My trip to Vietnam started quite rocky, I basically forgot to apply for a visa because I was so busy enjoying life in Gili Trawangan (read more about my time on this island here) and shortly before we landed our captain announced that it was 8 degrees Celsius outside! Find out how I learned to love a freezing Hanoi in today’s blog post!
Since I had not done any research on Vietnam before I landed, I spent the first night reading and trying to figure out my route. Once I had that set, I started making a list of places I wanted to see in Hanoi. On top of my list was the Temple of Literature.
It’s not actually a temple, but it was Vietnam’s first university, founded in 1070 and is dedicated to the teachings of Confucius.The architecture is stunning, there are several beautiful pavillions leading through a total of five courtyards.
In the last courtyard are several altars and shrines to Confucius and his disciplines, as well as to monarchs. There are beautiful flower arrangements throughout the temple and lots of bonsai trees! It was a really nice break to stroll through the quiet gardens after walking there through the loud streets of Hanoi.
Speaking of the streets: the traffic in Hanoi is pretty insane! The streets in the old town are super narrow and full of scooters and on the main road, you won’t be able to see anything but scooters. Since I had learned to cross the road in India, Hanoi was easy-peasy for me. The most important thing to remember is just don’t stop walking! It’s very funny to see how the traffic just starts to flow around you when you cross the road!
The old town of Hanoi is basically a huge outdoor market! There is a night market as well but what I found very fascinating is that there are streets that sell one particular item. There’s the ‘shoe street’, the ‘household goods street’ and so on. That does make it very easy to find what yor’re looking for if you do google a bit beforehand!
On my second day in Hanoi, I decided to walk around the city and see some more sights. I walked to the Trấn Quốc Pagoda which is located on an island in Hanoi’s West Lake.
Although it was still freezing, the weather was super sunny and the walk there was lovely. This bhuddist pagoda is the oldest one in Hanoi and it’s free to visit which is always handy if you’re backpacking!
Located on the island, surrounded by water and lakes, the pagoda is in a very picturesque setting. It feels very calming to walk around the grounds and of course it’s a great setting for pictures!
On my way to the pagoda, I passed the Quán Thánh Temple. I didn’t go into the temple, but the principal gate is a wonderful architectural structure! One thing that really stood out to me in Hanoi in general is the architecture. Although there are bits of modern architecture as well, most of it is kept in the old Vietnamese style.
My walking tour of Hanoi also took me to the One Pillar Pagoda which is located near the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, which was unfortunately closed when I got there.
One tip if you’re heading to Vietnam. Most museums are closed on Monday afternoons. I didn’t know that and sadly was unable to visit the Vietnamese Women’s museum and the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum which both were highly recommended to me.
If the architecture hasn’t made you fall in love with Vietnam yet, the food definitely will! Out of all the places I visited, Vietnamese food (and Thai, of course!) was my favourite! There are little street food stalls everywhere. My favourite Vietnamese dish has to be Bún chả which includes rice noodles, grilled pork and fresh coriander! Oh and the fresh spring rolls are fab!
Have you been to Hanoi yet? What are your favourite places in Vietnam? Leave me links to your posts below so I can check them out!