24 hours in Hanoi
Written by Daisy Carrington Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni
Hanoi is no stranger to foreigners. The 1,000-year-old capital has been occupied by the Chinese and the French, and saw its fair share of American GIs during the Vietnam War.
As a result, Hanoi is a multi-faceted metropolis, composed of a multitude of influences that make it one of the most culturally enriching cities around.
Hanoi seems to revel in its many contradictions. The city is a mixture of ancient ruins and glistening skyscrapers. When visitors first touch down they are confounded by the throngs of Vespa and other scooters that weave through the avenues; yet those who scratch deeper, find sleepy neighbourhoods replete with exquisite French colonial architecture and quaint bookshops.
The best way to approach Hanoi is with a degree of fearlessness. Shed any anxieties about food poisoning; tuck in at one of the city’s many sidewalk cafés, and you’re likely to have the best meal of your life.
Crossing the street can seem scary; don’t wait for traffic lights. Walk with purpose, and keep watching as vehicles swerve around you.
If clutching your driver while he swerves through traffic sounds appealing, by all means take a motorcycle taxi. Cheap and thrilling.
This modern-day rickshaw is geared to tourists. Relatively pricey (around US$2 per hour), it’s an interesting way to see the city.
Buses run regularly and are an inexpensive way to get around. Fares run at around US$0.15. For more information, visit hanoibus.com.vn.