Hanoi is a very pleasant city, not too
large, not too busy, and full of culture. People there are still
early to bed, early to rise. It's a city still on the cusp of
the transformations that are affecting other Asian cities, the
mix between traditional culture and the new world order imported
from the west.
The food in Hanoi is not the best. There are more spectacular
museums. Nightlife is lacking. But it's still the heart of Vietnam.
Hanoi is pleasantly compact, with the small Hoan Kiem lake marking
the center, the crowded older district to the north and the more
spacious, French-built district to the south. Be up and about
at least once by 6:00 a.m. to catch the morning activity around
the lake and grab a baguette, or a bowl of pho soup, after learning
some t'ai chi.
Hanoi is gradually changing, with an increasing number of hotels,
restaurants, and sidewalk hawkers. There are a tremendous number
of attractions here, ranging from cultural to war-related to
the cult of Ho Chi Minh. Hanoi also makes a good base for arranging
trips to Halong Bay or to the northern mountains.
Photo: Street in