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INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

HANOI, VIETNAM: Old Quarter and Ba Dinh District




Published on: November 15, 2017

 

If I remember it correctly, Cebu Pacific was having a promotion and one of the destinations was Vietnam. As we were interested to see what Vietnam has to offer, we decided to book 2 tickets to Hanoi .  We got our tickets for only P7, 167.60 each for a return ticket (including one (1) 15kg baggage); regular price ranges from P5, 000 to P10, 000 for one way but if you are lucky and determined enough you can actually get tickets cheaper than ours.
 
For the accommodation, we stayed in Icon 36 Hotel for USD 69.90 (approximately P3,500) for 3 nights and 2 days with breakfast included through booking.com. As we landed in Hoi Bai International Airport on April 08, 2015, we were picked up by the hotel car—you can arrange the pick-up with the hotel for about USD 18.00 for a 4-seater car; this is recommended as there are some stories that taxis outside the airport are overcharging the tourists . It took us about 45 minutes of travel from the airport to Icon 36 Hotel as it is located in the middle of the Old Quarter of Hanoi , hence, you can easily wander around and try their nearby local cafés and restaurants. The hotel itself was small but we got a pretty decent room with bath tub, desktop PC and the staffs were very accommodating and friendly.
 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has been considered to be the second largest city by population in Vietnam. It is located on the banks of the Red River and is known to have well-preserved colonial buildings, a handicrafts, nightlife and cuisine.

 
 

Old Quarter

 
Our first day was filled with French-colonial architecture. We wandered around the famous Hoan Kiem District or known as Old Quarter which has existed for more than 2000 years. It is best to explore the district by foot as there are too many things you cannot miss such as the famous 36 streets of the ancient trading quarter that is rich in culture, architecture and history all combined together.

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Always be careful when roaming around, there are too many motorcycles and vehicles passing by. It’s quite hard to cross the street as the traffic was quite chaotic—I personally advice not to bring children if you plan to visit Hanoi.
 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 
It may seem ordinary; the Old Quarter is known to be filled with shops where each street has its own history. Majority of the streets in the Old Quarter were named after the products that the shops used to sell during the ancient times, but only few shops remained to the type of goods they are known for.
 

I will not go all 36 streets but here are some of commonly visited streets: Starting from Cau Go Street, which means “Wooden Bridge, is located a block north of the Lake of the Restored Sword. Unlike the other streets, Cau Go was named after a wooden bridge that used to connect HoanKiem Lake and Hang Dao Lake. About a hundred years ago, women used to sell flowers to French. Now, there are flower markets along the Cau Go alleys. Gia Ngu Street which translates as “fisherman” is now known to for selling colorful scarves and other clothing. Hang Be street which means “Rafts” where bamboo raft makers used to be located and is now best known for all kinds of goods for cooking and eating. Hang Bac Street which means “Silversmiths”, staying true to its name; this street is known for selling silverwares. This street also offers souvenirs such as t-shirts and Mekong Quilts. Other well-known specialized streets: Bat Su for China bowls, Cha Ca for roasted fish, Hang Dau for shoes and sandals, Hang Gai for silk, To Tich for mixed fruits, Hang Luoc for combs, Hang Chinh for jars and so forth.
 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam

 

Be vigilant though, some tourists are getting scammed in Hanoi. Common scammers are the fruit vendors, once they sensed that you’re a tourist, they will approach you and do the magic.
 

We were victims of this. While we were busy checking the map, two lady vendors suddenly approached us and put the fruit basket in my shoulder and told us to take photo while holding it. We were caught off guard, and us, being excited tourists, happily carried the fruit basket and posed for a photo. The lady asked RJ to also pose for a photo carrying the basket and even put her hat on him. Now, after taking a photo, the ambush takes place. (Okay, ambush is a strong word but sorry for the lack of better term). The vendors will suddenly force you to pay or buy their product! We were surprised! Also, we have to pay twice since there were two of us who took turns in taking a photo. We didn’t want to pay, but the vendors will stop you and pull you back when you try to walk out. We tried to talk them out, but they “don’t understand English” and will keep on saying “pay” so we ended up just paying so we can just continue with our schedule. The pineapple, by the way, costs us a fortune!
 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam scam

 

Old Quarter Hanoi Vietnam scam

 
I’ve heard a lot of scam stories in Hanoi, it is always better to research first to avoid getting victimized.

