I visited Hanoi during April and May, staying in a hotel in the old quarters. The Old Quarters are a busy place in Hanoi! If you opt for a more tranquil part of the city the French Quarters might suits you better? It´s very interesting to walk around the Old Quarters, but you will quite easily get lost in the myriads of narrow alleys, in between the bigger streets. However getting lost is part of the fun and also necessary to see some of hidden family life of the narrow alleys in Hanoi.
Doung Xuang market is in the northern parts of Old Quarters five to ten minutes walking from Hoan Kiem Lake. One the streets around Dong Xuang market you can find anything you will need to prepare food in the kitchen. The stalls are grouped together so in one place are all the fruits and flowers sold, next street has all the vegetables, all the butchers are on one street and all fish shops one the next street.
These groupings of stalls and shops in Old Quarters are not used only for food. One can actually see on the name of street, what is sold on that street, if you are able to understand the street names? Here are some examples Hang Dau have shoes, Hang Duong clothes, Hang Thiec Tin goods, mirrors!
I took two pictures of the girl selling the meat in the picture below! In the first picture the pattern in her hat was blown so I took the second picture. In between the two pictures the girl changes the position of the pig head! I didn´t see that until I edited the pictures at my home. Thank you for that service, the second picture is much better with pig head in the right direction.
Where are many street sellers walking around Old Quarters trying to sell their wares on the streets? As can be seen on the pictures it can be different products however fruits are the most common.
A light lunch or a cake to the coffee is other things the street seller can have in their baskets!
The sidewalk is normally occupied by scooters so both street sellers and tourist needs to walk in the streets instead of the sidewalk. There is one more advantage to walk in the streets the surface is even, no pits as can be the case on the sidewalk.
A flower seller on Tran Nhat Duat Street on her way to Old Quarters only gate Quan Chuong Gate. All the other gates and the wall around Old Quarters have been dismantled.
A competing flower sellers flower this is also in Old Quarters on Hang Gai Street near Hoan Kiem Lake.
The Scooter is the way to travel in Hanoi one can see whole families on a Scooter loaded with good! A Scooter can handle the traffic jam of Hanoi and run through the narrow alleys. One can never be sure there a Scooter turns up. The driver can choose to drive on the sidewalk if that is possible to avoid traffic jam or in the opposite direction of the traffic. One has to be careful then walking the streets of Hanoi.
The Scooter and the mobile phone two of the most important things in Hanoi!
Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the restored sword) is in the center of Hanoi on the north sides are the Old Quarters on the south side is the French Quarters. A stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the evening is a fantastic experience particularly during a weekend. Lots of Vietnamese families come to the lake to listen to music. Many Vietnamese orchestras are performing around the lake. One can also sit on a bench and admire the stillness in the parks around the lake. There is no wind in Hanoi the lake surface can be calm, but all the fountains around the lake makes ripples on the lake surface.
I walked from the north to the south side of Hoan Kiem Lake along the eastern shore. After a while Old Quarters are replaced with the French Quarters more beautiful houses towards the southern side of the Lake. Many Vietnamese families spend the late afternoon during the weekends on the park benches around the Lake.
If one walks couple of hundred meters in eastern direction from the South side of Hoan Kiem Lake one comes to one of the French Quarters most important buildings the Opera House. The man in the cyclo has just spotted a possible customer standing behind a camera.
This is a night picture from Trang Tien street view towards the Opera House direction.
Vietnam is the second biggest producer of coffee in the world today. Coffee is an important product in Vietnam as well as can be seen in all the Cafés around Hanoi. This Café is on Trang Tien Street.
A visit to Hoa Lo Prison museum is recommended. The American soldiers during the Vietnam War called the prison Hilton Hotel. On display are probably the Pilot overall and the parachute John Maccain used during the Vietnam War. John Maccain spent six years in Hoa Lo Prison. He was shot down on his twenty-third bombing mission over North Vietnam on October 26 1967.
The man takes a photo of a spring letter Ho Chi Minh wrote to the North Vietnamese people during 1969. Ho Chi Minh died September 2 1969.
Let´s see what Ho Chi Minh wrote to the North Vietnamese people!
If one follows Diên Biên Phú Street out from Hanoi Old Quarters one will end up at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Diên Biên Phú is the place in North Vietnam there Ho Chi Minh won his greatest victory. The battle occurred between March and May 1954 the French Army was defeated and forced to withdraw from Vietnam.
Ba Ding Square is in the front of the Mausoleum. This is the place where President Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam in September 2 1945.
If you are thinking of visiting the Mausoleum you should know that it´s not allowed bringing in cameras or mobile phones into the Mausoleum. You can leave this equipment at special guard but if you have expensive equipment it´s probably best left at the hotel room.
In the late afternoon when the Mausoleum is closed it’s possible to walk around the Mausoleum. One can see the change of guards and in the evening the taking down flag ceremony. However if you came to close and go across the yellow line on the ground the guard will blow his whistle.
If you are going to visit the Mausoleum expect long ques maybe several kilometers long particularly during weekends or major holidays. The Mausoleum is closed on Mondays and Fridays! The Mausoleum is also closed October and November then the embalmed body is sent to Russia for maintenance.
From December to March the opening time is 08:00 to 11:00 AM Tuesday to Thursday and 08:00 to 11:30 AM on Saturday and Sunday. From April to September the opening time is 07:30 to 10:30 Tuesday to Thursday and 07:30 to 11:00. It pays off to visit early! There is no entrance fee.
The change of guards did happen during my visit in the late afternoon I do not have a schedule how often this occur.
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