We were very happy to arrive in Hanoi after spending some time in Ho Chi Minh city. After a long day of waiting for our delayed plane at the airport and sharing space with inpatient passengers, we were relieved to set our belongings down into our room. We found a very nice hotel in Hanoi called Golden Moon Hotel, and we highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Hanoi. Sometimes when we arrive to our accommodation we are surprised by what we find inside (not a positive thing), but this time we were greeted by a clean room, fresh towels and electricity that did not go out. Also the staff of the hotel are very kind and were so helpful during our stay.
Hotel Link: http://hanoigoldenmoonhotel.com/
The following day we woke up at a semi reasonable time to venture out and see some of the city by foot. There is a lake near the hotel called Hoan Kiem. People walk around the lake, sit to take lunches, take wedding photos there, practice tai chi, etc. We enjoyed the ambience here during the day, but as we found out later, it really gets popping at night. There is a bridge that connects the outside to the center where you can catch a water puppet show. Many women are walking around selling various fruits and drinks with the ubiquitous Vietnamese rice hat protecting their weathered faces from the unrelenting SouthEast Asian heat.
As we walked throughout the city, we noticed that there are many birds in cages chirping happily (angrily ?) hanging outside at the entrance of shops. There are many shops where you can purchase souvenirs and trinkets. Some of the gift shops have some really interesting fabrics from the neighboring tribes to the east in the Sapa valley.
Hanoi’s streets are narrow, perfect for motorbikes – horrible for taxis. You have to be very careful yet determined when crossing the street. There are no crosswalks. Well, there are but no one stops for them. Ever. As we cross the street vehicles just maneuver around you but do not halt. This takes some time to get used to, but like most things you eventually do. There are some large jungle like trees in Hanoi. Their vines rain down from from the street lamps and roots raise some of the concrete sidewalks. I couldn’t believe how big some of the trees grew and how dark (almost black) the bark is.
Our first impression of Hanoi was pleasant. The archeticure and history of the city was appealing and we were excited to explore the city more.