Tuesday, March 24, 2015

first stop on the southeast asia tour: hanoi, vietnam



the narrow streets of hanoi, vietnam's capital city, are filled to the brim with motorbikes. everyone seems to own one, ride on one, or expect to ride one later in the day. as a result, crossing the street is a bit intense, but walking is an amazing way to get around this beautiful city. otherwise you might miss seeing the 36 little merchant neighborhoods that make up hanoi or the small temples tucked away behind tall walls. both are so characteristically hanoi, so bring your walking shoes and come ready to explore! another reason to walk? street food! hanoi has some of the best street food of any place i've ever been; for less than $10 a day, you can eat like a king!

 




 









 






 


a quick guide to hanoi -- 

eat: street food!! in particular try: banh ghoi (deep fried pastries filled with shrimp or pork), bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup), bun cha nem cua be dac kim (pork patties, vermicelli noodles, and crab spring rolls), & pho!

see
- ho chi minh's mausoleum: the hours are ridiculous, you can only see ho chi minh's body for 3 hours a day, five days a week, nine months of the year, but this was, hands-down, the coolest thing we saw in hanoi. the mausoleum itself is impressive, giant marble tombs tend to be, but the real gem is ho chi minh himself. (free: open from 8-11am, tues-thurs, sat, & sun, from december to september; no photos allowed)
- temple of literature: between the 82 stelae on the backs of tortoises and the stunning architecture, the temple of literature is fantastic. plus, it's dedicated to confucius, so it's a nice switch from the buddhist temples that you'll normally find in vietnam. (20.000dong)
- hoa lo prison museum: known as the hanoi hilton by US POWs from the vietnam war, the hoa lo prison museum chronicles the site's use as a prison both before and during the vietnam war. it's very informative and thought provoking, and definitely worth a visit. (20.000dong)
- hoan kiem lake: if you're looking for a nice stroll to enjoy the beautiful vietnamese weather, this lake hits the spot. the ngoc son temple, located on a small island on the northern edge of the lake, is pleasant, but not a must-see.
- bach ma temple: a small temple located in the old quarter, it's rumored to be the city's oldest. it's off of the beaten path, as are many other temples hidden throughout the city, but beautiful and peaceful. (free)

do: eat street food! and explore the city and see how many different neighborhoods you can find!

sleep: may de ville backpackers hostel

tips:
- if you're a student, be sure to bring your student id. it's a 50% discount at some of the main attractions.
- make sure you have good maps; it's the only way you'll find some of the amazing street food vendors the book mentions. (here's a bad scanned copy of the map we used.)