Hidden Hanoi: Map creators share city's secret spots
THINGS TO DO
"This is a small square that's very popular at night for children and families. They rent electric cars and enjoy the area, like a carnival.
"But my recommendation is to go in the early morning, when the elderly residents do healthy activities, such as play badminton or practice tai chi in the park.
"It's calm, peaceful, and very quiet. It's a nice experience to just go there and enjoy the atmosphere with the soft lights -- it's almost like being in a movie."
Huong Sen Healthcare Center
"Back when we were doing research for the map, we would spend so much time riding around that we were so tired afterward.
"We would often stop by local spas to try them out. This one I really liked -- it's a really good one.
"It's a traditional Vietnamese way to experience the spa and takes about 2.5 hours in total.
"You go inside, have a shower, then you go to a bath in a private barrel, and then get a massage.
"They give you a herbal tea to drink and you put your feet in a huge basin of ginger and herbs. Even during the massage they will put a hot herbal compress on you ... it's just amazing.
"You can ask for a private room for the massage if you like, otherwise you will be in a large room with 15 beds (women and men are separate) and it can be a little bit noisy."
Huong Sen Healthcare Center, 68 An Dương, Yen Phu, Hanoi, Vietnam;
Cho Hom Market
"This multi-level market is my favorite. First of all, the building is beautiful -- it's late modernist construction built in the '90s.
"When you enter, it feels like its own city inside -- there's life everywhere. All of the vendors live there and they know each other, so the atmosphere is very convivial.
"Upstairs, there's a dedicated fabric market with colorful textiles and tailor vendors. Downstairs, there is a wet market on the ground floor, fruit vendors everywhere, and lots of coffee shops up near the roof garden on the third floor.
"You can sit down and enjoy a coffee, or a Vietnamese tea, and try local snacks downstairs in the middle of the fruit market -- and just watch the action and the ladies selling the fruit, watching this life in Hanoi.
Cho Hom Market, 149 Pho Hue St, Ngo Thi Nham, Hanoi, Vietnam
WHERE TO EAT
"Trying street food is a really important part of understanding and experiencing Hanoi culture. People here love food. They are passionate about it and very picky.
"They won't eat at restaurants unless they're very good. So, if you see an empty street food restaurant -- don't go.
"While in Hanoi you must eat the national noodle soup: Phở, usually made with thin slices of beef, a slow-cooked beef broth and spices like cinnamon, anise and ginger.
Phở Thìn, 13 Pho Lo Duc, Quan Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi, Vietnam
Bánh Cuốn Thanh Vân
"Bánh cuốn is another street food you should try -- it's a steamed rice flour pancake with minced pork (or chicken) and mushrooms inside. This is specific to Hanoi.
"Try it at Bánh Cuốn Thanh Vân -- the rolls here are light and the mushroom flavor explodes inside your mouth. It's served with just a fried onion, so it has a nice crispy texture."
Bánh Cuốn Thanh Vân, 81 Le Van Huu, Hanoi, Vietnam
"This local Hanoian restaurant is built inside a heritage building and, when you go, it really feels like you're dining in the past.
It's hidden on a tiny road that cars can't even drive down. It's easy to find if you're looking for it, but you probably won't see it otherwise."
1946, 3 Lane Yen Thanh, 61 Cua Bac St, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam
WHERE TO DRINK
"Manzi is an art cafe and bar set inside a French colonial villa. It's run by young Vietnamese who are very interested in contemporary art and the creative lifestyle in Hanoi.
"They organize a lot of exhibitions with Vietnamese artists and live concerts, talks, and so many events.
"There are a lot of young artists doing creative things in the city, but you don't always know how to meet them. But they're always at Manzi.
"The place is always really active and it's a great mix between local artists and creatives, as well as foreigners who are interested in this side of Hanoi."
Manzi, 14 Phan Huy Ich, Nguyen Trung Truc, Hanoi, Vietnam
"The Summit terrace bar is on the 20th floor of the Pan Pacific Hanoi (formerly the Sofitel Plaza)."
"The hotel itself is a tower and not very charming, but the view from this bar is just stunning. You are above the Red River, the lakes, and you can totally understand the geography of Hanoi from above.
"When you just arrive, it's hard to totally wrap your head around where things are and how the city is organized. So a visit to this bar will give you an idea of the lay of the land, and how green the city is.
"Of course your cocktail will be a bit expensive, and the decor is a little bit old-fashioned -- it reminds me of the '90s -- but I kind of like that."
The Summit, Pan Pacific Hanoi, 20/F, 1 Thanh Nien Rd, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
WHERE TO SHOP
"Ha Truong is a famous Vietnamese designer -- they call her the 'Vietnamese Coco Chanel' in the news. I love what she is doing.
"She changes her collections every year and is always trying to improve, studying in Paris and trying to enhance the quality -- which is already amazing.
"Her designs are less expensive than Europe, of course, but the quality is all done by hand and they're all incredibly elegant."
Ha Truong, 37 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam,
"This is an interesting shop. It's run by a Spanish couple -- he is an architect and she is a designer. Together, they have made this gorgeous boutique -- it feels like you're walking into an old pagoda. Then they design their dresses to be really original, incorporating inspiration from Vietnam.
"It is a colorful boutique with a familial atmosphere. You can order a coffee and there's a courtyard, so you have this relaxed feeling among the creative designs.
"Walking to the shop is also very enjoyable, because it's located near Tay Ho Lake where there's a lovely promenade and lots of little coffee shops."
Chula Fashion, 43 Nhat Chieu, Nhat Tan, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Vietnam
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