Why Did the Pedestrian Cross the Road in Hanoi?? To Get Street Food Of Course!!!
Welcome to Hanoi…where sidewalks are used for storing your moped, sitting and socializing with your friends, and even cleaning your vegetables…
Yes…sidewalks in Hanoi are used for just about everything…except walking. So where does a pedestrian walk? The street? With oncoming traffic?? Well, yeah.
Yes, the woman in the yellow is pushing someone in a wheel chair…in the street…
Honestly, each time I entered a street in Hanoi or attempted to cross one, I saw my life flash before my eyes. The chaos rivals Rome–but with few stop lights, imaginary crosswalks, and anxious drivers, learning to cross the street in Hanoi is a must!
So the first tip? Pay attention. Hanoi is not the place for distracted walking (texting, talking, or listening to music). Walk close to the curb. Well, that generally worked for me. Oh, and if possible, walk in between people… Dodgy behavior I know. But this street crossing situation is serious and life threatening to a rookie! Outside of that, I generally just took it one step at a time–most drivers tended to slow down if you just walked in front of them, but I cannot lie and say there were not a lot of sudden stops.
Despite the (sometimes) heart stopping experience of seeing a loved one dodge moving vehicles, getting to the other side is soooooo worth it.
Hanoi is a vibrant city, with amazing food and even better people watching. There were so many things that I loved about Hanoi. Amazing food, cheap drinks, and very interesting historical sites.
We stayed near the Old Quarter, which is a pretty central point to get around the city. Once you get to Hanoi, I would suggest starting with the Hanoi Street Food Tour: http://www.hanoistreetfoodtour.com/#_=_
Many of the stops on the tour look small, shiest or very nondescript from the outside. But the food was so tasty! Our guide was knowledgeable and was able to answer questions about other things happening in the neighborhood. I think the most interesting thing I learned is that most of the restaurants are named after their main dish specialty! So if you are really a Bun Cha fan (pork with noodles), chances are the name of the restaurant will have the name of the food in the title of the restaurant…
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about the Street Food tour was that it included a stop at “the Beer corner” which is a MUST DO in Hanoi. It’s crazy. It’s chaotic. It’s loud. It’s the place to be for cheap beer. With prices as low as 25 cent for a local beer, what’s not to love?
The ONLY downside to all of this fun–the seats. They are small. And by small I mean, more appropriate for a first grader than an adult. If you are 5’8 or taller, the small seats might be quite painful.
At the end of the day, the anxiety of crossing the street is well worth it!