Hanoi was a city I was expecting not to like so much, but turned out to love! It has just the right amount of hecticness, so that there’s always something to do or observe but you can navigate your way pretty easy once you’ve figured it out.
Getting the night bus from Hue I made a few friends, which was great as 4 of us ended up in the same hostel room (Central Backpackers in the old quarter) and another 2 at a hostel 5 mins away (Hanoi Rocks). Marij, Marte, Tom and Stefan were also in my hostel which was great.
The Old Quarter is great, you can just wander around and admire the hustle and bustle, with some good food and drinking options.
Of course my first mission in Hanoi was to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and me and the 2 guys staying at Hanoi Rocks – Dan and Eugene – headed by taxi to Times City which is this weird super rich mini city within Hanoi to see it. The cinema was just like those in the west and even had a pizza hut next door (yeah we got lunch there!).
We embarked on some site seeing the next day, walking across Hanoi. We first saw Lenin park (big statue of Lenin, unsurprisingly) and then to the Military History Museum with it’s large collection of guns, tanks and planes, many captured from the US military in the Vietnamese-American war or from the French prior to that, and also some supplied by the USSR.
We then carried on to see the outside of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, and then into the Ho Chi Minh museum. We didn’t really understand the latter.. sure there was some stuff about Ho Chi Minh and the struggles of Vietnam’s past…but also there were some strange modern art we just didn’t get.
The next day was New Years Eve! Me and Marij set off to go shopping and ended up and the Aeon shopping mall complex, like Times City it was such a dramatic contrast from the rest of Vietnam!
The evening was a lot of fun, a really great way to see in the new year. As well as all the above mentioned 3 of the Henry’s – Ülie, Nadhisha and Michelle – were in Hanoi and it was awesome to see them!! (See my Laos posts for context).
After partying at the Vietnam backpackers downtown branch (the whole reception was basically turned into a dancefloor and crammed with backpackers) a bunch of us ended up at a square by the lake for the countdown, which was fun as there was a stage with music and it was crammed with locals as well as backpackers going crazy! I ended up in so many selfies with Vietnamese people and exchanged high fives a whole load more.
No surprise New Years Day was spent hungover and recovering! In the evening a few of us met up with a Vietnamese couple Ülie had met in Bangkok (they live in Hanoi) which was really nice, it’s always great to hang out with some locals and not just backpackers!