I spent a total of 4 nights in Hanoi and had some great experiences, the bad experiences only came when I left, but more on that in a second.
Rent a motorbike and try to drive in Hanoi
The traffic in Hanoi is crazy, and I never saw something like that before. Bikes, cars, busses, and pedestrians are on the street, and it seems that nobody is following any rules, at least none of them we know in Europe. Red lights are overrated, and street crossings are only street decoration. At first, I felt anxious even walking around the city and when I drove on the back of a motorbike the first time I feared for my life. But then I got comfortable quickly, and I saw that it’s not that dangerous because even though there seem to be no rules, they have their own rules and uses the horns to makes others aware of them. In addition to that, the speed of driving is very slow so even if something happens; it’s usually not that bad. On the third day in Hanoi I was visiting a small village 30 minutes from Hanoi away, and on the way back I had the chance to drive by myself because of the streets where empty. I felt comfortable after that, so I decided to drive also in the city center of Hanoi. It was so much fun! And not scary at all, of course, there was some adrenaline involved but everything went well, and I hope I can do it again. My tip: don’t be scared at all because like this the accidents happen. Just go and don’t look around too much. The ones behind you pay attention to what you do so you should pay attention to what they in front of you do.
Go to the West lake to see the sunset
When you are used to your bike and don’t want to hit the city center, you can start at the west lake. A road is going all around the lake, and it will take you about 40 minutes to go around. Visit this place for the sunset because it is beautiful.
Take a Grab bike
Grab is like Uber for countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia and it’s super cheap and easy. If you’re not feeling confident enough to drive by yourself try the Grab bike. It’s a motorbike taxi and your driving on the back. You can order a driver on your phone and see the price immediately. Paying with cash or with your Credit Card through the app is possible and save. The drivers arrive within 1 to 3 minutes, and you recognize them because of the green jackets.
Eat Pho and Bun Cha
The saying is that you haven’t eaten Bun Cha in Hanoi, you haven’t really been in Hanoi. Even Barak Obama ate it in one of the local restaurants, where I ate it too. It is kind of soup with meat where you dip noodles and salad inside and eats it. Very good and you can find it in every corner.
Pho is a noodle soup and you can find it also on every corner. Tip: the restaurants who look the most shitty, with plastic chairs and who only serve Pho or Bun Cha are the best!
Go to the Hairdresser
I got the best haircut in a very very long time in Hanoi. 1991 Barber Shop is a famous barber shop and hairdresser among western tourists, and yes maybe it is a little bit more expensive (150.000 = 5.6 Euro) then another local hairdresser but at least they speak proper English. They have music inside, and the vibes are good. I never saw a hairdresser cutting and styling my hair with so much love! So let your hair grow wild and wait for Hanoi.
NEVER take a local Bus to go to another city!
After Hanoi, I left for Ha Giang to do a 4 days motorbike Tour. I booked a bus 1 day before online on bookaway.com but they messed everything up, and finally, the bus didn’t come to pick me up. There was no other option than to take a local bus. I only paid 60% of the price, but I would have instead spent 10 times the price and didn’t had that experience. The coach was a sleeper bus which means you have beds and in between a little passing to walk. The company however also sold the places on the floor. The coach was so overcrowded people play on each other and in between some small children. There is no toilet on the bus, and the coach only stopped once in 7 hours. I had to pee for 2 hours until I couldn’t hold it anymore, so the bus stopped in the middle of the road, I had to climb over the other people and peed next to two women on the street without any shoes. During the whole journey, I had to fear for my life because the driver was driving like a formula one driver on bad roads with trucks coming to the opposite direction all the time. It just wasn’t a pleasant experience, and from now on I always book the busses through the Hostel. It’s more expensive but at least human.
• Total countries I visited until now: 29
• Distance traveled: 14972 km
• Planes: 4
• Busses: 15
• Trains: 12
• Boots: 4
• Km running: 581
• Drinks: 54