Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital and the perfect place to experience real Vietnamese culture. When it is your first time in Hanoi, choosing what to do or where to go first can sometimes be overwhelming due to the myriads of delightful surprises the city has to offer. If you are stuck and couldn’t decide which, allow me to help you make up you mind. Let me share with you 7 of the things you should do that will let you unravel the secrets of Hanoi from all its hidden corners and beyond.
1. Explore the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is Hanoi’s most touristy district. I can even go on saying it is the city’s very heart and soul. And why not? Its 36 streets are home to not just the gorgeous French Colonial architecture but to a rich history and cultural heritage which showcase the timeless beauty of this stunning city. No wonder it’s packed with travellers and backpackers of different race and colors from all corners of the world. This is the best place to be whenever you are in Hanoi. So no matter what your business is when you visit, the Old Quarter is not something you would want to miss.
Check out my post: 13 Must See Tourist Spots In The Old Quarter For Filipino First Timers for places you can visit while in the Old Quarter.
2. Go On Day Tours
Hanoi serves as the gateway to other beguiling jewels the northern region of Vietnam has to offer such as the Halong Bay and Perfume Mountain and the best way to discover them is going on day tours. Day tours are suitable for travellers who are a little pressed with time but are still adventurous enough to save a day seeing some scenery outside of Hanoi in a span of 12-15 hours which normally kicks off early at 5AM and gets you back in the city no later than 8PM. Although doing the tour on your own gives you more flexibility and freedom, going on organized tours however opens you to the opportunity of meeting new people from different walks of life bringing you brand new perpectives which you can ponder and learn from in the process. Plus it could save you the hassle of planning the tours yourself which could sometimes be frustrating especially in a foreign land you barely know anything about. For as cheap as $18, you get yourself one fulfilling day that you can cherish for a lifetime.
3. Discover Not-So-Touristy Spots
In Hanoi, it is common for travellers to seek places where they can experience the city’s culture in its rawest form and that’s most of the time in the Hoan Kiem District or the Old Quarter. But for those who want to avoid the crowd, discovering not-so-touristy spots is similar to a treasure hunt which often time results to a bountiful reward. In Hanoi, there’s just plenty of these places travellers often overlooked such as the Vinpearl Aquaruim which is the largest in Vietnam and although there’s probably a version of them back home, wouldn’t it be nice to see the Vietnamese work it and how it differs from the ones we’re used to. A little redundant it seems but could be a meaningful way to distinguish the differences in our culture to theirs.
4. Get A Glass Of Ice Cold Vietnamese Coffee
Coffee is an essential part of the Vietnamese culture and it plays an important role in their lives. I probably haven’t seen any other place (well I’ve only been to one country apart from mine) where people have so much love for coffee. Unlike us Filipinos who love our coffee warm and aromatic, Vietnamese have this intricate way of brewing their coffee and serving it cold with ice cubes mixed with sweet milk. And I gotta say as much as I love the coffee at home, Vietnamese coffee didn’t make it so hard for me to fall in love with its distinctive taste so addicting that I had it as many times as the locals have it when I was in Vietnam. So if you are about to get started with your adventure in Hanoi, the best way to begin is sipping a glass of cold Vietnamese iced coffee.
5. Sample Some Street Foods
Vietnamese is one of the world’s most delicious cuisines and in Hanoi, you need not search hidden corners as those delectable dishes showcasing the flavours of this ancient city in all its variety and tangs is readily available in streets, particularly those found in the Old Quarter. I have always loved Vietnamese cuisine and to wallow on that authentic taste of Vietnam was what I was looking forward to during my visit. Was I disappointed? Hardly the case. It only took a sumptuous bowl of Vietnamese Pho coupled with greens and white rice noodles on the side to satisfy my palate. So if you are in a quest to learn the culture and tradition of Hanoi, start with sampling some of their street foods. Believe me. They are guaranteed to give you a glimpse of what this historical city is truly made of.
6. Ride A Cyclo
Back home we Filipinos have pedicabs, trikes and jeepneys as our signature mode of transportation. Vietnamese on the other hand have cyclos. Cyclos are 3-wheel bicycle taxis in Vietnam and one of its main mode of transportation when travelling to not so distant places. Being a main representation of the Vietnamese way of living, riding a cyclo is one experience that is totally fun and insightful at the same time
7. Watch The Water Puppet Show
Water puppetry is a Vietnamese ancient tradition and folk art that originated in the Red River Delta area of Northern Vietnam. Back in the day water puppetry is performed in flooded rice fields. Today, Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is being renowned for its great performance of the ancient art which depicts the story of Vietnamese in the rural areas. Seeing the water puppet show will not just give you a glimpse of Vietnam’s culture but will totally immerse you in it.
There you go lovelies. You definitely wouldn’t wanna miss any of these interesting activities when you visit Hanoi. Have you visited Hanoi before? Share with us your experience on the comments box below. Chat with yah later! See yah.. 🙂