Go beyond the typical tourist spots and enjoy the true heartbeat of Hanoi like a local! See where the local families hang out and live in everyday life.
While you are visiting you should stop at a market or two. You will find some amazing and delicious snacks! Watch locals come and go and take a peek at the appetizing meals they’ve ordered – (inside tip – try and ask what they ordered good chance you will be surprised and delighted with the local taste.) Wander down the market with its many stalls to surround yourself with the best ingredients that Vietnamese dishes are made of.
The Vietnamese love to be connected with all aspects of nature. They are very respectful as well as resourceful from nature. So, when you are visiting, do as the locals do to unwind and enjoy a walk through a lusciously green park with a beautiful lake near the center of Hanoi. And nestled on a peaceful side street lies the Buddhist temple that can’t be missed!
If you are a coffee lover like me, you need to make a trip to Old Town Garden Café, it truly feels like a secret garden here! You can have all kinds of different flavors of local coffee including egg coffee, coconut coffee, and Weasel coffee.
With more than 7.5 million people in the city of Hanoi, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the number of people in the city and need a little break. That’s when you should head to West Lake. During your explorations around the city, you might have been to the famous Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi right in the city center. However, it has a big and slightly overlooked sister: The West Lake, is where locals enjoy the serene water to let their minds flow – take calm walks, enjoy cafes with lake views and stunning sunsets. From here you can head to Quán Thánh Temple. You can get here by bike, bicycle or foot, the West Lake is a stunning place to discover and relax.
Everyone has heard of Belgium or German chocolates but you might not have heard of Vietnamese chocolate before. While you are Hanoi you MUST taste some award-winning samples. Check out Maison Marou in the French Quarter. Maison Marou produces all their award-winning products in-house and handpicks their 100% Vietnamese cocoa beans. This is a great gift to bring home to share too…it it lasts that long!
You will find that most locals don’t go to the supermarket for a majority of their food. The local markets are where most locals pick up their fruits and vegetables and most of their local meats and seafood. Many of these markets are “pop up” style and just appear out of nowhere and can get dispersed as quickly as they set up when the police arrive. There are only a few sanctioned areas that are designed for markets, but everyone makes it work.
Did you know that the French had a major influence in Vietnam? You can still see their thumbprint in the city if you head down to Old Quarters you will see a very small example of this. The two major differences in architectural styles are shown at The Ancient House and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Today, you can come and see the Ancient House and see first-hand how Hanoian lived. On the other hand, Saint Joseph Cathedral is a hybrid of Vietnamese and Western architectural styles. Saint Joseph Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral done in a Neo-Gothic style. It was built around 120 years ago. The cathedral was constructed and completed in 1886 after the French army conquered Hanoi.
Finally, take a break from the heat (or cold humidity in the winter months), drop in and see a water puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater. Water Puppetry is uniquely Vietnamese and originated near Hanoi nearly 1,000 years ago. The show itself features the dancing forms of puppets manipulated by their puppeteers in a shallow pond or wading pool and is quite entertaining for travelers of all ages but this is a great local favorite for mothers to bring their children.
Visiting a city that has stood for over 1,000 years is a trip in and of itself. Jump right in and experience every aspect of this ancient and beautiful culture. Paired with amazing food and fantastic things to see a trip to Hanoi is perfect for every traveler wanting to experience something new and yet ancient at the same time.
Traveling Photographer Out!