There’s really no good way to describe Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Walking around your senses get attacked with so many smells, sights and sounds, you’re on complete overload. The streets are incredibly busy. Motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic, cars trying to find their way around all of the motorbikes, tourists on foot trying not to be overrun by motorbikes… I’m sure by now you get the idea… motorbikes everywhere. There’s a nice big sidewalk, but it’s not actually meant for walking, it’s really just one big parking space for motorbikes.
The first day we felt a bit overwhelmed by it all, but every day it got a bit easier and Hanoi really grew on us. There’s so much to do in Hanoi and I can actually see the appeal of Hanoi for expats who want to move to Vietnam! It was a challenge using the buggy for Jace, a bit of an obstacle course really. But we were happy we brought it. With all the traffic and his two year old ‘I can do it all by myself, you don’t have to hold my hand anymore’ attitude, it wasn’t safe to let him walk. Between the stroller and the carrier we managed to keep him contained and safe.
Things to do in Hanoi with kids
Once we got used to the insane traffic we really enjoyed Hanoi. It’s a fun city to discover on foot and there’s so much to see while just wandering around. The vibe in the Old Quarter is really cool and we were happy we decided to stay in this part of the city. We came back to Hanoi a few times, first after our Halong Bay cruise and then again to catch a flight to Sri Lanka via Kuala Lumpur. Each time we started to like the city better. So, what did we do while we were there?
Visit the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre
On of the ‘must sees’ in Hanoi is a traditional performance at the water puppet theatre. With the water hiding the puppet’s operating mechanism the puppets seem to dance across the water unaided. The traditional music is played live and really adds to the experience.
Explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Since we were staying there, this seems like a bit of a weird ‘thing’ to do. But actually exploring the Quarter in itself should really be on your to do list.
Go see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The communist vibe felt quite strongly here with all the millitary protection. The final resting place of Ho Chi Min, revolutionary and leader of the Communist Party is an important monument in Hanoi. It’s definitely an interesting place to visit.
Go shopping at Dong Xuan Market
You can easily get lost in Hanoi’s largest indoor market Dong Xuan. Housed in a four-story building there are vendors in all nooks and crannies. If you need anything, from fresh produce to electronics, handbags, fabrics, souvenirs, you’re sure to find it here and at a great price too.
Enjoy the Hanoi Weekend Night Market
The night market is a lively affair, with great food, a nice vibe and products ranging from cheap Chinese to lovely handcrafted items. It runs all across the Old Quarter, from Hang Dao Street to Dong Xuan Market.
Photos of Hanoi
Since we’re a bit at a loss for words to describe the Hanoi vibe, here’s a random series of photo’s we took while we were there. Hopefully, this gives you a bit of an idea what this crazy city is like.