Yes, there we are. After three flights and almost 30 hours of travel we finally arrived at the starting point of our journey: the capital of Vietnam! Hanoi has approximately 6.5 million inhabitants and is the second largest city in the country, after Ho Chi Minh City.
Hanoi Hotel – Au Coeur d’Hanoi Boutique Hotel
After such a long journey we want to go to the Au Coeur d’Hanoi Boutique Hotel, drop things and explore the city. The hotel was very disappointing. I will start with the positive, the location was excellent. Close to Hoan Kiem lake and in the middle of Old Quater. This is definitely the place to be when you go to Hanoi. The narrow streets, old buildings, stools everywhere and lots of chaos. So enjoy! The location of the hotel was therefore good, the rest was unfortunately disappointing. The room was very dirty, it smelled of mold and was incredibly damp. We had 1 window with a view of 4 walls, if you looked up you could still see a bit of air. The breakfast was awful. You don’t pay a lot per night, but you are probably more luxurious in one of the many hostels in Hanoi. We would absolutely not recommend this hotel. Hanoi, however, because what a great city this is.
To do in Hanoi
Although Hanoi is a huge city, we have done almost everything on foot and this is going well. The first thing to do when you are in Hanoi is to master the crossing. In my life I have never seen so many scooters together. We were in shock a bit on arrival. During our drive to the hotel, everyone zigzagged through each other, no one complied with the rules and it all just went well. Crossing the first time was therefore quite exciting. We had already heard that you had to remain very calm. I didn’t do this the first time and it just went well. The vietnamese manage the so-called penguin walk, waddling they cross over with a sharp look ahead and 1 hand extended to the traffic, which then simply drives past him or her. Fortunately, we quickly got the hang of it. Tip: don’t be afraid.
Hoan Kiem Lake
In Hanoi you can walk along the Hoan Kiem Lake. It is within walking distance of the old center. There are numerous shops and bars around the lake. You also have the Ngoc Son temple in the middle of the lake. Not very special, but nice to have seen. Beautiful Vietnamese women are constantly walking around with large baskets full of tasty snacks. Even in the evenings it is nice to pass by. Also visit the water puppet theater and learn something about the history of Vietnam.
Hao Li Prison
If you want to know more about the history of Hanoi, then a visit to the Hoa Li prison is certainly worthwhile. The prison in Hanoi was built by the French during the occupation. All vietnamese who were against the revolution were imprisoned here and often tortured. After the departure of the French, the prison was used to detain American soldiers during the Vietnam War. During the tour you have to look through propaganda. We felt that the circumstances of the Americans were described as rosy. The museum is definitely a must see. The country has a horrible history, because of these museums you have a slightly better idea of what this country has had to endure. A ticket cost around 1 euro.
St. Josef cathedral
In the old center you will find the beautiful St. Josef cathedral. This church was built in 1886. Although there are almost no Catholics living in Hanoi, the church is still used often. The locals like to meet here and on a Friday night it is very busy. If you are not into seeing churches, then a walk to the catheteral is still worthwhile. You have a lot of nice places here where you can eat. Take a seat on one of the many super small stools on the street and enjoy a delicious bowl of noodles or fresh spring rolls.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
We have semi-visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. We drove there, we stood in front of the building and we went back. It was ridiculously busy and actually we don’t have much to do here either. I understand very well that this is a special place for the Vietnamese. We did not feel completely at home.
Hanoi Street Food Tour
For food alone you must have visited Vietnam once. What can you eat here delicious and diverse. A fun way to start your journey is with a food tour. You immediately get to know the food of a country and the best places in a city. We booked a tour at Hanoi Street Food Tour. We visited about 6 places throughout the city. How nice this was. You will go to places you would normally never visit and eat at tents where you would never stop. And the food … WOW, how delicious it was. Soon an extensive report about the Hanoi Street Food Tour.
Hotspots Hanoi – Where to eat in Hanoi
We will continue to eat, because we have done very well in Hanoi. Below the best restaurants and bars according to us in Hanoi:
Drink coffee at Cong Caphe
Most Asian countries are not known for their refined coffee. The coffee in Vietnam, on the other hand, is delicious. Slow brewed coffee is a true trend here, they have been doing nothing else there for years. Always choose Vietnamese coffee, black or with condensed milk. And if you really want to taste the best coffee ever, then you have to choose an egg coffee. It sounds dirty, but man-o-man the coffee was nice. Cong Caphe is a very nice and hip place. But actually you can enjoy good coffee almost everywhere.
Madame Hien Restaurant
In the middle of the old center (just search) you will find the restaurant Madame Hien. Here you have a wide selection of traditional Vietnamese dishes, but a bit pimped. The food was delicious, but a bit on the price. The location was fantastic. We always want to eat outside, but inside it is beautiful here. An old, French colonial building still completely in its original state.
You can drink a drink in the city everywhere, but you can do it nicely in the chaotic beer corner. The street is full of bars and eateries and everyone takes place on the street on one of the many mini stools. You hear music everywhere and there is a continuous flow of people. A tip: go to a facade bar and view the spectacle from above. A beer costs almost nothing here and if you’re lucky you can enjoy a cocktail for 2 euros during happy hour.
Home Vietnamese Restaurant
Save the best for last! Just before we left for Sapa, we had dinner at the Home Vietnamese restaurant. This restaurant is not central, but the food and the atmosphere more than makes up for the taxi ride there. For the food we were advised by the service of the restaurant. Here they serve the best traditional meals with a modern twist. It is a unique restaurant located in a fantastic beautiful bright yellow building. Do you really want to taste the taste of Vietnam, then you are at Home Vietnamese restaurant. This is definitely a must go to if you are in Hanoi.
After a delicious meal we said goodbye to Hanoi and left with the night train to Sapa.