We only had a couple of days to spend in Hanoi, so we quickly saw a couple of sites and ate some of our favourite dishes that we had discovered before.
When we came here back in 2013, it was the first time that we were ever scammed by a taxi driver who had rigged the taximeter to run significantly faster than it was supposed to. Hanoi was also cold, cloudy, rainy, and uninviting during our last trip, so we didn't leave with the best impression.
This time, we were able to use Grab for transportation (similar to Uber). Having transportation at a fixed cost without worrying about scams made getting around a lot easier and stress-free. We also discovered that Hanoi now has a metro! Our days here were sunny and warm, so the streets were inviting and bustling with people. Hanoi was starting to grow on us.
We mainly wandered around the lake and old quarter areas. On weekends, they block off the roads surrounding the lake, so it made our strolls very pleasant.
West of the lake, we stumbled upon this quaint spot along a train track called Ms Huong Ly Vietnamese Restaurant. Apparently, trains pass through here several times a day and you can enjoy a meal and/or coffee at one of the many cafes along the track. If you are lucky, you will see the train pass, just a couple of meters from your table. We were not lucky enough to see a train, but still enjoyed a meal along the tracks.
When you travel in Asia, you are bound to see some motorbikes transporting interesting things. Usually they are either unbelievably over-filled or carrying large items in precarious ways. We thought that we had seen it all, but this time around we saw something new and quite unique: a motorbike parked on the side of the road selling live fish for aquariums/ponds 🐟🐠🐡! We saw a few other interesting things, but that was our favourite 😂.
Jen had great memories of a small restaurant here called Bun Bo Nam Bo. They serve a dish, called Bun Bo, which she and Guy (Dom's cousin) absolutely loved, and we couldn't find that dish anywhere else in Vietnam. When we went to the restaurant, we barely recognised it because it has grown to 3 floors and become a proper-looking restaurant (instead of a small local kiosk with seats)! As with everywhere, the price of the dish has risen quite a lot (70k VND, ~$4cad), but fortunately, the food did not disappoint and tasted as good as she remembered. For Dom, it was also the same as last time.. "I don't understand the hype.. the dish is just ok" 😝.
We wanted Dom’s mom to try Pizza 4Ps, a restaurant that Jen's coworker introduced her to when she was working in Saigon. Pizza 4Ps (pizza-for-peace) is a restaurant chain that was launched in Vietnam, by a Japanese couple in 2011. It's normally difficult to find good pizza in Asia, but Pizza 4Ps has excellent pizzas that leave us craving for more!
Our favourite is the Burrata Parma Ham pizza - a sauce-free pizza topped with arugla, parma ham, cherry tomatoes, and home-made burrata cheese which they slice open at your table. Compared to eating local food, this 10-inch pizza is relatively pricey at 298k vnd (~$17.50cad) plus VAT), but we couldn't resist and ate it 4 times this trip (twice in Saigon and twice in Hanoi😆).
For dessert, Jen wanted to try a fruit dessert from Hoa Quả Dầm Hoa Béo that is also famous here. We were super full from dinner, but since it was our last night, we walked the extra mile to try it out and she really liked it.