Traveling on a study trip with my class in Vietnam, we naturally stopped in Hanoi, the capital and one of the most interesting cities we visited during our trip. As a first timer in Asia, Hanoi wasn't a very easy city to begin with especially after a 16 hour long journey from Norway. Exhausted but hungry to find whatever the city had to offer, we checked in to our hotel luckily located in what they call Old Town which is the center of Hanoi. With the short time staying in Hanoi (only 24 hours), me and a friend chose to explore the city by ourself while the others were getting their breath from the long journey. It did not take long before we got used to the noises and traffic from the scary motorcycles and mopeds, hundreds passing us from left to right every minute. Of course I can't forget to mention the very special way of crossing the road in Hanoi, which is an adventure in itself. If you are crossing the road in Hanoi, look for a small gap inbetween the mopeds and motorcycles and just walk. Slowly but confidently, you should hopefully reach the other side with your body intact.
The people of Hanoi, looking away from the waves of tourists and backpackers, seem to live their life only caring about themself and their families but nothing around them. This is perhaps the number one reason for the city being so popular for visitors across the world. It is the place where you can see the vietnamese and comunistic culture with your own eyes with people making lunch in the streets, grandparents watching over their grandchildren and people smoking tobacco from their long wooden bongs outside their shop. As they might seem hostile to the typical camera-wearing tourist, they are very friendly once you make contact and interact with them. That is when you might be lucky enough to be invited for tea, noodles or just a visit into the very small homes in the streets of Hanoi.
Vietnam and Hanoi are loosing more and more of its beauty because of the increasing amount of tourist and backpackers traveling across the country. I suggest only a couple of days in Hanoi because of the energydraining atmosphere. No matter how authentic and exiting the place is, we as travellers quickly reach our limits in great cities like Hanoi. Be patient, but go all out to explore on of Asias most living cities.
You won't regret it.