Where I’m At: September, 2013 – Hanoi

Where I'm At: September, 2013 - Hanoi

I’ve been in Hanoi for the last week on a city break from Saigon. After spending so much time in the south it has been interesting to compare the differences of these two great cities, as well as comparing what I recall of Hanoi from the last time I was in Hanoi in 2005 (before I started a blog at Nomadic Notes).

My previous visit was at the end of a whirlwind three week overland backpacker trip that started in the Mekong Delta. That was my first trip to Southeast Asia and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to use my laptop anywhere, so I didn’t bring it. That month of travel was the last time I travelled without my laptop (I don’t know how I did it).

I took only a few photos on that trip, even though I had a digital camera. I have 23 photos from Hanoi, with no food or coffee photos (how times have changed). I wish I had taken photos as I have no recollection of how I ate on that trip.

The last time I was here I did all the tourist things like visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, taking a side trip to Halong Bay, and various other museums. This time around I haven’t visited a single museum. Instead, my days have been filled with visiting cafes, seeking out recommended street food vendors, and generally wandering the streets of the old city, which I would say has to be one of the most pleasing-to-the-eye cityscapes in Southeast Asia.

Little plastic chairs in Hanoi
[Little plastic chairs in Hanoi]

I’m in Hanoi with Dan from TropicalMBA, who came to soak up the writerly vibes of the cafe scene while writing a book. My task of compiling a list of cafes to work at in Hanoi is a much easier job in comparison, and we have consumed a lot of caffeinated beverages in the process.

I could definitely see myself spending a month in Hanoi if I have the time as it is such a great city to explore. Having said that I prefer Ho Chi Minh City as a home base and I will be heading back there tonight. For those who are coming to Hanoi I will be compiling a list of the best cafes in Hanoi.

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  1. After spending few months in Sai Gon, I have been already back Hanoi, and I must also that I prefer Sai Gon too. It is modern enough, ancient enough, friendly enough and “timid” enough. Well, I find all of its aspect at a reasonable level, and totally love it. Hopefully I can come back some day. Wish you have wonderful time in my country.

  2. Love the street shots you’ve posted – shows a great energy.

  3. Funny how you hear a lot about people who use the country as a base to write a book

    • Hanoi is so “writerly!” Lots of nice cafes to hang out in for long hours and good cheap food, lot’s of leafy boulevards for long walks, and you could easily stay for 1K a month. Great spot!

  4. Sounds like such an exciting city! What energy!!!

  5. The scenes look similar to the ones in the city or town in the Philippines. Hanoi is indeed quite a place to explore for the curious. I’m looking forward to reading your list of the best cafes in Hanoi.

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