Southeast Asia is a particularly mysterious region of the world for most westerners with limited knowledge or exposure to its people and culture. When I had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam this month, I seized it for my own understanding of a country that was traditionally characterized in America within the context of war. I found Hanoi, the country’s capital, to be a magical place filled with charm and the bustling sounds of any major city. Here are my top places to visit in Hanoi:
- The Old Quarter – I stayed in the Old Quarter for the first half of my trip in Hanoi and I don’t regret it. Cheap hotels and hostels are easy to find here, but the shopping and street food you’ll stumble upon is what this part of the city truly has to offer.
- Hoan Kiem Lake – This lake is at the center of the city, so you’re unlikely to miss it unless you fail to venture outside of the vicinity of your own hotel or hostel. This beautiful lakes houses the Ngoc Son Temple that can be reached by a bridge, which illuminates at night. You’ll find plenty of locals strolling around the lake, so take a moment to visit it, chat with people, and snap some photos.
- Night Market – The night market is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays but it’s worth checking out if you’re in town over a weekend. This night market offers all of the same products for sell that you could find during the day but at deep discounts and with fresh food being cooked for your benefit.
- Ha Long Bay – Technically, is about two and a half hours outside of Hanoi but this UNESCO World Heritage Site completes any trip to northern Vietnam. The famous emerald waters and limestone islands that adorn this natural wonder is breath-taking. I highly recommend that you take a cruise along Ha Long Bay even if only for one night. I promise it will be worth your while.