The northern Vietnamese city of Hanoi is a beguiling mix of modern and ancient, Asian traditions and colonial legacies. Elegant balconied buildings front tree-lined boulevards, while cyclists and mopeds weave through the city’s narrow backstreets. Join the fans and discover the many sights and tastes of exciting Hanoi.
Day 1: Hello Hanoi
Follow the scent of pho (noodle soup) wafting from cafes as you head down alleyways thronged with passers-by, shoppers and street stalls. Fuel up with super-strong, super-sweet coffee then plunge into the city’s sights. The Old Quarter is especially appealing, near Hoan Kiem Lake, and it’s a good area to hunt for tailors and souvenirs. Why not get your bearings on a cyclo tour through the Old Quarter, or for something different take a Ho Chi Minh-themed walking tour to Uncle Ho’s mausoleum.
Day 2: Friendly Pho and Other Dishes
The subtle, more traditional flavors of Hanoi’s northern cuisine are legendary, and enjoyed all around the world. Some of Vietnam’s most famous dishes come from the Hanoi region, including the famous pho which is a good example of how spices, seasoning and condiments are used to add flavor to a base dish. Other northern specialties you might encounter include bun cha (vermicelli noodles with pork and salad), rice paper rolls filled with pork and salad, and fragrant pork gio cha spring rolls. To taste the essence of Hanoi, dine at Cha Ca La Vong, reputed to be the city’s oldest restaurant, or take a Vietnamese cooking class at the Hanoi Cooking Centre.
Day 3: How Long to Halong Bay
Vietnam’s classic postcard shots of calm blue sea dotted with tree-clad limestone islands were most probably taken in World Heritage-listed Halong Bay. To relax into the beguiling rhythm of Halong Bay, join a 3-day junk boat cruise to do nothing much except dine on seafood, go swimming in the bay, kayak through limestone caves, go night fishing or read a book while you adjust your suntan on the boat’s tanning deck.