Most people used to think that South East Asia region like Viet nam has hot summer weather through out the whole year . Please change your thoughts if you do have this in mind . Search in the Google map .You may realise that Viet nam has different latitude due it’s long length geographical formation from north to south .Climate in north part where near to China border has 4 season (not soo obvious for spring and autumn ) .Well don’t be surprise if the cold wave hit during December & January , the city temperature may drop till quite low (11 ~13 degree Celsius ) . It some how remind me of Taiwan winter weather . Chill and nice most of the time .
Somewhere in Old quater street
The day was grey with drizzle upon our arrival in city . Building layout in Hanoi has strong influences of colonial French and Chinese . Small and narrow in width where by it tend to build it in long length towards the back . Some said it looks similar like old Shanghai street building ?
Well , basically we didn’t really plan the must visit place while we were in Hanoi except for long Vietnamese food list ! What we did was just walk around according the map that we got it from our hostel Backpacker Central Hostel and of course Google map did help us a lot how to get back to our hostel when we got lost . First day , we walked toward the St Joseph church where located just few meter away from our hostel . Did some tourist photo shot and headed according the map to another highlighted point which is the Hoan Kiem lake and some temples
St Joseph Cathedral
Alright, it’s just a recreational lake for the local and tourist to have some leisure time there . To understand the legend behind this lake Google may help if you have the intention to find out the whole story.
Hoan kiem lake with a Temple in the middle
Perhaps to really point out something that definitely can’t miss out in Hanoi will be the water puppet show ! Even the whole water puppet drama show was performed in Vietnamese language without any subtitle but it’s simply impressed me with all puppet moving stunt that used to convey the story plot. Even I doubted did I miss interpret what the shows was trying to tell ? Google it before the show start maybe a necessity . (100k VND = RM17 per pax )
Another day in the city , we spent our morning for the Hoa Lo Prison (Maison Central ) where can be reached by walking distance with slightly longer time required to walk from Old Quater . (20k VND = 1 USD per pax) . Visited an old prison demolished into museum gave me some creepy feeling when I just stepped in . It just seem to be extra chill inside that area .
Luckily there were some tour group around , we managed to listen some free tour guide explanation about history of this so call ” Stove Prison ” that used to keep the Vietnamese politics prisoners during French time till the another Vietnam War by the American time . I started to think if I was borne during the world war time , am I the one who strive for the freedom politics prisoner or the civilian who suffer in frightening of bomb attack ? Neither both feel good….. Again , place like museum always raise awareness that we shall appreciate the peace we have nowadays .
Realised that art craft or souvenirs that we saw on the street mostly are with tourist price , we decided to go to Dong Xuan market to source for cheaper item and nice souvenir. It’s big open area with variety of items selling there. From food, cloths ,shoes etc could be seen there . However ，most items there were selling in mass number which for businesses purpose . Most important of all, those sellers there just didn’t really bothered us when we were asking about the price . Yea ,they refused to sell us ! In the end , price they sold to us weren’t cheap at all , definitely not the flea market price .
Accidentally met a 80 + years old portrait master some where same row with Dong Xuan market . Every single piece of the portraits were so eye catching that made our step pause to check it out . It’s amazing that an 80 years old plus old man drawn all the portraits at such age with such concentration and stable hand to paint out every single detail of all his work !
After few days in Hanoi ,the most exciting and challenging walking around the street will be crossing the road with those motorcyclist crowd . Hand lifting to pause for a moment to cross seem never work and unnecessary doing it in Hanoi street. What you need to do is close your eyes and find your way to mingle in between the traffic to reach another side of the road regardless it’s big or small road . Practice make perfect , what you need to do is cross the road with your gut and eventually you will get used to it ! !
Things you might want to know
Accomodation –Basically there are variety of options from hotel to hostel . We choose Central backpacker Hostel cost 5 USD per night/pax . Friendly and helpful staff . Free breakfast with clean bed sheet and clean bathroom that worth well with what we paid . It’s definitely heaven for backpackers !
Food – Food price in this city averagely isn’t very cheap as in compare to other part of Vietnam . Street food will cost around RM4- RM8 (1.5 USD to 2.5 USD ) for a bowl of dishes. Of course proper restaurant will cost you more .
Transportation – Public transport there seem to be slightly inconvenient, Limited bus service in town . Get attached hotel /hostel help for airport transfer would be ideal to prevent yourself from scamming case . However , long distance sleeper bus is common there which you may book through hostel or any tour agency with reasonable cheap price . Another option is to get train ticket which is double up price of the sleeper bus which is more spacious and safer perhaps .
Scamming?? – I doubted when hearing other stories by stating Vietnam is a scamming countries . Well every places has scamming issues no matter where you travel . What you need to do is always ask the price and compare . Feeling not worth the value ? You can always reject and leave . After all , I wish I have more days in Hanoi to explore more face of this city …