Beautifully raw and chaotic, but I was so attracted to exploring the city, like a sewing needle to a magnet. The old city of Hanoi offers stories and answers to anyone; whether or not you are a backpacker or business man staying in a 5-star hotel.
This was a 4-day trip to Hanoi and it was our first visit to Vietnam. We flew AirAsia from Langkawi Island to Kuala Lumpur (KL) then to Hanoi. The flight from KL was about 3 hours, with a time difference of one hour.
We only planned for a 1-day visit to Ha Long Bay, but for the rest of the stay, we just made up our plan as we go along. Hanoi is a very interesting city. The old town, where we stayed has plenty of things to see and do. All were within walking distant from our hotel.
When we did the search before the trip, we went to websites like TripAdvisor and AirBnB to find out potential places to stay. A general guide would be a hotel within the old town of Hanoi. After much searching and reading reviews, we chose Old Town Hotel. It was indeed a good choice to stay. We had good time there. On the day we arrived (Friday), they had ‘free beer happy hour’ deal! It was held at their dining area on the fifth floor. Not only they offered free beer that night, we had free french fries too! The whole staffs were friendly and helpful. We were given a city map, and it was marked with various places to eat, shop, visit and to explore. It was all explained to us by their staff who spoke good English. We surely appreciate their help on that matter.
When we booked the hotel through AirBnB, Mina (front desk personal from Old Town Hotel) suggested to also booked for a ride from airport to hotel. We glad we did that. It took us not more than 30 minutes from leaving the airport arrival hall to the reception desk at the hotel. We had the same arrangement made (with the same driver) for our ride back to the airport. Since the location of this hotel (and most of other hotels in the old town) was rather hidden, it was only wise to have such arrangement made. This would avoid unnecessary confusion. The pick up service (both ways) was USD50.
Streets of Old Town
Chaotic. That was my one word description to the street of Hanoi. A lot of activities going on, right on the street, from dusk till dawn. We walked as much streets as we could, with the time that we had there. Once you get the general idea of the direction, it is pretty easy to go to a specific place. The street, filled with buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and of course, padestrians. All were sharing roads not any wider than 15 feet. There was no sidewalk, and all roads were open for both way traffic. Yet, we didn’t see any road accident! The locals were used to driving on such situation. That was my best guess.
One of the spots in Hanoi that were suggested to us to check out on the first day was the lake. It was a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Mina, front desk staff told us that this is the best time of year to see it because of spring flower blooms. The park along the lake front was planted (newly done) with geranium, marigold and many other annual plants.
-To be continued.