 

Aside from the local shops, there are other places you can visit.
 
 
Hoan Kiem Lake
 
Also known as the “Lake of the Returned Sword”, it is located in the centre of the Old Quarter. A nice scenic place to take photos, walk around or simply hang out and people watch. Here you can also walk on the famous red bridge known as the “Welcoming Morning Sunlight Bridge” that leads to the Temple of the Jade Mountain.
 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi Vietnam

Welcoming Morning Sunlight Bridge

 

Hoan Kiem Lake Hanoi Vietnam

Temple of the Jade Mountain

 
 
St. Joseph Cathedral

 
St. Joseph Cathedral is a neo-Gothic cathedral with a façade that consists of two square towers with a height of 31 meters. Each has five bells and are commonly compared to the Notre Dame de Paris. It is the oldest church in Hanoi built in 1886 as one of the first constructed by the French colonial government. It is also located in the Old Quarter along the Nha Chung Street.
 
Sadly, it was closed during our visit and we weren’t able to see the interior of the church.
 

St. Joseph's Cathedral Hanoi Vietnam

 

Walking around the Old Quarter is quite tiring to be honest, so we took a rest and ate our lunch in one of the most recommended food shop in the old district. We tried one of the most recommended Vietnamese noodle salad in Bun Bo Nam Bo located in Hang Dieu Street. Ranging from VND 40,000-60,000, this traditional Vietnamese dish is very tasty. Although, I am not a fan of minty leaves in my food (I think it was cilantro), it was pretty much up to my expectation.
 

Bun Bo Nam Bo Hanoi Vietnam

 
After fuelling up, we went out the Old Quarter and wandered in Ba Dihn District.

 

Ba Dinh District

 
Flag Tower of Hanoi and Vietnam Military History Museum

 

One of the symbols of the city, the Flag Tower of Hanoi is a listed World Heritage Site that stands 41 meter including the flag. It was built under the Nguyen dynasty in 1812 as an observation post to the Hanoi Citadel.
 

Flag Tower of Hanoi Vietnam

 
The Vietnam Military History Museum houses collection of weapons used during Vietnam wars. The museum costs VND 30,000 per head and an additional VND20,000 if you bring a camera inside.
 

Flag Tower of Hanoi Vietnam

 
 
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
 
As per its name, this is where the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh’s body laid to rest. It is located in the center of Ba Dinh Square where Ho read the declaration of their independence on September 2, 1945.
 
Tourists and locals flock the Mausoleum to pay respect to their great leader who fought the Vietnam’s independence, where his embalmed body is preserved in a glass case and protected by military honored guard.
 

Flag Tower of Hanoi Vietnam

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi Vietnam

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi Vietnam

 
The complex is also strict with dress codes and behavior. No shorts (for both male and female)  or mini-skirts allowed, no tank tops or any revealing outfits.

 
 
Presidential Palace
 
Another famous structure in Ba Dinh Square is the Preseidential Palace where it used to house the French Governor-General of Indochina
 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi Vietnam

 
 

National Assembly Building
 

Located across the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, National Assembly is a legislative body of Vietnam. The new building reflects the past and bridges it to Vietnam’s future. Some areas are used for receptions, public speeches and celebrations.
 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi Vietnam

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi Vietnam

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi Vietnam

 

 

Side trip

 
Hanoi Museum
 
From Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, we took a bus in Tran Phu going and alighted at Big C Thang Long and walked to the Hanoi Museum.
 
Seems like an inverted pyramid, this modern museum displays artefacts from thousand year history, culture and heritage.
 

Hanoi Museum, Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hanoi Museum, Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hanoi Museum, Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hanoi Museum, Hanoi Vietnam

 

 

We capped of our day taking night shots of the streets exhausting our bodies and camera batteries then ate in a local food restaurant along Do Durc Duc.
 

Hanoi Vietnam

 

Hanoi Vietnam

 

 

 

 

Photos taken: April 2015
 

 

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