One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things


Hanoi,Vietnam.Five Hotspots.

1.Bia Hoi Corner.
Located in the Old Quarter,in the heart of Hanoi,this place will give you a strong taste of what to expect from this fabulous city.It is a must-do experience,as you will live Hanoi's remarkable "street culture".You will sit on tiny plastic chairs,right next to the locals and in the middle of Hanoi's chaotic traffic.And this means scooters,bikes and people that all become one mass.You will drink Bia Hoi,a local,very light,refreshing beer,which is brewed daily.You will pay almost nothing.Bia Hoi is very cheap.One glass costs around 0,25 euros.Try this place in the evening.It is usually full packed.You will definitely enjoy Hanoi's irregular rhythm of life.

2.Ca Phe Pho Co.
 Do not miss this place,especially if you are a coffee enthusiast, like me.Vietnam has a very interesting coffee culture (something that i actually didn't know before I go) and this cafe is the best place to experience it.
Although it is located in the city center near Hoan Kiem Lake , it is a bit hard to find it. You have to enter the Silk Shop at 11 Hang Gai street and follow the path until you reach a beautifully decorated courtyard. There, you will meet a woman that will ask for your order. Give your order and get up the narrow stairs to the top. Meanwhile,spend some time and take a look of the design and the decoration of the building. Looks like a movie scenery. As for me,I could hardly believe that it was real. So wonderful!
Cafe Pho Co offers a terrace which overlooks Hoan Kiem Lake. The views are at least splendid. It also offers traditional Vietnamese coffee blends. It is a real paradise for coffee lovers. If you want to taste something really different try caphe trung da ,a coffee with beaten egg white. 

3.Quan An Ngon.
Quan An Ngon is the restaurant that every local selects for dinner when his European or American friends are in town for a visit.It's the perfect choice if you want to taste the popular "street food" in a more "safe" environment.This place offers a large,elegant, "green" yard and an open kitchen. There,you will taste the North-Vietnamese cuisine and of course all the specialities that come from Hanoi. And I say the North-Vietnamese,because the Vietnamese cuisine differs a lot from North to South.Don't miss Pho ,perhaps the most famous Hanoi's dish. It is a noodle soup with beef and herbs. Whatever you may select ,just include some vermicelli rolls... they are simply delicious.
In general,this place tenders traditional tastes, high quality of food ,quick and attending service and very good prices (3 starters,2 main courses,20 euros). Just keep in mind that the only thing that may raise the bill is the wine,which is expensive in the whole country.

4.Madame Hien.
 If you look for fine dining in Hanoi,this is the place!Madame Hien is located in the Old Quarter, in a delightfully renovated French colonial villa. From the first moments you can feel the warm environment and the good vibes.The interesting thing is that it's owner,the several times awarded chef, Didier Corlou,has dedicated this restaurant to his wife's Vietnamese grandmother and to all Vietnamese women of the past and the present. As Corlou says: "It's a tribute to their way of cooking, their ancestral culture and the artisanal and regional knowledge of over one thousand years.".This place offers classic Vietnamese tastes with French influences.Don't forget that the French cuisine affected and inspired,as well,the Vietnamese,just because of the colony that lasted for more than fifty years. The food quality is very high and the ingredients very fresh.The must-try here is the Hot-Pot.And it's fascinating because you will not be served a simple dish,but a simmering metal pot of stock and all the fresh ingredients:beef,chicken,prawns,seafood,tofu,broccoli,mushrooms,peppers and noodles.Then you will place them,one by one,into the boiling soup and they will be cooked on the table.You will definitely love the whole process,the flavors and the tastes.You can also try the "crab and curry rolls" and the "shrimp papaya rolls", which are both delicious. In this restaurant you will not meet locals(i did not), as the prices reach those of a European restaurant.Hope this won't stop you,because you will miss the top of the top.And I mean it. Madame Hien is a great culinary experience,definitely not to be missed. 

5.The Rooftop Bar and Restaurant.
And finally,when you finish your dinner,you can visit this place for some drinks.As the late night options in Hanoi are limited,this is a quite good one.The rooftop bar is a five-minute taxi ride away from the center (19th floor,Pacific Place ,83 B Ly Thuong Kiet street).
Well decorated and colorful,with two bars,a DJ and a small dance floor, this place is the latest trend in Hanoi.And this means: Chic people and high prices.However,in my opinion, it is worth the money,just because of the views.The rooftop bar offers marvelous views of peaceful Hanoi.Of course there is not a huge skyline,but something tells me that this will change soon,within the next years.

  All pictures belong to my personal photo gallery.I used Nikon D5200 and iphone5.


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