Hanoi, Capital of Vietnam, spirit of a people who knows how to get by and must make do as best they can, cradle of an ancient culture that is gradually blending with the "Western threat" and is boldly trying to carve out space for an important role in the New World. All the numberless words spent to describe the quaint features of the city and the myriad of pictures published on the countless travel magazines really leave little to the imagination and yet, the eternal curiosity about this singular location of South East Asia impels us to read, once again, another story or to look at a new photo, so that our minds can wander around the remote sites of a faraway land. Here, ambivalence and mixed feelings reign supreme, it is essential then to go beyond all those clichés that blind those who don't know how to look as the risk is that of undermining both rationality and freedom of thought which will eventually threaten our critical thinking. Here are a few good reasons why everyone should consider paying a visit to the Vietnamese capital at least once in their lives and some other reasons why one might as well decide to board a different plane.
- Lively Atmosphere
In Hanoi, all streets are pumped with extraordinary energy and abundant vitality, the city is always alive surrounded by fluorescent lights and glittering signs. Locals play a significant role in creating such a buzzing atmosphere with their distinctive way of doing and strong dynamism. At the same time, party people and shopping lovers will be spoilt for choice and will be able to get lost in the myriad of clubs, bars, and stores.
- Delicious Street Food
Asian cuisine is growing more and more popular over the years and many skeptics are finally opening up to the authentic delicacies of this vast continent. Vietnamese cuisine, despite being rather simple and delicate, is very rich in flavors and frankly, really yummy. Rice and noodles are usually the base of every dish, while a variety of meats (pork, beef, chicken, or duck) and veggies (kale, cabbage, amaranth, beansprout and many more) add the finishing touch that will win over all tasters. Street food stalls are located all over Hanoi and are ideal for all those traveling on a budget and always in a hurry, and although the quality might not always be the best is still worth the price.
- Attractions and Activities
Being the capital of a country is a hard job, visitors will nurture very high expectations, and will demand a comprehensive list of things to do. However, Hanoi is well equipped with a wide range of activities and attractions intent on satisfying the fussiest of the men. Here, temples and pagodas are among the oldest in the whole country and museums of any kind can be found everywhere in town so that everyone can learn a little about the history, culture, and tradition of Vietnam and its ancient dynasties. The night market is also a must-do and is usually held in the Old Quarter every weekend, where you can purchase nice handicraft items, accessories, and souvenirs.
- Chaos and Pollution
Here is a piece of advice to all those seeking relaxation and quietude in Hanoi...forget about it! Welcome to the city where crossing the road may be the last thing you do, walking in total freedom is a pure utopia, and breathing oxygen is for the lucky few as for rest of us...we will have to settle for the exhaust gases released from the motorbike ahead of us on the footpath. However, the majority of the locals don't seem to be bothered at all by the problems listed above, in fact, they are the living proof that one should embrace the chaos to understand the city in all its complexity, hence when in Hanoi do as the Hanoians do, stop fighting it but live with it!
The world is changing people, let's face it, even the most remote areas of the planet are constantly fighting to play a leading role in our Western society. Now, if on the one hand, this is helping tourism develop and is giving us the chance to travel the world, on the other, all those beautiful distinctive far away countries are growing less authentic and soon there will be no difference between us. Unfortunately, Hanoi couldn't fight the logic of globalization either and all the traditional features of the city are gradually fading, leaving us with the bitter regret of what might have been.
- ...and All That Goes With It!
Hand in hand with Con n.2 are some other factors to be considered! Being one of the most touristy places in Vietnam, Hanoi can be pretty pricey and being in the wrong place at the wrong time may result in unpleasant surprises. It is well known that tourism brings visitors, visitors bring money, and money brings scammers! The shrewd local merchants will always try and make an extra dollar if given the chance and when all lights go off, both eyes must be kept open as things can get a bit dodgy at times, especially when distracted. Other than that, the city is pretty safe and with proper precautions, everything should be fine.