Vietnam: Hanoi in Pictures
Our first stop in Vietnam was the capital city, Hanoi. Hanoi is a high-energy city that is filled with locals in straw hats selling goods, streets packed full of motorbikes, neon lights advertising restaurants, bars, and karaoke, and streets overflowing with street food. The hectic, but lovable charm of Hanoi is best captured through pictures. So, here are our quick takeaways and iPhone snapshots of our time in Hanoi!
Where to Stay
- Gem Boutique Hotel—This hotel was AMAZING. We can’t say enough about the customer service. The staff worked so hard to make sure we had a great time in Hanoi by recommending restaurants, booking our cruise to Halong Bay, and sending a staff member to the train station with us to literally walk our bags onto the train car with us and make sure we made it out of Hanoi safely and on time. And, it’s CLEAN!! https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g293924-d3478124-Reviews-Gem_Boutique_Hotel-Hanoi.html
Where to Eat
- Bahn Mi 25: we ate at this street food spot twice during our short stay in Hanoi. It’s filled with tourists, but they have their gig down. Delicious, authentic Vietnamese sandwiches and plenty of places to sit. It’s quick, cheap and super tasty.
- Pho 10: Turns out there are at least 4 meanings of the word “pho” and the best, in our opinion, is the beef noodle soup! Pho 10 is a hopping place with yummy pho and lively locals.
- Aubergine Café: Tripadvisor took us to this place and it did not disappoint. It’s a cute, tiny café with a huge menu and everything we had was great. Jeff and Johnny loved the five spice chicken while Catherine and I shared a pepperoni pizza (I know, how American of us!!)
- Café Pho Co: a (VERY) hidden gem where you can sip on Vietnam’s signature egg coffee with a rooftop view of Hoan Kiem Lake. Not easy to find, but well worth the effort.
- Bia Hoi Corner: street food at the infamous beer corner. In the evening, this street fills up with short tables and plastic stools where you can enjoy local eats and 22 cent (WHAT?!?) beers.
- Pizza 4P’s: I know, we were in Hanoi and we should have been eating street food instead of pizza BUT this spot is totally worth it (and a good base before a 16 hour train ride to Hoi An). Pizza 4P’s has super legit wood-fired pizzas that gave us a slice of Chi-city when we needed it most (the night before their first World Series game! GO CUBS GO!!!).
Things we Learned
- When researching a trip to Vietnam, you will no doubt hear stories from people that the people in Vietnam are not friendly. This was NOT true in Hanoi (at least based on our experience). Everyone was beyond kind and welcomed us into their city with open arms.
- Heading to Hanoi we had heard that they still eat cats and dogs and we got the low down on this practice from our guide in Halong Bay. To sum it up, eating cats and dogs USED to be common practice as many people in Hanoi/Vietnam were starving and it was an option for survival. These days, cats and dogs are still eaten on occasion as it as seen as an (expensive) way to bring good luck to a business that is struggling. While still sad to us, it was explained to us as a difference between how cultures view animals. They believe all animals are equal and eat cats and dogs just like they would eat a chicken or cow. Also, rest assured dog and cat are only sold in specific restaurants now so you don’t have to worry about running into it on accident and it’s an up and coming trend for the Hanoi people to keep cats and dogs as pets (yay!). We saw many locals with Pugs, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas as pets. I stopped to play with the Pug puppies on the street, obvi.
- Be prepared for a big city where the locals say there’s 10 million people and 8 million motorbikes. It is very chaotic and motorbikes rule the roads, sidewalks, and alleyways. Stay alert and confidently (and smartly!!) cross the road through the motorbikes. Someone told us to wait for the cars to pass before crossing the street, but that motorbikes will just move around you as you walk. Can’t say we followed that advice blindly, but generally speaking the chaotic traffic in Hanoi “works” as the vehicles miraculously weave through each other even it’s a red light and we didn’t see any accidents during our time there despite the massive crowds.
- We heard that the street food can make you sick (we left unscathed) so use normal street food caution and look for crowded places where they are making the food fresh. Otherwise, EAT UP because it’s delicious!!!
And Now, Hanoi Through an iPhone Lens….