If you’re following me on any of my social media accounts, you’d know that I’ve been busy travelling around Vietnam (Hanoi and Sa Pa) and Jakarta, Indonesia. I’ve seriously got my work cut out for me as I have a lot of blogging and catching-up on work and emails to do. So be sure to stay tuned for new posts and updates from my recent trips.
What did I get up to in Vietnam? Well, to summarise, I did a lot of eating (naturally), walking, sightseeing, hiking, picture taking and a helluva lot of talking and laughing with The Boy.
But let’s first start with my trip in Hanoi. This was my second time visiting this bustling city but it felt like my first as a lot has changed since I was there three years ago! With so many sights to see and only a full day to spend in Hanoi before my trip to Sa pa, I was on a mission.
So, here’s a list of what The Boy and I got up to in Hanoi and for those of you who will be heading out to Hanoi for a short amount of time (let’s say a day to a couple of days), this might help you make the most out of your quick trip!
Hoa Lo Prison
Start your trip with a visit to this national historical relic site to get a dose of Vietnamese history.
You will learn about the prisoners held by the French colonists, criminals held by the Vietnamese State and the American prisoners of war who were shot down in North Vietnam. Exhibits here are pretty eerie and chilling – they include cells for death sentenced prisoners, dungeons, guillotine used by the French to behead prisoners and a memorial monument for all the thousands of Vietnamese patriots and revolutionary fighters who have lost their lives in Hoa Lo Prison.
Psst… American senator John McCain was a prisoner here for six years.
With 1000 years of history behind it, this fascinating and lively commercial quarter is home to more than 50 narrow streets selling different local products. Most of the streets are named after the goods that they used to, or in some cases, still do sell.
You will be entering a place where your senses will be tickled from all corners of the streets – be ready for the sights, the sounds and the smells that await you!
Madam Yen Restaurant
Take a well-deserved rest from all that walking and dine at this architecturally unique eatery that offers authentic yet refined Vietnamese food. Located near the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake, it’s the perfect place to refuel.
Their Amuse Bouche – Banh Cuon.
Deep fried Hanoi spring rolls – Minced pork, egg, mushroom, coriander, vermicelli, spring onion and herbs. Served with dipping sauce.
Bun Cha Hanoi – Served with fresh rice vermicelli, lettuce, herbs and pickled green papaya & carrot pieces with dipping sauce.
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
Catch a performance of the water puppets while you’re in Hanoi. It is a lot of fun to watch and ever so fascinating. The skilled puppeteers work their magic on the puppets while a live band plays traditional instruments throughout the entire performance.
Psst… The water puppet show is performed in Vietnamese. But you can grab multilingual programs at the theatre so you can follow each vignette as it’s performed.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Whatever time of day you visit Hoan Kiem Lake, you will get a different experience each time. My favourite time to go? When the sun is close to setting and Hanoi is revving up its engine for yet another buzzing night ahead.
Take a stroll around the entire lake to witness and appreciate the two sides of Hanoi – the horn-honking chaotic streets on one side and the serene & picturesque lake on the other.
Grab a cab to Tay Ho (West Lake) and have dinner at one of Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake’s dining offerings, Saigon. Here, you will treat yourself with delicious authentic Vietnamese food and other local specialties, accompanied by beautiful views of West Lake.
Prawn spring rolls – Hanoi fresh spring rolls and fried spring rolls.
Sautéed broccoli and mushroom in oyster sauce.
Norwegian salmon baked in bamboo and marinated with local spices.
Crispy seafood noodles with braised seafood, trio mushrooms and bok choy.
Vegetable fried rice.
Chilled lotus seed and white fungus in longan syrup.
Where to stay
Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake
Wake up to excellent views of West Lake and soak in the serenity that surrounds you.
: when your hotel is on the largest lake in hanoi and this is the view from your balcony… 😍 || #allmyloveamanda #allmylovetravel #allmylovefromvietnam #clubintercontinental #intercontinentalhanoi #intercontinental A photo posted by AMANDA RACKHAM (@allmyloveamanda) on
The Ann Hanoi
Recently opened, this hotel offers direct access to the business district with unlimited options for shopping and dining. Their rooftop swimming pool is the perfect hideaway!
If you happen to visit Hanoi during the weekend…
Hanoi Night Market
Held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening, in the heart of the Old Quarter, this market is a hagglers’ and all you bargain hunters’ dream. From clothes, souvenirs to the unmissable street food, you’d be crazy not to wander from one end of the market to the other.
Be sure to book ahead if you want to secure a table at either Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi’s Le Beaulieu or Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake’s Café Du Lac for their infamous Sunday brunches.
Until next time H-town!
All my ♥,