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Vietnam (Day 11) Exploring Hanoi

Today was all about exploring Hanoi completely on our own without our hotel-provided map (and "I'm lost" hotel card with address).  My, how confident we have become - hahahaha.

Selfie from the electric car!

Anyways, our day began with an aim to take it laid-back as we chillaxed our way around Hanoi after sleeping in (which we never do) and having a late breakfast. 

Because we were feeling THAT lazy, we hired an electric car to take us around.  We really liked it! I can't remember how much we paid, but we happily agreed on a price for 1 hour. 

Our driver drove around Hoan Kiem lake and was inclined to let us out to explore, but we let him know that we had already strolled this area. Moving on, he stopped in front of the Cho Dong Xuan market and told us we should go check it out indicating where we would be able to find him afterwards. Turns out, this is Hanoi's oldest market (original storefront opened in 1889)! It's huge with so many vendors selling any product you can imagine. It appears to be mostly bulk selling and lots of local buyers, but we found everyone offering to sell individual items to us.

This was a good quick stop for us resulting in a few purchases. The kids even got into it, buying a couple of face masks that they insisted upon (I figured these would be good for them on our upcoming dusty motorbiking tour in Ninh Binh). When we came outside, we found a parking area full of identical electric cars. Lucky for us, our driver spotted us and guided us back to the correct vehicle and off we went happily enjoying the passing Hanoi street scene.

Blending in with the locals! 

I sneaky took this pic of the police station.

We hopped out at St. Joseph's Cathedral to take more pics and see about going inside. It's just as stunning in the day with its Neo-Gothic style aging with time. We learned some interesting facts about the oldest church in Hanoi. It was one of the first structures built by the French colonial government in 1886 after first demolishing a pagoda from the Ly Dynasty (11th century). To enter, you go in the side door as the main door is mainly kept shut except during mass.  There is no fee to enter and we were let in as we walked up, but we did notice that a group was held off for a bit as we exited, maybe for managing the number of people inside.
St. Joseph's Cathedral

The nice thing about hiring the electric car was being able to easily hop on/off anywhere we wanted as well as simply zip around the streets and alleys - this was very convenient to do with the kids.  

Hahaha, we even found stuffed animal street. "Keep driving!", we shouted.  As a surprise, Rob later walked back with Molly to get her a souvenir. And, didn't get lost.

Can you believe we ended up eating lunch back at the hotel. Again. It's so good that we were actually craving the EXACT same dishes that we previously tried again. That bun cha is OUT OF THIS WORLD! Oh yeah, I took the opportunity to get another Rooster. Of course.

Another Rooster - so so so good. And, bun cha!

In the evening, we hired a sitter from the hotel and had a proper kid-free date night. We reserved a time slot at the hotel's movie theater for the sitter to bring the kids. 

La Siesta's very own movie theater.

I wanted to see more of the famous Hanoi train tracks, so we headed in that direction.  We found an even better section this time and dared to eat at a local food stall right along the tracks.  Egads - I had ice in my beer (I saw her scoop it out of a plastic sack­čś▒). Don't worry, I'm still here - hahahaha.

Old Quarter alleys are the vibe of Hanoi!

No problem. It's working just fine.

The famous Hanoi train tracks!

Yes, we ate here.

Then, we got a cyclo (could we be any lazier) to bike us the 2 minutes to Beer Corner. Turns out, Beer Corner is more like Beer Alley (or alleys). It's has an awesome✌️vibe and I enjoyed way too much­čŹ║especially considering it was the night before a road trip. Anyways, the sitter worked out great as she took them to dinner and then the movie theater in the hotel. 

Weasel coffee.  Google it.

I blame the beer, but we bought way too many propaganda posters. Like well into the double-digits. That extra luggage is definitely needed at this point.

Up Next: Enchanting Halong Bay - the Stuff of Dreams!


  1. It's good to know you were completely comfortable eating/drinking on your own. Its one of my big fears!!

    1. Eating/drinking is the highlight of all travel for me! Luckily, we don't have any food allergies/issues. Why is it a fear for you? Food tours are a great way to experience the local foods without being completely on your own.

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