48 Hours in Hanoi

Vietnam, Hanoi Guide (B): 48 Hours in Hanoi

If you're someone - like me - who travels to eat, it's hard to imagine a better destination than Vietnam. And while I knew to expect a vibrant street food scene in the country's capital, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Hanoi also boasts a cafe culture comparable to what you'd find in cities like Paris. On our first morning in Vietnam we were introduced to the almighty ca phe sua da (iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk), which we fervently consumed from the balcony of a cramped second floor cafe near West Lake - an establishment that's been serving the caffeine-crazed population of Hanoi since 1936. As we peered down from our perch onto the frenzied street below, buzzing with the rumbling engine noise of motorbikes and the beckoning calls of street vendors, I knew that'd I'd already fallen in love.

David and I only had two full days in Hanoi, and despite arriving with a long list of I-have-to-see-this attractions, we found ourselves making excuses to break from our itinerary for leisurely hours of people watching in local cafes. We began mapping out our activities based on their location relative to the next cafe on our list; cultural sites and shopping became the things we did to fill time between never-ending glasses of ca phe. While the beverage offering alone was enough to lure me into the cafes, I adored the haunting beauty of the French colonial villas in which they are housed in Hanoi. I snapped photo after photo of their crumbling facades, painted in sunny shades of yellow; their tiled floors and staircases in wonderfully mismatched patterns; their grand windows with heavy wood shutters that opened to the street. I could feel Hanoi's history as I entered each restaurant, and we'd speculate over drinks on who might have once lived there or what the original building looked like. And though we'd never know the answer to our pondering questions, I was happy just the same. ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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Sights Map

Guide Name: 48 Hours in Hanoi
Guide Location: Vietnam » Hanoi
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (B))
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Paradise Boutique Hotel   Hotel Metropole   Hanoi Cooking Centre   Bohemia West Lake Cafe   Chie Handmade   Temple of Literature   Cafe Pho Co   Hoa Lo Prison   Bar Betta   Quan An Ngon   Bia Hoi Junction   Cong Caphe   Cha Cha La Vong   Caphe Duy Tri  
Author: Kate Bitner
Read it on author's website: http://www.nomadinnihon.com/blog/48-hours-hanoi