Backpacking journey through Vietnam
After a week in Bangkok, Thailand, we flew (only a 1 hour and 50 minute flight) to the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. This was the start of our six week backpacking journey from the North to the South of Vietnam. Hanoi, was out first introduction to this amazing country. As one of the most ancient capital cities in the world, we found the city quite charming with its mix of Russian, Chinese and French influencers. With its rich history, culture and charming atmosphere, Hanoi was the perfect introduction to Vietnam.
We stayed at a guest house in the old quarter (the Hoan Kiem district). This district is considered to be the busiest in Hanoi and the most popular district with tourists. Plus, the old quarter is the oldest developed area in Vietnam! I found wondering through the streets of the old quarter to be rather charming, as you can witness generations of Vietnamese life. Strolling through the ancient commercial streets is a must do in Hanoi. Street food and street artists are prominent. Each street was unique and provided a different glimpse into the local way of life. I always find that just roaming the streets, with no plan is the best way to gain a sense of any of the locations that I visit, and the best way to find hidden gems.
Highlights and must sees
- Hoan Kiem lake and Ngoc Son temple: We found ourselves relaxing by this lake on most days of our trip. It a a calming place to rest from roaming around the hectic streets. The lake surrounds the gorgeous Ngoc Son temple.
- Ho Chi Minh museum: An informative museum dedicated to the late Vietnamese leader; Ho Chi Minh.
- Ho Chi Minh mausoleum: The final resting place of the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.
- Temple of literature: Visit the country’s oldest University! Although this historic site of education was destroyed during a war, restoration work is ongoing to retain this 1,000 year old temple of education.
- Thang long water puppet theatre: Watch a traditional performance at this gorgeous theatre, seeing this performance was one of my favorite nights in Hanoi.
- Dong Xuan Market: Shop and bargain hunt in Hanoi’s largest indoor market! Even if you don’t like to shop, walking around this market is amazing to just take in the city’s atmosphere.
- Vietnamese coffee: Try the local coffee at one of the numerous cafe shops around the city, it is strong and delicious!
- Binge on street food: Try the local street food, there are many options in the old quarter and around the Hoan Kiem lake. Full of flavor and so cheap.
- Nightlife: Experience the laid back Hanoi night life, cheap beer bars on street corners, to fancy cocktail bars in the French quarter.
Trips from Hanoi
For the beginning of our backpacking journey of Vietnam we based ourselves in Hanoi. From Hanoi we were able to take three trips before heading south.
- A day trip to the stunning Tam Coc, Ninh Binh
- Three days in the magical Ha Long Bay
- Four days in the breathtaking Sapa
From Hanoi, we continued our journey south along the coast, next stop Hue