In my last post, I talked about the 5 things visitors should do when they are in Hanoi, Vietnam. However, we all know that traveling isn't about just doing things and going to attractions in a foreign place, right? One of my favourite things to do when I'm abroad is eat their local food. FOOD.
FOOD is one of my secret passions. There must have been countless of times when I said I absolutely loved a city just because of the food. When food in a country/city is good, half the battle is won!
South East Asian countries are always known for their incredible cuisine and Vietnam is no exception. Plus, I can't write about what to do in Hanoi and leave out it's awesome food, so here is part 2 of my Hanoi Travel Guide featuring, interesting Sights and great FOOD!
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BY THE STREETS | BUN BO NAM BO
Walking along the streets of Hanoi you'll see a lot of street food shops, people selling food items and fruits out of a basket, and a multitude of Pho shops.
NOTE: PHO IS BEST EATEN BY THE STREETS.
Street stalls are not to be missed when in Vietnam. In fact, they probably serve the most flavourful dishes. Even though the restaurants in Hanoi serve pretty good food, I was so glad I tried their street food from both the night markets and the regular street side stalls. Jerald and I shared a large bowl of Pho from a random street side stall, and it is the best bowl of noodle's i've ever tasted in my life! The soup was clear, light, and incredibly flavourful. The portions were great, the noodles were the right texture, I was more than surprised.
Bun Bo Nam Bo is another street side shop we went to. It is named after one of Hanoi's famous street food. This stall was one of my favourite food places in Hanoi! Affordable, simple, and delicious. Plus, they have proper tables and chairs. If crouching down and eating is not your cup of tea, and you rather have a decent sitting height whilst eating, this shop is perfect!
One thing to note though, their menu is in the form of a large canvas sheet on the wall, and the shop owners don't speak english. But that can be easily fixed with some pointing and hand signals.
Food to try: Bun Bo Nam Bo, Gio.
CAFÉS | KAFE BOX
Hanoi has so many different cafes, from those along the streets, to fancier ones in the shopping centres, or some only accessible through dingy alley ways. Even though the café culture is permeating the local food scene, what I love about the cafés in Hanoi, is that they maintain their own local flair. The have the same short tables and chairs for street side dining, and food served in a box like how street food would typically be served.
Food to try: Zucchini Fritters and any of their snack boxes
DINING WITH A VIEW | CITY VIEW CAFÉ
If you don't have a strong stomach, or aren't as adventurous when it comes to asian food/street side dining, another way to enjoy Hanoi, is to see it from above. Hanoi has several cafés located on the 4th or 5th floors of different buildings allowing tourist to dine with a great view of the city, and escape the chaotic noise and traffic on the ground.
The only I enjoyed the most was City View Café, located near the centre facing one of hanoi's busiest streets and overseeing the beautiful Hanoi Lake.
However, food isn't as fantastic and cheap as compared to those you get by the streets. Still, it is very much affordable, and for the view, I would say its worth it to have a meal in these cafés!
S E E
COLOURFUL STREETS | Day vs. Night
The colorful buildings, the flags, the umbrellas of makeshift street food stalls, all add to the atmosphere of Hanoi. This is especially true when you're in the Old Town area of Hanoi.
What I loved about the streets of Hanoi is how different they look in the day and night. At night, when all the sign boards are lighted up in various colours, it gives off a slight party atmosphere. But, in the day, it takes you right back to a typical old town/asian style village - rustic, authentic, and just slightly chaotic.
Also, remember to occasionally look up, for you'd see what they call the Hanoi Spaghetti - tons of electrical wires being knotted up near a lamp post resembling spaghetti!
HANOI TRAFFIC | Motorcycles/Trishaws/Cars/People All On the Road
When you stop at a crossroad, or just walking along the Old Town in Hanoi, you get to experience how insane the traffic is. With the crazy number of motorcycles, its almost impossible to cross the road. I remember breaking out in a little cold sweat because of the blazing horns and chaotic traffic.
The traffic doesn't stop, there aren't many traffic lights, apparently, one should just walk at a constant pace whilst crossing the road, and somehow, motorcyclist and cars will just manoeuvre around you.
The vietnamese are extremely used to the insane traffic. We saw women crossing the roads in heels while vehicles were zooming by them on both sides, as well as people in hats carrying baskets of food walking along side the cars and motorbikes with no fear!
STREET ART | 4KM MOSAIC WALL
Near the Oldest Bridge in Hanoi - Long Bien (a sight in itself), is a long stretch of road covered in mosaic tiles. It was donated to Hanoi by a woman who fell in love with the city. It stretches 4 kilometeres long, adding colour to the streets of Hanoi.
Since the traffic in Hanoi is pretty insane, it makes getting right to the Mosaic Wall a great challenge. Furthermore, the sidewalks were quite narrow, which meant that it was almost impossible to photograph the wall. But, this is still a sight to catch. Look out for it when you're entering into the city by car. You'd definitely pass by a stretch of the mosaic art wall!
Honestly though, there is so much to see in Hanoi itself. The sights and sounds are unlike any other. The streets are filled with motorcycles, everything is vibrant, exciting, and just constantly moving. Despite the hustle and bustle, when you get to a quiet part of the city, you get a deep sense of serenity and you can really appreciate the architecture, the rustic charm, and old vibes Hanoi brings.
Not to mention, food everywhere is great. I've been craving a bowl of street side Pho ever since I left. Food in Singapore is good, but the Pho here can never compare to the $2-3 dollar massive bowls I got from the streets of Hanoi!
If you want to find out what else I got up to in Hanoi and what I wore watch the 2 videos below!