Monday, May 30, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( Part 9 ) Walking around the Old Quarter

( Welcome to Hanoi ! )

Today, we  decided to walk around the Old Quarter of Hanoi... Hectic, noisy, chaotic are the adjectives that would describe the Old Quarter. A visit to the Old Quarter in Hanoi should rank as a MUST DO when you are in Vietnam... It is a unique experience and deserves a spot in your itinerary. According to our guide, the Old Quarter in Hanoi is over a thousand years old and even up to today it retains much of the old flavor that made the area special.

Each street was exclusive of one trade ---- so there were whole streets selling silver ware, lacquerware, handbags, clothing for both men and women, eyeglasses, paper shops and galleries. Originally -- the Old Quarter consisted of 30 streets but today there were more than 50 streets. Although the streets are short, I would recommend first time visitors allow at least 4 to 5 hours to go around.... 

Just wandering the streets and marveling at the activity taking place on the pavements is a joy. A good place to start your walking tour to the Old Quarter is at the end of Hoan Kiem lake. Bring a map with you because you can easily get disoriented in this area.

Friday, May 27, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( Part 8 ) Women's Museum

( Welcome to Hanoi ! )

Despite being a patriarchal society, Vietnam still reserves a special place to honor Vietnamese women. They have built a WOMEN'S MUSEUM... and we were very lucky to see the place opened!! All the other places we visited were closed for the holidays. 

The architecture of this building is simply amazing!!! Rising over the marble floor is a dome shaped ceiling modeled after a woman's breast. 

Under the dome stands a pure gold statue by Nguyen Phu Cuong. Standing tall with a male child on her shoulder. It projects an impression of strength and dynamism while retaining the gentleness, femininity and beauty of the Vietnamese woman.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( Part 7 ) NGOAI O Restaurant- Hanoi's best kept secret

( Welcome to Hanoi )

It was Tom, our guide's turn to bring us to a good local restaurant ... where the locals dine. He wrote down the name of the restaurant for me... it was NGOAI O Restaurant. One thing that made me want to see this place was how he described the place... It was like eating in the countryside... Upon entering the restaurant --- the decor of the place was very ethnic with the hut and bamboo furniture.

The restaurant is so small -- it had only a few tables inside.. but I noticed that the people dining were all locals... To me that was a good sign !!  I was going to have good Vietnamese cuisine at very low prices. I asked our guide to do the ordering since he frequents this place with other tourists who wants to sample good Vietnamese cooking..

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( part 6 ) A walking tour to Cua Bac, Citadel and the Museum of Fine Arts

( Welcome to Hanoi ! )

After a good night's sleep... We were ready for another day doing our walking tour around the city of Hanoi. As we left our hotel for our walking tour with Tom, the weather seemed to cool down... it was pleasant after the slight drizzle last night..

Come and join me as I walk to the places we are about to visit in PHAN DINH PING STREET.... the most beautiful street in Hanoi... This street is lined with huge acacia trees on both sides of the street.
I wanted to take a photo of the whole street but that meant I had to be in the middle of the street in order to get a wide angle shot----- there were many motorbikes on the road that day --- I could not take any shots of Phan Dinh Ping Street. 

While I was walking down the street, I was trying to imagine myself---- walking down Phan Dinh Phing street watching the golden leaves fall from the acacia trees on an autumn afternoon and listening to the church bells ring..... it seemed like a perfect setting in an old war movie!!


Cua Bac was built in the early 1930's by a French architect, Ernest Hebrard. It was also around this time when Hebrard began his urban plan to redesign the city of Hanoi. It is one of the major churches in Hanoi. Cua Bac is officially called QUEEN OF THE CATHOLIC SAINT. 


The Citadel was destroyed and restored many times. At present, only the North Gate of the Citadel still remains. 

On its walls, are traces of bullets left by the French army attacking Hanoi. 


This museum was founded in 1966. It displays art works and objects of the various minority groups in Vietnam. Like most museums, we cannot take photos inside the museum. They had cameras all over the place --- just to make sure no one takes photos. 

I really enjoyed my visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. You will see large scrolls, ceramics, lacquerware and artifacts that date back as far as the pre-historic times. I highly recommend this museum for art lovers who are interested in Asian art and design, this is a good place to see the development of Vietnam's artistic culture!!


Monday, May 16, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( part 5 ) Street food of Hanoi

( Welcome to Hanoi ! )

Hanoi must be the street food capital of the world. Despite the throngs of motorbikes along the narrow edge of the narrow lanes, local entrepreneurs still find space to set up a street food restaurant. Typically these comprise of several sets of miniature plastic tables and chairs, a couple of cooking stoves and a whole family running the show. It's a family affair with everyone working on something whether it is preparing the spring onions on the side or cooking the fried rice in the wok.

