19 November 2008

Hanoi Old Quarter

We are currently staying at the Phu Vinh guest house in the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is a real maze of a place where in the 13th century the city's 36 guilds settled. Each street is named after the trade that settled there. We spent all of our first day in Hanoi wandering about the Old Quarter on foot. We started off by visiting the Ngoc Son temple which is on a small island in a lake just to the West of the Old Quarter. The temple is a real oasis of calm in amongst the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. There was also a giant turtle in a glass case which was found in the lake. It is supposed to be very lucky if you catch sight of a giant turtle but we didn't see as much as a ripple in the thick green lake.

Then we headed back off the island along the red Huc Bridge. We passed the Water Puppet Theatre which we are going to visit during our time in Hanoi. Then it was past a street selling nothing but shoes up to Memorial House. This was a lovely restored Chinese merchant's home opened as a museum. Then it was past a road of jewellery shops and clothes shops to the Bach Ma temple which was very colourful. As we then went past Cua O Quan Chuong, the quarters well preserved old east gate, a tour of 20 cyclos went past. It looked like fun so we we are thinking of taking a cyclo today which is a bicycle propelled vehicle with a seat at the front for two people. Then we finished off our walking tour past roads filled with blacksmiths, herb sellers and shops selling Buddhist alters and statues.

We finished off back by the lake at the 5th floor City View Cafe. The Vietnam beers were very good and the view of the 5 way traffic junction was quite mesmerising! I say traffic junction but it was more of a traffic area, a complete free for all with traffic moving around in every direction! Later we went to the Mediterraneo Restaurant which served great Italian food and wine. We had another great meal last night at the Cafe des Arts which was just like a lovely little Parisian brassesie. Then we headed back to our hotel for a few quiet hours of sleep before the horns started again at the crack of dawn!


  1. Some fab photos. Reading your blog makes me really tired though. Rather you than me. Cheltenham is as far as I plan on going in the near future. Maciek

  2. Traffic chaos reminds me a bit of the islands at Churchbridge!!! you take your life in your hands when going round there!!!