From Hue we travelled to Hanoi and once again we used the train. After about 15 hours we finally arrived in the capital of Vietnam. Our hotel was perfectly situated on the edge of the Old Quarter so we could start getting lost in the maze of narrow streets straight away.
As we had barely eaten during the train journey (mainly to avoid the challenging toilet situation it provided), we had a healthy appetite to say the least. Too tired to search for hidden gems we went to Bun Cha Ta, a place highly ranked on TripAdvisor and just around the corner from where we were staying.
As it was to be expected, there were a few fellow tourists, but that didn’t affect the quality of the food nor the service. I’d recommend their signature dish, the Bun Cha Ta. You’ll get a tasty bowl of broth with a few pork spring rolls and a small mountain of thin noodles on the side. You’re supposed to put as many or as little noodles as you like in the soup. On the side as well you get some more pork spring rolls that are meant to be rolled in big, fresh, salad leaves. Accompanied by a beer it was exactly what we needed.
Our first afternoon in Hanoi was mostly spent walking around and drinking the famous bia hoi. There are lots of places throughout the city that brew their own version of this refreshing draft beer, but the nicest way of enjoying a few of these is definitely sat down on the typical plastic chairs among the locals.
Something worth going to when in Hanoi is a Water Puppet Show. Granted, it’s a little touristy (very touristy even), but this art is unique to Vietnam. There’s a group of musicians performing all the music, sounds, and singing that needs to be done, and of course there is the team that is manipulating the water puppets. The whole thing only lasts 45 minutes so even those of you who aren’t crazy about puppets should be able to survive a session!
Our second day in Hanoi started with a walk to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. There’s nothing particularly beautiful about the building -a big marble edifice- but I do always find it impressive to see the type of vast, empty grounds that only (former) communists regimes seem to create around their monuments. When we went there, the Mausoleum itself was closed for visitors, but most of the time you will be able to go inside (if you’re ‘properly’ dressed that is) and see the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh.
What I enjoyed most about Hanoi was the refreshing bia hoi beers among the Vietnamese, the super good street food and the strolling around the streets, constantly amazed by the sounds and smells of the city.
From Vietnam’s lively capital we took an internal flight back to Ho Chi Minh City and from there we flew back home.
Next up: Prague