Hanoi is the capital city of North Vietnam and is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. At its heart is the Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are roughly arranged by trade. And it is mainly aimed at backpackers or low budget holiday/city breaks in the old quarter.
So, when I first arrived in Hanoi it was evening 5pm on 6th of October. My goodness! It is soooooooooo busy and crazy! There are millions of scooters and motorbikes in the city alone! (no exaggeration)It is no wonder that Hanoi is the most polluted city in South-East Asia. That is why there are many, Vietnamese that wear mouth and nose masks to stop them breathing in the awful air pollution.
The old quarter is affordable, you can get a decent sized sandwich for less than $1.20. Phở Gà which is a Chicken Noodle Soup and Phở Bo which is Beef Noodle soup. These soups are traditional noodle soups of Vietnam. It is one of the most famous street food all over the world, and it is cheap! Cost around $1.10-$2.20 (20k VND- 50k VND) You see lots of commuters riding their scooters/motorbikes in the morning, parking alongside the cafe and slurping down a bowl before they continue on to work. And it is not just mornings, you can have them for lunch and/or tea. These famous dishes, are the first things I tried before tasting anything else. It is really tasty, you can add lime juice and chilies to make it spicy. These Vietnamese chilies are very spicy!
Bia Ha Noi
Many beers, famously “Bia Ha Noi” is the worlds cheapest beer. Not only is Bia Hoi the cheapest beer in the world, but it is also the freshest! Bia hoi is a very light beer, not strong at all. Bia Hoi is made in Hanoi every night and delivered to drinking establishments early every morning. Each day you’ll see men and women driving motorbikes with 4-6 kegs strapped onto their motorbike delivering the beer or removing empty kegs. I have been told, it is the freshest beer because it is made without any preservatives and must be drunk within 24 hours of production. For this reason, Hanoi and its surrounding areas are the only places you can find Bia Hoi. After 24 hours, it have to be thrown away.
Beer Corner is located at Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Although it is referred to as “Beer Corner” or “Bai Hoi Corner” it has become such a popular drinking spot for locals, expats and backpackers. It is also one of the busiest street in Hanoi where everyone gets together and drink away! So, drinking Bia Hoi is a great way to start the evening!
If you are looking for a good lively atmosphere, I recommend staying at Flipside Hostel.Flipside Hostel is a Kiwi owned and operated hostel in Hanoi as well as in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the staff are very friendly and speak excellent English. Bare in mind I have not been to Saigon yet, but I am planning to stay there when I get to Saigon. Flipside Hostel is affordable and provides free breakfast to give you a good start to your morning! This hostel is based in the old quarter within walking distance to Bai Hoi corner, Ho Hoan Kiem Lake and many others. They are many activities, for example, Happy Hour and Pub Crawls. But the best thing I ever did so far in my travels in Vietnam is the “Northern Motorbike Adventure” which I will tell you about on my next blog post. Not to be missed!
A quote from Flipside hostel on Hostel World. “It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a cheap, comfortable, clean dorm bed for you and your friends to rest your weary heads, or if you’re looking for a private room for a slice of peace and luxury that we all need from time to time – we have you covered! And they all come with a yummy free breakfast! More reason to join at Flipside Hostel and it crew. They also have an awesome rooftop bar where you can meet the travelers from all over the world and drink awesome beers!
I found a little place, near Flipside Hostel, where there are train tracks running between narrow houses, and it is so incredible how they build the houses around the train tracks. And also the houses look like they are blending into one. It is one of the most unique places to visit in Vietnam, not to be missed! It is really easy to find, and I was shocked not to see many tourists, I only saw a handful of tourists! Many Vietnamese live there on these streets, next to train track! They have a house on one side, they have to cross the track to get to other side of the for the bathroom. It is a residential street. It is such a crazy place to live, but they are so friendly. I even offered to help a Vietnamese lady in her early 20’s to move goods from her motorbike to the shop! Every little helps and make their day! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture with a group of Vietnamese to prove that I had helped them! Oh well, I’ll remember for next time!
Before you say something, I have asked for their permission to take photographs of them. All is well!
If you want to know whereabouts this track is in the Old Quarter, I have provided a map for you. It is on the left side of the map with 2 markers in between.
Lotte Centre Hanoi
Lotte Observation Deck is approximately 15 minutes drive from the centre of Old Quarter. And it is the 2nd tallest building (272m) in Hanoi after Landmark 72 which is 328m. Lotte Centre is a pretty cool building! You will also walk over the clear glass and see below! when you get on a lift from the ground level to 65th floor, it takes just fifty seconds. Really fast! I could feel my ear my ear drums popping! It was that fast! It is also the first ever Sky Walk built in Southeast Asia. The best time to visit is just before sunset to see the changing skies. on my visit it was 7pm and it was cheaper than going during the day. the views are breathtaking, as you can see from the pictures below. (not for the faint hearted).
As you can see, I tried my best to take few decent pictures but you know…Glass windows reflection! Grr! I need to learn about my camera and how it works! Haha!