- Each street sells a specific product and that's how the streets get their names. There is a street for coffee, a street for clothes, a street for sweets, a street for silk, and so many more. There's even a street for mannequins, yes, I am serious. The streets start with the word 'Hang', as that means stop or merchandise.
- Hanoi has some of the best street food and it's tastier and cheaper than going to a restaurant. A bowl of noodle soup (which will be completely different everywhere you go) will be $3 .50 maximum. Each place sells one dish, or several version of one dish, so that place specializes in that dish and knows how to make it really well. Also, street food in Hanoi is not a cart on the street like in the States, but rather a shop front where the food is cooked at the front or on the street and tables are setup inside. There are still places where you sit outside.
- Stay in the Old Quarter. It's where all the shopping and good street food is, and you are close to both lakes.
- They love their midgy chairs and tables. Vietnam must have stock in those little plastic chairs and tables that we would use for kids in the States. But in Vietnam, they are everywhere. Expect to sit in those little chairs when you get street food. We even saw businessmen in suits sitting in those chairs along the street. Crazy!
- Hotels are really cheap. Our hotel was on average $15 a night and we got free breakfast, wifi, and much more. There are places even cheaper. I actually read that if you stay in a fancier hotel, they will charge you extra for breakfast and wifi. So stay cheap and get more!
- Hanoi is a good base for Halong Bay and Sapa. Hanoi is the base of northern Vietnam. It is the perfect place to center yourself for day trips and 2-3 day trips. It seems like luggage storage is free and common at most hotels, so you only have to take what you need for any short overnight trips. It was so easy to go to Sapa and Halong Bay.
- You can find free beer. We didn't actually go out at all in Hanoi. But there are happy hours that offer free beer. We met someone from England who raved about that awesomeness.
- Book a free tour with Hanoi Kids. Hanoi Kids is an organization where you can take free tours in exchange for the kids getting to practice their English. You just pay for any admission to museums and such and for any food. We took a food tour and it was a great way to learn about and try a bunch of street food.
- Try the coffee. Vietnam is known for having good coffee, so if you're a fan, take advantage. You've also got to try egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty, that tastes like liquid tiramisu. They're also known for weasel coffee, which is weirdly made from weasel poop. It's actually pretty expensive, so if you see it around, there's a good chance that it's a synthetic version, made to taste like the real thing but not actually made from weasel poop. The fake stuff, at least, actually smells pretty good.
- Barter, barter, barter! Never pay full price for an item, unless the shop specifically says no bartering. Even bottled water is negotiable on the streets. If you don't like the price, odds are good that you can walk into the next shop and try again for the same item.
Katherine & Bradley
Two engineers with a passion for food and travel! Join us as we eat our way through the world!