After spending nearly a week in Vietnam’s capital, I have decided that Hanoi is a very walkable city.
This may seem surprising as it’s home to over 6 million people and nearly as many motorbikes, but my favourite parts, around Hoan Kiem Lake and in the Old Quarter, are easily explorable on foot.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is composed of 36 narrow, bustling streets which specialise in everything from roasted fish (Cha Ca) to silk (Hang Gai) to Santa accessories (check out Hang Ma if there, I kid you not!).
The ideal place for a scavenger hunt, the area is literally home to anything one could want. From bathroom utensils to, erm, pottery Pikachus, the wonderfully wacky streets sell them all.
Though wandering the sometimes tacky sometimes lovely shops is always fun, I’d recommend four of the old streets (Hang Dao, Hang Ngang, Hang Duong and Dong Xuan) that hold host to a night market every Friday to Sunday. The market is genuinely worth a browse, and maybe even a cheeky haggle.
Also, get trying the street food – it’s everywhere, tasty and cheap. (I, personally, don’t like it as much as China’s, but I do adore the miniature garden furniture jam packed with locals eating and chatting on every street corner).
Hoan Kiem Lake
Hanoi has some very pretty lakes, particularly for a big city, and West Lake is definitely worth a visit. Hoan Kiem Lake is my favourite, however, since it’s in the historic heart of Hanoi and is a peaceful escape from the Old Quarter’s surrounding streets.
In the middle is a stone pagoda, which looks particularly attractive at night.
The main attraction is Jade Island, which is home to an 18th century Buddhist temple. To be honest, the temple is nothing special but at under £1 is worth a wander.
The red bridge, called the Huc bridge, that leads to this island looks stunning reflected in the lake when dark.
Beautiful streets, scenery and people!