Many travellers had explained good things to us about Hanoi, so it sound really exiciting to us and we were looking forward to visit it since we entered the country some weeks ago. We arrived by sleeping bus early in the morning and had to walk with our backpacks for a couple of hours before we could find a hotel room in a good condition and for less than 12 USD. Our first impression of the city was so-so: small streets with loads of traffic, drivers sounding their horns every
Once we had left our bags in the room and we were able to walk around the city center we started to feel much more interest about the city. The old quarter has nice buildings and alleys and many of the shops remain with an old feeling that could transport you to some decades ago. But there was still the traffic and the noise!! We spent some hours looking for a quieter place to sit down, have something to drink and relax although it seemed to be impossible in the area. So we tried to walk further away but didn’t find any place. At the end we chose the Hoan Kien lake shore as a way to be more distant from the traffic, what ended up by being a good idea. From here we could watch and learn about the life of some locals and about the habits of some tourists, who always do what other tourists do, like taking the same picture of the same thing from the same place –i.e. a picture of the red bridge in the lake.
Another day we went on an independent walking tour proposed by our guidebook and visited the highlights of the city –according to the book. It wasn’t as interesting as we had expected so we thought it had arrived the time to decide our next move, whether Sapa or Halong Bay. In Hanoi there are thousands of travel agencies and hotels who organise tours and excursions to any destination in Vietnam. All of them offer similar things but travellers should be aware of false operators who have just copied the name of a reputed agency. This makes the search for the perfect tour a little bit more difficult. Besides, the never ending number of different tour options can confuse the traveller and make him undecided.