12 Hours in Hanoi

Hanoi was my least favorite place we visited on this trip. There wasn't anything wrong with it per se; it just wasn't my vibe. It was overly crowded and loud and overwhelming but I have to give credit where credit is due: it was an incredibly photogenic city.
We were only there for a really short time so most of it was spent walking around in the stifling heat, drinking our weight in water. Though the food was decent, I was somewhat disappointed because I think we have Vietnamese food that's just as good, if not better in the States. That being said, Hanoi is not a food capital. Next time I go to Vietnam, I think I'll hit up Ho Chi Minh and Hue instead.

We took a tiny propeller plane from Chiang Mai to Hanoi which meant that we were flying really low and we saw so much of the terrain and gorgeous scenery between the cities.
We also caught a glimpse of this gorgeous lake, Hoa Binh.
When we landed, we hopped in a taxi and headed to our hotel. Unfortunately, our cab smelled like the driver had spilled fish sauce or something all over the seat so it was one of the worst car rides of our lives.
We stayed in this cute little apartment in the French Quarter. For the one night, it was ₫1,591,495 ($68 USD) for a really spacious unit with two large beds, a kitchen, two baths, and the location was fantastic.
On our way to lunch, we walked past the Cathedral. Because we were so hungry, all we really did was glance at it. There was a rope around the entrance so I don't think we could have gone inside anyway.
PHO 10
We decided we had to get pho for lunch; it just seemed the most appropriate despite the fact that it was so incredibly hot in Hanoi.
We each got a bowl of the pho tai (rare beef). The broth was super clean tasting (meaning it wasn't greasy or gamey) and full of meaty flavor. The noodles were lovely and chewy. The meat was tender. It was a delicious bowl of noodle soup.
After lunch, we just spent some time walking around the city, taking in the sites but mostly popping in and out of shops to soak up some of the air-con and get a bit of relief from the heat.
I was fascinated by the architecture and the obvious French influence. It almost felt like I was in an Asian version of New Orleans.
The lake was actually a really lovely place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was pretty, peaceful, and the greenery made the air feel fresher.
We didn't want to pay to cross the little bridge at Hoan Kiem Lake and check out the pagoda there so instead we paid a cab to take us to Tran Quoc Pagoda which had free entry and was much more iconic and interesting to me.
It was close to closing time when we got there which meant it was pretty quiet and quaint when we got there. Basically, we were the only ones there.
We took a cab back to the French Quarter and had him drop us off for some ice cream. I got the coconut and M got the taro. Even though it was shaped like a popsicle, it was just ice cream on a stick. It was super creamy and so refreshing in the heat.
Before dinner, I wanted to check out a couple more sites but as we were walking around, we realized it was going to rain.
So, we rushed to check out this cool street that has an active train track running right through it, and then ran to a local store to take cover.
We took cover in this Fujimart, which was actually a lot of fun. I enjoy visiting grocery stores while abroad and just seeing the different types of produce and products for sale.
It basically monsooned for fifteen minutes and then slowly the sky started to clear up and we felt safe enough to go back outside.
It was pretty cool to see how the locals handled the rain. Almost everyone rides a motorbike and they wore these crazy ponchos to keep themselves dry.
For dinner, we decided to do takeout and eat in our apartment since it had a fully equipped kitchen so we picked up a couple of banh mi sandwiches (one for dinner and a couple for the train ride in the morning).
We also picked up some bun bo hue, which is a spicy noodle soup.
The banh mi was pretty good, especially the pate. I thought the bun bo hue was decent but M thought that it wasn't that good. In fact, she said she thought that the bun bo hue I made was actually much yummier, which I took as a great compliment.
We went to bed pretty early knowing we had to wake up pretty early the next morning.
We actually woke up at 4:45 so we could finish packing, check out, and catch a 6AM train.
Here's my video diary: