One of the world’s oldest capital cities, Hanoi stretches along the banks of the Red River in the north of the country and offers a pleasant mixture of ancient culture and modern energy. Visibly less hectic than Ho Chi Minh City, unlike the always-hot southern megalopolis Hanoi also comes with the added bonus of four seasons, and is home to several iconic lakes.
Hanoi is a joy to explore on foot – especially once you’ve learned how to avoid getting run over by the omnipresent motorbikes. Stroll through layers of history as you explore the city’s boulevards lined with trees, French as well as Chinese colonial buildings and incense-infused pagodas, and begin to understand why this place has long been known as “the Paris of the Orient.”
Make sure you also dig into the dirt-cheap but delicious local dishes in the Old Quarter, and linger on a bit in the area and dive into Hanoi’s vibrant nightlife, which includes Vietnam’s unmissable karaoke parlours. And if such urban attractions aren’t exactly your cup of tea, why don’t you just use Hanoi as your base to discover the natural wonders in Halong Bay and Sapa?