Hanoi lies to the north of Vietnam, bordered by Laos to the west, China to the north and beautiful Halong Bay to the east. Surrounded by mountains and farmland, it’s a bustling yet picturesque metropolis of seven million people. The tree-lined streets, parks and lakes that fill Hanoi are surprising and make it feel green and lush.
Like other Vietnamese cities, scooters and motorcycles are the main mode of transport. Two-wheeled vehicles weave in and out of the traffic, negotiating traffic signals and pedestrians with ease. Add bicycles, rickshaw-like “cyclos” and wooden carts to this and what you think should be chaotic and dangerous traffic actually flows quite well.
Crossing the road is an art, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be making your way through the cars and bikes like a local. Slow, steady and determined is the way to do it – and if you get a series of beeps then you are in the way and need to move – quick!
If walking the streets isn’t for you, invest in a cyclo tour. It’s a rickshaw-style vehicle – pedal-powered with a covered seated area in the front. Like a rickshaw it is quiet so you can hear the sounds of the street; slow so you can line up the perfect photo opportunity; open so you are immersed at street-level and feel like you’re a part of the city. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a chatty driver who wants to know about you and share a little about himself and his city with you.
And don’t miss the chance to try some authentic street food during your stay in Hanoi. Take local recommendations and give it a try! You might be surprised!
x Sonia x