Vietnam’s swirling capital of Hanoi is populated by motorbikes swarming twisted streets and tree-lined boulevards. Shopping in Hanoi takes you among bicycle hawkers plying their goods while produce sellers balance vegetables like human scales and people-watching locals laugh in coffee shops.
This is a city that wakes up to the gentle movements of t’ai chi dawn devotees and goes to sleep after an endless night of designer restaurants, bars and clubs.
But there are some Hanoi essentials to enjoy. The French colonial architecture here is some of the best in the world and it is worth exploring the Old Quarter by chauffeur-pedalled tricycle with stops at shops selling butterfly kites, objets d’art, paintings and cooling linens. When staying at the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi, you’re only five minutes from the Old Quarter and the hotel building itself is a colonial building.
It is also vital to savour local specialties such as steamed dumplings or pho rice noodle soup or perhaps linger over a gastronomic meal in the heart of a colonial villa restaurant before finishing the day at the Water Puppet Theatre where traditional colours illuminate glittering night waters.