My husband just got back from a business trip in Hanoi, so I asked him to write some of his highlight during his stay in Hanoi.
So I had to come to a conference on faecal sludge management (yes, taking care of sh*t is my job) in Hanoi. It was exciting because it was my first time going to Hanoi. The conference took most of my time, but I managed to walk around a bit in the evening with friends. As my hotel in the heart of Hanoi’s famous old quarter, just a block away from Hoan Kiem Lake, it was easy for us to enjoy the vibrant soul of Hanoi. I believe that the lake, around 0.5 km2, is the center of public place in old quarter. I could see people walking around or sitting on the benches enjoying snacks and ice cream, group of people practicing waltz-dancing, doing some (light) aerobic, and of course couples enjoying the evening and the pretty lake lit by lamps installed on the perimeter.
On the north part of the lake, there is this area of small shops, both for souvenirs and for local consumption, and restaurants (and also some hotels) with narrow streets. Besides enjoying the view of old buildings, the shops and the food (there is very delicious grilled fish restaurant which only serves grilled fish – it is actually diced fish with vegetables sautéed on your table) I could see also the Hanoi spaghetti: it is the enormous amount of electrical cables, tangled in and between the poles. It is pretty scary actually, but maybe after a while you get used to it.
On my last day, I was free on the afternoon, so I did this half-day motorbike tour from City Insight/Vietnam Discovery. I found it online just three days before doing it, and it all finally happened mostly because the customer service officer I got in touch with was super helpful. I made a list of things to visit in Hanoi and with just a brief discussion with my tour-guide/motorbike driver just before we took off, I could see all things on my list, in just four and a half hour, which was actually longer than what the tour should be, without any additional charge (it could be longer, still without any additional charge, since my tour-guide would have taken me to taste the real Hanoi pho had I had more time!). So I had a visit to the temple of literature, one pillar pagoda, Tran Quoc pagoda, and Ho Chi Minh Mussoleum with a splash of history from Mr Duong, a ride through interesting small alleys of second-hand market in a (quite) slum area of Hanoi, photo sessions in long mosaic mural, a ride through the old quarter, and a taste of Hanoi street coffee by the west lake. It was exciting, and most importantly, it was a safe drive!!