Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
The streets of Hanoi are hectic. They’re energetic. Motorbikes crisscross each other in the gaps between cars. Footpaths are used for more than just walking and shops spill out over them. The streets of Hanoi are full of noises and smells.
But I wouldn’t say that many of the streets are ‘pretty’.
That’s why I notice this one so quickly. It stands out from the web of roads and alleys that have all blended into one chaotic mess. Grey is replaced with green, there’s colour in the windows, dappled light falls through the trees and creates a natural roof above.
Most of all, though, it seems peaceful. There’s still a steady stream of traffic flowing along but there’s something about this street that has a calming effect. I can’t work out what it is immediately that’s causing this.
It’s not simply the trees and the vibrancy of the shops that I’ve already mentioned. There are other streets in Hanoi with leafy covers and splashes of colours. And there are also other streets that are pretty: head into the Old Town and you’ll find the avenues with the official government buildings, the roads that wind past the lakes, and a few with remnants of the colonial French architecture.
So it’s not just the visuals that have caught my attention here – it is the atmosphere as well. I put my finger on it after a few minutes. It’s what the people are selling here.
The prettiest street in Hanoi
Hanoi is one of those Asian cities where each street will specialise in a particular type of wares. If you want a fridge, you head to the street where they sell fridges. If you need a frying pan, you go to the street where they selling frying pans. I’ve always found this fascinating – and also wondered about the commercial merits of having all your competition in the market within metres of your shop.
Here – in the prettiest street in Hanoi – they are selling everything that is beautiful and cute. The street is full of florists selling flowers, nurseries selling other types of plants, there are stores just with birds, shops just with aquariums full of pet fish, toy stores selling colourful balls. Even a shop selling plastic buckets has them stacked and hanging in a way that looks like a burst of colours.
The shop owners – whether realising it or not – have created an artificial garden in the middle of one of Vietnam’s largest city. With the chirping of the birds and the trees in pots on the footpath, with the blooming flowers and the fish swimming peacefully around in circles.
Let me now share a few more photos from my walk along the street – and hopefully you’ll see what I mean.
All the things you need to know
To see the main sights and get off the beaten track a little, I would recommend this day tour.
There is heaps of amazing food in Hanoi so you could also do this food tour. I guarantee you’ll try some things you wouldn’t have otherwise!
Or for something a bit different, there’s a great photography tour along the local rail tracks.
Or you could be a bit more adventurous with this bike tour of nearby countryside and villages.
There are also lots of quite similar cheap hotels. A comfortable option is Golden Moon Hotel with breakfast.
For a really trendy hotel, you should try The Chi Boutique Hotel.
And if you want to really splurge, I think the nicest luxury hotel in the city is the Sofitel Legend Metropole.