Bustling Hanoi {Vietnam Stories}

Hanoi surprised me. From the moment I stepped off the plane Hanoi smacked me in the face with its chaotic beauty. Everywhere I looked, everything I smelled, everything I heard was a juxtaposition of old and new, Vietnamese and French, culturally dynamic, bustling, beeping chaos.

Look around and you will see endless black telephone wires lining the streetscape, full size trees busting out of the brickwork of crumbling buildings and vines climbing the telephone wires like they were just another part of the jungle.

Hanoi is a sensory overload. Food lines the street from baguettes loaded on the back of bicycles to bún chả, phở and bánh mì. The insistent beeping of cars, mopeds and motor bikes form a soundtrack that keeps your heart racing, and a simple thing like crossing the street in the Old Quarter is a sport not for the faint hearted.

There is so much to Hanoi. The hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter where everyone is trying to sell you something, the surprisingly tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature steeped in history and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex where you might just get a chance to view the embalmed Uncle Ho himself.

Not to mention the food, ohhh the food!

IMG_6810v1WEB Main gate, The Temple of Literature

IMG_6825v1WEB Well of Heavenly Clarity, Temple of Literature

IMG_6830v1WEBIMG_6849v1WEB Graduating students gather in the courtyard, Temple of Literature 

 IMG_6850v1WEB A quiet out building, Temple of Literature 

IMG_6858v1WEB  Inside the main gate, The Temple of Literature

IMG_0031v1WEB Lunch at Koto –  Rice noodles with tofu topped with crushed peanuts and fried onion followed by Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk.

IMG_6928v1WEB Busy intersection in the Old Quarter

IMG_6931v1WEB Mopeds, cyclos and all forms of transport

IMG_6929v1WEBIMG_6938v1WEBIMG_6944v1WEB Strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake

IMG_6946v1WEB  Street artists at work, Hoan Kiem Lake

IMG_6953v1WEB Newlywed couple posing for photos, Hoan Kiem Lake

IMG_6960v1WEB  Old and new. Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) standing tall before the modern metropolis.

Hanoi Musts

Take a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and watch the local action, new brides in traditional áo dài taking wedding photos, artists at work and university students keen to practice their English.

Step back in time and visit the Temple of Literature with its extensive gardens and traditional Vietnamese architecture.

While you’re in the neighbourhood grab something to eat at Koto restaurant. My favourite place to eat in Hanoi. They have vegetarian options of Vietnamese dishes. Not to mention they are a non-for-profit organisation who provide vocational training for disadvantaged youths.

For lovers of coffee (and sugar) try cà phê sữa đá Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened contended milk.

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