The famous tourism sites of Hanoi are easy to identify and do not necessarily need to be seen along a guided visit. You could easily work that out on your own (however, we can still arrange it if you ask). What we offer here is another perspective on Hanoi, a new kind of fun and exciting visits that will immerse you in the daily Hanoi in its simplest apparel. Between you and us, the best of Hanoi is here.
- Experience the daily life in town as locals do
- See Hanoi beyond its tourism clichés
- Live original food experiences
Module 1: The West Lake, the Red River farms and a charming table d’hôte
Get ready for a fun morning wandering around a surprisingly calm and rustic side of Hanoi. We start from your hotel and go to visit the Tran Quoc pagoda as a warm up. We then hop on a small electric cart that takes us for an enjoyable ride all along the West Lake. We will visit another less known pagoda on the way and witness some daily scenes of Hanoi: fishermen standing “on” the lake, future bride and groom taking pre-wedding pictures, people practicing their tai chi or chatting over a cup of coffee, etc. The loop ends at the Hanoi’s central flower market. It should be pretty quiet at this time as this is more kind of a wholesale night market. From there we walk to the Red River’s shores and stroll around the numerous tiny flower farms. We end the walk in a little charming house for a homemade lunch.
Module 2: The Long Bien bridge, an ancient village and an original house
We start the day by wandering around the very busy Dong Xuan market. The biggest covered market of Hanoi where are traded all kinds of goods. We then walk a piece of History, symbol of Hanoi, the Long Bien Bridge. Enjoy beautiful views on the river and see Hanoi from a different perspective. We continue our visit with a stroll in an ancient village that was swallowed by the city but kept over the years its traditional characteristics. We end the morning not far from the Duong River in the loft-house of a local lacquer artist. He may give us an introduction to bonsai art or Tai Chi discipline. It will be up to your preferences. We will have some time to chill out in his Feng Shui garden, while he’s preparing a greedy lunch.
Module 3: The botanical garden, Ngoc Ha’s maze of lanes and the railway’s restaurantr
The tour starts with a tribute to nature. We walk through Hanoi’s botanical garden, one of the numerous green oases of the capital. We come out through the Western gate and get lost in Ngoc Ha village. A real maze of narrow lanes crossing each other; people everywhere, shops, street vendors, it is a charming mess. And in the middle of all this, we find some small lakes, communal houses and small public squares. We go at slow pace, taking the time to simply witness and enjoy the atmosphere. We exit the labyrinth and walk the end of the loop on wider avenues. We will now taste an absolute Hanoi specialty: the bia hoi, a local beer brewed from rice and served in wide places where men like to gather after work. It is definitely something to experience when traveling to Hanoi. After one or two beers and local-style appetizers, we take a short transfer by car and then walk a short distance right along the railway to get to our dinner place.
Module 4: Vintage sidecar sightseeing in Hanoi and the grilled chicken street
You are picked up at your hotel by whirring sidecar motorcycles. Ural 650, Russian supply, Soviet heritage, true vintage style. The itinerary is flexible and will depend on weather and mood of the day. We have enough time to take you all around for a real sightseeing tour of Hanoi: must-see monuments, famous streets, atmospheres and several stops for pictures with comments from our friendly [non-English-speaking] drivers. The tour ends at about 5.00pm at the Sofitel Plaza. We’re just here for a drink, the hotels’ bar offers an amazing view on Hanoi city. We then head back to the streets, car transfer to a wide alley, where chicken are daily sacrificed on barbecue grills.