One of the things that makes Hanoi unique – in my opinion – are its streets. Whether you’re walking through the Old Quarter or wandering outside of it, Hanoi streets are loud. They have a constant flow of cars across them, going in all different directions. The people and motorcycles weave in and out of them. There are no traffic laws, just suggestions and constant movement, beeps, and whizzes.
The Street Traffic
If you aren’t up for walking or taking a taxi, you can get a pedicab. They tend to be everywhere, especially in the afternoon and evening. They will pretty much take you anywhere, and they can let you relax in the stressful environment of the bustle of Hanoi!
You can also see how close the train tracks are to the apartment buildings! They are truly integrated into everyday life – you’ll see kids running around and people stepping over them all the time without regard for a passing train.
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The Colors of Hanoi Streets
The streets of Hanoi have not only loads of bodies, cars, and noise, but they also have all sorts of colors. Most people don’t buy their goods and groceries from air conditioned stores. Instead, they head to any one of the stalls lined with a variety of products!
You can honestly find displays of all types of products, and all kinds of varieties! It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for. You just have to walk along the road to be able to find it!
It really is amazing! The views on Hanoi streets are simply filled with rainbows and spectrums of anything and everything.
Need cat ear headbands? Look no further!
Or, perhaps you’re looking for giant bags of color. What are they for? I have no idea, and didn’t speak any Vietnamese to ask. I assume they’re for some sort of dye – you can probably add them to your manufacturing process to create all kinds of colorful products!
Or you could buy one of these bad boys:
The Foods and Fruits of Hanoi Streets
The other great thing about Hanoi is you can buy all kinds of made-to-order foods off the street!
You can join all the locals, who pick a place to sit and treat the streets as a terrace for their dinner.
I didn’t try their barbecue, but it doesn’t look too much different from what I’ve had at home:
After you finish the main meal you can get desert:
Occasionally, you can also see weird foods like this! Apparently this is a citrus fruit called Buddha’s hand. I regret not getting one to try – but I definitely won’t miss it next time!
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The History and Culture Evident on Hanoi Streets
Hanoi neither flaunts nor suppresses its history and culture. You can walk around and see everything – as long as you are paying attention! They have relics from long ago, and you can still see interesting things anywhere you go.
What they’re most proud of? Their modern culture! They have come a long way since French colonialism, and most streets are full of reminders of Vietnamese nationalism and patriotism.
What you think of when you think Vietnamese people might be this! Old ladies carrying two baskets of items – connected only by a rod on their shoulder. I think I would crumble under the weight, but the locals have no break in their step!
On holidays – such as the Mid-Autumn Festival in late September or Early October – you can see these! People make sacrifices as part of Buddhist, Taoist, and/or Confucian beliefs. Because the Mid-Autumn Festival historically is for wishing for a good harvest, it now is just for general good luck.
You may also see walls of the citadel surrounding the Old Quarter. These have been around for hundreds of years, back when the Vietnamese still used Chinese characters:
I haven’t been able to figure out what all these things are, but I found it curious that there was a giant structure in the middle of the Hanoi streets! This looks like a military battlement, but it isn’t a museum, and I didn’t see anyone climbing or visiting them.
There was also a large statue commemorating the lives lost during the Vietnam War. If you’ve never thought that much about it, it might be interesting to know they call it Resistance War Against America or simply the American War.
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The Fascinating Trinkets of Hanoi Streets!
For everything else that doesn’t fit neatly into one of the above categories, there’s this one. As I’ve emphasized, you can really find anything you can think of!
If you want to buy a pet fish, look no further. There is a whole street lined with aquarium supplies, from the fish themselves to all the fake seaweed and gravel that goes into them.
Last but not least is this! The guy had his own little stall at the exit of the Ho Chi Minh Museum. He was hand making rubber tire shoes! These shoes are classic Vietnamese, because they have a lot of rubber tires to recycle. Instead of throwing them away or trying to burn them some way, people make them into comfortable sandals!
They were selling for the equivalent of just a couple of USD. If I needed some new shower shoes, I definitely would have gotten a pair!
TL; DR: Hanoi streets are busybusybusy.
It’s like there is just so much going on at once that the normal shops can’t contain everything!
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