It was an incredibly long flight through Canada, to South Korea, then to Vietnam, but I made it in one piece. After a near-missed connecting flight I was on edge but managed to get to my hotel in the center of Hanoi at just around midnight.
Hanoi is mind-numbing at first, with about a million motorbikes blaring past you each minute, and a bustling Old Quarter with dozens of people cooking lunch on the street-side, it’s sure to cause mental havoc on the first day. Here are a few tips to get into the pace of Hanoi.
Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son
Hoan Kiem Lake (Turtle Lake) is a central feature of Hanoi and is a popular hangout spot throughout the day with locals and tourists. Ngoc Son Temple sits on a small island in the center of the lake and linked by a bridge, makes a beautiful background for a few photos. Around sunset, this area becomes especially busy with joggers and couples enjoying the relaxing views across the lake.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Hanoi Old Quarter is a fascinating area of the city where visitors can enjoy many fine examples of colonial architecture packed along narrow streets. Endless packs of scooters, motorbikes, bicycles and cars weave around traders selling fruit and souvenirs and narrow shop houses sell delicious Vietnamese food for pennies. The Old Quarter brings to life what many people imagine Hanoi to be, and exploring this area on foot is highly recommended for all visitors to Vietnam’s capital city.
The Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature is a charming temple complex in the center of Hanoi that was originally built to be a center of learning dedicated to the Chinese sage and scholar Confucius. Over the proceeding 1000 years, many more buildings have been added and beautified o that now this large area is filled with ornate pavilions, shrines, and a rich garden. It has become a rite of passage for graduating doctors to visit The Temple of Literature and the whole place is steeped in Vietnamese history.