First Impressions: Hanoi, Vietnam

I’m going to write a little differently this week with a focus on my first feelings and impressions of a place, rather than a reflection on my experiences after an extended time there. First impressions have a lot to be said for them, often shaping and setting the tone for all future experiences. I arrived in Hanoi two days ago and here’s what I think so far!

The capital city of Vietnam but the second largest is a bustling, hive-like sprawl of buildings, alleys, French-inspired architecture, coffee shops and wafer-thin buildings. From the airport I took a taxi to Doi Can and marveled at the sights that sat on the other side of my passenger side window. The driver looked at me with a knowing grin and a sparkle in his eye which said ‘Ah you’re first time to Hanoi.. it’s crazy isn’t it!’ We drove through fields in which workers wore the signature pointed hats and bent doubled over striking the ground, pulling up plants and wading through rice paddies.


Once we hit the city centre I was amazed at the traffic. Bikes bustled busily weaving in, out and around the other vehicles with seemingly zero consideration for other drivers. I tried to observe the rules of the road but quickly realised there are none. Just drive slow and try not to hit anything. I’ve since learned that Hanoi experiences more road deaths in a month than the UK does in one year!

When planning a visit I’ve found both the New Hanoian and this wikitravel article on Hanoi massively helpful.

Keep an eye out for my next blog post where I’ll be detailing some of the (mis)adventures of my time here.