Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

by - 4/16/2024

 Every major city has two parts. The old part which is usually the unplanned, chaotic and historical one and the modern, planned part. Eg Old Delhi and New Delhi. As tourists, the old historical part only has significance. I mean, you can explore the entire city of Rome on foot (covering all the major landmarks) but that does that mean Rome is so tiny? No! Because we visit only the historical district that has architectural significance. The modern parts are more or less the same...sky high buildings, metro network, swanky malls etc. So if you truly want to savour the flavour of a place, you need to explore the historic district.

We did the Hanoi old quarters in two parts. First when we had just landed in Hanoi and had a two hour stopover while on our way to Cat Ba island. We were with the whole gang (6 family members) so it was just a walk through the narrow alleys and back to the bus stop.

Our second attempt in exploration was when we visited the Temple of Literature, the must see attraction in Hanoi. The very reason why we chose a hotel in the middle of the historic district was so that we could venture out and absorb the cultural flavour whenever possible.

On the last day of our trip, we set out early in the morning to do some souvenir shopping. We also visited the largest church of Hanoi: St. Joseph's Cathedral Nhà thờ Chính tòa Thánh Giuse Cathédrale Saint-Joseph d'Hanoï. It's one of the oldest Catholic churches of the entire country. We visited in November and the ambiance was already getting ready for Christmas.

We also took a quick peek at the Opera House. There tends to be one wherever we go and the husband has a special affinity for them (Prague, Budapest, Munich, Vienna etc etc)

The Vietnamese are very artistic in nature. Every corner of the city was picture worthy and there was lots of red! I felt like taking a picture everywhere!

One thing that really got our eyeballs rolling was the abundance of pet shops, especially bird shops. These noisy creatures were nothing but a delight, and we loved spending time in such shops, peeking into the cages, trying to decipher what they were saying.

I highly recommend exploring the Old quarters on foot, because you can observe the details only when you are a pedestrian. And details are everything in this aesthetically pleasing, culturally abundant city!

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