Hanoi's Old Quarter
Iconic cone shaped hat can be seen everywhere, whether they are on the Vietnamese or tourists. Indeed, that was the first thing that reminded me of me being in Vietnam when I went into the Old Quarters using Uber. Traffic was chaotic and scary, although eventually we conquered the fear and learned the way of going around. Traffic lights are more like a decor here with all the scooters and motorcycles zipping past each other in all directions.
Hoan Kiem (Restored Sword) Lake, with the jade colour water sparkling under the bright hot sun. Even the legend about this lake is interesting. I wonder if the Hoan Kiem turtle has any offspring here that was not discovered yet. It's amazing that for such a small lake, the turtle remained elusive for such long time before it was discovered.
Old Quarter is made up of Streets of 36 Goods, and as the name implies, every street sells a category of thing which you can tell from the name of the street. Biscuits, groceries, lightings, lanterns, coffee... Most of them still do not speak English despite this area is so heavily infested by us tourists. I'm actually glad that it stays the way it is.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, certain sections of Old Quarters are fenced off and turned into walking streets. Night markets are established that sell goods that you can actually see all around Old Quarters but could be at a good price where you don't have to bargain. To hang-on to our stupid dignity, we did not haggle at all. We bought our first singlet at one of the roadside stall at about USD 5, and we later saw the same things being sold at price tag of $2.50 in the night market. Just right after we bought another singlet here, less than 2 min down the road at another stall, it was $1.50. Well, lesson learnt here, always haggle or just walk to compare more if you want to save a few dollars.
The atmosphere in the Old Quarter was so lively, especially around Hoan Kiem lake. Young people formed group to play Jianzi (feather ball), live singing, break dance, street performance etc. We strolled along the lake, tried to blend in with the locals and had ice cream just like them.
Looking for a good tour agency is the most headache task. We know about the most popular tour agency, Sinh Tourists aka Sinh Cafe, but there are so many Sinh agencies! How do we know which one is the original? Luckily we found the actual one.
Exact location of the REAL Sinh Cafe (as of July 2017):