Welcome to Vietnam!
Hanoi is the 2nd largest city, its name means city between the rivers.
The currency here is called dong.
21,000 dong = 1 dollar
The cost of the amazing egg coffee = 20,000 dong
Coming from peaceful, bike friendly Luang Prabang and landing in Hanoi, capital city of Vietnam is a shock to the senses. I needed some time to adjust, just crossing the street was a challenge. The advice I received beforehand (when crossing just go for it and don’t stop, motorbikes will steer around you) came in handy. I had one, busy day here and retreated to nearby Halong Bay.
Upon returning, I thought it unfair to not give Hanoi the time it deserved and I stayed for a few more days. I’m so glad I did! I saw the ancient art of water puppetry, incredible. I took in the weekend night market. I visited a great museum about the women of Vietnam. This gave me great insight on Vietnam life. Some women wake at 4:30 am to buy goods from the wholesale market and then sell them on the streets until 7 pm!
I also dove into the street food scene, which can be daunting to some travelers, but with the help with Miss Moon, an excellent guide, this became a highlight of my travels. Miss Moon knew the amazing secrets of the city, where to find the unique, rare and original eats. This included a classic cafe with “egg coffee” and the thin stuffed Hanoi pancake made with rice powder.
One of my favorite memories was watching this city unfold. I had taken a tightly packed sleeper bus and arrived at 5:00 a.m. To my surprise, the city was actually quiet, but in a matter of an hour it picked up pace. It was amazing to see entire street side restaurants being carried in on baskets balanced by a bamboo stick. Oh, and I can’t forget to include the people I met. The people of Hanoi love to practice their English and the conversations are wonderful.