A Moped Tour Through Happening Hanoi
They say that the best way to cross the street in Hanoi is with your eyes closed. Why? There are 6 million people in this thriving Vietnam city, and 5 million of those people have mopeds. The city throbs with mopeds, and no matter where you are or what you are doing in the city, these mopeds always seem to speeding at you from every direction. Between the Evil Knievel mopeds and that fact there are only around ten traffic lights in this madcap and chaotically beautiful city, you can see how the “crossing the street with your eyes closed” phrase came into existence. Unsuspecting tourists should proceed with caution.
Is Hanoi the New Prague?
Students, backpackers and the younger demographic from the West love Hanoi. The city is often referred to as the new Prague. In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Czechoslovakia’s peaceful Velvet Revolution, Prague became an epicentre of bohemian rhapsody and capitalist, entrepreneurial spirit. There was an edgy, exited feeling that anything could happen. Today, Hanoi seems to have that same kinetic spirit, and Americans and Australians have flooded the streets, bought their own mopeds and are racing around the outskirts of the Ho Chi Minh memorial complex in search of an American dream that has long ceased to exist on the mean streets of America.
The Old Quarter and Market District
Hanoi is a city of colonial mansions, narrow houses, parks and markets. The Old Quarter and market district of Hanoi is a warren of tangled and compact streets. The French Colonial architecture is stunning; there is a faded, romantic glory to the old buildings similar to what you would find in Venice. Shops and food vendors line the street, and locals and tourists are scattered at makeshift tables along the sidewalk, eating steaming piles of pho out of large ceramic bowls. Whether you want to buy raw silk, a bamboo fishing basket or an orange tree, everything you could ever want can be found in Vietnam’s open markets. All you have to do is stack your goods on the back of your moped, and then you will fit right in.
Seeing the Sights
Sooner or later, you will have to find your way out of Hanoi’s market district. Of course, it might be difficult considering there are around 40 streets in the Old Quarter. When you do, be sure to stop at the Hanoi Opera House and the Quan Su Pagoda. Spend the evening watching Hanoi’s famous water puppet theatre. After a long day touring Hanoi on a moped, it might be time for some Tai Chi back at the hotel.
Visit Virgin Holidays Worldwide Journeys for organised tours to Vietnam.