People often know about Hanoi as Vietnam’s Capital City, heart of Vietnam, or fascinating historic city of Vietnam. When they think they know all about it, there are always more to capture their minds. 

Hanoi is the city which never be missed when someone had a visit to Vietnam. It is an enthralling blend between the East and the West which has undergone and witnessed historical ups and downs for thousand years. Travelers coming to Hanoi must read and researched lots of information about the destination before travelling with frequent question or key such as “top things to do in Hanoi”, “top things must see in Hanoi”,… However, most of visitors often miss out what really are the best things hidden behind the scenes.  If travelers really want to discover what are the most important to see and learn deeply about this amazing city, they must open their minds and awake their senses for new things and expect the unexpected. 

Busy streets and the Old Quarter

Travelers can find the whole picture of street in Hanoi or Vietnam in general here. In summary, once visitors take their steps down to the street, they will be drifted along the flow of bustling peace. Hundreds of vehicles come out from all directions, and people going in different ways. The street is seemingly totally ruleless and chaotic, but there is an amazing coordination. Travelers after the culture shock will find it interesting in experiencing the feeling of passing twines of commuters on the road, after that they can take a rest and reward themselves well-deserved high-five for surviving the path. 

Apart from getting with the busy street in Hanoi, travelers also should let themselves get lost in the less-travelled roads. Maybe it is the cool way to discover the best of the city when nobody else knows, by criss-crossing through roads and paths out of the crowds and tourist hot spots without knowing where they will lead them to. Get off the track and embark on more obscure alleyways, travelers will find more than what their eyes can catch.

If Hanoi is the Heart of Vietnam, the Old Quarter is the Heart of Hanoi. The Old Quarter has been being seen as a mystery box which contains all of what is Hanoi. Despite booming development and industrialization, the Old Quarter still saves the ancient breath of Hanoi for thousand years. On the main streets or little hallways, visitors may catch beautiful temples with aromatic smell of incense. Everyday life of the local starts in alleyways full of colorful restaurants with inviting menus in front doors. Travelers can sit down on plastic chairs in every corner to join the locals with some beer, snacks and funky cuisine

The People

That is what called hidden treasure behind the scenes. What really creates the city and everything belonged to it are the people. The dwellers, the masses who have been living with the city all along the history of development and change have created its own culture and breath. Between the bustle and hustle of the modern life stream, travelers will also find the quiet peace invisibly flowing among the Hanoians. Venders travelling in the early hours in the morning to work, old people resign themselves in meditation of the past, besides the lake or in the corners with newspaper,… are pictures which will make you feel peaceful and deposited. The old Hanoians who will treat visitors with great hospitality and respect and kindness are elegant and traditional with their own way of live which is not similar to any of other regions in the country.    

Train tracks and lives alongside

For foreigners, lives on the train tracks may be interesting and romantic somehow. It is amazing that most of visitors cannot imagine how people can live such close to the rail way like that, but that is just the life there. Everything just goes in very narrow space: cooking, washing, cleaning, resting and gathering family members… Like anywhere else in the world, all of what people need is just sharing a roof over head with their love ones, regardless of train tracks next to their windows. It cannot be described how amazing it is when the train passes by, and there is nearly no crevasse to the train. 

Markets

The Markets in Hanoi have similarities and also differences to that of Northern market in Vietnam. Travelers will find intoxicating variety of colorful spices, freshest veggies and fruits, and various goods and commodities. Hanoi has long been famous for “36 old streets”, which were divided during French colonial period. In the past, each of the old streets stood for particular good and named after that good. Although the tradition has changed, names of those old streets remain and people can still find the ancient breath of those markets among modern lives. Some of the streets even still sell good of street name, and the custom from the old time somewhat remain unchanged. 

Other things to do

Hanoi is the place rich of traditions and old values. Besides people and the peace of life, cuisine is one of the best parts unmissable in the capital. Banh mi, banh cuon and Vietnamese coffee are quintessence of Hanoi which visitors must try once when putting their footstep to the city.

Where to stay in Hanoi

To experience what is the most authentic Hanoi, the best place to stay is homestay. Staying with Hanoians in their houses, travelers will have chance to go through traditional residential customs and lifestyles. There are several best choices for visitors namely Tomtee Homestay, Green House Homestay, Cao Thai Homestay, Mr. Kien’s House, Phi Long Homestay,…whose hosts are very hospitable and experienced in welcoming foreign travelers.