Hanoi Kids are an agency that provide free* tours. The tour guides are actually students learning English and want to practise speaking it, so in their spare time, they give tours of their city. The great thing about Hanoi Kids is that unlike traditional tour agencies, you can go at your own pace and since the tour guides are Vietnamese, you’re more likely to have an authentic experience, akin to what the locals will get.
*they ask that if you wish to visit any museums or restaurants, that you cover any entrance fees and bills for the tour guides. Which turns out to be a very minor cost for the amazing service you receive.
Our Hanoi Kids tour guides were two lovely girls from the local university, they took us to many of the popular tourist destinations and of course a great deal of restaurants at our request.
First stop: breakfast. We visited a busy family-run restaurant in the backpacker area. There is no shortage of delicious food to eat in Vietnam but I would eat phở at least once in every city we visited. Phở differs regionally, the clearest distinction being the broth, the North favour a lighter tasting, clearer soup whilst the South prefer the broth to be darker, heady in cinnamon, star anise, onion and ginger. Both versions are banging and the street versions are so cheap too, about 20-30000 VND (1-1.60AUD)
Our guides then took us to Hoan Kiem Lake, there’s a monument in the middle of the lake that doubles as a temple. If you’re a student you can get a discount on the entrance, our very nice guides used their student cards to get us cheaper tickets. Hoan Kiem Lake used to be home of a giant holy turtle, his remains have been set in a resin for all visitors to see.
Found mostly in Hanoi, it costs only fractionally more than regular Vietnamese coffee. This unique drink is made by whisking egg yolk with sugar until foamy, then added to coffee and sweetened condensed milk. It tastes like custard and coffee which was absolutely delicious. Once outside of Hanoi, you’d be hard pressed to find it served outside of the capital city so drink plenty of it before you leave.
On a separate occasion, we paid a visit to the Hanoi war museum. Downsides were that the guides there couldn’t speak English and the information presented, is one-sided. Displayed also are actual American airplanes salvaged from the war, which airplane geek, Ash found cool.
Everywhere you go, there will be people peddling all sorts of goods for sale. As with everything, foreigners are automatically charged more for things than locals, when bargaining, I generally offer 1/3 of their asking price and go up from there.
We stumbled upon a place that served yoghurt-style desserts, with everything costing under $1AUD we had a great time eating our way through the menu, sometimes having them twice.
Yoghurt, crushed ice, jackfruit, and water chestnuts make the most refreshing snack on a hot Hanoi day.
Hershey’s strawberry syrup is squirted into a glass full of yoghurt and crushed ice.
DC Bistro Boutique
Wanted a break from Vietnamese food and heard about this French place that offered 3 courses for $7USD. DC Bistro Boutique have a cosy fit out, a massive European wine selection adorn the walls, making for an impressive entrance.
The food was average but service was lovely, our waiter was a young Vietnamese man saving for his first trip to France. We wish him all the best.