Despite the variety of street food available --- most places will serve only one or two dishes. If the person sitting next to you is eating something that looks appealing , just point at their meal and the job is done.

There is food being sold in every corner, and some of it is delicious and some not so... but don't be afraid to try.

Here are some photos I took while I was walking in Vietnam...

It seems that at some of the more popular street restaurants, customers will sacrifice themselves to get that tasty dish, even at the mercy of the road. I can completely understand that some foods are worth the risk!! Bread sellers plop their baked goods in the street for maximum exposure, forcing traffic to weave around them. In Vietnam... it's their way of life!!


Friday, May 13, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( 4 ) Visiting UNCLE HO'S Mausoleum and Museum

( Welcome to Hanoi ! )

Let us now walk to the HO CHI MINH Mausoleum and Museum...

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum was modelled after the Mausoleum of Lenin in Russia. It is located at BA DINH SQUARE--- one of the few green and unoccupied areas of Hanoi. Many important events take place at this square. The most notable event that happened at this square was on September 2, 1945 -- Ho Chi Minh read the Vietnam Independence Declaration. It was also in this square where the funeral of Ho Chi Minh was held. The building is dedicated to house Ho Chi Minh's preserved body and a place where the locals express their admiration and gratitude towards their national hero. It is popularly known among the Vietnamese as " UNCLE HO'S " Mausoleum. It was built in 1973 and finished in 1975.

The construction of this mausoleum was against the will of Ho Chi Minh. As he passed away, he wished  to be cremated and his ashes to be scattered all over the country.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( part 3 ) Temple of Literature- The oldest university in Hanoi

( Welcome to Hanoi! )

Today let us start our walking tour around Hanoi. It is a great place to explore on foot, there is a lot to see and do here. Hanoi lies on the banks of the Red River. Some of the human settlements found in Hanoi date back as far as the 3rd century BC. 

If you are a culture vulture Hanoi has so much to offer. With a 1000- year history and many well- preserved buildings along with lush and verdant parks, Hanoi will simply keep you busy for days on end. 

One of the loveliest features to this French colonial city is its many lakes and these provide many beautiful locations to rest in between venturing out in the capital's streets. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( part 2 ) A dining experience at Wild Lotus

( Welcome to Hanoi )

Since this was going to be our first dinner here in Hanoi--- I wanted to try something traditional yet trendy and chic. So we tried Wild Lotus on Nguyen Du. Wild Lotus was suggested to us by our friends, Jaqui and Boom. They were in Hanoi a week earlier with their daughters and they liked it. Jaqui told us to try out the  fresh rice paper spring rolls. We decided to take Tom, our tour guide with us to Wild Lotus. 

If you just look from the outside --- it looked like any other restaurant in Hanoi. It had simple carved wooden doors -- it looked so unassuming.. Upon entering Wild Lotus you will be greeted by a small pond which was tastefully done -- you will walk through a modern zen garden and climb up a flight of stairs to the main restaurant which was located on the second floor of the building. It somehow reminds you of a Spa rather than a restaurant.

Inside, the ambience of Wild Lotus is very upscale and chic. Dimly lit rooms with earth tone walls covered with stylized murals surround the tables with velvet chairs and fresh flowers on each table. 

Wild Lotus serves modernized Vietnamese cuisine. So after looking at their menu.. Here was what we shared :

Rice paper spring rolls with shrimp and mango. 

Deep fried spicy crab cakes

Cauliflower tempura

Duck with orange sauce

Overall, I would say that Wild Lotus is expensive by Vietnamese standards. The service, by Hanoi standards, was definitely good. The food that is served at Wild Lotus is essentially modern Vietnamese so if you are after the real Vietnamese food experience.... this is not the place to come. But if you like good food in great surroundings you can't go wrong dining at Wild Lotus.

( Goodbye ! )


52 Nguyen Du
Hanoi, Vietnam
tel. ( 04 ) 943 9342

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My adventure to Hanoi ( part 1 )

( Welcome to Hanoi )

Have you been to Hanoi?? I am sure the first thing that will enter your mind will be HALONG BAY. If you are someone like me who loves watching Amazing Race Asia, last year they had a segment on Halong Bay. From that moment ---- I wanted to go there!!!  After a few months of researching on what to do in Hanoi, Vietnam... my equally adventurous friend, Oskie, and I finally decided to go and visit Hanoi. That was our next adventure..

There are no direct flights to Hanoi from the Philippines--- you will have to fly to Ho Chi Minh ( Southern Vietnam ) in order to get a connecting flight to Hanoi. Since this is my first time to go to Hanoi... I have decided to document my travel --- and put as many photos into my blogs on Hanoi. Come and follow me as I discover Hanoi...