Prepare for sensory overload. Vietnam’s high-octane capital city is a riot of garish temples, roaring motorbikes and sizzling street food. While other capitals look to the past, Hanoi is racing towards the future. Ultra-modern shopping malls push up against elegant colonial architecture, and you are as likely to spot a BMW as a bicycle.
The houses in Hanoi are super narrow since property tax is based on the width of a building.
Head towards the Old Quarter where local merchants have been settling deals for the last 1,000 years and pick up on all the unique flavours, from colourful textiles to handicrafts and aromatic spices. While locals perform their every move with a delightfully laid-back Asian attitude, Hanoi still has an almost Parisian elegance. Here, life is lived in the open, so pull up a plastic chair and enjoy a cold glass of bia hoi, the local beer, as the sun sets.