Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam is one of the oldest city in the world is also one of my favorite city in South East Asia. The city made up of old colonial buildings, temple, museums, and lake. The city is compact and can easily explore on food. Travelers can find street foods, restaurants and coffee cafes at every corner of Hanoi City.
One of the most popular areas in Hanoi is the Old Quarter and French Quarter. The Old Quarter is the area surrounding Lake Hoan Kiam and the oldest part of Hanoi. It can be a bit too crowded and chaotic for the first-time traveler to Hanoi but you will find it charming once you get used to it. If you have only a few days in Hanoi, it’s best to stay at the Old Quarter where all the action and good foods are.
We find some of the best street foods at Old Quarter and can’t stop visiting the Coffee cafes which serve the best Vietnamese Coffee. One of the best things to do at Hanoi is sitting on a little plastic chair and looking at the street while sipping a cup of coffee and nibbling sunflower seeds.
Getting from Airport to Hanoi City
Noi Bai International Airport is located 45 km away from Hanoi City Centre. Grab and Airport Taxis are available and the cheapest way to get to Hanoi city is by Airport Bus. The bus station is located across the road at the left side of the airport (out from departure gate). Look for bus no. 86 and the fare will cost you 30,000 dong per person (RM5.30)
The bus is well maintained and clean. We stop by the Old Quarter area and walk towards our Hotel which is about 10 minutes away. The Hotel is located
Stay: Meracus Hotel at Old Quarter
Our stay is at Meracus Hotel 2. The Hotel is located 3 minutes walk away from Hoan Kiem Lake, and near to well-known French Quarter, Saint Joseph Cathedral, Silk street (Hang Bong), the historic places and many other attractions of Hanoi.
We stayed on the 8th floor. The lift serves till 6th floor and we walk to floor up on this spiral staircase.
Meracus Hotel 2 is ranked as one of the highest ranking hotels in Hanoi and we certainly agree. The staff is attentive and help us in setting up an appointment with the local spa and saloon and arrange transportation for us. Meracus Hotel is only a 3 star hotel but the service can certainly beat many 4/5 stars hotel. We would rank Meracus Hotel the best 3-star hotel we stayed in before and would certainly stay at Meracus Hotel again on our next visit to Hanoi.
Pho is the undisputed national dish of Vietnam and is sold everywhere from nice restaurants to street corners in a makeshift kitchen in Hanoi. Pho is traditionally made with chicken or beef broth, spiced with various flavors and topped with different fresh herbs. Beef pho is called Pho Bo, Chicken Pho is called Pho Ga and Pork pho is call Pho Heo.
Where to Eat Pho:
Pho 10 Ly Quoc Su
Address: 18 Lý Quốc Sư, Hàng Trống
Pho Thin Bo Ho
Address: 61 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Hàng Trống (Near Hoan Kiem Lake)
you can choose to add quay (freshly fried breadsticks) to served with your pho.
Banh Mi is Vietnamese style baguette, crispy and crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy inside. A typical Vietnamese sandwich is a fusion of meats and vegetables from native Vietnamese cuisines such as crispy pork, coriander, cucumber, and pickled carrots and daikon, combined with condiments from French cuisine such as pate and mayonnaise. Banh Mi is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
Where to eat Banh Mi
Banh Mi 25
Address: 25 Hàng Cá.
Serve one of the best Banh Mi in Hanoi. Price is cheap and lots of flavors and fresh fillings.
Cha Ca is Vietnamese Style Fish with Turmeric & Dill. It is one of the “must eat” dish in Hanoi. A large pan is heated at the middle of the with ricetable, filled with chunks of the grilled fish fillets, dill, and onions, surrounded by a plate of greens, roasted peanuts, rice vermicelli, scallions and a bowl of purple shrimp sauce with unique taste of shrimp paste that completes the flavor of this specialty. You can ewith ricenoodles and other additives and herbs separately or combine all ingredients in their bowl and then spreading soup in the pot. In another way, some people can put noodles to the pan and stir quickly with Cha Ca.
The mudfish was delicious. The staff showed us how to eat the fish mixing it with vegetables and other ingredients.
A set of Cha Ca cost USD 8 per person. Each person gets a drink and portion of mudfish.
Where to eat Cha Cha
Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant
Address: 14 Cha Ca Street, Hoan Kiem
Cha Ca Thang Long Restaurant
Address: 19-21-31 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem
Local Vietnamese food Restaurant
You can get authentic Vietnamese foods at every corner of Hanoi. Instead of eating these at a low plastic table on stools on the roadside, you dine in a food court setting restaurant with waiters and service. One of the most popular restaurant is Quan An Ngon. There is a menu for food from the kitchen, but there are also street food stalls surrounding the courtyard seating area and you can order food from these through your waiter who will place the order and collect the food and bring it to you. The waiter will explain all the dishes and make recommendations.
Quan An Ngon
Address: 18 Phan Boi Chan Street
Bun Cha (Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle) is a local dish originated from Hanoi. The dish is simple and can be found anytime of the year. You will be served by a plate of vermicelli (bun), a bowl of broth with grilled pork and a basket of fresh greens. The dish become famous world wide by Obama’s( former President of USA) and the late Anthony Bourdain visit to Bun Cha Huong Lien where they had a meal of Bun Cha with Hanoi beer.
Where to eat Bun Cha
Bun Cha Huong Lien
Address: 24 Lê Văn Hưu, Phan Chu Trinh, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội
Home made cheese & Pizza at Pizza 4P’s
We didn’t expect to have pizza at Hanoi but after recommended by a friend, we decided to try to Pizza at Pizza 4P’s. Pizza 4P’s is famous for their home made cheese made from their cheese studio at the town of Don Duong. Every morning, their cheese artisans make the house-made cheese, one by one, using fresh milk from cows that grew up in the rich nature of Da Lat. The atmosphere is simple, but refined with very high ceilings. The waitstaff numerous and attentive. We had pizzas with the famous burrata cheese from dalat for a main and shared a pizza. The pizza is excellent and one of the best pizza we ever had.
Pizza 4P’s has 2 outlets in Hanoi and few outlets at Ho Chi Minh City.
Address: 43 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi
Egg Coffee and Vietnam Coffee
Vietnamese love their coffee and you can find coffee cafes all around Hanoi. While specialty coffee is on the rise at Hanoi but nothing beat the good old coffee cafes serving authentic Vietnamese Coffee. One must have coffee at Hanoi is the famous Egg Coffee.
Egg Coffee is invented in 1946 by the owner of Cafe Giang when Vietnam was short on milk. Sabayon layered on top of a strong coffee. It’s like a liquid tiramisu. We tried the egg coffee at Cafe Giang and Cafe Dinh (with the view of Hoan Kiem Lake) and we like the egg coffee at Cafe Giang more.
Where to enjoy Egg coffee
Coffee cafes can be found at every corner of Hanoi. The famous coffee cafes chain such as cong caphe, Highland coffee and Trung Nguyên Legend Café usually located at the famous landmark around Hanoi offering the best street view. Else you can join the locals and seated on the little plastic chair and enjoy the ambiance and street scene.
What to do at Hanoi
1) Discover the charming street of Hanoi at Old Quarter
2) Visit St Joseph Cathedral
3) Enjoy the street view from the local cafe
4) Stroll around Hoan Kiam Lake
5) Watch Water puppet show
6) Hop on, Hop off Hanoi