The heat, humidity and traffic of Hanoi can sometimes get a bit much, even for the most hardened travellers. Here are top 5 things to do in Hanoi if you’d like to escape it all and recharge your batteries!
Spend an hour in the manic alleyways of the Old Quarter and most people need to come up for the air. A combination of beeps, near misses and BBQ smoke certainly make for an exciting wander, but there does come a point when all you want is a little peace and tranquillity. The words peace, tranquillity and Hanoi may sound like an oxymoron, but if you know where to look you can escape it all in the city. From the huge expanse of West Lake to the wide avenues of the French Quarter, you are sure to find a little respite!
1. Truc Bach Lake
A short way north of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the small Truc Bach Lake area is a village in the heart of the city. On the lake’s eastern edge is an island, linked by two small bridges to the rest of the city. This is the place where John McCain first visited Hanoi – shot down by anti-aircraft fire in 1967. Kick back on the lake’s edge and enjoy a coffee or juice at one of the many cafes. If caffeine is not your thing, head for Thần Quang temple for some peace and quiet, situated in the heart of the island.
2. Joma Cafe
Missing sandwiches, cakes and hot coffee? Joma might be the place for you. A stone’s throw from the St Joseph Cathedral on Lý Quốc Sư street close to Hoan Kiem Lake, get your fix of cheese, Hams pickles and much more. There is a patio out back, as well as sofas and free wi-fi in the air conditioned lounge area.
3. The Rooftop Bar
If Hanoi’s humidity gets too much, head to the Rooftop bar for great views of the city and a breeze to die for. Looking down on the mayhem below is very cathartic! Be sure to get here before sunset so as to get the best seats on the veranda. Located high up in number 83 Lý Thường Kiệt Street don’t expect Bia Hoi prices!
4. Puku Cafe
Sitting behind the junction of Hang Bong and Dien Bien Phu Street, this old French building is the perfect place to watch the city go by – at a distance. Two floors, a good sized patio out the front and comfort food on the menu – what more could you want? If the answer is football, rugby and cricket then head upstairs for the sports bar!
5. The Republic
Located on the corner of Xuan Xieu and Quang An on Hanoi’s impressive West Lake, lies The Republic. A bar and restaurant, Republic offers a chic and relaxed atmosphere, with flavourful grub and refreshing drinks. Head upstairs to the patio for a charming view of the lake or downstairs where you can watch the latest sports match.