The Old Quarter of Hanoi The biggest attraction in Hanoi is Hanoi itself! The unique features of this metropolis are best experienced in the old town. To feel what defines the city’s atmosphere, it is best to put on comfortable shoes and start walking. colorful, the loud hustle and bustle, the intangible chaos on the streets, the booming horns and the countless vendors are more highlights than any classic sight could ever be. In Hanoi, pedestrians can quickly get stuck in traffic jams, streets seldom meet at 90 degrees and getting lost is just a big part of the fun. In this article we are going to discuss the amazing non-touristy things to do in Hanoi. If you are planning to travel to Hanoi check out flights to this amazing place with Cathay Pacific for better deals.
Did you know that there are over 5 million mopeds in Hanoi? That alone is an absolute sight. Crossing a street can become a real adventure, and it takes some time to get the trick to get to the other side safely and promptly. During the week, Hanoi demands your full attention, and you don’t know where to look. There is so much to discover. But on the weekend, the entire city center is closed to everything with an engine. Even moped drivers have to stay outside. From Friday 7 p.m. to Sunday midnight, the city turns into a vast pedestrian zone! More little plastic chairs and food stalls are sprouting up from the floor, there is live music on every corner, and children are playing on the streets. The mood is exuberant and happy.
At the latest, Hanoi manages to convince even its greatest critics because very few can still resist this liveliness, pure joie de vivre and Hanoi’s endless charm. In any case, we fell mercilessly in love with the city. We spent a total of four weekends in Hanoi and every single weekend was as unique as Vietnam itself.
The old town and the area around central Hoan Kiem Lake are closed to mopeds on Fridays from 7 p.m. to midnight. If somehow possible, plan your stay so that you can experience Hanoi on the weekend. Worth it!
The Old Quarter of Hanoi consists of 36 small streets and is also called the 36 alley quarter. The reason for this is the division into guilds since the 15th century. Even today, every street has its handicraft focus. For example, Hang Bac Street is the center of silver handicrafts.
Parks and lakes in Hanoi
Hanoi offers a surprising amount of green. In many of the small alleys, there are trees along the road. There are also some larger parks, and there are dozens of picturesque lakes in the vicinity. That’s because the city was built on the banks of the Red River. Hanoi is therefore often referred to as the ‘ city of lakes. ‘
The Hoan Kiem Lake is located in Hanoi between the former French colonial and historical center. It is the most famous of the lakes and for us also the most beautiful. If you ever need a break from Hanoi, this place is perfect. A small park, several benches, numerous cafes and restaurants stretch along its banks. In the middle of the lake is the turtle pagoda, also known as the turtle tower. The pagoda is beautifully illuminated, especially in the evening. The red Huc bridge (sun bridge) is also an excellent photo opportunity.
West Lake is the largest city and is close to the Red River, just 15 minutes from the city center. It is very popular with locals and tourists as there are several restaurants, stylish cafés and high-priced hotels on its banks.
Other lakes worth seeing are:
Thien Quang Lake (also called Halais Lake ) with a Buddhist temple and a promenade for quiet walks; Truc Bach Lake (right by the larger West Lake) with many beautiful restaurants and temples and an event steeped in history. The former US presidential candidate John McCain landed with a parachute after his plane was shot down in the Vietnam War in 1967.
Colonial architecture in the French Quarter
Between 1887 and 1954, Hanoi was the capital of the French colony of Indochina, and the traces of the past are still clearly visible today. The beautiful, mostly yellow-painted colonial buildings give Hanoi a unique charm and also make up the cityscape.
Some exceptionally well-preserved buildings and villas are near Lenin Park.
Most of them are now embassies and official government buildings, and wealthy Vietnamese inhabit some others. A stroll through the small quarter and all of its side streets with the small, mostly chic boutiques is worthwhile.
How must it have been back then? We ask ourselves while strolling by and admire the pompous architecture.
The following buildings are exceptionally well preserved:
The Hanoi Grand Opera House – the opera forms the cultural center of the city and offers regular theater performances and performances by the Vietnamese national ballet and the national symphony orchestra.
The Presidential Palace – the bright yellow building, is very close to the botanical garden, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, several museums and other sights.
The National Museum of Vietnamese History – this impressive museum portrays Vietnamese history from 300,000 years ago to the end of the colonial era in 1945.
The Vietnamese State Bank is where the country’s monetary policy is decided, and the control of the Vietnamese currency Dong (VND) is ensured.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral is located in the old town’s heart and was consecrated and subsequently opened in 1886. The age of the small, neo-Gothic church can now be seen strongly. However, this is not meant negatively. But on the contrary. Above all, the gray, stained stone walls give the church its style and a unique atmosphere. Unfortunately, the church is only open during services and tourists are mostly not allowed in. But the sight from the outside is already beautiful enough.
What you should see, however, is the Bia Corner in Hanoi. The name says it all, and one bar after another is lined up on the famous Ta Hien Street. What is going on here can hardly be put into words and the purest sensory overload! Many people sit on small plastic stools, loud music is booming from the boxes, hundreds of signs are flashing in umpteen colors, and bar owners are continually chatting with you. There’s only one word for that: DEPARTED!
Tip: It’s much quieter, more comfortable and cheaper at the small beer stands opposite the Vietnam Backpacker Hostel.