance.

After a short stop at our lovely hotel (Art Trendy Hotel which I can totally recommend), we decide to start by the most important thing: food! We get our very first Bún chả which is dish typical of Hanoi, grilled pork with vermicelli and fresh herbs and nước mắm, a dipping fish sauce. It is understatement to stay that it was delicious!


After this first healthy meal, we start to explore the old quarter of Hanoi where each street is filled with stores specialized in one particular thing. You’ve got the toys street, locks street, shoes street. It makes it easy to find what you are looking for!


Something that is very scary and fun in Hanoi is all the electric cables. It is mind-boggling that there are not more accidents.


Street vendors abound. This one is selling some kind of paté. Everything is very fresh and tempting.


We had to try Vietnamese coffee. This is definitely a subject where our opinions were split. I must say that I enjoyed it a lot as it was very strong. It definitely gave you a hard kick in the morning.

R0000096.jpgR0000101.jpg This is a store on the Shoes Street.


We visited lots of various temples. All very well decorated and beautiful. Even with all the tourists in Hanoi, most were empty as they were not really on the tourist path. It seems that all the tourists that we saw were all following a very clear path and tt made it very easy to get away from it.


A typical scene on the street of Hanoi. Scooters everywhere. Scooters with kids on them, scooters with 2, 3, 4 people.


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In the evening, it was fun  to go on certain corners of the city where they served Bia hơi, fresh beer, as in beer that was just freshly brewed, unpasteurized. It was a treat. The story goes that it was a gift from the Czechs to the Vietnamese as comrades. Quite a nice gift!


The Hanoi Opera House built between 1901 and 1911.R0000160.jpg

You could see really anything on the streets of Hanoi.


The food markets. The snakes in the front are Eels. We didn’t try those.R0000186.jpgR0000190.jpgR0000191.jpgR0000194.jpgR0000196.jpgR0000197.jpg

Another fantastic feast! Green papaya salad, Spring rolls and Bánh xèo (Vietnamese-style pancakes)


This particular coffee was Civet Coffee. The civet first eat the beans, then poops them and they are being roasted. Oh my! I had to try it once.


One of the many lakes in Hanoi but central to the Old Quarter, Hoàn Kiếm Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword). The name comes from a legend. Emperor Lê Lợi was boating on the lake, during the 15th century, when a Golden Turtle God surfaced and asked for his magic sword, Heaven’s Will. The emperor had this sword given to him by a Dragon King God during the revolt against the Chinese. The emperor saw this as a sign and renamed the lake to commemorate this event.



We saw many people on the street playing a sort of chess game called Cờ Tướng. I hear this game is also popular in China (see wikipedia). The rules are very similar to Western Chess.



A typical scene around the lake: Tai Chi practitioners!


Bún bò Nam Bộ, Grilled beef with Vermicelli with Fish sauce. This is usually a dish from the South of Vietnam but we found a very good one in Hanoi (which in the North).


It was very typical to see barbers or other kinds of services directly in the street. Quite convenient!


A major attraction in Hanoi is the Temple of Literature, an ancient University found during the 10th Century. It is not really a place to study anymore but today, students who have just graduated enjoy going there to celebrate their diploma.


That’s it for Hanoi. Up next is a visit of the Ninh Bình province.

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