This article is written by Lily Evans.
Lily Evans is the founder of SkyWeFly, where she and her associates blog about photographs, stories and travel tips that will help you make a great journey. I realized my love for the mother nature and humans which was exactly when I was emerging myself into the atmosphere of that place, I totally forgot about everything which had always bothered me before. Finally, I hope to bring my passion to more people via SkyWeFly.
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam and one of the world’s top tourist destinations is home to a number of top-notch attraction sites. Whether you are out of your country alone or moving with a family, there are some of the practical information you need to get them right about Hanoi. From accommodation, transportation to social services, you must have some basic knowledge to fully enjoy your stay and all that the city has to offer.
The very first time I set my feet on Vietnam, Hanoi city must have been an overwhelming experience. Having more rumours than facts about this city was not such a friendly experience and I had to explore the entire city on my own. More often as I discovered the beauty of the place and its calm atmosphere; I flash-backed on the prior beliefs and blindfolding imaginations I had for Hanoi. From the ambiguous religious and cultural beliefs, advanced scamming to hiking of prices (when buying products and services) were all I knew about Hanoi. This, however, were just a wrong perception of Hanoi; a hotbed of vibrant culture and friendly citizens.
It took me some time before I got used to the place where I could go shopping on my own, without asking for a company from a local friend or calling out for a taxi. Nothing was strange anymore, I could even trek down the shorter trips to avoid traffic; life came one after another and new experiences set in more as time did allow. If you are living in Hanoi or planning to visit here any soon, you probably need an expat guide to get you started, take a look at this.
Having a secure place to spend your stay is the best you can do as a first-time expatriate. As I landed first in Vietnam, I had booked an apartment a week earlier with one of the hotels where I stayed for some few days. It was here where I realized the prices were not all that friendly to me and I had to give it a second thought. Security was all good but the fee per night was more of the big deal. Relocating was not that easy, I had to look for some real estate companies where I negotiated the prices for a one bedroom flat. This came with great favour since my home was a trek-distance from town, off the highway. Security was at its best and I stayed here long enough before moving to a bigger house that could accommodate my family.
Hanoi is a lifestyle city with one of the most delicious and healthy dietary food you will get anywhere around Vietnam. The dishes are in their best, pocket-friendly prices with most freshwater ingredients such as clams, crabs, prawns, and squids. Other Vietnam street foods are also available; rolled cakes, Pho noodles, skewered meat and spring rolls. Some of the green delicacies also form the main ingredients of most dishes.
If you are to stay, work or tour around Hanoi, Visa is one among the very essentials. Upon arrival, a visa (VOA) is processed and issued at the airport. This visa on arrival will have the validity days indicated and this will determine the date to renew it if you are to stay a bit longer. Processing the visa was not that simple for my case, I had to conduct the Vietnam Embassy and employ an agent who obtained the letter of approval. At the VOA counter, the official letter was already delivered and I had an easy time filling in my details.
The visa processing fee was priced at $25 for a month to 3 months single entry visas but $50 for a month to 3 months multiple entry visas. Depending on the type of visa, some may have some restrictions; like the the3-month multiple visas in case you will need to extend some days in the country. It’s, therefore, wise to ask for clarification before making the final decision. This VOA is not a full visa but has all the necessary details that guarantee your safety within the country. After the whole process, I received the passport back with the official visa affixed, I was good to go!
The only disadvantage with the visa on arrival is that the processing can be very slow and this leads to inconveniences. The queuing itself is tedious, the busy lifestyle here may not guarantee you prompt services. New rules are being enacted every now and then; the currently available visas into the country consist of only 1-year visa, especially for those with U.S. citizenship. The approval letter processing fee is $35 per person with a stamping fee priced at $135. This will save you the hassle of renewing and purchasing other visas.
Filling in the letter of approval is quite simple and need to be precise and form a perfect match to your existing personal documents. Name, gender, nationality, proposed date of arrival and the passport number are some of the details to be entered. Children are always charged as adults, so it’s important to get ready in case you have children.
Hanoi is one among the best beautiful places in the world with numerous sightseeing tours, cultural tours, museums, lakes, bike tours and other fun places you can’t afford to miss. I enjoyed the view of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology with its rich ethnic background. The public house outside and the water puppet show was one of my favourites. This place has more to explore besides its great display of the 54 ethnic cultures.
Hoan Kiem Lake is another sight of marvel, especially in the afternoon and evening hours. The sight of people hanging out in the evening sun, joking or eating ice cream makes it such a peaceful place with a cultural feel. This forms the heart of Hanoi with impressive lake show activities; roller-blading, hover-boarding, traditional games and street salsa dance.
Touring around Hanoi is such a lifetime experience which gives you an opportunity to experience, explore and appreciate your immediate environment. This guide is all you need for that successful and peaceful stay in Hanoi.
When it comes to food, Hanoi has it all. From the yummy Pho (beef noodle) to the tasty Bun Cha (Grilled pork and Noodle), I was spoilt for choices every time I explored the rich food background behind this city.
Pho is one of the main dishes with four ingredients; rice noodles, clear stock, boiled beef and some green onions or herbs. The pure and sweet taste of the sauce makes this dish a must-taste with a variety of unique recipe. You won’t miss Pho’s shops anywhere along the streets; it makes a nice meal for your breakfast without straining the budget. Steamed rice roll (Banh Cuon) is another common and delicious dish that resembles a crepe or stuffed pancake. Its ingredients include; minced pork, rice paper, and chopped mushroom. Pork cotton and Vietnamese ham are some of the additional ingredients. It’s served with a bowl of fish sauce, red hot pepper, unripe papaya and chopped garlic. Grilled pork and noodle (Bun Cha) is one the characteristics of Hanoi. It forms perfect combinations of salty, sweet, sour and hot taste. With only three ingredients; Vermicelli, kebab rice noodle (grilled pork) and sauce, you’ll never go wrong having this for supper. Turmeric grilled fish and sticky rice is some of the other main dishes you can easily get along the street shops without breaking the bank.