Vietnam is one of those countries I feel like I only hear about in extremes. People either love it or hate it and they all have their reasons for why they feel that way (kinda like India). Before arriving to Vietnam I heard both extremes from other backpackers on the road and many of my blogging buddies. I was a bit skeptical, but knew I had always wanted to visit Vietnam so was going to be visiting anyway and after spending about 3 weeks there I am glad I did and wish I could have spent much longer exploring Vietnam, because I am one of the ones that LOVES IT. I felt like Vietnam was the Asia I had always dreamed of; it had the food, the culture, the people, the beer, oh and the million motorbikes whizzing around the cities.
Before I arrived I did a bit of research to find cheap flights to Vietnam, and because I had heard horror stories of being ripped off trying to negotiate a cab from the airport to a hotel. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happened and went ahead and paid extra to have airport pick up from the hotel. This was the 1st time I had ever paid for a airport pick up and loved that a guy was standing there with my name and hotel (I felt really classy). We got in the truck and was instantly transported to the crazy roads of Hanoi. Motorbikes were all over the place… whizzing in and out cutting us off. I loved it and couldn’t stop smiling of the fact that I was in Vietnam.
I arrived to the hostel and was exhausted from my transportation day, but was hungry and actually excited to start exploring a bit of Hanoi. If you don’t want to stay in a hostel like me, there are also many discount hotels in Hanoi. I walked around and went to one of the markets that was down the street and searched for a place to eat. I saw in the middle of a very touristic street was a little yellow restaurant with tiny stools and tables that no tourist were walking into, but a lot of locals were so thought why not go there.
Then I saw everyone else order this bowl of noodles with meat and nuts and thought why not try that too. So glad I did because it was so delicious and ended up being one of the meals I loved most in Vietnam. The sad thing is I can’t remember the name of it. I thought I wrote it my little notebook that I keep track of things like this and can’t find it. I tried google-ing it too and couldn’t find it either. Here is a photo of it though… ah it was so damn good.
Aside from eating my heart out in Hanoi I also spent a lot of time walking around the city. I loved that the people were very friendly.
I loved that vendors are lined up just about on every street selling everything from shoes to jackets to random stuff no one needs.
Of all the things though I loved most was the crazy motorcycles whizzing around the city. They are all over and going in every direction possible and rarely pay attention to any signals. Thankfully I had no trouble crossing the streets since I lived in Cairo and got used to crossing the crazy streets of Cairo. They are very similar except Hanoi has a million motorbikes not a million cabs, but either way after crossing the street successfully your heart jumps for joy because you just achieved the hardest thing you will do all day.
In the end I spent 5 days in Hanoi and loved it. I think it’s the perfect introduction to Vietnam for anyone visiting for the first time. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city and aside from the observations I made above it’s also filled with a lot of historical sites and museums.