Hanoi.. what a city. You could just step outside and there was interesting stuff happening at every corner. The traffic was intense but we quickly adopted and got into the flow.

Hanoi –capital of Vietnam. Super photogenic city with a lot of (kitsch) communist era details (well it is still a communist state so it’s not a past era).  You’ll see flags with the hammer and sickle everywhere and every second flag along the major streets has this symbol. Same thing for all official buildings. The communist symbols are however much more frequent in the north compared to the south (for example comparing Hanoi to Saigon).

The first time we were in Vietnam we travelled from North to South by train which took about three days if I remember correctly. If you have the chance to explore Vietnam in this way then I really recommend it – you will experience a lot Vietnam in this way – everything from the train trip itself to spending time with the locals on the train stations.

Traffic in central Hanoi is intense, mildly phrased. The streets are smacked not by cars but by mopeds and scooters. Crossing the streets is like crossing a stream – you just have to take the first step and the traffic will flow around you. The traffic can be intimidating at first but after a while you’ll get a hang of the ‘rules’ you will feel a lot more comfortable.

Speaking of traffic, the easiest way to get around in Hanoi is to use Grab (equivalent for Uber). It’s super convenient and you will not have to hassle about the price. Getting a local sim card for your phone is also a good idea. You’ll find vendors at the airport, train stations etc. Getting a local sim card is cheat too.

Hanoi is one of the world’s five most polluted cities. No that’s not a romantic fog that you’re seeing over the lake. It’s smog.

We’ve visited Hanoi three times and stayed in hipster areas, backpacker areas and also in the more calm Tay Ho area. The last one I really recommend. It is just in the center of Hanoi but by the Tay Ho lake so there’s a lot of nice and cozy areas of the city to explore, lots of restaurants, café and park areas. The hectic center of Hanoi is still just walking distance from Tay Ho.

Kuang Si and Hmong Village

The Kuang Si Falls, sometimes spelled Kuang Xi or known as Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls are located about 30 kilometers outside of Luang Prabang in Laos. In the way back from the falls to Luang Prabang we also made a quick stop in a Hmong village.