To experience like a real Hanoian, you should travel with your local friend or tour guide because you will be explained more about the culture. Just spend one day to try to be a local to experience daily activities, taste local food, special dishes and drinks, it would be unforgettable moment of your life.
The popular activity in the morning is doing exercises.
Hoan Kiem Lakeshore is an ideal place for public activities. In the morning, Hoan Kiem Lakeshore is full of people with different physical activities such as doing exercises, doing laugh yoga or taichi, running or taking a stroll around the lake… Local people called this place ‘bo ho’ (lakeshore) and it became so popular as when mentioning about the Lakeshore, they understand it was the Hoan Kiem Lake. If you want to join with them, just wake up early and come to the Lakeshore.
After doing exercises for about 30 minutes, you will feel hungry so it is perfectly to have breakfast. The popular meals for breakfast are many kinds of noodle soups, ‘banh my’ (Vietnamese sandwich), ‘xoi’ (sticky rice), ‘banh cuon’ (steamed rice flour pancake)…
See how locals live & work
Relax for a while then start wandering around the Old Quarter narrow streets to discover how locals live and work. Every street is an experience. In the Old Quarter area, there are also many ancient historical sites including old houses, temples, pagodas and assembly halls. You may be interested in the ‘tube house’ with unique architecture.
You can stop for snacks and drinks. Hanoi is one of the world’s greatest street food cities and it is very interesting to unlock the hidden charm of the Old Quarter and its cuisine by foot.
You will see many locals enjoy drinking on the street. Coffee is a favourite drink of many people. Like no other, Hanoi has special drink: the egg coffee which is definitely unique and must try, even for non-coffee lovers. Most famous coffee shops making egg coffee in the Old Quarter are Giang cafe on Nguyen Huu Huan Street and Dinh cafe on Dinh Tien Hoang Street.
At the west end of the Old Quarter, you will reach Dong Xuan market – one of the busiest trading place of Hanoi. This large multi- storied market sells everything from fresh foods to home appliances, souvenirs. If you are interested in any product, don’t hesitate to bargain. Everyone feels happy when they can buy something cheaper than the saleprice.
Remember to check the clock to make sure you have lunch at the right time. You should spend about 2 hours for lunch and relaxing.
You should spend your afternoon on discovering the other sides of Hanoi. Cycling is a perfect way to travel around. Sometimes, foreigners are afraid of the traffic in Vietnam, however it is normal to local people. Go to the bicycle rent store, and start the tour around West Lake, Long Bien Bridge and the suburb near Red river. Along the way, enjoy the beautiful view over the biggest lake of Hanoi. You can stop at the famous shop named ‘Kem Ho Tay’ (West Lake Ice-cream) near the Lake to try the homely ice-cream. Cross the Red River over the Long Bien Bridge, exploring the peaceful suburban will make you feel calm and comfortable.
Back to the Old Quarter, it’s time to have dinner. Cycling might make you feel hungry so the dishes will be more palatable.
Enjoy Hanoi street food at night
After dinner, Hanoian often go not just to drink but also to gather with friends in the evening. Street drinking is also a piece of culture in Vietnam. When in Hanoi, drinking on the pavement or in the park is thing to try. Two famous places are lemon tea around the Big Church (St. Joseph’s Cathedral) area and ‘bia hoi’ (draught beer) on Ta Hien street. Sitting in a narrow corner on the pavement, you can notice that everyone was engaged in the busy atmosphere and endless talk.
After one day of discovering, you are really a Hanoian so don’t forget to share your experiences with your friends and family