Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, with “only” 7 million people. I am coming from a country with 2 million people, so this was definitely a really chaotic place to stay for me. Our flight from Vietnam was right from here. Mostly all the international flights to Vietnam are to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Unfortunately we did not have too much time to dedicate to this city so we spent in Hanoi only 24 hours. We decided to not go and visit all the city attractions that were listed online and in the travel guides, and we choose to see the places that were most interesting to us. These are my top 5 places to visit in Hanoi:
A skyscraper from where you will enjoy the panoramic view of Hanoi. The ticket is $ 10, if you go there before 10 am, the ticket is 50% off. At the top there is a bar where you can have some drinks. My advice is to go in the morning because the whole place will be just for you, and there was almost nobody else at the time.
2. The train street
The nearest street in the old quarter of Hanoi through which the train passes is located between the streets Kham Tien and Le Duan, the exact address you need to write on Google is Ngo 224 Le Duan. The train passes twice a day, one is at 15.30 and the other is at 19.30. This was one of the most unique experiences in Vietnam. It is amazing how people live here, literally like nothing happens. Before and after the train passes everyone is doing their work and daily life around the railroad.
They cook, play, do their domestic works on the rails, and then for a moment everyone is taking their things away, you can hear the noisy beast passing and after few minutes everything returns to normal life. And only we, tourists, were wondering how this huge train is passing in front of the houses. We were the only people on the street that were so surprise from this unusual situation. After the train left, I saw the open door of the house in front of me, and people were having lunch on the table, like nothing happened.
It’s nice to come here half an hour or an hour before the train arrives, so you will have time to make cool photos and see how is the daily life of locals from that famous street.
3. The old quarter
The old quarter of Hanoi is really special, here I think I would spend few days just wandering around the streets and taking pictures. Indeed, if you are in love with photography, the place is full of interesting spots for street and portrait photography. And if you are not interested in photography, still you should come here. Get lost around the streets full of buildings, street vendors, bars and restaurants.
I don’t want to write too much about this part of the city, you should come here and make your own experience. Only in this way you will feel the true spirit of Hanoi and Vietnam.
4. Lake Hoan Kiem
The lake is great for a morning or evening walk. On the lake there is also the Ngoc Son temple.
5. The note coffee
In this coffee shop you can try the traditional egg coffee. The place is really cool, there are three floors and the walls everywhere are covered with notes in different colors. Even the chairs and the tables are covered with thoughts from people from all over the world. This coffee shop is near to the Lake Hoan Kiem, so while there you can stop for a coffee break in this nice place.
At sunset, visit West Lake and the Tran Quoc Pagoda, unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do it.
To finish your day in Hanoi, go for a drink or dinner at one of the rooftop bars in Quảng trường Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục and enjoy the view of traffic chaos and lights everywhere around.