Hanoi may not be the ‘party’ town of Vietnam, but don’t be fooled, there is more going on here than meets the eye of the average traveler.
1. Quang ba flower market
Quang Ba Market in Tay Ho is the largest wholesale flower market in Hanoi and there are two definable ‘shifts’: 2am – 4am when the wholesale sellers are most active and 4am until daybreak for the higher priced flower dealers. But it’s not all about the flowers, this is a truly cultural experience and a feast for all the senses.
2. Long Bien fruit market
Voted as one of the top street markets in the world by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, Long Bien market, located at the foot of Long Bien Bridge, has been in operation for over 20 years and is the biggest wholesale market in Hanoi and Northern Vietnam. It is estimated that every day, between 300 to 400 tons of fruits and vegetables are sold in the market from its 1,200 stalls.
3. Raising of the flag ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Performed every day at 6am in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, this ceremony was first performed on May 19 2001, the 111th birthday of President Ho Chi Minh and it has been carried out every day since then. Taking the lead is a soldier holding the military flag, followed by 34 soldiers from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Guard High Command.
4. Tai chi and coffee at Hoan Kiem Lake
In the early hours of the morning (from about 5am), areas adjacent to Hoan Kiem Lake become a hive of activity as walkers, joggers and tai chi enthusiasts limber up in the half-light. Space is at a premium in the city so this is where the old and young congregate to partake of their early fitness regime.
5. Pho – the breakfast of the champions
Pho is not only the most popular breakfast in Vietnam but is also an internationally renowned symbol of Vietnamese gastronomy. Pronounced ‘fur’, it is essentially ‘noodle soup’ and the most common types of this local dish are Pho Bo (beef) and Pho Ga (chicken). To find a tasty bowl, simply head to the old quarter in the morning with your guide and find a busy joint, then grab a tiny seat and enjoy!