Day 1 @ Hanoi City
After I have checked-in at the Hilton Hanoi Opera, I took a short nap, following by an afternoon meal with my hotel friends at Ba Mien Restaurant before heading out to explore the city.
With about 2 more hours before the sun sets, I headed out from the hotel at District 1 towards the nearby lake Hoan Kiem lake. During my stroll to the lake, there were many motorcycles and scooters zooming down the streets with all the usual honking.
As we approach the Hoan Kiem lake, we were greeted with blooming flowers, towering trees, landscaped gardens. In the middle of the lake lies a fragment of history, the turtle tower which is part of a temple built in the 17th century is all that is left after 300 years.
One of the adventures which you get to encounter immediately on the streets of Vietnam is the adrenaline rush of crossing the road amongst the throngs of cars and scooters.
Across the lake lies a monument of Ly Thai To to commemorate and remember the first emperor of Vietnam who founded the Ly Dynasty and at the same time, relocating the capital from Hoa Lu to Hanoi.
The sun starts to set across the Hoan Kiem lake and we headed back to the hotel for our complimentary evening cocktails and canapes at the Executive Club Lounge whilst we wait for our guide to bring us around for the night city walk.
The Hanoi Opera House looks different during the day as compared at night. It is one of my favorite photo-taking areas and apparently that is also shared with the locals as halfway through my shots of the passing traffic & the Opera House, a taxi pulled over with a bride and groom exiting the vehicle and started to pose for what I can assume is their wedding photography.
Things start to get better at Hoan Kiem lake, rays of light shoot up into the sky from the turtle tower which can be viewed from almost every corner of Hanoi city. There is another temple at the north end of the lake, known as the Temple of the Jade Mountain. The red bridge leading to the temple lits up at night which promises a beautiful shot irregardless where you are.
We head to the night markets at Hang Dao road which sells almost everything from apparel to street food to touristy souvenirs, even the tailor is opened in the night!
There were local buskers singing English songs and also which only I can assume are Vietnamese songs too. There is a staging area where they ply their trade with surrounding local bars and pubs that serve your favorite cocktail mixes and also the local brew which is unique to every beer hoi.
My guide brought us to this well known Bami stall, which is known as Bami Bread. Bami is a local favorite which is a french loaf stuffed with Vietnamese braised meat and salad. It could be as filling as an actual meal but as I shared this with my friend, it could only qualify for half a supper.
After our supper and exploring the old city, our guide brought us to the Hanoi Skyline Restaurant, just a 10 minutes walk from Bami Bread which features a rooftop bar and guarantees a great view.
I was thrilled not only because of the great city views but also being able to take a shot of one of the steel bridges that stretches over the Hanoi River.
It has been a long day for myself and after a drink or two at the pub, we called for and took a cab back to the hotel before looking forward to my stay at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake.
Day 1 @ Hanoi City