My experience of Hanoi
After a short flight from Bangkok, my friends and I arrived at the airport in the crazy and bustling capital city of Hanoi. It was dreary, wet weather when we first arrived and to be honest I kinda missed Thailand. Although close by, and often the second step for many backpackers moving on from Thailand, Vietnam is very different. My first thought driving through the rain from the airport was, “why are all of the buildings so tall and skinny?”. They have a really unique architecture when it comes to building homes. They also had a karaoke bar on every corner!
Hanoi is the busiest place I have ever been in the world, and probably will ever go to. The traffic is just unimaginable and they seem to have no road rules. Mopeds and cars are flying in all different directions and it is painfully difficult to cross the road. The worst part about this though is that all of the drivers just seem to constantly beep their horns, and for no apparent reason. This is apparent throughout the whole of Vietnam, however I noticed it much more in Hanoi. Be prepared for headaches if your accommodation is near a busy road!
Vietnam is an amazingly interesting country to visit; they have so much culture and history. It’s important to remember that it is fairly new to tourism, and a lot of the Vietnamese are not accustomed to seeing backpackers. We sometimes had people staring at us and stopping us for pictures. Like most countries, there are both fantastic rural and city areas to visit. With Hanoi being the capital and in the north of the country, it was our first stop.
We did a bit of non touristy shopping once we arrived in Hanoi. We only had summery clothes with us and we were not prepared for the 10 degrees and rainy weather we were encountering! There are numerous shopping malls in Hanoi and we found ourselves visiting the Vincom Mega Mall Royal City. This really is a mega mall! The whole mall is underground, and as well as having hundreds of shops it also has a cinema, ice skating rink and waterpark. You wouldn’t believe you could get all of that in an underground mall!
We purchased a few warmer items of clothes (anything we could find that was western sized!) and spent some time at the water park. Vincom is owned by Vingroup, who seem to own pretty much everything like shopping malls and tourist attractions in Vietnam. They even have an island theme park but I’ll get to that in a later post.
Also during our time in Hanoi we visited a night market, a traditional water puppet show, and spent some time at the Hoa Lo Prison. It was really interesting to learn some more about the Vietnamese War and what conditions were like during that time. I would definitely recommend it in you’re ever in Hanoi. We visited a few war museums during our time in Vietnam, and to think the war was less than 50 years ago is crazy!
Overall Hanoi, is crazy busy, but it does have a lot of beautiful aspects and plenty of places to visit. Just be careful as Hanoi is the main city in Vietnam where dog is served for dinner!
Have you ever done anything in Hanoi that you would recommend? Let me know!